How to Test Your Ability to Carry a Bug Out Bag

I read the below article today, which is good but I wanted to add my own thoughts.

I think one of the biggest takeaways on this subject is that like assholes there are many, many,many opinions. All one has to do is read the replies after the main article. I want to share my thoughts and the article to invoke some personal thinking.

Let me step back a couple years. When I was still in the service we had regular ruck marches of 6 plus miles. Monthly, beleive it or not. They were always a timed based affair with the biggest emphasis put on weight, 60 lbs, and not so much on what was in the the ruck. I carried a lot of rocks, pieces of broken cement, weight room weights, and at times things we called “babies”, sacks of sand  ducted taped into a tight ball of various weights in 5 lbs. increments.

In retrospect, this set us up for failure. With no packing list, it did not allow us to go through the process of preparing a loadout for a mission. It was just weight oriented. When I retired and started down the path of preparing a bug out bag, I really didn’t have a foundation to start. It is a totally different thought process when preparing for bugging out and not. Knowing that resupply is a few miles back to the trucks, where water, food, and ammo are waiting if needed. Or in the event of a real bad situation, a helo could drop resupplies when needed as opposed to bugging out, where you have none of that logistic chain behind you.

Stay with me here. A couple years back I attended Mosby’s SUT course and it was a eye opener. One of the first things John did was dump our rucks like we were in boot camp and went item by item through each ruck and asked “why do you need this?” a large number of items were thrown over John’s shoulder into the field behind us.

After this class I drastically cut the amount of crap I had stuffed in to my ruck. I also added some stuff to. this past year I went to John’s SUP class, I again came home and repacked my ruck. This summer, with some freinds I did a ruck, camp, ruck trip. I came home and repacked my ruck eliminating some things and adding a few things.

To go along with the author in the article below, you have to carry your bag, backpack, ruck, not in your vehicle but on your back a few times to really see if;

(A.) do you have the physical ability and stamina, to carry a pack over a set distance? use your tools and return home?

(B,)the crap you packed, is it worth packing?

(C,)the crap you packed does it work?

Seriously you need to not only ask yourself the above questions but then follow thru by doing it.

Here is what I do, and remember, this is what works for me. You may find something that works better for you and that is fine. But no one setup is correct for everyone.

I started out by taking a 3 day assault pack, I put “heavy” things into the pack and did my 2-6 mile hikes. Weight varied according to the items I threw in the pack.  Initially I would put a ACH, hand weights, whatever into the pack. 20 lbs maybe.

Then I had an “ah ha” moment. why not carry crap that I am going to potentially use? I put together some items I thought that a person might need if he/she were to be caught outside for a couple days until help could arrive. A day tripper bag if you will. I hike with this bag weekly.

So here is my loadout .

Gortex rain suit

Rain poncho

Steel AR500 plate (body armor) Added for extra weight and would ditch if I needed to.

2 MRE’s

Spare socks

Expanded first aid kit (human) I added a few extra items than one would find in a normal first aid kit.

First aid kit (K9)

Misc. water purification tabs, shemagh, para cord, fire starting kit, flash light, chem lights, gloves, hat, stocking cap. I ‘m sure I am missing some stuff. Weight without water? 30 lbs. With water for myself and the dog? 40 lbs plus.

The bag I carry in my car is a bit larger and packed for a different purpose. It weighs about 50 lbs. dry. But my situation is that I drive 134 miles commuting to work and back everyday, I wanted a pack that is more tactically sensible for me. If I am forced to ruck home the full 62 miles home one day, or even part of that distance, the world is in a big hurt and my day tripper bag would be woefully inadequate.

It holds, generally, Gortex rain suit, change of clothes, boots, multiple pairs of socks, personal hygiene kit, some OTC meds. water purification tabs, shemagh, 2 ponchos, poncho liner, tent stakes, few hundred feet of para cord, flashlights, ammunition, knives, food for 3 days, camel back bladder, batteries, ranger bands, fire starting kit, extended large first aid kit, jetboil stove, fleece jacket, military compass, small pair of binoculars, GI water proof stuff sack, gloves, hat, clothes are in water proof stuff sacks, hammock, 3 piece military sleeping bag. One thing about the sleeping bag, at any one time I only carry 2 pieces of the kit at a time. In the spring/summer I carry the Gortex shell and the thin inner bag. Fall/Winter, I carry the Gortex shell and the heavy inner bag. In the car I carry a case of bottle water. Empty weight, 50 lbs. With water, 70 lbs. Lastly, I try to carry 2 of everything.

I took the above load out this past summer for a 6-7 mile ruck-camping-ruck overnight trip. After this last camping trip I have the items I think I would need in a SHTF. 70 lbs. is no joke on a 50 yr. old body. But I proved to myself that I can and could do a ruck with that weight in the summer heat (it was 90 + that weekend). Granted 7 miles is not 62. But I know over a period of days I could ruck the 62 miles or a portion of it without to much pain.

So what am I saying? the same thing as the author in the article below. If you have or plan on just one bug out bag, don’t have just one all, be all pack. Pack for your situation. Keep it minimal and I mean minimal. Ruck with your pack, take things along that you would need for your day trip or overnighter. Leave the weights and sand bags for when you have your bag loadout set and you need to add more weight. If you get into a sticky situation, ditch the weights.

These are my thoughts, and the way I do things isn’t for everyone. But the one thing that is for everyone and everyone should takeaway from both of these articles is, pack a bag, and get off your ass, ruck and test your equipment.


Can you carry a bug out bag further than a mile or two? Is it heavy and are you fit enough to do it? Get tips from one man’s test of his own bug out bag.

Source: How to Test Your Ability to Carry a Bug Out Bag