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The City Escape Kit
We built this kit for a professional who wants to get from his apartment in Anaheim, California to his friend’s home in Big Bear Lake, which is in the San Gabriel Mountains 90 miles away. His plan is to drive the first 60 miles from Anaheim to San Bernardino, drop off the car, and go the remaining 30 miles on foot. He’s not even going to try to get his car through the mountains because the routes are very indirect and takes him 40 miles out of the way on a narrow and crowded road. He also felt confident in his hiking ability. After dropping off the car, he plans to follow the Santa Anna River into the mountains and stick with it as far as possible before going overland, staying off the roads.
The challenge of this kit is the client’s route is 66% urban through a densely populated area and then 33% over land through the woods. Though he was confident he could get across town without incident, we’re talking about the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. It’s densely populated and anything can happen. So we went with a low-profile bag built for one person that would blend in with a crowd, but not be a beacon in the woods.
This kit doesn’t have a lot of fire making items because of its risk. Smoke would attract humans in this scenario and the possibility of forest fires in Southern California is high. Plus the temperature won’t get too cold until he gets to a higher altitude. We focused more on water purification instead of water packets since he plans to follow a river and end at a lake and to reduce the load. We only packed emergency meals instead of food that has to be prepared because he’s athletic and hard charging. Catching game and fish is unlikely for this guy but since his route is along a river and ends at a lake, a fishing kit is a no-brainer. Though he’s not a killer, he wanted ample weapons so we packed a tanto knife, a stun gun, and a Mace canister for both humans and bears. He didn’t want to set up an orange tube tent (for obvious reasons) and there are plenty of trees, so we packed a hammock and an emergency sleeping bag.
The Escape the City inventory:
Bag options – This kit comes in a variety of canvas and leather bags that blend into a crowd when escaping the city and aren’t totally non-tactical once you get into the woods.
I'm no Special Ops badass or survival expert. I graduated from the US Army Ranger School 25 years ago and survival school (SERE) a couple years after that. It was the best training of my life and I left there with a huge amount of confidence that if I was ever in a survival situation, I’d be fine. Still...I always kept a bug out bag by the door in case of...anything because a prepacked bag gives you a huge advantage over the rest of the world – time.
But I got tired of seeing the same old cheap survival bags that don’t take your geography, physical capabilities, dietary restrictions, or anything about you into account. And worse are those bags that promise 3 days of survival for one person. Who? And in what climate? And why are they all packed in camouflaged bags that attract attention? No thought is put into them. Everyone’s situation is different so your survival kit has to be tailored for each individual.
I live in Washington DC and my survival site is 75 miles away in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are plenty of fresh water sources, edible plants, and crops along the way, so food and water are not my biggest concerns. My biggest concern is people. If there was ever a comet, plague, or general scare in DC the roads would choke in an instant. If I'm not the first one on the road I'm gonna be caught in a shitstorm of panicked people so what I need is a low profile bag, plenty of alternate routes out of the city and weapons.
But when I packed my first bug out bag for this area (Northern Virginia), I made huge mistakes. I threw anything and everything into it thinking, “more is better.” Oh how wrong I was. Every bug out bag has to be tailored to the individual, their geography, capability, medical and dietary conditions, and especially...route. There are more variables than most people take into consideration.
Maybe you have diabetes. Maybe you're the "cranky when hungry" type who needs to carry more food or the "fuck sleeping on the ground" type. Maybe you have guns and need lots of ammo. Maybe you refuse to eat gluten. Maybe you sweat like crazy and need additional towels, t-shirts, and underwear. We'll talk about where you're going, who's going with you, what's available along the way, what you're capable of carrying, what the threats are, what your restrictions are, and anything else we can think of. We'll make a survival kit that’s right for you. And your family.
At DASH, we realize humans are humans. In a survival situation, people resort to their base instincts and steal. Especially when there's no law to stop them. So which is better...a gunfight to protect what you have or the bad guys not even giving you the time of day? A tactical, camouflaged, badass looking bag isn’t always a good thing.
A survival kit is a means to an end. It’s not meant to keep you safe and happy forever. It’s there to get you from point A to point B without worrying about whether or not you’re going to die from starvation, dehydration or exposure along the way. With a little bit of thought and effort, we can make the DASH to your alternative site a lot more comfortable.