Factors Influencing Winterizing Your Get Home Bag
Factor #1: EnvironmentThe first factor to consider when winterizing your Get-Home-bag is your general environment. A more specific environmental consideration is the kind of winters that your area experiences. For example, people living in the Southwest do not have to worry about blizzard or whiteout conditions. By contrast, people living in the upper Midwest or New England have to take into consideration the more harsh conditions of winter. Another environmental factor that influences winterizing your bag are the winter temperatures and wind chill factors.
Factor # 2: Travel DistanceMoreover, the next factor to keep in mind is the distance that you will be traveling. People travelling long distances will have also to consider the winter conditions throughout their travel. Additionally, one should consider the type of infrastructures that can serve as emergency stopping points or emergency shelter while traveling. Additionally , experience with using your gear is important.
Factor # 3: ExperienceA third factor you should consider when preparing your Get-Home-Bag is your level of experience. Your experience with the outdoors and survival gear influence what you carry in the bag. A good rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Only place items in your bag that you already know how to use. For example, a Bic® lighter is an item that you already know how to use. However, you may not know to use climbing or rappelling gear. The point here is that being stranded on a major interstate in a blizzard is no place to try something that you have never used. Thus, your attempt to experiment with an unfamiliar skill or gear in the middle of an emergency may jeopardize your life or the life of others of whom you are responsible. Therefore, as you consider modifying your Get-Home bag for winter, what are some things to think about when deciding on survival gear?
Gear Considerations For Winterizing Your Get Home Bag
The Right Backpack
The first thing to consider about your Get-Home-Bag is the bag itself. You may need to replace your current bag with something more durable. A couple of good examples of winter capable packs are the 5.11Tactical® Rush 72 Backpack (55 liters), sold at the Sigma 3 Survival School Store, or the SealLine® Black Canyon ™ Boundary Portage Pack (70 liters). Both of these packs have their strengths and weaknesses.The strength of the Rush 72 pack is its capability for modularity. Its material is a water repelling (not waterproof) 1050 Denier nylon fabric. The main advantage of the SealLine® pack is that its waterproof 300 Denier TPU-double-coated nylon body with a 400 Denier TPU-coated nylon bottom. The waterproof material of this pack guarantees that clothing items in the bag will stay dry in rain or snow conditions. The main weakness of the Rush 72 pack is that it is not waterproof. Lengthy exposure in rain or snow water will eventually have moisture seep into the bag. The main weakness of the SealLine® pack is that it does not have any attachment points on its exterior. Thus, after selecting a winter-capable backpack, what are some winter survival gear options to place inside the bag?
Fire Making ItemsThe first survival gear consideration for a winter Get-Home-Bag is a fire making item. Fire is one of the four essentials of survival (Fire, Food, Water, Shelter). A great piece of fire-making gear is the Sigma 3 Fire Kit. Check out my review of this excellent fire kit for more information about this kit. In a winter scenario, being able to build a fire is critical to keep from getting hyperthermia. It allows you to stay warm, dry your wet clothing, sanitize water, melt snow, and cook food. Furthermore, meeting your hydration requirement is critical to surviving in a winter environment.
Water and Hydration ItemsThe second consideration for survival gear your Get-Home-Bag is hydration. Water is a primary key to survival in winter. Therefore, water procurement, treatment, and consumption are central to surviving in a winter emergency. However, finding fresh running water in a stream may be difficult in the winter. Thus, it is essential to have a capability to melt snow or ice to get fresh drinkable water in the winter. The Sigma 3 Water Kit is an excellent piece of gear to consider putting into any winterized GHB. Check out my review of this water kit for more information this versatile gear.
Shelter and Cover ItemsAdditionally, a third survival gear consideration for a Get-Home-Bag is that of shelter. One option for meeting your winter shelter needs would be the Warbonnet Blackbird XLC hammock system. The hammock is available at the Sigma 3 Survival store. This hammock system comes with some additional add-on items: a winter top cover and under quilt protector. If you are interested in more information on this hammock system, read my review and video at the Sigma 3 Survival Store. A further consideration for this hammock system would be a sleeping bag. The Snugpak® Tactical 4 winter sleeping bag also would be a great addition to the winter shelter consideration for any GHB. The Snugpak® sleeping bag could be attached to the bottom of the Rush 72 pack.
Food and Food Procurement ItemsAdditionally, a fourth survival gear consideration for a winter Get-Home-Bag is food and food procurement. Another item to think about putting in a GHB for the winter is the Yoyo Fish Trap fishing Reel or the Emmrod® Kayak King Cast Rod and Reel Kit. These items are available at the Sigma 3 Survival School Store. Pre-made meals such as MREs or Mountain House® pouches are useful items to meet the food requirements for a GHB. You can also build your meal kit by using instant oatmeal, instant rice, beef jerky, energy bars, crackers, and instant electrolyte powder (Gatorade®/Propel®).
Winter Clothing ItemsMoreover, a final survival gear consideration for a Get-Home-Bag for the winter is addressing clothing needs. Winter clothing items can be bulky and take up space in the backpack. Therefore, choose winter clothing items carefully. Wool and Gore-Tex should be the kinds of materials that characterize winter clothing. Here are some suggestions for some winter clothing items. The first winter clothing item to consider are wool socks. Keeping feet warm and dry is a critical consideration when discussing surviving in the winter. The U.S. Army MIL-84K Wool Boot Socks or Smartwool® Men’s Hunt Extra Heavy Over the Calf Socks are the types of socks to consider for winter clothing in a Get-Home Bag. Some other winter clothing considerations could be having a wool-based base layer set in the bag, such as the Meriwool Men’s Merino Wool Midweight Baselayer. A military wool watch cap and Weather Wool Neck Gaiter scarf would also be a great item to consider for one’s emergency bag.
ConclusionIn conclusion, the Get-Home-Bag is a great resource to have available in one’s vehicle. As the winter period of the year dawns, it is prudent to check your bag. You should analyze what winter specific survival items you need. It is possible that a more substantial bag may be necessary to meet your winter needs. For example, the things in my GHB are easily stored in the current pack. There is no requirement where I live to maintain large bulky cold weather gear. However, I do need to preserve some winter gear in my bag for traveling in the mountainous regions of the Southwest. So as you begin to assess your winter needs for your Get-Home-Bag choose carefully and wisely the gear that you will need.
The term bugging out is a term survivalist preppers and some military use when talking about getting out of a certain situation. A bugout bag is a handy set of ready to go items that you can just grab and go. Some people prefer the term “B.O.B.”(Bug Out Bag) or “Go Bag.” The general rule of thumb is to have enough supplies in your bug out bag to survive at least 3 days, although sometimes bug out bags are made to last 7 – 21 days, and even indefinitely.
Depending on your skillset and how much survival training or knowledge your posses it is possible to survive with a knife alone. Even the most skilled survivalists would rather have more tools with them than just a knife. I mean why would you want to make surviving harder on yourself.
We have compiled a list of must-have items that our Instructor’s recommend, as well as a list of items to put inside your bug out bags. These items could vary depending on the climate you live in but for the most part, they will stay the same.
3 Day Bugout Bag Checklist – 3 Days is the bare minimum amount you will want to have enough supplies for. Having enough water and food can easily be packed into a small bag. The 3 day kit is designed to meet your initial needs. It provides for the key components to any short-term survival situation. Shelter, Fire, Water, Food, and Security. It is designed to get you by for the first 72 hours until you can resupply or relocate to a safer, more plentiful location. Other than food and water your 3 Day B.O.B. should contain :
- Durable Clothing
TRU-SPEC 24/7 Tactical Pants
Fjallraven Vida Pro Pants
- Shelter System
Aqua Quest Defender Tarp
Warbonnet Hammock System & Superfly Tarp
- Water Purifier
Sawyer Water Filter
Sigma 3 Water Kit
- Fire Starter
Sigma 3 Fire Kit
Leatherman – Surge Multitool
Firearm (If Trained Properly)
CRKT Obake Titanium Knife
21 Day Bugout Bag Checklist – Beyond those primary needs you will need to extend your kit. When building out your bug out bag consider keeping it modular. You should be able to simply attach your 3 Day Bag right on to your 21 Day Bag. This prevents you from having to pack all the same items into two separate bags. In addition to your 3 Day Bag, your 21 Day Bug Out Bag should include:
- Sleep System
Snugpak Tactical Sleeping Bag
Therm-a-Rest ProLite Mattress Regular
Military U.S. G.I. Modular Sleeping Bag System (4-Piece)
- Cook Kit
NDur 9 Piece Cook Kit
MSR Pocket Rocket Stove Kit
- First Aid
Coleman Mini First Aid Tin
Pro Guide First Aid Kit
- Added Protection
Pulse Taser with 2 Cartridges and Holster
SABRE Red Pepper Gel – Police Strength
Baofeng Radio Plus (USA Warranty)
Cell Phone and Charger
Alternate Power Supplies (Battery Bank)
Knife Sharpener – WorkSharp
55 Gallon Contractor Trashbag
Notepad and Pencil
INCH Bag “I’m Never Coming Home”Checklist – You can’t possibly carry enough supplies to last forever, but with some training, you could survive for a very long time and possibly indefinitely. The INCH Bag contains all the items in your 3 and 21 Day Bug Out Bags, but also includes everything you feel like you can’t live without. In the event your home becomes uninhabitable due to disaster or hostile environments you will want to secure invaluable items. This could include everything from photos, family heirlooms, and items that bring you joy and fulfillment. The list of INCH Bag items is only limited by your ability to transport those items.
This list is provided to give you some options. You may not need to carry every item on it. Just things to consider.
Preparedness is key, and having a quick bugout bag ready to go at a moments notice could be the difference between survival and worst case scenario. In closing, the items recommended in this list have been tested in the field by experienced survival instructors. Show your support, share and shop the links provided in this blog post.
Thanks for Reading!
Justin “Sage” Williams
Director Sigma 3
Practical Alternatives for Buried Survival Caches
By Matthew Dermody
One can hardly go far into the prepper and survivalist culture of self-reliance without running into the subject of gear survival caches and doomsday stockpiles. Having a survival cache and having access to the critical supplies contained within it is essential. As more and more people choose to lose their ability to take care of themselves, the need to keep your supplies from the prying eyes of the desperately unprepared grows even more. The most commonly discussed survival cache is the improvised burial tube. Buried tubes and survival caches main mantra is ‘out of sight; out of mind’ with good reason. If people cannot see it or find it, they cannot raid it. Personally, I am not a fan of large burial tubes, although they are necessary for larger gear such as firearms, cookware, and larger shelter items.
Larger buried survival caches have their place and are fine for your final bug-out destination. Until you arrive at your final bug-out location, you may not want or be able to carry all of the gear you originally put in a large en route cache. There are alternatives to large and buried caches, all having legitimate advantages and drawbacks. Two such alternatives are aerial concealment and exposed/ground level concealment. The key word to remember here is practical. The type of cache you decide to use depends on some important factors based upon your age, your physical condition, and your environment. Here are some points to consider in selecting your cache method.
1. What kind of equipment do you need to hide or retrieve the cache? A spade equates to digging. Digging equates to work. Work expends needed calories and energy. Even with a perfect hide location, digging requires the disposal of the excess soil and make the surrounding area look undisturbed. This is especially true if there is a chance of someone walking through your proposed survival cache site. With all the effort put in to hide the cache, you end up removing it to get to your supplies.
2. Time is not always on your side. Just as digging equates to work, work equates to time. When the time comes to retrieve the tube, are you really going to want to spend the time digging for items when you could be having a jump start to your bug-out location? Will you have enough time to sit around and wait for the cover of darkness or ideal weather conditions to retrieve your cache? Carrying an adequate spade or shovel to your hide location is going to look somewhat suspicious. If you are planning to use an easier concealed camp shovel to unearth your treasure, then you are adding even more time to the retrieval process. What if someone follows you, waiting until you are distracted or exhausted from the retrieval process, and decides to attack or arrest you? This could also happen in other cache retrieval methods, but your situational awareness is not going to be at its peak if you are concentrating on digging. For some people, climbing a tree to retrieve a cache can be unsafe and potentially dangerous. Continually scanning the area is an important consideration to the type of cache used. Certain cache types require more vigilance because your attention is divided between the retrieval process and maintaining situational awareness. Too much time spent in an area, no matter how secure you deem it to be, can put you at risk for discovery. In a SERE scenario, stopping to hide or retrieve something in the ground is going to use up time that needs to be spent putting distance between you and your pursuers.
3. Mother Nature will not cooperate during a SHTF event. Regardless of whatever causes a SHTF event requiring a bug-out to a more secure location, Mother Nature and Murphy’s Law will persist in their usual defiance of human endeavor. If things can go wrong, they will and they will do so at the most inconvenient time and season. Inclement weather is one thing, but combine the first two reasons with the addition of snow and several inches of frozen ground and you have now increased the amount of time and hard digging required. Moreover, freezing conditions can reduce manual dexterity, adding more time digging or climbing and exposes your body to the elements for longer periods. Climbing with gloves or mittens is difficult in cold weather, making tree scaling far less successful for most people.
4. Some survival cache methods and sizes may require an accomplice. Trust is a big factor when you start obligating friends to swear an oath of secrecy. The old expression, “Two can keep a secret if one is dead,” is something to keep in mind. Anyone who knows or associates with you who encounters unfriendly forces are a potential risk for compromise. These forces threaten or intimidate people into turning on you and revealing your secrets. Having a cache location that only you know about and only you can access/retrieve your goods without assistance is the safest policy. If one man walks into the woods with a shovel or rope looks suspicious, then two men with shovels and ropes screams of a conspiracy.
5. Larger survival caches are difficult to hide. If you choose to have a larger cache site, you run the greater risk of its discovery. The best advice I can give is to resist the temptation to store all your essential supplies in a single large cache. Making several, smaller caches along your travel route are a wiser choice. First, your cache locations are more scattered and random. Second, if one cache is raided, discovered, or destroyed, you lose some assets instead of all of them. An event such as this is frustrating, but you continue on to your next location, knowing that you did not lose everything.
6. How remote is the cache location? Location and remoteness also determine what type of cache is best for your situation. The more traffic, whether human or animal, will require more effort to conceal it. The more difficult it is to reach your cache in terms of remoteness and terrain, the better your chances will be keeping it hidden. While you want to make it difficult for everyone else to discover and reach, you do not want to put yourself in peril in order to conceal or retrieve your cache.
So what are the alternatives? There are a few concealment options, and like burial tubes, they are not without their own unique drawbacks. However, these cache options eliminate or reduce some of the labor drawbacks associated with burial tubes. When the full use of technology and camouflaging techniques are applied, the appeal of the alternatives will overcome most of the negative aspects. It is important to understand that there are no 100% foolproof methods to conceal caches.
Go aerial, not burial. When discussing aerial concealment, it is important to realize that you do not want your cache swinging from branches. The first option is suspending the tube within the canopy of a deciduous tree giving you the ability to retrieve the tube by lowering with an attached rope. The option of nestling the tube in one of the higher crotches of the tree is the best. The most important thing to remember with an ‘aerial’ tube is to secure it tightly so that it cannot be dislodged by high winds or strike other portions of the tree and thereby bringing attention to it. Humans are not tree climbers by nature. Without some sort of assistance like ropes or ladders, the desire and ability to climb trees decreases with age for most people. Therefore, most individuals do not give tree canopies a second thought while looking for hidden objects.
Keep it on the down low. Meaning, ground level low; leave it out in the open. This concept is more prevalent with the popularity of geo caching. Geo caches are small, man made objects hidden within a natural setting. They contain little log books to record who finds the object and when. Because of this, the camouflage MUST be exceptional for this to work, but with some ingenuity and creativity, this is easily accomplished.
Incidentally, with these methods, you are not restricted to tubes. Food-grade five-gallon buckets with gamma seal lids hidden under rock piles, large tree stumps, etc. also work well. Large fake rocks made of plastic often used to disguise well housings and residential utilities work well as concealment, too. However, I strongly recommend adding additional textured spray paint along with gluing preserved moss on the surface to give the appearance of realism.
Two very important things to remember with ground concealment techniques:
1.) Look like it belongs in that location.
2.) Look like it has been at the location for several year, decades preferably. You also need to ensure and implement the best waterproofing methods you have at your disposal, as surface hides are much more susceptible to water seepage. Sealing every possible point where water can seep into your cache with a silicone sealant is a prudent decision. Even if your cache never is exposed to direct rainfall, dew and condensation can still creep into unsealed caches. As an added measure, make sure to use desiccant packs to absorb any moisture.
Most importantly, keep your mouth shut. This should go without mention, but do not discuss the location of any cache you have with anybody. Social media is a good place to discover people with like minded ideas, but that does not make them immediately trustworthy. Survival culture, content, and concepts are always okay to discuss, but never survival coordinates, campsites, and caches.
Matthew Dermody is a self-published author and owner of Hidden Success Tactical. He specializes in camouflage and concealment training for professional, recreational and survival applications.
Photo Credits: http://preparedforthat.com/survival-caching-part-1-mindset-need-protect/;http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2013/08/13/embrace-your-inner-pirate-5-important-considerations-for-your-survival-cache/