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Most of us do not think of a bug out bag as being seasonal. After all, when it comes to an emergency situation, we never truly know what we are going to encounter. I agree that the majority of my Go Bag contents do not change when the summer season hits. But I do remove some items and add others that would serve me better for the current climate.
The summer months, in the Northeast, bring a few additions to the table that we need to be ready for. Things like heatwaves, flash floods, bushfires and mosquitos are easily experienced in these summer months. I need specific items with me that would serve little to no purpose in the fall and winter months.
I carry my Go Bag with me when I am in the field. Humping around with my ruck, on an almost daily basis, allows me to gauge various factors about my preparedness. I am able to test my physical fitness level as well as build it up. But the main purpose for carrying my Go Bag with me on standard trips is to continually analyze my gear choices. I not only get to confirm the validity of my gear choices but I also get to test my equipment.
Having a backpack filled with high-speed gear that you are unfamiliar with, is not a very bright idea. Learning to become proficient with your preparedness tools should be part of everyone’s survival plan. Practicing at home is a must if you want to get a lot of face time with your gear. But until you get off the grid with your Go Bag, you will never truly know if your gear choices will hold up to the demands that you need to put on them.
When I am out in the field utilizing the contents of my Go Bag, I come across gear that is just added weight.
Do I truly need a pair of Gortex gloves and snow shoes in 95 degree weather?
That is an obvious statement but If I do not prepare my Go Bags for the proper season, a lot of the gear that I am carrying is pointless. In addition, there is other gear that I should have in my ruck but I do not because the space was taken by the winter items. Knowing that I had to address this issue, I developed checklists for each season. As I referenced earlier, the majority of my Go Bag contents stay the same. But there is certainly enough diversity in those checklists that it warranted compiling them.
With the summer season upon us, I was time for me to make the updates to my Go Bag. It is always surprising to me to see the amount of items that I actually swap out. Some items seem trivial but in my experience, those little incidentals can make all the difference in the world when it comes to comfort. With continual practice, I continue to refine my Go Bag gear list in hopes that I am fully prepared when the time arises.
What I want to do is to share with you a few of the key items that I choose to add to my summertime Go Bag. As usual, weight and multi-application of those items are factors in my decision making.
Let’s Get Right Into It!
I keep a personal water filter in my Go Bag at all times. But in the summertime, I opt for my beefier water purifier. I sweat a lot more in the summer months and need to replenish that water content. I am usually accompanied by my dogs and other NTC Members so I want to make sure that I can purify water for them too. In an emergency scenario, my thought process will be very similar.
Summertime brings a lot of fun and diversity to our emergency preparedness training. Unfortunately, It also brings those blood-sucking critters along for the ride. Insect repellant is a must-have in my Go Bag. Not only will it keep the annoyance to a minimum but it can also prevent me from contracting horrible diseases and viruses. This year has been one of the worst years on record for Lyme Disease… And we are just getting started.
I have a natural insect repellant recipe that I have used for the last decade. It is easy to make and effective. You can find the recipe HERE if you are interested.
For the summertime application, I keep a thin ripcord blanket in my Go Bag. There are a few main purposes for my inclusion of the blanket. First off, it provides a great barrier between the ground and me. There are ticks and other critters crawling around the ground. Using a blanket barrier between me, my dogs and the ground, goes a long way in keeping them off of us.
The blanket also works great to provide shade from the blistering sun. When those unexpected downpours come, the blanket makes a great poncho to protect me from the rain. The ripstop blanket has many other applications; especially in the summertime. You are limited only by your needs and imagination.
I am not a fan of sunblock. However, there are times where I know that applying a thin coat will go a long way in keeping me healthy. In an emergency situation, we may not have much of a choice when it comes to unfavorable exposure to the sun. If we need to move out on the water, the sun’s irritation can greatly multiply. Keep a quality sunblock or sunscreen in your Go Bag for those hot summer months.
If you have spent any amount of time in a field expedient shelter or even a hammock in the hot summer months, you know the pain of staying up all night with buzzing in your ears. I mentioned earlier about the spreading of disease by these critters. But when you need a good night’s sleep, especially when in the middle of a SHTF scenario, buzzing and biting mosquitoes can wreak havoc on your R&R.
In the United States Marine Corps, we were issued mosquito netting with our standard gear. While in the bush during the summer months, we would utilize our netting and it was quite effective in keeping the buzzing to a minimal. From those days on, I have kept mosquito netting in my summer Go Bag.
Fishing is certainly something that you can do in any season. I keep a small fishing kit in my Go Bag for all seasons. But the summer months are more conducive for fishing in my area. I have various fishing spots for both fresh and saltwater as part of my emergency plan. Since the chances of me fishing for food is greater in the summer months, I include a lot more fishing tackle in my summer Go Bag.
Solar Charging Kit:
Solar chargers can be used in any season. But the more sun that is available, the better that the solar charger will perform. When I use my solar kit in the fall and winter months, it may take 2-3 days to charge my equipment. Fortunately in the summer months, within 8 hours of unobstructed sunshine, I can get my battery packs fully charged in 1 day!
The efficiency of my solar charger, during the summertime, greatly influences my decision to bring along the extra weight. Battery packs and other accessories are now a viable solution to get me through the emergency. In other seasons, It may be difficult to justify the added weight since their is minimum benefit.
Sandals or Trekking Shoes:
I am certainly much more prone to wading through water during the hotter months. Whether it is the easiest path to my destination or I just want to get closer to where the fish are, getting into the water is an option. I include a pair of trekking shoes or sandals that I can use when I need to get my feet wet.
Wearing these shoes allows me to keep my primary shoes or boots dry. It also offers me a layer of protection from the bottom of the body of water that I am operating in. A rock, rusty nail and even a discarded fish hook can easily put you me of commission. Wearing shoes that are conducive to water is certainly part of my summer Go Bag.
I am one of those guys that sweats while standing still in a snowstorm. OK, I’m exaggerating but I do sweat very easily. I have various backpacking tents that I use for trekking and even make them part of certain Go Bags. But in those hot summer months, a tent can get way too hot for me. Building a shelter is always an option but that can take away from my mission at hand and also cost crucial calories that I may not have to spare.
My solution has been to carry a simple hammock. They are lightweight, inexpensive and comfortable. They can also serve a plethora of other applications in an emergency. When I put my hammock, ripstop blanket and mosquito netting into one shelter, I am certainly good to go in the summertime months!
I touched upon the importance of purifying water a bit earlier. But when it comes to staying hydrated while on the move, my hydration pack is my go to container in the summer time. I consume a lot more water in the summertime than I do in the other seasons. Being able to drink, without having to stop, is crucial when time is of the essence. I use my water purifier to to fill up my hydration pack, which gives me a good supply to stay hydrated while I’m on the trail.
Operating in heavily wooded areas can get a bit confusing. In the colder months, vegetation is mostly dormant. It is much easier to maintain your bearings by using various reference points. In the summer when all the trees, flowers and bush are blooming… becoming lost can happen in a heartbeat.
I always have a compass in my Go Bags but in the summertime, I opt to add a GPS unit. My GPS radio has plenty of additional features that can greatly assist me during an emergency. Knowing that I can easily recharge my GPS unit via my solar charger, makes it part of my summer Go Bag.
Petroleum Jelly/ Talcum Powder:
Moving out on foot during the summer months can cause some serious irritation to your skin. Legs, feet, thighs and chest are all susceptible to skin irritation from all the sweating and clothes rubbing against the skin. Coating these areas with a bit of petroleum jelly or talcum powder can greatly cut down on the aggravation. Petroleum jelly also offers a multitude of added applications so it’s certainly a part of my summer Go Bag.
Many look at sunglasses as a fashion accessory. However, when the sun is beaming in those hot summer months, the glare can make performing work much more difficult. In addition, when working in and around water, being able to see without obstructions may be critical to your survival.
Having a good pair of polarized sunglasses will go a long way in maintaining clear vision. They do not need to be fancy, they just need to do their primary job.
Hat or Bush Cover:
The sun beating on your head or even just your neck can quickly add to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Wearing a good bush cover is something that should not be overlooked. Aside from shielding me from the sun, it also keeps sweat away from my eyes. Wearing a cover also keeps the critters from getting embedded in my hair.
Make sure that your cover includes a couple of ventilation holes. They are key in keeping the air circulating and even aid with drainage while drying. Keeping a cover or 2 in my Go Bag is a must in the summer season.
Go Bag items can vary greatly depending on budgets, experience, season and location. I was able to share a few key items that I deem a must for my summertime Go Bag. By no means is the list all-inclusive. These suggestions are a small percentage of the overall contents of my summer Go Bag. My goal with this article is to stimulate your thinking.
Be sure to give your Go Bags, especially those that you plan on humping for distance, a seasonal inspection.