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So I was reading on another forum and came across an excellent post on some of the basic tools you should carry if you plan on wheeling, especially if you have an older vehicle thats prone to failure.
A Note: This is Greta's "Everyday Carry" load-out, and thus is for mechanical tools ONLY. Trail gear, repair parts and electrical tools are not included, here...mostly because I need more material for articles in the future. It's assembled for MY Jeep, based on MY experiences, and with MY anticipated needs...your own mileage can and WILL vary. With that said: enjoy, my darlings.
The TJ Toolkit: Ultralight, Essential and Basic.
Here's the problem with assembling an ultralight tool kit for a Jeep: there's no simple way to do it, because it's very, very easy to add too many tools and take up too much space. However, at length, I've been successful. I managed to pack a LOT of capability into something that's about the same size as a small take-out bag from your favorite fast-food establishment: a small zippered case that's designed to strap onto some bicycle handlebars, which has here been commandeered for use by The Republic of Dave.
Pictured: Ooh! It's fun-sized!
Yeah, yeah, I know...Sasha Grey would have been a much better scaled reference model, but since she evidently doesn't know how the phone works, anymore, I had to settle for the next best thing: waffle fries and a ball peen hammer. You can have almost as much fun with those as you can with a porn star...if you're creative enough. However, I'm sure that - at this point - some of you don't think I got very much crammed into that little bag. Okay, fine...allow me to address those concerns by quoting Eric Cartman:
Pictured: "Screw you guys."
Starting to get an idea of how difficult it was to complete this little project, aren't you? If not, you're probably a slower member of the class and you probably need a little more convincing. Okay, fine...allow me to address those concerns by again quoting Eric Cartman:
Pictured: "YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!"
Now that picture...mmm...that's hot. And when I say "hot" I totally mean it in the same way that Paris Hilton does...but I can't say it like she can. What I can say is this: If you have a setup like this on-board you can effect some seriously extensive trail repairs...and if you don't understand how that's possible then you had best stay the f*** out of the Wasteland, hombre. Depending on your perspective this kit may seem either very extensive or very minimalist, but either of those views is comparatively meaningless: the important comparison to make is one of overall repair capability to totally-packaged size. Simply put: this setup becomes pretty damned impressive when you realize how much you can do with it.
Before we get into the piece-by-piece breakdown, I want to make a quick point: it's very easy to sledgehammer your way into a workable toolkit for your Jeep. All you have to do is pack every tool in your garage into a toolbag and throw it behind the backseat...but that's not the most elegant of answers, now is it? In fact, it's worse than inelegant...it's needlessly cumbersome. Why? Because Jeeps only utilize a limited number of fasteners and fastener sizes.
Think about it: there aren't too many different sizes...thus, by throwing your entire garage tool set - or even a moderate portion of it - into a carry-on bag, you wind up with a LOT of tools that you don't need. I ran into this issue when working on Greta's suspension: I felt like I was endlessly sorting through the wrench and socket drawers, and always looking for the same four sizes. The body lift was the same way, as was the eventual brake upgrade. Sure, there were some specialty fasteners here and there, but that didn't change the fact that most foreseeable trail repairs were going to require only a basic set of tools. It was at this point that the quest for a lightweight, always-onboard toolkit was born...and it was also at this point that I became wary of a snag...
That picture shows the biggest problem with this kind of project: the needless stuff that you have to purchase in order to get the useful pieces that you want. If you're pulling tools from your garage-based sets, well, bully for you, old chap...but if you buy anything in "set" form - wrenches, sockets, drivers, bits or specialty tools - you will likely end up purchasing a piece or two that you'll rarely use. I said it before, and I'll repeat it here: if the TJ Toolkit already existed, I wouldn't have spent so much time piecing one together. I suggest that you buy the sets and put the other stuff aside for the rare occasions that you need them. Only carry what you realistically need.
This little obstacle prompted me to give the matter some thought and come up with a few Deceptively Simple Project Goals before I even sat down to figure out a specific tool list. These objectives were as follows:
- Keep it as small, light and affordable as possible.
- Keep the number of "dedicated" single-purpose tools to a minimum.
- Maximize the use and inclusion of multi-function tools.
- Select tools that offer easy redundancy without being useless.
- Exclude as much uselessness as possible.
Valuable Information: By keeping these points in mind, I was able to constantly refine the tool list into an ever-more practical assembly. If you are going to attempt to do something similar, I advise that you spend a week or two going over your Jeep and figuring out what you think you will need. By keeping the aforementioned goals in mind and assessing YOUR SPECIFIC NEEDS, you can end up with a pleasantly portable list of tools.
A Pleasantly Portable Set of Tools.
We all know how much re-thinking, second-guessing and reorganization went into this setup. At the end of that process, what did I come up with? This:
The above picture will show you what all can be stuffed into that tiny little bag.
- 12-point combination wrenches in the most-needed sizes.
- 12-point, 3/8"-drive sockets to back up the wrenches.
- A flex-head ratchet, an extension or two, and a couple of specialty sockets.
- A beating utensil of some sort.
- An effective pry bar (not shown in picture).
- The best adjustable pliers I could get my hands on.
- An adjustable wrench.
- A pair of locking pliers.
- A Leatherman multitool (not shown in picture).
- An interchangeable-bit screwdriver.
- A comprehensive bit set.
- A 3/8" finger ratchet.
- A spline-drive dogbone wrench.
Let's have a more detailed look, now.
The Most Basic of Basics: Wrenches.
Pictured: I don't even have a witty caption for this.
Let me preface this by saying that I'd love to have a set of combination ratcheting wrenches. They're just as useful as the combination models that I've shown here, but with more utility added to the boxed end...and I'm pretty strict when it comes to having a 12-point boxed end and an open end on the same wrench. At first glance it might seem better to have two open ends and cut down on the number of wrenches that one is carrying, but a couple of factors make the open/box combination the better option:
- Some fasteners are easier to grip with a boxed end, and the 12-point can grab a slightly-fubared bolt head a bit easier than a standard hex. Also, you usually don't need the ultratorqueableness of a 6-point drive.
- Some fasteners are NOT easier to grab with a boxed end...and some are downright impossible. Thus, an open end becomes a necessity, and box/box ends are right out.
- The open end of one wrench can fit into the boxed end of another as an improvised cheater.
- Going to open/open end models really doesn't help cut down on the size of the finished kit...it's still going to fit in the same bag because other tools are responsible for determining the minimum size of the necessary tool bag.
- Certain areas - the lower rear shock mount, for example - have a different sized fastener on each side. God forbid you need 16mm and 18mm wrenches at the same time, if you only have open/open combinations.
Which sizes did I select? In metric I chose 10mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm, 15mm and 18mm. In standard, I selected 1/2", 5/8" and 3/4". Why these specific sizes? Well, these are the ones that I used to rip apart a suspension and most of a front axle, and also to take the body off the frame. They'll also access fuel rails, coil rails, the battery, radiator shroud bolts and a plethora of other small things. The was about the easiest decision I had to make.
Slightly More Involved: Ratchets and Sockets.
Pictured: "That motherf***** put a finger ratchet in the kit? WTF?"
Everything you see here is 3/8" drive...mostly because it's smaller and lighter than 1/2" drive, and offers a lot more strength than 1/4". Although I use it all the time in the garage, there's really no reason to pack 1/2" stuff in a repair kit. 3/8" is a perfect solution. Here's the rationale for everything else you see:
- The conventional sockets are in sizes to match the wrenches. I chose deep sockets in case I needed to slip over bolts or studs.
- I added a 13/16" socket to address additional/differing lug nuts and spark plug sizes.
- The ratchet is a flex-head...it gives me a bit longer reach, a 3/4" pipe will slip over it as a cheater bar, and - most importantly - it fits into places that a standard ratchet won't. If you really want to get comfy you can include a universal joint as well...that'll let your ratchet driveline flex like a whore on Valium.
- The extensions are almost necessary for accessing some back-of-the-world fasteners or components. Try to change a spark plug or loosen a rear shock or loosen lug nuts on a Moab rim without them.
- The long-shaft Torx drives fit the larger fasteners on board. Roll bars bolts, seat belt bolts, sway bar bolts. Since Torx stuff can easily strip, I got the long-shaft sockets in order to allow me to wrap my hand around them and hold them solidly in place, which will hopefully prevent cam-outs.
- The 17mm hex fits my transmission drain plug. Also, a 3/8" drive ratchet accesses my differentials. No worries about being able to drain and change contaminated fluid.
- "It's amazing, how you can get by without the necessities of life, provided that you have the little luxuries..." and that's why you see the otherwise-pointless inclusion of a 3/8" drive finger ratchet. Until I had one of these, I didn't miss it...but it makes certain things a LOT more comfortable to do.
And Now: A Tribute to Jane Austen.
Yes, I've read that book. Northanger Abbey, as well. The latter is better. Anyway, why select a mid-sized ball-peen hammer?
- It's the one I pick up most often because it's a "Goldilocks" size...not too big and not too small. A sledge would be overkill, and other hammer shapes just don't do as well for me...I like the round face of the ball peen.
- It's a functional size for other hammering chores around the trail or camp...it's not just limited to Jeep repair. Try and pound in tent stakes with a 3-lb. sledge. Go ahead. Seriously. It'll be fun. I wouldn't lie to you about this.
- In a pinch, the wooden shaft can be fashioned into a serviceable anti-vampire stake. This is good to know in case you're out Jeeping with James Woods, which would be TOTALLY F****** AWESOME.
I should probably include a picture of the Sundowner Special pry bar, but since you guys have already seen an entire writeup on that (and ridiculed it) I'll leave it be.
Backup: The Dogbone Wrench
Pictured: Not for use on real dogs. Only robotic dogs.
It's honestly pretty rare when something gimmicky actually works...but I thought I'd give this little thing a shot and see what I could do with it. Against all odds it's actually pretty useful....mostly because this is a spline-drive tool, and the spline-drive is expressly designed to grab a multitude of fasteners: 6-point, 12-point, square, external hex, external Torx, and - here's the big one - damaged heads. If you get some rock rash on a bolt or you round it off with another tool, you've got a way to potentially grab it with one of these. If you don't think that they work as well as they do, then consider the following fact: I replaced a set of brake calipers on my front end using nothing but this tool. I've also been testing it out here and there when I'm working on things, just to see if it holds up...and thus far, it's been a win. I think this one has earned its place with me.
Filling In The Gaps: The Adjustables
Pictured: Here's where you spend some money...
...and it's money well-spent. This is why I don't worry about carrying every possible wrench and socket on the planet: if I don't have a given specific size on hand, chances are that one of these babies will fit it.
- The adjustable wrench is self-explanatory...it fits anything within its range of adjustment. There's no reason to go without one. When you get one, get a decent brand because they work only as well as their drive screws allow. I've always had good luck with a basic Crescent.
- The Vise-Grip pliers can grab onto even the most bashed of fasteners. They can also clamp shut and stay locked...very valuable if you need to pinch off a line or hose of some sort. They also have a hard wire cutter at the base of the jaws, and - again - a 3/4" pipe will can be used as a cheater bar with them.
- The adjustable pliers are another "gotta have it" item...and this is an area where you don't want to skimp. My personal favorites are Knipex Alligators...they feature an exceptional design and they're of the best quality. They adjust quickly, they have a thin-profile head, and they'll grip just about anything you wrap them around...including round bars. This becomes very crucial if you need to grab anything around your steering linkage. And YET AGAIN you can put the 3/4" pipe on them as a cheater bar...the design of these is so good that they'll grab something with almost no pressure applied to hold them shut. They work almost like a pipe wrench; this is why Knipex markets them as a water pump plier.
Truth be told, you could probably cut out most of the sockets and wrenches just by having these three tools on hand...but you still won't cut down the size of the tool bag it will take to carry them, and it will still take up the same amount of space. So, if you're going to use up space, then use it well...don't limit yourself to just these. Carry the tools you need.
Speaking of Things That You Need: The Leatherman.
Pictured: +5 Bonus to "Escape Artist" checks.
"Hi, I'm Ricky Bobby, and if you don't chew Big Red, then F*** YOU."
- Ricky Bobby
That's how I feel about carrying a Leatherman. If you don't see the use in having access to one on a 24-hour-per-day basis, then you, Sir, are not a Man of Action. I'm not even going to detail the number of uses that a multitool has because we don't have that much bandwidth left on JeepForum. Suffice to say that they'll handle a retarded number of tasks, and all that you really need to do is pick one that gives you the best blend of small tools for your purposes. I love the Wave, myself...needle-nose pliers/fuse pullers, wire cutter, saw, two backup knives, scissors, etc, etc. Others of you may have different concerns and need a different model...but I wouldn't stray too far from Leatherman, personally. They're worth every bit of the price tag. I've had mine since the Wave model first came out and I haven't been nice to it...but it's still going strong. 'Nuff said.
A Mark of Sophistication: Choosing The Best Screwdriver.
Pictured: Go easy on the vodka and heavy on the bit storage.
Also, as a rule, longer shafts are better.
Use enough higher-end tools and eventually you'll find the name "Wiha" on some of them. Wiha isn't known much in this country outside of scientific or special-application industries, but they're a German company that makes some seriously nice hardware...and they also happen to make a hellishly-good screwdriver. This particular model has a longer-than-average shaft, a very ergonomic handle, and - for the win - storage for standard 1/4" driver bits in the handle.
There's no sense at all in carrying individual screwdrivers...those are best left in the garage due to their sheer bulk. A multi-bit driver is a great option, here, but if you look at most of the "6-in-1" or "10-in-one" screwdrivers that are out there you'll see that they usually take double-ended or 5/16" bits. That kind of sucks: if you lose one they're hard to replace, and they seem to have a lot of ball-and-spring retainers in them instead of magnets. By contrast, 1/4" driver bits are easy to find in all kinds of sizes, and not only does this particular model accept those, but it comes preloaded with two flat bits, two Phillips, and four Torx bits...all in sizes that we find on our TJ's. It also has a retard-strong magnet in the head, which keeps all your bits securely attached to the shaft. It's almost PERFECT for a Jeep kit...so, honestly, what more could you ask for?
This, for me, is the final word in screwdriver bit collections.
- Torx bits from T10 through T40, all with backups, and triples of the T15, T20 and T25. Those are the ones I f*** the most.
- Phillips bits, P1 through P3 with four of the common P2's. Also, extended shanks.
- The most common of the flathead sizes...great for hose clamps. Also, extended shanks here as well.
- 1/4" and 5/16" nut drivers.
- The common square-drive bits...just in case we're stuck in the Wasteland with nothing but cabinetry screws.
- 1/4" and 3/8" drive adapters. Can't hurt to have 'em.
- Allen bits in the smaller sizes. Why these? I seem to have a lot of Allen fasteners.
It took a bit of money to get this collection assembled, but it's what I felt I needed due to my particular conditions. You may be able to get by with just the driver itself, or you may want particular/different bits. I'd suggest the driver's load as a basic starting point...where you go from there is up to you.
Let me re-emphasize one vital and all-important factor: I assembled this tool kit based on my own personal experience. It's a big trump card to have in case Greta breaks on the trail, but it may or may not work out for you and YOUR Jeep. As always, make an honest appraisal of your particular needs and start from there...and also, re-assess these values over time. As things change and modifications are made, you may need different tools to keep yourself in solid shape when a disaster happens. With that said, I hope that what I've put together here will either function well for you on its own, or serve as inspiration for your own project...and I hope that whatever you assemble, you have to use it as little as possible.
I think it's time for a beer, boys.
Stay tuned...there's always more on the way from The Republic of Dave.
If it's worth doing, then it's worth overdoing.
The Republic of Dave: Bringing you the finest in simian testing supplies.
The build, the gear, and the mileage: The Wasteland Survival Guide
the pictures didn't carry over so i suggest you go on the link below and read the article there.
on top of the list above, shackles and straps are definitely a great idea. you have to keep in mind that someone may come along who can give you a pull but they might not have the recovery equipment to help you.
if you're stuck in the woods you'll atleast be able to sleep in your vehicle.
but should you choose to abandon it (which isnt recommended) then you'll need to be able to walk out and find help.
a good go-bag/bug-out-bag should be able to get you through atleast 72 hours of shit hits the fan. hopefully you'll be rescued by that time.
heres a good article on kits:
How to Make a Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Emergency Evacuation Survival Kit
by A MANLY GUEST CONTRIBUTOR on MARCH 7, 2011 · 236 COMMENTS
in MANLY SKILLS, SELF-RELIANCE, SURVIVAL
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Creek Stewart of Willow Haven Outdoor.
The term ‘Bugging Out’ refers to the decision to abandon your home due to an unexpected emergency situation–whether a natural disaster or one caused by man. A ‘Bug Out Bag’ is a pre-prepared survival kit designed to sustain you through the journey to your destination once you’ve decided to ‘Bug Out’ in the event of an emergency evacuation. Typically, the Bug Out Bag (BOB) is a self-contained kit designed to get you through at least 72 hours. This kit is also referred to as a 72-Hour Bag, a Get Out Of Dodge Bag (GOOD Bag), an EVAC Bag, and a Battle Box.
The thought of having to evacuate your home due to a sudden and imminent threat is not at all unrealistic. The reality is that sudden and uncontrollable events of nature and man do happen. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, storms, earthquakes, floods and volcanic explosions can strike fast and hard–wreaking havoc on homes, vehicles, roads, medical facilities and resource supply chains such as food, water, fuel, and electricity. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Southern US Coast just a few years ago, tens of thousands of people had to evacuate their homes with little warning. Unprepared and with no emergency plan, many of these people were completely dependent on scavenging and hand-outs while living in make-shift shelters–fending for themselves in a time of complete chaos and disorder. A 72-Hour Emergency Kit packed with survival essentials would have been an invaluable and priceless resource. In our unstable and unpredictable world economy, we would be foolish to think there is also no chance of a terrorist or military attack from forces domestic or foreign that could possibly force us to evacuate our own home. An act of war is not the only threat from man. Dams burst, power plants go down, pipelines explode, oil spills occur, and other man-made structures and facilities can fail, resulting in disaster. Outbreaks of sickness and disease could also warrant an evacuation.
We cannot control when, where, or how disasters strike. But we can control how prepared we are to deal with a disaster. There is a fine line between order and chaos and sometimes that line can be measured in seconds. When every second counts, having a plan and the tools to see that plan through are crucial to survival. The Bug Out Bag is your #1 resource in your overall Bug Out Plan and may very well be your key to survival one day.
There are 10 supply categories that need to be considered when assembling your Bug Out Bag. Before we dig into each of these categories it is important that I discuss the bag (or pack rather) itself. Your Bug Out Bag needs to be a backpack. It needs to be large enough and sturdy enough to contain the gear necessary to get you through 72 hours of independent survival. You need to be comfortable carrying it for extended periods of time. And, in my opinion, you don’t want to APPEAR TO BE PREPARED and STOCKED with gear. A ‘tricked-out-pack’ can make you a target of people who want the supplies that you have. Try not to let your pack send the message that you are stocked to the brim with all kinds of survival necessities. Keep it basic. I personally use a SnugPak Rocket Pack as my Bug Out Bag.
Once you have chosen your pack, below are the 10 supply categories that need to be considered when assembling the contents of your Bug Out Bag:
Category #1: WATER
You will need at least 1 liter of water per day for proper hydration–preferably more, especially considering hygiene concerns and certain weather conditions. Since this is a 72 Hour Survival Kit, that means it needs to contain 3 liters of fresh drinking water–minimum. This water should be stored in 2-3 durable containers with at least one of them being collapsible to reduce bulk as the water is used. A metal army canteen is another good choice because it can be used to boil drinking water that is collected ‘in the field’ if your immediate supply runs dry. I carry a collapsible Platypus water bottle, a 32 oz. Nalgene water bottle, and a metal US Army issue canteen.
Because water is so critical to survival, I highly recommended also packing at least 2 water purification options. Boiling water for 10 minutes is an option but is not always the most convenient. I suggest packing 1 water filtration system and also some water purification tablets. I personally pack a Katadyn Hiker Pro Filtration System, an Aquamira Survival Straw (as a backup) and sodium chlorite water purification tablets. The 3 options of boiling, filtering, and chemical treatment will give you more flexibility in securing one of your most basic survival needs: clean water.
Category #2: FOOD
Don’t worry about planning for three well balanced meals per day–this is survival, not vacation. I’ve gone on many survival trips where I haven’t eaten for a few days, so you can live without any food at all for 72 hours. However, it isn’t pleasant. You should pack simple & easy to prepare meals. Canned meats and beans are great options. Canned beef or chicken stews are equally as effective. If the weight of your Bug Out Bag is an issue, dehydrated camping meals are excellent choices. Remember, though, they require hot water to prepare–so that means a stove or fire and valuable time (if you are traveling). Military MREs are also good options. They have a long shelf-life, contain their own heating systems, and are very packable. They can be expensive, though. I would also suggest tossing in a few energy bars and candy bars. These are packed with calories and carbs–both of which are extremely important.
When we discuss food, we also need to discuss preparing it. A very simple cooking kit is all you should need. It should contain at least 1 small metal pot, a spork, a metal cup and maybe a metal pan or plate. Anything more than this is overkill. In many instances, preparing food requires heat. A fire will always work but may not be practical in every situation. I would suggest packing a lightweight backpack stove with 1-3 fuel canisters. I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. I personally carry a self-igniting MSR Ultra light stove in my BOB with 1 fuel can.
CATEGORY #3: SHELTER
I include clothing in this category. Regardless of climate, I recommend packing the following (some of these items can be on your body when you leave): 2 pair of wool hiking socks, 2 changes of underwear, 1 extra pair of pants (NOT BLUE JEANS AND PREFERABLY NOT 100% COTTON), 1 base layer thermal underwear, 1 warm fleece hat, 2 extra shirts (1 long sleeve, 1 short sleeve), 1 mid-weight fleece, 1 warm rain jacket, 1 heavy duty military poncho (can be found at any Army/Navy Surplus), 1 pair of comfortable waterproof hiking boots.
What to pack for an actual shelter is a heavily debated topic within the survival community. I like having options and I like redundancy–especially when it comes to shelter. Protecting yourself from the elements, whether rain, cold, or heat, is incredibly important.
Your first emergency shelter option is the military poncho listed above. These are designed with grommets in the corners to be used as a make-shift emergency tarp-tent and are actually quite effective. I’ve spent many nights in the woods during all kinds of weather conditions with nothing more than a wool blanket and a military poncho…and have been fairly comfortable. Practicing the set-up is the key. Know HOW to use it before you need to.
A second emergency shelter option is a simple reflective emergency survival blanket. There are many different kinds and brands of these on the market. I prefer one from Adventure Medical Products called the Heatsheet. Not only can it be used as an emergency survival sleeping bag, but it can also be used as a ground tarp or as a tarp-tent shelter. These are lightweight and cheap.
Besides the poncho and the heatsheet, I also carry a 6′x10′ waterproof rip-stop nylon tarp. I use this style of tarp as a year-round camping shelter, so I know it works. It’s lightweight and really effective if you practice setting it up. You can also bring a lightweight camping tent. These can be pricey, but they are really nice.
Lastly, you will want to include a very packable sleeping bag. If I had to give a general degree rating I would say a safe bet is a 30-40 degree bag. This pretty much covers all of your bases. Sure, you’d be cold at 20 degrees, but you would live. If you have the room, a nice wool blanket is a great addition. Wool maintains 80% of its warming properties even when soaking wet and is a very durable survival fabric with incredible insulating properties.
CATEGORY #4: FIRE
Making fire is one of the most important survival skills of all time. You need a minimum of 3 ways to make fire. Because you are preparing this Bug Out Bag in advance, you can toss in a few of the easy options like lighters and waterproof matches. You will also want to include a fire steel which can generate sparks in any weather condition. Besides these items, you will need to pack some tinder for fueling your initial flame. You can buy tinder from any outdoor store, but cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly is the best I’ve ever seen.
CATEGORY #5: FIRST AID
Whether you build your own kit from scratch or buy a premade kit, make sure it includes the following items at a minimum: 1″ x 3″ adhesive bandages (12), 2″ x 4.5″ adhesive bandages (2), adhesive knuckle bandages (3), butterfly closure bandages (2), gauze dressing.
My personal gear for this category includes: Adventure Medical Kit’s First Aid Kit 1.0 and, I’ve added 3 suture kits, more alcohol pads, 2 rolls of 2″ gauze, CARMEX Lip Balm, and some larger butterfly bandages.
CATEGORY #6: TOOLS
The first and most important tool in your Bug Out Bag is a knife. Choosing your survival knife is a very personal decision, and besides your knowledge, it will undoubtedly be your most useful survival tool. I suggest carrying a full tang fixed blade all-purpose survival knife. It should be large enough to use for chopping, splitting, and self-defense but also small enough to use for more delicate camp chore tasks such as carving feather sticks and preparing food. The right balance is a personal decision. In my opinion the overall length needs to around 10″ –not too much over. Any larger than this and the knife becomes more difficult to use as an effective tool and starts to get bulky. I have made the decision to carry 2 knives in my Bug Out Bag. I carry a Ka-Bar US Army Military Fighting Knife and also a Mora 840 MG Clipper Knife which I use as a smaller all-around camp knife. Mora knives are very reliable all-around camp knives, and a good Mora can be purchased for under $15.
Besides a knife, one other item you will want to consider is a good multi-tool. A multi-tool comes in handy for all types of projects–from cutting wire to complex mechanical chores. Your multi-tool should have a screwdriver (both phillips and flat-head), pliers, a knife blade, and wire cutters at a minimum. Leatherman makes all kinds of great multi-tools which can be purchased at almost any sporting goods store. I personally carry a Leatherman MUT Military Multi-tool.
CATEGORY #7: LIGHTING
You need to pack at least 2 light sources. I would suggest having 1 flashlight that with throw light some distance like a mini mag light or a mini LED flashlight. The 2nd can be a smaller one to use around camp or while fixing meals, etc. Mini keychain LED lights are lightweight, cheap, and last a long time. Other ideas are glow-sticks, candles, and LED head-lamps. I personally carry the following light sources: Gerber Firecracker Flashlight, a lanyard multi-function tool with small LED light, 1 glow-stick & 1 package of 9 hour candles. Again, I like options.
CATEGORY #8: COMMUNICATIONS
A fully charged cell phone is at the top of this list. In an emergency, cell phone service will probably be jammed up. However, text messages typically still go through, so having a cell phone is a necessity. You should also have either a fully charger EXTRA cell phone battery or a means of charging your cell phone. There are several options for charging your phone in the field without electricity. Some include solar charging units, hand crank chargers, and aftermarket battery boosters. You need to research and determine which solution is best for your current phone make/model.
In addition to a cell phone, you should also pack a small battery powered or crank powered AM/FM radio. This could be an important source of information and for the price and weight, you can’t go wrong. I personally carry a hand-crank FR-300 Emergency Radio. The hand-crank also has a cell phone charging feature.
Under this category I will also include IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS. In the case of emergency evacuation, you should carry with you certain important documents. Among these should be your driver’s license, passport, social security card, medical information, important phone numbers and account numbers (bank, insurance, credit cards, etc.), and your gun carry permit.
The last item in this category is to pack a detailed map of your surrounding area, your state, and any area in-between your location and your Bug Out Location (your predetermined destination in case you have to Bug Out). You would be foolish to depend on a GPS in an evacuation emergency. PACK MAPS!
I personally carry all of these documents in a sealable waterproof map case.
CATEGORY #9: PROTECTION & SELF-DEFENSE
You can almost certainly guarantee that in an evacuation emergency there will be chaos and disorder. Events of this magnitude inevitably overwhelm normal police and public safety measures–at least for a short time. History tells us that rioting, looting, rape, and violent crimes will occur. You need to be prepared to protect and defend yourself and your resources–especially if you have a family. You would be naive not to take this category seriously. The best measure of self defense is a gun–period. Besides the intimidation factor, a gun has reach and stopping power. A gun can also be used for hunting if necessary. What kind of gun to pack is a lengthy topic all by itself. Some like shotguns, some prefer rifles, and others choose handguns. I have chosen to pack a 357 Ruger Revolver. I chose a handgun because it is easy to conceal and is fairly lightweight. I chose a 357 because of the stopping power, and I chose a revolver because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that every time I pull the trigger a bullet will fire. I’ve had automatic pistols jam on me enough times to know I don’t want my life to depend on one.
Other formidable weapons of self-defense can be your survival knife, a machete, or even a walking stick. I, though, would hate for anything except a gun to be the only thing between me and a gang of thugs.
CATEGORY #10: MISC. GEAR
Just in case you have to Bug Out on foot, the weight of your pack should always be a consideration. You should be comfortable carrying your pack for up to 3 days. Because of this, everyone’s pack load will vary depending on their comfort level. Below are some additional items that I have packed in my Bug Out Bag that you will also want to consider when building your own:
CASH – $1000 minimum (because cash talks)
200 feet of paracord (building shelter)
Duct tape (100s of uses)
100 feet of Army issue trip wire (misc. projects, snares)
Pad of paper & pencil (leave notes or record information)
2 Bandanas (because they are so dang multi-useful)
Leather work gloves
Small knife sharpener
Machete (clearing brush, chopping wood, self-defense)
4 spare AA batteries for my Gerber Firecracker
2 dust masks (can double as crude filters)
Bar of soap & small bottle of hand sanitizer (hygiene)
Travel toothbrush w/ tooth paste
36″ length of rubber tubing (siphon, tourniquet)
Small sewing kit
2 heavy duty 30 gallon garbage gags (water storage, shelter, poncho)
P38 can opener
Small fishing kit
Sunglasses (can double as safety glasses)
At the end of the day, there is no perfect Bug Out Bag. Even my own BOB changes and evolves with my needs, thoughts, wants, and tastes. An incomplete and imperfect Bug Out Bag is better than nothing at all in an emergency. For me, the peace of mind in knowing it’s there on the shelf to grab if I need it is reason enough to have taken the time, effort, and money to build it. I hope that my thoughts about the Bug Out Bag have been informative and helpful (and maybe inspirational) as you consider building your own.