Packing The Vehicle G.O.O.D. Bag, by Ryan S.

This is a brief outline for preparing a vehicle-borne Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.). bag or Bug Out Bag (B.O.B.). We are all hopefully suitably prepared at our homes or retreats, but what if you find yourself away from your retreat WTSHTF? Recent events and some blog readers have mentioned the importance of having a G.O.O.D. bag in your vehicle. The floods in the midwest as well as the wildland fires in my neck of the woods, speak to this necessity. what ever the situation you are facing you should be able to get back home or at least remove yourself from immediate danger should vehicle travel for whatever reason become impossible.

The basic idea for a G.O.O.D. or B.O.B. is to be self sufficient without outside support for 72 hours (three days). Your individual bag must have everything you need within immediate grasp. If you have to look around for a missing piece of kit it could mean the difference between getting away from danger and being stuck in a worse situation.
The first item to consider is the pack itself. Invest the money in high quality gear. Your bag must be large enough to carry all of your equipment, but not ungainly. Especially if you are not used to carrying a load on your back over distance. I am a fan of Maxpedition brand packs. I use a Condor II pack regularly for all types of activities. (The Condor II is probably too small for use as a G.O.O.D. bag.) The MOLLE straps on the outside of many kinds of tactical type packs are great for securing additional gear or clothes. Packs with internal drinking water bladders are also good to look for.

Ultimately you will have to experiment with different types of packs to see what is most effective for you. You may also consider getting a more generic looking pack to avoid unwanted scrutiny that a distinctly military looking pack may draw.

You might want to supplement your pack with a vest along the lines of a photographers, safari or fishing type. Vests are great for storing small items you will need frequently or quickly. Things like a compass, small snack foods, pistol magazines, or things it would be impractical to store in your pack. It would not be good to stop and take your pack off every time you want a snack or need to take a compass reading. Digging in your pack for a pistol magazine when you really need it could be disastrous.

Water is the most important consideration. You will suffer some without food for three days but going without water for three days will probably kill you.

During high heat physical exertion your body may require a gallon of water a day. Its not practical to carry three days worth of water. Water is heavy! Weighing 8.2 lbs a gallon, most people cannot carry 32.5 lbs of water along with their other equipment. Keep extra water in your vehicle to hydrate yourself with before you abandon your vehicle if time and circumstance allow. Look for small air force flask type canteens to stuff into pockets as well as a CamelBak-type water bladder or a pack that has an internal hydration bladder. Ever bit of water you can carry is important!

Depending on where you live you may not have to rely as heavily on water you carry. Keep in mind depending on the situation presented you may not be able to stop and purify or boil water. It is still a good idea to carry as much water as you can.

Because water is heavy and keeping in mind “The Rule of Threes“, you need to carry some sort of method of making water you encounter suitable to drink. Water Purification tablets are small and light weight but don’t do anything to remove the big chucks or discoloration. You can use a bandanna or a T-shirt to improvise a filter that will get some of the stuff, but obviously won’t remove everything. A better method would be to use the bandanna or T-shirt then use some sort of compact hiker type mechanical water filter. The best you might encounter would be to use tablets as well as a mechanical filter.

If you find yourself having to abandon your vehicle, grab your G.O.O.D. bag and set off overland your already in a pretty tight spot. You don’t want to make your situation worse by risking an intestinal bug, which in this case could be life threatening. Basically its like this:
The best water you have is what’s already with you.
The next best water is treated then filtered. Or boiled for at least 10 minutes.
The next best is water that has been filtered or treated.
Untreated or unfiltered water is very hazardous. Even the most pristine looking mountain stream has all kinds of potentially bad parasites in it. We all know what bears do in the woods, and they do it in streams too!

If your situation gets bad enough you may have to do what you have to do, just keep in mind the possible repercussions.
The next thing to consider is food. There are a lot of options for this consideration. Everything from Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) to freeze dried foods. For my own G.O.O.D. bag I have a mixture of MREs and Humanitarian Daily Rations (HDRs) I break them down and keep only the items I know I like, as well as to save space. Keep in mind that high heat drastically reduces shelf life of MREs and HDRs. Your going to be keeping this pack in your trunk or truck in the summer sun. Rotate your items out at the very most every six months.

Freeze dried foods such as Alpine Aire or Mountain House are another option. They are much lighter than MREs or HDRs but require water–usually near boiling hot water– to prepare. I prefer MREs because you can eat them cold or use the the chemical heater with military MREs. Making a fire or using a stove could compromise your OPSEC. You can eat an MRE and keep moving.

You should supplement whatever food you decide to use with small prepackaged snack foods. Journeys overland expend huge amounts of caloric energy requiring constant replenishment. Additionally circumstances may dictate that you might not be able to stop and prepare a meal and having readily available snack food will help keep you going until you can stop. Try to avoid foods that are high in sodium. You will have to drink more water.

The next thing to consider will be shelter. Your shelter will depend on the weather. Try to keep weight to a minimum. You will be mobile. You may not have time to make a very substantial shelter. Keep it basic. Just something to keep the rain off while you sleep. You must take into account the type of environment you will likely face. Keep in mind where you are, where you are going and what’s in between. You should consider the season as well. You probably won’t need as much during the summer months. It makes sense doing a seasonal rotation of your kit to fit the current season. Doing a seasonal rotation allows you to inspect your entire outfit and ensure everything is in good working order.

I feel it is important to keep fitting seasonal clothing with your bag in your vehicle as well as some good boots. You must be able to move comfortably over distance and you might not be dressed appropriately for you current situation. Make sure your boots are well “broken in”.

Depending on your environment and or skill level you may be able to improvise shelter from what’s around you. You can include a couple of contractor grade garbage bags to improvise shelter or shade. You could also use clear plastic construction sheeting but this won’t be effective for shade. I prefer a small tarp. I use a brown colored one as opposed to the typical blue. Brown blends into the landscape better.

Mylar space blankets are very thin and probably won’t hold up well when utilized as shelter. You should include one or two to use as intended and could probably be used as a back up in a pinch. Be sure to include some packable rain gear in a neutral color or at least an emergency poncho. A better choice would be both.

The next thing to consider is navigation. The idea of vehicle G.O.O.D. or B.O.B. is to allow you to get from point A to Point B with body and spirit intact. If you don’t know how to read maps, learn. I feel the best maps are USGS topographical maps but is impractical to carry a large number of these maps. You should have some road maps in your bag. I carry a regional map (e.g. Western U.S.) a state map (e.g. Oregon) and a compact national atlas. If you have room put in adjoining state maps. If you are planning a road trip put in those states as well. The situation you are in may require you to completely avoid roads but you can use them as a reference point.

Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers are very nice to have but require batteries and can be affected by environmental conditions (e.g. canyons, overhead cover) GPS can fail. Do not rely entirely on your GPS. Get a compass, and learn how to use it. If you have a compass get another one for a spare.

We all know the shortest point between two points is a straight line, but this might not be the best one. Determine the navigational hazards between you and your destination. Remember choke points, mountain passes, bridges and depending on circumstance cities and towns. Try to learn the areas you travel frequently. That will help you a great deal. Learn terrain features the routes you travel frequently to help determine direction and distance. Forget about using moss and other axioms to determine direction. They are not reliable.

The next item is fire. Fire could have been included with shelter but I felt it important to mention individually. You should include three separate means of making fire. Whether you use a butane lighter, matches and a fire tool. Use what works for you.

Fire is an important survival tool. It provides heat, can be used for cooking and provides a means for making water suitable to drink. Learn how to make fire in adverse conditions and practice it. Actual skill is better than gadgets. You should also include a metal cup suitable for cooking or boiling water.

Remember your OPSEC. If you are trying not to be noticed, then lighting a fire is not the way to do it. You will have to figure out an alternative or take the risk if your situation requires it.

A small stove could be a viable alternative to lighting a fire. Keep weight and fuel in consideration. I have included a small Esbit stove in my pack. They are very small and can carry some fuel inside the folded arms.

There are also some other miscellaneous items you should include in your pack. These are usually along the lines of tools. A good quality multi-tool such as a Gerber or Leatherman is a good idea. A small folding shovel might be good for making your fire less obvious as well as doubling as a hatchet with the edge sharpened. Toilet paper is a must. Handling the call of nature with leaves is not fun.

A good quality compact first aid kit is absolutely required. Any medications you must take have to be included. Over the counter pain relievers and medications for common ailments should be included as well. A good idea I saw somewhere was a small plastic tackle or crafts box to contain your medications with the lid labeled to keep it all organized.

Be sure to include a couple of small flashlights, and extra batteries. I also have included a couple of small LED key chain lights. They have a surprisingly bright light for the the size.

Make sure to include a couple of knives. I have a surplus Mora sheath knife in my pack as well as a folding pocket knife.

Some people may want to include a firearm of some sort. This is a question that can be a little sensitive and is full of personal opinion and legal questions. I personally have included a firearm. For me its not a question because I am legally permitted to carry a firearm concealed. You will have to examine your personal situation and decide to act as you see fit.

In conclusion I hope I have given you a good base to start from. A large part of having a well prepared G.O.O.D. pack is trial and error. Remember to practice beforehand. The middle of a crisis is not a good time to apply a new skill set. Remember to keep it simple. You can’t carry everything you will need to meet every set of circumstances but you can use what you have and improvise. Hopefully you won’t find yourself in a situation where you will have to abandon your vehicle, but maybe with a well-designed G.O.O.D. bag, you can make the best of it.