Contingency Kits – A Series

After having many customers and friends ask me about my opinion on packing lists and various kits for certain contingencies.  Some may call them “bug out bags”, “go bags”, “get home bags”, etc.  All of these fall under my term of Contingency Kit or Bag.  A contingency is defined as a future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty.  So any time you are concerned about a possibly negative event whether that be for a weekend trip to the woods, a daily drive to work, a man made or nature based disaster, an enemy encounter in a non-permissive environment, or some combination of those and you decide to prepare a selection of equipment to respond to these events this can fall under the subject of Contingency Kits.

The first thing to consider when building a kit is to assess what your contingencies are.  While it may be cool to tote around the same kit that a security contractor would use overseas for a domestic weekend camping trip the kit is not really addressing the actual issues you are most likely going to run into.  Now I am not saying that you don’t need to have a firearm and some extra ammo BUT do you need six M4 mags and six AK mags to cover the two platforms that your team is running on your weekend camping trip?  Probably not and if you are carrying all that and leaving out a means for shelter, heat, water procurement, etc not only are you focusing on an unlikely contingency but you are neglecting a likely one.

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One of my Contingency Bags from my early days in Iraq. I have learned a lot since then and my bag would change some but this covered a lot of possibilities specific to my mission at the time.

So how do we assess our contingencies?  We have to evaluate the activity we are participating in.  For military operations METT-TC (Mission Enemy Terrain Troops available Time Civilian considerations) works well but for civilian activities it doesn’t always translate perfectly so don’t feel chained to it because it is a cool acronym.  If you are looking to build a kit you obviously have some concern in your mind.  Expanding from that concern and evaluating the entire activity around that concern will allow you to build a well rounded kit.  For example:  I am concerned about being stranded due to mechanical failure of my vehicle.  After evaluating any preventive measures that may be taken (i.e. fueling vehicle up, routine maintenance, etc) the next step is to look at what are the potential consequences of such an event taking into consideration terrain, weather, local threats, and the purpose of your travel.  Once I have identified likely consequences I can work to identify solutions.

So, as you build your contingency kit keep this in mind:  It is not about having a bag full of cool guy kit, it is about having the knowledge to use well selected tools to create capability.

More to follow…

-Mike G

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