Clay: What About BOB? (Bug Out Bags)

In case you need everything.
Eberlestock Gunslinger 2, excellent rural choice.

Bug out bags (BOB) or get home bags are ubiquitous at this point, though I still get questions from time to time. We are, after all, adding a great many members to our ranks at this point. And even amongst old hands, sometimes bad ideas persist. So I thought this week we would take a minute and look at some often missing bits and pieces to the BOB conversation.

Scabbard easily capable of stowing a 16″ .308.

First, what are we talking about? Actually, two different things. The bug out bag is what you are supposed to keep always packed by the door in the event you have to leave in a hurry. If you can grab just one thing on your way to BUG OUT, it is this bag, hence the name. Due to environmental factors, and personal needs, these can vary greatly in contents.

The second type is what many refer to as a “get home bag,” which doesn’t feature a cool acronym. This one derives from what in the military we called a “go bag,” which I will be using because it is shorter to type. A go bag had all the stuff to you would need to live and fight in dire circumstances. The idea was that if your Humvee was burning or your Toyota taxicab got shot to pieces, you could grab this bag as you rolled out the door.

Eberlestock Big Trick, excellent urban choice.

Now odds are you won’t need to pack one exactly the same way, nor do you have access to hand grenades and white phosphorus. But, the principle is the same at least. Your go bag is something you can take with you to work or every day in the car, in case things go terribly wrong. Mostly with the idea that whatever has gone wrong has left you stranded afoot. Otherwise, you would be driving home and it wouldn’t be a problem.

SEE ALSO: Clay on Staying Fit and Sane During Quarantine

Big Trick, with a 10.5-inch pistol stowed;

The first bit you have to decide is whether you need an urban or rural get home bag. It would be silly of me to pack for Los Angeles when I can cross my entire city on foot in about an hour. Where I live, the odds of being stranded afoot are much higher in the woods than at work. So I make my personal go bag out of an Eberlestock Gunfighter II, complete with a rifle in the scabbard. And if you also live in a rural environment, that makes a lot of sense.

If you don’t, you have a lot of choices to make. The first, since this is GunsAmerica Digest, is firepower. I’m a big fan of the AR pistol if things are going to go pear-shaped. But, you may also not want it to be seen. Walking down the street with a (civilian) subgun is certain to attract some attention, especially during a SHTF scenario, and probably not the kind you want. You may also not work in a place where stashing a bag of that size in the car all day is a good idea. A fenced/gated, security-patrolled parking lot? Maybe. On the street in downtown Dallas? Not a good plan.

Even a small bag can do the job.

Which may also mean you need to pack a smaller bag. A go bag could be small enough to be unnoticed in your locker at the plant, but still add some goodness to the fight. (Legal mandates that I now say, if such a thing is not prohibited in your place of employment.) Like many of you, I don’t always carry a reload for my concealed carry gun. In day-to-day life, I have calculated the odds of needing one and it isn’t high enough to warrant it. But if I gotta go through the Rona’ riots on the way home or some other nefarious happenings? Damn skippy I want one. So into the go bag goes a G-Code Scorpion paddle mag holder. And a second one is on my acquisitions list.

G-Code Scorpion paddle mag pouch.

If your CCW platform has the option of extended magazines, I would toss one of those in as well. Glock Gang has a very real advantage here. If you are running a G19 with the 15 rounder most of the time, adding 24 or 33 to the pack makes sense. Not exactly great under a t-shirt, but you’ll be happy you had it if the blasting starts in earnest.

Extended mags, highly recommended in this situation.

Depending on your job, a solid pair of shoes should absolutely be in the go bag. This mostly applies to office workers, not construction crews. But, those wingtips or pumps are going to chew you up on concrete in very short order. If your day to day job doesn’t put you in well-made boots, you most definitely want a set on hand. If you don’t believe me, do a 3-mile walk on the streets in your loafers. Let me know how that works out.

Solid shoes, a solid decision.

Finally, the most neglected of all. Medical Kit! No one likes to think of having to patch up friends or colleagues. Seriously, I think psychologically many people don’t have medical supplies on hand because thinking about using it hurts them in the feels. But I’m telling you, this is the most likely thing in your bag to ever be used. Even without some kind of Armageddon scenario, people get banged up. Accidents happen. Be it a car crash, a shattered mirror, or a GSW (gunshot wound), eventually you are going to need some medical supplies. And you absolutely are going to be glad to have some on hand when that day comes.

Solatac medical kit, in Mayflower pouch.

Right now, my personal favorite comes from Solatac. Founded by an Off-Shore EMS professional, these kits come with everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Needle decompression and whiz-bang stuff are great, if you have the training to use it. But most of us don’t. So I like kits that feature baseline stop the bleeding stuff that has worked for decades. Gauze, tape, pressure dressings. And a little CELOX for good measure.

Can you make your own? Sure. As long as you stay away from urban legend nonsense, like using tampons to pack bullet wounds. But make sure you have something in this category. And in my opinion, supplement it with a couple of high-quality tourniquets as well. There are a lot of soldiers still walking this earth thanks to a tourniquet, and the packaged ones are much easier to use than making one up on the fly.

Tourniquet, a must-have item

You have plenty of time right now to be working on a go bag or get home bag, if you don’t already have one. Gym bag, camping pack that gets used once a decade, you have something to fit the bill. So this weekend, make it productive. This is the time to build habits that keep you alive.

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Sgt. FG Young USMC 69-78 April 28, 2020, 10:50 pm

    At that distance from home, with that weight, It is doubtful you’ll make it home. I’m seventy and tried out a 45 lb pack . I did a hard mile and figured I might be able to do five or ten miles a day with great difficulty. I still do construction, so I’m probably in much better shape then most 70 year olds. With no pack i’m able to do 3 mi. in 45min. at force march, but that also is not an all day walk on road grade. Bug out situation says we’ll probably be hiking field or forest . I’ll let you know that is hard to do, at our age, with no pack. We got lots to think about and practice, if we want with any reality to say I’m prepared.

  • Pat J April 25, 2020, 11:36 am

    I give Celox crystals and Israeli compression bandages to outdoor buddies for Xmas.
    If you give normal life a couple years they won’t say WTF? any more. They’ll say Thank you.
    Go big on first-aid in that BOB. In chaos there will be clumsiness, exhaustion, crazy humans,
    bleeding humans, and scared-crazy dogs. It won’t be a movie. Survive.

  • Don from CT April 24, 2020, 11:34 am

    When my daughter needed a new bag for school, I scooped up her very well made LL Bean backpack and moved my stuff into that.

    There is something good about carrying a bag that doesn’t say “gun guy” or even “prepper”.

    In many cases, I could actually give to her to carry, making my get home preparations even more “stealth”.

    The way I’ve got it set up. Her bag with the bare necessities is inside another larger adult bag that has more extras. If my need ot get home doesn’t involve political unrest, I just take the big bag if I’m short of time or move the stuff into my bag if I have plenty of time.

  • Tenbones April 24, 2020, 9:51 am

    If you’re ‘bugging out’ it helps if you have somewhere to bug out to, if you don’t, what’s the point? You are generally better off staying home. Having a ‘get home bag’ makes more sense.

  • Jim April 23, 2020, 9:59 pm

    I sometimes get 1-2 hundred miles from home. I keep a GHB in my truck, mostly with food, meds, 1st aid, basic survival kit, spare ammo 9mm, and mag. I’m looking at around 40# as is.
    How much food is realistic. Vacuum packed Survival food. Small mess kit with burner. I’m 68 vet that didn’t have to hump. (Navy)

  • Arthur Sido April 22, 2020, 7:24 am

    If you are living somewhere you think you might need to bug out from, you need to move. The time to bug out is right now, not when society is falling apart.

    • Bobs your uncle April 22, 2020, 10:42 am

      A couple of years ago there was a big uproar over rural law enforcement getting surplus military equipment, why would they need that stuff? some of the communities were a tank of gas away from major cities, should there be a major social break down it was thought people would be fleeing to rural areas. The mountain area I lived in had locals planning how to block off roads and set up defenses against the anticipated rush of people bugging out. Not a pretty picture.

    • FriFri April 24, 2020, 10:00 am

      First of all, love the profile pic!
      Secondly, there is literally nowhere that the need to bug out is not a possibility. Aside from the doomsday apocalyptic type stuff most people think of bugging out from, much more likely are impending natural disasters. If there is a strong wind blowing your direction from behind a missive wildfire that is 40 miles away, time to GTFO.

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