I don't like to travel heavy, and in the event of an emergency I'm even less inclined to want to have a giant neon sign over my head that says "I
have things you want - try to take them from me."
I have one medium-sized ammo bag (not for ammo), canvas with a long-ish strap, very similar to this -
Enough room for saltines and sausage, a map and compass, my fire kit, knives, whetstone, a hatchet, folding shovel, and assorted small items like hard
candy, a tiny magnifying glass, a woman's compact (clam shell makeup case with a mirror in one half and storage for a spool of wire, a cotton pad,
and some grease paint in the other), a few spools of thread with some needles, tape, super glue, trap wire, tackle, water tablets, extra socks, and a
It hangs across the chest and under one arm, and I can conceal it nicely under heavy clothing. The socks and bandanas keep everything from making
noise, and I can slide it around to the front when I need something out of it, without making a big scene (taking my clothes off).
I also have one small medical bag, treated canvas, again with a long-ish strap, that hangs across my chest and under my other arm.
Similar to this -
It's for smokes, booze, a back-up fire-starter block, more bandanas and water tablets, some pain killers, more wire, another (small) knife, some
jerky and peanut butter, and a few other personal items (pictures and keepsakes, a notebook w/ pencils & pens, etc.).
It's not a very good system, if your goal is to carry as much as possible, or to carry it without putting strain on your shoulders/neck. That's
especially true with four bottles of water hanging off the straps on the sides of each bag.
It is, however, an ideal solution for me because I intend to make myself as unappealing a target as possible for all the looters who inevitably come
out in force for situation X.
I'm a big guy, and that helps to a certain extent. Most thinking individuals would rather pick on someone smaller and weaker. But if I'm carrying
around a mobile foodstand, and a tent, and a bunch of fancy toys, all decked out in shiny space-age fabric and new boots and whatever else, nobody is
going to care whether I'm seven feet tall or seven hundred feet tall - they're going to want what I have, and they're going to make me waste time
and energy dealing with them.
I would rather appear to have nothing, while having everything I'm likely to need. It does put a strain on my neck, and a full day walking around
like that makes for a sore evening, but I think it's worth trading comfort for a low profile. Wrapping bandanas around the bag handle, where it
rests on the shoulder, helps a little (but not much).
If I was going for a pleasure hike, I would love to get a big bouncy backpack that rides on the hips and sticks out ten miles and carries a general
store with room to spare. But I think that in a survival situation I'm more comfortable travelling light and remaining discreet about what, if
anything, I'm carrying.
My clothes are all second-hand, durable and comfortable (warm too) but not flashy. A long black wool coat keeps me warm and dry, while concealing the
fact that I'm carrying anything (presuming I have either my vest or workshirt underneath to button up over the strap 'X' across my chest). The
coat has loads of pockets for other things I'm more likely to need in a hurry.
I don't think my way is right for everyone else, but it feels right for me. Multiple, concealable, smaller bags, redundancy to insure against
catastrophe if I should lose one of them, and less overall weight. I remember days spent with a sixty-pound pack, trudging up and down mountains with
pots and pans, pasta and rice, poles and tent, sleeping roll, changes of clothes, and a whole bunch of other stuff (much of which I still think is
worth having, like the fire kits, tablets, bandanas, etc.).
No thanks, and certainly not in an emergency. I'd rather travel light. It's not just a matter of moving quickly - which is good. It's a matter
of how much energy you have to expend. Hauling around a bunch of stuff tires you out, you need to eat more and drink more, rest more and move more
I guess it boils down to your objectives, where you're trying to go and what you intend to do when you get there.
I imagine that if you wanted to start your new life in the woods, you wouldn't be able to manage on just two small bags and the stuff in your coat
I'd like to find a way to bring a tent, but I'm thinking that's an impossibility. I may, however, sew a bunch of lightweight fabrc into the back
of my coat. It would be very handy if I needed to build some semi-permanent shelter up in the hills, but I don't think that's ever going to be a
My objective, at this point, is to move quickly to one of several safe places, and stay permanently at the one with the least drama in the surrounding
area. No need to carry a bunch of food, utensils, cooking paraphenalia, water purifiers, clothes, an arsenal, etc., if you have those things waiting
at your destination.
It may be that the whole crazy situation will be over almost before it's begun, and if that's the case, I'd like to be in a position to pick up
where I left off, not stuck in the deep woods, cut off from the world, all wild-eyed, insane and malnourished from a diet of smoked tree rats and