No economy in the history of the world has ever sustained a constant rate of growth. Recessions, depressions, and complete economic collapse is inevitable in even the most advanced of societies. As people move to find valuable food resources, safety, or jobs, they travel in every conceivable way and with anything of value they can carry. As a prepper, you should always have an EDC – Every Day Carry bag and a more thorough Grab-and-Go Bug-Out-Bag. That can be two separate bags or the same bag. While we have done blogs on 10 items to survive an economic depression and one on 10 cheap items to survive an economic depression, we want to focus here on just the 10 essentials for your Grab-and-Go bag that you will need should you need to migrate to safety or resources following an economic collapse. If our economy collapses and you are forced out on the road, what items apart from standard items we cover in bug out bag blogs would you want to have? In this blog, we’ll cover items that you may not see in traditional bug out bags that could make a big difference.
1- Fire Starter
Fire is the most essential element to survival on the road or in the bush. We take it for granted because we’ve tamed and channeled it. Whether our furnace kicks on, our water heater, our stove, even our car engine, we don’t often reflect upon how critical fire is to us in our everyday lives. But when gas lines fail and electricity can’t create a spark for us, will our little lighter do the job? We like to make sure that we have a reliable backup that we know, while not as primitive or difficult as a bow drill, may take some work but will reliably ignite a fire for me. Do make sure you have a simple wheel lighter in your grab-and-go depression bag, but also make sure you have a reliable Magnesium rod fire starter. If you are forced to stay clear of roads at night and retreat to wooded or otherwise covered areas, fire will be essential to you. It will make sure your water is safe to drink when boiling it, your food is free of bacteria, and will provide you some level of safety, so long as you remain situationally aware of your use of light and smoke.
2- First Aid Kit
Most first aid kits are not very useful at all. We’ve seen some where the bandaids barely stick and the tweezers were really just cheap pieces of plastic. You may have seen these kits or received one as a promotional freebie yourself. It is worth investing in a higher quality first aid kit. You will also want to stock it with some basic medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, benadryl, topical ointments, and even a tourniquet. These extra items are typically not included in standard first aid kits because they typically have expiration dates, whereas a kit may sit on shelves for years before it is sold. Take the time to beef up your first aid kit. Make sure it is in a rugged and durable container, and make sure that you have some basic medical procedure guides, pocket-sized, and laminated. Traveling can be dangerous in both small and large ways. Injuries from large wounds to insect stings to blisters are common. Being prepared now will make sure you’re prepared later when you really need it.
3- Medications & Chemical Disinfectants
While we just mentioned beefing up your First Aid Kit, we think it is important to mention here the range of medications and disinfectants you should have portable and available to you to grab and go. Most first aid kits are, as we mentioned earlier, a little basic and generic. They may tout five hundred items if you count every low quality band aid and alcohol wipe. In addition to the basic medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, benadryl, topical ointments, and even smelling salts that you will want to beef up your kit with, there are other items you should carry. You should have at least one bottle of topical disinfectants and wound disinfectants like Isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. A fifth of cheap vodka in a plastic bottle can provide you a nip of courage or a means to sanitize wounds or items. A small gel hand sanitizer can serve several functions if you find yourself in the wild. If it is alcohol based, while not recommended, it can be used to sanitize items or even light fires. Any medications that you regularly take, you should try and have a month’s dose on hand. Toothache medicine is super small and lightweight but could be what you need to get you through a prolonged period without dentistry. Concentrated herbs with medicinal attributes can help to relieve minor problems when medicines run out or unavailable. Extra inhalers if you are ashmatic or have any breathing problems will be a critical addition to your kit. Depending upon your area, bee sting kits and an Epi pen may be a lifesaver. The list goes on and on. You really can’t overthink your medical kit because most people who die in the elements die as a result of small injuries or dehydration. Your first aid kit will also provide you with a useful tool for others you may encounter along the way.
4- Water Purification & Filtering
The effects of dehydration can set in very rapidly, especially when you are hiking or walking when not used to that type of activity. Many people are on the cusp of dehydration in their everyday lives and don’t really realize it. Just like we start dreaming about foods when we are hungry, your body will start thinking about a drink of something (soda, coffee, water, wine, a smoothie, and so on) when you are thirsty. It’s that primal. The problem if you are on the move, however, is that water weighs a little over eight pounds per gallon. You can’t carry too many gallons with you because of the weight. You also may not be in a secure location that allows you to have a fire to purify water. If you can, something like a personal water filtration system has significantly dropped in price over the years. A low cost water filter can provide you over one hundred gallons of water from streams, ponds, lakes, or otherwise undrinkable water sources you find along your journey. Remain aware of possible chemical pollutants, however.
Oftentimes, finding water on your journey isn’t the problem. The problem is finding clean drinking water. An intestinal infection like that caused by the giardia parasite under the best of conditions may clear up on its own in a week. Extreme cases may require medications. Time and medications may not be things you have if you’re on the road. The easiest way to keep moving is to prevent getting an intestinal infection from water by filtering or boiling it.
5- Solar Powered Radio & Portable Solar Battery
As infrastructures falter in an extended economic depression, a reliable energy source is critical. The energy grid in our country is already unreliable and will become more so as it is maintained less in a depression. Add to this the fact that people will not take kindly to you just plugging into their power outlets, and you should consider a solar powered radio or portable solar battery of some kind or combination in your grab-and-go bag. The one we are recommending is both. Being aware of inclement weather or hazards on the road ahead of you will keep you from moving from an already bad situation to an even worse one. Being able to charge other small devices with natural and free resources will also be useful to you.
6- Personal Protection Items
Let’s face it, traveling on your own or even in a small group through strange areas filled with equally desperate people is a legitimate security and personal safety threat. You will need PPI, personal protection items. Open carrying a rifle or shotgun isn’t going to go well through some communities, and concealing a weapon may also land you in trouble. There are many options beyond firearms. Police strength pepper gel, a Kubotan type tactical pen, even a fixed blade knife, or tactical flashlight with a built in tazing feature are all very small but extremely effective at stopping an attacker. Law enforcement will probably not give you a hard time if your personal protection item is in a sort of gray area of the law but still legal.
Whatever PPI you choose, do make sure that you have something to provide yourself greater personal security on the road. Desperate times lead people to desperate measures and criminals are opportunists. You cannot rely upon law enforcement if they are being stretched thin or addressing other issues in the community you are moving through.
7- Flashlight or Headlamp
When forced to travel through sketchy areas, you may need to travel at night or in low light situations. Having a flashlight or headlamp is a must. We are a big believer in redundancy and multifunctionality of your survival tools. Anything with multiple uses increases your effectiveness, and the old saying two is one and one is none is good advice. So, the headlamp we recommend in the comments below has motion sensing, USB recharging capabilities from your solar battery, and a red light mode. There is a lot of misinformation out there about red light. Some people will tell you that it doesn’t travel as far. That simply isn’t true. The facts are that light is interpreted in our eyes through our rods and cones. Red light is specifically interpreted through the cones, and cones are concentrated in the center. So, the immediate area in front of you in your field of vision is illuminated well for you through red light, but not well for people looking in your direction from any distance. Red light is most effective for the center of the eye, so only illuminating a spot in the direction of your view would benefit you and not others. Confining the light to one part of the spectrum also decreases detectability. It’s just as bright, there is just less for people at any distance to discern versus a full spectrum or white light.
If you are forced to travel at night or in low light situations while keeping a low profile, a flashlight or headlamp of some kind will be your most effective means to do so.
8- Durable Blankets
At least one durable, lightweight, but warm blanket per person will also be an essential item you will want in your Grab-and-Go bag. A regular bed sheet or typical bed blanket will not do, as these are bulky and provide very little protection from the elements. An emergency thermal blanket, on the other hand, will help you retain ninety-percent of your body heat and can be carried in your pocket. Because of their low cost and lightweight, they also provide you a tradeable item for you to barter for things you need along your journey. At an average of two dollars a piece and a negligible weight, you could easily carry a dozen of them in a pack and not even feel the weight of them.
A more durable option is a survival blanket. It can provide you a wind and waterproof shelter. When combined with the paracord we mention in our other blogs on items to get you through a great depression, you can easily build a protective shelter in just a few minutes.
9- Duct Tape
Commercial grade, seven or eight millimeter thickness duct tape is the universal solver of problems. There are many cheap versions, so make sure you have a roll of commercial grade duct tape in your bag. Whether it is patching holes in your shelter, rigging your shelter, holding your clothes together, or patching a hole in your shoes, duct tape is known for being the problem solver. Since an Illinois mother first came up with the idea for a waterproof cloth tape in nineteen-forty-three, duct tape has been used in millions of ways to save the day. A quick search for the uses of duct tape will make it quite clear why you need to have a good quality, commercial duct tape roll in your bag before you are forced out onto the road.
10- Protein Powders, Electrolyte Powders & Hard Candy
In an economic depression, food supply lines may be interrupted and waiting in long soup lines may not be the best option. Storing some protein, electrolyte restoring powders and hard candies will provide you a lightweight nutritional go to. The protein powder will keep you away from starvation’s door. When the body lacks protein intake it begins to catabolize itself. There are many options for protein powders, and this may just mean you have to remember to grab that big jar of it in your pantry. Small vacuum sealed packets of protein or a dehydrated egg powder like we are recommending can provide you critical proteins and a long shelf life when food sources are sparse. The electrolyte powder will help you stay hydrated. The hard candies, while only providing a little quick burning sugar, will keep for a long period of time and can provide a small morale boost for yourself, children you may be traveling with or others. Most people remember their grandmother’s hard candy dish. That candy was very, very old, and had probably molded into one giant piece, but it was still edible. There’s only about two grams of sugar in one piece of hard candy, so you won’t be able to survive on it alone, but it might get you through and keep your mind clearer to make better survival decisions.
Even the most robust economies can sink into deep and long lasting economic depressions. Be prepared by knowingly prepping these 10 lightweight items in your grab-and-go bag. When an economy collapses, your shelter security could evaporate. You may find yourself needing to travel to a safer location, a location where other family members or friends are, or a location where you can find the resources you need to survive. We encourage you to take a look at my other videos for critical items that you will need to survive a great depression, but don’t forget these ten lightweight items in your grab-and-go bag. Proper preparation now will carry you through safely to an eventual recovery. Even if you never need these items for road travelling during an economic depression, when natural disasters strike, you will have them all at the ready and have some basics of what you need to survive.
As always, please stay safe out there.