A Green Beret’s Guide To Action Bags: “Your Go-To-Kit When You Have To Pop Smoke & Depart In a Rapid Manner”

by | Apr 25, 2015 | Green Beret's Guides | 141 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    Jeremiah Johnson is a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne) and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape).

    This Green Beret’s Guide is Part 2 of the ‘Day To Day Stance: Planning Your Personal Posture’ series. You can read Part 1 of this series by clicking here.


    Day-to-Day Stance: Planning Your Personal Posture (Part 2)
    By Jeremiah Johnson

    Today we will cover some approaches to A-bags (or “Bug-out Bags” if you prefer) and specialty bags for your person and vehicle.  Hopefully after Part 1 you took a look at your own posture and assessed it for its strengths and for areas you wish to improve upon it.  I digress for one second and stress this concept: it is self-assessment that takes priority, and you must be both realistic and objective in assessing all things and actions under your control.

    You may be single, may have others who rely on you (children, elderly) to be the “point man,” or your family depends on your function within it (as a dependable “cog” in the family’s “engine,” so to speak).  I also invite all of you to participate in the discussion in the comments and share your way, your particular “idiosyncrasies” and leanings for the A-bags.  There is no true right or wrong except as weighed by your paradigm and your needs.  The needs are as varied as the human race; rarely will the needs of two individuals be identical.

    The A-bag is your “action bag,” your go-to kit to grab when you have to pop smoke and depart from the AO in a rapid manner.  You can have more than one A-bag and it is advisable, depending on the manner in which you live, your geographical area, and your needs.  One can be kept in your vehicle.  One should be kept in each vehicle. That is a good minimum standard for you to follow, the more the merrier, as it fits your needs and budget.  Do you have an office, a work-locker, and a spot under a counter or in a corner that you can use?  Throw a second one there; the more the merrier.

    The reason that you want these “second” A-bags for your work/occupation is that you shouldn’t be dragging them back and forth from the vehicles all the time where others can see.  If you have a work locker that can be padlocked, then by all means, stash a bag within it.  Each bag should be (by your preference, assessment, and capabilities) between 10-20 lbs: not too heavy, yet with enough basics to pull you through an initial event when the SHTF.  For those who cannot tote one of these on their backs for physical reasons, I highly recommend one of those little travel dollies for luggage.  They are compact and fold up to stash right next to the A-bag.

    All of your bags should be standardized if they’re in multiples (such as one in your wife’s car, one in her office, one in your blazer, and one in your employee locker).  By standardized, I mean they should be all the same, exact type of carry bag, a small backpack is preferable.  The reason is because each bag should hold a diagram and a list of contents by location; anyone should be able to read the diagram and find the equipment as listed upon it.  The diagram included should be of the backpack with the compartments clearly drawn on it.  All pouches and compartments of the backpack are assigned an identifier (letter, number, etc.), and each compartment has a list of contents.

    By standardizing your A-bags, it takes the guesswork away from you and your family about what things are where.  The diagram with list is the refresher to that and can be used for others if necessary.  Case in point: you and your family know what is in the middle compartment, but what about Cousin Richard who is visiting from Alaska?  Cousin Richard is downtown with you, an EMP goes off, and you have a head-on collision with a bus.  You tell Cousin Richard about the A-bag in your trunk and then pass out.  Richard can then find the diagram and use what is in the bag to help you, or to help him if (God forbid) you buy the farm.

    The point is that a trusted but non-immediate family member or a friend will be able to use the bag and its supplies without dumping it all over the place to “explore” for supplies.  Everything should be noted on the list and the list should be updated every 6 months or so as you PMCS (preventative maintenance checks and services) your supplies and foodstuffs for accountability and serviceability.  I’m going to list for you the contents of my bag and the reasons included/function of the object (if not self-explanatory).

    Note:  an asterisk (*) denotes an object to be in a Ziploc or plastic bag; more than one asterisk denotes multiple bags being used.

    JJ’s A-bag – Contents

    (1) 2 ½ oz can sterno in (1) plastic bag
    Cooking, heating/boiling water

    First Aid: *

    (1)   Celox kit (box): with 2”x2” gauze, adhesive bandages, Ibuprofen, antiseptic towelettes, and 2 packets of celox [note: this is quick-clot for wounds]

    (2)   (1) 6”x 6” field dressing

    (3)   (1) 10-hr hothands hand warmer
    Heat, to warm IV bags, or to thaw water

    (4)   (1) tube Neosporin

    (5)   (1) roll medical tape

    (1) aluminum water bottle
    If the water freezes, I can thaw it with fire

    (1) white kitchen garbage bag + rubber band
    Ground cover or camo. – Winter

    (2) chemlights, blue

    (1) Bic lighter *

    (1) pen and (1) Carpenter’s pencil
    Note: pencil is sturdy and very easily sharpened

    Foodstuffs:  ***

    (3) Energy boost Vitamin C tubes
    Note:  1 tube of powder, divide to 4 x RDA

    (1)   7 oz bag sunflower seeds

    (4) honey and sesame candies

    (6)   2 oz beefsteak beef jerky

    (7)   multivitamins

    (1)   4 oz bag pretzels

    (1) 15 oz can beefaroni
    Note:  Cans are heavy; I’ll forage, & eat dried foods

    (2) ½ oz fruit chews

    (1) pr black socks **

    (1) folded up section of newspaper*
    For quick fire starter

    (1) fork/spoon/pocketknife
    “Hobo” tool: eating utensils attached

    (1) film canister bottle, holding:  (1) spool tripwire, and (1) pack of matches

    (1) handkerchief (white)

    (1) sewing kit:  needles, safety pins, 3 small spools, tiny pair of scissors, thimble

    (1) lockblade pocketknife

    (1) Magnesium fire starter

    (1) magnifying glass

    (1) bottle water purification tabs

    (1)   hand crank flashlight

    (1) very lightweight sleeping bag in 2 trash bags (waterproofing)

    (1) folding saw in sheath

    (1) 30’ tape measure
    A must have in JJ’s book; all of my bags have ‘em


    “….and darling, most of all…”

    100 rds – type “A” (for JJ)

    10 rds – gauge “B” (for JJ)                 ****Note:  all of this is in plastic bags

    20 rds – type “C” (backup for JJ)

    25 rds – type “D” (for Mrs. JJ)

    The A-bag itself is not obsequious in any regard, and would not “stick out as a sore thumb” in an urban or suburban setting.  It weighs 18 lbs and I have waterproofed everything in it.  So now we have covered A-bags.  Let us talk about specialty bags and what they can be used for.

    A specialty bag is just that: a bag that carries equipment for either one particular or multiple specialized functions.  The special function doesn’t necessarily need to be a particular task; its specialty can lie in the climactic or geographical need based on season, terrain, time of day, etc.  The specialty bag can complement the A-bag in your vehicle and need not be standardized.  I will tell you about mine.

    JJ’s specialty bag is an army desert camo backpack.  It contains the following items:

    1.  Yak-tracks (these are rubber slip-on harnesses with coils of steel for the bottom of shoes/boots) which are a must have in Montana if you want to run on ice….which means if you want to run anywhere in Montana between October to March.

    2.  Flashlight

    3.  Goggles, tinted (complete 400% UV rating): protect the eyes when -20º F, and especially from snow-glare

    4.  Poncho (Army issue)

    5.  Backup piece and “BB”s

    6.  Fanny pack with small tools (micro and macro screwdrivers, knife, tripwire, fire starting material, matches, lighters, medical scissors, compass)

    7.  Maps of my immediate area:  very detailed (road and topo) that cover my location for a radius of 100 miles.

    8.  Climbing rope, Swiss seat, ascenders, and d-rings  (note: for these, either make sure they’re GI (government issue) or from a good climbing store).

    9.  (1) roll 100-mph tape, og, (1) roll duct tape, (1) roll HVAC aluminum tape

    10.  (1) polypro socks, (1) set of long john’s [must haves in Montana until June]

    All of this stuff weighs about 12 lbs.  Now, keep in mind, this is a general-purpose Specialty bag that adds some items in the summer.  I say “adds” because I have a rule you may wish to use that follows the principle of “better too much than not enough.”

    JJ’s rule:  The mountains are always cold and always have snow.  Keep all gear ready to head into the mountains in the wintertime and in the summer just add what you need for the summertime.

    Remember: we’re covering A-bags and Specialty bags, NOT your rucksack.  We will be covering Rucksacks in Part 3.  There are other Specialty bags that, although I won’t give complete contents lists, I’ll give you some examples as well as suggest short lists.  These may help enable you to come up with some ideas that meet your needs:

    • For those in an urban setting: climbing ropes, ascenders, gloves, rock hammers, pitons, and a Swiss seat.  [what if you’re in a five-story building and it’s on fire?]  Remember, you also better know how to climb/mountaineer and use your equipment!
    • What is your occupation?  This will enable you perhaps to be more inconspicuous with your specialty bag (tools wouldn’t look out of place on a construction site, or a maintenance facility, for example)
    • Family special needs:  Does someone in your family need special medications or clothing?  Is there anyone with asthma or COPD?  A special bag just for them would expedite things in the event of an emergency, such as inhalers or a small oxygen bottle, or other supplies such as nasal cannulae, bee sting kits, diabetes supplies, and so on.
    • A really good medical aid-bag (Army Medic, for example), fully stocked and ready to go with splints, braces, etc.)

    So that will cover things for starters.  Any suggestions?  Fill that comments section and let’s pick up some “cross-chatter” and discuss some good things that you guys and gals have learned.  Just remember to not procrastinate if you do not have an A-bag made: you never know when you’re going to need it.  Whether you’re being hunted for food by zombies as in “World War Z,” being chased by Homey-the-Clown and thugs with civil rioting, or whether the EMP has struck, a good A-bag and equipment can give you a better chance for success…and survival.  Don’t wait to find/scrounge the tools you need.  Pack it in yourself and stay ahead of the game.

    I look forward to hearing from each of you, and hope you have a nice day!

    Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne).  Mr. Johnson is also a Gunsmith, a Certified Master Herbalist, a Montana Master Food Preserver, and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape).  He lives in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with his wife and three cats. You can follow Jeremiah’s regular writings at SHTFplan.com.

    This article may be republished or excerpted with proper attribution to the author and a link to www.SHTFplan.com.

    Related Reading:

    A Green Beret’s Guides To Survival and Preparedness (Full List)

    A Green Beret’s Guide To Low-Budget Home-Defense Techniques 101: “Early-Warning Systems and Fortifications”

    A Green Beret’s Guide To Low-Budget-Home-Defense Techniques 102: “Defensive Positions”

    A Green Beret’s Guide To Planning Your Personal Posture: “First Things First: Always Be Armed”


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      1. Best way to distill water is to lick the dew off a cold beer bottle 🙂

        • A hatchet/hammer tool. Chops branches for fire and shelter and is a weapon too. Also 100 ft. of paracord. A space blanket or 2. A mainstay 3600 calorie food bar.

          • Do you know if the Mainstay 3600 Calorie Food Bar is still “good” after the expiration date? I’ve got some that are dated 12/14.

            • I think I’d have a few coffee filters and a lifestraw or some other small filtration device in these small bags. You might need to purify water to drink, even/especially in town, since it isn’t feasible to carry much bottled water with you. Purification is the only responsible option.

            • They weren’t “good” when I bought them, but the nutritional value hasn’t declined much after the expiration date. They’re for emergencies though and I’m sure it would be just fine if I ever really NEEDED to eat one.

              FYI the expiration date on medicine means that the manufacturer has paid money for testing and has proven to the FDA’s satisfaction: that at least 90% of the active ingredient is still active and that it isn’t harmful. Many medicines are 100% viable on that date but the manufacturer doesn’t want to pay for longer testing.

              With a few exceptions, such as Tetracycline, most medicines aren’t harmful past expiration dates by many years, though some will lose potency. Would I take a multivitamin that was 10 years expired? Sure. Would my wife count on birth control that was past expiration by 10 minutes? Probably not.

              • A good tip, Rebel in Idaho!

                Expired meds are often donated to be used for medical missionary work, but keep that Tetracycines (includes minocycline and doxycycline) exception in mind to avoid serious liver toxicity.

              • Thanks Reb.

              • Re Expiration Dates.

                This stuff has gone theater of the absurd. I was in the store and they were selling 50 million year old pink Himalayan Salt, and it had a two year use by date.

                These guys in the FDA aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.

                • Plan twice

                  Now that has to be one of the most shining examples the sheer absurdity and wastefulness of our now wonderful and modern utopian society. And I wonder how many people will toss their expensive 50 million year old salt in the trash can the day it hits 50,000,002 years old. It’s amazing how wasteful “we’ve” become, and I put that in quotations because I try not to waste anything. My own father won’t even drink a bottle of water if it’s been in the truck for a couple of weeks, he’s afraid it’s “gone bad”….it’s friggin water!!! My mother won’t even touch orange juice a week after it’s “expiration date”. Everyone I know will throw away a can of beans from 2014 (Good for me though, cause I always get a lot of free canned goods) And these are all people who were raised by the old school. It’s amazing to me how much everyone has bought into the fear and paranoia. BTW on a sidenote, yesterday it dawned on me…We need to bring back allowing the carrying of personal pocket knives by children in schools. How did we get society to the point it’s so afraid of it’s own shadow, that we were able to convince ourselves that a twelve year old with a swiss army knife is a danger to himself and 1500 other children and staff. If we don’t start taking small steps forward, we’re just gonna keep getting pushed backed.

                • ok that’s quite possible the most bizarre thing I’ve read all day.
                  By the way, you can get the pink salt at tractor supply in 10# stones, marketed for livestock too. way cheaper, less surface area to degrade to moisture. Just a heads up 🙂

        • A hatchet/hammer tool. Chops branches for fire and shelter and is a weapon too. Also 100 ft. of paracord. A space blanket or 2. A mainstay 3600 calorie food bar.

          • A small bottle of antibacterial dish soap. A rag. Small binoculars.

          • I agree with the hatchet/hammer, I have a nice little Eastwing in my go bag; I like that it’s one piece of metal yet not very heavy.

            I would lose the beefaroni and pretzels (just goes to show there’s no accounting for taste) and add freeze dried packs such as mountain home instead.

            I also added the pen size spray bottles of DEET (test this on yourself twice for allergies) and sunscreen, and 2 extra AAA batteries* for my Coast LED penlight.

            In your med kit you should add 10 tablets of Lomotil if you have access to RX or Immodium AD if not (especially since there’s no TP in the bag you don’t want diarrhea at the wrong moment from disagreeable foraged food). Also you should have at least 4 capsules of benadryl. Take at least 2 in case of allergic reaction and repeat every 6 hours as needed. The pills take up almost no space or weight but buys you a lot of insurance.

            • it is important to know when you should NOT take anti-diarrheal meds:

              (1) BLOODY diarrhea (not just toilet paper spotting)
              (2) SEVERE abdominal pain
              (3) HIGH fever.

              Those symptoms may indicate diarrhea caused by invasive organisms that, if the purgative flushing of the diarrhea is lost, will more likely seed the blood stream, “septicemia,” thereby increasing your risk.

            • Ditto on the Estwing variety of “field expedient” tomahawk and tool. Simply works well.

            • the can from the beefaroni if the part that is important you can use it to boil water to drink

          • make sure you get a hatchet with a proper hammer head on the reverse. using the back of a hatchet to hammer anything will ruin the hatchet in short order.

        • Does anyone pack toilet paper in their A bag?

          • I think they missed that one, yes toilette paper. A couple tampons in a ziplock bag would be appreciated by the wife and daughters!

            I don’t think most people are in any shape for a twenty to fifty mile hike. A small amount of plain Aspirin could save a life if someone started having a heart attack.

            One of my favorites to add to any med kit is “Breath Right” strips. There’s a reason football players wear them on the field, they improve breathing performance/endurance, which also helps your heart. They also work much better than commercial butterfly bandages for wound closure.

            For snacks, sealed bags of peanuts, they’re good energy and the salt is needed if you are sweating.

      2. In the older days they called them possibles bag.

        • Yep, gym bag, diaper bag, scrotum bag, mail bag, i am even married to an old bag:(. I cant carry any more baggage.

        • JJ
          The one thing I never see on survivalist
          advisors lists is a little fishing line
          and a couple of hooks that take up no
          space or weight and can totally sustain
          one for long periods of time.
          Unless one is in a desert region, almost
          anywhere has a creek, pond, or small body
          of water that has little pan fish in it.
          Cut a sapling for a pole and eat your fill.
          Add a sewing needle and the line can be
          used for make shift sutures. Be creative.

          • Why would you fish leagaly with hooks in shtf? Just fire your threehundredwinmag into the water near the fish and wait for dinner to float up. Might even get a frog or two. By the way we need to change the green baret into a rainbow baret now a days.

          • I was going to mention it, but you beat me to it. I keep mine in a plastic tube designed to hold dimes.

          • hey, I got them in my bag and a few Mr. Twisters take no space at all.

            I don’t do the cans of food though, I have dry dog food rations to take that add the weight, but if I have time to put their BOB’s on, they can carry their own food if I walk out.

            6 months of the year it is 32 or below when I am, so I carry dry goods and one bottle ice water in the truck, and I add cans of food in warmer weather.. but as long as I can take the truck, may as well have a lot more than I can carry. So having a spare A-Bag in the vehicle doesn’t make sense when I can have a 50 lb bag of dog food, wool blankets, and a weeks worth of food or more.

        • Doesn’t the possibles bag need a condom? Reminds me of Dr Strangelove. Fella could have a good time in Vegas with all this.

      3. Since I have several of these A Bags does this add to my qualifications as a terrorist?

        • Dr Prepper,
          YES, but don’t worry , you have been on this site SOOOOO you were already on the list!!like the rest of us. LOL

          • You do not qualify. A terrist works for the govt.

            • Genius,
              yes your right, BUT from the gov. view point we all are terrorists! there point of view anyone who opposes them is one, and that is what i meant. from our view point we are the Paul Revre’ and going to save ourselves so we can save our country! WE HOPE!

        • Maybe the MREs are still good?

      4. Hopefully Mr. Slavo and the crew will pack one of your “A” bags.

        They better soon make plans to skedaddle back across the Great Divide to find a better source of water.

        Last gamblers, place your bets. Last ones out, turn off the lights.

        New low record to be broken Sunday night. Lake Mead will be below the record low water mark set in 1937, the same month Lake Mead was filling up and the same month of the Hindenberg explosion (that’s just for dramatic effect).

        The emigration from the west to the east is about to start. Be prepared for a “reverse” Dust Bowl migration as the water runs out.

        You thought immigration from south of the border was bad… epic emigration from the west is about to start next year.


        • Nope, the migration will be North and Northeast – it’s already happening in parts of WA and ID.

          Lost of water in the Columbia, Snake, Yellowstone rivers and sparse population.

          Nevada and AZ already californicated…..

      5. We are ALL on many List.

      6. Need to find a compartment in the A-Bag for the special googles that tells you who is a NWO ZOG Bankster Elite Globalist filth. These ZOG Identifier Goggles are expensive, but it’s worth it.

        Go to ht tp.Anti-ZOG.com to purchase. They work as advertised. You won’t get pissed off. Lot of testimonials by various John Q. Does. Don’t know how they made these. Who woulda thunk it? Musta been a Solus Genius.

        • Do they only work on living ZOG’s or do they catch Zombie ZOG’s too?

          Those are the worst kind, the Zombie ZOG’s.

        • Ha ha haaah. Very good FS.

          • You’re welcome! 😉

            • You can get your goggles for FREE by clicking on my screen name, but be advised, they only work for eyes that see.

              • Or only see what they want to see perhaps!

                • Happily this year there are fewer here who “see what they want see” than there were last year.

        • Just what are special GOOGLES?

          Might be blogs written by our local Tel Aviv evangelist, FS, who cant seem to crawl over his favorite word, “liberals”, that he always uses to try to cover the identity of the real PTB who are ruining the world. The Lord Jesus Christ identifies them for all of us in John 8:44. Look it up sometime FS.

          Zionists, and their useful idiots, will someday get their just rewards. It is promised.

          • Not everyone who calls out to me, “LORD! LORD!” Will enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

          • You tell ’em thar granny girl! You just a’ launch one o’ them pee soaked depends of yours at him and he’ll straighten up and fly right by God!

            • Hopefully you will live a long and healthy enough life that you will repent ridiculing the debilities of old age. Hopefully you won’t have to live what you ridicule. Hopefully God won’t have to send you a lifelong spinal cord injury and incontinence before you get the message.

              • Hoorah!!

      7. FWIW, ground cayenne pepper works very well as a clotting agent to stop bleeding on all types of wounds from knife cuts to bullet wounds to gashes from a bear mauling. The hotter the better.

        It makes your otherwise bland storage food taste better as well and gives a bit of kick to your chili (pepper stray works good on chili too, but gets a little expensive to use for everyday fare).

        Cayenne also has other medicinal value.

        Costs a lot less than Celox and related brands of clotters do.

      8. gotta have cup holders!

        • Yep, after looking at the bag contents it makes you wonder what day two will be like with no sterno or toilet paper:(

          • don’t forget the wipies…save a bunch of water and take a whore’s bath….can i write that out loud?

      9. My CERT bag pretty much covers it.

        • How much does your CERT bag weigh?

        • Well if these cert bags , go bags, inch bags, buggout bags, minuteman bags, good bags, are any good then why the heck am i paying a mortgage ? I think the best thing is have 10 #s of $20s and 5# of good plastic credit cards in a sack don ‘t you?

          • My occupation is banker so all that money i have shouldn’t make me stand out. Even the nice car with armed escort should not be out of the ordinary.

      10. Stop it with this GI horseshit. Government and military issue gear is dried shit. Horrible quality. Got it, you stupid old people? You have to trust your life to climbing gear. Buy from a brand name sportswear outfitter, like Mammut, Black Diamond, or Petzl.

      11. At least 10 dead in Mt. Everest base camp today after a massive earthquake in Nepal releases an avalanche.

        My love and respect goes out to all Everest climbers killed. Just as when eating animals I absorb their strength, you died living the dream, and therefore your spirits live on as part of me.

        No sympathy though for city sheeple injured and displaced by the earthquake. I look forward to the news clips of them destitute and dying with no supplies because they didn’t prepare.

      12. Bottom line is…have what you need and need what you have…What knowledge you have is far more valuable than any amount of water food etc….all that can be taken from you…What you have in your head can Never be taken from you, but with death….teach those you know, so that they can carry on…and keep this Republic FREE

        • You should take your meds feisty, keep them in your head.

      13. Nice to have, but for me I’m old to bug out will make my stand where I live and take out as many as I can for those who bug out and become refugee’s in my book.

        Every night has it’s dawn.

      14. Great advice. I subscribed to the philosophy a decade ago that if an item didn’t serve at least three purposes that it didn’t belong in my bag. Immediately I dropped a lot of “techie” items for simple tools. I would say I one thing I didn’t read everyone should have is a signal mirror. I may have missed it, but I keep one in my wallet. Another good item is a handcuff key kept in a shoe……. Hey, never know. The wife may forget all about you and leave you locked up lol.

      15. My go bag has MRE’s in it for food and one empty beef stew can and one empty tuna can and one empty mushroom can. for cooking and melting ice/snow for water, (tuna and stew cans and mushroom can to hold candle.)
        one 22 pistol 3 loaded mags, 50 extra rounds and one flat pry bar and one heavy fix blade hunting knife, one canteen. Plus all of that other stuff on the list.
        Does that sound like over kill???
        S.T.S.F.P. N. Reb

        • Why an empty can? Put in full ones,easy to empty just eat.

          • Paranoid;
            Three reasons
            2-durable 3-they are your pot, pan, bowl, cup and candle holder.
            S.T.S.F.P. N. Reb

      16. I have distilled my gear into one go-bag, that comes with me to work and beyond. Beyond this I keep a car kit that with extra stuff, including tools. I live it in the car, where it is secured, but operate out of it as needed.

        One thing I keep in my bag is a estwing tomahawk, good enough to hack moderate sized wood and fit in the bag, but not too big or heavy. When it comes down to it, in a real shtf scenario i believe that I’d eventually trip over a forgotten farmhouse or barn axe here in the hills if it came to it. So the hawk would get me by until that point.

        My bag is definitely a compromise in some ways, since I use it as an overnight bag when I end up at the I laws or elsewhere. I went with a lapolice gear operator pack. It it the best bag in its price point. I have put about 40 miles on it under foot and it is comfortable and versatile with about 20 lbs worth of gear.

        After a good deal of travel I came to the conclusion that personal hygiene is so key to performance, to being your best, especially when away from home. I added a full hygiene kit to the bag so that I could use it to take regular showers for normal use or simply have supplies available for grid down. I put that kit in its own spot so that I wouldnT hesitate to use it normally or in shtf.

        A couple of other thoughts. I have 3 lights: headlamp, mini flashlight, and a compact lantern. If you are on the go and in an unfamiliar location having light handy until familiarity is developed is a big deal. Two knives, multitouch and 2 spare mags also accompany the bag.

        Lastly, a black watchman winter cap is stuffed there, alongside my mechanics gloves. This equipment I view as must have in normal and every day life, and essential to shtf, things that I would not want to be without.

        I think Jj’s approach is sweet, but since I work about 10 minutes away from home as the crow flies, I donT feel the need to be too overly laden. However, my one bag has been working out well over the last year. I try to employ my bag as something I use normally so that if the ballon goes up, I will feel comfortable working with my gear. Peace out.

      17. Why the tape measure…..am I missing something?

      18. BOB is set up for 3 days of camping basics. Also Ruger 10/22 takedown with 200 mini-mags and a glock model 17 on the hip.

        • Two of our kids use the ruger 10/22 takedown bags as their go bags. These are really sweet rifles.

          The oldest four all carry their altoids tins in carry cases they made from paracord. I offered $20 to the child who could make the best survival kit fit in an altoids tin. Look at some images on google for ideas. One child made a pouch from paracord for hers that easily attaches to a bag, belt, or whatever and now they all use them regularly. Fits in a purse even and doesn’t look weird until opened!

      19. You hope this will never happen to you but my bug out location was compromised. Simply put a logging company took all the trees down I depended on for defense/concealment. One week the trees were there and the next gone. Wide open spaces. Something to think about the unexpected loss of BOL. Then relocation and moving gear.

        If you hunt you most likely have a 4wheel drive truck that is packed with stuff. Regular hoarder on wheels. I don’t travel much anymore so I am going to “Gun Tub” it at the Hacienda. Everything at my fingertips.

        • sucks about the trees but look at it this way. awful hard now for them to sneak in. now you can create some range cards and introduce some colored rocks for distance

        • Try to think of it now as more of a large kill zone. And always remember trees and heavy cover work both ways… They help to conceal you, but they also cover the guys shooting at you too 🙂

      20. A small roll of heavy gauge plastic can go a long way. tent,moisture barrier ect.

      21. Remember: All that bug out to your BOL are refugee’s while in transit till you arrive at your BOL. You will be at the mercy all you encounter along the way. Folks you will have to make your stand where ever you are at the time TSHTF. Good luck to all and may GOD bless you and watch over each one of you. Time truly grows short.

        • Copperhead: You are correct sir. We will make our stand where we are. My only fear is being at work 100 miles away when it hits. Have radios, BOB, hybrid mtn bike & carry a pistol & 7.62×39 tac rifle. That way I can load everything on the bike so I can push it home if can’t go by truck. Fortunately don’t have to work that far away very often.

          Couple thoughts… carry an extra can of fuel, and ALWAYS stay in right lane on the freeway. If SHTF, like a terrorist attack and the freeway jams, you don’t have to cross 5 lanes of stopped traffic to get off. Also keep maps and plan alt routes from anywhere you are.

          Time is very short.

          • Wow. That was a pretty random jumble of thoughts. Time for sleeping now. Good night…

      22. I am going to take a minute to share my experiences with Hurricane Rita and bugging out. In 2005 I saw a couple of hundred thousand people evacuate to East Texas from Houston. When the evacuation started Rita was a class five heading to Houston. This was right after Katrina so everybody was scared of Hurricanes.

        When millions of people from Houston came to East Texas the entire system was overwhelmed. No gas, no store products, no place for these people to stay. People were stranded in parking lots, stranded along the side of the road with no gas.

        People were defecating in the parking lots. People were looting the stores, the hospitals were closed because they were overwhelmed. Our EMS refused to transport anybody unless they were dead.

        This lasted for 7 days.

        Two lessons I learned after observing this:
        First – don’t evacuate. Millions of people evacuated because they were scared, but if you don’t live on the water a Hurricane won’t kill you. Storm surge is what kills.

        Second – If you must evacuate, take your own gas. The real problem was that people ran out of gas so they could not get where they needed to go. If they had enough gas they could drive to Colorado, but they didn’t they got stranded in East Texas.

        A bug out bag is needed, but gas to get where you need to go is more important than anything.

        Expect when crisis hits not to be able to go get gas. You must have it on hand already.

        • Two lessons I learned after observing this:

          First – don’t evacuate.

          Second – If you must evacuate, take your own gas.

          Here’s a third lesson gleaned from Copperhead’s comment above:

          “I’m [too] old to bug out [and I] will make my stand where I live and take out as many as I can for those who bug out and become refugee’s in my book.”


        • excellent thoughts about gas, jonathan.

      23. My B-O-B is designed to last 10 days, included is 10 days worth MRE’s for me and 10 days of food for my dog.
        The BDU’s I switch out for summer and winter. Everything else stays the same. I check it evey six months for leaking batteries. At that time, I update any OTC meds out of date and I change out the dog food at that time also

        The biggest problem I have with a B-O-B in a vehicle, is the summer heat will destroy any MRE type food. That is why I don’t keep one in the car. But then I am not working now, so I really don’t have reason to travel.

        • 21, use mainstay bars instead of mre’s. They are not affected by temoerature and last longer.

        • Try a chest type cooler with your BOB tossed inside. The insulation helps, and you could find the cooler useful as well.

          • one use for that cooler mite be if you need to collect water, to later purify. here in the desert, you better have something to hold lots of water if the opportunity presents itself.

      24. Tenzing CF13
        Great pack, versatile, modular.
        Light weight.
        Personally i like stuff that is used for more than just one thing, want to use this stuff if i can

      25. Being thru SERE I figure J.J. is hip to ESEE knives. I’ve got an Izula 2 for the lightweight BOB, and a LS for the full-on bag. The LS has a bow-drill divot on the handle and fire gear inside. The sheath pouch that I put on it holds an (Altoids) tin. In the tin is a mini-bic, ESEE spear point, pull saw/snare, a chapstick (youtube: chapstick fire), cottonball, mini fire rod, single razor blade, a single utility knife blade with duct tape on it, micro flashlight, aspirin and tums, a threaded needle, water pure tabs, and a mini compass. (!) YMMV.

        I also have gone to large size bandanas- 25″ wide vrs. 20″, makes a big difference.

        And check out the carabiner ‘grenades’ that the Friendly Swede puts out…

      26. Jj has no clothing change with him no shelter and no sleep system these things are vital. At minimum in a warm region like the Deep South I’d have a portable backpacking tent a wool blanket and a change of clothes some soap to wash up with and wash clothing with. Up north where I am a good sleeping bag that can work at 0 temps. Tents suck up here and the bugs are not as bad as in the south so thick plastic with duct tape. Layers for clothing the soap to keep clean a folding saw a hatchet and a good folding knife cheap cordage I don’t think I’d focus on medical stuff to much but bring some antibiotic cream in case you get cuts from out door living bring cheap work gloves to help keep from cuts and keeping hands clean. I feel if you look after your NEEDS you won’t suffer as much. People make the big mistake of keeping it light weight I think this is a mistake. Your not going on a hiking trip if your leaving in an event you don’t want to not have the proper shelter to me this means clothing a way to stay dry and blanket or sleeping bag. Your not gonna fit this in a little backpack. There are gonna be a lot of hurting people with out their needs met but they will have a nice first aid kit. I’d rather have a heavy bag with everything in it and ditch some of it along the way. if I need to I can cash some of it and come back later for it. But I would not use expensive gear from EMS so if I had to ditch it my feelings won’t be hurt. Folks say buy military gear because it’s tried and true I don’t say any of that just don’t buy shit that is gonna fail when you need it to work or buy it because it’s compact only to find out it’s useless. If your careful you can select stuff that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

      27. Decent A-bag but I would add a poncho and paracord, and sub a small LED flashlight for the crank flashlight. Your life will be miserable in a cold rain without a decent poncho. If you have to spend the night out (in your sleeping bag) the paracord and poncho give you the best setup. And while the crank flashlight can light up your immediate space, when it’s really dark and you want to see what you are walking into, you need more candlepower.

        • On the light, i have a couple small LED head lights from Cabelas, automaticly turn on a red lower light, can up that brighter or swich to bright white LED, but always defaults to the red on lowest setting, harder for others to see and preserve your night vision. I just cary a bunch of lithium AAA batteries, or if i am going somewhere planned usually take my Goal zero charger,

        • He has the poncho (Army issued) included on “ecialty bag” as item # 4. That’ odd that you didn’t see that.

      28. forget the sunflower seeds, i will be too busy to eat them…oops, never mind…i just realized you meant shelled(i don’t eat sunflower seeds)

        i use electrical tape..MUCH cheaper…i carry it everywhere and it has many uses, as would med. tape

        anything DRY will require water when eating it…if you aint got water, you mite as well not eat anything, because it will cause constipation…so i like cans of chilli…heavy, but no water required, or even heat if necessary.

        gortex bivy bag…it mite save your life if you are properly dressed for the weather you are in…you’ll probly be able to sleep in your clothes, inside the bivy…not exactly comfortable, but you’ll live.

        a jogging stroller can be used to haul your pack if it’s heavy, or traveling long distances…in the right circumstances, that stroller will be priceless….maybe even MORE expensive….fill a main pack with 75 pounds and hike 5 miles with it…thanks JJ, for a great series of articles!

        • Stroller would indeed be nice to have until you take it off the pavement and go ‘off road’. The wheels would have to be changed out(some super boggers). It would sink to the frame in soft ground carrying 75 pounds on those factory spindly solid wheels. Maybe attach a winch on the front????

          • i see VERY few places i can’t go with a jogging stroller…jogging strollers have BIG wheels, that’s what makes them jogging strollers,PO’d. instead of poo-pooing an idea, trying to figure out how/why something WON’T work, try imagining how it WILL work?….i walk all over town, i hike many trails, and i can tell you this, if i’m on foot for a long time, i would rather have that jogging stroller with a 75 pound pack, than carry a 30 pound pack on my back….many won’t survive with what’s on their back IF it all goes to hell…sheeeit, just the gun and ammo we will need will be a hell of a burden by the time you cover dozens of miles.

            • MY jogging stroller HAS 16″ wheels with tubes….and even if you took the tires/tubes OFF, i believe it would go many miles loaded with 75 pounds….but i DO remember, made in china is a “warning label”.

              • Hey buttcrack ofdoom:) this is a great idea!! I had a jogging stroller and we put tons of stuff in it (along with a side order of child). It was robust and I agree that it could certainly expedite a walk and would lighten the load. There’s even a good place at the handlebar for concealing/quick access.
                Yesterday we saw a 3-wheeled jogging stroller that a lady was pushing AND steering one-handed on dirt/small rocks so I’m assuming the designs have improved significantly.
                Imagine a titanium frame with no-flat tires or a can of fix-a-flat and, barring no-shootouts, you could really burn up some miles in a hurry.

                • Yes they have improved dramatically, if the NVA had the ones we purchased at Costco, they would have taken Saigon a LOT sooner…

              • bcod, not poo-pooing your idea brother, just tickled my funny bone. Been quite a few decades since I pushed one. I guess I’m a little behind trying to catch up. “Made in china” is a warning. I think I’ll stick to using a bicycle however as it worked well for the dinks on the Ho Chi Minn trail. Take care.

                • i knew that…thanks….gave me the opportunity to expand on the idea so people THINK more about it now….BTW, some of them fold up now, the earlier ones didn’t…i have one of each. they are pretty damned expensive, used often 75 to 100, but pay attention and you will see them for 25-35 at yard sales/craigslist….and thanks for YOUR great contributions to shtfplan!

            • Figuring out why or where something won’t work is a valid way of determining how and where it will work.

              It can keep you out of situations and places where something fails and you end up on the losing end of it.

              • great point, anon! i thought about that as i wrote my orig post, or it might have been a little vitriolic….didn’t mean to be too”mean”, LOL.

        • Excellent idea on the jogging stroller, most good ones have a weight capacity of at least 150 lbs, and they are found also at thrift stores a LOT. We’ve picked up two, one for my wife and one for me.(just in case we need to really schlep the supplies a fair distance.)

      29. Now is a good time to check the condition of your bicycles(tires, spare tubes, patch kits, chains, frame and seat) if you got em. Hold onto any old inner tubes as they can be cut and used as “Ranger bands” to secure many things on your packs. My small pack is a Marpat three day assault pack which will connect to the main pack (if necessary) however it would stick out like a sore thumb in an urban setting. Of course most if not all packs will be of interest to those, regardless of color or size who see you carrying something that they could have.

      30. Spot Ties/Zip Ties are good to tie things together. Small and lite weight. Various sizes and strengths.

      31. I keep my .22 and 9mm ammo in a Nalgene bottle. It’s waterproof and can be a useful container, or even just a water bottle later on.

        • I really like your idea of using a Nalgene bottle to keep your ammo/powder dry. But once contaminated with lead dust, I don’t see using it for anything I’d drink or eat.

      32. Censoring?

      33. Mr. Johnson:

        Thank you for the great series of articles!!

        2 question:

        1. I can’t figure this out: What the measuring tape is for?

        2. Based upon your experiences, would you recommend against/for keeping ID papers in the bags?

        We have our in-the-car bags, and our at-work-bags, plus we have our “don’t lose ’em at all costs” bags aka “fanny packs” which also have a concealed holster compartment. These “fanny packs” are the “this is your last chance-don’t lose it-you can survive for awhile if you can find some bugs to eat and some water to purify”:)

        One of my parting gifts to those going off to college is a basic get-home-backpack.

        Thanks for the good info!

        • You need a measuring tape in case you need to measure something.

          That should be obvious.

          • Funny anonymous person!!

            I never thought about measuring anything while camping (other than a visual re the low level of beverages in the cooler:) so I’m just pondering the perplexing perspective of carrying a measuring tape.

            There are other BOB lists on the web that suggest packing one too so I’m just going to pack ’em.

            Maybe to report the actual length of the ginormous trout you caught while surviving shtf?

        • Dear Riggerwife,

          Thanks for the good kudos!

          #1. Measuring tape is for me to figure diameters of trees and things I may need to “demolish,” so to speak, or areas I may need to breach. (I didn’t give out all my bag’s contents!) Also, it helps to figure out things with gin poles and sling loads/weight bearing loads for straps and such.

          #2. For ID papers: keep an extra set with you and be able to torch them in a moment’s notice if need be. One thing you can do is make copies and laminate them all with heavy-gauge laminate. Sensitive numbers cover over with 100 mph tape, enabling the general “bona fides” to be viewed without them placing their eyeball in the fourth point of contact, so to speak.

          Thanks for the feedback, and you have a great day!


          • Dear Anonymous,

            Well that explains a lot. We’re operating from different origins: mine is domestic know-it-all and yours is something way outside and above my skill set.

            This blog is surely helping some us older know-it-all’s learn some new stuff from a completely different perspective: up until today I’ve never given much thought to demolishing stuff. I should have remembered the time my driveway was blocked post-earthquake by a downed-tree over a suspiciously buzzing power line. That would be a perfect opportunity to measure and calculate and demolish a large solid object.

            Also, reading all this gives me something to think about while walking. Gotta get into as good a shape as we can asap.

            Next up for me is to learn about “gin poles and sling loads/weight bearing loads for straps and such” and how such knowledge might be useful in the future.

            Thanks again for your great articles, for caring about the sheeple, and for sharing your knowledge!!

      34. I was about to write a response that made assumptions about where people should be by now in the areas of ropes and knots, hand to hand combat, cross training in firearms, emergency medicine, et al, but nothing ever goes down that way. I guess my best advice is, if you will need it, wear it, or have it within arms reach at any moment, and NEVER accept the possibility of defeat.

        • If you never accept the possibility of defeat you will end up doing something foolish and be defeated by someone who knew he could be.

          But maybe you didn’t mean it that way?

        • kuruoiryo.

          Your thinking ahead. Articles that should be written. Where we all should be in training and preps. In the past when I started talking about subjects that needed to be learned, my friends looked at me as if I was from another world.

      35. Is it time to throw out my old C rations? I hate to part with the B1A units. Yummy. Still have my P38 can opener.

      36. Slightly off topic but going along with an prior JJ post. Consider coolers instead of sand bags. They can be filled with sand or soil (for those that want to plant a few indoor food supplies). Most good ones have wheels for moving around and handles for two people to carry. Place accordingly, but they can be stacked like Legos. Is it fool proof, nope, but something to think about in place or in conjugation with sand bags. Just trying to think outside the box or in this case, inside the box.

        • “Old” coolers can be found for cents on the dollar at most yard sales as well….good thinking outside of the box. Plus, if needed, one can move the coolers to areas that need hardening in the heat of a situation.

        • Mail Guy.

          Good idea about the coolers. Anything to contain the sand will do. The plastic milk crates with plastic yard waste bags will do and you can stack those.
          Weight is a big factor and depending on the size of the cooler they could be hard to move. Handles and wheels may break.

        • 1/2 rocks work too although I’m not sure about weight vs sand. Here is a portable, homemade bullet trap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkF6rIne2lM

          Like the cooler idea –

      37. Phenias option:Which ever handgun you chose stay away from the Ruger P89,90. These pistols are heavy P.O.S .When weight counts you do not need a boat anchor.

        • Yep, stay away from llamas, taurus, colt, and rugers, DPMS, knight, jennings, larue tacticool, and all other manufactures of guns. Buy a crossbow.

      38. I was wondering how the heat of the day affects supplies in your bug out bag left in car ?

        • MRE’s will deteriorate over time and yes, the heat of the day so to speak will definitely degrade the MREs over time.It all depends on how old they were/are when you bought them, where/how they were stored BEFORE you got them…I wouldn’t leave anything in my vehicle in the heat of summer.(just me, I learned the hard way with a pair of boots…)

          • Thanks

      39. Been a while ………………..

      40. where can one buy the bag pictured above?

        • I carry something VERY similiar, mine is made 511 Tactical and called the M.O.A.B. 6. They make many other bags in difference sizes. They are made mainly for Law Enforcement and Miilitary, so they are built to last.

      41. Common sense goes a long way with any bag, kit, or specialty bag. As the article stated standardizing is essential.

      42. Another good thing to know is medication names and uses. Then make a bag, box or cooler as a kit. Labels are a must in medicine…

      43. A good quality toenail clipper.
        Single most important thing I own!!!

      44. Not sure I agree with his terminology. Back in the day when we popped smoke at the LZ extract point we were moving fast and dumping and/or destroying what we didn’t need, not packing a bag. It’s just a terminology thing, when we popped smoke we were in deep shit or getting out of the shit, but the information he gives is good for those who know nothing and us old farts who have forgot more then most people ever learned.

      45. I have one not many have thought about!!! Ive seen a couple people carry energy shots in their bags? tooo bulky and not great for you? so I use a product called Sheets energy strips! you can keep 100 in the same amount of space that 5 hr energy bottles would take up! they are great dont get ya jittery and clear your head nicely! hell they even have a nite time version! who wouldnt want a cup of coffee during the ?????? whatever? or at least a coffee equivelent?

      46. oh Sorry you can get em at GNC health food stores 3-4 bucks for a 10 pack

      47. lots of info–some good–some iffy. Water & purifier (I carry a sawyer mini), food–high protein high energy, shelter–I carry a small 2 man shelter very lightweight, fire starter (any kind) & protection (I carry a revolver–has never failed to fire–and a 12 gauge street sweeper). I have a bicycle geared up in my vehicle just in case. It is my mule for riding or pushing with gear attached. I DO have a small back pack with my choice of gear & a large butt pack with MY choice of gear. these bags never leave my vehicle.

      48. Sanitary Napkins, a couple in plastic bag. They are great for wound coverage and bleeding control, individually packed and unscented generics are preferred for medical use. Large heavy duty contractor rubbish bags, good here in the PNW for shelter and temp rain gear of self and gear. Small Bible, useful for boredom and Faith control.

      49. Any suggestions on the bag itself?


      50. Thanks for your time and effort!! Great articles.

        I prefer a steel(stainless)water bottle over aluminum because then you have the option of boiling water in it, if need be.

        At any Goodwill store for a dollar…grab several.

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