08 March 2007
The Zombie Bag

As mentioned before, kit is, IMO, the least important part of the preparedness paradigm. However, having the right kit will make life a hell of a lot easier.

Below I'll detail the layered approach I feel is appropriate. Bear in mind that it is designed for my personal situation and what I feel are the likely risks I face in my daily life - day trips into big cities, week long stays in hotels in provincial towns and 5-6 hour drives across country.

So, we have the Zombie Bag and son of Zombie Bag. Those more used to preparedness sites will know these as Bug Out Bags. I call mine a zombie bag as it is, in essence, everything I would need when hell finally fills up and zombies attack. This faintly amusing and silly name helps explain the purpose much better for those not used to thinking about preparedness. Rather than get bogged down in debates over what is and isn't likely to happen, by using the fictional example of zombie attack it prevents thinking from getting bogged down in risk assessment and allows one to move on to risk mitigation.

Plus zombies are just so freaking cool!

Firstly I have the small bag. This is a Maxpedition Fatboy S-type. Maxpedition kit is a little pricy over here in the UK, but it is very, very well made and thought-out. The only problem I find with the fatboy is that the shoulder strap can sometimes rub a little on my neck, so I tend to use the neck strap around my waist instead. This has the advantage of making it easy to take on and off, which I need to do when getting into the car, or when sitting on the tube. I have toyed with using one of the cheapy seat belt pads you can get from Halfords for the neck strap, but that would perhaps add too much bulk.

The Fatboy contains the first line equipment I am likely to need – light, writing equipment, emergency first aid, batteries and the like:

Above - going from top left to to top right we have:
  • QuickClot
  • Moleskine notebook and Fisher SpacePen
  • Cableties
  • Sachets of sun tan lotion (important when you're as pale as me!) and Savlon antiseptic wipes
  • Inova X0 flashlight and spare batteries (I chose an AA powerd battery for this pack as it is the easiest battery type to find
  • First Aid Kit (more on this below)
  • Spoon (for yoghurts etc!)
  • Ghetto-waved Spyderco Delica
  • Small SAK - not sure what kind
  • 2 rolls of a few metres of paracord
  • Leatherman
  • Petzl TacTikka Headtorch. The camo scheme is a bit cringe-worthy but it ios the only one that offers a red filter, which is essential for protecting your night vision.
  • And the whole lot is on a bandana - one of the most useful things to have ever!
The first aid kit is a mix of boo-boo kit and blow-out kit. It has a large dressing, some smaller dressings, plasters, steri-strips and a resuscitation valve (If you have ever had anyone puke whilst giving mouth-to-mouth then this is a must!). Oh, and gloves!

In addition to the stuff not shown above I have added Ibuprofen, anti-histamines, anti-diarrhea tablets and re-hydration powder as well as mountain bike gloves, safety glasses and hand sanitizer. The gloves and goggles are from reading reports of 9/11 and 7/7 where people suffered eye irritation and hand damage getting out of the affected area. I plan to add a mask of some kind (N100?) as well.

Next we move onto the big boy - the original Zombie Bag™

The bag itself is a North Face day pack. It does the job and is comfortable enough but I think there are better options out there for a similar price. Maxpedition, Spec-Ops Gear and Boker all have better designed packs now. However it does manage to hold one shit-load of gear for such a little bag - here it is all laid out:

I'm trying to cover the basics of shelter, food, navigation, light, warmth, first aid and a few items to keep morale up under pressure.

Firstly we have Hygiene items. These are not only important for health and morale, but also as potential trades. In some reports of post-Katrina New Orleans people reported trading items like these for food, water and transport.

As you can see, I've got dry wash, deodorant, hand sanitizer, chewy tooth brushes and paper tissues.

The deodorant can also be used to help start a fire and the chewy tooth brushes are re-usable. (It's a little gross, but it works!)

There is a reason for having both the dry wash and the hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer is a little more brutal than the dry wash and may well irritate sensitive skin areas. Having both also allows me to have one close to hand (the hand sanitizer) for meal times and the like and the other stowed deeper in the pack for daily washing tasks.

Next we move on to fire and water. I have gone for a hexamine stove. I know there are better options but I am really not a fan of trangi stoves after having meths leak all over my sleeping bag years ago. I also like hexamine for the ease at which it lights (it can be used as a fire lighting aid) and because hit gives off a fair amount of smoke - potentially useful as a signal. To light it I have normal and waterproof matches and an Ultimate Survival flint and steel. I guess reading this I should have a lighter since I no longer smoke (6 weeks - Yay!) and so no longer have pockets stuffed with the things. I also have some wetfire fire lighting tablets. These things are great, and will burn even when soaking wet.

For water I have iodene, bleach and something to remove the bleach taste. Not the nicest but effective.

Finally I have a couple of candles for light and heat, and plastic bags - for no other reason than to not leave a mess if I don't have to.

A few other useful items here - duct tape, soft tape( for use on sprains and the like), paracord, a compass and a whistle. The whistle is very useful for signalling. Louder than shouting and takes less energy.

For sleeping I have a heavy duty polythene bag. Not as good as a proper sleeping bag but better than nothing and a lot less bulky. To supplement it I have a standard foil blanket. Alongside you can see half a dozen glow sticks.

I like glow sticks as they don't need power, last for ages and give a fairly soft light. Just right for dealing with camp tasks but not bright enough to really damage your night vision.

Food is next. This is one of the current issue MOD ration packs (Minus the custard-based desert - yuck!). Basically it's 3200 calories. Enough for a day of heavy activity. I chose these ration packs since they taste fine (sooooo much better than US MREs), and keep for a long time. Plus they are not bad eaten cold.

The 24 hours worth of food here is supplemented by another 48 hours (2 more packs) kept in the boot of my car, along with a few litres of water that gets drunk and replaced regularly.

The final part of this is first aid. For major incidents I have more quickclot and a blow-out kit shrink wrapped and easily grabbed. This kit has a one-handed tourniquet, dressing and nasal airway tube, along with gloves and the like. I also keep an Israeli one hand dressing to hand just in case. For less important problems I have a quite large boo-boo kit. It is stored in a German army surplus medics pouch (50p from the Sikh army surplus place in Ealing!). Contents as follows:

Multiple melanin pads of various sizes
Cotton wool (for wound packing)
Large ambulance bandage (1 pint capacity!)
gauze and a triangular bandage
Super glue (It's not surgical grade, but still works for little cuts)
Loads of anti-septic wipes,
Sun tan lotion
burn lotion
re-hydration powder
anti- diarrhoea tablets
padded foot plasters
Alcogel hand cleaner
and a load of gloves.

Finally I also have a Benchmade Pika and a CRKT Companion in there as well as a notepad and pens.

The Zombie bag normally lives in the boot of the car, along with the additional food and water, a mini-tool kit (including a Gerber multi-tool) and crowbar. Given that the car is rarely that far away from me (Whilst I am frequently far from home) that seems to be the most sensible solution.

I really would appreciate any thoughts on this, suggestions for things I may have overlooked or better ideas!

And a big thanks to my lioness, Lady T for the photos.


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