URBAN SURVIVAL: Do You Really Need a Bug Out Bag? Part 1

I Live in Downtown L.A. and I Have a Bug Out Bag Ready to go at a Moments Notice In case of Nuclear War = FAIL

In this series of articles (Part 1, 2, 3 and 4) I will go over several different scenarios (natural and man made) and determine the need for a BOB. I will also list (well, suggest) things that you should include in your BOB in separate articles.

So you have your Bug Out Bag (From here on referred to as a “BOB”) with enough food and water for 72 hours along with a fire starting kit, first aid kit, maps, medicine, guns, food for your dog, knifes and camping gear so you can last indefinitely anywhere in the world.

That’s great and I am always encouraged to see people who have prepared for emergencies but…

Well let’s start from the beginning, why would one own a BOB in the first place?

To put it simple: In case something happened that was so devastating one would have to immediately and without warning leave their home and travel in such a way you could only bring what you could carry on your person.

I really can’t think of a natural or manmade disaster that would happen so suddenly I wouldn’t even have time to pack a bag.

BOB for natural disasters:

Hurricanes and Tornadoes

I don’t see anyone looking out the window and seeing a twister heading to their house then grabbing a BOB and running out the front door. For hurricanes you would have some sort of warning so you would have time to get prepared and decide to stay or run beforehand.

Even if your first warning was seeing a twister in your back yard you still wouldn’t grab your BOB and run out the front door of your house.

Flooding

Sort of the same thing here, most areas have flood warnings, for example a state of emergency was issued for the entire state of Louisiana 2 full days before Katrina even hit land.

So if you had several days warning that your town was going to be underwater you would probably load up your car and go, not just one backpack.

Earthquakes

With earthquakes you only have a few second warning before the ground starts shaking. Earthquake prediction itself is a not accurate at all, even in Japan where they have the most expensive and state of the art earthquake warning system they are lucky to give a 60 second warning.

So I also doubt that someone would grab their BOB and run outside when they hear the “in 10 seconds an earthquake will hit” sirens or when the ground starts shaking violently.

BOB For Man Made Disasters:

Civil Unrest

In just about every instance of major civil unrest there are warning signs way in advance, riots are a result of built up frustration over a situation that someone can not control. The key part being “Built Up” meaning it takes time for thousands of people to get angry enough to destroy a city.

A good example is the riots after the Rodney King beating police trial, everyone knew that their would be civil unrest if a non guilty verdict was delivered and that was months before the first Molotov Cocktail was thrown.

If you knew that a mob of thousands of people were going to be in an area days in advance you would not be there. if you were there than you would be there out of choice like the Korean storekeepers protecting their property in the above riot.

I doubt that if someone were to look out their window one Sunday morning and see 3 thousand people waving torches and walking down their street they would grab a BOB and run out the front door.

Pandemic

Like natural disasters people are warned in advance, and in the case of a pandemic the warning my even be a year or more in advance. You can’t run from the flu unless you have an island to live on and enough money saved up to pay your bills until it passes.

If during a pandemic you see someone sneeze wile walking past you house again I doubt that you will grab your BOB and run out the back door of your house.

Terrorism

During a terrorist attack you are ether dead, wounded or unharmed. Generally speaking you will not have a warning that a terrorist attack will take place at a certain place or time with enough certainty to avoid it.

Going on the road immediately after a terror attack is foolish due to follow-up attacks and because you would contribute to already congested streets causing Emergency Services to divert resources to crowd control and civil policing when they are needed for helping the wounded and capturing those responsible.

So if I saw that their was a terrorist attack in my neighborhood or town I would not grab a BOB and run out the front door, if anything I would run to the place of the attack to help.

And if you run outside during or after a biological attack, well lets just say don’t miss your ride on the short bus later.

And it will also be a cold day in hell when some terrorist makes me run away and abandon MY home.

Nuclear Attack

You have been watching too many movies…

But if a Nuke does go off in your neighborhood then feel free to grab your BOB and run.

Zombie Attack

Grab a BOB and run? Are you kidding? I am staying right here for some much anticipated Zombie Killin’ – Death valley Zombie Killing Rangers!

Now I have been watching too many movies…

………………………………………………………………………………………………..

So in my opinion the reasons for having a BOB don’t really pan out, in just about every instance where you are supposed to use one you can’t. And the times you would need to evacuate you would have far enough advance notice that you would have time to pack an entire car or fortify your current location.

So should you own a BOB? Well even with the above info it’s still a personal decision for you.

Is it a bad thing to own a BOB? No.

Is it 100% necessary? Probably not.

Is it fiscally practical? Like should you have used the 500 bucks you spent on equipping your BOB on a natural gas powered fridge for you basement or a case of Southern Comfort instead? I think so.

Are there any people that should own a BOB?

Yes – Read About That in:

Click Here to Read: URBAN SURVIVAL: Do You Really Need a Bug Out Bag? Part – 2; Yes Some People do Need a BOB, But Not Everyone

~James G
James is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in his homes in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns and writing poorly written articles.

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35 thoughts on “URBAN SURVIVAL: Do You Really Need a Bug Out Bag? Part 1”

  1. Hmmm, good points in this article. However; let me explain my BOB or G.O.O.D or SHTF bag or whatever anyone else is calling it.

    I’ve got one that I like to keep in my car. It’s got standard stuff in it, water, med kit, knives (yes, three knives – pocket, filet, utility), folding cup, rope, gloves, flares, emergency blanket, wool blanket, etc. Standard stuff you may find in emergency kit’s or BOB’s.

    I keep it in my car and one in my wifes car. The reason being is that if something happens on the road, I like to think that I’ll be able to maintain a sane level of comfort or be able to help in a situation.

    A few examples;

    I come across an accident in the middle of the night. I’ve got a flashlight, flares, emergency blanket or blanket (depending on weather and if a ‘pillow is needed’), med kit, batteries, etc.

    I’ve had EMT training and know how to handle situations like that. I’m on the interstate and see an accident where a vehicle goes over the side of an embankment (I’ve seen it happen).

    I’ve got the above stuff as well as the rope I can use to help me get down to assist passengers (I’ve had rope rescue training). I’m not going to move them, but I can make sure they’re ok instead of just hollering down to them.

    I’m out in the field at my relatives farm. Something happens where there’s an emergency at night, I’ve got again all the items needed to help out in an emergency situation till better help arrives.

    No, a bug out bag isn’t exactly always used to ‘bug out’. And that’s not why I have it, I have them in order to be able to assist in some way that I may not be able to if I haven’t had one.

    Can’t wait to see part two of this. Thanks for the info. Oh, and for the Zombie bug out bag…well, let’s just say there’s a WHOLE other kit I keep for that. :)

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  2. Good points Norm but isn’t what you are referring to more of a roadside emergency kit or emergency vehicle kit than a BOB?

    My Zombie BOB is a Flamethrower, a pack of Cigars and a Boom Box for playing Flight of the Valkyries wile I BBQ Zombie Ass

    ~James G

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  3. Actually, it’s more a SHTF bag (when the brown stuff hits the rotors). As I’ve used pieces out of it in fields, in the mountains (off the beaten path), at friends houses, etc.

    My Zombie BOB…
    Shotgun, .45, sword, knives, aluminum baseball bat, bow/arrows, kick butt surround sound with Bodies by Drowning Pool and about a ton of ammo.

    I like the flamethrower, but that would be a last ditch get out of here thing to cover my scent and create a visual block as shambling flaming zombies isn’t something I’d like to see. Especially if they’re the new Romero fast mover zombies. :) Or of course, you’re locked inside a castle with no way for them to actually get to you.

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  4. The flamethrower is more for fun than it would be for practical uses – I mean… it’s a friggin flamethrower dude!

    ~James G

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  5. James G,

    Your perspective is refreshing and counter-intuitive to many.

    I guess it begs the question… What is really ‘essential’ that would be packed in a BOB?

    What tools and what level of Readiness really depends on your vocation, general terrain and situation, and common sense.

    What we stuff in a BOB best be backed by practicality and level-headed measure.

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  6. Well what I would actually have in my BOB, if I actually had a need for on (More on that in Part 2) would depend on the reason why I had one ready to go. I will get into that a bit more on the next part of this article.

    But most people have the usual fire, water, shelter, food, security stuff in their BOB – Basically stuff that you can buy at any 7-11 at 3 AM

    ~James G

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  7. Just another thought on BOBs… BOBs should be built not only around your environment, mission, and travel requirements, but also must be coupled with relevant training and experience. It’s ar
    Requirement.

    Why run around with shit in a bag if you’ve never put it to use in proper field conditions to start! How many dudes run around with a ton of untested crap in a Gucci sack just waiting for the experienced to pluck it off them?

    A BOB will never replace a prepared mind and fit body. Too many folks just pack ‘stuff’ and think they’re ready for TEOTWAWKI.

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  8. I don’t consider myself has having a bug out bag. I have my backpack that I use for camping. If I need it its available and I use it which I think is key. I’m intimately familiar with whats in it. A BOB that sits around unused goes to waste and you tend to forget what was in it and don’t think about it when you need it. (I know, been there done that).

    I do keep some gear on me and a Get home bag at work. The get home bag is just that, its stuff I may need in order to get home or reach my family, it also acts as an emergency bag for work in case of fire or explosion or someone drives a truck through the office etc.

    I prefer to carry useful gear on me at all times. Not a lot, just a couple of pockets and maybe a few extra items in the laptop bag.

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  9. I am almost done with Part 2 of this Article, I will have it up this week.

    I have so much I want to write about this subject it will probably end up being a 3 or 4 part article in total

    ~James G

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  10. Awesome blog and this is a great post for me to walk in on. Having a BoB for BoB’s sake is just kind of silly.

    If you’re going to bug out, where will you go in case of ____?

    Most folks can’t answer that question. I don’t have a BoB when I’m CONUS but rather a ready bag that I keep handy.

    When overseas, its an entirely different scenario and the BoB is filled with clothes, food, shelter, and medical essentials. Ammo is downplayed becuase the point of bugging out is to get somewhere, get to ground if necessary, then continue moving till you can join a larger force.

    Bugging out isn’t a ever ending situation that you need to prep for end of the world… for that you need cases, trucks, and a few hundred gallon of gas.

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  11. Yep, I cover the need for a BOB if you live in the 3rd world in Part 2

    ~James G

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  12. I have a BOB, but don’t really intend on using it for the “grab and run” scenario. Like others, mine does double duty as camping gear and I find it more useful as having a complete set of essential items in a handy location that I am reasonably familiar with the layout and use of. Sure, you can take time to pack after the fact, but you are much less likely to miss things when it’s done ahead of time and in a calm manner.

    My BOB is also useful for what I like to call “everyday emergencies”. Last summer we had major power outages here, but u had my SureFire with spare batteries for light and my JetBoil for cooking. That extra roll of toilet paper has also been a life saver on more than one occasion ;)

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  13. I have heard a bunch of responses from people saying that you would forget stuff if you had to pack after the fact.

    But for the guys that post on forums and read magazines like this one are the “super prepared” folks that know wilderness and urban survival pretty well. So I doubt that someone who has been reading about this stuff everyday would forget to fill their canteen.

    Plus – nothing is going to happen so suddenly that you wont at least have a few days in advance to prepare.

    Thanks for your comment – this is exactly he sort of conversations I hoped this article would start

    ~James G

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  14. What’s your plan if you find yourself in an emergency during which it’s not in your best interest to stay in your house… like a fire… or an earthquake? Of course, the fire is probably more likely than a nuclear blast, civil unrest and so on.

    If I had to leave my personal belongings behind, I want to have something that makes me less reliable on others and less vulnerable when I have to take refuge in a strange apartment, hotel or neighborhood.

    One last thing. The Katrina victims had plenty of warning… and how many bodies were found in their homes? How many people found themselves depending on government help that was long in coming… while sleeping in a sports dome with thousands of strangers who were fighting for the same resources as you? I’d rather trek it on my own than to live like that!

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  15. I think Joey makes a good point that a BOB would be a nice to have item in the case of a fire, etc that would make being in one’s house undesirable in a rapid manner. A terrorist event involving chemicals or an RDD might also fall into this category.

    I also think that I would grab my BOB in the case of a tornado warning, etc. A well prepared BOB would not only have provisions for food, water, shelter, self defense, etc… but also pertinent documents or copies of those documents (and maybe a big wad of cash).

    The “super prepared” argument against a BOB is pretty weak. Luck comes to those who make it and in certain situations a BOB could be a big rabbit’s foot. Even if I have a few hours to get out of my house (brush fire approaching, etc), I’d rather know that I could throw the well thought out BOB in my truck and have the essentials covered so I could focus on helping my family and neighbors get out safely too.

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  16. I call our BoBs 60 second bags and they’re for a house fire – the #1 natural disaster that might actually happen. As in throw the damn bag out the window, the dogs and yourself in under 60 seconds. Then whoever gets dressed first (we live in MN winters) calls the fire department.

    A packed bag under the bed is important here; finding the dog’s leashes so they don’t run in front of the sirens and the down jacket in January will probably take longer than 60 seconds. Having a tooth brush and a change of clothes will also make sleeping on somebody’s couch for a few days easier.

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  17. One of the best articles I have ever read. Another thing not mentioned, that is not a problem for a ladies man like you James, is the wife and kids. What about them and this lone survivor shit? You mean your wife and kids don’t have BOBs? What about the dogs, you can’t forget them…right. Why the hell would you want to leave a place you are most comfortable with to go into a bottle neck with the other “survivalists”?

    James, like you I spend a huge amount of time traveling. This is the reason for the Bag of Evil. Sadly, their is nothing high speed in there. Just a bunch of useful items that I used just about every day. I know it is hard to believe but many of the things you use in everyday life are the same things you will use in an emergency.

    I carry a Boo Boo Kit, and a TIMS (Traumatic Injury Management Skills) Kit. I figure I will use my CAT and Quck Clot to treat a drunk at a party walking through a glass door long before I treat some one with their femoral artery sliced from a shard of glass from a twister.

    So what we are talking about here is a get home bag, with you lunch and some other stuff you use every day tossed into it.

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  18. In my life in first world USA, I have had two occasions for a BOB. My Father’s house burnt to the ground when I was 7/8. He was left with two smoky suits. He had a social support system in place. But if he even had a suitcase packed and ready to go, he would have been better off. Twenty years later my home town flooded. Check the picture on this useless bullshit hippy page. http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/423/t/1906/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=32644 This happened it’s not a photoshop. I remember seeing cars floating and people canoeing on main st. The storm was bad but the following surge really fucked a lot of people that didn’t expect it.

    Neither of these evens are teotwaki, but they are a good reason to have some shit together to go.

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  19. I think your ideas are very short-sighted. I have had to bug out before. It was after the tornado hit. I had 30 minutes to pack gear for my family to live for a week – even if we did have access to a hotel after the first night. A bug-out bag would have been a godsend because 30 minutes is nothing in a disaster. The average person would have grabbed things they really don’t need and missed the things they do. I will never be without a BOB again.

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  20. I also call my bags, the ** of Evil (Bag or Organizer). Why because bad things happen. Back in 2006, I drove to work and we were let out early as the river was cresting. I was the last one across the bridge before the police shut it down stranding people on that side of the water. Thankfully, I had water and food, as the treatment plant was breached and there was a drinking ban. Restaurants and stores ran out of food within 48 hours. I’ve been in areas where snow comes in off the lacks without warning. Having Light, heat, food, water, etc is something you don’t discount.

    Yes, I think the term Get Home Bags is a better one. Cause I’m heading home!

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  21. Try living in an area prone to wildfires and high winds where your house can go up in a matter of minutes and you have seconds to grab what you can and get the hell of the area. A little forward thinking and preparation are a good thing when you only have seconds to react. Having essentials pre-positioned in a go bag will at least allow you to leave with more than the clothes you wearing. Just my opinion based on experience in the southern plains states.

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  22. Others have said it and I’ll repeat it: FIRE. Many of the disasters you list are accompanied by fire and fire is probably the #1 most likely reason you would have to flee your home quickly. In the Oakland fire of 1991 I had literally minutes to grab what I could before evacuating.

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  23. Something of interest to think about. I’m a fan of nostalgic film. I recently saw a movie about WWII era London when they were being relentlessly bombed by the NAZIs. The film was a whodunnit, but the interesting thing that I noticed in this film (which was shot during the war) was that the men in the film – whether principals or extras, were shouldering canvas messenger-type bags. There was never any focus on the purpose or contents of the bags, but after little thought, it became clear what the purpose was. The Brits had to go on with their lives as normally as possible. This meant going to work and school despite the fact that they might not get home that night or there wouldn’t be a home to go to. These bags… in fact… had to be early BOBs. Most of them were probably short-term and contained minimum survival items… but I presume something to eat, prescriptions, a book and perhaps a first aid kit… primarily to get them through the night in “the tube” or other type of bomb shelter. Until I saw this film… and I’m a bit fuzzy on the title (perhaps the blackout murders – not the factual serial killer story – but more of intrigue and spy killing). If anyone considers such preparation as a BOB as being an imaginative over-reaction, I suggest that they take a look back into history.

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    1. That was actually NBC respirators. CBRN in today\’s world of military acronym hell. However the British (and later Germans also) had bug put bags, normal suitcases they brought to shelters, containing a bit of clothes, important documents, and valuables (not necessarily money).

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  24. This blog is terrific. There’s continually all of the suitable information in the ideas of my fingers. Many thanks and keep up the excellent work!

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  25. I realize this post and most comments are super old, but I just wanted to give my 2 cents anyway! I only recently started putting a few things together for a BOB here and there. Yes, a freak out-of-nowhere disaster is probably unlikely, and chances are if something happened I would have anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to prepare, but my personal opinion is the point of the BOB is to actually have the supplies you would need on hand and all in one convenient location. I wouldnt have to spend those frantic few hours or days running to the store (with 10k other frantic citizens depending on the disaster) to stock up, or digging around in the bottom of my closet for a lighter or hunting knife. Its all in a sturdy backpack and ready to go when I am ready.

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  26. Something of interest to think about. I’m a fan of nostalgic film. I recently saw a movie about WWII era London when they were being relentlessly bombed by the NAZIs. The film was a whodunnit, but the interesting thing that I noticed in this film (which was shot during the war) was that the men in the film – whether principals or extras, were shouldering canvas messenger-type bags. There was never any focus on the purpose or contents of the bags, but after little thought, it became clear what the purpose was. The Brits had to go on with their lives as normally as possible. This meant going to work and school despite the fact that they might not get home that night or there wouldn’t be a home to go to. These bags… in fact… had to be early BOBs. Most of them were probably short-term and contained minimum survival items… but I presume something to eat, prescriptions, a book and perhaps a first aid kit… primarily to get them through the night in “the tube” or other type of bomb shelter. Until I saw this film… and I’m a bit fuzzy on the title (perhaps the blackout murders – not the factual serial killer story – but more of intrigue and spy killing). If anyone considers such preparation as a BOB as being an imaginative over-reaction, I suggest that they take a look back into history.

    I know this is an old entry (but I’ve just read it) but the bag you mentioned was for a gas mask and not some sort of emergency supplies kit. Everyone had to carry it, even children, though more commonly in a cardboard box rather than a canvas satchel.

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  27. I don’t a have a BOB, but I do have an “hunker down” kit at home (three days water, food, extra candles, shit like that. I live in S. Texas and while I don’t expect a zombie apocalypse, I do expect the power to be out occasionally, severe weather to screw up the roads (flooding), brush fires, and various other annoyances. I have a smaller, similar kit in my vehicle in the event I encounter these problems on the road. In it I carry water, a poncho and poncho liner, fold up camp stool, water, a little food, and even more water (I drive all over South and South Central Texas and this will hopefully allow me to more comfortably wait out the situation at hand.

    . I agree with you that TEOTWAWKI is bullshit hype. I’m more concerned about real threats.

    Keep up the good work, I really enjoy reading your articles.

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