Perhaps the thing I remember most about being a Boy Scout was the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.
My Pappaw had a variation of that: It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
I try to live that way when I can. I don’t always succeed, especially when it comes to the more abstract ideas of being prepared. But when it comes to implements and items, I try to have them on hand. I keep a tool box in the truck, a Swiss Army knife, a travel-sized deodorant (you never know when you might forget to put it on), a flashlight, jumper cables, a roll of toilet paper — things like that.
Right now all those things are spread under seats, in the door panel, the console, etc. And I’m woefully lacking in a couple of things, like first aid or a fire extinguisher. So I decided I wanted to gather these things into one bag that I could stick behind the seat, ready to grab should any emergency arise, whether it’s a simple boo-boo or needing to spend the night in my truck or at work because of weather.
Enter the bugout bag.
Anyone who has watched “MASH” has heard the term bugout. It means leaving in a hurry and your bugout bag, otherwise known as a go-bag or a SHTF bag (I’ll leave it to you to figure out what that acronym means), helps in this endeavor.
I’m not looking to bugout. I’m looking to stay put, maybe overnight.
But oh, how woefully unprepared am I.
As I began to research what to put in this little bag, I quickly found there is an entire industry built around this, and you can be as prepared as you’d like to be. It all depends on how much you want to spend.
Now here’s what I intended to put together: A small canvas bag about the size of a shoebox with a flashlight, knife, first aid kit, emergency blanket, maybe a couple of protein bars, a few other essentials. But a little Web surfing quickly showed me that my little kit was child’s play in the world of what’s known as survivalism.
First of all, apparently, a small, hand-held bag simply will not do. You need a large “tactical assault” backpack in black or Army camo. What exactly you’ll be assaulting, I’m not sure, but that’s what they’re called.
You can use the old Army-style ALICE pack (All-purpose Light Individual Carrying Equipment) or the newer MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment.) These are government terms that both mean “backpack.” The government apparently likes to use as many words as it does dollars.
Then, once you have acquired said backpack, what do you put in it? The real question is, what don’t you put in it?
All the basics are a given: Knife, flashlight, first aid, water, ways to filter and purify water, dehydrated food or MREs (Meals Ready to Eat for you non-suburban soldier-types), shelter and clothing. After that, it’s really up to you to decide how prepared you should be.
For instance, did you know you need a gas mask with an NBC filter? (That’s Nuclear, Biological, Chemical to the woefully unprepared.) Also, potassium iodide tablets are a must-have to ward off radiation sickness. Radiation detection cards help you decide how many rads you’ve absorbed from the nuke or dirty bomb. A full-blown Geiger counter is better, but it’s apparently really expensive to get them calibrated.
Let’s not forget weapons. You need a tactical combat knife. (I quickly found that adding the word tactical to an item adds many dollars to the price.) You also need a variety of pistols and an assault rifle, all with noise and flash supression, I guess so the zombies don’t hear you and home in on your position.
Yes, zombies. Many of these items are actually marketed for a zombie apocalypse, which I’m pretty sure is a thing that can’t actually happen. But that doesn’t stop people from selling zombie practice targets — complete with blood that squirts out when you hit it — zombie ammo boxes and other anti-zombie “tactical” equipment.
Once you’ve prepared your bugout bag, it’s only a skip and jump to being a full-blown “prepper.”
I’m sure you’ve seen these folks on television, stockpiling supplies to ride out anything short of the sun going supernova. And hey, more power to them, if that’s how they want to spend their time and money. As one of the guys here pointed out, everybody needs a hobby. And their’s might look dumb — except in the unlikely event that doomsday actually comes and you’re stuck outside their bunker begging for food.
As for me, I’ll stick with my little green bag and call myself prepared. Except for the zombie apocalypse, but no amount of preparing is going to help me there.
I’m pretty sure the hordes of undead will be able to catch me.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.