Recently a family member has turned me onto a TV show on The History Channel in which contestants are left fully alone in a wilderness survival situation and the person who “survives” the longest wins a sum of money.
I really enjoy the TV show and one of the unique elements of the show is that each contestant can only choose 10 items to take with them (aside from clothing and a few other things). It got me thinking… if I ever have to bug out I have a pretty hefty bag and each member of my family has their own unique bag… but if I was limited to 10 items what would they be?
Bear in mind of course that my objective isn't to win a TV show prize but to last an undetermined amount of time outside of the city in a true survival scenario.
I am presuming of course that I already have my standard EDC items on me. Clothing, a pocket knife, my handgun, and a simple flashlight, and a few other things. With that in mind what follows is my 10 items that would make up my “limited” bug out bag. In no particular order…
Number 1: Henry Survival Rifle and .22lr Ammo
I love my Henry Survival Rifle. It packs down small with the barrel, frame, and magazines stowing in the stock of the rifle.
It has proven reliable for decades of US Military and civilian use. .22 ammo is cheap, stores pretty well, and you can keep A LOT of it in a tight space.
This should be an effective tool for hunting small game and getting enough meat for a small family in most environments.
Number 2: Solar Panels W/ Anker USB Portable Charger
I have purchased and tested a number of portable solar panels and I think this 28W BigBlue is really excellent especially for the price. Pair this with the 26800mAh Anker Power Charger and you should be able to store enough electricity from a single day of good sunlight to be able to charge all the other various things (see my below list) for about a week or more.
Instead of packing a ton of batteries, I'm effectively choosing electronic items below (like my flashlight, lighter, etc) that all recharge via USB and thus I can capture power from the sun, store it in the Anker charger, and then recharge my other various tools as needed.
For this particular article we are focused on only 10 things but consider the number of items you can source these days that can be recharged with USB power. Any type of battery, small vacuums, lanterns, coolers, heaters, bug zappers, and more.
Below I talk about a lighter, ham radio, and headlamp that will all recharge from my solar panels with power bank setup.
Number 3: Trauma and First-Aid Kit
Crap happens and any bug-out bag without appropriate medical supplies is a bad situation waiting to happen.
Basic things like a good band-aid can prevent nasty infections and of course, more serious injuries can require a splint, tourniquet, heavy gauze, etc.
I would make sure your medical kit includes at the minimum: Tourniquet, Pressure Bandage, Chest Seals, Hemostatic Gauze, Elastic Wrap, basic first aid stuff like band-aids, and a splint.
I think the Wind River kit from Mountain Man Medical has about everything you could need. I would add a moldable splint to the kit and then call it good.
Number 4: 1-2 Large Heavy-Duty Tarps
Tarps can be handy for a number of things but the obvious critical use is shelter building.
Shelter along with food and water is one of the three critical elements to any survival situation.
Also, tarps can be used to collect rain water.
A good tarp is going to set you up for quick and long-term success in most environments. The right tarps can also double as a thermal blanket.
Number 5: USB Rechargeable Arc Lighter
Obviously, you need a fire starter.
I've used a fair number of Ferro rods, and the “everstrike” style lighters but my current favorite option is an “Arc Lighter.”
Arc Lighters run on electricity, not lighter fluid. Unlike a Ferro rod, an Arc lighter works every time and isn't susceptible to wind.
A charge will last a long time on these things but of course, you can recharge it from the solar panels.
Number 6: Baofeng UV-5R+ Ham Two Way Radio W/ USB Recharger
Communications are important in any survival situation.
While I happen to be a licensed HAM operator, you don't have to be licensed to buy and own a HAM radio, and in an emergency, you don't need a license to operate the radio either. Sounds like a no-brainer right?
Also, a Ham is going to give you access to emergency frequencies and the NOAA weather broadcast. You don't need a traditional emergency radio if you have a HAM.
By default, most handheld radios will require an AC outlet to recharge but the handheld radio I recommend will recharge using a specialized but low-cost USB cable once again meaning I can use my solar power to recharge my radio!
Number 7: 620 LB Paracord With Integrated Fishing Line
Some time Google the phrase “survival uses of paracord” and spend the 10 minutes it will take to read all the various ways paracord can come in handy in a bad situation.
You want to make sure you purchase quality paracord and I prefer a paracord that is made up of fishing line, snare wire, and tinder among other things.
This means I can buy a single product (about 100 feet of strong rope/cord) and also have in it some fishing line and tinder if needed.
Number 8: Bushcraft Survival Knife
I don't think I have to explain the value of a good knife in a survival situation. You want a strong, high-quality, fixed blade.
This is one of those types of products where you can spend $20 up to $2000 if you really want to. Here are two options worth considering:
Number 9: Water Filter & Canteen
Technology has had a great impact on water filter options in the last 15 years.
You probably have a few Life Straws sitting around somewhere but I've recently upgraded to the “Survivor Filter” Kit.
This tool will filter 264 gallons per filter and comes with 5 extra filters. That is a lot of water.
In addition, is will screw onto a traditional water bottle which I think is a nice feature despite the small profile.
Number 10: USB Rechargeable Multi-Mode Headlamp
In an ideal world I would have a number of lantern, handheld light, and headlamp options but if I'm stuck with only 10 items I'll take a really good headlamp.
Once again I'm choosing a headlamp that can be USB recharged so I can utilize my solar panels.
A good headlamp should have some different brightness levels and an adjustable head as well.
If you are interested the TV show referenced above is “Alone.” You can find at least one of the 7 seasons on Prime, Hulu, and Netflix.
Space matters and while you may not be limited to 10 items in your bag, making sure you have the best gear matters!