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Monday, September 21, 2009

Guest Post: G.O.O.D Bag - Ideas and How To

This guest post is coming to us from a regular on Survival Boards, Mr. SmokinOnion. He put this thread about "Get Out Of Dodge (G.O.O.D) bags" on the boards last week and did such a good job of explaining the "whys" of his decisions, I asked him if I could feature it as a guest post here. In the future, we'll also talk about a "Get Home Bag (G.H.B) and some of those details as well. Of course, know that this is one person's way of putting together their particular bag. Bags will vary as much as individuals do; this post is being provided to give you an idea of what one of these bags can do.

~~PART ONE~~~~~~~by SmokinOnion
Before we get started I’d like to cover some definitions, both generally accepted ones, and my own. I also want to state that I live on my BOL and have I have no intention of bugging out unless I have been burned out and a “Custer stand” isn’t on my list of things to experience.

Also, this review will come in segments, initial impressions, modifications, what it holds, final configuration and impressions, and finally a detailed explanation of the gear vest, contents and how the concept is working out for me, so if the concept interests you check back for updates from time to time.

Getting started:

There are several definitions for bug out bags; they are commonly referred to as follows:

INCH Bag = “I’m Never Coming Home” Bag, this is the actual basis for some peoples BOB’s.

BOB = Bug Out Bag, most commonly discussed option, traditionally a 72 hour bag, not INCH.

G.O.O.D Bag = Get Out OF Dodge Bag, original disaster bag, get out fast, keep going if you have to.

G.H.B. = Get Home Bag, original I’m at work SHTF get back home bag.

Those are the traditional definitions that I am familiar with.

This Edition of an Onion bag is a bit of a hybrid. This is the bag that is always in the truck on road trips and trips to the office for that matter. It can serve as a BOB if you like but to me and my definitions it isn’t quite big enough for a full on BOB, but is too big to be considered the typical GHB designed for the office. I can press this into a 72+ hour bag but that isn’t as dependent on the gear and is more skill related. Proper training, with skill added to a good plan trumps gear every time, so if you are going light or taking a minimalistic approach; the training and skill become paramount.

In building this one I wanted the maximum amount of flexibility in load out options while not having to carry a super large bag. I wanted to be able to modify it to my mission at hand, be it a trip to the local office, a 3 to 5 day road trip or a 3 day patrol. I wanted modular compartmentalized packing capability as well, so I could remove pieces of it and leave them on my gear rack; add them back when a task was going to call for them. I prefer a modular packing system as described, I like having seasonal capability without repacking the main, so I have set out seasonal additions, (Spring/Fall) summer, and winter. Spring and fall where I live are very similar in nature so these remain the same. Winter is a bear here and often this bag will get replaced by a larger full BOB version.

I also wanted to combine some common carry concepts, those being 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line gear. I’m going to use a vest for common carry items that are needed in any SHTF scenario, the gear vest will be packed in the bag. When needed I can pull out the gear vest from the pack, put it on and then slap the pack on. In this way, if I do become separated from the pack I still have my key 2nd line gear to keep me going, but have it in a non-threatening non-combat looking set up.

In beginning this project I had three packs in mind, a Kifaru Pointman, a Maxpedition Vulture II, and a Blackhawk Cyclone pack.

Of the three the Kifaru is the largest at 3,000ci, the Vulture comes in at 2900ci, vs the Cyclone at 1900ci; while the Kifaru is superior quality of the three and the attachment points and expandability matched what I was looking for, however, the $400 price tag, the fact that is larger than I wanted, (it qualifies as a full BOB to me), along with the fact that it is top and bottom loading took it out of the selection process early on. The Maxpedition is high quality and the size is right but the overall layout along with the limited modular addition capability took it off the table.

I prefer a smaller profile pack, slim and close to the back rather than deeper with more load further from the back. I like to keep things tight and close to the torso, I’ve got a wide set of shoulders, 30” across the back, so width I don’t mind as much as bulk going backwards. In the end I went with the Cyclone and what follows will explain why, and also I hope, provide some ideas to anyone else looking for additional ideas for their own operational needs regarding the get out of dodge bag.

Cyclone Specs:
1. Includes 100oz. BLACKHAWK Hydration System
2. Drink system protected by Microban antimicrobial technology
3. Market proven bite valve and patent pending quick disconnect system
4. Twin compartments for extra storage
5. Large compartment has internal pouch for radio packs and 3 antenna ports with flaps
6. Over 100 external S.T.R.I.K.E. webbing attachment points
7. Anodized D-rings and quick cinch buckles for compatibility with 3-Day accessory pouches
8. Reinforced waist belt with additional attachment points
9. Contoured, padded shoulder straps and sternum strap for comfort
10. Rubber drag handle
11. 1900ci

This is the pack I started with:

Extremely well stitched and solid. The back panel offered some excellent channels to keep a nice flow of cool air circulating across the back. The waist belt is not meant to be load bearing but rather to assist in stabilizing the pack and load, key for when you need to move fast but want your pack to hug you during the process. The flap covers an exit port for the secondary water bladder or a radio, there are 3 of these across the top of the pack, for antenna ports and additional water bladders.

The Vest

The gear vest remains packed in the main compartment of the bag. When it’s go time, it’ll be worn allowing me to carry the necessities on my person in case of separation from the pack. The vest has a total of 16 pockets including a larger pocket on the back and 2 inside the vest pockets as well as four front cargo, three front zip-closed pockets and several other smaller pockets. On the inside right there is a diagram showing the front and some of the uses for the pockets.

The vest is a simple Safari vest from Cabelas:

I do want to point out that LAPG has a pack than many Survival Board members have bought, the configuration of that pack, externally is somewhat similar to the Cyclone. It is quite robust, I bring it up here because the concept of what I am trying to do, could be applied to that pack at a MUCH reduced cost compared to the Cyclone. That pack is $29.99, a compadre of mine has that pack and has been using it now for about 8 months. His is rigged much like mine with some minor differences. So far he claims mine is more comfortable to hump after four or fine miles. The shoulder straps are wider, firmer and helped to stabilize the pack better.

So while the cyclone looks large, it's not as big as it looks. It is adjustable for body frame size in a couple ways.

For me, I chose this size based on what I knew I needed to carry, not what I might need to carry. I think too many people do not take into consideration the minimum load-out for their specific needs. My guidelines were:

5 day road trip, either via flight or by vehicle I wanted to be able to take one bag for 5 days. In this case I don't need to pack much in the way of food/water but have access ability to acquire it.

3 day patrol, in this case I have to carry food and water for three days in addition to shelter, food prep, field first aid, clothing appropriate for climate/terrain.

If you make a list of everything you need, from your perspective, to accommodate necessities for 3 days afoot in the field with no resupply or access to additional gear/food and also to accommodate 5 days with access or limited access to additional food/gear it make packs selection a little easier.

Take the items on your list and work out a visualization of the space required for those items, AND, most important to me, how you will carry that load-out. Access, organized, compartmentalized. Everything has a place and everything is in its place is where the organization starts and it ends with streamlined gear loads, lighter weight, easier access in a more organized manner. Helps with efficient use of space I guess.

1900ci packs are not as big as one thinks. My full INCH bag is 7,000ci for comparison and my full BOB is 5000ci. For me, to get what I wanted in a get out of dodge fast bag, I needed 1900ci, anything bigger and I get slowed down too much, anything smaller and I have to start deciding what to leave behind or toss out.

For comparison, here's another bag that is 1900ci - the Osprey Circuit Daypack:
Coming in Part Two - what's in the bag?

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