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!


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