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As the hot weather of summer months approaches, several officials and numerous media outlets reported that due to high temperatures and an overtaxed energy infrastructure, we should expect rolling blackouts. This has already turned out to be true in my region of the Midwest, having numerous power outages. Losing power, and subsequently losing indoor climate control, makes the human body more susceptible to ambient temperatures. Normally, this isn’t such a big deal but can quickly turn into a serious problem if it’s too hot. Having personally experienced heat injuries on more than one occasion, it’s a situation that I take every precaution with.
My inspiration to put this bag together came to me when my significant other ended up needing to spend the summer months in an urban area on the West Coast for work. This is a region of the United States that may be undergoing the first “mega drought” in over 1,200 years. No power, lack of water, and unrelenting heat can be a recipe for a bad time but doesn’t have to be. With minimal preparations, the worst of it can be staved off with ease. The components include redundant ways to prevent heat injuries, keep the body running efficiently, ensure personal protection, and stave off the inevitable boredom that comes with extended blackouts.
Having a bag that had enough room for everything while not looking like an operator was important. Camouflage print and “tactical” colors like coyote brown often draw the wrong type of attention. Kitanica’s available colors help maintain a low profile without sacrificing features or functionality. The shoulder straps and reinforced back on the Vespid are cushioned mesh to assist with cooling. This helps keep your core temperature cool during hot weather, especially when you can’t charge your EV and need to move manually from one location to another. The 30L capacity offers plenty of room to store supplies while keeping the hands free, and two easy access side pouches make grabbing water bottles effortless. Four zippers allow access to the main compartment from multiple angles. While inside, a laptop can be nestled in a protective enclosure. There are plenty of inner pockets and three dedicated MOLLE panels for extra storage, should it become necessary but, for its intended purpose, I felt keeping it minimalist was the best approach.
USB chargeable fans will help keep air moving should hardwired fans become incapacitated. In case of nighttime blackouts, the USB chargeable Knog headlamp and MPowered solar charging light will keep the darkness at bay. To charge said USB devices, there’s a solar charging radio/flashlight/SOS device that will keep critical electronics running. This particular one has a hand crank and AAA batteries for several layers of charging redundancy. Having a radio allows the listener to tune into local stations that may still be able to broadcast important information in case of blackout emergencies, and the dedicated weather band adds another layer of usefulness. These days, phones have largely replaced wearing a watch, but Bertucci makes a solid timepiece with a glow-in-the-dark face for finding the time if the power is out. A dedicated analog watch can be used to count pulse rate during medical emergencies, or determine approximate cardinal directions, just to list a few useful functions.
Staying physically cool during hot weather is only one part of the equation, the body also needs H2O and electrolytes to stay hydrated and keep the body functioning well on a cellular level. SaltStick caps provide buffered electrolyte salts and a small amount of caffeine for an energy boost. Worst-case scenario, Katadyn tabs with a few sealable quart-sized bags will keep the body happy if finding potable water becomes an issue. No power means no Uber Eats, so Nutrient Survival fills in that gap until a trip to the grocery store can be made. Their non-perishable survival food has a long shelf life and is packed with vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, being prepared also comes with the risk of being a target. People who are hungry or thirsty will do desperate things to change their condition. Mission First Tactical makes a civilian-friendly self-defense spray that packs a law enforcement punch, combining CS tear gas, OC Pepper, and UV dye. This is a great non-lethal solution for states with prohibitive gun laws. Wind could be a potential drawback, but the RapidStrike spray boasts a concentrated stream with an 18-foot range to minimize the risk.
Last, but not least, what’s a blackout without a few analog items to pass the time? Playing cards and colored pencils will help keep morale up until streaming services are back in action. Cards are also great if the blackout brings friends and neighbors out of their digital cocoons. Nothing like a little Texas Hold ’Em to occupy the time. If the neighbors are lame, or there’s a need for some alone time, solitaire, or meticulously filling in spaces with color will provide some much-needed catharsis.
Exposure to the elements is one of the top killers in nearly every survival situation. Someone suffering from the heat would experience cramps or prickly skin sensations, shortness of breath regardless of how much they’re exerting themselves, rapid heartbeat, and eventually have a stroke with acute organ failure (in that order). When the rug of modern amenities is forcefully pulled from beneath us, having a few simple items and an understanding of the signs and symptoms will make a world of difference.
Make & Model
Kitanica Vespid 30L Backpack