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It's a busy day for you at the office, and the last thing you needed was to get the Blue Screen of Death before you could generate your daily TPS reports. Frustrated, you get up to storm over to the IT department to demand an explanation. It's then that you look up and notice that not only is your computer on the fritz, but the entire floor looks like it has gone dark. Is it a blackout? Well, the backup systems didn't kick in like they should have. What's going on here?
Regardless of what cut the power to your building, you realize by looking out the window that the power is out in every building in the surrounding area. The traffic lights aren't even flashing red. You're still hoping a run-of-the-mill power outage is the culprit when you see drivers exiting their cars in the middle of the street. That's when you get a sinking feeling that something more serious is going down. Perhaps it's the effects of a solar flare, or maybe even a hacker or terrorist attack? All you know is you need to get out while you can. While your officemates are still trying to figure out if a circuit breaker was tripped, you're already on to the next step. You tell them about everything you've noticed, reach for the office-based get-home bag that you've kept under your desk, and head to the stairs to get to the ground floor.
From the office, it's about 18 miles to home — it's already late afternoon, so you'd better get a move on. The supplies you stored in your bag are sufficient to keep you provisioned and geared up for the trek back home, even if it takes a couple of days. The average person can walk about 3 miles per hour, so you're looking at a six-hour walk at best without rest — and that's not taking into account obstacles natural or manmade (or man himself).
Since you're always prepared, you know the importance of stowing what you can where you can. You can never be too prepared, and it's not possible to anticipate where you'll be when a disaster strikes. What you do know is that you spend a good majority of your time either at home, at work, or traveling between the two. With that in mind, you've developed supply caches in the form of kits for places that you frequent the most. Keeping the mother lode of survival supplies at home is less of an issue than keeping supplies in other places, such as at the office. At your workplace you opt for the less conspicuous, ever adaptable backpack.
It's not hard to see why backpacks are the go-to bug-out supply carrier of choice. They're made to carry and to be carried. Slung on your back, packs keep your hands free and, depending on type, they can carry very large loads. They can also blend into their surroundings, perfect for an office environment. The less attention drawn to it, the better. In times of non-emergency, a boring-looking bag may be easier to hide in plain sight and less enticing to steal. When being used, it will draw a lot less attention on the streets than a bag finished in whatever spiffy new tactical pattern is the flavor of the month.
What you may choose to carry in your office get-home bag will greatly differ based on your needs. Those who work just a stone's throw from home will require a very different loadout than those who have a long commute. It's easy to underestimate the difference between walking and driving, so be realistic and plan accordingly. We suggest packing as light as you can while carrying as much practical gear as you think you'll really need. Don't pack the kitchen sink. For example, if you think you might need to spend a night on the road, you're better off packing a $1 Mylar space blanket that weighs a few ounces than a $100 one-person tent that clocks in at 4 pounds.
Essentials such as water, a lighter, a first-aid kit, and high-calorie ration bars are a no-brainer. If you don't carry a knife on you every day, consider packing a quality fixed blade or folding knife. A hand-crank radio with an integrated flashlight could be a useful tool, too, as it can provide vital news updates as well as a source of light. Comfort items like a roll of toilet paper will go a long way. If you have room, an extra set of clothes and a couple pairs of socks are good to have. And because the apocalypse might not hit on casual Friday, a pair of sneakers or old boots wouldn't be a bad idea either. Nothing would suck more than having to hike back home while dodging meteor strikes in your Kenneth Cole wingtips.
Because backpacks come in so many different shapes, sizes, and looks, we've selected a few of our favorites in the following guide. Most can be hidden away under your desk and some look at home in the conference room as well as a backwoods trail. Take a look; your next pack might be among our survey of new and noteworthy packs on the next six pages.
We stress that less is more, so pack lightly when possible. But depending on what your requirements are, a fully loaded pack can weigh 50 pounds or more. A properly fitted backpack can spread the weight evenly on your body to help avoid injury and ease fatigue.
To figure out what size backpack is right for you, you'll want to tilt your head down and feel for the bump where your shoulder meets your neck. This bump is called the C7 vertebra. When measuring torso length, the C7 is considered the upper most point and where you want to start your measurement.
Next, place your hands on your hip bones with four fingers facing forward and your thumbs toward the back. The imaginary line between your two thumbs is the bottom of your torso. It'll be easier if you have someone help you with this next step. Stand up straight (no slouching now!) and measure the length between the C7 vertebra and the imaginary line on your lower back. The length you come up with is your torso length and can be used to reference different backpack sizes. Taking the time to find a properly fitted bag is often overlooked, but is essential.
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