Personal Preparedness Pack V1

I originally wrote this as a note for close friends and associates several months ago, as an overview of the concept of a civilian day-to-day preparedness pack. Not something with which to survive a massive or long-term situation, but with which to overcome day to day challenges and unexpected, short-term, hostilities.
In the months since I originally sent this out, I have upgraded my personal kit and some of my thoughts on said kit – Many of these evolutions can be tracked through later posts. A complete, current, version of this will probably be posted eventually. This entry remains valid for multiple reasons; The idea, and ethos, don’t have an expiration date, and this provides some measure of tracking evolution in kit and concepts.Personal Preparedness Pack:

The Pack: a CamelBak Demon

The whole kit and kaboodle, relatively unpacked.


Apparel: A Mountain Hardware shell, Outdoor Research beanie, and lightweight gloves.

None of this is extremely insulative, but it is sealing. I’ve worn the following in cold, wet, conditions and stayed dry and been able to regulate body temp much better sealed in the hooded shell, wit the beanie and gloves on. As things begin to cool off at night, this is the usual packing. Some security against wet, and cold, both.

The tool bag, partially taken down to show how its put together. The pouches are military MOLLE attachment type, which I prefer for their modularity. This is just a generic zipper top FAK pouch, with an attached generic organizer pouch. Two locking carabiners and approx. 30′ feet of utility line and a fixed blade knife, are attached.

Contents of the outer pouch. A small survival saw, Firesteel firestarter, surgical prep-razor, a pair of mini-pry bars made from D2 tool-steel, a multi-driver w/ extension and multiple bits, a P38 can opener, modified Spyderco folding knife, short pencil and small memo book (Ideally, this will be replaced with the waterproof equivalent from Rite-Rain).

Contents of the large pouch: Binoculars, inexpensive chinese but with decent construction and optics. Passable until a better pair can be afforded. N95 particle masks, a signal mirror and padded pouch, a reflective mylar survival blanket (also useful for signaling purposes), a USAF issue Sparklite firestarter (in one of the small green boxes [Note the redundancy of having two firestarters]), and a box of gear repair supplies; cordlocks, needles and thread.

The medical component: A primary trauma (Blow Out) kit, with attached booboo (minor medical, minor trauma) kits, plus a scaled down vacuum packed secondary trauma kit.
Scaled down trauma kit contains roller gauze, abdominal pad, petroleum gauze, nitrile gloves, and a triangular bandage – Designed to supplement the contents of the main trauma kit, or to be handed off to a secondary in the event of multiple injuries.
I also carry a SAM splint, the large orange rectangle visible in the first picture. Made from foam covered malleable aluminum this can be used to splint about anything, or even to improvise a C-collar for neck injuries.

Contents of the two small booboo kits: Miscellaneous bandaids, small gauze and non-stick pads, SteriStrips wound closure strips, tongue depressors for improvised finger splints, tape, over-the-counter Epinephrine inhaler (for slowing/controlling severe allergic reactions), pill and medicine packs (ibuprophen in the ziploc, benadryl in the yellow tube, others in over the counter packets), dental kit (temporary filling material, local oral anesthetic, and swabs[ in second yellow tube]), benadryl gel and neosporin.
Meds are for short term comfort and sustainment, not long term survival. Tylenol and Ibu. can be stacked for more effective action. Benadryl can be crushed and mixed with water (or Anbesol, oral anesthetic) to form effective topical local anesthetic paste for splinter removal or other minor procedures.

Interior of main blow out (trauma) kit. Note the micro-LED light.

Contents of Blow Out Kit: Tourniquet, Quick Clot anti-coagulant sponge, Israeli-type pressure dressing, Asherman chest seal, petrolatum gauze (petroleum jelly infused gauze for creating occlusive dressings, i.e. for sucking chest wounds), abdominal pads (for added wound packing), triangular bandage, sealed surgical gloves (slightly heavier and with higher wrist coverage than regular gloves, which I also carry), nasopharyngeal airway, and a lightstick for secondary illumination.
Note redundancy, additional wound pads and bandage materials, pet. gauze in addition to Asherman chest seal, additional light source. Redundancy is your friend.

A small bit of rations, mostly LaraBar’s and a couple pouches of tuna, along with the excellent “Spork” from LightMyFire products.
I am not too worried about long term durability of this packing method, as this stuff gets used and rotated every couple of weeks.

All the rest: Boker SnacPac utensil set, CamelBak bladder and spare mouthpiece, Gerber multi-tool, and two hanks of 550 pound test parachute cord, one approx. 10′ feet, the other approx 35′ feet, with small carabiner. Useful for a variety of things, including lashing together improvised shelter, building small animal traps, and as gear haulers – Clip to gear, leave at the bottom of a trick climb and then haul up once you’ve summited.

Philosophy & Explanation:
The pack has a very limited primary function – To carry the basic essentials for a day outside of my house; chewing gum, camera, books, writing materials, etc, plus a comfortable modicum of gear for a wide variety of unexpected, potentially dangerous, situations.
The pack is, at heart, a similar concept to an a jump bag with E&E kit in an operational setting, but is tailored for the ordinary civilian life as opposed to any operation capacity.
With that in mind, understand, I have very little fantasy of, or interest in, being the lone survivor at the end of the world. Everyone dies, eventually, and in the face of apocalypse, I don’t expect I’ll lay down and give up, but I don’t expect I will survive past a point and certainly not out of a backpack. Nor do I desire or imagine myself to be a John McClane type action hero, single handedly routing the efforts of a terrorist cell, and saving large numbers of people from near death. Nor do I expect that to be a possibility. I cant build a bag that will allow me to be John McClane and take on a whole office tower full of terrorists. That is a skillset issue first, and an equipment issue second. Realistically, its a having a whole assault team with the proper skillsets and equipment issue, but I digress. There are extremes of situation that are thankfully rare, because the honest ability to deal with them in a survivable manner is slim.
There are however extremes of situation that, while possibly not common in your life, are far from truly rare. There are unexpected events, ranging in extremity from car trouble to disasters or mass acts of violence, that effect lives on a daily basis somewhere. The potential for that somewhere to be your somewhere, or my somewhere, is very much real.
To that end, what I do expect, is that I can build a collection of tools that can compliment skillsets I have cultivated, to get me through daily emergencies comfortably, and through the “Black Swan events” altogether. This will probably be an uncomfortable passage, but it will be a passage none-the-less.

Most days, nothing goes quite the way you planned it, but nothing catastrophic happens. You burn the eggs, you spill coffee, you forgot to buy toothpaste and your mouth tastes like every poison you put through it the night before. You don’t blow a tire and flip your car. You don’t get hit walking across the road and face dive the windshield. Your town doesn’t fall into the blackout area for a massive system failure like we saw in the Northeastern US in 2003. You aren’t forced to evacuate at short notice due to a toxic chemical spill on the local highway. This is what happens most days. Then, there is that one day.
That one day when the unthinkable happens. You or someone you love gets injured. Something goes catastrophically wrong. The list of potentials is endless, and if you look, any one of them is probably happening somewhere at any given time. And eventually? It can happen where you are.
You don’t wear a seatbelt because you plan to get into a car accident – You wear one because you want to survive if you do. Personal preparedness starts there, and is at heart the same concept through and through. None of it is because you plan to need it, it’s simply because you might and you recognize both the need, and the ability, to prepare yourself.
Just as a seatbelt is simply a compliment to a mindset of safe driving, a good personal preparedness kit is only as good as the mind behind it, and is nothing more than a physical compliment to the mental tools of being able to think outside the box, and problem solve, when stressed by rapid change, danger and injury or potential injury.
On a personal daily basis, its going to be impossible to carry enough gear to overcome every emergency with superhuman aplomb and in comfort. Things just don’t work that way. It is, however, possible to carry a small modicum of gear and tools that, when combined with an able, flexible and resilient mindset can improve your experience at overcoming a harsh reality when faced with it. Improving your experience may simply mean your experience, while still wet, cold, and brutally painful, does not involve death because you were able to stabilize a wound. It may mean that your experience involves repairing the broken battery wire in your car and driving home instead of walking. In either case, your level of discomfort, your degree of survivability, is improved by having the attitude and equipment necessary to actively, even aggressively, influence your situation.
In the case of my personal everyday-carry-bag bag, thats my main goal – Active, aggressive, influence of a negative situation in the short term. Tools to fix mechanical problems, medical gear to repair or stabilize injury, survival tools to make an unexpected stay on the roadside, or on a backwoods trail warmer, drier and safer than otherwise. Its not a long-term survival bag, not a throw me into the wilderness and in a year I’ll have built a log cabin, and be living off the fat of the land, kit. Its simply a daily assortment of easily carried items for dealing with one day at a time problems and emergencies, ranging from big to small.

Enough philosophy, either you get it, or begin to get it, or you don’t. On to the gear.
I chose a backpack over another type of bag because it is easier to distribute a load comfortably on your body for a long period with a backpack than it is with a messenger bag, sling-pack or other type of bag. I’ve tried all of these, and each has its merits, but in the end none are as comfortable or stable for long periods, or during dynamic movement, as a backpack with well made straps.
Backpacks are generally easier to find pre-equipped for carrying a water-bladder than any other type of bag as well. Although a small source, having any amount of fresh, clean, water with you in an emergency can make a vital difference. It is, as far as I am concerned, an essential.
There are other options people make work – Including using a messenger or briefcase style bag with a roll-away backpack inside it. In certain environments, particularly professional, this makes a degree of sense, and only slightly hinders your ability to move comfortably over longer distances, or rapidly, with your gear, and then the largest hindrance will be the time to unroll the pack-away and replace your gear from one bag into it. This isn’t such a major task, however, if you’ve packed properly.

My kit is broken down into a series of modules and bundles. Almost everything in it can quickly, and in an organized fashion, be removed and placed into something else. This allows a quick changeover of basic staples to a larger bag for hiking, travel, etc. In which case I would simply move modules, making necessary additions of task specific equipment (or larger, more ideal, equipment as afforded by greater space) or removals (when traveling via air, a few things will need removed if carrying on), and repacking the new bag similarly to the daily one. This maintains my organizational framework for easy transitioning, and for ease of use. If I repack everything differently every time, when I need it I will be slowed down by having to learn where it all is. If everything is the same, every time out the door, then it becomes an issue of recall and muscle memory to access gear. In the case of medical gear, I am a stickler on packing it the same every time, and practicing with it from that format. When needed, that in particular is something you need now, not to spend five minutes fucking about trying to figure out where it is.

The medical gear I carry is targeted towards stabilization of major trauma (penetrating or blunt), and some medical emergencies. Primarily it is targeted towards self care, but also for buddy aid, or preliminary multiple casualty response. I have a background in emergency medicine, but everything I carry can pretty much be used by anyone with a minimum amount of training and practice. I carry both trauma specific and “boo-boo” (minor injury) gear, because while boo-boo’s are more common, snivel kit gear will not substitute for trauma kit gear, no matter how good your intentions. A wise old paramedic once told me to “Imagine the injury/casualty, and then pack for it”, so I have tried to select gear appropriate to my lifestyle and environment – I have few medical issues, none even potentially life threatening or debilitating so my medical casualty prep is low; Allergy meds, including inhaled epinephrine for anaphylaxis, aspirin for heart, headache meds, stomach/bowel irritation meds, and topical/dental anesthetic. My main concern is potential trauma; I drive everyday, and occasionally bicycle on car filled roads. This is the pattern among most of the people around me, given the nature of small college towns. If I see trauma, odds are, it will be of vehicular origin. In addition, I work in a metal shop, with various industrial machinery for metal working, that is usually being operated by less than experienced individuals, given that its a classroom. Beyond that, I am often around (or carrying) firearms. If I am at the range, there is always the potential for accident. If I am involved in a confrontation, there is the potential for injury. While the odds of these are slim, I would be irresponsible to be active with guns and not have a means of stabilizing gunshot injury. Hence the focus in my trauma gear on penetrating injury (common to both shootings, and motor vehicle accidents), plus serious cuts, avulsions and breaks. The only thing missing is a good means of treating burn injuries, although with a ready supply of gauze and clean water, that can be improvised.
As a word, actually two, on medications; Although I carry inhaled epinephrine for anaphylactic shock, it is advisable to get a prescription for EpiPen’s (pre-measured dose epinephrine auto-injectors) from your doctor. EpiPen’s run around $30 each, and carry a premeasured dose of epi. Particularly if you have potentially fatal allergies, this is extremely advisable. Epinephrine is a powerful drug – It’s potentially one of the more dangerous drugs I carry. If you carry it, know what you are doing with it, know the type of shock it is used to treat, and avoid using it for anything else. This should be true of all drugs, but the odds of killing yourself or anyone else with aspirin is slim – Epinephrine? A dose appropriate for anaphylaxis, administered to someone who isnt suffering it, will kill them stone dead. I repeat, dead. Not pining for the fjords, but passed on, no more, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet their maker, a stiff, bereft of life, resting in peace, pushing up daises, their metabolic processes will be history, off the twig, kicked the bucket, shuffled off the mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bloody choir invisible. An ex-person. In other words, dear friend, in case you haven’t got it – Dead, Dee Eee Dee, dead.
In addition to the drugs for medical issues, I carry pain pills for trauma as well. I avoid, completely, carrying anything not available over-the-counter, i.e. without a prescription. Prescription drugs, particularly pain killers, are often far and away more effective than their OTC counterparts – and they are not that difficult to come into possession of – However, they remain controlled substances. I do not want to go to jail on a felony drug charge, or have even a misdemeanor drug charge follow me around the rest of my life, because I had narcotics, or other controlled meds, in my backpack. If you can get them, great! Unless they are prescribed to you, and in their original bottle, keep them at home. This is the reason I carry both Ibuprophen and Tylenol – A combination (or “stack”) of those two is an extremely effective pain killer, approaching narcotic efficiency without the side-effects, or the illegality. It will do for stabilization.

Okay, so thats the rather long short of it. I figure if you made it this far, this whole idea tickles your fancy, otherwise, sorry if I bored you. In short, I can suffer through an unexpected night out. I can stabilize a wide variety of injuries and medical conditions. I can signal for help. I can repair gear and equipment, and make minor repairs (adjustments, or deconstructions) to randomly encountered problem objects or obstacles. And I can do it all with at least a little bit of hydration, and some food in my belly.
I’m not an expert, I’m just someone with experience and an idea. Do your own learning, gain your own experience, and build your own kit – Everyone will tailor just a bit different, to their own environments and skillsets. Most of all, educate yourself, do not simply imitate others. Learn your kit, learn why you want/need what you are putting in it, and why and how to use it. Do not learn merely from reading – Test it. Test your kit, the way you build it. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable because you’re learning how to use it the first time you need it.
G’luck.



0 responses to “Personal Preparedness Pack V1”

  1. […] a few tools in your pack can help you overcome difficult situations, and that too, isn’t that […]

Leave a Reply