Dedicated shelter/sleeping bag/pad for BOB — is it a must?

I have a pretty solid/complete BOB at this point, but there is one thing I keep putting off adding to my pack: Shelter, and the Level 2 sleeping apparatus that would go in a shelter like bags and pads. We’re outdoorsy types, so we have (lightweight, good quality) tents, pads, and sleeping bags. I don’t really want to keep backpacking/camping gear we regularly use in our BOBs prepped for an evac: The dude would object, the stuff would routinely not end up back in the BOBs after weekend adventures, and even if it did, it would be bad for our down bags to keep them bunched up in our packs. 

So then I think, “Buy duplicates?” That approach has the advantage of allowing me to shop for prepping-oriented items (e.g., no inflatable sleeping pads), but honestly I think our tents and bags are fine for prepping, and we know that things like tents and tarps are “get what you pay for” items where going the cheap route isn’t advisable. And finally, there’s this emotional element: The idea of spending significant money on a second sleeping bag (that will live an unhealthfully compressed life) or a third tent chafes me to a degree that my other prepping expenditures to date have not. Those purchases have felt practical, but this idea just feels inescapably wasteful— even at the level of a good-quality tarp.

Maybe that’s because I have a really hard time envisioning a scenario in which we would be able to grab the BOBs but not the tent, bags, and pads. When I think about what I’m prepping for (i.e., what’s actually likely), I think about camping out in our backyard for a few weeks or months after a major earthquake (which our house is overwhelmingly likely to survive, because of how it’s built, so even if we can’t live in it post-quake, we’ll be able to get things out of it), or having to evacuate due to wildfire. We have a 4WD vehicle with a bed in the back, so most “leave the property” situations that I can envision involve throwing stuff in the adventure/bug out vehicle.

But then I circle back to feeling like I should have something in my BOB to provide shelter and/or warmth, and I start thinking about a cheap bivvy like this one. Then I berate myself for even thinking of buying something so poorly constructed and doomed to fail.

Can you all help me get back to Sane Prepper on this? Am I allowed to rely on my existing high-quality outdoor gear? Should I back it up with a cheap bivvy and call it good? Can you talk me into a tarp? And how do people deal with the fact that sleeping bags aren’t meant to be stored compressed? I figure there have got to be a lot of you out there who have optimized shelter based on similar considerations, so please, tell me what you think!


  • Comments (46)

    • 9

      I too struggle with this conundrum. I have neither the financial means nor desire to purchase duplicates of my tent, bag, camp stove, water purifier, etc – that just seems too wasteful of my limited resources. That said, here is how I’ve sort of dealt with it, but fully admit there is room for improvement:

      I keep my camping gear in a semi-ready position, but it certainly would take me a couple minutes to get it all ready to go. I keep most of my gear in a Rubbermaid 50 gallon plastic bin. It’s great for storage, but I also image I could grab the whole thing and get it outside or into my car and deal with more precise packing later. I will note that sleeping bags filled with synthetic materials actually store better when compressed (that is not the case for down filled bags, but perhaps that could be the thing you look to one day replace).  I can easily fit all the gear I’d take on a multi-day backpacking trip, including my pack, in the storage bin.  The bin is bulky but not too heavy, and contains just about everything I’d need to live in my backyard, minus food and water.

      When I imagine a situation in which I would not have time to grab the bin, nor have access to to shelter provided by a friend, my car, a hotel or FEMA, it would have to be so massively catastrophic that a tent and sleeping bag in my BOB would likely not be the difference between life and death.

      • 9

        Thank you— at the very least, I appreciate knowing that I’m not the only one who considers this a conundrum. Also, I haven’t had a synthetic bag in 20 years and either never knew or forgot that they actually do store well compressed, so that’s very helpful. That tidbit makes me think that dropping $25 on essentially the next step up from a space blanket and aiming to add a packable, compressible synthetic blanket (like the bottom-of-the-line Rumpl) someday if/when I feel flush could be a good way to eventually keep a fully stocked BOB that I really could live out of without spending significant money on duplicate gear. 

        But: “When I imagine a situation in which I would not have time to grab the bin, nor have access to to shelter provided by a friend, my car, a hotel or FEMA, it would have to be so massively catastrophic that a tent and sleeping bag in my BOB would likely not be the difference between life and death.” This is exactly what I was thinking but not putting into words. Since you have, it seems like the truly sane way to approach this. While I don’t store my outdoor gear in quite such a convenient package as you do (we literally don’t have room in the house for another large plastic bin), it is all in one place. And one good thing about living in a small space is that it’s a quick trip to grab anything from anywhere. There is no running up to the third floor or down to the basement to root around in some cabinet. I could grab bags, pads, and tents real quick— and I agree with you that those could be stuffed into or strapped onto the pack once we’ve fled in the vehicle to a safer location. So maybe it’s as simple as, “Buy a synthetic bag next time I’m due to upgrade my sleeping bag,” and leave it there. (I switched to down when I decided that I was going to be a Californian forever, but now I live in Oregon, so performance in wet conditions has advanced as an evaluative criterion for gear!)

    • 7

      Here’s something I posted on another thread.

      “Regarding tents, sleeping pads, etc. Here are some thoughts from a married father of two kids under 10.

      I think you need to think about where you’re going if you leave your house and how you’re going to get there.

      First, let’s assume the best plan with a family is to stay exactly where you already are. Simple.

      Second, if that option isn’t available for whatever reason, you need to think about where you’re going. If I am forced to leave with my two kids and wife, realistically, I’m headed either to a friend or relative’s house within 10 miles or to a flipping hotel. I’m not dragging two kids under 10 into the woods to forage for berries and snare rabbits if I have other options. And I am taking a vehicle. So our bags cover basically a weekend trip to another town.

      Third, if all my nearby friends and relatives are also affected, I am going to a friend’s house about 1.25 hours away. He and I have a mutual agreement that our houses are open to one another in case of an emergency. And I am taking a vehicle. So our bags cover basically a weekend trip to another town. I might throw a few of our prep boxes (Plano Sportsmen’s boxes, which are pretty good for the money) into the vehicle if there is time.

      So, I think you ought to consider whether you need to spend the money on camping equipment for an entire family (good lightweight camping equipment is definitely not cheap). If you have the money and you like that sort of gear, go for it. However, it is hard for me to imagine just how a scenario would occur in which a family is absolutely reduced to sleeping in backpacking tent. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but it’s just that there are so many other much more likely scenarios that could happen first.”

      • 6

        P.S. There’s nothing wrong with a tent, sleeping bags, etc., but the point that I am making is that you might have other spending priorities over those.

      • 10

        And I absolutely do have other spending priorities! 😀 I’m fine with putting $100-$150/month toward prepping-specific things I wouldn’t have otherwise (e.g., a tourniquet; some No. 10 cans of dehydrated food with a shelf life measured in decades) or duplicates of things I already have for prepping purposes (e.g., headlamps for the office, car, and BOB; an extra water filter for the BOB). The thing that gets to me is the prospect of buying duplicates of some of the really big-ticket outdoor gear items I already have, like a sleeping bag, pad, and tent for my BOB just so that it is fully packed and ready to go at all times.

        I’m not dragging two kids under 10 into the woods to forage for berries and snare rabbits if I have other options.

        I don’t even have kids, but I’m with you. If I’m aiming to be ready for the most likely 80% of scenarios… well, in all of those I would be able to grab my BOB, tent, bag, pad, dog, and then go, and I would also be able to shelter in our truck, and we would probably go straight to the home of a friend or a relative. So I’d rather spend my money on other stuff (or put it in savings!) than buy another sleeping bag at $200+ (if I want it to be reasonably light and warm).

        Thank you!

      • 8

        I fully agree with both of you.  I think the prepping community at large is overly fixated on survivalist fantasies that take an individual from normal everyday life to suddenly having to survive in the wilderness, but it’s very difficult for me to imagine any realistic scenario where that actually happens.  Stocking up on food, water, batteries, and preparing yourself to hunker down in your home for an extended period seems like a much wiser investment of our limited funds.

      • 8

        I’d like to clarify that I would suggest some form of shelter, just in case. I have a poncho and a woobie in my pack. I just don’t think you need a duplicate Hilleberg tent and Western Mountaineering bag unless you have a lot of disposable income. 🙂

      • 9

        ::goes to Google “woobie”::

        Yep, I keep a pocho, emergency blankets, my old down jacket, and a warm hat in there, eventually I’ll probably get a tarp in the $50-70 range (Haus Monkey has a good point below that that’s a versatile piece of equipment that actually needn’t cost a bundle, unlike a really good sleeping bag), and now that I know what a woobie is I’m liking the looks of it (maybe as a less expensive alternative to a lightweight synthetic quilt).

        Also: I’m a medium-height female ectomorph, so the body weight percentage rules for pack weight are just not kind to me. That’s part of the reason this is all giving me such a headache: You can get a cheap tent or a cheap sleeping bag, but you won’t just pay in quality, you’ll pay in weight! With those constraints, I don’t see any way I’m going to end up with a duplicative UL setup just so the bag is always fully packed— not without a pro deal, anyway. 😀

    • 10

      If you can afford it and if you can carry the extra weight, I think it makes sense to have a duplicate sleeping bag and shelter in your BOB.

      I too am an avid outdoorsman and in the event that it’s not safe at home and I need to evacuate I too would assume that I would grab my tents, good pads, and nice sleeping bags, as well as my other camping gear (which is stored in a plastic crate), and just put them in my car, alongside my by BOB. But this implies that a) I have enough warning b) my car is available and in reach.

      But this is not the point of  BOB imo. Having a dedicated sleeping bag and shelter option in my BOB gives me the peace of mind to know that I have everything I need to ride the any kind of emergency in one place, and that I dont have to rely on a car to carry that gear (no matter what the odds are that the situation is that bad that I need to rely on my BOB for survival). It’s basically like an insurance. You put it together the best you can, and that you can forget about it. Hell my BOB rides with me even when I go camping and already have with me my camping gear and a different backpack etc.

      I think the bivvy is better than nothing, no? I have a similar one that I was given, so it wasn’t my first choice. I would have a proper sleeping bag instead, but right now I have other priorities and I know that I’m better off with a bivvy than without.

      But adding a separate sleeping bag or shelter gear doesn’t need to be extremely expensive (or as expensive as your best camping gear), if you can afford it. A tarp is such a cheap, lightweight, but extremely versatile piece of equipment that it’s such a no brainer to me. With a tarp and a sleeping bag you’d be golden in almost any circumstance (and with a tarp and bivvy, well, better than nothing). The sleeping bag would be the most expensive of the two, but the ultralight community on Reddit has a list of light and cheap gear, or you could go with something like this or anything else that is cheap and light but better than a bivvy. And honestly, I wouldn’t care that the sleeping bag I carry in my BOB and that I might never use gets compressed, no?

      • 4

        You make a good point about tarp versatility. As for cheap bivvies (biveys?), the one you linked to is actually the one I bought a couple days ago to include in my mom’s BOB— not because it’s what I would ideally want her to have, but because I have to keep her pack weight even lower than mine, and I figured it was better than nothing, and then I found it marked down a bit and thought, “What the heck, I should get one for myself until I get this sorted out.” So I guess I land where you do even though I have a slightly different vision for how I want my BOB to serve me: With a 7-oz, $17 glorified emergency blanket because it’s better than nothing, and I’ll figure the rest out and save up and expend the necessary $ when I’ve worked out what I really want.

        The Reddit thread link was great and led me to lots of other resources, so especially thanks for that.

    • 16

      In the end, sometimes there’s just not a perfect answer and you’re making a personal decision about what to optimize for. eg. the tradeoff between desire to not spend money on something you might never use vs. the recognition that, if you ever need the gear, you don’t want cheap stuff.

      Talk me into a tarp: Even if you have specific shelter gear like a tent/bag/etc, a tarp is still very worth it because it’s one of the most versatile things in your bag. You can catch rain water, create secondary shelter away from tent for cooking or whatever, improve privacy in a shelter / crowded evac situation, make a makeshift medical stretcher, covering a hole ripped in your roof, signaling, floatation, hiding supplies in a separate cache, clear debris, make transport sled over snow, and so on.

      Back to Sane Prepper: You are being a sane prepper already because you’re rationally thinking through what makes sense for you, asking for help, etc. Kudos and good post!

      Am I allowed to rely on my existing high-quality outdoor gear? You already hit on the reason why you should be very careful about double dipping: life gets in the way and gear is inevitably scattered / not ready when an emergency hits. 

      That said, if budget is tight or there’s some other reason you decide not to have duplicates, then you do your reasonable best to minimize this risk. Keep your camping gear and BOB gear stored in the same location, for example, so you’re less likely to have to hunt for something in a panic. 

      Tents/bags/pads are some of the common BOB gear that’s most commonly kept separate or double dipped in this way. Partly due to reasons like the insulation compression, but also because many people strap that gear to the outside of their bag anyway, so it’s easier to use it for a weekend then strap it back on etc etc, vs. something small buried inside the pack.

      Hand-me-downs are a good system for people who wince at buying something expensive that might never be used. Since you’re already avid campers, you could get in the habit of buying new for normal use and moving the old gear to your BOB.

      • 11

        Thank you! I’m now sold on a tarp, in part because it really does seem like I could get one that is reasonably lightweight and well made without exceeding my monthly prepping budget. Writing this post and engaging in this thread has also made me realize that part of my resistance has always been that I don’t trust myself to actually practice setting it up (whereas I’m very comfortable with tents and know I could figure that out on the fly (See what I did there?)), but that is an eminently manageable challenge now that I’ve admitted it to myself. 

        As to double-dipping, I feel foolish admitting this, but I didn’t think about the fact that I’d be strapping some of this stuff to the outside of my BOB anyway, which definitely changes how I think about storing camping gear with the BOB and the risks of double-dipping— especially vis a vis a pad. You’re right that stuffing something back into a BOB after a weekend of adventuring does not sound like fun, but strapping it to the outside of a pack is something I can trust myself to do. (Also, since we got the adventure vehicle, we only use the pads for real backpacking, which we don’t do that much anymore anyway, so if I did double-dip on that item, the dipping would be very occasional.)

        So now I’m at, “buy a tarp and strap camping pad to BOB,” which leaves only the sleeping bag/sleeping bag equivalent. I feel like a lightweight synthetic blanket or woobie could be all I need.

        And yes, the hand-me-down approach has served me well in prepping (particularly for the clothes I keep in my BOB). The tent, bag, and pad are all pretty new and exactly what I want, so I don’t envision being tempted to replace them anytime soon, but who knows… the outdoor gear industry is always coming up with new, lighter toys to tempt us!

      • 7

        Sarah, have you considered a lightweight metal vertical axis shopping cart with 2 wells to haul your loadout in ?  I’ve seen evacuations from homes and from vehicles where shopping carts and small garden wagons were used.  Most cannot handle the difficult wilderness trails so a cart or wagon would work.

        Consider thinking out straps to hold excess load.  There are scenerios where, for example, a mosquito eradication program doesn’t work (to say it smoothly) and all stuff must be protected.  

        Re 80% of scenarios;  FEMA preaches / teaches “realistic, worst case scenarios”.  You won;t have melting ice bergs in Oregon but I studied the recent news and reports about the guy who lost his 2 kids when the Coos Bay area had a massive wave involving this tragegy.  The wave was neutral.  The father did not prepare for a worst case scenario.

        There are “infantry” type evac wagons, stretchers, carts for the professional prepper (using word “professional” to mean well funded by organization [dialogs here at TP.com are prof-level]).  A couple are featured in the Forestry-Outfitters catalog I posted recently.  I had it out and available because they had a winter solstice sale for a light weight, fits in pickup truck cargo bed “duck boat” to drag and float gear in marsh and water areas.  Very well priced for retirees !

      • 4

        I hadn’t considered a cart, Bob. Not sure it would help in my case since I feel like it would have to be unfolded at all times and ready to roll to improve upon the time-efficiency of strapping adjacently-stowed gear to the outside of the pack, and we literally don’t have space for that, but I love the idea for my mom, for whom I’m making some gear choices I don’t love because of her age and my desire to keep her pack weight very comfortably low (she also has more space in her house than I do!).

        I’ve been meaning to read your post about the catalogs— seemed like an intriguing lead for sure!

      • 11

        The Prepared has a YouTube channel with a few videos on it. Here is one of those videos where we go over how to tie a truckers hitch and put up a tarp. 

        Making a good tarp shelter is something I want to practice with this next year. I’m sure I can rig something up and make it work, but i’d love to at least practice with it, and try a few different designs to know and feel comfortable that I can at least do it. Hopefully I can learn a mistake or two so that when the disaster comes, I don’t have to make those mistakes again.

        My BOB tent actually came from the garbage. I lived in an apartment complex and people would throw away the best stuff. Someone threw out their perfectly good camping supply, another a 7 piece power tool set, brand new furniture etc… Keep an eye out for yard/garage sales this next year, look on Craigslist, or ask for family to pitch in on a new tent for your b-day/Christmas. 

      • 7

        That video is excellent.

        This is another one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h62409RbWgY

    • 5

      I have used that very same model on various occasion for the last several years.  They work quite well and are decently constructed.  I am sure you can trash them if used abusively but with any like normal use, including emergencies, they are adequate

      • 8

        Just to clarify, you mean you’ve used this guy? In lieu of a sleeping bag? In what kind of temps? Very good to know that it held up and served the purpose!

      • 6

        Generally I use the bivvy sack with a sleeping bag.  The longest stretch a few years ago was ten nights and I slept comfortably each night..  Thee biggest problem was the brilliant night sky – i was far away from city lights.  Temps were fairly moderate, a minimum of about 45F, with strong breezes.  I was snuggled down in sheltering brush.

        If dew or mild precip is anticipated, an overhead tarp is a good item.  The tarp can also be pitched lean-to style to provide decent shelter in a moderate storm.

        For really bad weather, a decent tent is welcome.  not just any cheap-o, but one designed to withstand wind and rain..

        Three years ago, we were under mandatory evac orders for a wild fire.  I had time to get my sleeping bag and other items loaded while leaving home at 1 AM in a fairly chaotic environment.

        I keep a small, light bivvy sack permanently in the pack i would grab as I go out the door.  it is even lighter than the one referenced and it is perfectly adequate for occasional use of up to two weeks or so, at least.

        I have also spent a few nights without any kind of shelteer – just the clothes I was wearing. One of those nights the minimum temp was at least -30F, and believe me, a bivvy sack is a huge improvement.

        Bivvy sacks were first developed for alpinists on multiday technical ascents, where they spent the night on a snowy ledge, typically with no sleeping bag. An early morning start was guaranteed.

        .When talking about the need for a bag and tent, one needs to reference the contemplated conditions.  The contents of my pack vary with the seasons, but always include at least a minimalist bivvy sack.

    • 4

      I don’t understand why you aren’t using your BOB when you go camping. It is a great opportunity to put it to the test. 

      • 8

        Going camping with my BOB is something I want to experiment and do this year! I think i’ll learn very quickly what I could do to improve.

      • 6

        I have plans to do the same this year, JB! First, though, I have to actually purchase the non-camping gear I’m going to add to my BOB setup. As long as I’m assuming that I can grab my pad, tent, and bag in an emergency and strap them onto the BOB later… I’m testing my BOB gear every time I go camping whether that is the intent or not.

        That said, I think there is a difference between “testing your gear in the field” and using your preps as regular camping gear, and some good reasons not to do the latter, many of which I alluded to in the original post (and I think TP discusses all of them more explicitly in their BOB explainer). After all, whether or not one should “use [their] BOB when they go camping” is arguably the same question as whether or not one should store their regular camping gear in their BOB— we’re just starting from a different perspective on what the gear (including the bag itself) is “typically” for.

      • 11

        What are some things that you still need for your BOB?

        I agree with the comments from this thread, I think you should keep your bag, tent, pad separate and use them in your normal camping, but have them close by to strap on your BOB if you need to. Maybe make some quick connect carabiners on each of those items that you can use to attach to your BOB quickly.

      • 5

        Love the carabiner idea— make it easy.

        As for what else I need to get for my BOB, the answer to that question is, I’m afraid, “a lot.” I’ve had certain basics for the last 8 years or so, but there are a few key areas that I wasn’t motivated to tackle until I moved to an area with a higher maximum-magnitude earthquake. I have a monthly prepping budget and am slowly filling in the blanks. The big outstanding items are:

        • Shelter (i.e., a tarp)
        • Sleeping bag-like thing (I have this for now)
        • Dedicated sleeping pad (I’ve decided to double-dip this item)
        • Cook kit (stove, gas, pot)
        • A solar panel
        • A battery pack

        Prior to moving to Cascadia, I was fine to rely on my backpacking and camping gear for prepping (hence the avoidance of shelter and cooking stuff— I have those things already and didn’t want to spend my limited funds on duplicates), and I didn’t feel inclined to keep any food that required cooking in my BOB. And I didn’t even think about generating my own power until I started reading about portable solar panels on this site.

      • 5

        That’s not too bad! Looks like you are pretty close to being done with your bag 🙂

        I followed the prepared’s advice as got a small solar panel for my BOB. It sure will be comforting that I can charge things if I ever needed to.

      • 4

        @JB, I agree— I feel like the ability to charge my phone could make a huge difference in my comfort, especially since a lot of the “most likely” scenarios I can envision involve some chance of getting out/receiving an SMS message if one is persistent. Being able to let our out-of-area emergency contact know the status of my family would make me feel a lot better (and would likely take several attempts).

      • 4

        I’m not sure about others, but my camping backpack and my BOB look very different and contain very different things.  By camping, I specifically mean strapping a 40+lb backpack on and trekking miles into the wilderness for a few days.  Batteries, chargers, radios, and such are useless to me out there.  I do, however, pack a lot more food and protective clothing in my camping pack than my BOB, and my first aid kits contain different items as well.

        If I brought my BOB camping, I’d be cold, hungry, and miserable (nor would I have a small shovel to dig holes to…).  If I used my camping pack for bugging out, I’d be without needed documents, cash, power, communications, etc, while simultaneously having a pack far heavier than I’d like.

        I wonder if testing your BOB in your backyard, or even on the floor of a room in your house/apartment (simulating sleeping on the floor of a school gymnasium turned evacuation shelter) might offer better results.  Just set rules in advance to simulate your potential situation (no trips to the refrigerator, no plugging anything into an outlet, etc).

      • 8

        Yes, totally— I was thinking this morning about how if I took my literal BOB into the woods I wouldn’t just be down things I would need; I’d be carrying stuff that I didn’t need. (The gas mask! Which actually takes up an annoying amount of space…)

        This might not be true for folks who go into the woods for different reasons than I do. If the fun of it for you is really to simulate a survival situation, taking your BOB might make more sense. We’re more about getting away from other people, seeing beautiful things, and relaxing. When I want to suffer through something tough, I go for a hard run. 🙂

        I was thinking about doing a practice bug out into the backyard, too, but I hadn’t thought of sleeping indoors, on the floor (with the lights on, perhaps?) to simulate the school gym shelter scenario. So many good ideas on this forum, so little time…!

      • 7

        PNW Sarah,

        Can you clarify – flesh out – view on mentioned gas mask ? I’m not sure what loadout you want it to be in: the hobby camping stuff or the BOB.

        People can walk with blistered feet and survive.  The gas mask is different. 

        Is the power … the solar panel and battery pack … for the BOB ?  Depending on severity of a “SHTF” event … Redneck gave a clear definition: when the event so overwhelms the response forces that YOYO ( “You’re On Your Own” [at least for some time]) … It might not be usable and a hiking stove with 1, possibly 2,  cartridges and a pack of AA batteries can exceed realistic requirements.

        A catastropic even means no communications: no cell phones, no sat phones, no gps, no web.  As the communications systems get rehab’ed, all is allocated to the recovery components. 


      • 8

        Bob, I think pnwsarah was saying that her BOB might be designed for something like bugging out to another city and maybe living in a hotel or something. Where as if she had to bug out to the woods, you would probably be far away from people and wouldn’t need something like a gas mask, as that just takes up a lot of weight and room. But in a city disaster scenario, that could be a lifesaver.

        If money were no option, I would probably make two BOBs. One for city and hotel bugging out (probably most likely), and another for going off into the woods BOB. Or maybe make a modular system where I can build my BOB in maybe 2 minutes by grabbing different modules according to the disaster I am bugging out from.

      • 4

        Appreciate the reply, Liz.

        Now it’s crystal-clear.

        Bugging out to another city still means no motels, no other lodging types.  There are pre-existing contract arrangements for lodging to go to emergecy and critical support personnel.  This involves travel to Bend, OR and the coast: no available lodging.

        Bugging out into the woods means crowds of people from the large urban areas also entering this same wilderness area. I believe I vaguely mentioned here at site the new All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) regulations taking effect for ther mid-Atlantic.  They were copied from some California program. Am mentioning this to show that forest evacs are being prepared for.

      • 6

        Hi Bob,

        My post was in response to Downunder’s idea that one should be using one’s BOB for recreational camping/backpacking. While I think this strategy would afford one a lot of practice with that particular load out that would be incredibly useful in an actual emergency, matthew. and I were commenting on some of the reasons we don’t do this, including the fact that we want and need different things for recreational outdoor adventuring than we want in an emergency.

        I think what it boils down to for me is that I want my BOB to be versatile, and that means scrimping on a lot of the things that would make me more comfortable on a recreational backpacking and camping trip so that I’m also ready for the kinds of disasters that are most likely to drive me from my home— most of which don’t involve living alone in the wilderness for the rest of my life, and in which it might very well be useful to be able to charge a cell phone. For example, there is a 37% chance that the Pacific Northwest will experience a M8-9 earthquake in the next 50 years. A seismic event of that size would make recent California earthquakes look like small potatoes, and our infrastructure is far less prepared than California’s. After Loma Prieta (M6.9), we had power back in our home in SF within 12 hours; after a Cascadia earthquake, my city expected to be without power for months. And yet… the cell network is not expected to be totally obliterated. Being able to send a text to my parents to tell them we’re okay, or charge my computer, would make an enormous difference in the quality of my life in that scenario.

        So in that sense my point is a little different from Liz’s interpretation (though I thank you for that, Liz!): It’s not that my BOB is designed for urban evacuations and not wilderness survival; it’s that I’m trying to optimize my BOB for a variety of scenarios, and that means taking a little less of what I would ideally have for both urban and wilderness scenarios so that I’m ready for both.

        Re: how well a solar panel is likely to work and how useful they will be, everything I learned on that subject, I learned right here at TP, on this post and this one

        As for the gas mask… it would have been a low priority item for me, but I live in a city where the tear gas has been flowing freely of late, so my partner actually bought us the masks himself (after reading TP’s guide). Now they live in our BOBs because we would use them in the two scenarios that are most likely to drive us to bug out: Wildfire (bugged out for that already this summer!) and that earthquake (from dust in the air after the main shock and following aftershocks). But they do not pack down at all and that annoys me a lot, since bag space is at a premium. :/

      • 6

        Thank you for the clarification. You have a great strategy and I think you are on the right track. 

        I have a friend that lives in Utah, and they are worried about a 7-8 magnitude earthquake. I’m sure a 8-9 would be absolutely devastating! 

      • 7

        Thank you, Liz! I’ve heard about the Utah earthquake concern (not much, but I have extended family there). I wonder if it’s similar to the PNW, which was thought to be seismically inactive for decades, which means decades of legacy infrastructure that wasn’t designed for the actual threat. And the PNW earthquake situation is extra-scary because it’s a subduction zone, so the potential magnitude is much higher than what those of us in the lower 48 tend to think of when we think about earthquake damage and destruction. We’re in for something like what happened in Alaska in 1964, Chile’s record-setters, and in the 2011 Tohoku and 2004 Sumatra-Andaman quakes on the other side of the Pacific. Oh, and: There will be a tsunami. 

        If you haven’t read it already, Kathryn Schulz’s 2015 New Yorker article on the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake/tsunami threat is totally worth it— besides being an important awareness-raiser, the writing is fantastic, and it’s an incredible science mystery story: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/the-really-big-one

      • 10

        From all of your posts pnwsarah, it seems like you know quite a bit about the science of earthquakes, prepping for them, and especially the earthquakes likely to occur in California and the pacific north west. 

        If you have some time one of these days (kinda hard this time of year) i’d love if you could make a whole forum post about what you know about earthquakes. I personally have many questions about them and what I can do to be more prepared that I would love to ask you. And i’m sure others would as well. 

      • 7

        I would love to do this! It might take me a while to put it together, but I would really enjoy it. I am not a geologist, but I do have a lot of resources to link to and summarize (and one of my best friends is a geologist, so I have access to experts!). I’ll get started soon. Anything in particular you think it would be good to cover besides what you’ve already noted above?

      • 5

        No rush! It’ll just be great whenever you can get around to it. 

        I think the biggest thing for the users on here is can I have an earthquake in my neighborhood? And what should I do before, during, and after an earthquake?

        On top of that, just some fun things would be the science of how they work, different types of earthquakes, differences in magnitudes, and history of some notable quakes.

        Earthquakes really are one of those disasters that can come at any moment, and can be incredibly destructive. 

      • 4

        If you want to learn about earthquakes, there is no better single source than the USGS and their hazard maps – https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/earthquake-hazards/science/introduction-national-seismic-hazard-maps?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects

        I live in southern California and EQs are an ever present hazard, and one should be prepared.  There are lots of very simple basic measure one can take.

      • 6

        Great resource hikermor! I love that hazard map. 

      • 8

        pnwsarah – I was looking through some old The Prepared blog posts and found one that you might like reading. You probably are already aware of everything in it, but could be a good resource to share with friends and family if they live near Portland.

      • 5

        Appreciate reply, Sarah.

      • 3

        Matt, don’t know if temporary or to remain permanent, but emergency shelters with cots on the gym floor of the school are now “verbotten” during the pandemic. 

        What is allowed is public sector providing motel rooms, dorms, related to minimize non-immediate family congregating. Here, in my neck of the woods, this motel stuff is not happening.


    • 3

      It’s easy to over-think problems. If you have good, solid, reliable gear and it will suit you if SHTF, there’s no need to go out of your way and buying more. Use the savings to bolster areas of your preparedness where you really need it -whether arms and ammo, dry goods, or low-denomination cash. Don’t forget to look into your personal possessions for items of value that can be used for barter and trade. You should also invest in yourself and your skills since skills (labor in whatever your skill is) can be traded/bartered for your needs. 

      Invest in things that support the “rules of 3”. The below necessities are needed for survival and fit into the following statement.

      You can survive without ___x___ for 3 _____.

      Air = 3 mins (eg., facemasks, respirators)
      Shelter = 3 hrs (eg., tent, tarp, sleeping bags, rain gear)
      Water = 3 days (eg., filters, tablets, etc)
      Food = 3 wks (eg., MREs, similar dry goods)

      Don’t skimp of self-defense: pepper spray, tazers, batons, poles, knives, pistols, and ammo. If you aren’t already aware, the price of ammo has skyrocketed. I’ve seen prices as high as $1-2 per round!

    • 7

      I’m a bit late to this thread and identify and agree with what has been said already. I had the same concerns about investing in duplicates. Hand me downs from my backpacking gear wouldn’t work as I have a 3 person tent for that (since I always tend to go in a group) which doesn’t meet my BOB needs. I sought multi-taskers wherever I could get them to save weight, storage volume and sometimes cost. So I addressed the duplicate tent question by having the tent also serve as a rain poncho. I got the six moons gateway cape  It’s a bit spendy and I’ve learned they have sales later in the year – black friday, etc.  I also got the larger emergency blankets from SOL to serve as a ground cloth or tape together as a bivy if necessary in addition to its normal use.  I also liked that the cape/shelter has less skill needed than a tarp shelter and handles wind pretty well.  I also have a tarp for its many other uses including if I need to augment the cape/tent in some manner.  

      • 5

        Thanks for joining the conversation! I have questions about the gateway cape: (1) Do you need a trekking pole to hold it up? (2) Is it really easier to use than a tarp? I probably wouldn’t get one since I have a full rain suit in my BOB and that’s pretty important to me (given where I live!), but on the other hand I haven’t purchased my tarp yet and I’m compelled by the alleged ease of use on this product! 

      • 5

        Thank you and Answers:

        1) Yes, it requires a pole.  Trekking pole or you can purchase a lighter weight collapsible tent pole – aluminum or carbon fiber ($$ and less durable). I got the aluminum for $15.

        2) Yes I’d say it’s easier than a tarp.  Stake down a couple corners, pop up the center, stake the rest and adjust.  Just took a little practice.  I still plan to upgrade/customize based on some youTube reviews, but I got it up in my living room with bricks to hold the lines and I think with stakes outside it would be a bit easier as the lines kept slipping.  The advantage of a trekking pole (which I tried as well) is that you can shorten it and get the ‘tent’ onto the ground on one side for really heavy rains/winds. Caveat:  I’m assuming it’s easier because I have never setup a tarp as a shelter.  My tent experience has always been self standing with stakes somewhat secondary except for winds/storms.  So having to get the staked Gatewood balanced was ‘new to me’ but not difficult.  Tarps I think would take me a LOT more practice especially without trees. 

        Other unsolicited comments:  As a poncho:  I like that it covers my pack so I don’t need another pack cover and get rain running between the pack and my back.  It’s long enough to cover my thighs which reduces the need for rain pants (Ok for SoCal – considering rain chaps for ventilation).  But also it’s pretty long on even with the ends tied up.  I have a 1/8″ shock cord belt to help with that and to reduce snagging on bushes.  It has ventilation on the front (zipper) as well as the flowing lower portion.  It can serve as a privacy ‘drape’ for me to change clothes in a public place (like a gym shelter) although it’s pretty thin.  As a tent:  It was too small for my 6’2″ husband.  I’m 5’5″ and it worked with my XL pad and left me some head room (a headspace tie out is also one of the mods I’m planning).  Has decent cargo space in the vestibule and can open up on both sides.  

        I wouldn’t necessarily replace the tarp with the Gatewood as it’s lightweight and wouldn’t serve in other ways (as a litter if needed for example).  But it can replace a tent.  I got the serentity net tent insert for bugs or very hot nights which doubled the price.  One reviewer uses the sea to summit bug net which is lighter /smaller to pack as it doesn’t have a zipper or bottom – tucks around your pad.