Take a Load Off
The reason my bug out bag is so light is because I rely on a system of caches. When planning out my system of caches, like my Bug Out Bag, I begin with the needs I am trying to provide for in mind, and I pack resources to help provide for those needs. Rather than carrying all that on my back, I pre-stage them in locations along my route and as well as alternate locations that I’m trying to get to. Getting to that place quickly is facilitated by having less weight on my back. A system of caches is one of the most crucial parts of my system, other than having an alternate bug in location that’s stocked as well. There are a number of different containers that you can use, you just need to think about something that’s durable, and waterproof.
When it comes to caching, one of the most common questions I get is what goes inside. It depends largely on your own personal or family plan, but the two biggest considerations are:
- What do I need but don’t need immediately?
- What will I use most often and need to replenish?
What you don’t need immediately and therefore don’t want to carry it on your back, put in a cache out in the area that you’ll be going to. It will be there when you get there and actually need it. Think of your BOB as your baseline kit, and categorize the items in your BOB as either durable or consumable. Durable items are items that continue to be useable over time, whereas consumable items are gone once they are used and will run out quickly. A lot of items are durable, they’re not something you’re going to wear out on a trip through the wilderness. Consumable items will be used along your route, so they may need to be replenished.
Types of Caches
A Resupply Cache is primarily used to replenish consumable supplies. Consumable items from each of your kits within your BOB (Fire, Shelter, Water, Food, First Aid, Navigation, Signal, Tools) should be placed in these so that you can resupply them if needed. Here is what I keep in my general Resupply Caches:
- Stormproof Matches
- Emergency Tinder
- Beeswax Candle
- #36 Bank Line
- Grayl Replacement Filter Cartridge
- Individual First Aid Kit
- Mechanical Pencil or Pencil Lead Refills
- Small Waterproof Notebook
- Additional Maps
- Hygiene Items
- Repair Kit
On the subject of hygiene items, toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, and insect repellent would all be considered consumables. Those things are great to put inside your cache. Personally, I would rather put these things in a cache that’s two days away, rather than carry it for that initial two days, running “off the x”. During that first couple of days when I am focused on getting as far away from what’re pushed ne out to begin with, stopping to take a bath is not something I need to do right away. A couple of days down the route, when I arrive at that cache, I can take the time to do some quick hygiene. If my cache happens to be located near a stream, I’ll put some hygiene products in there so that I can take care of myself quickly if time and the situation permits.
I am of a similar mind when it comes to gear repair. I do carry a needle and some duct tape, but in the first couple of days when time and distance is critical, I can get away with a quick, field-expedient repair, and once I arrive at my first cache, I would like to have the option to do a more permanent repair.
That is my basic resupply cache. Again, choose a suitable container regardless of whether you’re hiding it or burying it. I want to remind you that anything you put out there may or will (Murphy says it will) be exposed to the elements, you are going to want to waterproof it, lubricate it and vacuum seal it. You want to place it all inside a durable container and add oxygen absorbers. You then have to service those things every year at least to make sure it’s readily available if and when you need it. It’s a perfect way to lighten your load on your back and pre-stage in places that you might actually need it.
Replacement BOB Cache
Your planning should always include contingencies. Remember the acronym PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency). Part of your PACE plan should include the possibility that you may find yourself completely without resources. It is possible to forget your bag altogether, not be able to get to it before leaving, to lose it in some way, or be “liberated” of it by nefarious people. I understand that putting together full BOBs can be an expensive undertaking. I have a wife and four children, that’s six bags total for my family. It’s expensive but priceless peace of mind. However, the cost of putting together an additional six bags with the highest quality items to hide or bury out there and maybe never need? That can be hard to justify. That is where the less expensive, but still adequate, BOSS Kits come in for me. BOSS stands for Bug Out Survival Supplement. They are kits that are meant to be a less expensive option to put together BOBs and Emergency Replacement BOBs. Here is what I have in my Replacement BOB Caches:
- Fire BOSS
- Shelter BOSS
- Water BOSS
- Hunting and Fishing BOSS
- First Aid BOSS
- Mobility BOSS
- Trauma BOSS
- Navigation BOSS
BOSS Kits are a great way to supplement or build out your kits in a less expensive way. I do believe that you should equip yourself with the best gear you can afford, and that means different budgets for different people. Having the best of the best, in my case multiplied by twelve to cover my family, is not always realistic or attainable for most.
If you would like to dive deeper into the weeds on my personal system of caches, I highly recommend watching both of these videos. Both of these videos are excerpts from my full-length film Green Beret’s No-Nonsense Bug Out: