As many of us strive to become more self sufficient, we feel empowered and in greater control of our lives. But lets face it. No matter how much control we have over our environments, things can still happen that leave us feeling helpless and in danger. Natural - or not so natural - disasters, financial collapse, civil unrest, or any number of things, probable or not, are POSSIBLE. Sometimes we get too comfortable and forget that things can go bad in a hurry. Take, for instance, the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan) The purpose of a BOB is to make sure that if/when they do, that you have increased your odds of survival. (Additional bags can be made to keep in your vehicles. How many times have you been stranded in a broken down vehicle with nothing to eat, drink, or keep you warm? Not fun.)
You want enough of any item to last you approximately 72 hours. This is more easily managed and portable. Your personal choices of inventory will be dependant on effectiveness, preference, and the size of the bag you want to carry. The base components of your BOB include water, food, shelter, and first aid.
1. Water: This can mean bottled water, purification tablets or iodine, water filters, or any number of other options.
2. Food: Again, you can make this as simple or as complicated as you would like. I like to include protein bars, vacuum packed tuna packets, trail mix, etc. Some people choose freeze dried foods, MRE's, or other food that requires some preparation. I choose not to, because many of these require use of water to prepare, fire, utensils, etc.
3.Shelter: Again, depending on the size of pack you want to carry, you can take something as simple as a poncho, a tarp, or a emergency blanket; or you can pack a tent on a frame backpack, so many options. Eventually I will put a blanket and rope with each pack. I learned how to make a hammock from a blanket and rope on a diy video, and since I sleep in hammock when I'm camping, these seemed the simplest to me. That combined with a tarp in case of rain... Mind you, I don't live in a very cold climate, although it CAN get well below freezing once in a great while. Additional seasonal clothing can come in handy too.
4. First Aid: I always make sure to carry feminine hygiene products since they are dual purpose. Pads are great for pressure bandages on heavily bleeding wounds. I carry Coban (vet wrap is cheaper) to secure thick bandages. Tampons can be used for bloody noses, etc. I will also pack triple antibiotic ointment, needle and thread, super glue (yes, you can glue cuts back together, and is basically the same as skin glue), assorted bandages and gauze, and medical tape, an ace wrap, oint for rashes (ie caladryl), peroxide, or normal saline. Ibuprofen, anti-diarrheal meds, etc. The list can get long and complicated. Personalize your list to your needs. (I.e. - if you aren't allergic to poison ivy/oak/sumac, leave out the caladryl)
In addition to the basics, you can add whatever items you think you may need. Common items include:
1. flashlight/batteries or windup... if battery operated, you'll need batteries too.
2. emergency radio
3. fire starter kits
4. Bug repellent, sunblock
7. survival knife
8. fishing lures/line
9. signal mirror....
Remember to check your bags every few months for problems, leakes, and make sure everything is in proper working order.Make sure your knife didnt rust from a leaking bottle of water, your food isn't out of date (if it expires), your bandages are clean, etc.
So now that you're thinking about it, what items would you put in your bag?