It’s hard to say whether preppers spend more time and energy fussing over their BOB or their AR-15, but one thing is for sure; people LOVE to spend too much money on both. I for one have certainly been bitten by both bugs.
Someone recently asked me if it was possible to do a BOB for under $100. My first reaction was to say, “Of course!” After thinking about it for a few minutes though, I wasn’t so sure.
If you surf the different forums, you’re likely to conclude that Bug Out Bags require only the very best equipment, and a corresponding outlay of cash. While they certainly can be spendy, they don’t always have to be.
Let’s face it, we live in a world where we think we need everything all at once, and that it has to be the best. While the best may be best, if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. And even if you can afford it, maybe there is still an opportunity cost involved in spending that money now.
After doing some research, I’ve concluded that the simple answer is yes, it is possible. The more complicated answer however, is that it depends on some factors. A Bug Out Bag can be outfitted for one purpose, or many. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your bag for a specific event or is it being outfitted broadly?
- Where are you going with it?
- How long does the bag need to sustain you?
- How many people are you trying to sustain?
- What is your mobility?
Building a bag before answering these questions thoughtfully, is the second largest contributing factor to an over-priced BOB. If you have not answered them, you’ll likely try to add in the proverbial kitchen sink to account for every possible situation.
The bag you choose for your BOB can by itself easily put you over the $100 mark. This isn’t necessary though. By hitting a few army surplus stores, sporting good stores, Walmart, Costco, and even the Salvation Army, I’ve found a plethora of cheap bags for under $30 that would do just fine. Much like the gear in the bag, an expensive bag is nice, but not essential.
What you get when you pay up for a bag is typically the name, longevity, and whistles and bells. If cost is a concern, just get a decent bag with no frills that will hold up and contain all your stuff.
Likewise, having gear for every scenario is nice, but if you are on a budget, focus on the most essential items first. If you need the bag, it will more likely be to get you home, than out of town.
Also, you don’t need special clothes just for your BOB. Use an old pair of jeans, shirt, and enough socks and underwear for three days. You just took that $500 in special tactical clothing you didn’t need anyway out of the equation.
Even when you get down to things like a fire starter, an $8 firesteel is cool, but a $1.02 disposable lighter and Ziplock bag will work just fine. This theme continues on to even a shelter, if you choose to put one in. A $300 super compact tent is nice, but a $10 tarp and $10 worth of rope goes a long way towards creating a tarp shelter that will keep you dry. Just be sure you know how to use it.
My BOB has $700 worth of ESEE knives in it. Do I like them? Yes. Did I think I needed them when I built that BOB? Of course. Do I actually need them in my BOB? No. The fixed blade I have had since I was 10 years old would have done just fine. Expensive knives are cool, but Cody Lundin gets by in the wilderness just fine with a $13 Mora Knife – hippie locks sold separately.
Of course, the number one contributing factor to an over-priced BOB is the “cool looking gear” bug. Manufacturers are quite good at product presentation. They know most of us will reach for what looks cool long before we reach for what is inexpensive, well made, and just works. This is generally true in life, but it is painfully evident when it comes to survival and tactical gear.
Surviving in bad situations can easily boil down to learning to use the items that are around you everyday. This can also be a great way to reduce the cost of your BOB. Whether or not money is a concern, look for creative ways to turn the things around you into survival items. For example, a simple soda can be used to create four survival tools – look for an article soon.
Building a BOB on a budget is about prioritizing and focusing on the most likely needs. If your budget is $100, don’t sweat it. You can always upgrade tomorrow if the money and need arises.