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    • CommentTimeFeb 25th 2011 edited
    Say you are an international worker or tourist of some moderate means, and you find yourself stuck someplace that rapidly erupts into a revolution, major disaster or biochemical hot zone. Imagine all of the worst-case scenarios: You've been roughed up and released by thugs or government thugs and left with no money and no ID. The cell and data networks are down. Power is spotty. The average person on the street may be hostile.

    Your goal: to tough it out in a hostile urban environment for at least a couple of days, with the goal of making your way on foot across a strange city in the hopes of getting to a friendly consulate, rally point or airlift.

    Suppose there was a service that provided you with an emergency kit, dropped off by daring moped driver or stashed to be retrieved from a secure locker. Further suppose that the kit needs to be full of legal, readily attainable commercial goods bought through the post - not stuffed with gold and lightsabers.

    What would you want in it?
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 25th 2011
    Depends on the size of the pack:

    If it's a hip-pack (you know, those ridiculous things that were briefly popular in the early '90's, the purses you wore around your waist):
    1. Five days worth of water purification tablets
    2. Emergency blanket
    3. Small, battery powered LED flashlight with fresh batteries
    4. Small mirror, maybe three inches in diameter
    5. Small spool of string
    6. Small pad of paper
    7. Ballpoint pen
    8. Sharpie
    9. Two or three energy bars
    10. Collapsible cup
    11. P38 Can opener
    12. Handcuff key
    13. Magnesium fire starter

    If it's larger, say a standard back-pack:
    Pretty much this.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeFeb 25th 2011 edited
    Well, assuming that this bag isn't that large, let's say the size of a high schooler's backpack, and can only hold the bare necessities, here is what I'd be praying to angels and below that it has in it:

    1) A satellite phone - extremely unlikely, but this would be a wonderful thing to have. You could use it to communicate with other refugees, a friendly embassy, news media, safe houses, all kinds of things. If this bag had nothing in it but a satellite phone and batteries, that would still be pretty good.

    Interestingly, I just found out that satellite phones are illegal in some countries, mostly countries that are likely to undergo something of a mass revolution or government crackdown, such as North Korea, Libya, and Burma, so it looks like I had the same idea as a few crazy dictators.

    Not sure how I feel about that, really.

    2) A map of the local area that can double as a blanket - no joke, these really exist. They hand them out to pilots as part of their survival gear. One side is reflective foil, to keep the sun off, the other is insulated, to keep you warm; one side has the area you're likely to go down in, the other has a larger, if less precise, map of the region.

    3) Sunglasses and a good hat - may sound trivial, but if you're in the desert, these are essential to keeping your vision, especially when the sun is low. They can also be used to stay anonymous. Yeah, I know, the Clark Kent effect doesn't always work, but its better than nothing if you're being hunted by the goon squad.

    4) Water treatment tablets - Pretty obvious why.

    5) A bottle of painkiller - For me, specifically, I get debilitating migraines which only get worse under stress. And it can't be a bad idea to have some of this in general.

    6) Multi-tool/Leatherman - Good for all kinds of things, though probably not as good a weapon as some people seem to think they are. Still, you could use it to cut through razor wire or fencing, fix up a bicycle for yourself, skin and clean an animal, open a can or other package of food, and if you know what you're doing you might be able to do meatball first aid with it - not sure about this last.

    7) A towel - Because... well, you know.
    • CommentAuthorHelljin
    • CommentTimeFeb 25th 2011
    My smart ass answer is a high power, high capacity hand gun, and I'll do my own shopping on the way to where ever I'm going.

    1, well made backpack
    5, quarts of water = 10 pounds
    4, high calorie MRE's
    10, Energy Bars
    1, LED crank flash light
    1, small set of binoculars
    1, first aid kit
    1, multi tool
    1, 6" knife
    1, pack of strike matches
    1, disposable lighter
    2, emergency candles
    100, feet of nylon cord or rope
    1, pair of leather or sturdy nylon gloves
    1, dust mask
    1, portable GPS with spare batteries
    1, packet of cleaning wipes

    I wouldn't want to be carrying more than 20 to 25 pounds.
    • CommentAuthorNil
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011
    Most of the things I would want have been covered in the other posts, but personally I'd want a pack of super strong anti-allergy medication. Because trying to find your way through a strange and hostile urban environment is bad enough without barely being able to see / breathe because your eyes have swollen up / your entire respiratory system is full of mysterious gunk.

    Also, I'm not sure what size this is, but I'd definitely want a multi-band radio of some kind.

    Maybe a water purification bottle of some kind, like this one, depending on how effective they actually are.

    Two minor improvements on what people have posted above - I'd want one of these pens, and I already feel lost in my everyday non-hostile urban environment (well, I live in Glasgow, so non-hostile is open to interpretation there) without my precious turboflame lighter. Those are both sort of luxury items, though - a cheap ballpoint and a regular disposable lighter would probably be fine, but it would be nice to have those.

    Last one might be cheating, but assuming the survival kit is stashed in a secure locker somewhere a spare pair of decent hiking boots or similar would be lovely. Obviously in an ideal world I'd already have my lovely steel toe-capped work boots on, but I guess you can't predict when things are going to go badly, and getting stuck without decent footwear would be BAD.
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011 edited
    @Nil - I think you've captured the flavor of it a bit more regarding the hostile environment and the specific issues like tear gas that one might run into.

    @AT, interesting call on the map/blanket combo. I was really waffling whether to count sat phones under the rules.

    One item I'd want over and above a regular bugout bag would be some sort of basic disguise kit, for instance. I'm *really* white, and I'm going to figure there's a better than average chance in a global environment that I might stand out like a sore thumb. Something else I was debating was whether to carry stuff for pure trade value - small cameras or PDA's, possibly an iPod.

    My wife's additional comment: Tampons.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011
    This is relevant to my interests.
    • CommentAuthorErisah
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011
    Alright, so in my satchel dropped by a man with bloodshot eyes, a manic laugh and an ill-fitting uniform of the UN peace keeping force...

    *10 mudbricks, or equivalent energy bars
    *1 camel bag of water (unless it's an attack on the water supply, or it's one of those places where you don't drink the water from the tap, lets forgo the water purification tablets
    *1 small roll-on insect repellent/sunscreen
    *1 change of socks
    *1 pair wrap-around sunglasses
    *4 silk or cotton scarves (to keep out dust, to keep off sun, as a three second way of masking one's face, to keep warmer, to carry small things like food in, improvised bandages etc)
    *1 flask of vodka or equivalent spirit ("warmth", to keep the spirits up, and in a pinch, an anti-bacterial)
    *1 LED flashlight w/batteries
    *1 deluxe swiss army knife and/or gerber
    *1 packet of ibuprofen
    *three gold chains and two packs of cigarrettes for bartering
    *1 lighter.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011
    Serious question: what are the knives or multitools for?

    When I say this is relevant to my interests, I mean that I'm actually now working for a company that does similar things, although more aimed at small kits for weekends away or mens toiletries, but I'm sourcing stuff for, and making the case for, a 'bug-out box' or apocalypse kit.

    General wisdom from actual experts, not just people talking about their zombie invasion plan, is that you need to get by for 72 hours and then you're either totally screwed or help will have come.

    And coming from the back end of this, I'm wondering if something like a multi-tool is a actually an unnecessary and expensive cost, and something like a divers rope cutter might be better.

    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011 edited
    @Oddcult -

    The sort of scenarios that we've seen played out in the Middle East recently has had me thinking a lot more in terms of both general urban unrest and potential scenarios where you may need to break into or out of something or someplace. Some traditional survival kit items, like flares or a flare gun, may not be appropriate - what's a flare gun going to do for you in the middle of a hostile uprising but draw unwanted attention?

    One of the items I've thought about would be a set of common blanks or a kit for making bump keys. One could get by without the expensive kit if one had a metal file, and a good multitool would include that. A small screwdriver and scissors are also fairly invaluable, as would be a can opener, cable stripper and other such tools for things like hotwiring cars, subverting alarm systems or cutting through zip ties. Ideally you've got something that covers all those functions.

    A bicycle helmet for head protection, disposable contact lenses (potentially colored), fish antibiotics and a small wrecking tool are other items I think may be more appropriate for an uprising scenario.

    Also, a bottle of pure capsaicin extract and a Misto for improved self-defense.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011
    Okay, but seriously, how many people know how to hot-wire a car or disable an alarm system, or would even consider doing so?

    I'd even suggest cable ties to secure yourself *in* somewhere may be more helpful than anything that could be construed as a weapon.
  1.  (9580.12)
    A multi-tool is useful because you don't really know what situation you're going to run into, and a Leatherman or such-like carries a dozen potentially-useful items in a compact space.

    As for knives in general, I'd guess that the "legal items only" rule would proscribe the limits for whether you can have one or the size and type of the blade. Local laws can vary widely. But to the other items I'd add a few hundred Euros for bribes. (Or dollars, or Pounds, depending on your specific location and what the local black market favors).
    • CommentAuthorMike Carey
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011
    Despite my love, and constant carry of, a decent knife, Oddcult has a point in not wanting to be caught carrying something viewed as a weapon. In that case, the multi tool is still a fine option, provided it's sturdy enough. The knives included are rarely large enough to appear threatening, and many have an edge but no point, which can keep people from seeing it as a weapon.

    @Oddcult - Even without the survival situation, I'm constanly finding uses for a multi tool. It can get you into the guts of gadgets and machinery for whatever bits you might be after, even if it's just the battery. It can snip wires and ties, and if you want to take the time, you can braid or twist smaller gauge wires into something a little stronger, to tie yourself into a location, or, if you're really digging in, for simple booby-traps. It cuts line and cord, strips wires, it's a wrench, pliers, various screwdrivers, and most weigh between five and nine ounces, and in the space of a pack of cigarettes, or ordinary pocket knife.

    @Finagle - if you're looking for a more subtle means of cutting (escaping?) zip ties, the next best thing to a blade is paracord. A small length wrapped twice/thrice around the wrist as a bracelet is innocuous, and if knotted correctly can be undone one-handed. 110 cord works best, gutted 550 works well enough. Used just as you would a wire saw, it is surprisingly effective.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011 edited
    @Finagle: Amusingly enough, most of what I know about survival in hostile environments is from reading a book called Basher Five-Two, about an American pilot named Scott O'Grady who was shot down over what was then Bosnia-Herzegovina. The book was actually aimed at younger teenagers for some reason I don't fully comprehend, but it was a hell of a story for 13-year-old-me to read. That's where I got the idea for the blanket-map - according to O'Grady, it was a great idea, and would have been even better if the map had been accurate. So there is that issue to consider.

    Weighing in on the multitool issue - kind of repeating what others have said, but the best use for this tool is to make other tools for yourself. Paracord sounds like it would actually be better at cutting, but it doesn't seem as versatile - however, I've never used it, so I could be wrong about that. I had no idea what all, say, zip-ties could do until I had a girlfriend in our high school's robotics club who used them for everything.

    Edit: Here's a pretty good view of what I think would be the best one to have, the Leatherman.


    I can think of a use for all of those tools in such a situation, and more besides. However, I'd want one with a matte finish so it wouldn't glint when I didn't want it to.
  2.  (9580.15)
    A crisp white suit and a British Passport. I'd be untouchable and fucking suave to boot.
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011
    I'm starting to think that bug-out-bags are just fetish items for fantasies about escaping your normal life. They're there partially to reassure you that, if the shit hits the fan, you'll be ok. But they're also there to remind you that, god willing, the shit will hit the fan and your real life, boring job, crippling car and morgage payments, tedious in-laws, and unflattering haircut will be swept away. I'm not entirely sure whether this is a good or a bad thing but, as such, it doesn't really matter what you put in it. Your altar to apocalypse could contain a perfectly reasonable satphone and a wad of USD/EUR/CHF, or an RPG. It's not terribly important, as long as you believe.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011
    You're not wrong.
    • CommentAuthorMike Carey
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011
    Its not just the personal issues a person fantasizes will be swept away when the excrement impacts the propellers; it's all the broader nonsense that makes up the world and gives us ulcers despite it's degree of remove...
  3.  (9580.19)
    Many useful things have been mentioned already, but I would add one - a cane. It's a decent defensive weapon that actually makes you look less threatening, while having it always at hand. Besides, if there's rubble and/or flooding, a stick is a very handy thing for climbing, testing the surface under murky water, and levering objects out of the way.

    Oh, also lip balm and foot powder. The value of healthy lips and feet should not be underestimated when traveling in hostile environments.
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2011
    A compass.

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