The other day, Mrs. Pandemic asked me a simple question. Of the idiotic level of stuff, I have strewn about in my house, garage, …and allegedly stowed elsewhere in the U.S. “What limited number of items would you grab if you had 10 minutes to leave on foot?”
Which guns, ammo, suppressors, how much cash, and good lord, let’s not forget all the accessories, electronics, packs, jars of peanut butter, armor, water filtration, and soft goods? The reality is, aside from the packed bug out bag in my garage…err I think it’s in my garage, I am not really ready to “grab and go.”
Admittedly, I do not have my “bug out kit together.” As a writer, it can be a bit crazy tearing down many of your core bug out kits for photos for articles and then not putting the time in to get them back together, equipment training, and retested on the range.
The Reality of Small Bag is Enough
Just slinging a small footprint bag full of a few critical items such as cash, water and snacks, passport and IDs, a clean pair of socks and underwear (mom was right), a couple magazines for your handgun plus your EDC stuff (FAK, knife, multitool, lighter, and tactical light) is going to get you pretty far — if you play it smart. This less-is-more gray man move fast strategy is still what SERE, spec ops folks, and those three letter folks use to move around the globe. This strategy will not weigh you down and would also go pretty much unnoticed at checkpoints and in the masses of the general public vs. Timmy Tactical donning a plate carrier, helmet, dressed in fatigues, 50-lb pack and an AR over the shoulder.
Though they do have a tactical style, I love the very high-quality Hazard 4 Plan B, and Rocket bags because they are very small format, can carry a separated 10-inch barreled AR pistol, are hydration bladder ready, and force a conservative packing strategy. Similar bag concepts are available from RUKX, Odin, Grey Ghost Gear, and UTG.
At around 720 cubic inches this size prevents an “everything and the kitchen sink” packing strategy. The longer Hazard 4 TakeDown pack can carry a separated 18-inch barreled AR-10 with the same slim, but longer, footprint. These ambi-sling packs were specifically designed as very lean grab and go bags that could move through crowds and in and out of vehicles quickly. Paired with a battle belt, this is a formidable setup.
Another highly proven sling pack is the 5.11 Moab 10 Rush sling pack. This will accommodate an Angel Armor plate, and I can tell you from lugging this around the world it is extremely durable. Though a standard backpack has its place, the single sling style moves through crowds and in and out of vehicles better, generally is less likely to interfere with a gun sling, allows fast access to items, or you can slide the entire pack and onboard armor plate quickly to the front.
A few tips I will provide from international travel. Vacuum pack socks, t-shirt, underwear, and a quick dry pair of shorts with your kitchen food saver — this effectively creates a waterproof trauma plate for your armor. The clean and dry spare clothes compressed to about one-third the size has saved me countless times during luggage loss and unexpected layovers. The other is to purchase an Angel Armor or other soft backpack armor…because you never know…
Mission Determines the Gear
What is the survival “game” we are playing? Is it something easy like a gas leak, and I just need to drive to a hotel with my Amex card and some underwear? Or, will I be playing ultimate survival in the woods with a tent? Is there radiation or biological agents in play? Do I have 15-minutes to escape from the city fast? Will I be smashing and grabbing my way through an Apocalypse Now urban environment with bullets flying? All different kinds of stuff may be needed.
How much should I plan for? This can make you nuts and the reason most of the military have quartermasters and mission configured kits based on a multitude of criteria. There is no one perfect solution.
Which Gun and Is It Set Up?
If you are like me, you love gun collecting, the hobby itself, the surrounding stuff and/or doing the builds. You have this gun for this thing and another setup for another thing. You may even have the same guns in just different colors… and soon, you have a crapload of guns. What do you choose, the killer Cerakote competition build or the ugly and often heavier MIL-SPEC rig, or maybe just a couple very concealable handguns?
The next question is do you have your suppressor mounts in place, everything cleaned and Lok-Tite’ed, optics zero’ed, sling attached and adjusted, hydration bladder clean, light mounted with fresh batteries, and mags loaded? How about a lightweight pack with the bare minimum basics that can be supplemented as needed.
Most importantly, do you have a FAK – First Aid Kit setup, because the probability is high you will get shot or have a misstep in SHTF madness. Generally, I like to have at least a CAT-style tourniquet, Israeli compression bandage, and Halo patches. However, I like to have a basic band-aid and antibiotic ointment kit, butterfly sutures, and mini super glue tube to close wounds. I am surprised how many times I have used super glue to close a wound and a compression bandage to address a sprain.
Options to Not Get Bogged Down
Two options I really like are a couple grab-and-go setups based on simple chest rigs and simple battle belts which are trim and light if they are not loaded down with 20 pounds of gear. Both could be stuffed into a standard duffle to bolt out the door. I have some simple chest rig setups for just a few basic uses including simple hiking stuff that includes, FAK, radio, multitool, and the AR mag slots serve as a small water bottle and snack holders.
I have another setup for hunting with .308 mags and a few essentials, and one more tactically focused with AR and pistol mags. These seem to provide a really streamlined option usually with 3–4 slots for both AR and pistol mag pouches plus room for a FAK.
The other simple and extremely comfortable solution is a simple battle belt with just a very few elements such as a pistol, FAK, and single AR and pistol mag holders, plus an amazingly useful fold-up dump bag with drawstring top. If you do not have a $20 fold-up dump bag on your belt, you are missing out of the single most useful and versatile piece equipment you can have on your belt that can do anything from hold a water bottle, extra mags, snacks, pick up range brass, cell phone and wallet holder…etc. and the list goes on. A simple and weight optimized battle belt plus chest harness for the extras is a very tight setup.
Getting Stuff Setup Right
Other simple things such as assuring the FAK kit you purchased actually has the items — and “quality” of items — you might need like adding two sets of rubber gloves, a CPR vomit shield (usually people vomit when resuscitated), compact safety clothing cutter, and sharpie to record the time and date and mark injury locations.
When was the last time you swapped out those snack bars and batteries in your pack, checked the expiration date of Aquapure water purification and IOSAT tablets? How effective are some of those 10-year old bandages that have now disintegrated.
Thousands of people have purchased LifeStraws and Sawyer inline water filters. However, most people forget to pack four feet of tubing, a simple cloth filter, and a water scoop bag to allow post collection purification, versus being required to dwell at a likely congested water source filtering water. Two 4-mil heavy poly bags and attaching 4-feet of tubing to a LifeStraw or inline filter delivers a more sophisticated offline gravity fed purification option vs being limited to a sip only option at a water source.
Coms and Electronics — Another Ball of Twine
Communication gear is another entirely different set of skills ranging from kids with a pack of $20 walkie talkies to $5,000 handheld Ham radios. Baofeng U5R are the standard prepper radio and offer a ton of power and flexibility at a sub-$40 cost.
A solid coms platform is only as good as the training and familiarity by your family and friends, and I can tell you that the U5R or any radio is not something learned, or programmed, in the field or after stuff starts to happen. The universal, easy-to-use magic radios shown in the movies are BS. This coms training can set you apart from people wandering aimlessly during the apocalypse.
A level of communication and coordination that allows you to get things done safely is a huge advantage. All my radios all pre-programmed identically with pre-noted stations and coded station IDs. That is done, along with turning off the super blinky transmit and receive lights that would give your location away from over ¼-mile. I still need earpieces and PTT – Push to Talk modules all routed and nested into my equipment, but those are luxuries.
I only had the 110-volt chargers for my radios and added a couple USB radio charges, because having other charging options such as solar USB charges could be handy. Obviously, a quality solar charger, charging bricks, and USB rechargeable flashlights can be vital. Did you know there are CR123, AAA, AA, and other common batteries that have onboard micro USB cord recharging ports? They work great to convert your favorite standard devices to USB recharging if needed. I use them constantly while globally traveling.
Battle Proven Kit
Though the modern warrior can load out with 100 pounds+ of kit, most feel that is unneeded and let’s face it we are not all in that level of shape to hike with a 100-pound pack. Tribal warriors seem to be able to cross barren continents with just a spear and water bag, so maybe a wad of cash, a few handguns with food and water may just be enough. Considering the kits of today’s U.S. warriors seem to get it done with just a rifle with about 210 rounds in 7-loaded magazines, a med kit, flashlight, and usually coms, armor, hydration, and some food, maybe this is enough.