Sunday, April 10, 2022

Lightening the Load

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
Last year my prepping mission was to lighten and reorganize my Get Home Bag, and I succeeded in that task. My task for this year has been to do the same to my Bug Out Bag, and I while I'm not finished with that, I am definitely making progress. 

As I believe I've said before, my biggest problem when it comes to prepping is that I over-pack. This is the result of the entirely-reasonable-to-my-mind thought process of "Well, if I'm bugging out, then I'm probably never coming home again, which means I'm a refugee, which means it'll be a long time before I have anything stable in my life, so I need to prepare for all sorts of contingencies." Unfortunately, that's how I end up with a BOB which I can't carry, and that doesn't do me any good. 

How does one slim down a BOB? I did it by defining what I needed my bag to do:
  • It had to be something I could not just lift, but wear for an extended time and walk at least a mile while wearing it. 
  • It needed to be able to provide me with shelter, light, heat, and clothing. 
  • It needed to carry food and water for at least three days. 
  • It needed to charge my cell phone. 
  • It needed first aid capability.
  • All of this needed to fit into a single bag.

I admit, I'm still working on all of this. The biggest breakthrough I had was when I reflected on something I've said since the beginning of this blog -- "If you have camping gear, you have preps" -- and I realized that I was so focused on long-term disaster that I neglected the short term to the extent that I was unprepared to go camping. Yes, that's correct; I would have needed to unpack and then repack my bag for a weekend camping trip. This, I decided, Would Not Do. 

With that philosophy in mind, alongside the other realization that packing my BOB for camping would fulfill all of my requirement, I stopped thinking of it as a Bug Out Bag at all and started thinking of it as a backpack suitable for a weekend of camping and hiking. I have no catchy acronym for such a thing, so I'm just going to call it a rucksack. 

I'm still at the "Magic: the Preppering" stage of packing my rucksack. I have the essentials handled, although it's just not possible to physically carry three day's worth of water (using the formula of "one gallon per person per day", that's twenty-five pounds. Not going to happen!); I do however have ways to filter and boil that water, and store it for drinking later, so while it's not perfect it's the best I can do barring magical advancements in dehydrated water technology. 

Ahem. Everything else is taken care of, however, and now I'm in the stage of "Do I really need this, or do I just want it? And if I only want it, how badly do I want to carry it, especially at the expense of other things?" Right now I'm still debating on whether or not I want to carry a hatchet and a camp shovel, because while they are both useful they're also rather bulky and heavy.

I don't know when I'll be ready to unveil my new rucksack loadout, because once I get my current dilemma sorted out the next step will be "What can I add, without being ridiculous or going over weight, to easily extend this beyond a camping weekend?" This is a process which may never end, if I'm being honest, because the urge to tinker is strong with me and I lack the willpower to abandon the quest for the perfect in order to be satisfied with the merely good enough

I wrote this article as much for personal accountability as for blog fodder, and I hope that later in the year I can show you what I packed and why. Until then, I have plenty of things I can talk to you about, including some more product reviews of things that I think you all will like. 

Wish me luck, and spare a thought for my aching back. 

1 comment:

  1. It takes me a week of stress and slinging everything I own all over my apartment just to pack for a weekend, and I'm lucky if I can fit it all into just one checked bag, a carry on and a giant personal bag that fits my purse and snacks and electronics and... yikes! I totally felt this in the depths of my soul! I've also had to start being honest with myself that as I close in on my 50th birthday, my physical ability to handle a SHTF situation is in serious decline. After battling covid's attack on my already weak lungs (asthma), I can barely walk up the stairs in my apartment, so hiking dubious terrain with a heavy pack has me not just repacking my rucksack but rethinking my plans entirely. As far as the contents of the bag though, I do have a suggestion. When I was 12, I went to a one week sleep away summer youth camp program in the JW Corbett WMA that taught hunter education and survival skills, and they taught us that everything we needed to survive alone for a full week in those woods could fit into an empty soup can. So maybe a shift away from thinking that we need to pack everything to take with us when we leave, and instead focus on how to use the things that are already going to be out there as we go.


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