The list of contents of a BOB is about 80% the same core items across the board with 20% customized for location, skill set, mindset, and financial situation. The following is a list of five items that you might not have in your BOB but should.
1) Carbon Fiber 3-Section Folding Trekking Poles. If you've never used hiking poles, then you don't have no idea how helpful they are. Most people have never walked 10 miles in a row, yet alone 20 or 30. At those distances, the body does things that are beyond your control. Joints and muscles begin to act up, and as you have likely seen at marathon finishes, some fit runners drop to the ground in sight of the finish and there is nothing they can do about it.
Trekking poles take some stress off the knees and hips transferring the force to the arms and upper body muscles. This is especially important when carrying a backpack. The poles stabilize travel over uneven or slippery terrain giving you four legs instead of just two. The positive effects of pole use are magnified when going up and especially down hills. In fact, the use of poles may be the single difference between moving forward and collapsing. I'm not kidding. Eventually you will have to stop, but if you can outsource some of the work to your arms, physically you can go farther.
Why 3-section folding poles over 2-section folding or telescoping or single length poles? First, the size. Having four feet of rod sticking out of anywhere can be troublesome when trying to move stealthy. And second, the folding poles make excellent joint splints should the need arise. The Black Diamond Z-Pole design is my favorite.
If carbon fiber is out of your price range, then aluminum will work fine as well. But avoid the cheap fiberglass ones. They are for city walkers.
And if you need to carry a gun in one hand, you will still get over half the benefit of using poles with just one pole.
Two considerations, however. First, several smaller tubes are better than one larger one for various reasons including limited shelf life after opening. Second, the frail material the tube is made of can easily puncture or develop stress breaks. The smaller the tube, the less surface area at risk as well. Finally, one small tube is infinitely more valuable then no tube at all so err on the side of having some rather than none.
If you can find it, the older stock in the yellow tubes works better than the new stuff (sans toluene) in the blue tube.
3) Parabiner (HMS Carabiner). Not only will you need this biner, but you will need to know how to use it. A parabiner is a pear-shaped carabiner that can be used as a single-point tie-in for both repelling and belaying with no additional hardware beyond the rope and harness of course.
The parabiner is also known as an HMS carabiner for Halbmastwurf sicherung or half clove hitch in German. The half clove hitch is the special knot that is used with the parabiner to control the friction.
The shape of the biner is necessary to allow the knot to move back and forth through the center of the biner depending on the direction of the rope force.
In addition to knowing how to use the munter hitch, you should know how to make a harness out of nothing more than a loop of rope or webbing, and also make sure you only have real climbing-capable carabiners and leave the keychain biners and snaplinks at home because a mistake in equipment could kill you.
4) Windproof/Wind Stopper fleece hat with ear drops. Few heat-retaining outterware pieces are as critical as the hat, and yet many good folks drop thousands on guns and ammo but choke on a $30 stocking cap. Sure you can get an acrylic knit one for under five bucks, but unless you head is worth that much as well, stop being such a tightwad and get yourself some performance headgear.
Why Gore Wind Stopper? Because it works. And for those so incline to skip the earplugs when shooting, there is a few decibel reduction as sound tries to move through the Gore lining inside the hat.
Ear drops are critical for covering those two holes in your head. Major heat is lost out your ears so effective coverage of your ears might be as important as anything else the hat can do.
Mountain Hardware and Outdoor Research (OR) make fine Gore Wind Stopper hats. My rule of thumb is that if you can see light though the hat, then it fails the wind test. Now that's not a 500 lumen flashlight, just a window or ceiling light.
5) Titanium Pry Bar. At a shade over five inches, this Ti pry bar is the just the ticket for wedging open car windows, encouraging stuck doors, forcing open cans and bottles, and even light trenching.
As a weapon, things will be pretty much be over by the time you need to employ this, but it would do significant damage if allowed unrestricted access to skin or skull.
Imagine needing quick access to a dash-mounted GPS unit in an abandoned car. Or giving that bit of persuasion to a bent door. And if you really need a creative reason to carry this tool, imagine needing to self-arrest while sliding down a roof, or punching through sheet metal siding where someone forgot to install a door.
The point of a BOB is to cover the most possibilities with the least amount of stuff. Adding these five additional pieces will do worlds of good no matter the SHTF scenario. And with a combined weight just over one pound, the combined advantages will take your BOB to the next level.
Got your own suggestion to take your BOB up a notch? Add them in the comments section for this blog post.