> TEOTWAWKI Blog: James Yaeger's Bug Out Bag Experiment



James Yaeger's Bug Out Bag Experiment

Yaeger is opinionated as heck, but more often than not, I agree with him. I've been digging his new series on the "bug out bag experiment" - in part, because he's reading the comments and responding to suggestions for gear to include in his bag.

He's got three installments up now,  and gets progressively more fed up with stupid comments as the videos progress. There's some good rants around toilet paper, cookware, bugging out versus bushcrafting, setting up camp and more.

I've never personally posted up my bug out bag here on T-Blog, partly because what works for me, my situation and my environment are going to be different than what works for you, and partly because I've never gotten to the point where I've been totally happy with it. I'm getting there.

I agree with Yaeger's advice to keep the kit small, as light as possible, and focused on getting from Point A to Point B. Not some giant, 5-day backpacking kit with a full camp kitchen in tow. It should probably be small enough to ride comfortably next to you in a vehicle or on the lap of a passenger, so that you can grab it on the way out if needs be.

Small assault pack size, 1200 to 2000 cubic inches and some good choices will do it. Assuming you're dressed for the weather and don't live in the arctic.

Focus on the stuff that is going to be mission critical, not every odd-n-end, contingency item that you can think of. Shelter, water, food. Contingencies are why we pack duct tape.

I'm sure the actual, in-the-field portion of the bug out experiment will be even more entertaining.

Some colorful language, as usual. Worth watch, even if you disagree with him, to get a different point of view.

Interested to get your thoughts--what you agree with, disagree with, etc.


  1. Did he recently lock down his Facebook? Not everyone is allowed to comment now. Odd. I always thought he lived on adversity and conflict. He was out less than 24 hours. Hard to really get a good view of your gear in such a short time. I also noticed he had quite a few redundant choices for gear.

  2. The conflict/sensationalism is in part strategic - gets attention for sure.

  3. His responses to some of the comments are comedy gold! I still don't see what the huge deal about carrying a teeny, tiny fire rod is (just in case), when you are packing 3-4 flashlights, headlights, etc. I keep a mini fire rod in every one of my packs in one of the pencil holders and have seriously used them multiple times in the past when there were no other options. I'm not talk about end of days type stuff, but it has bailed me out on the grill tailgating and starting bonfires a time or two when I couldn't find a working lighter.

    1. I appreciate his willingness to share knowledge and experience (or anybody's for that matter), but something in me can't stand 10 minute videos. There are exceptions, of course, but I feel like if you can't break it down in two or three minutes, I'm not gonna retain all of it anyway.

      As far as the fire rod, I think you're right. If a lighter gets wet, it will work again, but after it dries, which could take a while. A backup is completely reasonable. Some people just have their quirks, I suppose and turn their nose up at common sense. But I'm with you on having a magnesium fire starter, fire rod, or whatever in addition to lighters, matches, etc...

    2. There is zero reason not to bring a ferro rod. Especially since his pack actually seems to be intended as a bushcrafting kit--whether he realizes that or not--and not really the urban get home bag he keeps saying it is.

  4. I get a lot of what he is saying, but personally I think his BOB load out is pretty dang dumb. He carries a steripen and chemicals for disinfecting water but won't carry any sort of metal container to just boil water in? And the idea that someone would risk melting their Nalgene by boiling in it is just ridiculous. Yes its possible, but I'd sooner just drink the dirty water than risk ruining my only container. He doesn't even have a space saver cup--something that would literally take up zero room and weigh next to nothing.

    What he's really talking about with this kit is not a bug out bag but a light weight "get home" type bag. Something for a ~24 hour urban scenario where getting from A to B is the only real concern. For something like that I totally agree--no need for tents, axes, or folding saws. And you're probably not going to be starting any fires or setting up camp. All your going to be doing is walking through a city until you can make it home. If you rest it'll be for 15 minutes on a bench at a bus stop. Your kit should be designed to help you do that as comfortably as possible. That basically means food, water, things to help with navigation (a map, GPS, compass, headlamp) and that's about it. Maybe you could add some kind of phone charger (not a necessity but it would probably make a huge difference to you at the time) and a few luxuries (extra socks) but basically that's it. No need for glow sticks (sigh) or two thirds of the other crap he has in there. Like candles. He's trying to get home as fast as possible and he's going to light up half a dozen candles. Ummm....am I missing something here? I thought he wasn't going to cook and didn't care if he got a little cold. And he has like a dozen flashlights so what exactly are the candles for? And zip ties? Can some one for the love of all that is holy tell me what on earth is he going to do with zip ties while trying to walk home in the city?

    Really in an urban get-home scenario the kit is just a luxury. If you are talking about walking home through an urban area for less than 24 hours--you really don't need a kit at all. You can go without food or water for that period of time--the kit will just make things a lot more comfortable. Essentially your bag is a lightweight day hike bag to make things a bit more bearable. Likely you will drink the water and eat the candy bar and leave everything else untouched. The goal is to cover as much ground as possible in a city and do so as comfortably as possible.

    So he's right about a lot of his points--but then he ignores his own advice. He is testing his urban get home bag by hanging out in the woods practicing purifying water, sleeping, and building fires??? Uhh... He went on and on about how he doesn't need a ferro rod and yet it seems one of the main points of his kit is to make fires in the woods? And he doesn't need tinder because he can find natural materials. So he was very clear that is most definitely not a bush crafting bag, but now his way to test it is to spend 24 hours in the forest doing bush crafting tasks? If its a get home bag the REAL way to test it would be to walk home from work with the thing on your back. But I guess its more fun to play around in the woods with your buddies. Woods eh? Sounds like he could use a ferro rod, and a decent shelter, and a sleep system, and a metal container to boil water and cook in, and an axe.

    I think he's just a bit confused...

    1. The first video has a budget $99 kit that he put together; the videos progress and he starts adding in more random stuff based on suggestions from the comments. In the form it takes by the 3rd video, it's not really an example of a good kit and not intended to be.

      On the ferro rod -

      He's got a bunch of fire starters - Bics, Zippo, etc. A ferro rod weighs little and takes up little room, but are they a 'must have'?

      Open to discussion.

      On boiling -

      With tablets or another purification method, you don't need to boil water. He has tabs and a SteriPen. I don't think he's PLANNING on using the Nalgene for boiling, only pointing out that he could if he had to.

      That brings up the discussion point - do you NEED a metal container in a bug out kit?

      On urban/forest/GHB vs. BOB -

      You're adding those designations and intentions in.

      The point isn't whether you're getting home from work, getting to a friend's house, a hunting lease, a spot in the woods or a cabin upstate. It's having the supplies and tools necessary to make that trip quickly and safely and nothing else. It's all movement, for as long and as far as you can get.

    2. Looks like I took too long in posting my response. (see below comment by WG).

      Good points.


  5. The fire thing is a lightning rod but is really a dead issue. He is carrying way more fire prep than he needs for his goal, but he wants to do some demonstrations. Ok.

    Something to consider if you have watched all the videos currently out is that he is doing this for his viewers. He is taking their suggestions if he thinks they are good. Which is why he grabs his Krink and chest rig and other items that viewers insisted he bring.

    He references is "actual bug out bag" several times, so this is clearly not his personal choice. Maybe he has a ferro rod in his actual BoB? I suspect he's not bringing one because he has a tough time with them. Bics do not always work. Zippos work better in the cold than Bics. Try going out in 20 F weather and using your Bic. Try using it in -20 F. I learned my lessons early.

    Boiling water is not really necessary with the purification tabs and the stri-pen. I carry stainless steel, but his decisions are fine.

    I would add a couple N-95 masks. Even for earthquake or social disruption, which are what he is planning for. The shemagh can help with problems with those, but the N-95 is better.

    On a personal note: I'm not sure I agree with his discourse on the term "bug out bag" but his decision to just call it "the bag" or "an A-to-B bag" is smart. I might steal that idea.


    1. His 'personal' bug out bag - at least in December of 2011 - was an Eberlestock Gunslinger 2. Here's the vid:


      He has a GSI cup for boiling :)

    2. I get that he is talking about an "A-B" bag, but at the same time, the whole point of preparing is being prepared for uncertainties. I have a few "must have" items in my kits that I use for just about every one of my bags except for maybe my EDC bag for work. You could just use a minimalist survival kit with them and build upon it and it would work in urban or wilderness environments.

      -Shelter: Grabber Outdoors All Weather Space Blanket (instead of tarp), few arm lengths of paracord, cheap poncho or trash bag
      -Fire: cotton balls, magnesium fire stick, bic lighter in plastic bag (this takes up very little room)
      -Water/Food: water tabs, GSI cup, 32oz Nalgene bottle (stainless preferred but plastic will do), some type of 36 hour bar
      -Tools: multitool, gorilla tape

      That stuff could all be rolled up in the blanket tightly and stuffed into the Nalgene if you wanted to.

    3. I think the main point people can take from this is his use of the term "A to B bag." We should always evaluate the difference between the A to B bag we should carry daily and the A to Z bag it has a tendency to become :)