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Deluxe Plus Back Pack Package

As I mentioned in a previous post, recent events have made me relook into my disaster preparations. I still have my fully stocked 72-hour food kit, but this time I wanted to focus on the Bug Out Bag (BOB). For newcomers to the concept, the BOB (also called a Go Bag) is the one bag that you “grab and go” in case of an emergency, for example, a mandatory evacuation. The BOB contains essentials that will get your through the next 24-72 hours while you get to your next destination. You might need to use a BOB just once in a lifetime, but consider it insurance. I want to show that it’s not difficult to assemble a BOB, and that it doesn’t have to cost you a bomb, either.

You can spend a lot of money getting the best equipment and gear for your Bug Out Bag, but of course you don’t have to. Just about everything that I list will be available at your local department store / supermarket / hypermarket. In fact, I went to a department store which was recently opened near my house to do some reconnaissance and price checking. Some items are probably lying around unused in your homes.

Here’s the list :

Essential

Backpack
LED flashlight with batteries
Whistle
Sharp knife / swiss army knife
Lighter and / or matches
First Aid Kit
Duct Tape
Bottled Water
Snack food
Large black trash/garbage bag
Pencil and paper
Bandanna / Large Handkerchief
Cash

Optional
Change of Clothes
Coil of rope
Toilet roll / wet wipes

That’s it. I deliberately kept the list simple so that it’s easy for you to get started. Here are the items with some brief explanation and local prices. At current exchange rates, your US$1 buys around RM3.50.

Backpack

Bug Out Bag backpack

You want to have a strong, sturdy and comfortable backpack. After all, you may have to carry it around for a while. If you’re like me, you’ll probably have a couple of older backpacks which are unused. It doesn’t have to be large, just enough to carry all the stuff and good enough to survive a couple days’ worth of tough use. I used an old backpack which I got for free from some event. You can get a new backpack for around RM30.

LED flashlight

LED Flashlight for Bug Out Bag

A flashlight is used both to light your way at night, but it’s tremendously useful if you get stuck in an apartment building or office complex. An LED flashlight doesn’t have a “bulb” that can break or burn out. A basic LED flashlight will set you back RM20 (including batteries) — it won’t be super-bright, but should offer a long run time. Make sure your flashlight uses common batteries (AA is good). You can buy a couple of Lithium AA batteries for RM17. Expensive, but Lithium batteries will last you a real long time, both in terms of run time capacity (should be enough to power your flashlight for a week’s continuous use) and storage (they are good for 5 years or more, and unlike alkalines, they won’t leak and spoil the flashlights.)

Whistle

whistle for bug out bag

You can only shout so loudly for so long, so a whistle is essential to attract attention if you’re trapped. A basic whistle costs RM4.

Sharp knife / Swiss Army Knife

Climber, Stay Glow, 91mm

A knife is a must in any BOB. With a knife, you can make other simple tools and you’ll find it useful when you need to cut in an emergency, for example cutting cloth to make bandages. I recommend a Swiss Army Knife (SAK) for its compactness and multiple tools. The Climber is a good basic SAK, although it does cost around RM100. Any knife will do, even a kitchen knife costing RM20. Learn how to use it properly. Remember, a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife.

Lighter and / or matches

Windmill Classic Stormproof Lighter

You need fire if you want to boil water, keep warm, or create a signal which will be visible from a distance. A simple butane lighter will cost RM1, so you can buy a couple for redundancy. You can grab a box of matches the next time you’re in a hotel.

First Aid Kit

Starter First Aid Kit

Unless you’re trained in first aid, you have to make do with whatever is available. Get a simple first aid kit to handle minor cuts and bruises. A basic first aid kit will cost around RM30, but you can also build your own from scratch. If you have an extremely limited budget, just grab a pack of band-aids (RM2-3) and a strip of Panadol / paracetamol (RM3).

Duct Tape

duct tape

This is the magic ingredient that holds everything together. There are hundreds of uses of duct tape, from patching holes in your shoes to holding together makeshift bandages. You can get a roll of duct tape for RM3. Get a bright, reflective colour so you can also use it to attract attention.

Bottled Water

bottled water, gatorade

You know about this already. Keep hydrated. A bottle of distilled drinking / mineral water costs RM0.40-0.80. You can also opt for sports drinks; their bottles tend to be of better quality, so you can use them for refills.

Snack food

peanuts and raisins

Water is more important than food, but you do need to keep your energy levels up. Make your own “trail mix”. A small box of raisins and a packet of peanuts cost RM1 each. Get unsalted peanuts, otherwise you get more dehydrated. If you want some more substantial food, toss a can of tuna (RM2-3) in your BOB. Make sure you get a can with a pull-tab for fast and easy opening; some cans also include a small spoon. If you are concerned about weight (the BOB’s weight, that is, not yours) you can get tuna in foil packets now (RM4). Check expiry dates at the time of purchase and remember to rotate the food supply in your BOB at least once a year.

tuna in can and tuna in foil pack

Large black trash/garbage bag

You should have some of these bags in the house. Fold a couple of black bags, tie them up with rubber bands, and keep them in the BOB. These can be used to create a simple shelter, a blanket/sleeping bag or a raincoat. Use your imagination.

Pencil and paper
For leaving messages and keeping notes. You can sharpen the pencil with your knife, and you can use the wood shavings and paper as a firestarter.

Bandanna / Large Handkerchief

Paisley Cotton Bandanas

Again, a multiple-use item. Aside from wiping sweat, you can use this for bandages, slings, water filter, and much more.

Cap / Headwear

Nintendo Wii Baseball Cap (One Size Fits All)

I’m sure you have a couple of free baseball caps somewhere. Since I live in Malaysia, it’s either very sunny or raining.

Cash

RM5 cash five ringgit

Sooner or later you’ll run out of supplies. Make sure you have some cash available in your Bug Out Bag. Small change is good, since you’ll most probably spend your money at a 7-11 or small grocery shop. I like the RM5 note, it’s made of polymer (plastic) so it’s waterproof and doesn’t tear easily. I recommend having RM100 handy, but even RM10 will help.

Optional Items
There are many optional items for a Bug Out Bag. It all depends on what you need. If you have space, put in a change of clothes — something light (e.g. track bottoms, soccer jerseys). You can add a toilet roll for hygiene reasons. Wet wipes (RM3 for a small pack) are good for cleaning grime and will keep you freshened up in absence of a shower.

So, depending on what you already have, you’d spend around RM100 to RM300 on a Bug Out Bag. It’s not a big price to pay, and it might just save your life. Keep you BOB near an exit in your house. Keep one in your car.

I think this will make a practical, thoughtful gift for the holiday season. I’d love to hear from you once you’ve assembled your own Bug Out Bag.



  1. Robert Kostelny on Sunday 14, 2008

    Check out these pre-packed, durable bug out bags for emergency preparedness, earthquakes, floods, ice storms, hurricane preparedness, FEMA and Insurance companys and Utility Repair workers. Its light weight, highly portable and well thought out assembly of items.

  2. WITWCT on Sunday 14, 2008

    One thing I don’t see covered is a means of self-defense. I know we don’t like to think about it but if a bug out bag is needed there may also be a need to defend yourself against crime or attack here is a link to a good article addressing this:

    http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/survival-guns/selecting-guns-for-bug-out-bag/

  3. Sam on Sunday 14, 2008

    If you are going to put a pencil in your BOB, it is definitely worth putting in a sharpener, even just a cheap one, as it will be easier to use and will give paper-thin shavings, perfect for fire-lighting! It is worth taking even if you don’t have a pencil, for that reason alone, but it can also be used to put a sharp point on a stick, especially if the sharpener is one of the two-hole ones.


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