It’s amazing how much information you can find on what essentials you have to pack into your bug out bag, but very little on what you should avoid. Knowing what will inconvenience you is just as important as knowing what will help when an emergency appears. Here are a few things that should definitely not go into the bug out bag, not even as last minute additions:
Fruit is known to contain vitamins we need, hydration we’ll require, and satisfy our hunger. But are they a feasible option? What do they offer?
- Vitamins, definitely contained in fruit – but what vitamins depend on the fruit, you get a much broader vitamin coverage with a multi vitamin tablet, which is a lot less weight to carry and will last much longer.
- Liquid – no doubt about it, most fruits can quench our thirst in the short-term. But they also contain sugars and will make you thirsty later on (not to mention they can become a sticky mess if they aren’t properly contained.)
- Satisfying – yes, but they won’t keep you as satisfied at high fiber and protein loaded foods would. This is important to know, because if you are on the move you will require more energy than you would with a normal diet.
Another factor with perishables, including meats or other unprepared foods, is that they usually go bad quickly without refrigeration. Their weight and dimensions are yet another aspect why to avoid them. Freeze dried fruits, fruit leather, and dried meats are much better choices. They are dense, light-weight, and have a long shelf life. The other perk of these preserved versions is that you won’t have to worry about them spilling into your bag, which just might put the “bugs” in your bug-out gear.
Trail-Mix or Granola Bar?
Many granola bars and protein bars are covered with chocolate to make them tastier – and since chocolate melts and has zero nutritional value, that’s not necessarily a bonus. They also contain sugars, salt, and fats to pack high caloric value into a small portion. That might sound good, but also has its setbacks. Unlike survival rations, they aren’t nutritionally comprehensive and are quick to dehydrate you.
A trail mix on the other hand has plenty of caloric value and is low in added sugar and salt, especially if you mix your own. Unsalted nuts such as walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, raisins, and carob (tastes like chocolate) are good choices. Add dried fruits to the mix if you need it sweeter. Unlike one-size-fits-all protein bars, you can mix your own potent, nutritious blend when you create your own trail mix. In my book, trail-mix wins.
First off, don’t pack matches. They can get wet and not work, or they can even ignite through friction (which can become a serious problem, unless your emergency plan is to just send smoke signals for help). If you carry a lighter, put it in your pocket rather your bug out bag. Lighter fluid is another no-no; it’s flammable, it’s heavy, and it takes up too much space. There are great magnesium fire starters to be had that are a much better choice. There are also tutorials where you can learn how to use them.
Knives and Spikey objects
Knives that go into your bug out bag should not be unsheathed or open-bladed. This can cause serious injuries when you are accessing your bag, and it can damage and allow moisture into it. Make sure your knives are either switch blades (not the kind that open with the push of a button) or have an appropriate sheath that secures the blade. Any objects that are pointed or spikey should be stored appropriately. When you don’t have a sheath or covering, try topping and sharp instruments with an old wine cork to make sure you don’t injure yourself while retrieving things from your bug out bag.
You can see now that knowing what not to pack is just as important as knowing what to pack. Sometimes the things listed as “must have’s” in bug-out bags should definitely be a part of your gear, but also be sure you’re bringing along the appropriate varieties for lightweight, resourceful travel.
By Naomi Broderick
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