I recently spent a few days out in the backcountry wilderness living out of my bag, miles away from the nearest town and long out of cell phone range. It was myself and my dog hiking a few miles a day at over 10,000 feet in elevation, getting in touch with nature and evaluating some gear. When out in that sort of environment one figures out really quickly what is essential and what is fluff with respect to gear, what works and what doesn’t. Since the bugout / survival bag is what we rely on to hold all of our essential equipment it stands to reason that this piece of kit should be near the top of the list with respect to how well it is taken care of. Unfortunately that isn’t the case in many instances, so here are 4 things that might be wrong with your bugout / survival bag.
1- It hasn’t been unpacked in 6 months
Cooler temps are approaching so does the gear in your bag reflect that? How long has it been since you completely emptied your bag, took and inventory and re-packed it? Far too often gear is packed and then allowed to sit which means folks forget what is where and items often expire.
2- It doesn’t have hydration bladder pockets
Water is everything out in the wilderness and you must have a good way to not only carry it but access it while on the move. Many good packs have built in hydration bladder pockets on the sides allowing for a 2 or 3 liter hydration bladder to be stuffed down in them. Run the hose down over the shoulder and drink while on the move, hook up a mini sawyer in line water filter for drinking river/lake water. The days of strapping canteens to a belt or the back of the pack are long gone for most, as there are much improved methods for carrying water.
3- The gear inside it has been chosen based on theory, not practical application.
Folks tend to buy gear based on other people’s opinions and there is nothing wrong with that, but has that gear been tested out in the field? Has the tent actually been set up, fire starting material tested, stove been used to cook food? Maybe there is a hatchet or other cool looking tool in there that is completely unnecessary, only way to find out is to get out there and test the gear.
4- It was purchased wholesale for $25 online.
It’s true, you get what you pay for. To build a quality pack you need quality materials and folks who know what they are doing. Time for design, R&D, manufacturing and advertising. All of these things are built into the cost of the product (a good bag in this case) so that the company can remain profitable. I know this seems like basic information but it stands to reason that a bag that runs $25 on the rack cannot possibly hold a candle to a pack that runs $350 or more. The type of materials in the more expensive pack will be more durable, the zippers and fasteners will be better, the internal frame and shoulder straps will be much more comfortable and on it goes. There are some good compromises out there which folks on a budget can look into but one must be careful when choosing a good bag. Go cheap and by the time mile 5 arrives you’ll be sorry you did.