I’m often asked what I use for a bug-out bag, what I have in it, and how I pack it. Today I’m going to answer some of these questions.
The configuration changes from season to season and bag to bag; however, about six months ago I bought a MARPAT Assault Pack and I haven’t looked back. Check out the review I did then here. These small packs can hold a surprising amount of gear and are very tough. When you attach it to the Main Pack you have one big whompin’ load you’re carrying around.
When it’s in this configuration I’ve heard the smaller assault pack called the, “Go to Hell” pack because if you get in trouble you can detach the smaller pack and boogie with the lighter load and most important equipment. What that is you’ll have to decide for yourself.
As mentioned in my earlier post the bag has two compartments. The main compartment and a smaller area where you can put maps, food, gear, or whatever it is you need to get to in a hurry. The shoulder straps have excellent padding and the waist straps are thin webbing, but comfortable. The top of the pack sports holes for radio cables or what not to pass through and there’s a sturdy carrying handle up there as well.
One of the things I like about this pack is it’s MOLLE compatible. MOLLE (pronounced Molly) stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment and is a simple and effective way to attach gear to your pack.
Here’s a basic list of equipment I put in my bag.
Below is a picture of a canteen, cup and case I bought awhile back from Dave Canterbury’s site. Follow that link if you’re interested in the specifics of that setup. I’ll do another post about it soon and how it’s worked for me in the field and some of the mods I’ve made to it.
It’s set up as a MOLLE attachment, so I decided to attach it to the outside of the pack. This means that the canteen and cup are easy to get to, and the stove ring that I purchased for it later is wrapped around the canteen. In order to boil water the only thing I need inside my pack is a lighter.
Look at the picture above at the MOLLE attachment on the pack. Below is the MOLLE attachment on the canteen.
Slide the canteen attachment through the loops on the pack, snap it tight, and it’s now attached to the pack. I don’t know if many of you out there remember the clips they used in the military back in the ’80s, but this MOLLE stuff is five times easier to work with!
Below you can see the canteen carrier attached to the pack.
The next big piece of gear is the military poncho and poncho liner. I like a wool blanket for cooler temperatures, but in the summer I take the poncho liner and tie it to the poncho, snap the poncho so that it’s folded in on itself and I have an easy makeshift sleeping bag. I wouldn’t sleep in this in temps much lower than 50 degrees without a fire, but it’s a good way to improvise a sleeping bag out of gear that has other uses.
In the picture below I’ve started to assemble the basic gear I’ll want in the bag. This list includes maps and compass, LifeStraw, alcohol stove and alcohol, knife, lighter and/or firesteel, one of my home made MREs, stove ring, canteen and cup, and a waterproof gear bag. Not pictured are a flashlight, fork and spoon, paracord, rain/wind jacket (very lightweight), large trash bag (multiple uses), and a shemagh scarf.
Packing the Gear
When I pack the gear I tend to put the heavier/bulkier stuff towards the bottom of the pack. The first thing that goes in is the poncho and liner. I have a little trick I learned in boot camp on how to roll something like this up so that it’s neat and stays in place.
First, I line it up with the pack so I’ll know how wide I need to fold it. Once I’ve done that I roll it as tight as I can until I get near the end, then I stop.
Fold the non-rolled end towards the rolled end and open it up enough to stuff the rolled part into the end. It’s kind of hard to explain, but look at the picture above and you’ll see how I’m holding the end open.
Below I’ve rolled it into the end and stuffed it in as tight as I can, so it’s a nice tidy package. Then I take that and put it in the bottom of the pack.
Next I take the small gear and put it in the water proof bag and put that on top of the poncho and sleeping bag.
The rain coat and any other clothing will go next to the WP bag. I strap the knife to the outside of the pack and if I decide to put a saw in there it will run along the back close to where it will on my back. There’s a thick pad between the pack and my back, but make sure there’s nothing sharp poking through or it’ll be a long hike!
In this post I covered the pack I use, the gear that I put in the pack, and how I pack it. Is this the way you have to do it too? Of course not. What I suggest doing is figuring out what it is you want to do during a bug-out. Are you planning on hitting the woods for a few days or a week until the trouble passes? If so you’ll want a tent, sleeping bag, food, and other big items that will require a larger pack.
Or, like me, do you just want to get home? In that case you might want a configuration similar to what I have.
Next you need to figure out what gear you’ll want to put in your pack. I’m comfortable in the woods and don’t really need a lot of equipmentto be happy. Others may require a few more pieces of gear.
I like the assault pack because it’s rugged as hell and small enough that it’s very easy and comfortable to wear. Some people don’t like camouflage packs, but I don’t worry about it. When I’m in the woods I still tend to wear dark colors and camo gear simply because it’s the way I was trained. When I’m out there I don’t want people to see me!
Another thing to keep in mind is that I use this pack all the time for hiking and doing stuff when I’m in the woods. It’s the perfect size for a 72 hour pack if you’re a minimalist like myself.
I’ll stop here because this article has grown larger than I expected, but I wanted to put as much info in as possible for those of you who are interested in how other people do things.
Maybe some of you other outdoorsy types would like to chip in on how you have your packs configured.
Sound off below!
I’m ordering a few of the assault packs like the one I have and will put them up for sale on the website. Hopefully I’ll get them in soon and I’ll let you know when they’re available.