Just doing my best to be inconspicuous
Back again Savages! If you missed Part 1 go back and read it! Now that we’ve explored the why and when, let’s talk about the what. That’s right, let’s talk about gear. I want to cover the GHB I was talking about earlier. Now, rather than get all hung up on making this a gear review and talking about specific brands, I want to focus on the types of things you may encounter and what kind of problems you should plan on being able to solve.
Geographical Considerations. I’m going to show you what I have in my GHB, but I do not want you to copy what I do unless you also live where I do. I live in a city, in Southern California. My get home needs are going to be different than people who live in say rural Michigan. I’ll try to cover the major differences when it comes to what to pack, but bear in mind that you should know more about your area and what it takes to survive in it than some asshole by the beach in California. So, please add, remove and swap out as needed. Like I mentioned in my survival kit post, these sorts of things need to be custom made by the user. Likewise, don’t go poo pooing all over my choices because I don’t have snow shoes or some shit that I don’t need just because it’s a necessity in your area.
Alright, first on my list is shelter. I’m not just talkin’ tents, I also mean clothing. For many people, what the weather calls for during work hours is vastly different at night. In desert regions this might mean sweating in shorts during the day and freezing in a parka at night. Some people (not me thank god) have to wear a suit or something completely impractical for anything but modern comfort living, that paired with shoes ill suited for little more than just walking to your car on a sunny day and you’ll be in a world of hurt in the event that sunny day is taken from you.
Extreme cold for me isn’t a real issue, but it can get moderately cold and wet which will take away any thermal qualities of most clothing and rapid set hypothermia. So, I like to pack something that will protect me from rain, such as a light shell jacket and a nice fleece. Lightweight rain pants that go over my jeans and I’m pretty much set for anything that mother nature is likely to throw at me in my area. For those in more extreme climates, I might recommend a more substantial jacket and pants combo and a thicker base layer. I also add a pair of thick socks and my hiking boots. Often times, I leave the house in slip on sneaks or flip flops which are completely unsuited for a long hike in rough terrain that might include broken glass and rubble. There is a bonus, you will be amazed at how many times people have had to borrow the extra jacket or sweater I have in my kit…you get to keep your date warm without having to sacrifice your own comfort!
Now to accessorize! A hat is also a good idea, I keep two handy at all times because I like hats. No, I’m not bald I just like hats. Aside from hats, I was always a big fan of bandanas and now I’m a bigger fan of the shemagh. It’s a bigger, even more versatile version of the bandana. The shemagh should have it’s own article and will at some point, that’s how awesome they are.
When the towers fell in NY, something shocked me that I would have never been prepared for. That is the sheer amount of dust and airbourne debris that occurred. Being that I’m in a city, and work around big buildings and it’s earthquake territory, I’ve added a high quality disposable respirator mask. These are cheap and light so it’s a no brainer. Add some kind of eye protection like dirt bike or ski goggles and you’re golden. If you find yourself making your way through tough terrain, cold weather, sharp bits and what not, it might be good to cover your hands up from time to time. For this I’ve added a pair of Petzl belay gloves. If you’re in cold weather opt for more insulated gloves.
Last on the shelter list is the more conventional idea of shelter. This doesn’t need to be some kind of serious tent, remember it’s not an extended camping trip. My top picks for this is an emergency blanket or emergency bivy. I’m a big fan of the SOL emergency blankets because they are more tear resistant than the conventional mylar space blankets. If you never unpacked a mylar space blanket, I suggest you do so you can see how fragile they are. SOL makes a two person emergency blanket that can work as a makeshift roof or you can wrap up in it twice. They also make a fairly lightweight emergency bivy. Though, if extreme weather is a major concern you might want to look at some of the 4 season offerings they make over at Tarptent. They’re ultra light, pack down nicely and definitely offer more protection if that’s what you need, especially if you’re in hazardous weather or thick mosquito country.
Alright, your next worry aside from staying warm and dry is going to be water. You should plan on using one gallon a day, you can ration this down but if you’re in the heat, cold, dry climate or exerting yourself your need for water goes up dramatically. One gallon a day is usually a good safe estimate, the effects of dehydration set in quick too so it’s best to not underestimate your needs. One gallon of water weighs 8.345 lbs US. So, a 72 hour ration is just over 25 lbs which is pretty dang inconvenient to be hauling around. I recommend having a gallon to a gallon and a half of water ready to carry, and a larger container stowed in your vehicle. This is good in the event you can use your vehicle or need to share. If you must split from your vehicle, this means you’ll be shy of the three days right? What I suggested can be rationed to a liter and a half or so a day. I have packed a hydration bladder, a small stainless Kleen Kanteen and large Nalgene bottle that I pack empty and fill with gear (this is for water collection and treatment if it gets to that).
What happens if you need more water? Drink your own urine? Please don’t, that’s bad advice. I don’t care what British TV personality told you that was okay. That probably will just make you more dehydrated. Plan ahead instead. Chances are you’ll be able to find some kind of water supply in your travels home. However they might be a little dodgy to just be drinking straight from the source. For that reason, I recommend carrying some water purification tablets and a small water filter. What kind? After all not all tablets/drops and filters are created the same. As far as tablet or drops go, a chlorine dioxide base is my suggestion simply because iodine doesn’t kill cryptosporidium. In a pinch, though not as effective as chlorine dioxide you can add 8 drops of regular household bleach per gallon kills most of the nasty. The best compact filter out there is the Lifestraw. It’s the only straw type filter that’s EPA rated to filter out all the shit you want filtered out. It’s actually rated higher than some of the more expensive pump filters out there and it doesn’t cost hundreds, they average about 20 bucks. And the great part is it lasts up to 1600 liters of water, That’s a gallon a day for 264 days. Another good compact option is the virus filter over at Geigerrig, it filters out all the baddies and the filters are replaceable. You can hook it up to a hydration bladder too; the only down side is the initial 60 bones you’ll have to drop. Boiling is also another great option if you have the means necessary. Boil for 1 min then let it cool and sip through your filter. If you want to preserve the flow rate of any water filter I suggest you pre-filter any cloudy water through a bandana, piece of cloth or coffee filter. Lastly, when selecting water from questionable sources, try to make sure there aren’t any chemicals in it as none of the above will help you if you just ingested a bunch of oil, poison or antifreeze. You also want to be careful when it comes to viral impurities which will come from feces and sewage in the water source as a lot of filters do not protect against this. Remember kids flood water comes pre-mixed with poo poo, chemicals, the whole alphabet of hepatitis and who knows what else. In the event of a flood, bear the load and take as much water as you can.
With shelter and water down your next priority will be food. Although it takes weeks to starve to death, no one likes being hungry and your physical performance and mental capacity will begin to quickly diminish without adequate calories. For those with blood sugar issues or diabeetus this is not really an option. Simply put, the better your food situation, the better you’re going to be able to handle physical, emotional and mental stress. Fuel up bitches. I like to pack up two big meals per day like a freeze dried Mountain House or an MRE. The freeze dried options are nice and lightweight but require water and a heat source; the MRE is in fact a Meal Ready to Eat and can be eaten cold and requires no water. I round this out with snacks like energy chews, a bit of chocolate and some beef jerky time. The snacks are more about morale than nutrition but hey, no reason to skimp here they’re light and make me fantastically happy. Speaking of happy, I also pack a few of those Starbucks instant ‘Via’ Coffees. Any kind of energy/caffeine product is a good idea since any adrenaline surge is going to sap your energy– it’s we in the fight game call ‘adrenal dump’. To heat up this stuff, I pack up a SoloStove w/small camp pot, it can burn wood, alcohol and fuel tablets. It’s light weight, and the fuel is super flexible. It’s always a good idea to have something you can easily heat up water with. Lastly, I throw one of those S.O.S. coast guard approved high calorie food bricks. They’ll sustain you for three days all by itself and it’s super compact. I’m sure it tastes like eating a brick of shitty pressed cardboard but it’s better than cannibalism or eating boot leather. It’s just one of those things that doesn’t take up much room and it’s a great insurance policy, particularly in the event you have to share.
That’s the three major concerns taken care of Shelter, Water, and Food. To this I add my base survival and first aid kit which you can see in more detail HERE. Aside from those, there’s one more grim thing to think about. In the kind of situation we’re exploring it’s not unreasonable to think about security concerns. When the basic necessities to live are unavailable, people will act outside of their normal selves. You might find Mr. Friendly with two hungry kids trying to steal your kit. And that’s just a good guy, think about the bastard that would try to rob you just cause it’s Saturday. When the structure that normally keeps most of that in check fails, people will do some dastardly things.
I know there’s one word that I know a lot of people are thinking right now…’gun’. Ready for the great debate? Me neither. Here’s the skinny on packin’ heat in your GHB…Don’t. That’s my advice. Here’s the thing, I’m not against guns, I don’t hate guns, I don’t hate hunting, I’m not scared of guns. I do not believe that strict gun laws will reduce gun violence. You can agree or disagree with any of that, that’s your prerogative. My reasons for suggesting you don’t pack one in your GHB are way, way outside of that. The thing is your GHB is most likely going to be stowed in your car unless you intend on hauling it into your work and into stores. I personally believe it’s grossly irresponsible to leave a gun in your car unattended. There are exceptions to this, if you are allowed in your state to open or conceal carry a firearm, you live in the middle of nowhere and are unlikely to run into people, or if you’re Law Enforcement and can carry this with you from your car to where you’re going, when you leave your GHB in the vehicle. There are of course other concerns to take into consideration, I really, really don’t recommend that you carry a firearm unless you’ve undergone some kind of tactical firearms training as well as some form of grappling/weapon retention program. A firearm is a ranged weapon and grappling is hard enough without trying to retain a firearm. Please, do not underestimate how difficult it is to operate a firearm under duress and how hard it is to retain it against a motivated assailant. There is a reason why LE and the military undergo many hours of firearms training. And no, a lot of hunting experience, plinking, subscription to ‘Soldier of Fortune’ or target shooting is not the same as tactical firearms training…The other concern is in the event of a major disaster, if LE and National Guard is on the prowl in force trying to stop evil and looting, an exposed firearm will draw attention to you. Again, it’s a really personal choice, but for me and the people you share the Earth with, if you decide to pack, get the training.
What do I suggest you may be thinking? Well, there are myriad of things you might want to carry for such a situation. I personally pack a 55lb draw slingshot, this can also be used for shooting arrows with the addition of a whisker biscuit. I like it because it’s small, compact, lightweight, unassuming, and cheap. If you don’t believe in the power of it, people use them to take down deer. I also pack some kind of CS Spray. You can either pack bear spray or regular Sabre CS. I recommend Sabre, because they’re a trusted brand of Law Enforcement. I have deployed CS spray twice on an two different individuals in my life and I believe it’s a very easy to use, and very, very effective. Of course, I also have blades packed as well. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to defend yourself just about anything heavy that you can whomp someone on the head with is better than nothing. My favorite improvised self defense tool? A couple of rocks or cans of tuna thrown inside two or more socks (one sock is likely to break on impact).
My best piece of advice, which should be your first line of defense as all the above are last resort. Your best bet is to not look like a target. One, try to dress you and your GHB down so you look like you have nothing of value to take. Two, Don’t look like a weak victim. People who prey upon others look for an easy target. Mountain lions and wolves will not mess with a full grown bison; they will however go after a lame one or a calf. If at all possible travel with a group, there is security in numbers. If you must travel alone then try stealth, they can’t rob what they can’t see. If those don’t work, it’s time to try Rule #1 of Zombieland: Cardio. Then, After you’ve exhausted all that, then you can think about resorting to fighting or weapons. That’s my advice, and I’m not just some schmuck on the computer. I train and teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts with a good pedigree, have boxing experience to go with it and have significant close quarters weapons training. On any given day I can be found with a group of guys in a hot gym practicing how to killing each other. Even with all that, my plan is to avoid, evade, and escape then –only when unavoidable– engage. Why? I’ve also had my ass kicked and I’m but a mortal man. There are no re-dos, extra lives or reset buttons; that shit’s for keeps out there. Think of it this way, you’ve won every fight you’ve never had to fight. I still believe most people are good, even in these disaster type situations. So, Please don’t get overly paranoid. There are many, many great stories of heroism by the average citizen in times of disaster.
The last thing is what to pack all that up in. A simple backpack will get the job done nicely. I see a lot of guys going for the rugged tactical military style packs with the molle straps. I’m sure those are fine and all, though they are much heavier than my 35L Osprey. The lighter your GHB is the quicker you’ll travel and that’s what it’s all about. Think of the GHB as your ninja bag, quick, light, nimble and maneuverable. However, if you opt for the military style pack that’s fine too. Though, in times of rioting etc, some times you do not want to appear to be affiliated with military/LE unless you are. What really matters for the most part is what you’re comfortable carrying. Before you settle, try them both out, fill’em up and go on a long rugged hike. Just buy from a store with an excellent return policy. If you’re reading this and you haven’t don’t a lot of backpacking remember that just because everything squeezes into your pack doesn’t mean it fits. Double check the pack for what it’s maximum load bearing weight is. I’m sure there is nothing worse than being halfway home and having your pack explode into pieces. You’ll want to figure out what your maximum comfortable load bearing weight is too, you don’t want to be halfway home then have your knees explode into pieces either. Remember…Fast and Nimble…
Crap, I nearly forgot! Stow away some money as well, in small bills. In the event you have the opportunity to purchase gasoline. Remember when the power goes down so do cash machines and debit cards. In times of crisis, I’d like to think that people will do things for free; but there will always be that guy that won’t. Additionally, if you have a keen eye you might spot the disaster before others will and things will be business as usually for them sans a working credit machine; at which point speaking about the impending doom will only workout if they’re in a tin foil hat too. Remember we’re planning for personal disaster too, not just the mega ones; so having some cash might save your backside when you really need a burrito and the place with the awesome burritos only takes cash. (just be sure to replenish)
Well, I think that’s pretty much it. You might want to add some things like a deck of cards or a book. If you think of something, feel free to tell me, I’d love to hear your suggestions. Keep in mind that I did include my base survival/first aid kit. In Fact, tell you what I’m going to do….
Send me a suggestion and a picture of an item you might want to include in a Get Home Bag on my Facebook page or email it to me AND share the post on Facebook. Best answer in 2 weeks will be included in a future article and I’ll send you a paracord hat band like the one I’m sporting in the photo above.
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