That crazy guy on the street corner howling about the end of the world might be onto something. Think about it for a moment. Every morning it seems we read news of some horrifying, unprecedented event. People are scared, and they have good reason to be: According to a recent UN report, last year 98.6 million people were directly affected by natural disasters, and with imminent climate change, the disasters are expected to become bigger, badder and more frequent. Governments are struggling to cope with millions of political refugees. What will happen tomorrow?
No one can say for sure. But whenever and wherever the shit hits the fan, you should be prepared, and one of the best ways to do this is to assemble a survival bag. Typically, a survival bag (a.k.a. “bug-out bag” or “GO bag”) is defined as a backpack or duffel loaded with one to five days’ worth of survival essentials — food, water, clothing, shelter, miscellaneous tools and, if necessary, a weapon for self-defense — stashed away in a safe place and grab-able at a moment’s notice. Having one means you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to throw together a few things you think you might need, whenever a disaster occurs — and who knows what disaster it could be. Jason Charles, head organizer of the NYC Preppers Network, a group that teaches city-dwellers how to best prepare for unexpected disasters, says survival bags aren’t only for citywide emergencies like earthquakes, floods or nuclear attacks: “They can also be for smaller emergencies like home fires, evacuations or broken-down vehicles.”
Disaster preppers like Charles aren’t always the kooky bunch of paranoid weirdos that reality TV makes them out to be. They simply want to be ready for the event that everyone hopes will never happen; indeed, the event that many people, to their disadvantage, believe never will. Charles, himself a survival bag expert, taught us how to best assemble a great survival bag. Here’s the one we came up with — let’s hope you never have to reach for it.
You know how seemingly every doomsday blockbuster has a token ex-Spec Ops badass who’s always heroically rescuing people? This is the pack he’d wear. Made in the USA and backed by a lifetime warranty, it’s built to stay strong in the harshest, most dangerous environments and holds several days’ worth of gear (as well as everything on this list).