LISTENING TO KATRINA
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PREP - Scat Pack
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Some of you are by now screaming at me something like, "You keep focusing on this data wealth idea, and that's nice and all, but this section is called ACTION! When are you going to tell us about some real preps that don't involve all of this geekery? When are you going to tell us about things that we can use for ACTION!?"
Well, this is the page you have been waiting for. We've covered the LGOB (Life Goes On Bag), the BOB (Bug Out Bag), and now I am going to introduce you to the Scat Pack. The Scat Pack is the gear equivalent of the 60 Second Plan. We could call it the 'Run For Your Life Bag', but RFYLB seems goofy.
Before I got married and had children, I did a lot of long distance backpacking. Somewhere along the way, I picked up the habit of keeping a small fanny pack of critical items. I can't tell you exactly how this idea developed, but somewhere along the way this bag coalesced into a philosophy. That philosophy will be familiar to you because it's, "Don't keep all your eggs in one basket." That philosophy lead to the theory that if I ever needed to abandon my backpack for whatever reason, a small emergency kit would be useful. At some point I started calling it my Scat Pack because the name is kind of clever.
We've talked about Shit Hit The Fan. Another word for Shit is, of course, Scat. Scat has another meaning, which is as a verb meaning 'to go off hastily' (often used in the imperative.) I took to saying, "If SHTF, Scat!" The Scat Pack also tends to collect random shit, rather like a woman's purse, and so the name is triply apt.
I did eventually use the Scat Pack to 'rescue' myself from a stupid mistake while backpacking.
The Scat Pack idea translated into city life for me and I took to carrying a purse. Women have known the benefits of the Scat Pack all along. The idea of a man with a purse (AKA 'murse') is fairly common in other countries, but a little strange in the United States. I never really understood this. Some people say that women carry purses because women's clothing doesn't have pockets - but I think that's just an excuse. Cultural and social pressures are weird sometimes. Jesus carried a purse - and in Luke 22:36, specifically admonishes the Apostles, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one." If Jesus was good with a murse, what's the problem? We'll get to that whole sword thing later...
The man purse or 'murse' idea got some traction in American culture when fanny packs became common in the late 1980's and early 1990's, but they are now considered unfashionable. Of course, our focus on contents will be a little different. I no longer actively carry a purse, because for the most part I always have my LGO Bag handy. The situation could arise, however, that I would have to abandon the LGO Bag. When I don't have my LGO Bag, I normally carry a camera bag and keep a few things in my pockets - which serves the same purpose.
The Survivalist equivalent is something called a GHB or Get Home Bag, which tends towards being one of those 80 pound backpacks. I saw one online recently that included three road flares and other crap that crosses the line into bizarre. Uh... OK... The problem with such a GHB is that if you need to run for your life, it will only slow you down. If you need to take the stairs out of an office building, you aren't going to want that monkey on your back - and most of the contents will be useless anyway. If you have to be rescued off your roof by helicopter, they aren't going to take your LGOB, BOB, or GHB or anything else for that matter. We need to have a Plan B. (The neck safe is actually Plan C.)
The scat pack fills a need similar to that of the neck safe, and requires similar parameters. It should be small, light, easy, cheap (but not too cheap!), and durable. Waterproof is optional. The neck safe is about identity, data wealth, memory, and some physical wealth as well. The scat pack is about general tools to support general strategies. The contents of your Scat Pack will be determined by your particular circumstances. If you work in high rise buildings all day, then the contents of your Scat Pack will differ from someone in a purely rural setting. You may also configure your Scat Pack for trips, or for whatever your daily activity is going to be.
On September 11, 2001, I watched with the rest of the world as people tried to escape the developing disaster of airplanes crashing into skyscrapers. My mind began playing the usual 'what if' game. What if I was there? What would I wish I had carried with me to work that day? My short list was comfortable shoes, a dusk mask, a bottle of water, and a headlamp - things that would fit in a fanny pack. Being able to parachute off the roof might have been handy, but carrying around a parachute isn't practical or even particularly sane.
I'm going to show you my basic setup, and give you some strategy and a few tactics. My scat pack is actually a part of my LGO Bag, because that bag comes everywhere with me anyway. For the most part, the scat pack is just a sub-set of the LGO Bag and not actually something different. The scat pack, however, contains the core tools of the LGO Bag plus a few 'extras'. If I needed to abandon the laptop computer, wires, and other things that I could replace given time and money, then I'm left with the things that belong in the scat pack.
You already know that I am the cheapest man alive, so it won't surprise you that my scat pack is an Outdoor Products fanny pack that I bought from www.campmor.com on clearance for eight bucks. It's the old RoadRunner model. I have bought and assembled scat packs from Wal-Mart for six or eight dollars by scavenging bits of this and that. A medium sized camera bag could work, but I like fanny packs because you can attach them positively to your body and your hands are free for other tasks. Whatever bag you decide to use for this, do not get a large one. Something the size of an ordinary fanny pack is best - which is about 200 cubic inches. Anything over about 300 cubic inches is too big. If it's bigger than your head, then you've done something drastically wrong.
The very first item you should put in your scat pack is some kind of medication. If you do not need to take medication, then an old prescription bottle with aspirin in it will do - but have some medication. Why? Because if a rescuer says, "Leave that bag!", you say, "It's my medication!" That's strategy #1.
As I noted, the rest of the items will vary depending on your individual needs, but these are the items I consider most useful:
Leatherman Micra - A Micra is a very small and handy tool, its main function being a very strong (if small) pair of scissors. It also has a small knife, various screwdrivers, nail cleaner and file, tweezers, and a bottle opener.
Multi-Tool - I carry a Leatherman Charge, but if I had to recommend one, I'd recommend the Wave. You may have a personal favorite, but I have found my multi-tool to be the #1 most useful tool in my kit. I'm constantly using it for jobs too numerous to describe. The thing I like about the Charge and Wave tools is that they have full size folding knives built into them that can be opened easily with one hand.
Headlamp - A headlamp is better than a flashlight in so many ways that if you only have one light, have a headlamp. I am quite fond of my Princeton Tec Aurora. Any LED headlamp will do. Be sure to chose something with a long battery life. You can frequently find last year's models at cut-rate prices at www.campmor.com. In this context, think SMALL. You don't need some nuclear-bright x-ray-vision model headlamp. The smallest LED headlamp will work nicely. The Princeton Tech Aurora really is more than enough.
Small - VERY SMALL - first aid kit.
Water Bottle - Any water bottle will do. I don't always have my water bottle in my scat pack because I'm drinking out of it. Water us a universal tool that most people do not consider fully. Clean water isn't just for drinking. Yes, you can drink it, but you can also rinse your eyes, mouth, ears, and sinuses. You can use it to take medications, wash wounds, extinguish small fires, and a long list of other things up to and including performing a little Chinese Water Torture on someone. A bottle of water is nearly as useful as a towel - which brings me to that item.
Towel - Obviously you aren't going to fit a beach towel in a fanny pack. A small hand towel of some kind is a very useful tool sometimes, however, and should not be overlooked.
Pen & Note Pad - Any pen and any small note pad will do. The ability to jot down a note, or leave a note, or record something, or write your last will and testament while trapped beneath rubble as your life blood oozes away can be invaluable.
Fire - All human beings should carry fire. Well, maybe not little kids or pyromaniacs, but excepting those, everybody should carry fire. Fire is one of those universal tools that should never be ignored. In my area and climate, a small Bic lighter is just the thing. I also like to have a little container of Lifeboat Matches, which burn hot even in the wind.
Latex Gloves - Or Nitrile gloves if you are allergic to latex.
Snack - I like granola bars or bags of mixed nuts.
Depending on your daily tasks, you may also want to consider one or more of the following: Whistle, condoms, lightstick, some string or paracord, ear plugs, super glue, carabiner. If you are into uber-tactical-ops or something, you could carry lock picks and various other mall-ninja accoutrements.
Above all else, keep your scat pack small and light.
There is another 'trick' that I want to mention in this context. If - for whatever reason - you need to abandon your Life Goes On Bag (LGOB), you may not want to abandon certain critical contents of that bag. In my case, I keep report binders with original documents in my LGO Bag at all times. If I have to escape a high-rise building, or otherwise be 'rescued' from some situation, the LGO bag is going to have to stay behind.
My clever wife accidentally bought some very large Hefty brand zipper lock plastic bags. I found that the document binders fit very nicely into them. My daughter had a cheap draw-string 'backpack', and I went looking for something a little better and found it. It's a nylon bag with drawstrings that work as shoulder straps. If you search on Google or Amazon for 'drawstring backpack', you'll find some.
I now keep the binders in the bags at all times, which protects them from water, moisture, and other hazards. The 'backpack' folds neatly and slips into the same compartment in my LGOB. If I have to ditch the majority of the bag, it takes five seconds to slip everything into the 'backpack' and I'm good to play the Run For Your Life game.
There is enough room for other things as well, but I think that lighter is better when running for your life.
As you can see, it lays flat, and if I pull a large shirt or a light jacket over it, you'd hardly notice it.
If you have to carry another backpack with critical supplies, this setup will fit under that very nicely as well. It's a good way to keep important things from going missing if you have to abandon larger groups of supplies. It's not high on the macho scale, but it works to its purpose.