Don't just pack it and leave it
When I first decided to begin prepping it wasn't an easy decision. There was a stigma attached to those who were labeled preppers back then. I had actually considered it for a couple of years before I took that step and began. Thankfully, that stigma has let up somewhat in the past couple of years. Unfortunately, the reason it has let up is that many have suffered grossly and even lost their lives in multiple natural disasters. I can't help thinking that some of those tragic losses could have been avoided if only they would have been more prepared.
As I've mentioned in previous articles, prepping isn't just about food storage. It is so much more! Like many of you, I started out with buying canned goods and other non-perishable food items. That, in and of itself can really take a hit on the budget, but I knew it had to be done. However, over time it does pay off if we're doing it correctly. For example, we should buy foods we will actually eat. We should also rotate our long term food storage pantry by using items that are nearing expiration and replacing them with newly purchased items. By using those products, it leaves room in the food budget for replacing them. To just buy the food products and let them set in the pantry can actually be a waste of our money. Please don't ask me how I know! Okay, well, I'll tell you...because I did that! I started stocking my pantry and then kept adding to it and ignoring what was already there; just pushing it further and further to the back. By doing that I ended up with a lot of expired food products! I'm not just talking about the cans, as most of them will last much longer than the dates stamped on them. But, I'm talking about the oatmeal, pop tarts, crackers, mac and cheese, etc. The non-perishables which in reality aren't actually non-perishable at all. They just don't need refrigeration. Who woulda thunk?? Obviously not me. But thankfully, I did learn by reading articles on the subject of rotating your long term food storage pantry. Of which, I happened to have stumbled upon one and read hundreds more. Why do I do that...overload my brain by reading way too may articles on a particular subject? (Sorry, that was a hypothetical question.)
You may think I'm getting a little off track here based upon the title of this article. But, bear with me as it does have a purpose. You see, just as we need to rotate our food storage, we also need to rotate and update our Bug Out Bags (BOBs).
My First BOB
Some of the things that I first acquired for my BOB were the least expensive items I could find. My reason for doing that was because I lived on a very limited income, as I only worked part time. But, I knew I needed to have a BOB in case of an emergency situation happening where I would need to leave the comforts of my home. So, I tried to buy almost everything I thought I needed as quickly as I could. Some of those original items are rather bulky in both size and weight. At the time, that was okay because there weren't many...just enough to barely get by with. However, as time passed I learned a lot more about BOBs and prepping/survival in general. (Due to reading many articles, lol.)
I realized there were other items I needed to add to my BOB that I was unaware of in the beginning. And then discovered there were smaller, lighter weight, and even better and improved products available of some of the bulkier and heavier products that I already had in my BOB, i.e. lighting, emergency radio, and battery charger devices, etc. So, every chance I got, I started adding stuff to my BOB. Of course, it wasn't much at a time, but over the course of a couple of years it has built up. So, here I sit today with a backpack full of essentials and equipment while a box of additional essentials and equipment waits to be added to it. Why are they in a box? Because I don't have room for them in my BOB :)
Somewhere along the line I upgraded my backpack to a larger (50L) one while adding additional equipment/essentials to it. I started out with one that was too small, but doable at the time. So now I have a smaller backpack to take with me on a day trip or like when we went on our mini-vacay last summer. It's really perfect for those purposes. So, it wasn't a total waste of my money.
Now I need to find a time when I can sit down and go through my BOB. I need to take out the older heavy and bulky items and replace them with the new smaller and lightweight ones. One of the items I will be replacing is my cook set. I originally purchased a Boy Scout camping type cook set. Then I discovered a type of cook set that backpackers and hikers use. Those seemed to fit my needs much better than the camping type ones. The backpacking/hiker type ones are like a tall pot/cup I could boil water in those much easier than the camping ones that are like a plate. At first I thought I should hold on to and use both. But, if I'm trying to minimize space and weight, I suppose it is best just to go with the new one.
The biggest problem I've had with the contents of my BOB is that I went off of my own experience in camping to know what I would need. But, the more I read and learned, bugging out into the woods/wilderness is similar to camping, but much more similar to backpacking and hiking. At least as far as equipment goes. So, once I learned that I started buying equipment which was much more suited to my bug out plans. Thus, the need for replacement and organization.
However, no matter my reason, we all need to keep our BOBs updated and organized. In the same way that we need to keep our long term food storage system/pantry updated and organized. Out with the old and in with the new! For me, pretty much everything I need to take out and replace can still be used in my home. It can be used around the house, or put in our emergency tote that we have for when we have to hide out in the basement during a tornado warning. Or if our power happens to go out in the winter during a snow storm or if an extremely cold front moves through. Even yet, they can be used in the home in case of a "bug in" situation. I don't really want to have to use the items that I have packed away in my BOB for those situations. I want to have my BOB for one specific reason and one only. So, again, it works out in the end when I do go through and update the equipment/essentials in my BOB. It will be used in some way or another; at least most of it.
What would happen if we were to have an emergency while my BOB is not updated, organized, and ready to go? In other words, while all of those items are still sitting in that box rather than in my BOB. It would take precious time for me to rotate them before I could leave! Precious time is not something we will necessarily have in the event of an emergency. Thus, the reason for the BOB in the first place! So, I will be taking the time this week to do just that. I also have purchased some "stuff bags" along the way that I will use to organize the different things I have in my BOB. I'm all about organization, and my BOB is so disorganized right now that I can't even think straight!
Getting to the point
What I am trying to say is that we shouldn't just pack our BOBs and leave them sit in the corner somewhere to collect dust. We need to go through them and review the contents at least a couple of times a year to make sure that we have the items we deem necessary in them. Also, so we can visually see if there's something that we have come across that might work better than a particular item that we have. Our needs change, our education increases, our knowledge and wisdom grow, our experiences expand, our bodies change as we grow older, and technology is ever so evolving. We need to make sure we are keeping our BOBs up to date dependent upon those changes. Make sure that the backpack you have is going to fit you right and that the contents aren't too heavy for you to carry on your back. Maybe even consider getting some "stuff bags" to put the smaller items in. That way, they aren't all hanging out at the bottom of the bag and you won't have to empty the bag to get to them.
So you see, just as we should inventory and rotate our long term food storage, so also should we inventory and rotate our BOBs. Although, there won't be as much rotating, at least by inventorying them we will remain familiar with what they hold. I know there have been times I have looked through the contents of my BOB to find there was something there that I forgot I had in it; or something I thought I had that I didn't.
Inventory, Rotate, and even organize. After all, prepping is all about being prepared; which includes being prepared at a moment's notice if you have to bug out.
Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!
Luke 21:36 "But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." (NASB)