Lighten Your Load in an Emergency

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

I live in Southern Utah, and one of my favorite things to do is visit nearby national parks and go hiking. Recently, I went to Zion National Park and hiked a route called The Narrows.

This particular hike is about 16 miles long, and you’re basically walking through a canyon next to a river. I had multiple family members with me, and we had planned on doing a one-day hike, so everyone brought a backpack with one day’s worth of supplies. Except one particular family member — who brought enough water to last three–four days.

If you’ve ever been hiking, you know that water is heavy and takes up a lot of space. Now, I had brought plenty of water for the day, as well as my SurvFilter in case I needed to filter water from the river. But my overprepared family member brought so much water that it was slowing him down and making the hike much more difficult.

Imagine that you’re in a survival situation and your bug-out bag is so heavy you can’t keep up. Obviously, you need to be prepared in an emergency, but you also need to be realistic about how much you can carry.

No More Heavy Lifting

I recommend walking around your neighborhood with your bug-out bag and making sure it’s something you can carry comfortably in an emergency. If not, here are some items I would consider removing to lighten your bug-out bag so you can actually bug out when you need to:

1) Ammo — Let me be clear: I’m not saying you should dump all your ammo. But what I am saying is that you need to be sensible about how much you are capable of carrying. For instance, I don’t recommend packing hundreds of rounds of 9 mm ammo in your bug-out bag — 100 rounds should be plenty. If you end up in a bug-out situation where you need several hundred rounds to defend yourself, chances are you won’t survive anyway. So while ammo is certainly critical, you don’t need to be excessive.

2) Food/Water — You will often have a decreased appetite during a survival situation due to the stress of the ordeal. But you still need to eat, so I recommend buying light survival food that’s packed in a bag. Never use canned food for your bug-out bag — it’s great for home food storage but too heavy to carry. And don’t go overboard with water like the family member I mentioned. I suggest having enough water to get you to a nearby creek or river where you can use a quality water filter (like the SurvFilter) to replenish your supply.

3) Sleeping Bag/Tent — Unless you live in a particularly cold region, I don’t recommend carrying a bulky sleeping bag with you. In most situations, an emergency blanket will keep you warm enough. Also, I don’t advise lugging around a heavy tent. Instead, be prepared to build a shelter when you get to where you plan on going. A waterproof tarp and bungee cords are a lot lighter than a big tent.

4) Pots, Pans and Utensils — Believe it or not, I’ve actually seen some people put cast-iron cookware in their bug-out bags, which is outrageous, because these items are incredibly heavy. I recommend a simple cook set and a spork. There’s also no need to pack multiple dish sets — simply wash them after you eat. Remember, if you are trying to stay alive, the last thing you are going to worry about is whether or not your utensils are sparkling.

5) Books/Manuals — The fact is having written information can be helpful during an emergency. If you aren’t thinking straight or can’t remember something important — and Google isn’t an option — having a physical reference is ideal. But these items can also be heavy and take up too much space. I recommend downloading books or PDFs onto your Kindle or your smartphone. Even if cell towers are damaged and you don’t have internet access, you should still be able to read files you’ve saved to your device. Just be sure to pack a solar charger so you can recharge it!

If you’re an avid hiker, you are probably familiar with the saying, “Every ounce counts.” This is true for bug-out bags as well, because you never know if you will be bugging out for a few hours or a few days. You should always be prepared for the latter (just in case), and the less weight you have to carry, the better off you’ll be.

So next time you go through your bug-out bag, look for items you can remove — or particular items you can lessen the amount of to trim some weight from your bug-out bag.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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