Ancient man lived off the land, making his own survival gear from what nature offered him. While all those old methods are still possible, trying to live that way is extremely time consuming. Take chipping or “knapping” arrowheads for example. An experienced knapper can make an average sized arrowhead in fifteen minutes, on a good day and working with good materials. However, it can take years to get to the point where one can knapp an arrowhead that quick.
Modern day survival is largely centered around having the right survival gear to work with. Essentially that survival gear makes it easier to survive, by reducing the amount of work needed to accomplish a task. Take firearms for example. It’s still possible to hunt with a bow and arrow, even making your own, but you can hunt at greater range with a modern hunting rifle. That can save time on the hunt, as well as increasing the probability of having a successful hunt.
While we tend to group survival gear into one big category, it can really be broken down in a number of ways. Each type of equipment easily becomes its own category. But there’s another distinction I would like to make; that of survival gear for bugging in, versus survival gear for bugging out.
You can’t really use the same survival gear for bugging out as you would for bugging in. The biggest problem is one of weight. Any bug out bag should be small enough and light enough that you can carry it. That means leaving behind the full-sized axe and bow saw for cutting wood and carrying a camp hatchet and wire saw.
If you have a prepared bug out location, you can probably use some of the same survival gear there that you would while bugging in. But you’d have it pre-positioned there, rather than carrying it in your pack; so, from an equipment point of view, that’s more like bugging in.
Survival Gear for Bugging In
When most people talk about survival gear, they’re really talking about survival gear for living out in the wild. However, there are a lot of survival situations which don’t necessitate bugging out. If you don’t have to abandon your home, you’re usually better off not abandoning it. Besides providing you with shelter, your home has lots of things which you can use to survive.
In many cases, survival gear for bugging in might be things that we use everyday. The only real difference will be that we won’t be using them for pleasure, we’ll be using them to help us survive.
One example might be a wood burning stove or fireplace. In normal times, that’s used for the emotional comfort of having a fire. In a crisis, that wood burning stove might be the only heat in the home. Likewise, a barbecue grill might be used occasionally during normal times, but become the stove during a crisis.
Few of the things marketed as “survival gear” are actually needed when bugging in. However, there are many which can be useful. Sleeping bags can make it easier to sleep well at night, especially if you don’t have enough heavy quilts for the beds. Camping stoves would be much easier to cook on than a barbecue grill.
Survival Gear for Bugging Out
When we start talking about bugging out, we encounter a real reason for survival gear. Most survival gear is designed and made with the idea of living in the wild. It assumes that the user is either bugging out or for some reason is trapped away from home. It is designed to be lightweight, compact and functional, so that it can be packed and carried in a backpack.
Many times, the things we refer to as survival gear are the same as those which are used for backpacking. If you think about it, you’ll see why this is so. Backpacking is essentially a person pitting themselves against nature in a game of survival. Their resources are limited to what they can carry in their pack and what they can find in nature. Of course, nature will try to take that away from them.
Selecting Bug Out Survival Gear
Probably the most important single thing to keep in mind when buying survival gear is quality. The last thing you need is to find yourself in a situation where you need a piece of equipment to survive and that equipment fails on you. While not all good equipment is expensive, cheap survival gear is rarely good survival gear. You need to check it out thoroughly, putting it through its paces, to make sure it will work when you need it to.
Weight and size are also extremely important factors. An ounce may not seem like much, but when you start adding those ounces up and putting it on your back to carry, they add up. A few pounds of difference is something that you’ll really notice. Unfortunately, low weight backpacking and survival gear is usually more expensive, but if you can afford it, it’s worth it.
Another important factor to consider is whether the item you are buying is multi-functional. A camping hatchet is a handy thing to have. But it’s not as handy as having one that’s also a hammer and crowbar. Picking equipment that can serve multiple purposes saves weight and space. It can also help make sure that you have redundancy.
Redundancy is important for any critical item. Typically that means having two different pieces of survival gear that can accomplish the same task. Take a knife for example, the most basic piece of survival gear there is. Your main knife will probably be a sheath knife. For a backup, you could use the knife in a multi-tool.
The same should happen with all your critical survival needs. You should have at least two ways of purifying water and at least two ways of starting a fire. You should also have at least two ways of carrying water, in case your canteen springs a leak.
Redundancy can come from nature as well. It’s not practical to carry two tents with you. But if you know how to make a tent or shelter from the materials around you, you’ve got redundancy. A lot of survival gear can’t be readily procured from nature, but a lot can, if you have the knowledge to make it.