Putting together a kit for emergencies can often be considered “expensive”, especially if you are putting it together with the best components that you can afford with your own budget. Some may be in a position where they can afford to purchase it all at once, while others may put it together over time as their budget permits. One thing is certain, you should be putting your primary kit together with the best equipment that you can afford. This kit is meant to be filled with resources that you will apply knowledge and skill to that may potentially save your life in an emergency.
It is an investment, not an expense. I would liken it to insurance. Insurance is an investment that you make, sometimes monthly, so that you can rely on it in an emergency. Much like an emergency kit (or Go Bag), you hope to never have to use it. In some cases, insurance is required by law, but in many cases, it is because people know this to be true: it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have.
Go Bags are insurance policies and once the initial “premium” is met, there is no monthly fee.
What if you cannot afford to put it all together at once? You may be able to get some of the best components out there for some of it but have to push the others off until later due to budget constraints. What do you do to ensure you are fully prepared in the meantime? After all, your kit is either adequate, or it is not. Your either have the resources available to provide for all your needs, or your kit is inadequate.
Within my system, which you will be given access to the first part of soon in my next film (“No Nonsense Bug Out: A Preparedness Series”), I talk about having a plan, planning for contingencies, and stocking up on resources so that they are available to you in an emergency. Those resources are layered as part of a larger system of preparedness. Some resources are on your person or in a Go Bag, while others are pre-staged in caches and alternate locations.
One of those contingencies includes the possibility that you may lose (or be liberated from) your entire bag. Given that the initial investment in a Go Bag with quality components is fairly high, how can you justify investing in another Go Bag to be set aside “just in case” your initial one is lost or taken? You may never even need the first bag, let alone the second. Let me put it to you this way: if you were down to just the contents of this bag (along with your knowledge and skills, of course), and you were relying on it for your life, why wouldn’t you have a backup for something that critical? In my opinion, the statement “two is one, and one is none” has never been truer than it is in this case. For many, I suspect that it has more to do with affordability than it does just not wanting to put a backup bag together.
These are many of the reasons why I was so excited to partner with my friend Alan from Stanford Outdoor Supply. A few years ago, he sent me some of his B.O.S.S. Kits to field test. B.O.S.S. stands for “Bug Out Survival Supplement”. After some time with them, I was actually quite impressed. These are very budget-friendly kits that were well put together, that would be useful in an emergency. The kits were organized very similarly to how I organize and teach my own kits, and that is based on the Survival Priorities. In other words, what specific need each kit is meant to provide for: Fire, Shelter, Water, Food, First Aid, Navigation, and Signal. Each kit also contains Tools that facilitate the provision of those needs.
Are the B.O.S.S. kits made with the absolute highest quality components? No. What they are is extremely budget-friendly and affordable and still adequate. Alan has done an outstanding job of sourcing items for these kits while keeping them affordable to everyone.
So, with all of that said, who are these kits good for?
- A person who is piecing together a full kit over time as their budget permits. For example, you may be able to afford a great shelter and tool kit, but have to wait on getting the primary fire, water, food, first aid, navigation, and signal kits that you want for your kit. The B.O.S.S. kits are a great placeholder for those kits so that you have something in place while you are working towards completing your kit. As you can afford to replace them with the primary kits, you can shift the B.O.S.S. kits to your backup Go Bag or cache them.
- A person who has already put together a complete Go Bag, understands the need for a backup Go Bag, but does not necessarily want (or can afford) the expense of a second complete kit. The B.O.S.S. kits are a less expensive alternative for that second bag. They also make great items to place inside of caches along your route to supplement your primary bag.
- A person who maybe cannot afford a full kit now, but still wants to put together a more budget-friendly kit.
Let us take a closer look at what is inside the basic kits:
My motto has always been: Be prepared first, then be prepared to find yourself completely unprepared. I have always advocated having a minimum of three different ways to start a fire and be able to back that up with at least one method of primitive fire. In addition to those ignition sources, you should always have some form of emergency tinder. This kit is no exception to any of that.
The primary ignition sources in this kit are a lighter, waterproof matches, a ferro rod, and a Fresnel lens for solar. To back that up, it includes a 6’ section of Kevlar cordage and a flange bearing to facilitate a bow drill. It even includes a folding knife and a wire saw to help construct it. That is four ignition sources plus a more primitive backup.
There are several emergency tinder options included in this kit. You have tinder tabs, a waterproof tinder ball, and magnesium capsules. If you have ever had to shave magnesium off of a bar or rod, you will appreciate these. They are magnesium shavings that are encased in a “pill” capsule. All you have to do is pull the capsule apart and you have a pile of useable shavings ready to go. Many of you know the value of “fatwood” as an emergency wet weather tinder; this kit has some of the as well. You also have tea light candles that are great for extending the life of your lighter, especially when using marginal natural tinder resources.
It includes other tinder resources. There is a 10’ section of jute twine that can be teased out into a portion of your tinder bundle. This is extremely valuable in wet conditions since the twine will be dry and can be used for your fine material in the larger bundle. If you need to make shavings for kindling, you could use the supplied folding knife or the pencil sharpener that is included in the kit. It even has a few pieces of charcloth to make your fire starting that much easier.
A few extras that may come in handy are the ones that open electrical ignition options. It comes with steel wool, which can be used for tool maintenance of course, but it is also valuable as a tinder for using a flashlight or battery to start a fire. Many do not realize this, but super fine steel wool will also take a spark from a ferro rod and its smolders extremely hot. Lastly, it comes with a piece of foil paper. This can be used with an AA battery to make what is called a “prison lighter”. More options are always going to be better than less options in an emergency.
This kit also includes a waterproof instruction sheet that makes a great reference.
You have heard me say it before: every good shelter kit consists of something to sleep under, something to sleep on, something to sleep in, and some cordage and stakes to put it all together. This kit does a rather good job at delivering on that. It even has a small folding saw to help cut materials for your shelter.
For something to sleep under, you have an 84” x 84” waterproof tarp. As far as something to sleep on, the kit includes a plastic ground cover that will act as a vapor and moisture barrier. This will be even more effective at protecting you from conduction by adding natural insulation like leaves or conifers boughs to lay on. For something to sleep in, you have a Mylar Emergency Blanket. It will not be the warmest option ever, but it does do well at reflecting radiant heat back to you. You could even drape it up behind you in the shelter and take advantage of reflecting the heat from your fire.
The kit includes a pretty complete system for putting it all together. It comes with Paracord and aluminum stakes and has guy line tensioners that you can add if you want to. It even comes with zip ties which are handy if you are not that well versed in knot tying.
For any water kit, you need the ability to procure it, make it safe to drink, and store it. You should have some redundancy in the ability to make it safe to drink with different options of filtration, purification, and disinfection.
First and foremost, you can drink directly from the freshwater source with the supplied water filter straw. This kit also opens a few other options for water procurement. It comes with a few containers: a metal bowl and 3 1L bags. You can also create small containers with the foil sheets. Those could be used as rain catches as well. Another option for a rain catch is the use the large plastic bags that are included. If you are in an area that does not have abundant freshwater sources, dew collection is made possible with the compressed sponge and towels.
If you have the knowledge and skill, this kit includes the resources you would need to set up above ground and below ground solar stills and vegetation transpiration bags. It comes with the large plastic bags and rubber tubing for those. Admittedly, you need several of these to produce enough water to sustain yourself, so they should be thought of as part of a larger system of procuring water and meeting hydration needs.
There is no such thing as an improvised survival “filter” that makes water safe to drink, even though there are a number of folks making that claim on the worldwide web. It just is not possible to construct something to the micron-level it needs to be at to effectively block all waterborne pathogens. Chances are high that if the water did not make a person sick after going through an improvised survival filter, it was not going to make them sick without being filtered, either.
I suppose I should not speak in absolutes; I should say I have never seen an improvised survival filter that makes water safe to drink despite the claims I have seen. What they are good for is removing larger particles and odors that make the water more palatable. It still needs to be disinfected or purified in some way. This kit comes with a few items that can be used as a filter to make water more palatable. It comes with coffee filters and mesh bags that can be used as a filter to remove particulates. The activated charcoal that is included in the kit can also be placed in one of the mesh bags and placed in the water to adsorb some of the odor, and some of the waterborne pathogens if given enough contact time. The mesh bags could also be used as sort of a “tea bag” for prepping certain medical plant infusions, and of course the activated charcoal may be handy for ingestion poisoning as well.
To make the water safe to drink, in addition to the straw filter, you can also use the supplied water purification tablets, and of course you can boil water in the metal bowl or foil containers.
This kit also comes with a handy instruction sheet.
It is said that you can go for a couple of weeks without food, who would want to? That is just how long it takes to slowly starve to death. You will certainly not be performing at your best well before that time. In the context of “bugging out”, denoting on your plan, it may not be something you plan to do for the first few days. Maybe you are living on emergency rations in the near-term, but also want to have more sustainable long-term options.
When it comes to food procurement, you have both active and passive means. There are also water-based food sources, as well as land-based. In general, passive means are usually best and water-based are usually most abundant. In short, you want to have the ability to set up passive traps on both land and water and can actively hunt and fish if the opportunity presents itself.
This is a very comprehensive food gathering kit that includes all of that. It is a 127-piece kit that will fit in a cargo pocket. Without going into full detail, I will just try and stick to the highlights of several things you can do with this kit.
For passive fishing, it has one of my favorite survival items: A Yo-Yo Automatic Fishing Reel, plus everything you need as far as tackle to set it up for your target species, even bait. It also includes plenty of cordage and tackle to set up bank lines, limb lines, and trot lines. Some of those items would of course be useful for active fishing as well.
For passive land-based trapping, it comes with snare wire and various types of hardware that you can use as resources for setting multiple traps. For active hunting, the kit includes a slingshot band and some slingshot ammo. If you wanted, you could use the slingshot band for a sling on a frog/fish spear as well. As a matter of fact, one thing that would really round out this kit is adding one of the frog/fish gigs that I carry on my website. This is available in the larger Mini Gig size, and the smaller EDC Gig size.
This kit includes a small multi-tool and a razor blade to help you build your traps and process anything you might catch or kill.
When it comes to food procurement, my saying is: two is one, one is none, ten or more is dinner for sure. You want to get as many traps as possible out to give you the best chance of securing a meal. This kit helps facilitate that.
Like many of the others, this kit includes a waterproof survival instruction sheet for reference.
This kit contains all the tools you need to navigate anywhere you need to. It does not include maps of your area, however. You can order those from mytopo.com. When you get them, keep them protected inside the waterproof map bags that are included in the kit.
The kit includes a baseplate compass and a military-style protractor to find direction and figure out your way. It also has a set of ranger beads and a mechanical pace counter to keep track of how far you have traveled along a given route. To make the map detail easier to see, it includes a small magnifier (that can also be used for an ignition source for fire).
Recording information is made possible by the pencil and waterproof index cards. This kit also includes some valuable references to help you learn this skill, or to carry with you to refresh your memory if need.
Many may not think of signal in the context of “bugging out”. What you must keep in mind is that a Bug Out Bag or a Go Bag is nothing more than an emergency kit. Call it what you want, but at its core, it is a bag of resources to provide for your needs in an emergency. It is not limited to survival any more than it is limited to bugging out. The needs are the same.
Before you decide to omit the ability to effectively signal, consider this: while you may not want to bring attention to yourself in some situations, there are other situations where it may be exactly what you want to do. Even in the context of trying to lay low and use stealth, you still want the ability to signal others in your community.
I break signals down to differentiate between active and passive signals, and further break them down into day and night signals for each of those. In addition, I recommend having some sort of audible signal that can be used day or night. With that in mind, let us talk a look at how this kit facilities those.
The daytime passive signals are bright orange trail marking tape and a brightly colored mylar signal panel. The mylar signal panel is bright orange on one side, and reflective on the other. A secondary benefit of that is that when used as a tarp for a shelter or incorporated into the shelter in a way that can be seen, it also serves as a passive daytime signal. The kit also includes a marker and waterproof paper to leave messages along a trail, or you could also use the supplied chalk to mark trails and surfaces.
Passive signals for night include reflective tacks and reflective cordage. Both can be used for signaling or to mark a trail.
To actively signal during the day, you can use the signal mirror, orange smoke cartridge, or the green fluorescent die marker for water. The chem lights can be used as a “buzzsaw” for an effective active nighttime signal. The whistle can be used as an active, audible signal day or night.
This kit includes an instruction sheet for reference.
When it comes to first aid, there are a couple of different ways to look at it. The first way is through the lens of common wilderness injuries, which can be thought of categorically as Bleeding, Breaks/Sprains/Strains, Burns and Blisters, and Bites and Stings. In addition to those categories, and probably more common, are the smaller things that you could consider “boo-boos”. In the context of “bugging out”, you have to consider that what likely pushed you out of your home (where anyone with any sense would be “bugging in” until it was no longer safe to do so) was something dangerous. That very well could include civil unrest, terrorist attacks, crime, etc. that may involve gunfire, stabbings, and/or sharp objects that can cause trauma. Knowing this, it only makes sense to prepare for those with a dedicated trauma kit that is put together with that in mind. This is primarily what the GB2 IFAK is meant for.
The First Aid B.O.S.S. kits are three different kits that together make a robust First Aid Kit along these same lines. The three kits are:
This kit is meant to handle minor injuries, what you may call your “boo-boo” kit. It is best used to address minor cuts, scrapes, burns, blisters, and stings. It has several smaller bandages, gauze, tape, and antiseptics. More serious injuries are meant to be addressed with the Trauma Kit.
This kit is meant to address more serious injuries, specifically stopping, and controlling bleeding. It includes a CAT Tourniquet for extremities, a hemostatic and gauze for packing wound cavities, and a compression bandage for making a pressure dressing. I recommend my film on Wilderness Medical for more information on how to use these items.
The Advanced Kit also includes a 2-pack of HyFin Vent Chest seals for penetrating wounds to the chest cavity.
Tools include a pair of trauma shears to expose the wound, some forceps, and a permanent marker. Of course, it also has a pair of nitrile gloves for body substance isolation.
The Mobility B.O.S.S. is meant to address breaks, sprains, and strains. It contains splinting material and elastic bandages as well as triangular bandages. These can be used for several techniques shown in my film on Wilderness Medical.
I personally think it is the duty of every American to take steps to be more prepared and to constantly strive to be more self-reliant. The only person you and your family can count on in an emergency is you. Lastly, remember that it is not enough to just have resources stocked or packed away. Resources are meant to have knowledge and skill applied to them to produce results. With all gear comes the implication that you must train so that you know how to use it and retrain so that you can keep those perishable skills up.