Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Have you ever tried to put a bug out bag together and become overwhelmed or frustrated on what you should put in it? The same goes for Backpacking and whether you're into traditional or ultra-lite backpacking they both suffer from the same problems, what to bring and the weight you can carry! The choices out there are many, so many it's hard to know where to start. The only way to know you'll need for sure is to go out and do it, you'll need to camp or simulate the situations you might be in. So we decided to go through some starting gear and essentials you will need.
OK First piece of gear is your bag, now your intended use will determine type and size of the bag or backpack. 3 day bug out bag you might only need a pack 3000 cubic inches or smaller, longer duration and if you are supplementing your bugging out with a vehicle will also be a factor on what you'll actually need. If you are backpacking, whether it's a through hike or not you will need a bigger pack. Typically traditional backpacking packs 3400 cubic inches and larger will be needed, be aware, there are several types of backpacking groups that are into reducing weight until you're paying $500 plus for a backpack that may only last one or two trips! Do not get carried away with reducing the weight of you backpack, the better built pack will last longer, more reliable, and with that is worth the minuscule ounces extra you'll carry... You can save weight on other gear!
Now that you have a backpack the gear you'll need no matter what the situation will be the same, with a few differences.
- Maps, Navigation tools, compass/GPS
- Tent or Hammock (Rec camping)
- Sleeping Bag/pillow
- Lighting, flashlight/lantern/headlamp
- Fire starting equipment
- First Aid kit/IFAK/Tourniquet/bleed control
- Extra Clothes
- Rain gear
- cooking pot/pan/utensils/stove
- Food/MREs/Freeze dry/rations
- Water/water treatment/filtration
- Protection, firearms/bear spray
- Hygiene related,soap, hand sanitizer, wipes, TP, tooth brush/ paste.
The list above is what we would consider the starter setup, obviously some equipment you may not need, substitute, or add. Again, the situation will change what you'll need. For instance, bugging out for weeks, months, or longer you will need a means to hunt, trap, and grow your own food, picking berries ain't going to do it! So for camping and backpacking, the gear is where you can start to look at shaving weight. Training and knowing your physical limitations will help better prepare you for how much weight you can carry for a distance. After you figured out what gear is needed, you can then opt to get the lighter versions and start shaving the weight. Some equipment is just too heavy and some equipment can only be so light before it really is just crap gear that won't last.
Selecting the right gear is a whole other ordeal so here is some suggested gear that has been field tested and proven to not let you down. The first piece of gear you'll need is a compass. I myself carry 3 compasses...why you ask? Well to have back ups and one specifically for mapping.
The Suunto M-9 wrist compass is great when you are on the move, whether you're hiking, hunting, or scouting out a new campsite. Wearing this compass on your wrist allows you to quickly get a bearing and keep moving, when you have time then pull out your map and make course corrections needed.
This compass is accurate and easy to read because of it's large dial. The face also glows in the dark for a substantially long time with little light absorption. The Suunto M-9 compass has the reliability that a any GPS watch cannot match. Also this compass blows the doors any of the mini "clip on your wrist watch" compasses out there.
Tents are nothing special, except when it comes to their sizing. We have all been there, you buy a two person tent and it really only fits one person, unless you like sleeping like sardines in a tent. So tents come in all shape and sizes, they are also mission specific. What I mean is there are light weight backpacking tents, which are the lightest. and they go all the way to the canvas tents you pack on mules or horses because they weight 100 plus pounds! If you're bugging out you'll want a back packing tent until you find a secure location to build something more permanent. If bugging out in a vehicle you have a little more flexibility on tent selection, keep in mind you may still want a back packing tent in case the vehicle fails and you have to go on foot.
Another option instead of a tent is a bivy bag, it is like a sleeping bag. Bivy bag will keep you warm most are weather resistant and very light weight. Use a Tarp in combination with the bivy bag and you have extra protection from the weather and room to keep your gear dry. The Hammock also is a good option, you're off the ground and with a tarp again you're covered. They also have Hammocks that are enclosed that protect from rain and wind, like a bivy bag with hangers on each end. They are fast and easy to set up as long as you have trees to anchor them to. see Hennessy Hammocks.