Go Time: How a Flood in Colorado Helped Build a Go Bag in Texas - ITS Tactical

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Go Time: How a Flood in Colorado Helped Build a Go Bag in Texas

By Rob Henderson

I’ve always considered myself a prepared individual, whether during an emergency situation or just day-to-day life. I’m the guy with a couple cases of bottled water, canned goods and a change of clothes stored in a closet; ready to weather out the worst of storms. However, after reading a recent article from contributor Jeff Carpenter on his experience during a 2013 flood, I suddenly understood that I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was.

Today, I’ll be discussing how the lessons I learned from that article made me set out to put together a Go Bag that would allow me to be prepared for an emergency where I’d be required to leave my home.

Bugging In

First let me say that I take umbrage with the “bugout-prepper-zombie” culture that seems to have invaded this industry. While I have no issues with people that “prep” for disasters, I feel that many of these people are buying completely unnecessary equipment and preparing for non-realistic disasters. Many will purchase MOPP Suits and gas masks before they’ll consider picking up a trauma kit or attending a medical or firearms training class.

My philosophy has always been that during an emergency, like a powerful storm or power outage, my best option is to stay put and subsist off the food and supplies I have in the house. Even with larger scale emergencies, I’m not planning on strapping on a bug out bag and hiking 40 miles to an underground bunker. The logistics of a trip like that just aren’t realistic to me.

However, with Jeff’s recent article, I realized that I hadn’t really considered the possibility of an emergency forcing me from my home. The idea seems so simple and I felt like an idiot for not realizing that it was a very realistic scenario to plan for. So I set out to create a Go Bag that could be stored in a vehicle and would be ready to go in case I needed to evacuate from my home extremely quickly. (Think 5 minutes.) Bryan and I actually discussed this exact scenario on a recent episode of Gear Tasting Radio.

The Bag

I’m a pack addict; if there’s a will, there’s a pack to put it in. So when building out this new Go Bag, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up a pack I’d had my eye on for awhile. Being a big fan of Mayflower Research & Consulting, (now a part of Velocity Systems) I was well aware of their 24 hour Assault Pack. This pack seemed like the perfect size for what I was looking to store and its small size and light weight made it perfect for vehicle storage and emergency use.

In the past few months, I’ve been going through what my Fiancé has dubbed “A Camo Life Crisis” and I’ve been selling off MultiCam gear in favor of my new favorite pattern, Desert Digital. Lucky for me, Mayflower/Velocity is one of the few manufacturers making gear in this colorway, so picking up the 24 Hour Assault Pack in Desert Digital was a win/win for me.

Before I get into the contents of the pack, I want to first mention the quality of the pack itself. Made from 500D CORDURA, this pack is extremely light and features quality zippers and buckles. The shoulder straps are lightly padded, but not heavy or rough and the entire back section and the back of the straps feature a mesh material.

It’s a small pack and there’s no getting around that, so if you’re a “kitchen sink” type person, you might want to consider their 48 Hour Pack. However, I wanted a small “assault-style” pack for this project so I welcomed the diminutive size. I’ve made a few minor modifications to the pack since receiving it, including removing the shock cord and the field of loop on the outside. I didn’t really have a use for either of these and have had branches and other things get snagged on shock cord before.

The Contents

Think of all the things you might need during an emergency away from your home for about 24-48 hours. If you’re like me, your mind immediately started racing with things like food, water and clothing. So this is where I started out when planning out my contents. Food is a big concern, especially if you aren’t able to make it to an emergency shelter or friend’s house.

My usual go to outdoor food is a field stripped MRE, but with all the contents I had in mind I knew I’d have to think differently. This led me to ration blocks, which aren’t something you’ll find in a Zagat’s guide for best tasting. They’re basically oily cookies that provide calories. So while this option isn’t the tastiest, it’s one that offers a great amount of calories (3600 total) in very small package.

…this pack isn’t all I plan to have with me in an emergency.

Next up was water and many people out there might be surprised to see me rocking three disposable water bottles rather than a hydration bladder or Nalgene bottle. I definitely prefer a good Nalgene bottle, but for this I wanted individual containers of water that I could either pass out or isolate from contamination. If crappy gunk gets into your single source of water, you’re going to have a bad time.

For a change of clothes, I went with lightweight shorts, a wicking t-shirt and some socks. This is definitely bare bones when it comes to clothing, but we also live in Texas where the nights are 80 degrees in the summer, so right now, I’m not too worried about being chilly. As we progress into the winter months, I’ll most likely change out some of these items for warmer counterparts.

Something I want to touch on quickly is that this pack isn’t all I plan to have with me in an emergency. If push came to shove, I could work with just its components, but I definitely don’t plan on that. Those that have read my write up on the Arc’teryx Blade pack know that my EDC Bag has additional supplies like a Mini Survival Kit, EDC Trauma Kit and other helpful emergency items.

When evacuating my home, the EDC Bag is one of three things I’ll be grabbing, the others being clothes to wear and a dry bag containing important life documents and some cash.

The above contents are what I felt like I needed to explain the most and rather than going in-depth on the remaining items, I’ve listed the full contents below, as well as links to the items.

Storing the Bag

One of my favorite things I discovered when putting this pack together was just how well the pack fit under the back seat in my Jeep Wrangler. The small U-shaped gap under the seat almost seems like it was designed for this pack to fit there.

Storing it under the back seat enables it to remain out of sight for the most part and leaves it in the location I’m most likely to head when having to evacuate, my vehicle. During an evacuation in a flood or fire, having a vehicle would be a tremendous asset. If I wasn’t able to take the vehicle for some reason, the pack pulls out from under the seat easily and is ready to go in a couple seconds.

Conclusion

As with most of my gear, this Go Bag is an ever-evolving project. I’m sure items will be added and removed in the pack in the very near future as I learn and discover more information. I’m always on the lookout for good advice, especially when it comes to gear, so be sure to leave your comments and questions below. Without the ITS community, I would have never had the realization that this bag was something to consider creating!

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Discussion

  • WitchDoc

    I consider myself educated, however, I still had to look up “umbrage.” lol

    I’m still having an issue, even with just the med-side of the equation, leaving some of those items in the hot car (I’m just outside of Austin) and it was 135* in the car when I got off work yesterday. What’s your take on leaving things, especially perishable things, in the hot car? I have looked into some type of low-draw cooling system, but that still kills the batteries in an F250. For work (SWAT Medic) I want to keep all the meds I may use in the vehicle as well, but there is no way TXA, fentanyl or the like will survive in that heat let alone edible things.

    • R711

      I think in that context you would have to use dehydrated foods and a separate water source. It’s like being where I’m rom, food doesn’t last when it’s frozen and thawed from 0 to -35 degrees. You store dry foods and the knowledge to acquire clean water.

    • Chris Brooks

      There are rations that are ok in the heat. I wouldn’t leave the water IN the bag, but I do keep a small case in the back of the car. But medicine, no I don’t think I’d leave that in the car. But you can have a package at home, in your fridge and ready to grab at a moment’s notice. The article that spawned this one was about being told “you’ve got 5 minutes to grab your stuff and get out.” That’s enough time to grab a couple of prepared bags.

    • Rob Henderson

      Those are definitely great points. The research I did on the ration blocks indicated that they’d be ok in the heat like a vehicle. I’ll probably end up swapping them out seasonally though as two blocks only ran me $16. I’ve also considered Mountain House or another freeze dried option, I’m just not able to fit as many calories in the same space.

      For the water, it’s definitely a concern but I’d rather be able to chemically purify water that sat in the heat than not have any.

      For medicine, like you mentioned the heat kills everything. I have a fanny pack in the vehicle for med stuff and an additional bag in the house I’d probably grab. The vehicle bag has a TQ, bandages and mostly stuff that doesn’t mind the heat too much. The more sensitive stuff is inside a bag in the house.

      I think the simplest option would be to move but if you’re like me, then Texas has its claws in you…

    • WitchDoc

      Yes, claws are in deep! Thanks all for the input. I’m in agreement with the water. Better to have some than none. I like the idea on the ration blocks. Big mountain house fan, but space can be an issue.

  • strych9

    I note with a fair amount of dismay that your bag contains no spare socks nor any foot powder.

    I get that it’s a vehicle bag but even when you’re not planning on walking you might end up walking and even if you don’t walk practically at all spending time in wet socks is no fun.

    • WitchDoc

      The old Corpsman in me found no socks or powder (or Motrin!) very funny. I mean no disrespect, and if you were in the Marines, I hope you too would find this funny! But yes, all good points.

    • Rob Henderson

      I’ve always used Gold Bond Powder on my feet and find that it works wonders to keep them dry and I’ve actually got a small bottle of that in the above photo and in the list. For the socks, another pair would probably help but being space limited, I went with a single pair. I definitely don’t plan on leaving the house in an emergency without socks and shoes on so that would give me at least two pairs to rotate between.

      Thanks for the input!

    • strych9

      Apologies for not fully reading the list. I mainly went by the pictures.

      You might also look into Platypus bottles instead of regular water bottles.

  • Jeff Carpenter

    Thanks Rob! Just going by the pictures, don’t forget to upgrade that stock antenna on the UV-5R with something like the Nagoya NA-771. If you are able to utilize the vehicle, you could use a Mag-Mount antenna and get even better range on the radio. I have also been moving towards keeping my comms in shielded (EMP proof) bags. There are some seemingly good options for that nowadays. Very helpful article. Thanks again.

  • l2a3

    You need an lensatic compass and area map and learn how to use them, same with a firearm. (Someone will always want what you have in an emergency situation, even if they do not need it, but think they do). Get a 3 L. camelback and set it up to fill it through a Sawyer filter using their 64 oz. flat bags, there by keeping your water bladder clean. You say you are in Texas and think 3 bottles of water is going to keep you hydrated a day or two? I spent 5 years in Texas working outside and went through more than 3 bottles of water during lunch, so I would go and try to live out your scenario, unless you are only going to 2-5 miles and expect everything will be working when you get home; otherwise in my humble option you are going be in for a rude awaking. Also think about having to remain somewhere over night, (Poncho liner and poncho to stay dry and warm) no make that 2 nights before you get to “home” and when you get “home” there is nothing there. That bring on a whole new perspective to your planning. Try planning for a 100 mile return trip home on foot and NO support. Again just my humble thoughts on get home bag.

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