Sunday, 16 December 2012

Bug Out Bag

I think the term 'Bug Out Bag' is an Americanism, I've certainly never heard of anyone having to bug out in the U.K (of course I've never been in a position where people around me have had to enough times to have an actual term for it). Our equivalent would probably just be called an emergency bag, maybe an evac bag (as in evacuation) at a push but really I don't think we have a term that sums up so elegantly (or so catchy-lay) the aim behind this piece of kit.

For those who don't know your Bug Out Bag is the bag you have ready for when you need to 'bug out.' And for those who don't know what bugging out is Yahoo Answers gives a great explanation:
"The etymology is from watching a collection of bugs that were under a rock or a trash-can that is suddenly lifted (or a kitchen where the lights have just been turned on!). The bugs freeze for a half-second, then all immediately scramble away as fast as they possibly can. They, in essence, "bug out."" - BRaini
So bugging out is when you need to leave a location and leave it fast!

Therefore a Bug Out Bag is a prepared bag that you keep for this very occasion. It should be filled with the necessary and useful items you'll want to have with you in order to cope in an emergency. You can (and should) use a certain amount of common sense when planning and packing your Bug Out Bag. There isn't much point in packing gear specific to mountain climbing if you live on a plain with the nearest mountain being hundreds of miles away. There is also little point in packing gear for emergencies that are very unlikely, such as earthquakes in the U.K.

Of course as we all know Z-day isn't just likely, it's definite, the only unknown is when it is going to happen.*

So this is what I have in my Bug Out Bag as of today along with a little note of what I intend to get. Hopefully you will find it useful in planning your own bag or perhaps you can clue me in to some of the things I might want to consider adding / removing. Keep in mind that my intention with this bag isn't long time survival; just enough to get to get me to a more defencible location or, on the odd occasion the weather is decent in Scotland, to get me through a night's camping.

Now on with the show...

The Bag
The bag is rather unsurprisingly a pretty major component in the whole Bug Out Bag caboodle. It's where the majority of your bugging out kit is going to be stored and is going to be invaluable when it comes to getting from place to place.

My bag of choice is this TRESPASS FREEFLOW 35 which able to carry a fair amount (XX Ltr) whilst still being pretty light itself.
Adjustable side and centre fasteners plus cover buckle.
Back support allowing flow of air and comfort.
I've had this bag out a few times now and it's pretty comfy to wear. After a couple of hours walking it can get a bit irritating but I dare say that'll be the same for all bags (or maybe I just need to get out and about with it more).

One thing I do have a habit of doing to hooking my tent to the bottom of the bag. I've heard this is a bad idea since it puts undue strain on the shoulders and has a tendency to wobble about. There may be some truth to this but it hooks on really securely there and I can't see anywhere on the top where it'll stay in place quite as well. I should probably spend a bit more time trying to find a way to get it to stay on top, if only to see the difference.

Also in my bag is this as yet unused bladder. I pulled this out of another smaller bag I threw out a couple of weeks ago since it was worn out. The reason it is unused is because I didn't even know it was in the bag until I had a thorough search through to make sure I wasn't throwing out anything of value. Certainly glad I did!
As yet unused bladder bag.
It's 1.5ltr which is a good amount of fluid to be carrying given the advised amount is 1.5 to 3ltrs per day. This means that in a clinch, even if I can't get access to any other supply, I should be able to stretch this out long enough to last until I find access to another source.

Sleeping Arrangements
With any luck I won't have to sleep rough when bugging out but you know what they say, hope for the best plan for the worst, so I've got a tent ready regardless. However, as far as defences from zombies go a tent is a pretty weak defence. A very weak defence. You might even be better off without it. But as mentioned I also use this for camping and the tent is pretty necessary then. Put it this way, come bug out time I'll grab it but I won't be worried about ditching it in a crunch.
Vango Delta 300 tent.
The tent itself is pretty decent. 3 person with a bit of an awning and easy to put up and take down although I could do with more experience doing so. It is quite heavy for making a quick escape so it some point I might want to swap it for something a bit smaller and a bit lighter.

A tent alone may keep you dry but it won't keep you warm so I also pack these:
Vango 2 Season sleeping bags.
These are something I would be more likely to keep with me until I found somewhere permanent to set up. Maybe not both of them but certainly one of them as it fits well in my bag along with the rest of my supplies. I hope the wife doesn't mind snuggling if she isn't prepared to carry her own sleeping bag! They are only 2 season but they seem warm enough to me.

Talking about comfort I've also got a sleeping mat that straps nicely to the side of my bag.
Sleeping mat.
I use the word 'nicely' here because I can't really claim it straps securely given that on my last trip up Mt Keen the mountain stole one from me and sent it flying down the hill never to be seen again. I didn't even make it to the summit either! Gutted! Obviously this isn't an essential but it is ultra light, straps on well and sometimes I like my luxuries.

Food, Drink and First Aid
When you are on the move you're going to need food and you are going to need something to drink. With any luck you won't need first aid but you're going to want to have it with you just in case you do. To that end here are my eating, drinking and first aid supplies.
Food, drink and first aid supplies. Well packed.
Here we can see a frying pan with a removable handle on the bottom left, a mess tin filled with supplies in the middle, a gas can on the bottom right, a metal water on the top right and a can of midge spray on the top left. If you've ever been out in the Scottish countryside you'll know that midge spray is a necessity!

Here is the mess tin unpacked:
Unpacked mess tin. Making the best use of space.
You can see I've managed to cram quite a lot of stuff in there. Here is a quick run down of everything you can see:

  • Non-medical
  • Mess tin
  • Fork, spoon and knife that clip together
  • Pocket SAS Survival Guide
  • Warm socks
  • Emergency phone charger
  • Motion rechargeable torch
  • Clip on stove
  • Medical
  • Small first aid bag
  • Sling
  • Tape and safety pins
  • Scissors
  • Sterile wipe
  • Plasters
  • Paracetamol
  • Moist wipe
Clearly my first aid kit needs a lot more work. The stove is good though as it fits directly onto gas canisters and regulates the flow. The rechargeable torch takes a lot of work to recharge and gives off little light but since it can be changed without a mains supply it is a welcome addition. The emergency phone charger is also a welcome addition as it has several adaptors for charging different pieces of equipment including most usefully a mini usb adaptor (the real usefulness of this will be made clearer later). Finally the SAS Survival Guide is probably the one bit of kit I bought specifically for an emergency, bugging out situation. I don't know a huge amount about wilderness survival so may need to complete a bit of trial and error before getting things right. If it's an emergency and I'm needing to catch food, make shelter and so on in order to survive I'd rather have some sort of guide to help me get it right first time. I'm not completely leaving it till emergency time to learn though and have read through the book a few times. Come summer I'll try some of the stuff out.

Additional Items
There are some other bits and pieces that don't fit into the categories above and don't really being in any other categories. I guess I probably could split them up a bit more into things like Navigation, Clothing and Tools but since there is so few I've decided to group them together into Additional Items.

Here they are.
Compasses, fire starter, pvc tape.
At first I was going to write compi but that just didn't sound right. Sure enough it's compasses, not compi. You might wander why I have two. Well, one is a cheap piece of crap and the other is a decent piece of kit. Or at least I think it is, I'm not exactly a compass evaluation expert but it looks a lot more professional and came with a guide on taking bearings, something I should really learn to do more accurately soon. I'll still carry the cheaper one because it's light, can clip onto my bag, is still accurate and it doesn't hurt to keep a backup when you can do so at next to no cost.

The Magnesium Fire Starter is definitely something I bought cause it sounded cool! I was sure I'd tried it out so was pretty surprised when I found it was still sealed in its packaging. I reckon I'm going to find an open one lying about somewhere I've forgotten about. Yet another thing I need to try out next time I'm camping I guess. If you're not sure what it is it is basically a metal fire lighter. You shave a little bit of the large block off using the file that is attached to the block (saves it going missing) and then run the striker (also attached) along it to light it. It burns at a huge temperature and should quickly set anything on fire.

The PVC tape is there because sometimes you need to stick things to things and this stuff is light, waterproof and reasonably strong. It's not as good as duct tape though so I really should replace it with that or carry both.

In addition to these I also have my multi-tool:
Leatherman Multi-tool.
It's a Leatherman so I'm pretty certain it's reliable. It might not be the most feature filled tool in the world but it should be enough to cover a variety of situations. Besides, it was a gift so what ya gonna do?

I also have some extra clothing in my bag as well in case it's cold when I need to make tracks, and some spare tent pegs. They really don't need any explaining I don't think.
Hat, scarf, gloves and tent pegs.
Items Near The Bag
Not everything I want to take with me is kept in the bag. Some things I would definitely grab but also use in regular day to day life so don't keep them in tucked away. Some people may think this is sacrilegious to the whole Bug Out Bag ethos but I think it is safe enough. Here are those items:
Torches, hand torch and head torch.
There is already a torch in my bag but as I mentioned it's not very powerful so I'd prefer to have a normal battery powered one as well and this one on the left is pretty good. It's small and light, only uses 2 AA batteries and is covered in robust rubber making it pretty rugged. The torch on the right is a head wearable one, very useful for keeping your hands free and giving you light wherever you look. It's a bit battery heavy though needing 4 AAAs but it runs on LEDs so the batteries last pretty long.
Amazon Kindle.
This is so useful! I highly recommend it for any Bug Out Bag and just for anyone in general really. You can store thousands of books on it, it has a battery life of about a month, it charges through the very common mini USB and it weighs hardly anything. I dare say it weighs less than the pocket SAS book I bought before getting the Kindle. That being said I'd still carry the SAS book in addition to it given that a normal book doesn't rely on electricity to be read.

I mostly have entertainment books on the Kindle just now but I also have a few on vegetable gardening and homesteading which will be invaluable after Z-day when we need to start fending for ourselves for food.

Items Missing
Looking over the list I've wrote up I'm sure there are things missing. What I'm not certain about is what they are. Here is a short list of the few things I can think of:

  • Actual food and drink supplies, rather than just the tools to cook and carry them are definitely lacking.
  • Rope and duct tape would be really handy to have.
  • A good knife, serrated and not.
  • Notepad and pencil, useful to have.
  • Walkie-talkies, not urgent but could be useful.
  • Fishing line and lures. Not that I'm one for fishing but they are so small, light and useful it makes sense to carry them.

Let me know if there is anything else missing from my list. I'd rather you gave me a hard time now than leave me to find out the hard way later!

Till next time, take care and be prepared.

Everything packed up and ready to go. Minus the tent.
*Unless the machines rise up first which isn't a problem as the results, and hence the preparations, are very much the same.

Monday, 10 December 2012

My history of zombie-ing

So zombies eh...

It's hard to say where my interest in zombies really began. The first zombie film I remember seeing is Return of The Living Dead 3. I'm not sure why that one stands out in my head more than any other but it just does and I haven't saw it in years either. Reminiscing really makes me want to go and see it!

Return of the Living Dead 3
Although it's the one I remember most it's not my favourite of the genera by a long shot. My favourite has to be Dawn of The Dead, it knocks the socks off of everything else.

Dawn of The Dead
It's a great film, so much going for it. Great build up, great action scenes, drama, suspense, twists and then there is the whole social commentary aspect of it. That being said I'm not a pretentious film critic or anything so I'm not going to go on about how great a film it is or even go so far as to say it is waaaayyy superior to the remake. In fact I love the remake, I think it really stands up on its own 2 feet and brings Dawn into the current generation. I know we really have to thank 28 Days for that (and I also know but don't care that they are 'rage infected' people in 28 Days and not 'real zombies') and that is my 2nd favourite zombie film. I love the pace of it, being thrown straight into the apocalyptical world with just a little bit of back story. And actually a pretty decent back story at that, believable enough as far as zombie back stories go, sure beats radiation or solar flares.

I think the great thing about the films is it is so easy to put yourself into the place of the protagonists. To see them reacting to discovering their first zombie, coming to terms with the outbreak, making their defences, saving others and so on. It's great to watch them and think of all the things you'd do and how you'd do things differently. Learning from other's mistakes and pre-planning is what it's all about at this point!

As well as films, zombies have also had a great representation on the video game front. 

The first zombie related game I remember playing is probably Zombies Ate My Neighbours. It was great fun and a brilliant multi-player, never completed it though cause damn it was hard! House of the Dead was a great shooter, one of my favourite at the arcade where I remember me and a friend spending £20 in one sitting to try and complete it. We got all the way to the end boss but then run out of cash, gutted!

Zombies Ate My Neighbours
Of course you can't make a list of zombie computer games without mentioning the Resident Evil series. I wasn't a huge fan of RE1, probably because I played RE2 first and just found it a lot more exciting, RE1 has a very slow start. I'm proud to say I completed RE2 with an A ranking.

And although I'd class myself as an old school gamer I have to hand it to the next gen consoles for getting the zombie game just right. Left for Dead 2 (again I didn't play the first) and Dead Rising (1 and 2) are pretty much what I'd class as zombie gaming perfection. Left for Dead is great because of its fast pace, team work and great sense of accomplishment that comes with getting good at it (and I was good). Dead Rising is brilliant for its openness, bizzareness and all round fun. It's great to see a game that doesn't take itself too seriously.

I actually spent a little time developing my own zombie game as well. Its been a while since I worked on it but I plan on coming back to it at some point. The aim is to make it a pretty open survival game, focusing more on lasting for as long as possible than horror or scares. Here is a little video I made about it and posted on-line a while back about it (be warned though it is 20 minutes long) : 

My game and this blog aren't the only times I've used technology as part of my interest in zombies. A while back, when I was just a wee kid lad learning the internet, I made an Angelfire website dedicated to sharing information about preparing for the zombie apocalypse in my home town. It never got very far as most of my time was spent fighting with the HTML but amazingly it is still up and viewable here: My HTML may have changed by my interests sure haven't!

Something I really want to address in this blog is how we can use technology to help us survive in the zombie world. It's something I haven't saw a lot of the films focus on (other than attaching chainsaws to things) and I think it's an area that really gives us the edge over our life deprived counterparts. Hopefully I'll manage to put the 2 together in some interesting and creative ways.