THERE IS SO MUCH WRITTEN ABOUT THE CONTENTS of a bug out bag that it has almost become a religious discussion. The merits of each item carried are carefully weighed and discussed, as is the method of packing said bag. Not much time, however, is spent on discussing the bag itself, however.
For those not in the know, a bug out bag is nothing more than a collection of essential supplies that the user keeps close by in the event of some emergency. The emergency can be mundane – a car breakdown – or it can be catastrophic, like the end of the world as we know it. The contents of these bags range equally diverse, with some benignly packed with road flares, others, folded or broken-down weapons.
The actual bag itself, the repository of all this equipment is seldom given more than a passing mention, as if its humble role in containing this mobile cache isn’t as important as the equipment itself. In fact, from an operational security (OPSEC) standpoint, the bag itself is probably one of the more important items to consider. Realize that most people that are building a bug out bag do so with several commercially available yet distinctly military looking backpacks. This could present a problem for the overeager prepper, depending on how the situation escalates.
Assuming the worst-case scenario, i.e. the bug out bag is used to get someone from point A to point B in the event of some natural disaster, civil unrest, or total societal collapse, the bag itself is of utmost importance. Consider that in these sorts of scenarios, a plump, new MOLLE adorned tactical backpack is guaranteed to attract the wrong sort of attention. Just as the prepper who dresses out of the 5.11 catalog, with the tongues of folder knives sticking out of every pocket is easily spotted, so is a tactical style backpack.
BE THE GRAY MAN
The goal of the bug out bag, restated, is to sustain the individual from wherever he or she happens to be, to wherever he or she needs to be. The fact that one needs a bag at all presupposes that the journey will be either long or fraught with danger, or both. An excellent solution to this problem is to take a page from Special Forces manuals and attempt to be the gray man. This term means nothing more than blending in with the local populace. If the place is filled with refugees, be a refugee. If the place is filled with homeless people, be a homeless person. It’s not a disguise, it’s simply blending in.
Your ideal bug out bag, in that case, will be decided by the route you intend to take. If your journey home (or wherever) takes you through impoverished areas, then look impoverished. This may mean packing your essential items in an old but sturdy duffel bag, or a well-worn camp knapsack. Open country gives you a little more latitude as to what you can wear (and what your bag looks like), but consider others will have the same idea you do, and you will come across people fleeing just like you.
The gray man philosophy therefore needs to make its way to your bug out bag, in that case. You need to look in all aspects – nondescript. Neither rich nor poor, indistinguishable from others and thoroughly forgettable. Where is such a bug out bag found? Try used sporting good stores, second hand, and consignment shops. Remember, just because it needs to look well worn doesn’t mean it has to be worn out. It still needs to do its job – carry the supplies to safely take you home.
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