Part of preparing to survive a catastrophic situation includes some hands -on training in the outdoors in rough conditions. You need to be out in the woods and the wilderness to get a real feel for things to help better prepare you for the real deal. You need to have hands on experience starting a fire and identifying edible plants.
Getting out into nature on your days off work or on summer vacation is an excellent time to get that experience. Staying in shape and knowing the terrain around where you live is important. If you have to bug out, knowing where to go and what to expect is imperative to your survival.
Each time you head out on these weekend adventures, you need to have the right gear for the occasion and the weather. If you are going to be out and about for a couple of days, you can keep the gear light, but you need to have a few standard pieces to help you and for you to get the necessary training and practice. The gear you have in your bug out bag should be very familiar to you. You don’t want to go through a learning curve at a time when your survival hinges on you knowing exactly how to use the equipment.
The following items should be in your bug out bag or the bag you carry into the wilderness for a weekend trip.
Learn the ins and outs of the equipment so it is second nature to you.
Compass and Maps
Long backpacking trips are an excellent way to get some practice using both tools. Learning how to read a map and identify various symbols that indicate water, mountains and open grassy areas. A map will be extremely useful in planning an escape route in a survival situation. Practice using your compass and map in today’s world where you can fall back on GPS if you absolutely must.Learning how to read and use a compass is a skill you must brush up on. We have become a society very dependent on GPS. These days, everyone has a smartphone. It is easier than ever to be complacent and let an app lead you in the right direction. In a true survival situation, GPS will probably not be an option. You need to learn how to use an old fashioned compass. With the compass, you need to learn how to read a map as well.
Planned backpacking trips are the perfect time to get the hang of setting up your tent. If you don’t have a tent, you can experiment with making different shelters. Despite what manufacturer’s boast, pop-up tents are rarely easy to actually pop up. Learning what it takes to get the tent set up will make it that much easier when you are desperate to get out of the weather. Knowing how to make a shelter out of materials in your environment or with the emergency blanket in your bug out bag will also come in handy. In a survival situation, you need to be able to stay dry or out of the heat. Building a shelter quickly is a valuable skill.
Every time you leave the house, you should have a survival knife in your bag. It isn’t necessarily for self defense, but it can be used for that should a need arise. A knife can be used to cut branches to build a fire, cut the rope you hopefully have, prepare a meal or even hunt. A survival knife has a sharp blade that is a couple of inches long. It is not the same as a multipurpose tool, although those are nice to have as well. You can carry the knife in a sheath attached to your belt, which frees up room in your backpack and makes it easy to pull out in a hurry if you need it.
Fire Starting Gear
Along with your knife, you never want to leave home without one way to start a fire. Starting fires is something that takes practice, especially if you are using something like a magnesium stick or a flint rod and steel. While you probably will have matches with you, get some experience using some of the more primitive methods. If you were in a long term survival situation, you would eventually run out of matches. Knowing how to start a fire by other means is an important skill that could end up saving your life.
First Aid Kit
You always need to have a first aid kit. It doesn’t matter if you are going out for the day or staying out for a month. Little accidents happen all the time. Although it may seem horrible when an accident like twisting your ankle or slicing your hand happens, it can actually end up being a good thing.
It gives you some practice taking care of a fairly minor injury until you can get to professional medical care. In a survival situation, you wouldn’t have the luxury of going to the hospital once you got home. However, learning what kind of pain you can tolerate and how to best treat the injury will give you valuable knowledge that you can use in a true survival situation.
Any gear you put into your bug out bag should be familiar to you. Taking it out on your weekend excursions or even camping out in the backyard is one way to practice with the gear. It is better to take it for a test run and discover it doesn’t suit you than to find out when you are depending on the gear to keep you alive.
This list covers the most basic items. If you have other gear you have added to your bag, make sure you include it in some of your adventures outdoors. Gear sealed in its original packaging is never a good sign in a bug out bag.