Have You Tested Your Bug-Out Bag Lately?

It’s been awhile since I grabbed my primary bug-out bag and took it for a walk, so last night I picked it up and headed out into the woods to my wilderness camp.  I’ve got a lean-to and a fire pit out there and it’s one of


my favorite getaway places and what makes it even better is that it’s pretty close to the house – meaning I can get there quick.

By Jarhead Survivor

One reason I like to do this  is to find any shortcomings in my BOB that could cause me problems if I ever have to use it for real.  I usually find a few small things wrong and this trip was no exception.  I’d made some changes to the bag awhile ago and hadn’t bothered testing them to see how those changes worked, so this was a good time to do it.

One of the first things I noticed on the way out were the horse flies and the mosquitoes and when I went looking for my bug spray I came up empty handed.  For those of you who don’t know about the Maine woods this was nothing short of a Greek tragedy.  So there I am without bug spray and I’m getting eaten alive.  What did I do?


Made a fire, of course.  I actually hadn’t planned on building a fire, but I needed the smoke to keep the bugs down while I made coffee and got comfortable.   I also put on a bandana to help keep the bugs out of my hair, but still wound up getting one down my shirt that I didn’t dig out until I got home.That’s when I ran into the second problem.  The matches I keep in my survival tin were a little damp and I went through about five before I got one to light.  I managed to get the fire going, but I thought I might have to resortto the firesteel for awhile there.Next I got out my alcohol stove and canteen cup and lit it to heat up my water.
The pot stand I have for the stove wasn’t a great fit for the canteen cup.  It was originally designed with anotherCIMG5308pot in mind, but I thought it would work fine with the canteen cup.  It did work, but I wasn’t totally satisfied with the stability… I was afraid it was going to fall over and I was a little jumpy around it.  I didn’t put enough alcohol in the stove and it didn’t heat the water up enough.  Once the stove went out I just put the canteen cup on the fire and let it finish heating that way.   I could have just used the fire alone of of course, but I wanted to see how the alcohol stove would work heating water.Once I had my coffee made I got some cookies out of my bag and because I’d left them floating around they were quite stale.
For the most part I was satisfied with the experience. loose they were stale.  Oh, I still ate them, but they were a little less crunchy than they should have been.CIMG5302 

What Did I Learn?

Here’s what I came away with

First, even though there was a short list of things wrong there were a lot more things that were right.  The basic gear I packed was sound and I was satisfied that I’d have been comfortable if I’d had to spend the night out.

Things that are sensitive to moisture like matches or loose food packages have been removed and/or replaced and I put in some bug dope.  I had some in there at one point, but I must have grabbed it and used it and then never put it back afterwards.  That’ll teach me!

I took a few of the pictures below with the flash and a couple without just to give you an idea of what it looked like sitting around the fire.

Have you tested your bug-out bag lately?

If you haven’t you should get out there with it or at least go through it to make sure everything is still relevant to the mission and working as it should.

CIMG5304-Jarhead Survivor

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35 comments… add one
  • millenniumfly July 27, 2012, 7:07 am

    You’re correct that testing (of all preps) is important. I also choose to keep a list of items that should be swapped out and when for my bug out bags and more. I think it helps.

    • Jarhead Survivor July 27, 2012, 1:21 pm

      A list of items that need to be swapped is a great idea. I might have to steal that and put it in my next BOB post if you don’t mind. I’ll give you all the credit for a good idea.

  • D'ja'c July 27, 2012, 12:29 pm

    Just got back from wilderness camping, which is a great way to test my bug out equipment and techniques. My son learned that making a fire with firesteel or magnesium stick takes practice. I let him struggle with it while I fished. After a while I heard a “Yyyyesss!” And saw some smoke. He quickly admitted to using ONE match instead. That s a success in my book. After catching only one small perch I was reminded that fishing is not the perfect survival strategy. Did content ourselves with some wild edibles, chaga and pine needle tea. The small gas cylinder for my backpack stove ran out of gas. So always keep a full one after each trip…..duh. Did improvise a hobo stove from a bean can. GOTT to have that survival coffee in the morning. Found that small twigs and birch bark will boil water in a short time rather than building a big fire. A hatchet is worth while weight to carry. The little key ring “chain saw” with the ring on each end works OK but breaks easy (what do you want for 2.99). Finally there is a lot of work to catch up on back at the ranch

    • Jarhead Survivor July 27, 2012, 1:24 pm

      Great story about your camping trip. It’s always a learning experience isn’t it? I like the part about your son building the fire too. I took my daughter camping one time when she was about 15 and only gave her one match and a knife on a windy day. I said, “Here ya go. Start a fire.” And I walked away. When I got back she had a nice fire going. Excellent!

      Also good point about a small fire to boil water. It really doesn’t take much at all and I’ve used that technique for years.

    • Jarhead Survivor July 27, 2012, 1:28 pm

      Oh yeah. I agree with you about coffee in the morning 100%, brother. It ain’t breakfast until I’ve got a hot coffee in my hand.

  • T.R. July 27, 2012, 12:47 pm

    Jarhead , isn’t the US issue canteen and cup one of the best basic survival tools ever designed ? My sisters kids like camping and after I showed them all the things they can use the cup for , each one of those kids now has their own set up . They ( as well as myself ) prefer the modern MOLLE pouch over the old ALICE cover because of the pockets .

    • Jarhead Survivor July 27, 2012, 1:27 pm

      I’ve outfitted both of my nephews with the same setup by the way. Very good stuff.

  • Jarhead Survivor July 27, 2012, 1:26 pm

    Definitely. I’ve used many combinations, but always came back to the canteen and cup. Funny you should bring it up because I may have found something a little bit better, but nowhere near as cheap. Tune in Monday for a gear review of a stainless steel bottle and cup set up. I think you’ll like it.

    • T.R. July 27, 2012, 3:43 pm

      Aye that , some of the European stuff looks good , but doesn’t have the ease of use that our tried and true variant has . The german canteen ( both WW2 and modern ) has the cup over the top ……….thats fine and dandy unless you need a fast drink of water .

  • ace riley July 27, 2012, 1:42 pm

    i joined boy scouts as an adult leader to be a ‘closet’ prepper and test my gear there- the boys get a kick with how little i bring…

  • Charles,,,, July 27, 2012, 1:55 pm

    An ever timely message as usual, so in a proud momment I thought to check my gear thinking it was squared away, N O T…. yall saved a grown man from crying, I had no cup that would be usable for the morning nector, COFFEE, I took off the aluminum canteen to use with web gear and…… so the canteen is back in it’s place and a new one on the want list for the next gun show. Be nice to find a stainless rig, I’m not crazy about anything aluminum, paranoidal fear of the alzheimer/ aluminum connection… there’s a good thread, read label’s and see how many products you find with aluminum or a derivitive thereof, shocking, it’s in deorderants, lotion’s, soap’s, ok, that’s a rant for another day, TY for the reminder to check, check then double check, web gear rig and other check’s on this weekends list. “C”

    • T.R. July 27, 2012, 3:48 pm

      This was brought up on another site and I started carrying one in my gear after that ……………a FUNNEL .

      • Jason July 27, 2012, 7:35 pm

        Funnel eh? Guess you never know when you will need a beer bong ….

        • T.R. July 27, 2012, 8:16 pm

          or pee out the window on a winter night without freezing willie off ;)

          • T.R. July 27, 2012, 8:39 pm

            Tennessee saying ” if you cant pee off your front porch …….your living in the wrong neighborhood “

      • j.r. guerra in s. tx. July 30, 2012, 8:31 am

        Good thought. Some stove fuel containers aren’t really set up for pouring fuels very easily, especially when they are full. A small funnel comes in handy, if not just to save precious fuel. I found a small bodied funnel (the top about 1 1/2″ in diameter, leading to 1/4″ outlet) that is perfect for this. Made of metal so it won’t crack with age.

        • T.R. July 30, 2012, 3:06 pm

          Also , if you live in the desert southwest ………every drop of water counts .

  • brett July 27, 2012, 4:47 pm

    The Wife and I both have military canteens with stainless cups. I have always loved them, But agree they are a little awkward when placing on cooking surface.

    Now I must confess my ignorance, Alcohol stove? That looks hand made do you have a better picture of it? How well does it work?


  • SnW July 27, 2012, 10:00 pm

    Also of importance, the Dem Nazis are at it again.

    Hi-Capacity Magazine Ban Sneak Attempt


    (I have no relation to this particular blog but I am putting the word on the streets (Blues Bros))

    Contact your congressthug to vote against this crap.

  • RedTeamDoc July 27, 2012, 11:33 pm

    I have been using a US canteen and cup for all my life, until recently…I’ve switched to a metal bottle and nesting cup. The new combo gives me the ability to boil in another container, make char cloth much more easily, it can be used as a roller or a fishing reel…but the damn thing is round, and just so easy to pack now. This is the new way to go.

    And as for soggy matches…I think its time to switch to lighters. Takes up very little space and weight, makes hundreds if not thousands of fires, keeps practically forever, and with a few minutes of shaking/drying time even works after taking a dump in the river.

    I went out yesterday actually…I had an opportunity to test a new gig I have been working on. Without barbs, the damn thing is better as a club…the bullfrogs are so big they can muscle their way off the barbs even after taking a few tines through the gut. Besides that, I think its time to test whether I like the ax or the saw better. I feel like fall and winter would be a better time to carry the saw, as more deadfall will have collected on the forest floor. While in spring and summer, a nice ax is always handy. Appreciate any thoughts you might have!


    • T.R. July 28, 2012, 2:18 pm

      Your point about an ax is a good one . I used to pack in a machete , but then I switch to a tomahawk …………this turned out to be a much better choice than the machete as the hawk I have has a hammer end , and can cut much thicker deadfall .

  • Joe July 29, 2012, 9:26 am

    Sounds like a great trial run, Jarhead.

  • Ray July 29, 2012, 12:33 pm

    Thanks!!! Jarhead, I’m planing a back of nowhere canp+hunt with brother Moose, might be a good time to try this. Ray in Ky

  • JL July 30, 2012, 2:22 am

    I feel like such a loser. I have not packed bug out bags. But I have been gathering things to go in them and have decided a lighter and matches. My husband still thinks I ‘m nuts for prepping but is slowly getting there.

    • Jarhead Survivor July 30, 2012, 8:03 am

      Hi JL – to be honest I always keep hiking bag ready to go and pretty much always have. Not necessarily because I’m expecting to bug out at any minute, but simply because when the opportunity presents itself I like to head out into the woods and do some hiking or camping or whatever. Wilderness survival and bushcraft are things I enjoy doing, so don’t feel too bad about not having a bug-out bag ready to go… although it *is* a good idea!

    • irishdutchuncle July 31, 2012, 9:21 am

      don’t think of it as “bugging-out”. keep a couple bags packed for a “spontaneous, romantic weekend getaway”. (72 hour kit)

      you can start small: pack a travel toothbrush, and a change of underwear in a ziplock bag. stash it in your car.
      if you have a few older bathing suits, that still fit, stash them too, along with a beach towel or blanket.

      keep a bottle or two of “HEET” in the trunk, ahead of the cold weather. (add a “penny stove”, and a small cooking pot) my wife keeps a few “picnic” type plates in the car… plastic, paper or enameled steel. they turn “fast food” into an instant picnic.

      • irishdutchuncle July 31, 2012, 10:16 am

        … always a good idea to keep a first-aid kit, in the car.

        do you have jumper cables? flashlight? fire extinguisher? also good to have. there’re no good substitutes for any of these things, so why not have them on hand? would your husband object to that?

        how about a pair of “sensible” shoes? (last years broken-in “cross trainers” etc.) just in case you need to walk somewhere…

        that ammounts to a good, basic, car kit. nothing crazy or obsessive. (keep the paracord, knife, and firesteel in your purse instead)

        • izzy August 1, 2012, 2:31 am

          “Spontaneous getaway” – that is hilarious!

          Just tell him you’re getting into camping (not with the guys of course). Or all women have the mystery purse… pull out the aspirin/lighter/multitool enough times and he’ll start relying on it. Or just hide things here & there. If he asks just phrase it like, useful stuff for “a power outage”, “a storm”, “a house fire”.

          Otherwise you get to tell him the story of the Japanese wife who ordered her half-naked husband into the car where he saw the tsunami in the rearview mirror – “I packed your pants AND your bugout bag months ago – just GO!!!” Apparently he’s really glad she did that now.

          • irishdutchuncle August 1, 2012, 7:56 am

            izzy, don’t forget the emphasis on “romantic”/”weekend”. it’s a 72 hour kit, with a real world use. she can condition him to practice the bugout a few times a year that way. keeping a few picnic items in the car makes for an inexpensive way to spend some time together. live for now, too. we don’t know about the future.

          • irishdutchuncle August 1, 2012, 8:43 am

            … and with the stuff i keep packed, i can put off a trip to the laundromat for almost another week. that partially defeats its use for bugging out, but i’m more of a “bug-in” type anyway.

  • silver account July 31, 2012, 7:40 pm

    I have always used solid fuel and canteen cup cookers for a quick cup of coffee in the field. (Field Mocha) But for the long term field problems over a week or so, supplies are limited. I started using the MSR Internationale stove and an 11 ounce bottle of fuel. When you compare weight of a weeks worth of solid fuel vs. the MSR, the liquid fuel wins hands down. But I agree with everyone on the gel packs and solid fuel. I still carry a custom made solid fuel aluminum stand, Esbit tabs (doesn’t burn as hot as Triox), a Snowpeak Titanum 2 piece cup set (with lid) that fits on the bottom of a Nalgene bottle, all slide into a TT waterbottle pouch. It keeps the weight of the patrol pack down as much as I can (I’m getting old and broke down) Anyone use the new style Esbit tabs? Any comments? Also, I will start a new thread on my Kifaru Long pocket “Kitchen”. Thanks everyone for the great info.

  • silver price July 31, 2012, 9:39 pm

    I have tried several different things from haywire racks to can racks… but nothing worked to my liking… until I made this little modification to the canteen cup stove.


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