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I am not a proponent of the "Bug-out Bag" philosophy. What I outlined in Part #1 is a list of essential items that would increase your chances of surviving an emergency situation dramatically if you were to find yourself stranded in the wilderness, or anywhere away from home, for a short period of time. This is with the understanding that you carry those items regularly and are thoroughly familiar with their uses.

Conversely, the "bug-out bag" philosophy being everything one could possibly need to endure an extended "SHTF" scenario. This would be a situation in which there is no help on the way; there aren’t any services available: no police, no fire department rescue squad; and which would possibly involve an extended trek to a predetermined, remote location. It may even be a situation in which a foreign army has invaded your community. In my mind one would have to have a tractor-trailer full of stuff to be properly outfitted for such a trek to some remote location; not just some modestly assembled backpack. Having said that, the following are my suggestions to be added to the list in part #1 for a "SHTF bug-out bag":

#1- At least one gas-mask and two extra filter/s in addition to the fresh filter/s in the mask; in a "SHTF" scenario the possibility of encountering chemical or biological agents is increased dramatically. A gas-mask is ineffective when worn over facial hair; men take note. You should also know how to properly don a gas-mask and practice wearing one. Additionally, you should carry disinfectant wipes to clean your mask; any kind of disinfectant wipes in sealed pouches will do; these can be in your first aid kit as well. In general; gas-masks and extra filters are the same as ammo and other things: in an overall SHTF scenario you can’t have too many. For an extended SHTF scenario; I consider a comfortable minimum to be ten extra filters or sets of filters for each gas mask; and a comfortable minimum number of masks would be three per person in your party. In the overall scheme of things, a gas mask is cheap insurance. Military surplus gas masks can be had for $25.00.

#2-A rifle and ammo: the basic combat load of ammunition today for a U.S. soldier is 210 rounds. In WWII the "BAR" man carried a minimum of 7-20 round magazines plus extra ammo to recharge his mags. I think that these guidelines illustrate the bare minimum. I knew a Vietnam veteran that carried more than twice the 210 rounds while on patrol; and he never regretted it; yet all he carried was his rifle and ammo, helmet and flak-jacket, water, poncho, change of socks, knife, and one LRRP.

If you were to find yourself in a SHTF scenario, 200+ rounds of ammunition could get burned up in a hurry, particularly if you are using a semi-automatic rifle. The U.S. Army basic combat load of 210 rounds is dependant on being re-supplied daily, something to think about.

I will never admit to how much ammo I have; but I will say this: it is considerably more than 210 rounds yet I do not consider it nearly enough. Consult "If I had One".

#3- You should carry, at the very least, two water bottles.

#4- Body armor is a great thing but it is heavy; keep this in mind. One of the first things I learned concerning cover and concealment while in the Corps was that a helmet telegraphs a distinct silhouette and is difficult to effectively disguise; another thing I learned early on was the more weight you carry the harder it is to move and hide. The modern Kevlar helmets weight 5 lbs. Try wearing one for an hour and then see what your neck feels like. A flak-jacket weighs over 10 pounds.

I have worn a tool belt professionally for almost 40 years. Carpenters refer to their belt as their "bags". I have everything positioned on my bags either on my hips on the sides or in the back. The reason for this: it is difficult to bend over (or climb), and you do a lot of bending over (and climbing) while working as a carpenter, with stuff attached to a belt in the front. So, it quickly becomes difficult to do your job with optimum efficiency with "stuff" on your belt in the front. Knowing this fact, I would not have anything on a pistol belt in front or have a vest on with stuff on my chest if I was in a SHTF scenario. Try flopping down on the ground in a hurry with full magazines in pouches on your stomach on a pistol-belt or a pistol in a shoulder holster on your chest; then try crawling around a little. If this alone doesn’t convince you, try getting into a decent prone position to return fire at the person that was just shooting at you when you first flopped into the dirt while lying atop a bunch of gear strapped to your belly and chest. Even stuff in your front pockets are an encumbrance.

#5- At least two changes of skivvies and socks along with at least one change of clothes. When I was in the Corps I carried extra socks and skivvies along with my issue "woolie-pullie" sweater rolled up in my poncho; then the poncho was strapped to my pistol belt with trouser bands situated in the small of my back. For a "SHTF" scenario rain gear should not be "hi-vis" for obvious reasons.

#6- Weapon cleaning gear. This is one of the few times I would suggest a segmented cleaning rod, see "Gun Maintenance part 1"; along with a small amount of bore cleaner, patch material, and oil.

#7- "Shoe-goo" for minor repairs of footwear; this is great stuff; available at Wal-Mart; I use it on the toes of my work boots to extend the boot’s serviceable life.

#8- Historically, more people succumb to disease in a protracted survival situation opposed to wounds or injuries. Dysentery due to poor sanitation, food poisoning due to unclean food preparation, and infection from these two things and poor wound care are major causes of fatalities in a long term survival scenario. Therefore, proper hygiene and sanitation are of paramount importance in a SHTF scenario.

A few years ago, I read an article written by a man who survived the protracted civil war that went on for years in the Balkans in the ‘90s. He wrote that common, household, cleaning supplies and first-aid supplies became just as valuable as guns & ammo during those dark days. While he did write that guns & ammo remained the #1 priority, he wrote that everyone should also stock-up on these items: soap for bathing and general cleaning; bandages and antiseptic; gun cleaning supplies. Another major concern was a source for clean drinking water. The average person can survive for weeks or even months on little food but no one can go for more than a few days without adequate water; and in a stressful environment a body’s water requirements increase. Pets will add to your water requirements; many people have dogs as part of their "early warning system".

Something else the Balkan survivor wrote: cultivate good relations with your neighbors, friends, and family. No one can survive as an island under those conditions; if for no other reason, a body has to sleep sometime. Granted, I know for certain that this issue can be very difficult given these "politically correct" times.

If you need any dental work done, do so ASAP. When I was a senior in high school, I met a Vietnam Vet who was also a P.O.W. for 5+ years. One of the things I have always remembered from that meeting was he told me that more than one U.S. P.O.W. ended it all because of extreme dental pain during their captivity. Because of this experience, I have practiced good dental hygiene my entire adult life. Good dental hygiene now will go a long way to helping you survive a SHTF scenario in the future. F.Y.I.: I use baking soda to brush my teeth with; I have been doing so for 30+ years. Not only is baking soda cheaper than toothpaste but it is healthier too.

These things are "must haves" and "should do’s" for a "SHTF" scenario and I consider all of these items together as a minimum. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that what I have out-lined here in parts 1 & 2 add up to a significant amount of weight. Honestly, I would not want to carry all of it on my back for an extend period of time.

If I was thrust into a SHTF situation in which I was afoot and wanted to carry everything I have outlined here, I would acquire a cart of some type to carry it all. Then, the only items I would have on my person would be my rifle, sidearm, ammo, knife, matches, and water.

Yes, there are other things one could carry and conceivably need which are limited only by one’s imagination, pocket book, and how much weight one can endure; but a wise person would be well prepared for just about any emergency with the part #1 list, #1-#15, in a small pack; even if their original intent was an afternoon walk in the woods. If I were going for an afternoon walk in the woods, I would likely leave the tool kit in my vehicle, but carry everything else; if I planned on an extended stay (such as a camping trip) though I would bring the tool kit. Then, if I were planning a camping trip, I would also have food; some more clothes but not a whole lot; a sleeping bag; tent; cook gear; a small shovel (a G.I. "e-tool" is great, I prefer the old style with the fixed handle); along with the bar of soap & washcloth and a towel; men may likely have a shaving kit and women feminine products. I would also have a small container of 8p common nails, 100’ of para-chord (this is good for many things, extra shoe-laces being one) and at least 50’ of rope, 3/8" minimum. The tensile strength of rope varies widely; braided nylon rope is the strongest. If the possibility of encountering a bear exists, I would substitute a .44 magnum for the .357 minimum but a rifle is even better; a 30-30 lever-gun would be an excellent choice.

When I was in the Scouts, for clothes, I carried the following for a week-long camping trip in addition to what I was wearing: one pair of pants; three each T-shirts, skivvies, pairs of socks; one heavy shirt; one sweater. If it was winter: extra long-johns; a heavy, winter coat; a scarf and hat; an extra blanket. That was in the ‘60s; now I would substitute sweats for the long-johns, carry a few hoodies (pull-over type, zippers break), and substitute bib-overalls for the pants; I live in bib-overalls. F.Y.I. camo bibs are available. I think bib-overalls and hoodies are the two most versatile, most practical, articles of clothing ever invented.

Some last suggestions: 1- Anything in your survival kit that requires batteries should be stored with the batteries not installed in the device unless you plan on checking the device frequently; batteries corrode quickly when stored installed in a device. Battery technology has advanced significantly in the last ten years. Common sized batteries now have upwards of a ten year shelf life when properly stored. I suggest stocking up. 2- Try "camping" in your backyard first; for practice. 3- Be thoroughly familiar with all the gear in your kit and its’ use. 4- I knew a man once whose philosophy about almost everything (including his car) was "have a spare & a repair". To elaborate slightly: he had three of anything he considered essential; a main unit, a spare, and a back-up spare. When working as a carpenter; I carry my hammer and have a spare in my car; I carry a 30’ tape rule and have a spare in my car; etc. The "repairs" are in my garage. 5- If you use any tobacco products i.e. smoke, chew, or "dip" quit ASAP. 6- If you drink alcoholic beverages regularly either quit or cut back your consumption; you will feel better. 7- If you take prescription drugs regularly: stock up; investigate natural alternatives; or eliminate your use of these drugs if at all feasible. 8- Any footwear you may have set aside for a SHTF scenario should be "seasoned" i.e. broken-in and if leather they should be oiled. 9- Get in shape. Start a physical fitness regimen today. 10- Have at least a three month supply of food on hand; store what you eat and eat what you store.

A story: in January 1984, I hitch-hiked across the country; from Chicago to San Francisco. It was one of the coldest Januarys on record in the Midwest. I got stranded in the middle of Iowa the first night for four hours or so; the temp was -35°F without the wind. The only clothes I had with me were the clothes I was wearing which consisted of: skivvies and t-shirt, long-john shirt and britches, jeans, a wool sweater and cap, a winter coat, one pair of socks and non-insulated work boots (no gloves). In my pockets I had my pocket knife, matches, and $20.00. The truck-stop I had been dropped off at earlier kicked me out because I wasn’t buying anything. Ha! Fooled them! I built a fire under an over-pass on the highway to keep warm until someone stopped to offer me a ride. You would be surprised how easily things burn at -35º. I made it all the way to San Francisco; it took four days. Ultimately, I lived in northern California, in the woods, for two months. It was then that I experienced living without running water and electricity for an extended period of time; it sucks. I still have the winter coat; my wife named it my "homeless coat"; it now lives in my car in the winter.

It is far, far better to have something and not need that thing than to need something and not have it.​

WD-40 uses:
1.Remove pesky scuff marks by spraying it on the floor and scrubbing with a hard-bristle brush.
2.Unstuck two glasses stacked together.
3.You can clean your toilet with WD-40!
4.Use it to shine up your license plate.
5.Glue stuck on your fingers? Spray it with WD-40 and it will quickly break down.
6.Hate wasps? They hate WD-40....
7.Use it to keep the handles of wooden garden tools splinter free.
8.You can unstuck zippers with WD-40
9.If you just worked on your car’s engine, use this spray to degrease your hands.
10.Remove the goo from stickers from almost any surface.
11.Loosen up a carpet stain.
12.Remove paint scuffs on your car by spraying on WD-40 and rubbing off the scuff.
13.WD-40 can polish and protect your golf clubs.
14.Detangle fishing line. Simply spray the tangle with WD-40 and use a safety pin to detangle the mess.
15.If you have gum in your hair, WD-40 can help you get it out. Spray and massage out the gum.
16.Try a test area first but WD-40 can help you remove market and crayon stains from your upholstered furniture.
17.Clean dried glue up by spraying it, letting it sit for 30 seconds, then wipe it clean.
18.Have tea stains of your Formica countertops? Use WD-40 to remove them easily.
19.Have trouble taking a ring off your finger? Use WD-40 and wash your hands when you’re done.

​​​​​​​​A Basic Survival Kit
Part 2: SHTF/"Bug-out Bag"

By Tim Siewert

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