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Editor’s Note: Brandon Barton of Last Man Projects recently posted the following list of quick tips for prepping a bug-out bag for long treks on foot. He’s a bit of a fitness buff and has covered quite a few miles in his continually-evolving pack setups, so you may find some of these helpful for your own BOB. Refer to our previous article for an overview of his current Mystery Ranch Coulee 40 pack, and check out the Last Man Projects Facebook page for more on Brandon’s adventures.
So I walk with my pack… a lot. Here are a few little tips that I’ve picked up or noticed through “trail and error.”
1. Be sure you can bend over and pick stuff up while wearing your pack, since you’ll inevitably drop something after slinging into it. It needs to be balanced and light enough that you can bend over relatively easily. This action gets way more difficult as you get more tired.
2. Add a little extra storage or water capacity in the front that’s easy to get to. I carry an extra 32oz bottle in a Camelbak Max Gear bottle pouch on my waist belt. It’s easier to get to and fill than taking off the pack to get the bladder. Makes topping off easier if the opportunity happens; save the bladder.
3. Add thumb loops on your shoulder straps. I have mentioned this before. Swinging your arms for hours will swell your digits. Resting your thumbs through some loops on your shoulder straps might give you T-Rex arms, but it also heads off dependent edema.
4. Pack all your foot care stuff on top, including extra socks. While on the move, this is more important than anything else you’re carrying except water.
5. Keep about three nail clippers in your pack; you will lose them. Cut your toenails.
6. Make sure all your defensive EDC fits and wears well with a pack. Miles of having a pistol rub your side while it’s compressed into you by a waist belt sucks.
7. Have a place to stash trash. Whether it’s just a hobby run through the country and you don’t want to be a litter bug, or it’s a full blown SHtF crisis and you don’t want to leave an obvious trail, you need a place to put trash while you walk.
8. Wear pants with cargo pockets. Its tough getting stuff into and out of regular pockets with a waist belt blocking the way. Finally those extra pockets will get used for something.
9. Don’t choose a pack — or make the pack — wider than your shoulders. You want the pack to fit everywhere you do, and wide packs tend to throw you off balance. If it’s a good width, don’t add all sorts of pouches and pockets to mess that up… pack less.
10. Leave extra room. As you walk you might have to adjust your kit, or in a SHtF situation you might come across something useful that could improve your condition. Leave a little room just in case. Plus, it helps to keep you from overpacking. (In most cases, that old prepper adage “two is one and one is none” shouldn’t apply to your pack.)