Need advice about BOB organization

Hi, I’m fairly new to prepping excuse me in advance if maybe is a trivial topic I’m gradually making my 72hr BOB, it’s a general purpose one but with some gears userful in a countryside/wilderness settings. I’ve some trouble to organize all the stuff in a way that is easy to identify, retrieve and put away At the moment I’m working with what I have and small budget but open to spend some bucks if I find a decent solution. I prefer to use tech backpacks since I already have a couple of them (30 and 65lt) and the single big storage compartment make me wonder what could be the best approach to keep all your gears well separated in their specific categories (first aid, food, water, electronics, tools, warmth, hygiene, ect, ect) To organize my stuff I’ve used what I already had: a cheap roll bag a and some molle pouch (from my old softair playtimes), and at first I thought to build a sort of taylor made insert ( I don’t mind go into diy and do a bit of sewing) that fold like a book and fit into the backpack (something similar to the commercial Seventy2 pro system) but now I realize that probably all this contraption is adding too much weight (all molle pouches + a heavy fabric that keep them together) and probably is not so practical.

A photo of what I was doing so it’s easier to understand photo_2022-04-17_11-21-18

So I’m a bit of stuck…should I ditch this idea and maybe simply use a collection of small and lightweight drysack with different colors (for identify the content) and put them inside the backpack in the most logical way based on weight and needs?


  • Comments (14)

    • 3

      I like the different dry sack idea. Red = First Aid, Blue = Water treatment, Yellow = Batteries and solar, Orange = signalling devices, Green = Food….

    • 4

      I like your dry sack idea, also. Another thing to consider is that if you slowly build out your BOB over time, budgeting for a couple additions each month, and/or switching out items as they expire, you will figure out the best place for everything and sort of memorize it, so color-coding/labelling may not be all that important in the long run. I use a 36L Osprey pack, so mostly it’s just one big interior compartment like you’re describing. I got some Eagle Creek pack-it pouches in multiple sizes, but they’re all the same color— not by my choice; they came in a matching set and I wanted that particular set for other reasons (price, weight). Also, some of my stuff is in plastic Ziplock freezer-style bags, and some of my stuff is in other bags (e.g., my IFAK is in the kit that the pre-made IFAK I started with 20 years ago came in). So there is some variety in the bags, but, critically, I go in and out of the BOB enough that I just know where everything goes and what everything is by look, feel, and location in the bag. 

      Another part of all this is that you don’t actually need to access everything quickly. I really can’t envision a scenario in which having to spend 20 seconds digging out a Coast Guard ration block is the difference between anything bad happening or not happening, you know? Doesn’t mean your bag should be chaos, but it also means that some perfectly modular, color-coded system is perhaps not required, and might not be worth the weight that it looks like your (admittedly very cool) DIY solution adds. You can use the top of the main pouch and/or external pouches preferentially for the things where seconds do count (e.g., epi pens, tourniquets, and nitrile gloves for medical emergencies, but also heavy gloves, dust or gas masks, and a headlamp for getting out of a damaged home). 

      Just my two cents. Also, FWIW, I thought it was a great topic for a forum thread! 🙂

      • 3

        A lot of good advice here. I’m also a fan of the Eagle Creek style bags, especially for clothes. 

    • 5

      Early on I struggled with how to organize also. I wanted a pack that had lots of pockets so I could neatly tuck everything away. Once you get past day packs, that concept doesn’t really exist. If you get a quality backpack (that you can actually carry with weigh) you have, mostly, a large interior compartment, hence your struggle.

      In my Cannae Sarcina pack (34L) I have a smaller, multi pocket bag with a large central pocket. I can pull it out, which allows access to the other stuff deeper in my pack, and it allows me to easily access things that are neatly organized. 

      One original idea I do with all my kits (which I think is brilliant – lol) is attach a piece of 550 cord to my first aid kit then attach the cord to a large RED carabiner hooked on the outside of my pack. If I need my FAK I can quickly locate the red carabiner and pull the cord and there it is. Or I can tell someone else, grab me the FAK — it’s attached… Then that allows me to bury the FAK in the bottom of the pack, or wherever — I’ve made it accessible without it having to be accessible (hopefully that all makes sense). 

      • 2

        I  like the Carabiner/first aid kit idea.

        I had read in another forum, where someone attached their bag to the seatbelt in their vehicle to keep the bag with the vehicle in the event of a accident.

      • 2

        I wouldn’t attach anything to the seatbelt — they’re designed to work in a very focused way and I wouldn’t want to mess with that. But you could attach it to your seat frame or something, with a carabiner, easily enough. 

      • 3

        I also think your cord/carabiner idea for the FAK is brilliant and intend to copy it— thank you! My FAK is current at the top of the pack for access, but the shape of the kit relative to the shape of the space makes for an awkward mismatch and I don’t like the way the pack’s brain sits because of that lump. Just being able to situate it 5 inches further down without sacrificing ease of access would make a big difference!

    • 2

      I say you should go with whatever organization makes the most sense for you.

      My EDC/GHB has my IFAK, food, water, shelter, fire, compass, multitool, etc and those things can be dropped into my bob -which already contains extended rations, solar charger, a knife, poncho, respirator, work gloves, etc.

      If I happen to be fortunate to have my bob ready (and if the situation calls for it), I also have multiple color dry sacks at the ready so I can grab extras from stock, drop them into my bob and hit the door in under 10 mins.

      I’ve unpacked and packed the bob enough times that I know where just about everything goes. I think that’s what important here, that you know where stuff is and that you can get to your IFAK, food, water collection, whatever without unpacking the whole thing.

      • 1

        I also like that idea of not doubling up on items in your BOB that you always have with you anyways in your EDC/GHB.

    • 4

      One thing I really love about The Prepared is the little tiny tips that make such a big difference. I’m going to steal the idea below of the carabiner and cord! As Bradical suggests I have color-coded “Silsacks” inside my BOB, mostly so I could quickly grab the red one (or tell someone else to do that) in a situation needing first aid. Now I can bury it at the bottom!

      A few thoughts on the above: You might want to reconsider the tactical approach. In a true BOB situation it marks you as – prepared. Sometimes it can be better to look like a lost refugee who probably has some crackers and a teddy bear in his leftover college backpacking gear. Looking like a dork makes you less of a target.

      Also, my color coding is also for stuff I can ditch in a hurry. The stuff in my yellow bag is “nice to haves” that I can toss if the weight gets too much.  Everything is labeled with my full contact information. That way someone can hopefully return stuff to me (weirder things have happened), or identify me that ends up being required…..

      And practice. Go out in the woods and try to find your headlamp in the dark. Pull off the side of the road and pretend you need to find the tourniquet to treat a leg injury. And so on. 

    • 3

      Thanks for all the replies and suggestions (and sorry for late reply)
      Lot of food for thought!
      I decided to order a couples of compression sacks for clothing, a couple of dry bag for food and electronics and all the rest in stuff sacks similar the seatosummit ones but with a zip (seems more practical to retrieve small gears imho)
      Color-coding it’s a good idea for my first BOB so I’ll try to stick with Bradical suggestion
      Also the carabiner and cord idea for the FAK is clever, I’ll try that too 🙂
      Now I just have to sort out a suitable backpack and pack all together
      I’ve a quite old but rugged Karrimor Jaguar GR65 (65L) that I would like to use but probably is way to big for my actual needs…

      Hope to update soon

      • 3

        Welcome Horror Coder!  I see I’ve missed the party. 🙂  I do color coding with the small silnylon Eagle Creek Spector bags (which they no longer make in variety of colors) and a dry bag for delicate small electronics which can also serve in other ways if necessary. The FAK is in a more specialized case. The silnylon cubes are light, water resistant, compressible and the zip won’t let items leak out when I’m cramming it in or finagling it out. One other reason I do the color coding besides my pure bliss at organizing is that I have outfitted 2 BOBs quite similarly – one for my husband and one for me. We each have the same water, fire, tools and electronics, but also an assigned color for each of us for person specific items. This way if we need to use each other’s bags, we can identify the parts inside. I haven’t put clothing in their own cubes as they typically don’t need speed and go into any crevice.  My BOB is in the kits area if you want to see it. 

      • 2

        Hi Alicia,
        Thanks for the reply, I’ve seen your setup somewhere in the forum and I confirm that the Eagle Creek stuff is really well made (I’ve a duffel bag, a couple of cubes and small pouches 12yr old that I use regularly for travel and all seems like new) but also damn expensive nowadays 
        Anyway I’ve found cheaper alternatives that should arrive soon.
        Love the idea of keeping a color code standard along various BOBs, since I’ll probably end with some spare parts and gears I plan to prepare also a minimal BOB for my parents and I’ll try for sure to match the color/purpose of each pouch 🙂

    • 2

      I’ve been having the same quandary. I just purchased a Kelty tactical ruck for my Jeep. Ive loaded/unloaded, arranged/ rearranged, and  changed out components. Im trying to keep the 10 C’s in mind but am struggling with kit options. I currently have the ruck loaded for winter spring but looking to adjust for summer. I’ll be watching for input.  Thanks!!