I’m not a prepper. Well, maybe I am. I suppose it’s all on what your view of a “prepper” is. My view of a prepper is someone who is preparing for end of times, or some kind of apocalyptic disaster on a global/biblical scale. Me, I don’t worry much about that. The odds of something like that occurring are pretty damned slim. Something much more likely, in fact quite probable, is something along the lines of a major earthquake or other natural disaster depending upon where you live. Other possibilities are things like a car accident or breakdown, say, driving out in the middle of nowhere. Trust me, here in the Mountain West the distances between civilization simply driving down the freeway can be immense, not to mention all the little back-roads you can find yourself on. I’ve been in places in my truck, family in tow, that are more remote than most people will ever be in their lives. I’ve driven places and camped and not seen another soul for three, five, or seven days or longer. If a mechanical malfunction were to occur and I didn’t have the tools and skill to provide for basic survival: shelter, water, fire, and food, me and my family would be done.
Sure, apocalypse could occur via a meteor strike, major terrorist attack, God being in a smiteful mood, whatever. Yeah, I suppose we could have race riots or something like that, but events like that are way, way down the list of probability compared to some kind of natural disaster, stranding car situation, or even a plane crash. That’s why I like to be prepared for things that realistically not only could happen, but probably will.
Now, if the god of your choice gets in a pissing match with humanity, or we have to deal with some other kind of “apocalyptic” event, the preparedness one engages in for the things I prepare for would probably dovetail quite well.
Ok, so now I’ve gotten my philosophy out of the way. What do I actually have/do in the form of practicing it?
Here’s what I currently have and employ:
I have a sort of Bug Out Bag. It’s not a conventional Bug Out Bag in the sense that It’s not considered a “72 hour” pack. The one I use is this bag, 5.11′s Rush 24. It’s considered a 24 hour pack hence the name Rush 24. A 72 hour bag is designed to be able to carry food, water, and gear to sustain one for 72 hours. The 24 is for, well, 24 hours. I think that most people would have the 72 hour one, but the reason I don’t is because I have this bag with me pretty much everywhere I go; work, gym, store, etc. I try to always have it in the vehicle in which I’m traveling. I actually carry it with me into my work. Because it’s my everyday carry, I prefer the smaller 24 hour size. My wife affectionately refers to it as my Man Purse. 5.11 makes a great, heavy duty bag. I highly recommend it.
I’ve been subtly hinting to my wife that she should procure a Chick Purse much along the lines of the Man Purse. She carries a small backpack now to work for her gym clothes and laptop. A little bit bigger pack and she could carry that and most of what I list below. She’s pretty warm to the idea because, well, she’s just awesome.
What I currently always carry in the bag is:
Cammenga Model 27CS Olive Drab Lensatic Compass - I have a GPS unit, but batteries die and electronics get wet. A Man Purse MUST have a good compass and you need to know how to use it. With a map. It’s called land navigation.
SOG M37-N Seal Pup Knife. It’s a great, heavy duty knife, however I am thinking about something a little larger that could be more easily used for chopping tasks; maybe something like the Ka-Bar 2-1245-1 Black Tanto Knife. I always have a folder on me anyway and something more suited for chopping through small trees and limbs might be better suited for building shelter, etc.
Duct Tape. Back in my rock and roll band days, I quickly learned the many uses of duct tape. In fact I can’t begin to tell you how many ways duct tape can save your bacon. It’s one of those things that can change an “Oh, shit, we are completely screwed” moment into an “awesome, we’re good to go!” moment. I’ve seen roadies create miracles with duct tape that would make MacGyver ashamed at his own ineptitude.
A folding shovel. This particular one is very inexpensive, but it’s great. I’ve abused mine in many ways. I once used it to chop a tree out of the road so that I could continue on. It was a real pain in the ass, but it worked.
OtterBox 2000-05 WaterProof Universal Case. Inside of this little, waterproof case I have:
Coghlan’s Tinder Kit. This stuff works great in a pinch. Scrape a little magnesium from your Swedish FireSteel, put this on top of it, strike the flint, and you have fire.
1 box of waterproof matches.
In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m a bit anal about fire. If you have fire, water, and shelter, you have everything. If you’re missing one of them, you have nothing.
A change of socks, underwear, and pants in a Ziploc bag.
Toilet paper in a Ziploc bag.
Notebook and pen.
I don’t have much in the way of food in my everyday carry Man Purse, but I do have some snacks. I do plan to add one or two meals of backpacking pouches. Also, keep in mind that my medical kit has tincture of iodine in it which can be used to purify water if need be. Also, I’m going to add a small water container in which to boil water; something like this. I’m also going to add 24 inch heavy duty zip-ties.
Quite soon, this compact flashlight will be going into the Man Purse, too.
Everything above fits in the Rush 24 with room to spare and coming in at a weight that is easy to carry into work, and throw in the truck. The above is what I take with me most everywhere. With what’s in there, I would be able to, with a little luck, survive just about anywhere for several days.
With the exception of work, I carry my pistol almost everywhere. It’s a S&W M&P 40C. When not going to work, I throw an extra mag in the Man Purse. I know that the liberal minded among us probably just crapped their pants at the mention of me–gasp–incorporating a firearm as part of my Man Purse. Deal with it. If you aren’t willing to include weaponry as part of an emergency pack, then you’re not really interested in being fully prepared for an emergency.
I’m a book freak and I love reading books of a survival bent. There are lots of good ones out there. One thing that I would mention is that government issue military survival manuals like U.S. Army Survival Manual are fine, but I don’t think they are really that useful. They are more geared towards military applications and having a full U.S. military issued load out on your person. I’m not military and never have been. I don’t plan on traipsing around in full U.S. military garb and gear. For that reason, I think that manuals geared toward survival in unexpected, unplanned situations with minimal gear have the most to offer.
The SAS Survival Handbook is well respected, as is The Survival Handbook: Essential Skills for Outdoor Adventure. But the one that I really like is Mykel Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Manual. I think this book is one of the best because it’s geared towards simple techniques, strategies, and principles for survival for those finding themselves in unexpected situations. This book is to survival what Krav Maga is to hand to hand self defense; simple, easy to understand principles and techniques that most average people can grasp and effectively put to use in real world situations. Like Krav Maga, Mykel Hawke focuses heavily on mindset; to “never give up” and, like Krav Maga, training from a disadvantage.
Really, for those of you who have trained in Krav Maga, you’ll instantly recognize the mindset.
No, I’m not a prepper. I’m just a person who is able to recognize reality and willing to take responsibility for myself and my family.