Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Prepping in Layers: The BOB within a BOB

We all know that dressing is layers is the ideal solution for any outdoor situation regardless of season, elevation, or sport. The rules for layering are not hard and fast, but slushy and variable. I’ve always said that I want to live in a community where wearing a down coat with shorts is totally normal. And I do. For me the down coat/shorts combination represents the best in brains and lifestyle. As do a short sleeve shirt and gloves, as does a down vest over a tee shirt, or even a stocking cap and no shirt. Rules are for those who don’t understand the “why.”

Dressing in layers is simply putting a sequential and purposeful set of barriers between you and the world. Rather than having one giant coat with a tee shirt underneath (which is actually a viable strategy in Alaska where you move from freezing to tropical as you go from building/car to building), you instead work with varying degrees of insulation each with its own features to be exploited. The features include wicking (the movement of moisture away from the body and into another layer or the air), dead air space, wind breaking, water resistance, and resistance to penetration (whether by pokey sticks, sharp rocks, or full metal jackets).

The sequence of the layering is then based on both the activity and the design of the article of outerware. Putting a rain coat over a down parka may look silly but technically it makes perfect sense if the conditions are right for such a thing. The reason you don’t see that particular sequence very often is that anyone in the know realizes that moisture will be trapped inside the water resistant layer –thus the down coat- and down loses its loft (=insulation ability) proportionately to its moisture content. Wet down is useless.

However, you could wrap your head with your raincoat. No rule against that. And other than diminishing your hearing, a raincoat makes makes a fine hat when needed.  Was I the only one who while watching the astronaut actors in the movie Apollo 13 freeze their way back home in unheated capsule was yelling at the screen to “Put on your hat!” In the launch sequence, the astronauts wore makeshift leather caps under their helmets. Even though low-tech throwbacks to their fighter jock days, the insulation of the cap would make a difference. Heck, even ear plugs make a difference since a pair of uninsulated holes into your head are a definite heat sink.

So when you crank the handle of your prepping scenario machine, do you see yourself needing a BOB organizational flowchart where all of one type of supply is occupying a similar space? Or do you envision that your situation may require you to downsize yet remain viable?

Imagine yourself leaping off your front porch or raceing down the stairs as you hear your front door close behind you for possibly the last time. You and BOB hit the road. As your adventure begins, you find yourself in the unenviable but entirely predictable position where you must dump your best friend BOB in order to increase your survival potential as you traverse a hostile environment, or perhaps just do a little recon that might entail a day or two away from your friend BOB. Sure you could spread out your wares like a flea market and pick and choose the necessities for a day or two away from your primary BOB. Or, you could slide a hand through a zipper in your main BOB, grab the appropriately sized mini-BOB, and continue your adventure in style.

Of course weight is a serious concern so I don’t expect you to order a six-pack of Ruger LCPs, but do give it some thought. My Glock 19, if not on my hip, is in my pack  only on zipper away from my fingers. But I do have an LCP inside one of my mini-BOBs. As a mouse gun, I don’t carry much ammo for it. Frankly, if it comes to a Blackhawk Down situation, the LCP is only going to prolong the inevitable. No point in carrying more weight for that dead end purpose. But the LCP may buy enough time when on the run to multiply the equation from one with a negative quotient into to the right of zero on the lifeline. Remember, even the petite LCP speaks the same language as the big boys.

To start BOB within BOBing, think four levels deep. The extremes are your EDCs and your main BOB. That allows two mini-levels larger than EDC, or two smaller than a full BOB depending on your perspective. Aim at something the size of New York Times best selling book in hardback for the larger Bw/iB (BOB within a BOB) and something about the size of the same book when it comes out in paperback for the next size down. 

The smallest mini-bob should have more value then if you just stuffed more stuff in your pockets. If your smallest BOB can be subdivided into your pants pockets, then great, you have transitioned into extended EDC or EEDC, a topic or later. But that is not the point of a small BOB. In fact, a that small fanny pack with no padding, support, or attachment points might be just the ticket for your smallest BOB. Organization and predictability are critical. You don’t want to have to rapidly dig through your pockets feeling for a micro flashlight only to drive your fingers tip into the business end of a fishing lure.

The last aspect of mini-BOBs is food and water.  Treat both like ballast. F&W are for immediate needs and are 100% consumable. That means there is no reuse or redeeming value post-consumption. That also means if you have to drop them in order to fly away faster, then so be it. Since the bulk of food and the weight of water are distractions from speed and stealth, don’t hitch your mini-BOB wagon to F&W or you might have to cut ties to both. So while not technically a mini-BOB, a wearable container/bag/pouch with some food and water already in place is a great alternative to squandering away your most prime and sacred bodily real estate…your hands.

So dump out your BOB on the floor and reorganize your survival tools into layers. In other words,  get in touch with your inner BOB.

Carrry on.

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