Kit List for Emergency Kit / Bug Out Bag

Up to date and maintained list of the essential kit for an emergency situation or scenario. Find out how it fairs here.

Tangia Camping Stove – This trusted weatherproof camping stove has been in development since the 1940s and I’ve been using them for 24 years for all sorts of camping and family days out. It’s light, weatherproof, fast to put together and to take down too and it’s super quick to boil water in the provided kettle.

Fire Steel – Lightweight and able to use in all weathers for lighting the stove and making a traditional fire too.

Proper Knife – I’ve ditched the folding fruit knife for something more substantial. Great for carving wood and helping to make a shelter, plus more comforting when I don’t know what I’ll face while I’m out there and the world has gone to the dogs.

Dry bags – Keeps your stuff dry, need I say more?

Wooly hats and gloves – It’s January and a few months away from fifteen degrees celsius during the day.

Wash Kit – A compact kit with toothbrush and paste. You want to look after your teeth. I for one don’t fancy self extracting a tooth!

Low light torch – With four colours of light to select from, it’s great for keeping yourself concealed and not damaging your sensitive night vision when you use it. Who knows what’s going to be hunting you down at night?

Wind up Torch – Works without batteries. Enough said?

Clothes – Quick dry trousers, essential in any weather. Layers of technical clothes, the best way to stay warm. Hiking socks are a no brainer for comfort.

Water – As well as bringing as much as you can carry, NHS guidelines are for 1.2 litres per day to keep dehydration at bay, but you will need a constant supply. If the water is contaminated in a nuclear fallout, there’s not a great deal sterilisation and filtering can do, but in every other circumstance a filtration straw will let you filter up to 2,000 litres / 530 gallons direct from the source. It’s a no brainer.

Sleeping bag – It’s small, lightweight and three season. Should deal with most of what the English weather can throw at me as long as I have shelter.

Tent – Again, small and portable, weighing just over 2kg / 4.4lbs it gives options for where I can eventually go.

Paracords – With boundless uses in survival situations and lightweight, it’s a must.

Emergency Kit – Contains 21 different items to help you survive, including a fishing line and hook, tinder and a knife, all wrapped in woven paracord.

Passport – You never know. In an emergency I’m sure the rules would be relaxed, but when it all settles down, if it ever does, then it would make resettling so much easier, if there’s anything left. Keep positive. Probably the most important lesson.

Cash & Gold Coins – When the world comes down around your shoulders the cash will be of use, but only in the short term. If the shit really hits the fan, its jewellery, precious stones and metals that hold all the bartering value. Gold is easy for anyone to recognise their value. Gold will always be in demand, even when states fail. Buy small denominations, 4 grams half Sovereigns or 8 gram Sovereigns or American Quarter Eagles so you don’t have to pay a higher price for the want of change.

Hammer – It’s heavy, but has many uses, including as a weapon, helping to build a shelter or to break into an abandoned supermarket to restock supplies if it really goes down.

Paracetamol – Access to doctors may be limited. Pain could be a new feature of life. Whether it’s a strain from walking, a headache or problems with your teeth, you’ll be glad of bringing plenty of these lightweight tablets with you, plus they’ll be great for bartering if you have spare.

Food – Dense, dry ingredients are best. Even better are those that don’t need water to eat. Tinned goods are next because they’ll last so long, it’s been shown they’ll last long after their official expiration date, but they’re heavy and too many will weigh you down. Chocolate and sugar dense sweets are great too, but only if you’re taking care of your teeth, access to dentists may be limited, if available at all.

Emergency Rations – In their simplest form they are high calorie biscuits which in emergency situations can sustain one person for 72 hours. They have a five year shelf life, but will still keep the calories after. At half a kilo, they’re heavy, but worth the weight.

Nails – I’m bringing a hammer so why not long nails too? Gives me options for building shelters.

Hand sanitiser – It won’t last long, but used sparingly it will help stave off stomach bugs, plus it’s flammable.

Batteries – The more the merrier. The torch is useless without them and can help start a fire if needed. Consider candles, but only to be used when inside a shelter, not a tent!

Emergency Blankets – Only single use, but can keep you warm if you fall into a river, giving you enough chance to recover.

Alcohol – Full of calories and a treat to keep you warm at night.

Vitamins – If food is scarce, these will be a handy top up. Lightweight too. Empty out the paracetamol from their packets and pile them in the vitamin bottle to save space.

Antihistamines – If you suffer from hay fever then it’s a must, but also useful for bee stings and for all things that go bump in the night. It likely won’t save your life, but if you’re going to be living outdoors for the next few months, they could make it a lot more bearable.

Wind up radio – You can get them with solar power too, plus USB charge to give you that first kick start, plus they come with powerful emergency lights. Keep on top of the latest details of the emergency.

Compass – Even without a proper map you can travel in a vague direction and keep yourself on a course. Overlooked first time around, but invaluable, especially if you already have one.

Camping mattress – It may seem trivial, but not when you’re lying on the cold hard ground trying to sleep with one eye open.

IMG_3486In the End…Why not read about what happens to a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Season One

Your Ten Minutes are Up!

The pack’s on my back, my hand on the door handle, but I pause before I pull down and rush back to the phone, my finger jabbing at the digits for the second time. There’s still no answer. They’re doing what I should be doing. Running.

Pulling open the door, I hang back behind the threshold. I look left, look right and my brain freezes, I have no idea where I’m going. The only decision I’ve made is to go it alone and not follow the crowd. If this thing is a contagious disease, if it’s an invasion or reanimated bodies wandering the streets, I want to be well away from everyone else. That said, I need to meet with my friends. We’d talked about this, usually drunk in the pub. Someone mentioned Ikea Southampton would be the place to go, plenty of beds right? Then again, I think I suggested there’d be no food and it would be a terrible place to defend, so big and in a major city. That idea’s a bust, but I can’t remember if we decided somewhere else.

The only other place we ever talked about was Dartmoor, somewhere we’d spent so many weekends. It’s desolate, deserted and full of wildlife, well ponies. I just hope they have the same idea.

I walk to the car, holding back from opening the door, the keys in my hand and the street is clear, the road quiet. For a moment I wander, did I dream all this?

I jump in the car, having decided to drive as far as the quarter tank of diesel will take me, about a third of the hundred and eighty miles if my estimate is sound. Just then I notice people streaming from their houses, some with packs on their backs, others surrounded with stuff in their hands, shoving duvets into car boots, loading furniture on roof racks. Traffic is already building and I can wait no longer. Why am I waiting at all?!

I turn off my street and into a trading estate; the road is blocked with traffic trying to head the same way. I turn the car around before I get to the back of the queue. The road’s blocked going the other way now too. I pull over to the side of the road, lock the car and start my journey on foot. People are still streaming out of their houses, I try not to look them in the eye, try not to judge their decisions, try not to think of those people in developing countries you see on the news carrying their whole life on their heads. I avoid their paths, the clutter of their possessions strewn along the road, dropped by the side of their cars as they try to pack everything in. There won’t get away before it’s too late. I resist the urge to shout for everyone to run, to get out of here as quick as they can, like the alert said.

Diverting through a park, the pedestrian traffic is much less, but as I leave one road behind, the angry shouts and the call of car horns are ready to greet me on the other side. I live in the suburbs of a town and it’s about 3 miles, 4 km, until the map looks green from above, so I divert north west, knowing I need to get away from the buildings, or away from people as quick as I can.

My choice of pack, if not my choice of footwear, stands me in good stead for the light jog, diverting this way and that to avoid crowds who seem to surge together for safety, even though they’re shouting and hollering in each other’s faces. As time goes by and the buildings thin, I slow, wandering if whatever caused the alert has happened, was it all over, had the crisis really hit? I look to the cloudless sky, but seeing no meteors streaming down, seeing the sky empty of parachutes, or rockets raining down, or dust rising on the horizon, I think myself a little silly and slow, but not silly enough to turn around. That’s when I realise there is something missing from my kit. A radio, preferably a wind up, or solar powered.

I’m in a small wood a few miles from my house and I’ve seen only a scattering of people as I walk with my pace quick across a place I walked before, where I’d walked with family and friends, guided dogs sniffing every fallen leaf, pissing up every tree truck. Now I don’t care for the scenery as the woods thin, the motorway in the distance, cars crawling along. I divert again, following parallel to the road, but trudging through field after field, tracking across fallow, boggy land to save the hazardous climb of fences never intended to make my journey easy.

My legs are tiring, the adrenaline has well and truly drained to nothing, leaving that horrible lethargic hangover. I want for company, this is the first time I’ve hiked with a pack on my back alone. I think of my friends as I stop to take a rest, pouring water down my throat, crunching on a cereal bar. I’d like to say it was the first of the trip as I spot an isolated house on the horizon. A farmhouse I guess. I could find out the latest, they probably won’t be there anyway, should be on the motorway I can see has been stationary since I’ve been following, about an hour now. With that I turn my Apple Watch to low power mode and check my phone, it’s been no use since I left, no bars, just a cross in the corner.

Dogs bark as I come out of the field and into the yard. I see cows peering over the side of their stalls, the smell of stale shit wafting, clawing at my throat as I arrive at the door, trying to listen past the animals going crazy the other side. There can’t be anyone at home, no car around, just a tractor parked under a canopy a short walk off. There’s no chance I’m getting in the house with those crazed animals. I walk off. It’s getting dark. It’s the winter and it’s only three in the afternoon, I’ve been on the road for a few hours already, the only thing keeping me heading forward is the thought of not being able to find somewhere to put the tent up whilst its light.

I walk the next hour scouring the land for somewhere good to stop, somewhere well away from the road, away from those who might abandon the route and try to find shelter. I don’t want them to find mine. I stop and pull of my pack after diverting south, trying to keep my heading in the vague direction of the motorway, thinking all the time I should have brought the compass my hand passed over when I was packing.

I stop with just enough light to find somewhere flat enough next to a hedge with the lights of the cars on the motorway just disappearing and with no other noise around, I can just about see the contents of the tent spread across the long, yellowing grass. I’m thankful for my choice of tent, it’s lightweight and pitches in less than two minutes single handed. It would just about fit two, so it’s easy to fit me and my pack. As I lay on the ground checking for stones underneath, I think of the extra weight a camping mat or self-inflating mattress would have added. It seemed like a luxury at the time, but not right now.

Sitting up on the grass, the tent’s too shallow to sit up inside, I hug myself, the cold biting now I’ve stopped. I unpack the pack, getting the Trangia roaring with a mugful of hot water, wishing I’d brought coffee. Instead I shove in the rice and let it warm through. It’s a good meal and I eat it with the stars already bright in the sky and I spend the next half an hour figuring out I could be on the road with all my supplies gone by the time I reach Dartmoor. Five days, four if I’m lucky. I will have to find out what this is all about, figure out if I should stock up or find civilisation again, find the safety of the shelter they talked about on the bulletin or if I’m already out of harms way.

I can’t wait any longer to zip up the tent, choosing to unfold the knife, it looks so short as I lay it beside the hammer, taking off my boots for comfort, hoping I won’t regret the decision. I lay there with my eyes closed and listen. A hunger builds, which I force myself to ignore, whist trying not to concentrate on every unnatural noise in the night, hearing alien sounds making my mind work overtime whilst longing for the camping mat as I try to shake off the cold rising from the ground.

Lessons Learnt

I’ve added the following to the kit list, a copy of which is available and updated here.

Wind up radio – You can get them with solar power too, plus USB charge to give you that first kick start, plus they come with powerful emergency lights. Keep on top of the latest details of the emergency.

Proper Knife – I’ve ditched the folding fruit knife for something more substantial. Great for carving wood and helping to make a shelter, plus more comforting when I don’t know what I’ll face while I’m out there and the world has gone to the dogs.

 

Compass – Even without a proper map you can travel in a vague direction and keep yourself on a course. Overlooked first time around, but invaluable, especially if you already have one.

Camping mattress – It may seem trivial, but not when you’re lying on the cold hard ground trying to sleep with one eye open.

It’s a real shame I didn’t pack these extras, but I’ve got plenty of time for my regrets as I shiver on the hard floor waiting to see what comes for me in the night….

IMG_3486

In the End…Why not read about what happens to a group of friends whose worldcollapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Season One

IN THE END…There was a book cover

I’ve been working with my good friend and mega talent James Norbury to design the cover of my book IN THE END which is being released next quarter. Today he delivered the proofing draft, but before I sign off on the final design for James to finish to perfection, I thought I’d see what the critics think before it’s too late!

Please don’t be shy, have your say, good, bad or ugly, let me know!

IMG_3486

Ten Minutes to Go!

You have ten minutes. Now go!

The phone has rung. The emergency message pinged on your mobile. The radio comes alive and the rolling TV news has only one story. It’s happened, come true, the end of civilisation. Natural disaster. World War III. Alien invasion. A fast spreading equine influenza jumping the species boundary, or just a plain old zombie apocalypse. If you’re lucky it’ll be only one. Either way, you’ve got to evacuate. You have ten minutes. Now go!

Information coming out of ground zero is sketchy, you’re not being told what’s going on. All you know is you’ve got to move. There’s a safe haven, but it’s miles away, you have to leave quick. Maybe you have your own ideas of where it would be best to hide out from the worst. The least you know is you’ve got to get out of the town, away from the cities, heading to the country, the national parks or up the tallest mountain. Anywhere that’s not going to make it easy for any infection to spread, or where a stray bomb or laser bolt is going to crash into your head.

It’s coming. For your best chance of survival you have to be quick.

So what do you take?

I’m not prepared, but still I did the test. I took ten minutes to jump around the house and grab what I could, racing to think what I could carry on my back, hoping there was enough to sustain me for longer than a few days.

I’m downstairs when the call comes. I’m prepared mentally because this is only a test so I don’t spend precious moments locked in search of answers, trying my best to come to terms with what it all means. Still, I take a few seconds. I’m the outdoorsy sort, I go hiking and walking with my friends every year. I’ve wild camped more times than I can count and had to dig a hole for my waste in the wilderness a few times, so this will be easy. Right? A minute’s gone before I’m upstairs pulling old clothes out of the wardrobe to get to my rucksacks. I discard the ninety litre pack I take on three day expeditions. Fully loaded it can carry an awesome amount of stuff, but it slows you down to a causal pace. I won’t be wanting to take in the scenery on this journey, I bet. Speed will be key, I might have to run from people, from things I’ve never met. So I settle for a day pack with half the capacity, but it’s waterproof, and with loads of pockets, a great compromise.

With eight minutes left I’m at the cupboard where I keep my camping gear pulling out a Trangia camping stove. It’s the first thing in my bag. On top I throw in a fire steel, a folding knife, dry bags, woolly hats and gloves, it’s still January for a few weeks. A small first aid kit goes in too, as well a personal wash kit, some unopened beef jerky from another trip goes on top. I have a low light torch, a spork and a tin mug. I look at the deodorant and shower gel on the shelf next door, but leave as I walk away. I stuff in a sleeping bag and inflatable pillow, shocked the bag is almost full, but still pile in a small emergency kit on top.

I move to the dresser, swinging the pack over my shoulder, the sleeping bag spirals out and I clip it to the side of the bag. Grabbing a technical top and t-shirt, a fleece and quick dry trousers and we’re five minutes gone as I’m racing down the stairs. I try to stuff two large bottles of water in, realising there’s no chance, so I empty the contents of the bag onto the living room floor and run to the hallway cupboard. I tap in the code for the safe and repeat, this time in the right order and pull my passport and the small amount of cash I keep for emergencies. Intended more for a leaking pipe than the end of the world. I lock the door and think what next?

Food.

From the larder cupboard I grab packets of Uncle Ben’s rice. They’re pre-cooked, meant for a microwave, but they’re not bad heated on the Trangia and you can eat them cold if I must. I grab small tins of fish, mackerel and sardines, the latter of which I have no idea why they’re in there. I fill my arm with beans and cereal bars, nuts left over from Christmas. Passing by the bathroom, I add paracetamol and antihistamine too. Standing staring over the bag I take a moment, knowing I’m missing something big.

Shelter.

By the time I’ve found the shed keys and unlocked the back door, taking only seconds to look to the sky, pondering on how big the world suddenly seems, I’m unlocking the shed with just over a minute to go. Fighting to climb over everything in the way, a bike, tools and an office chair I have no where else to store, I eventually grab hold of a bottle of meths, it’s full and essential as the fuel for the Trangia burner. My eye falls on the tool rack and a claw hammer. Before I know it’s in my hand and I’m swinging it through the air in a way I never have before. It’s heavy, but I have a feeling it could be my new best friend. I pause to look around the shed, grab the small two man tent and panic that I didn’t pack it all inside the bags properly after it was last used. I haven’t got time to look now as the time counts down on my watch. The ten minutes is up and my new life is piled on the living room floor.

I take the extra time, another five minutes, pack everything in tight, discarding the pillow and grabbing my thick ski coat that’s never seen snow. Along with my hiking boots, I have everything at the door. I have to hope it wasn’t a hard deadline and remember I’m one of the lucky ones. I had warning.

So here’s what my kit looks like.

IMG_2445

IMG_2452

Tangia Camping Stove – This trusted weatherproof camping stove has been in development since the 1940s and I’ve been using them for 24 years for all sorts of camping and family days out. It’s light, weatherproof, fast to put together and to take down too and it’s super quick to boil water in the provided kettle. However, for this situation the big drawback is the fuel. I run mine on mentholated spirits, the purple liquid you get from the IMG_2453DIY store for cleaning brushes, and there’s gel available too, but the weight of the fuel is like that of water, so unless you’re cooking raw food or boiling water to make it safe, is it worth the weight and the hunt for a continuous supply? On balance it’s still coming with me, but it will be the first thing to ditch when the fuel runs out.

Fire Steel – Lightweight and able to use in all weathers for lighting the stove and making a traditional fire too.

Folding Knife – Useful for all sorts and kept in my pocket, not knowing what I’m facing when I open the front door.

Dry bags – Keeps your stuff dry, need I say more?

Wooly hats and gloves – It’s January and a few months away from fifteen degrees celsius during the day.

Wash Kit – A compact kit with tooth brush and paste. You want to look after your teeth. I for one don’t fancy self extracting a tooth!

Low light torch – With four colours of light to select from, it’s great for keeping yourself concealed and not damaging your sensitive night vision when you use it. Who knows what’s going to be hunting you down at night?

Clothes – Quick dry trousers, essential in any weather. Layers of technical clothes, the best way to stay warm. Hiking socks are a no brainer for comfort. On second thoughts I’d change into all this, rather than taking up room in my pack. There’s no room for spares, but this is survival, not a blind date.

Four Litres of water – NHS guidelines are for 1.2 litres per day to keep dehydration at bay. That gives me just over three days supply, but I’m expecting a long, arduous journey. It will probably last me two. I’m going to make finding more a priority. If there’s any space I’d do well to fit as much more in as I can.

Sleeping bag – It’s small, lightweight and three season. Should deal with most of what the English weather can throw at me, as long as I have shelter.

Tent – Again, small and portable, weighing just over 2kg / 4.4lbs it gives options for where I can eventually go.

Paracords – With boundless uses in survival situations and lightweight, it’s a must.

Emergency Kit – Contains 21 different items to help you survive, including a fishing line and hook, tinder and a knife, all wrapped in woven paracord.

Passport – You never know. In an emergency I’m sure the rules would be relaxed, but when it all settles down, if it ever does, then it would make resettling so much easier, if there’s anything left. Keep positive. Probably the most important lesson.

Cash – When the world comes down around your shoulders the cash will be of use, but only in the short term. If the shit really hits the fan, its jewellery, precious stones and metals that hold all the bartering value.

Hammer – It’s heavy, but has many uses, including as a weapon, helping to build a shelter or to break into an abandoned supermarket to restock supplies if it really goes down.

Paracetamol – Access to doctors maybe limited. Pain could be a new feature of life. Whether it’s a strain from walking, a headache or problems with your teeth, you’ll be glad of bringing plenty of these lightweight tablets with you, plus they’ll be great for bartering if you have spare.

Food – Dense, dry ingredients are best. Even better are those that don’t need water to eat. Tinned goods are next because they’ll last so long, its been shown they’ll last long after their official expiration date, but they’re heavy and too many will weigh you down. Chocolate and sugar dense sweets are great too, but only if you’re taking care of your teeth, access to dentists maybe limited, if available at all.

IMG_3258.jpg

Now take a breath. 

Okay, so we have the benefit of not being in a rush, so what else should I have packed and perhaps prepared for in advance?

Gold coins – Gold is easy for anyone to recognise their value. Gold will always be in demand, even when states fail. Buy small denominations, 4 grams half Sovereigns or 8 gram Sovereigns or American Quarter Eagles so you don’t have to pay a higher price for the want of change.

Water – We all know this will be a big issue. If the water is contaminated in a nuclear fallout there’s not a great deal sterilisation and filtering can do, but in every other circumstance a filtration straw will let you filter up to 2,000 litres / 530 gallons direct from the source. It’s a no brainer.

Nails – I’m bringing a hammer so why not long nails too? Gives me options for building shelters.

Hand sanitiser – It won’t last long, but used sparingly it will help stave off stomach bugs, plus it’s flammable.

IMG_2451

Batteries – The more the merrier. The torch is useless without them and can help start a fire if needed. Consider candles, but only to be used when inside a shelter, not a tent!

Wind Up Torch – In addition to the standard torch, a great idea would be to have a wind up torch too for when you supply of batteries runs dry.

Emergency Blankets – Only single use, but can keep you warm if you fall into a river, giving you enough chance to recover.

Alcohol – Full of calories and a treat to keep you warm at night. How could I forget!

Vitamins – If food is scarce, these will be a handy top up. Lightweight too. Empty out the paracetamol from their packets and pile them in the vitamin bottle to save space.

I’m sure you’ve all got some great ideas, so why not make your suggestions in the comments!

Lesson Learnt

It’s clear there’s no way this can be done in ten minutes. With another ten maybe you’ll have a chance, but you’ll forget something important. I’m going to pack my bag and leave it that way. You never know when it could save your life!

Now all I have to do is swing it on my back, open the front door and see what’s outside….

In the End…Why not read about what happens to a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re not at the top of the food chain…

In the End – Season One