A bug out bag should be loaded with all the essentials that enable you to survive for more than three days. Since making a bug out bag requires some serious thought and planning, there are those who prefer buying a pre-packed, commercial bug out bag. If that is the case here is what you should know before making a purchase.
Although I prefer to customize my survival bag, based on my skills and needs, there are people who prefer to buy a pre-packed bug out bag to avoid the struggle of planning every single detail of their bugging out plan. I somehow understand this and I think that going this way is still better than not being prepared at all.
If you plan to buy a commercial bug out bag, here are my recommendations based on the items I’ve seen on the market. Before you buy the bag you assume would be ideal for you, make sure it covers the following essentials.
Commercial bug out bag essentials to look for:
1. The bug out bag you plan to buy should cover all the majors needed for survival. It should contain items for each of the following survival categories: water, food, shelter and fire. All the items included should meet a minimum 72 hour requirement. This is a must for every survival bag and if the model you picked is missing something or it is short packed, you should look for something else.
2. The bag itself should be durable and made from tough fabric. Make sure you examine the bag since a detailed look can reveal many imperfections that will become a hustle under continuous use. Weekly stitched seams, bad zippers, poorly sewn strap connections are all details you should look for as they will reveal the quality of the bag. If you don’t want to go wrong with your commercial bug out bag, make sure it is made from tough fabric, that it has double-stitched seams and all components are high quality.
3. Check the number of items and make sure it has all the necessary equipment, not fillers. If you buy online, you should ready carefully all the items that are included in the survival bag. Some sellers will list every match or every bandage as individual items, and you may have more than 100 items listed for the bag. In reality, you will have only about a dozen necessary main groups of products.
4. The total weight of the commercial bug out bag is an important factor and you need to pick one suited for you. Exceeding the recommended carrying weight for your physical build is not recommended and it will cost you more than a few supplies being left behind. Keep this in mind when choosing your bag:
- For on-trail, the recommended body/carry weight ratio should be between 30 to 40 percent.
- For off-trail, the recommended body/carry weight ratio should be 20 to 30 percent.
To put it simple, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should never exceed 72 pounds of weight for your on-trail bug out bag and 54 pounds of weight for off-trail.
5. Try to comfort-test the commercial bug out bag when fully filled as it will help you understand what works and what doesn’t. You will have to carry this bag with you through all possible types of terrain and it needs to be comfortable. If it feels like a part of you, chances are you will be able to make the journey. If not, try to identify the rough points affecting your stance and check if you can reconfigure the items within your bag. After re-configuring the items, if the pain is still there, the bag itself must be the problem. You should try different packs until you find the most comfortable one for you.
Related reading: Step by step guide to make your own first aid kit
6. Is there additional gear space? You should check for this as I can guarantee that no commercial bug out bag has everything you would possibly need. You may have your own survival gear that you want to put in, so you would need the extra space. If you chose a bag that is already stretched to its limits, you don’t have any room for customization. I recommend finding a bag that has around 20% of empty space. It should be more than enough to add your own survival items.
7. Make sure to check the expiration date on the items contained within your commercial bug out bag. You may find one on sale, but it would become useless if the items expire in less than a year. Check the expiration date for the medical supplies, food and any other items that have a limited shelf life.
8. If possible, test the quality of the included items. You should try out the components included in your commercial bug out bag. Check the equipment for ease of operation, weight and durability under normal and extreme conditions. Taste the food and use the tools and if they meet your expectations, you made the right choice.
9. Correctly identify each item and know how to use it. The items included in your commercial bug out bag should have no secrets for you. If your bag contains items that are mystery for you, the smart thing would be to learn how to use those items before disaster strikes. Don’t pick a survival bag just because it has state of the art survival gear. If you don’t know how to use that gear, it will do you no service during an emergency situation.
10. Check the reviews. An unsatisfied customer equals ten satisfied ones, so make sure you read the reviews for the commercial bug out bag you intend on buying. You will be able to find out what other customers experienced and it may provide you with answers for the questions you haven’t thought of. This is an important step to follow and it will provide you with all the details you need to make the purchase.
A commercial bug out bag is a good alternative for all the people that need to be prepared, but don’t have the time and dedication to become a prepper. A pre-packed survival bag may not be ideal for everyone, but it will sure make a difference when the brown stuff hits the fan.
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