When you're packing a bug out bag it's tempting to throw in more than you actually need. There's a slight chance you might actually need something, so you tend to toss in a whole heap of unnecessary items. And when you actually try to shoulder the bag, it's far too heavy to actually carry. Which just isn't practical. How do you expect to carry your bug out bag anywhere if it's too heavy to pick up?
In today's article, I'm going to cover a number of strategies to lighten your bug out bag. Every, single item you've collected and "thrown in" needs to be evaluated. These methods are a little extreme, but I've gotten my pack down to just a few kilograms, which means I can travel further and faster, if the SHTF.
Here's how to get started.
Cut out the food
Canned beans are heavy. So are MREs. The first item to go when you're cutting weight from your bug out bag is food, and everything you packed to cook it. Take out the saucepan. The cooktop. The fuel canisters. The spices. Even light items add up, so be brutal. My bug out kit is designed with one purpose. To get me to my bug out location. I don't need an entire larder on my shoulders. Instead, I've purchased high-calorie, high-protein, energy bars. We humans can survive for up to three weeks without food, so ensure you're not adding unnecessary weight. I've got 10 energy bars. Probably the bare minimum to keep me going over 72 hours, but this has lightened my pack by about a pound.
Don't sleep like a princess
You don't need the most luxurious sleeping bag in a SHTF situation. You need the basics, that are enough to keep you alive, and on track to your bug out location. I'd skip the big, fluffy sleeping bag that takes up half your pack, and get something lighter. My 30 degree sleeping bag squashes down to about the size of a football. It's cold though. So, make sure you're also using a bivvy if you're anywhere that gets cold during winter. Making this swap ensures I'm still warm at night, I've just spent the last weekend testing this setup at negative ten, and it takes up about half as much space. Definitely a winning combination for those looking to lighten their bug out bags.
Cut down every ounce
It seems silly when you start, but accounting for every ounce of weight you're planning to carry in your kit adds up quickly. If you don't need to add the weight, find a way to eliminate it. Medicine should be in zip lock bags instead of pill bottles, buy electronics that use AAA batteries instead of AA, and ensure every piece of gear you buy is titanium, the lightest weight possible. I also like to plan out everything on a 72-hour timeline, and ensure I'm not taking unnecessary items. Just enough toothpaste to brush twice a day, soap for three showers, and so on. The more brutal you are, the more weight you can cut from your pack.
Bring the right clothes
My bug out plan doesn't involve multiple sets of clothing. I've got a change of socks. A change of underwear. And a fresh t-shirt. That's it. I'm planning to be in my outdoor gear when I evacuate, so I don't have to worry about carrying a change of clothes. When the SHTF I'm not concerned about being fashionable, I simply want to wear the right gear for spending a few nights on the road, which is highly dependent on the weather in the area you live. Wearing the same clothes for a couple of days doesn't phase me. So, I've been able to realty trim my pack down here.
Learn to use a tarp shelter
It took me a long time to give up the comfort of a tent. But since I have, I haven't looked back. In hindsight, my tent was a luxury item, and I used it like a crutch when I spent time in the woods. I liked being closed in, and while it did give me better protection from the elements, it comes at a price. A tent simply weighs far more than a tarp. The trick is to learn how to use a tarp to construct decent shelters, and I recommend you practice this one in summer for your first few attempts. These days, all I need is a tarp, it's far faster to setup, and I have a lot more different options when it comes to shelter building.
Build your knowledge
This last item is perhaps the most important. But it comes with a price. Learning to live off the land is the most valuable skill a survivalist can master, but it takes time. My advice is to start slow, and to start building your skills around the four basic elements. Spend time constructing makeshift shelters, sourcing water from your surroundings, starting fire without a match, and learning how to fill your belly from what's around you. With a little knowledge, you'll be much more confident carrying less gear, because you know exactly how you'll manage in the wild.
Cutting down the weight of your bug out bag is an important exercise that shouldn't be overlooked. And it's a process I'm continually revisiting. As I learn new skills, and purchase different gear, I make sure to update my bug out bag. Oh, and nothing beats real-life testing. Take your bug out bag on a camping trip this weekend and see how you fare. I bet there's some items you don't even need.