Friday, February 7, 2014

SHTFriday: Zones of Assessment - the Get Home Bag

Not actually Erin.
Picture by KJ Photography
& is used with permission. 
Welcome back.

In Part 1, I talked about the theory behind Zones of Assessment and discussed what I have as my Every Day Carry equipment. I was rather surprised that no one could find fault with anything I was carrying, or pointed out a critical piece of equipment that I had forgotten.

(Either that, or people don't like the way the comment system is integrated with Google+.  If so, please email me [] and let me know so that I may address this problem.)

Now we move on to Zone 2, which I define as "Whatever kits or bags I have nearby, whether they are in my car or in the 'go' position at home." Even if I am wearing them, I still consider them Zone 2, because I can't access what is inside them without first taking the bag off and then opening it up. Immediate access is the purpose of Zone 1.  Zone 2, therefore, is "stuff you can get to within a few steps,"  and because of this built-in delay my bag is filled with things that I am unlikely to need quickly or often.

I expect there will be debate regarding "Should item X really be relegated to Zone 2? Or should it be more immediate?"  The answer, dear readers, is often "It depends." My needs are not your needs; my bag is not your bag.  While would not think someone foolish for carrying a trauma kit in Zone 1, I don't carry one because I haven't ever needed it. Conversely, I have needed and/or used everything in my EDC (with the exception of my pistol, thankfully).  It's all a balancing act of  use vs. perceived need vs. usable space.

Similarly, the contents of a bag will be different based upon its purpose:
  • a Car Survival Kit [CSK] summons help and keeps the user alive while waiting for rescue. Used in instances of being lost and running out of fuel, or being stranded due to weather and/or mechanical difficulties. Portability is not a requirement; food, water, warmth and signal abilities are emphasized. 
  • a Get Home Bag [GHB] is meant to allow the user to endure the walk home from a distant location (usually their job) in a crisis situation. Emphasis is placed upon  portability and being inconspicuous. 
  • a Bug Out Bag [BOB], aka the I'm Not Coming Home [INCH] bag, is meant to be a more complete, long-term kit for survival after a disaster. Some are meant to be portable, and some can only be carried in vehicles. Emphasis is placed on long-term (over a week) needs. 

Since I live in a suburban area, I rarely need a CSK. My BOB, which is built around the concept that I might need to evacuate from a hurricane or a wildfire, is too large to discuss in this particular post (though I will talk about it later).  Therefore, I will be showing you the contents of my GHB.

Before I begin, a bit of a confession:  I have a tendency to overpack. I am still in the "carry as much useful stuff as possible" stage of prepping, and therefore I am most likely carrying far more than is useful. The only things I can say in my defense are:
  1. I am still learning;
  2. I can (and have) carried it for several miles;
  3. It isn't as heavy as it looks. While I'm not going to tell you how much I weigh (please allow me this vanity), I can tell you that it's just a smidge more than 13% (1/8th) of my body weight. 

The contents of my Get Home Kit:
  • A surplus Swiss rain cape.  While the Alpenflage is not inconspicuous, the fact that it can cover both me and my pack, and also serve as an emergency shelter, makes up for it. It also sheds water like crazy, which is important in a wet state like Florida. Also of interest:  the camo pattern works really well here, with the red-brown perfectly matching the shade of pine straw. 
  • A boonie cap sprayed with waterproofing agent. I prefer this to the hood of the rain cape, as the hat neither restricts my field of vision nor impairs my hearing like the hood does. I recommend the Australian version, as it has a much wider brim than the American style -- unsnapped, it protects nearly all of my shoulders from the rain. 
  • A pair of  boots that are both waterproof and leather. This pair is from Smith & Wesson, and they're practically a combination of combat boot and tennis shoe. I've worn them extensively and they feel great. 
  • My bag is a SwissGear SA9259 Backpack. It is rugged, comfortable, carries a lot of stuff and also has a waist belt. Sadly, this particular model is no longer being made. However, the SwissGear SA1923 ScanSmart Backpack looks to be quite similar in function and design.  

Let's start opening up pockets and see what's inside, shall we?

Because this is a backpack and not a military rucksack, there aren't many options for "This kind of gear goes here, that kind goes there," and so I have to place the gear wherever it fits the best. In many instances -- specifically in the main compartment -- this is a simple case of "Put the light and bulky stuff at the bottom so the heavy stuff ends up as close to the middle of my back as possible."  While this does increase the amount of time it takes to get to my equipment, again I reiterate: this is Zone 2. Portability is more important than access. 

In the Laptop Compartment:

  • Shemagh (placed on top; the only item I might need quickly).
  • Several large-capacity drawstring trash bags -- they have a variety of uses.
  • One of those cheap carabiners you get at Wal-Mart (useful for carrying awkward things).
  • A medium uvPaqLite
  • A fleece blanket in a vacuum-sealed package. We get them all the time from charities. 
  • An Otis cleaning kit (in case mud or another obstruction gets up my pistol).
  • An AeroVest. Florida doesn't usually get very cold, but it can dip below freezing in the winter. 
  • A Hawke Peregrine knife. This is my multi-purpose, beat it to hell if necessary tool, and I am in the process of abusing it. 
  • And a Folding Firebox, the single heaviest piece of equipment in my bag. I will admit that I've gone back and forth on this, putting it in and taking it out again, as the weight is an issue. However, it folds flat, and it's able to provide a small fire that can boil water and keep me warm. I extensively reviewed this product on my other blog and gave it excellent ratings. 
There's kind of a theme here: "Things which pack flat."  The only non-flat item is my Otis kit, and I keep it here so that if I need it I won't have to go digging through a bunch of stuff in the main compartment.

Main Compartment:

This one is kind of a mess, to be honest. I have stuff in here mostly because it won't go anywhere else. This portion of the pack is constantly evolving, as I'm always looking for new ways to pack it or new places to put things. Suggestions on what should go where are always appreciated.

The mesh pouch is where I store toiletries, in case I need to spend the night at a friend's house, as well as some small light things that I don't want rattling around elsewhere, like the twine or the spork/spatula combo. Most of these were bought at Wal-Mart in the travel section.

Digging further down, from top to bottom:

A Mora knife (in case I need to do finer work with a sharper blade than the Peregrine) and a flashlight that turns into a lantern.

An Adventure Medical Trama Pak with QuickClot, an Israeli compression bandage, and a roll of Gorilla tape.  Note to self:  You moved the tourniquet out to your in-home medical bag. Get another for this one. 

Here I have containers of various small things. No doubt some of you will think I'm an idiot for putting things in the water bottle. Let me reassure you: you will find another water bottle later on. This is just my backup.

Most of the stuff in my 1-liter Nalgene Tritan bottle is food or water-related:  Mostly energy bars and drink mixes. Also present are a ferrocerium rod, some duct tape, matches, a small emergency fishing kit, water purification tabs, a lighter, a water pasteurization indicator, some high SPF sunscreen (this being Florida and all) and one of those evaporative cooling bandanna things.

My "fix it" pouch: Sewing kit, extra needles, extra thread, screwdriver and extra screws for eyeglass repair, a small pack of disposable utility blades, a Derma-Safe razor knife and mini-saw, another lighter, and a set of AA batteries just because they're good to have. Also, some Tinder-Quik.

Electronics stuff.  The Halo Charger will recharge a cell phone and is supposed to hold a charge for up to a year, and an iPod. Not only does this give me morale-boosting music, but this particular model comes with its own AM/FM radio, which is handy in case of an emergency.  (Note to self: Put some earphones in there!)

Inside the media pocket are small useful tools:  a Sillcock key of multiple sizes, more quick tinder, a map of the local area, Tool Logic card and Swiss army knife, and a cord and plug for recharging the iPod. These are here and not in the box so that I can get at them to recharge other devices (like my iPhone in my EDC kit) without having to open a bunch of things. 
A steel mug, 100 feet of paracord (useful stuff), a headlamp, a hammock (nests inside the mug), a 36-hour survival candle, an Esbit folding stove with fuel tabs, some old tongue depressors (can be used for splints or as kindling for a fire), some foot powder and some Potassium Iodide tablets. That last item will cause some raised eyebrows, I'm certain.

A dry bag (that's the green thing at bottom right) containing extra socks & underwear, a map of the Eastern US (useful for road trips), the SAS Pocket Survival Guide, the Pocket Ref, the Eton Microlink, several bags of soup and tea  (to be made using the cup and stove, above), a bivvy sack, and a bag of kindling.

Exactly what it looks like.

Side Compartments:

 Left compartment: zip-ties, Craftsman Clench Wrench, Figure 9 carabiner from Nite-Ize, and a set of playing cards in a waterproof container.

Right compartment:  Pocket chainsaw, mini-crowbar, mini-trowel, a Shish-ka-bob skewer, and another Figure 9 carabiner. Between them and the rope I should be able to set up the hammock and/or the emergency tent as needed.

Front Compartment:

Medical supplies, including a larger first aid kit than is in my EDC, several types of painkillers, insect spray, hand sanitizer, pocket soap, New Skin (for paper cuts and the like), an emergency blanket, a blister kit and a Readi-Mask. (That last one isn't medical, but I worried that if I put it with my shemagh it would slide to the bottom of the pocket.)

Also included: eye drops, styptic pencil, Sharpie, pencil, another Swiss army style knife, and a Tide stain pen (because some emergencies involve spilling food on yourself.)

Finally, some stuff clipped to the outside of the pack for easy use:

More sunscreen, a Tooblite so I can find this bag in the dark, and a Sport Berkey bottle with built-in water purifier.

Phew!  That is a LOT of stuff. It look me longer than I expected to photograph it all, which is why this post is a bit late.

As you can see, this is more than just a Get Home Bag.  It's also an "Oops, I'm having to spend the night" bag and a "Darn, I had a little accident" bag. I like to be prepared, y'see, and so whenever I get in the car to go somewhere, I take this bag along. Just in case. 

As always, comments, suggestions, and criticism are welcome regarding the contents of this bag.  Do you disagree with something I have?  Let me know!  I'm a big girl, I can take it!

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