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In a disaster scenario, staying inconspicuous is key to survival. This is especially true if disaster strikes in an urban or suburban environment with high population density. If you're in a rural setting, and your next-door neighbor is miles away, it's probably not going to matter too much what your bug-out gear looks like.
However, if you're in a big city office building when SHTF, the last thing you want to do is strap on an OD green backpack covered in PALS webbing, swap your oxfords for combat boots, and sling a rifle over your shoulder. At that point, you might as well stick a big flashing target on your back, because those who are less prepared will be coming for you.
Now, bear with us. We're certainly not saying you should leave your emergency gear at home in order to remain inconspicuous. There's a middle ground here—a way to have a fully-stocked bug-out bag that doesn't turn heads as you walk down Main Street in slacks and a collared shirt. You'll want to be seen as a “gray man” while also being ready for anything that comes your way.
Enter Zyon Systems, a family-owned and -operated business located in Boise, Idaho. The company was founded by Joe Florko, a former U.S. Park Ranger who has spent a lifetime in the backcountry, and worked in many National Parks throughout the country. While serving as a first responder during Hurricane Katrina, and dealing with hundreds of rescue and emergency medical calls over the years, Joe has seen his fair share of unprepared individuals—and the tragic consequences that unfold as a result.
Given his experiences, Joe felt compelled to help those around him be more prepared, and thereby reduce the impact of future disasters. However, Joe also realizes that many ordinary people don't know the first thing about survival kits, and are unable or unwilling to build their own custom bug-out bags from scratch. He writes, “I want every American to build their own 72 hour bug-out bag. But, for those who don't have the time or experience, Zyon Systems can step in and offer something on par with a personally-built kit.”
Zyon Systems offers a number of different pre-built bug-out bags and emergency kits. These kits range from the basic Community Aid Kit (designed as a hand-out for friends and neighbors in need) to the fully-stocked Professional Pack. The company will even build a custom pack to your exact specifications, and can assist you via phone or email to choose every last piece of gear you need.
Zyon's motto is one of practical preparedness: “No hysteria, no zombies. Real-world emergency preparation.” We liked the sound of that, and were interested by the idea of a pre-made bug-out bag aimed at urban professionals. So, we got in touch with Joe and requested one of Zyon Systems' top-of-the-line Professional Packs to test and review.
In a nutshell, the Professional Pack is a 72-hour turn-key bug-out bag which will not look out of place in an office, on city streets, or on public transit. Zyon Systems states that it is “designed for the working professional who needs a high quality, easily transportable, and inconspicuous emergency pack.”
Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: at an MSRP of $650, the Professional Pack is not exactly cheap. However, when you consider the immense amount of name-brand gear it contains, and the fact that it offers an industry-first Gear Replacement Guarantee, you'll begin to see the value. Zyon Systems tells us they refuse to cut costs by using the cheapest gear available, thrown together without proper testing and evaluation, as can sometimes be the case with other pre-made bug-out bags.
Joe has also personally spent years field testing this pack—he doesn't just sit behind a desk, he actually wears the gear and practices urban escape scenarios to find its weak points. For example, here's a journal of his “Escape from Richmond” journey last year, where he walked 20 miles with the Professional Pack over the course of 3 days. So, when Joe says his emergency kits can sustain you for up to 72 hours, he knows it firsthand.
The Zyon Systems Professional Pack is constructed around an Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack. As shipped from Zyon Systems, the pack and its contents tip the scales at only 18 pounds. However, that will go up several pounds once you fill the canteens and hydration bladder with water (something you'll definitely want to do upon receiving the pack).
Here are some basic specs for the Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack:
We'd say Zyon Systems made a great choice by using this pack for an urban bug-out bag platform. It's inconspicuous, spacious, versatile, and quite well-built—perfect for city use. Our only gripe is that we wish the shoulder straps were a tad wider and better padded, but overall we liked the Farpoint pack a lot.
Now, on to what matters more: the contents.
For most Professional Packs, you'll be able to choose one of two shelter options: a Hill People Gear Mountain Serape, or a SnugPak Jungle Bag. The Serape can be used as either a coat or sleeping bag, and is ideal for colder environments. The Jungle Bag is a lightweight sleeping bag option for warmer climates, and has a built-in mosquito hood.
The test pack we received included both shelter options. We preferred the jungle bag, because it hardly ever drops below freezing here in southern California. However, your mileage may vary depending on where you live.
The pack also includes some additional apparel: an Equinox made-in-USA rain poncho, Mechanix gloves, and a fleece watch cap. These items can help keep you warm while you're on the move, but we'd recommend carrying a full change of clothes in your bug-out bag if possible.
Finally, in a Ziploc bag, there's a pair of latex surgical gloves, a pair of clear 3M safety goggles, and an N95 filtration mask. The mask and latex gloves are nice, but instead of safety goggles, we would have preferred some ballistic-rated sunglasses. These could provide better impact protection, preserve your vision during bright conditions, and even help conceal your identity—all without making you look like you walked out of a high school science lab.
Each Professional Pack includes the following tools:
We'd say these tools are an excellent start for an urban bug-out bag. However, we feel this kit would be much better off with a proper fixed-blade survival knife. We love the Leatherman tool for its compact size and many functions, but a good knife is the single most important tool in a survival kit. You won't be able to rely solely on a small Leatherman blade for breaking down firewood, much less hunting or self-defense.
A handgun, tazer, or other personal defense weapon would be advisable to include, but that responsibility is left to the buyer.
This bug-out bag has a good handle on water filtration and purification. You can filter with the Sawyer system, purify with the tablets, or simply boil water with the Titanium mug and stove (see food section below). There are also 3 different storage containers, allowing a total of just under 1 gallon (3.6L) of mobile water storage. That's approximately enough to supply one person during a day of moderate to heavy activity, before you'll need to find a new water source and resupply.
By our calculations, the Zyon Systems Professional Pack contains over 5000 calories of energy-dense food. Here's a rundown of the food-related contents:
MREs are always a great choice for any bug-out bag. We also like most of the Zyon Systems snack pack contents, although we question the wisdom of consuming energy drinks during strenuous physical activity. These shots may make you feel better in the short term, but they may also cause you to crash hard after the effects wear off. Personally, we'd swap them for some instant coffee or tea bags for a more natural energy boost.
The food in this bag should be more than enough to sustain you for 3 days, or until you can find a new food source.
The majority of the medical category is covered by an off-the-shelf Adventure Medical Kits .7 Ultralight & Watertight First Aid Kit. This standard first aid kit is not perfect for everyone, and its contents are pretty basic, but it's a good start for the uninitiated. We'd say most people would be better off building this into a custom medical kit with additional medication (such as an antidiarrheal), quick-clot powder, and higher-quality adhesive bandages.
There's also a Zyon Systems sanitation and comfort kit in a black 1L SnugPak box. It contains:
Finally, Joe also included the optional women's hygiene kit, which includes some helpful items for females (or those traveling with female companions). This additional kit has a urine funnel, wet wipes, feminine hygiene products, Midol pain pills, a trash bag, and additional Ziploc bags—all inside a SnugPak 1L Pakbox.
Overall, the medical and hygiene category is covered fairly well, but there are some items here we could do without. In an emergency, situational awareness is crucial at all times, so we'd definitely lose the sleeping mask and earplugs. Having both wet wipes and sanitizing wipes seems like overkill, so we'd swap one of those (and the comb) for a bit of antiperspirant or a bigger tube of sunscreen.
The Professional Pack doesn't contain every last item you'll need to bug out in a disaster—nor does it claim to—but it's a very good start. Zyon Systems also offers a list of additional recommended items you can add after purchase, such as cash, prescription meds, a firearm, and local maps. Click here to read the complete list. Fortunately, the pack offers enough extra space for these items.
Joe tells us he was careful to organize the pack's contents in a logical manner, and it shows. We like how everything is compartmentalized in SnugPak pouches and Ziploc bags, as it provides a quick way to access exactly what you need without digging through all the other supplies. The compression straps inside and outside the pack also help keep items secure.
At the end of the day, the Zyon Systems Professional Pack is a very good pre-made bug-out bag for an office worker who needs to get out of dodge without raising suspicion. It's unquestionably expensive at $650, but when you consider all the costly name-brand items and labor that goes into assembling a bag like this, we'd say it's a pretty solid value.
If you're a hardcore OFFGRIDweb.com reader and survivalist, we'd recommend that you build your own custom bug-out bag to your exact requirements. However, for someone inexperienced in the ways of urban survival, or someone who simply doesn't have the time to research and purchase the necessary B.O.B. components, Zyon Systems provides a worthy solution.
We can certainly appreciate this “one and done” approach to bug-out bags. Also, Zyon Systems' Gear Replacement Guarantee means the consumable items can be replaced for free if you use them in a legitimate emergency scenario—that's a nice touch.
For more information on Zyon Systems and the Professional Pack bug-out bag, visit ZyonPro.com.