Soooo….shit went down and you have to get out of dodge. You’re in a state of panic with adrenaline coursing through your brain shutting down your pre-frontal cortex (that thing you once heard about in science class that is the source of your so-called “intelligence”) leading to impaired judgement. What do you grab? You’re handy Emergency-To-Go-Bag-you’ve-spent-a-small-fortune-putting-together-while-your-family-and-friends-laugh-at-you-for-being-a-paranoid-crazy-person of course!
Realizing I do not have said bag, I reached out to my combat veteran friend Michael Conaway for advice. I told him I decided on a GR2 as my pack and needed help building it. I'm rationalizing a to-go-bag in the event of a fire or natural disaster (neither of which are unfathomable).
Upon mentioning this side-project, many friends asked for me to share Mike's thoughts. Below, with his permission, are his words of wisdom. Happy prepping!
So to start, the most important weapon you have is YOU. You will need items to keep your body properly protected from the elements, and those items need to be able to function properly for potentially weeks or months without a wash or major servicing. High-end utility clothing is highly useful for protecting the body from the elements, and should help you get where you need to go without being overly miserable, which degrades performance at the objective.
I would recommend having 2 complete sets of the following items, 1 stacked next to your ruck for immediate wear, and the other packed in your ruck for daily rotations.
Other clothing items you will probably want to accumulate for differing seasons as ready items:
Undershirts (Military surplus should work)
Winter Clothing (http://www.mcguirearmynavy.com/Genuine-GI/GI-Clothing/Gen-III-ECWCS/)
Gloves (Winter, Summer, Utility)
Balaclava (Recommend anything by Under Armor)
Also, don't forget to have plenty of underwear and socks on hand. Fox river is the bees knees. (https://www.foxsox.com/collections/military)
You'll eventually die without water, so a good filter is a must have:
As well as something to carry the water. You could put a camelback bladder into your ruck if that fits your needs.
MRE's are pretty great for preparedness. You can purchase entire boxes of MRE's from military surplus stores or online. There are alternatives like dried foods and camp stoves, but you will likely be able to acquire food items like that after a few days on the go anyway. MRE's are usable without any additional end-items required and can be stored for decades before use. If you are going to purchase MRE's though, open every MRE bag and field strip all of your MRE's so they are ready to go. That means removing all of the inner boxing and most of the redundant items that come in each pack. You can essentially pull out all of the foil packs with actual food in them within each MRE, recombine and streamline them as you see fit, then bundle your completed meal builds together with a thin band of duct tape. Each of these compact food balls is then much slimmer and lighter than the original MRE, which will allow you to carry more usable calories. (You also probably only need 1 or 2 of the MRE spoons even if you are carrying 10 meals. They are pretty durable spoons.) There are a number of other benefits to carrying MRE's, most notably that they are scientifically formulated to give you a shitload of calories and all the normal vitamins and nutrients you need to actually survive.
Also, don't plan on eating three meals a day. Under survival conditions, you should try to ration yourself to a single meal per day in order to keep functioning for as long as possible while searching for additional food supplies. It will suck, but you will survive just fine. You even get used to it after about a week.
You wont function well if you can't sleep, so you will probably want the following items:
A sleeping bag (http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Ultralight-Sleeping-Bag-Reviews)
(With the above combo you will never need a tent! Just wrap your ruck in your poncho to protect it from rain, and you ball up in your waterproof 1-man cocoon.)
And you will probably want a weather proof bag to protect all the items in your ruck in case you need to keep moving in the rain.
In the modern era, electricity is important for keeping your gizmos functioning. The longer your gizmos work, the more likely it will be that other people's will not work, thereby placing you in a positional advantage by default. If you are traveling on foot, it may be helpful to bring a passive charging kit in your ruck to keep your gps, nightvision goggles, and any advanced sensors or optics working. I personally have, and would recommend the following:
As a general note, try to streamline all of your devices to use the same battery type like AA, then you can carry a set of rechargeable AA's for the solar panel.
GPS (Go with a water proof stand alone, or put an offline GPS app on your phone like Oruxmaps. Oruxmaps will let you download basemaps to make an offline map)