The weather’s changing and it’s time to clean up and fix your stuff. After the snow melts and the green starts to show, it makes good sense to refresh your survival supplies after their long period of winter storage.
Now is the perfect time to take a look at your survival bag and do some upkeep. Here are eight things that you should look out for and update:
Being one of the most important resources in your survival kit, check your purified water bottles or water pouches. Although it should be safe to consume even past its “best before” date (stamped on its container), it’s still a good idea to check their containers and seals for damage or leaks. Better yet, replace them with newer ones if you have the chance or refill them with fresh water (if you’re using your own container).
If you haven’t already, it’s also a good idea to pack a water filtration device in your kit along with some iodine tablets for backup.
Shelter is another important part of the survival bag. Whether it’s a simple tarp or a high-end tent, make sure you have something that will shelter you from the elements in case you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere during an emergency.
Check for rips or holes on your emergency shelter. Is the material still supple, or starting to get brittle? Check the seams for leaks and reseal them if necessary and feasible. Patch holes if you still can and re-apply waterproofing on your tent or your tarp or add it if you haven’t done so yet.
You’ll also have to check your sleeping bags as well as the other items in your kit necessary to set up a makeshift shelter, such as ropes, hooks and stakes.
When it comes to sleeping bags, packing them rolled tightly in a bag could affect their insulating properties, so take each out every now and then, unroll, fluff, and re-roll again but in a different position before storing.
A set or two of comfortable clothes, including socks and underwear, to change into is sure to be in your survival bag, but after a while, you may have lost (or gained) some weight.
Do they still fit? Will they be enough for your needs? Is there a need for them to be updated with clothes that use better material?
Make sure you have enough clothes for seasonal layering purposes– you don’t want to get caught in showers or downpours underdressed and facing possible hypothermia.
Aside from clothing, this is also an opportunity for you to examine your bug-out boots or shoes. Make sure they’re still fit for use, and repair or replace them if necessary.
Check the packaging for damage along with expiration dates– while emergency rations or ready-to-eat meals can last for years, it’s still possible for them to go bad long before their supposed expiration date, especially when exposed to heat, moisture or packaging tears or rips.
If you’re packing your own food or made your own trail mix, these can have shorter shelf lives. Check them for freshness and replace with newer ones if needed.
5. First Aid
If you require regular medication and have stored some in your bug-out bag, check their expiration dates and make sure they’re still good until at least your next bag check.
You can also update your first aid kit with items and medications to make it more effective and useful, such as disposable gloves or shears if you haven’t included them yet. This time of year it’s good to add sunscreen and insect repellants, too.
While electronic items powered by batteries may not rank highly on everyone’s list of “needs” to be included in their bug-out bag, they still offer uses and conveniences. Flashlights are important, should a power outage occur and you find yourself in the dark. A battery-powered radio can be helpful in gathering information.
If you’re using items that require batteries, make sure that the batteries are still capable of powering them. Also, check for leaks and bloating and replace damaged or discharged batteries. Some batteries tend or leak if left in electronics for too long, so make sure these are removed prior to long-term storage.
If you’re using rechargeable batteries, charge them to full capacity then store them in such a way that they will retain their charge as long as possible.
7. Important Documents
Another item that you should have in your bug-out bag are copies of your important documents– these can include medical records, birth and marriage certificates, deeds, titles and tax papers, photocopies of IDs, insurance policies and more. If you haven’t done so, now is the time to make hard copies of valuable documents.
If you already have these copies in your bag, check them to make sure that the information in them is accurate and up-to-date. If they’re in a sealed bag, check to see if their container has rips or has gone brittle, and replace if needed.
Aside from its contents, you should also check the thing that holds all your items together: your bug-out bag.
As time passes, your needs will change and this will be reflected in the items that you would want to include in your bug-out bag. This could mean updating to a new bag that will have a larger capacity, or easier to carry, or offer more convenient access to your items.
But if you’re still content with what you have or see no need to replace your current luggage, at least make sure that it can still do its job. Look for holes, rips or tears in the material of your bag and repair them if you can. Like your shelter materials, waterproof your bag to make it more resistant against the elements. Make sure that the zippers still slide smoothly and wax or lube them. Check the straps and the stitching to see if it needs to be (and can still be) fixed. Wear your bug-out bag and make the necessary adjustments to make wearing and using your bag easier.
Regular maintenance of your bug-out bag and its contents is recommended so you won’t be caught unprepared when the time comes for you to use it. There’s nothing worse than having a bug-out bag and finding it lacking just when you need it.