How do you organize your bug out bag?

Items to keep you alive in the event you must evacuate: discussions of basic Survival Kits commonly called "Bug Out Bags" or "Go Bags"

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How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by Beowolf » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:43 pm

I've been mulling this over for quite some time. While not haphazard, my organization to this point doesn't exactly follow a detailed or rational arrangement. I do know that I will be bagging pretty much everything (ziploc or saran wrap) for both water protection and ease of arrangement/movement/identification.

But what should go where? My BOB is a 5.11 Rush 72. The two side zip pockets have their respective assignments thus far--light and cordage (paracord, electrical tape, zip ties) in one, tools (multi-bit screwdriver/socket set) + knives (survival knife w/ firesteel, three ~8" throwing knives in a single sheath) in the other. I will attached a first aid kit to the external MOLLE of the bag. I have a tarp stowed in the expandable area between the main pocket and the smaller back pocket area.

Pic for reference:
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Help. :) I have a number of other things, of course, but I am at work right now so I can't provide a picture at this time. Will update tonight in response to what I hope will be some helpful posts. :clownshoes:
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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by Das Sheep » Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:14 pm

I keep my sleeping stuff (pillow, sleeping bag, tarps and stakes) in the bottom, then my other stuff in stuff sacks in the next layer. My pot is on top of that.

In the lid for my bag I have frequent use items like TP, a poncho and a light. Also some glow sticks.

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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by TrippyJoey » Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:46 pm

I put my sleeping bag and tarp on the very bottom, followed by cooking utensils and spare clothes. I then put tool s and food with emergency tools and FAK at the very top.
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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by moab » Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:51 pm

In my main pack I keep once a day things at the bottom. Like my sleep system, tent/shelter, clothing etc. Then above that things I might use more often - cook set, outerlayers, food etc. And then in the pack lid things I need ready access to - first aid, binos, maps etc.

But I also carry other EDC bags for when I lose my main pack or am away from it. I carry an HPG chest kit bag with my side arm, ammo, maps, gloves, flashlight, fire kit, etc. As a sort of BOB EDC if you will. Although mine is an INCH bag. So the chest pack serves as my EDC for my INCH bag. Then I have a large USGI fannypack that I keep a COMPLETE but smaller set of items in just like the main pack. At least the 5C's or whatever you want to call them.

I carry a poncho, first aid, smaller fishing kit, emergency blanket, collapsible water bottle, Fire kit, gloves, leatherman, cordiage, food etc. in my fannypack. It's basically a smaller version of my main pack. So that in the event I am separated from my main pack. I can still survive on what's in the fannypack and the chest pack. I keep these two things (fanny pack and chest pack) on me at all times. Like going to scout for water or collect wood.

If I had outside pouches on my main pack. I'd do the same thing. Place things I don't use often in the bottom of the main pack, things I use more often above that, and then things I use often in the outside pouches for ease of access. But you should really try to have one extra layer of pack or bag that is your EDC if you will. It could save your life if you were ever separated from your main pack.
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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:01 pm

In the main area, sleeping and hygiene gear up top. Campmaking stuffs below. Some food, medical, and water all on the outside pouches. I don't think there's a perfect system until you've used your rig extensively. After the 8th time you dig past your sleeping gear for something, you realize that you can move something else or add a pouch for it, rather than dig. For starters, just sit there with it and keep packing and repacking until you're happy, keeping in mind speed and ease of access, first of emergency gear, then of convenience gear. Then take it camping and kick yourself all weekend for dicking it up. Rinse, repeat. Learnding is half the fun!
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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by ineffableone » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:13 pm

General rule for packing a bag,

Light stuff on bottom and furthest from your back
Heavy stuff up top and against your back

This is of course not always possible in arranging your pack, accessibility to important gear can take president over best load carry. However if you organize this way as much as possible your load will carry better than if randomly dumped in, or especially if you do it opposite.

*ETA some pictures

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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by moab » Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:01 pm

ineffableone wrote:General rule for packing a bag,

Light stuff on bottom and furthest from your back
Heavy stuff up top and against your back

This is of course not always possible in arranging your pack, accessibility to important gear can take president over best load carry. However if you organize this way as much as possible your load will carry better than if randomly dumped in, or especially if you do it opposite.

*ETA some pictures

Image

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I posted this up last year. And totally forgot about it until now. This is a GREAT way to TRY to pack your pack. Old school method was all the heavy stuff up high. But now it's more towards center mass on your back. Good to keep in mind when packing. Great post ineffableone. I'd totally forgotten about those REI diagrams.
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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by Beowolf » Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:20 am

That's a great graphic! Now I have to rearrange everything...

Doc, I think your advice to pack and repack and pack and repack is probably the best out there. I'm having a hard time keeping track of everything...that's why I'm trying to find a more systematic way of doing this.

I meant to grab some pics, but I got too busy working on the FAK and my vehicle bag, so pics will have to wait until later. Appreciate all the suggestions so far!
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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by Redacted » Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:20 am

The above graphics are rock solid advice.

In the lid of the pack I stow the bulk of my 10 essentials gear (flashlight, firestarter, first aid kit, etc). Then in the body of the pack stuff like dehydrated food, stove, and shelter items go toward the bottom. Your sleeping kit is usually in the basement of the pack.

The key is load distribution, heavy items should be centerline, close to the body and up high to keep the load over your hips. Otherwise you end up stooping forward to offset the load.

As was mentioned before, get yourself out on the trail with your kit a dozen times. You'll figure out what works.
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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by Manimal2878 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:30 am

I have started to find that having less pockets and sleeves actually makes for better organization, while at the same time every pack maker, especially the tactical type ones, design the things like they are getting paid by the pocket.

At first it seems like all those pockets and sleeves will help with organization, but they do the opposite for me. You end up having a bit of this here and a bit of it over there and have to search through all the pockets to find what you are looking for.

So I have gone to mostly a stuff sack system and ignore most of the pockets on my pack. I pack like the pack diagrams above pretty much.

I have my shelter sack and then a sleeping bag sack as the two large largest components. Then a medium size clothing stuff sack and a medium food and cooking sack. A then a small Hygiene/Essentials Sack. Everything is basically in one of those sacks and they are color coded. I use one of my hip belt pockets for a couple things that I might want while I'm walking, like bug spray or sunscreen. And I use the side mesh pockets for a 1l water bottles. I use the back shovel pocket for wet storage or placing layers until I stop to store them. The rest of my pockets and sleeves go unused and empty.

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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by PWA2600 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:57 pm

Manimal2878,

I use a similar approach, I bought and use the Granite Gear Air ZippDitty in various sizes. It has helped a great deal with organization. I also use their tactical variants, in Multicam, and Coyote.


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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by Beowolf » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:07 pm

I do really like the pockets--some of them, at least--for organization of the smaller things. I also like being able to separate functional elements into their respective locations. But I do agree that they can get more in the way than anything else.
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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by moab » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:50 pm

Beowolf wrote:I do really like the pockets--some of them, at least--for organization of the smaller things. I also like being able to separate functional elements into their respective locations. But I do agree that they can get more in the way than anything else.
That's why I really like the Hill People Gear kit bag (chest bag for those that have never seen it). Gives you easy access to the small items you need regularly - maps, flashlight, sidearm, etc. etc. My pack doesn't have any pockets. But between it and my fannypack I can have access to everything I need without taking off my pack.
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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by Mikeyboy » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:55 pm

Manimal2878 wrote:I have started to find that having less pockets and sleeves actually makes for better organization, while at the same time every pack maker, especially the tactical type ones, design the things like they are getting paid by the pocket.

At first it seems like all those pockets and sleeves will help with organization, but they do the opposite for me. You end up having a bit of this here and a bit of it over there and have to search through all the pockets to find what you are looking for.

So I have gone to mostly a stuff sack system and ignore most of the pockets on my pack. I pack like the pack diagrams above pretty much.

I have my shelter sack and then a sleeping bag sack as the two large largest components. Then a medium size clothing stuff sack and a medium food and cooking sack. A then a small Hygiene/Essentials Sack. Everything is basically in one of those sacks and they are color coded. I use one of my hip belt pockets for a couple things that I might want while I'm walking, like bug spray or sunscreen. And I use the side mesh pockets for a 1l water bottles. I use the back shovel pocket for wet storage or placing layers until I stop to store them. The rest of my pockets and sleeves go unused and empty.
I do the same thing. I hate tons of pockets and organization pockets on a backpack (like Maxpedition). It adds unnecessary weight, takes up precious space, actually restricts you by having the "right size gear" to fit in the pocket, while making you feel the need to fill up pocket with unneeded crap.

Give me a big main compartment and a secondary cargo pocket for essentials, and 1 or two pockets on the sided for a water bottle or cook kit and I am good.

I try to pack close to how those diagrams are laid out, and I have almost everything in the main compartment few dry sack bags. What you don't want to do is put every little thing in its own bag, that actually adds weight and bulk. Just Keep it simple.

Main Compartment
1) Sleeping bag (the bag it came with)
2) Shelter (tarp/bivy, hammock, or tent)
3) Clothing (dry sack)
4) Food (hangable dry sack)
5) electronics (charger, radio, batteries, etc.) dry sack or ziplock

Secondary Compartment

1) First Aid (dry sack or zip lock)
2) Navigation (Map, Compass, GPS)
3) Headlamp & Flashlight (very important and if waterproof will not need a bag)
4) Fire kit (zip lock if needed)
5) Basic tools (usually a Leatherman is more than fine, but you could have some other stuff like am extra fixed blade and a hand saw, but don't go nuts)

Water treatment, if its a big pump filter, you can put on the top of the primary compartment. If its small like a Sawyer you can put it in the secondary pocket.

Cook kit/stove/fuel can go in your food bag, or on the side of your pack.

Weapons like a gun or a knife should be on your person. Extra ammo can go in your pack, but don't get stupid. Remember you have to carry and walk around with that pack. Being weighed down with crap and moving like a slug will hurt your body bad, and will probably get you killed.

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Re: How do you organize your bug out bag?

Post by dunamis » Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:40 pm

What I have found is that it's almost impossible and generally impractical to pack in a way which classifies the contents into categories of weight for organization. It's a good idea to have this theme to follow, but in many cases making a necessary item accessible will not allow for "proper" placement according to the weight distribution scheme. Unless you want to dig through the entire contents of your kit to find your shovel when you're squeezing your ass cheeks together to stop a renegade turd from forcing its way out for example, some items are better kept on hand regardless of how much they might weigh.

I prefer all of my kit handily accessible and while this doesn't always result in the best weight distribution it saves a lot of headache and frustration when I need just one particular item for short term use and I don't want to take half an hour to unpack my entire kit to find it, or if I want to set up camp and break quick in the morning. One item I consistently pack in the appropriate place for weight is the bulk of my food which is also often the heaviest thing I'm carrying. And if I'm carrying a case of beer back to camp it does go in the appropriate place!

My stove kit and hammock set-up is accessible in it's entirety without access into the main bag. This also lets me pack it away and get on the go quickly. I keep my water filtration, first aid, hygiene, folding saw, work gloves, etc. in exterior pouches. A good deal of it is mounted to the sides and up higher but it's not always a consideration I feel is the most important.

This is just the way I pack. But I go on month long and even longer excursions and so getting everything out of the main bag and packing it all in again gets real old real fast. Here's my stove kit/fire kit (with spare fuel canister) and MEST G2 which I keep in one pouch and my Clark NX-250, Superfly tarp, Eno Atlas straps and stake kit I keep in another. I also like to keep a day kit packed and ready to go including my fishing kit and some snacks, water filtration, etc. in one of my Cargo Hanger pouches so that I can just detach it from the bag, throw it over my shoulder and be ready for a day on the lake or whatever.

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