By Aaron Pocat (A-Poc)
So I was driving home from work the other day talking to my brother on the phone (we both have a long commute and tend to get bored), and we were on the subject of bug out bags. In particular, we were talking about the 72 hour aspect of it. Now if you’ve read any of our articles on a 72 hour bag, we invariably explain why the 72 hour concept. I mean, why not 48 hours or why not 3 weeks? Well, the reason is partly because some brilliant person crunched some numbers and figured that it usually takes an average of 72 hours for first responders to be in a position to help you during a major disaster. Of course, this is not set in stone. It could be sooner or, more likely, much later!
That is why we also state that although you are initially planning for only 72 hours, you need to pack the tools you will need to extend that timeframe if need be. That is when I thought, maybe we aren’t accurately calling our bag what it should be called. I mean, instead of calling it a 72 hour bug out bag, maybe we should be calling it a G.Y.S.T. bag, as in Get Your S… Together bag! The reason I say that is, basically your 72 hour bug out bag gives you 72 hours to Get Your S… Together!!
My brother and I were talking about this because we had gotten onto the subject of a survival show we were watching. The general premise is that nine people were plopped into a jungle, given three days worth of food, and told to make it to civilization on their own.
Well, these nine people were okay for the first three days, but as soon as that food supply ran out, they began to starve. They foraged around a bit and even caught a snake at one point, but the fact of the matter was, they were not getting nearly enough calories into their bodies to keep up with what they were burning!
It seemed as though they looked at that initial 3-day supply of food and thought, “Well, at least we won’t have to worry about food for three days.” Wrong!! They needed to be worried about food and water as soon as they hit the ground on day one! They needed to be foraging, hunting, and fishing that whole time!
Now, a lot of this stuff on these reality shows is all in the editing. Maybe they were hunting and foraging and it just ended up on the cutting room floor because they were unsuccessful at it. The point, though, is you have some supplies to last for three days. So you have three days to Get Your S… Together!!
Ok, so fine. You get the G.Y.S.T. of it now, but what does that mean exactly? Well, let’s take water for instance. You are going to be hard pressed to carry three days worth of water on you to begin with, so you need some way to filter and sanitize any water you find. This does not need to be a hard process. With the right tools in your bag, you could have perfectly clean, drinkable water in a matter of minutes as long as you can locate a source. You should already have some drinkable water in your pack, so you basically have until that water runs out to locate a new source of water. G.Y.S.T.!
What about food? Now this can get a little more tricky. You have two choices here. You can forage or you can hunt. Which is it? Both! You have to replace a ton of calories that you burn every day. Depending on your size, you can bet you are going to burn close to 2000 calories every day just taking it easy and lounging around. Add to that any work you are doing, and you need a lot more calories. Forage what you can, but start making a plan to catch something to eat, be it fish or game as soon as possible.
You should have no problem packing 3 days worth of food for yourself in your bag, but you can bet it is going to take quite a while to figure where, what, and how to hunt some food. You are also going to need the right tools for the job, so what are you going to pack? Snares? Fishing supplies? Don’t forget to pack some way to prepare this food as well. A small pot, or skillet and some kind of utensil will go a long way. Also, you may want to pack a few spices. They don’t take up much room or weight and they can make all the difference in the world. Ever pulled a catfish right out of the water, skinned it, cooked, and ate it right away with no spices. It will sustain you, but yikes! Whatever you decide to pack, make sure it is in your bag because when your 3 day supply runs out and no one has shown up to save the day, you are going to need to be ready to make other plans. You have 3 days. G.Y.S.T.!
So you have a poncho and some paracord in your bag. That is awesome! With a little work, you can rig up a little shelter that will keep you dry if weather starts to move in and it will provide shade during the hot parts of the day. But what happens if you are stuck there for more than just a couple of days? If it is at all windy, you can bet that poncho is starting to get pretty beat up by getting whipped around. You are going to need something a little better for shelter before too long.
In this case, you can be sure that you are going to at least need a good survival knife that can do some pretty heavy work. If you can find some decent tree limbs, you can fashion a little A-frame that you can cover with leaves or grass and make it water resistant. It probably wouldn’t hurt to have a pretty good coil of paracord or rope on hand for that purpose as well. That poncho shelter was good while it lasted, but…G.Y.S.T!
Keep that in mind while you are building your bug out bag. Everyone tends to get hung up on the 72 hour aspect of it, but that is just an arbitrary number. I’m sure that the amount of stuff the average person could pack in a bag went a long way to coming up with that number as well. Instead, I want you to think of that number as the amount of time you have to get your wits about you, figure out a game plan, and get to work!
You are already putting quite a bit of forethought into your survival by planning a 72 hour bug out bag. Now put just a little more forethought into the bag itself and have the ability to survive a whole lot longer than 72 hours if need be. Its time to get started, so… G.Y.S.T.!!