As we wrap up National Preparedness Month, we’ll go over some simple steps to making sure you stay alive out there.
Emergency preparedness doesn’t need to be expensive. There are many companies out there that charge you an arm and a leg for a 72 hour kit. Have you ever tried purchasing one of those just in case kits from Mountain House? They’re getting close to $100 a piece. I don’t even spend that much on regular food for three-four days. I understand that they’re a one stop shop. You get everything you need in one bucket. I however have a different approach to these kits.
Don’t use a bucket. Everyone has a bucket in their house with their 72 hour kit in it. How are you supposed to grab a bucket and run? Have you ever tried running with a bucket? Most everyone keeps it in their garage or pantry as well. Why would you do that to yourself? If you’re trying to get out of your house quickly, you’re going to want it somewhere easy to grab. Instead, keep your backpack in your closet or close to your bed. Keep all your food and essentials in your pack and you’ll be able to sling it on your back and go.
So what should we put in our packs? First off, essentials. That means water or a way to purify water. You can live without food for more than three weeks, but only 3-5 days without water. I would suggest a water filter instead of bottles of water. I really love the Katadyn filters. They last for a long time, the ceramic filter is easy to clean, and they add a good taste to the water by using charcoal. Keep one of those in your pack as well as a water bladder of choice. I am biased because I’ve used camelback for my whole life, and I don’t really like any other hydration systems.
Now you need to add food and a way to cook your food. Freeze dried meals are a good approach, but I would also suggest rice and bean packets. Knorrs makes a packet of rice and beans that is just perfect for hiking and fueling those tired muscles. Rice and beans is the perfect mix of carbohydrates and protein. When picking out your food, make sure they are rich in protein, carbohydrates, and sodium. You need these to function. I prefer to eat heavier things for dinner, so I would only pack enough for three or four dinners worth. Breakfast and lunch can be granola and energy bars. Again, make sure your choice is rich in protein and carbs. You need a stove of some sorts. If you don’t have a backpacking stove, don’t worry, you can always use a fire to cook your food. I have the MSR Microrocket, and it’s a good choice, but it relies on canister fuel. I’ve had my eye on the BioLite CookStove. It uses organic material as fuel and can charge your USB devices at the same time. Keep these packed in your emergency pack with plenty of waterproof matches/fire starters.
The third category you should have in your pack is shelter. Some form, whether you use a tarpaulin shelter, or a tent, or even a hammock system, you’re going to want something to keep you dry and warm. Keep a sleeping bag and an emergency bivvy sack in there as well. I don’t see the need for an air pad except for comfort. Keep a rain jacket, base layer, and mid layer to keep yourself warm as well as a few pairs of wool/wool blend socks. I suggest SmartWool socks, the Mountain Hard Wear Toasty Twill 1/2 zip, an REI rain jacket, and your choice of a base layer (I have several different brands and I can’t tell the difference).
Finally, keep some odds and ends in there as well. Fishing line and hooks to catch supper if need be. A good compass, I recommend a Silva. Also, the skills to read a compass. A map of your local area. You can’t rely on your phone’s gps all the time. A good knife, maybe a small hatchet as well. A pen, a small notebook, first aid kit, a flashlight. I recently got a headlamp that came with a small solar panel to recharge it. Throw some paracord in there as well. HuckBerry makes this amazing emergency kit that’s wrapped in paracord. It has a small wire saw, fire starters and quite a few other essentials in it. Check it out if you get a chance at huckberry.com.
To wrap up, if you keep a pack for each family member near their bed, you’ll never be unprepared in the event of an emergency arising. Plus, your pack will always be ready for an adventure.