It can be a floodor a fireworkor something made by humans, but sometimes you just have to get out of Dodge. In the event of a crisis that forces you to leave your home, you need a grab bag full of the basics you need to keep you safe and in touch. While that bag is undoubtedly to contain things such as water filtration and a first aid kit, it must also be equipped with the appropriate technical supplies.
A good technical bug-out bag contains all the gear you need and a place for the things you use every day. If you keep this bag handy, you can throw in the last few things and be out the door in seconds.
This one is obvious, you might think: just grab your cell phone. Fair enough: For most people, a cell phone is the primary way to keep in touch with the rest of the world, so you should make room for it in your bug-out bag. But it won’t help if you can’t charge it, so buy a charger for on the go. The Anchor 735 ($59.99) can charge three devices simultaneously from a single outlet.
Don’t forget USB cables. You should have as many cables as devices. I recommend the Nomad Universal Cable USB-C ($44.99) because the kevlar sleeve can withstand rough handling. Connected USB-A and micro-USB adapters allow charging virtually any Android phone or tablet. For Apple devices that use the Lightning port, Nomad offers a: Lightning port version.
You might also be tempted to grab an old smartphone and toss it in your bag as a backup. do not. Smartphone batteries deteriorate over time and eventually become a fire hazard. That’s the last thing you need in your bug-out bag.
If you travel a lot or go off-the-grid, consider a satellite device like the Garmin InReach Mini ($299) or the $199.99 SpotX. These devices ping a satellite that tracks your location. In addition, they can send an SOS to the emergency services at the touch of a button, perfect if you have no coverage of the mobile phone network. However, they only work with a subscription and they cost $14.95 and up per month. (You can also purchase monthly service.)
One thing to note here: an old cell phone called the SpareOne Emergency may run on a few standard AA batteries, but is no longer available. You can buy SpareOnes on eBay, but the 2G cell phone networks they rely on are disabled, so they won’t work in the US
Always keep essential documents such as your passport, credit cards and IDs in a safe place fireproof safe, but make sure they’re all easy to grab at once. I store my essential documents in a Pelican 1040 Micro Case in my locker so I can grab them all at once, and the case keeps them safe and dry.
You should also have copies of these documents (it is much easier to replacement passport if you have the details of the original). The same goes for credit cards, state IDs, birth certificates and other important pieces of paper. So take pictures of them and store them on an SSD drive with a fingerprint reader like the Samsung T7 Touch ($157). If you lose the device, a thief cannot access it to steal your identity. The USB-C connection works with laptops and phones, and the drive has plenty of space on the drive to store music or videos to keep the kids entertained. Don’t forget to set up your family’s fingerprints on the SSD drive so that they can access this data too.
It won’t help to have all the technology with you when the batteries run out, so you need a way to charge these devices. A portable battery such as the Mophie Powerstation Go Rugged AC ($75) can charge phones, has a 110V AC output, and can even jump-start your car. (You can even charge it from your car battery.) The AC outlet tends to drain the battery quickly, and it’s heavy, weighing in at 1.6 lbs; if that’s too much for you, try a smaller option like the Mophie Power Station with PD ($34.99), which has enough energy to charge your mobile phone twice.
As mentioned above, mobile phone batteries should not be stored without use, but AA batteries such as the Duracell Coppertop or the Energizer Max lasts 10 to 12 years in storage. So why not combine the two? Throw a pack of AA batteries in your bag with a MintyBoosta compact device that takes two AA batteries and converts the voltage to power a USB device.
Your smartphone has a GPS receiver that can find where you are and share it with others through services such as Google Maps or Apple’s Find My App. It won’t help if family members get separated from you. To keep up with everyone, buy a Apple AirTag or Samsung SmartTag+ for every family member and pet. Set them up and test them with the Apple Find My or Samsung SmartThings app and then remove the battery. Then if you must eavesdrop, replace the battery and tag each family member or pet. These devices are surprisingly effective because other phones receive and forward the signal. In fact, they can track people even when you are not around. That is invaluable if your children are separated in a crowd.
Your bug-out bag doesn’t have to be fancy. Instead, you need something that won’t draw attention to itself and something that’s hard to steal. i use an old one Peak Design shoulder bag, which looks harmless and is quite difficult to steal with its over-the-shoulder design. It can hold a lot, with room for a laptop, tablet and all the stuff I’ve listed here.
It’s not waterproof, so I keep a pair of Pelican Marine Floating Pouches ($21) in the. These neat pouches can hold a phone, batteries, cables and other technology, keeping it safe and dry. I also keep a few rolls of dog poop bags there because other than the obvious use for my dog, they’re waterproof: just throw your phone in one, tie a knot in it and it’s protected. It may be low tech, but it does the job. And if you need to eavesdrop because the world is going to hell, that’s what you need.