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Probably useful for a Zombie Apocalypse, too.
May 6, 2014 7:57 PM   Subscribe

Creating a portable survival kit is a popular project for which you can find many examples online. There have been a great many different items in military survival kits over the years. The Paratroopers on D-Day were apparently well equipped, and pilots in the Pacific Theater had their own special manual. Many soldiers in WWII famously received chocolate bars for their kits, though they were apparently not all that welcome. Finally, if you really want an authoritative source for what to pack, ask Major Kong.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (30 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
Then go camping with only that gear for 72 hrs. Adjust bug-out bag as needed.
posted by codswallop at 8:20 PM on May 6 [9 favorites]


"“I think the problem comes from stale bars eaten too quickly. It is meant to be eaten in small segments over time.” Indeed, instructions on the early boxes of the D Ration stated that the bars were to be eaten over a halfhour period."

...so, basically, WWII chocolate bars were lembas? Or maybe cram....
posted by theweasel at 8:29 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


FISH IS FOOD AND DRINK
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:41 PM on May 6


When the zombie apocalypse comes I'm just going to wait for everyone to die of hypothermia in their space blankets and take all their stuff. I can use the miles and miles of parachute cord and all the fishhooks to make an anti zombie net around my cabin and burn canvas knapsacks for warmth. It'll be easy pickings.
posted by fshgrl at 8:55 PM on May 6 [8 favorites]


When the zombie apocalypse comes I am going to make it a priority to go around and open all the doors and gates and sheds and garages. Bolt-cutter all the zoos and stables and chains. Kick open all the pet stores and crack all the cages (that chapter from World War Z haunts me to this day).

My ultimate goal will be for the human race to just miss extinction, eradicate the zombie threat...and then the handful of survivors are savaged to death by feral animals. That would rule and is a common fantasy I play in my head to help me get to sleep at night. So awesome.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:24 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Then go camping with only that gear for 72 hrs. Adjust bug-out bag as needed.

I've never put together a "bug out bag" but when I look at people's packing lists, many of them look wildly impractical both for carrying (do you know how heavy 2000 rounds of ammunition is?) and for living out of.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:52 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I have a bag, but it's more for daily what-if's than for survival. For instance, I've never had need for space blankets or a flint or two thousand bullets, but I can't tell you how many times I've saved my own day or somebody else's by having an extra pair of socks or a belt in my car. Once I saved a wedding with the extra safety pins I stashed in my first-aid kit. Thankfully I've never had to use the kit itself for anything more than band-aids.

Maybe I'll die in the apocalypse but otherwise it's working okay.
posted by cribcage at 10:03 PM on May 6 [11 favorites]


Having not been through a zombie apocalypse thus far nor having been a member of the military but having endured Loma Prieta and Hurricane Isaac I highly recommend an LED flashlight and a little radio as the first items in your kit. These will draw people with resources to you. Most people have more than a few days food in their cupboard and my experience is that people draw together and share when temporary paucity arrives.

Vodka in moderate quantitiy and a deck of cards are helpful too. A sense of humor is crucial.
posted by vapidave at 10:10 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Once I saved a wedding with the extra safety pins I stashed in my first-aid kit.

Guessing you picked the lock to the liquor cabinet?
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:14 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


*feels earthquake/sights zombie*
*notes ample supply of instant coffee in bug-out bag*
*shoots self*
posted by pompomtom at 10:31 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


In the third grade I suppose I made what could be called a "bug out bag" out of a Sucrets tin. Inside was a tiny pencil, an eraser, I think a dime, and a lunch ticket. I don't think I ever had need to use it, but such plans of writing, erasing, calling home, and having a Reagan-approved school lunch I had.
posted by blueberry at 10:32 PM on May 6 [9 favorites]


When the zombie apocalypse comes, fuck it, I'm just going to kill myself. Because, you know, it's a goddamn apocalypse.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:45 PM on May 6


From the '...pilots in the Pacific Theater had their own special manual' link, at the bottom of the page, there is much good advice to be had regarding Jungle Natives, especially the italicized bit.
posted by islander at 12:44 AM on May 7


Vodka in moderate quantitiy and a deck of cards are helpful too.

I had a Scoutmaster once whose survival kit consisted entirely of a deck of cards: "If I ever get lost, I just sit down and start playing a game of solitaire. Within 10 minutes, someone will walk up and say, 'Black six on the red seven,' and then I can ask them for help."
posted by Etrigan at 4:49 AM on May 7 [13 favorites]


ANYTHING THAT YOU SEE MONKEYS EAT, YOU CAN EAT.
posted by euphorb at 5:14 AM on May 7


PLUS MONKEYS
posted by whuppy at 6:14 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


And here's Major Kong's survival kit contents as a list.
posted by MILNEWSca at 6:38 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


"The Hershey Company in Hershey, Pennsylvania, made more than 40 million special chocolate bars for the military during the war."

With 10 million men in uniform, according to FDR, that only works out to 4 chocolate bars per man, per year in the war. That's not a lot and doesn't take into account women chocoholics, either. I wonder how many were actually produced and if they were segregated for emergency rations/survival kits only. We already know from Empire of The Sun that while not available in the internment camp, they readily fell out of the sky.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:25 AM on May 7


A lot of these manuals talk about "a lengthy list of experiences of men who have faced the situation of being forced to make it alone in the Arctic, the desert, the jungle, or on an ocean," or that "steadiness and good temper have got many a man out of the same fix you are in" (emphases mine). I can't help but feel that these are white lies told to keep the morale of the survivor up. Granted, morale and determination are vital to survival but how many examples are there of people who survived for a lengthy amount of time without rescue? Compared to the total number of people who were shipwrecked/forced to bail, and especially in the time period that these were printed?

Also, 2nding taking a look at the Pacific Theater manual. Aside from the bit about the natives, this and this are pretty interesting for how impractical they seem to be.
posted by coolname at 7:47 AM on May 7


What they put in them was chocolate, oat flour, cocoa fat, skim milk and artificial coloring. But despite the many tepid reviews on the flavor, people continued to eat them.

So, a pretty standard Hershey experience then.

Coming to the US from the Chocolate Shangri-La of the Hibernian Isles, I was and am astonished at the poor quality of mass produced chocolate on the shelves throughout the US.
posted by meehawl at 8:56 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Most kits omit the basics. You need a knife to make shelter, preferably an axe as well. You need water so you need the pills and/or something to dig with (depending on where you are). And a compass, if you know the terrain and know where a river might be.

But all of that is predicated on ultimately getting rescued. A zombie apocalypse bag.... I've had some discussions about this with people for a long time.

I go on loooong hunts. Sometimes alone. Sometimes with a wealthy buddy and a buddy of mine who is a doctor and our wealthy pal bankrolls us so our life savings isn't wiped.

There isn't a lot of wilderness left. Real "a human? wtf?" wilderness. So food isn't much of a problem. Clean water would be if you can't purify phosphorus (farms would still be draining). You can live pretty long with a rifle, ammo, or bow and arrows, and access to water. Building shelter when you have energy is not a problem. If you have shelter and water you can stay for years to refine your shelter and build what tools you need from wood, rock and bone. Even needle and thread.

I think the big problem during a zombie apocalypse would be that there would still be people going to work.

Even when they're not, the machines are still working. When they turn the lights on in the mall during the ZA and power is still on my first thought is "firestorm" or "meltdown."
And the sewers are still going. But the treatment plants aren't.
So you'll need to boil everything. And stock up on metronidazole and/or diloxanide furoate (etc.) to stop dysentery.

Not much at all. But then, where do you bug out to?
posted by Smedleyman at 9:12 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I have a list of my bug-out bag contents at bugoutbaglist.info.
posted by mrbill at 9:42 AM on May 7


Honestly, I joke about the zombie apocalypse and all, and it's funny, but last year my state ended up under water and the year before that it was on fire. And I may be buying a house (and hence, moving) in the next few months. So, like, an actual, useful 72-hour kit? Kind of a thing.

(the 2000 rounds of ammo goes elsewhere)
posted by sparktinker at 9:43 AM on May 7


The US Army Survival Guide is available for free for Android. (There are small ads that can be turned off for each session.) It's a little like a game too, as you get to play the "see how much you can memorize before you lose power because you didn't buy a solar recharger you bonehead" game. It's still a pretty interesting read even if you're not in danger, if you like this sort of thing.
posted by Zack_Replica at 9:55 AM on May 7


the lessons about a 72 hour kit was one of the only things i kept from my days as a mormon.
posted by nadawi at 11:22 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


codswallop: Then go camping with only that gear for 72 hrs. Adjust bug-out bag as needed.

Yup! I picked up the hobby of ultralight backpacking at one point, and as I camped, my notion of what was important to carry changed radically.

Now when I look at any such pack (including simple "First-Aid Kit" packs), I think, "WTF?" Saw? Useless weight, unless it's a wire saw - and even then, questionable, since it's rare that you can't find enough fuel with just a knife. Gauze pad? A tampon is just as light, smaller, and more impervious in the pack. OTOH, only one way to start fire? Asking for trouble...

Once again, and always: The most important item in a survival pack is a plastic garbage bag. In case of a downpour, it can become an instant poncho (poke three holes in the bottom corners and middle, and thrust head & arms through, forming a tight seal). It quite possibly saved our lives (4 hale but foolish 22yos) on a canoe trip once. Bears, suspect water sources, and walking lost without a compass are unlikely to do more than greatly dismay you. Wet clothing can kill you in a few hours time, a mile from your car.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:28 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


In the third grade I suppose I made what could be called a "bug out bag" out of a Sucrets tin. Inside was a tiny pencil, an eraser, I think a dime, and a lunch ticket. I don't think I ever had need to use it, but such plans of writing, erasing, calling home, and having a Reagan-approved school lunch I had.

I ran away from home at least a dozen times with just a peanut butter sandwich and a banana seat bicycle. It's really all you need for an afternoon of complete freedom.
posted by srboisvert at 2:18 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]




When the zombie apocalypse comes, fuck it, I'm just going to kill myself.

Going over to the other side, eh?

So what do zombies keep in their bags?
posted by BlueHorse at 4:46 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


I don't know about a "bug-out bag", but I was a Boy Scout and "Be Prepared" is good advice. Now I'm 40 and I still always have a knife on me. Instead of my old trusty Victorinox Swiss Army knife (amzn B0009KF4H0), I now carry a little mini Leatherman (amzn B003H3FUH0) that I somehow seem to need for one reason or another at least once each day.
posted by GatorDavid at 10:27 PM on May 9


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