What’s in the Rest of My Bags and Why – Part 2, by D.D. in Arizona

This is the conclusion of a two-part article. Part 1 was posted on August 30th.

Main Compartment

The part number of my bugout bag — a Direct Action Messenger Bag — is BG-MSGM-CD5.

I like the new approach of these bags to line the inside with the loop part of Velcro® and then just stick everything inside at whatever angle and arrangement you prefer. I used three different methods to attach the gear:

  • Vertx makes a thing named the MAK Band – very helpful for the pepper sprays and holding Glock magazines.
  • Self-adhesive strips of hook material on the lighter and metal tools
  • Non-self-adhesive strips of hook material glued to the Nylon carriers of the flashlight and Leatherman – the secret here is to buy small 0.18 fl. oz. tubes of ShoeGoo, trim the carrier as necessary and glue the hook material to it. You want to weigh it down overnight to let it set. ShoeGoo solves a lot of attachment problems!





1. Leatherman “Rebar” model multitool. I was at SHOT Show one year and was talking to a sales guy about the products they made and how they’d saved my bacon over the years. Turns out it was the CEO Ben Rivera! That is how unassuming they are. You don’t need something fancy, just something reliable with a blade, pliers and screwdrivers.

2. A tourniquet (TQ). Medical guys I have discussed this with have suggested a genuine CAT-7 (combat application tourniquet) from a good supplier like North American Rescue. The one you see in my loadout is from RapidStop and is ratcheting, not twisting, to constrict. It was developed in response to the Boston Marathon Bombing (where exactly 100% of the improvised TQs failed). I have learned that removing it (termed “conversion” in medical speak) is more difficult so if you want to be sure, just get a good CAT-7. To quote Mike Glover “You have 4 limbs, you should have at least 1 TQ.”

3. Lighting. The headlamp is a ZebraLight H600 model with a rechargeable 18650 cell inside. My friends wear these while constructing the Clock of the Long Now in Texas and they are bulletproof. You need a headlamp to keep your hands free. I use the OLight universal USB charger for it. Next to the headlamp is an OLight Warrior 3 which is a great handheld flashlight. I think you could start a fire with it but also use it defensively to temporarily blind an attacker at night.

4. For really starting fires, a disposable lighter (with the hook tape). Look, can you whittle a bow drill or use a steel striker? Yes. Should you? No, just carry lighters in all your gear and be done with it.

5. Reading glasses because I keep the instructions to all my stuff also in the bag.

6. Sabre pepper gel spray; I believe in proportionate response (given the choice!) and not everyone needs a ballistic response. The gel is sticky and has an ultraviolet marker. Fun note: Sabre civilian pepper spray is more powerful than what law enforcement uses. They explained it to me this way: LE is moving toward people to subdue them, a jogger is moving away and doesn’t want pursuit.

7. Clear OUT RS from Aerko International – this is a fun little guy that makes the room you’re leaving much less hospitable when you toss it behind you. Get it?

8. A spare Glock magazine loaded with personal defense rounds.

9. Paracord, of course.

10. A number of companies make a useful version of a Mylar blanket in the shape of a tube so it actually keeps you warm and doesn’t flap in the wind. Its always possible I may have to overnight somewhere so why be miserable (and maybe get rained on)? Plus you can also use it to keep a burn victim warm (skin is your body’s thermal regulator).

Metal and Raw Materials

Sometimes you just need supplies to fix things. I remember being in a High Sierra Camp and repairing an external frame backpack by scraping a notch into a hex nut and using a bottle opener on a Swiss Army knife to retighten it.





1. Heavy gauge aluminum foil. This type is actually called “blackwrap” and used in television and stage productions. My piece is carefully folded but about 15” square. You can buy heavy-duty foil at the store.

2. Most known disposable blades (use your imagination) — Pad them very well.

3. Nails including the U-shaped fencing type to retain wire.

4. Safety pins solve a lot of problems. I prefer the flat black type you can buy from costume and stage supply companies.

5. A threaded key ring made of steel rope.

6. A chunk of cork. [JWR Adds: Cork is multipupose. Most people just think of it as a bottle stopper, pincushion, fishing bobber, or a fishhook holder. But it can also be burned briefly. Once it is extinguished and cool, rub it on to darken your face, for camouflage.]

7. Wax candles to lubricate zippers, etc. but I guess you could also burn them as candles.

8. Two types of wire: heavy malleable wire and thin piano wire on a card form to keep it squared away.

9. And it all fits into an Altoids can. I put a piece of paper towel in there to keep it from rattling.


I printed out the instructions for my lights because each encompasses about 90 functions which no longer have space in my brain. I keep a note from my wife for encouragement.

I also carry a couple of “current reading” books to develop my mind and skills in case I’m delayed at an appointment so I’m not staring at my iPhone to be entertained.





In the clear map pocket of the top flap, I keep documents. I have the map of all the radio channels in the short wave HT. I also keep a note from my wife for encouragement.

And lastly, I keep a hardcopy of the following statement from my friend Pete to remind me how to discipline my thinking:

“Absolutely the enemy is being revealed – constantly overplaying their hand, becoming so obvious. Silly, stupid, and a bit unnerving – but motivating us to action, repentance and righteousness nonetheless. We are so fortunate to be building a tribe up here. Loose now – tighter as things get harsher. What comes will come. Thick skin, soft heart, tough-minded, resilience with some skills and resources… that’s how we do it.”

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