After footwear, pack weight, fit and weight distribution are important factors when leaving on foot to your bug-out location, in order to save yourself and your family from disaster. So much so that their basic principles apply across the board in most other alternative modes of transport as well.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, ideal pack weight for survival scenarios is both relative and subjective: saying that everyone’s pack should be x% of their body weight across the board is somewhat naïve.
What to Consider When Packing
First of all, there are factors you must take into account for each of the group member that you belong to:
- the overall fitness level
- lean body mass
- body fat percentage
- physical size
- cardiovascular fitness
- backpacking experience
- level of mental toughness
- determination of the individual.
Travel parameters such as how long you will travel, how far, the terrain conditions, grades, distance between water sources, distance between supply caches, and the likelihood of various forms of resupply must be considered also.
Other factors to evaluate are the group size and makeup to make adjustments for families, children, elderly group members and group members with disabilities.
What about Logistics?
Consider group logistics since you will be a more capable survival group if you have the proper group equipment – tools such as an axe, entrenching tool, bow saw blades, a stove or two, shelters and other equipment that is very useful but can be shared.
Determine beforehand what group equipment will be needed and distribute it amongst the group members since your individual loads will be lighter if each person doesn’t have to carry every article redundantly.
Failure to coordinate group logistics usually results in everyone carrying everything that anyone could possibly need, creating over-redundancy and loads of excess weight or the omission of high value group gear or force multipliers do to increased individual pack weight.
Don’t underestimate the importance of security-related factors such as:
- Chain of command
- Small unit tactics
- Marching order
- SOP (standard operating procedure)
- Weapons distribution
- Ammo distribution
Plan and Prepare to Travel Undetected
Plan the trip and prepare for it ahead of time. Do security considerations and environmental conditions dictate day or night travel? Will the group need to E&E (escape & evade) as it travels? If so, precautions such as noise, light, spore (track) and litter discipline must be exercised.
This may mean packing extra magazines & E&E-specific gear such as Wayne Carlton’s Cat’s Paws (sometimes referred to as super sneakers). They are basically an oversized felt sole that attaches securely over your boots. They offer the advantages of leaving virtually no spore, radically altering any tracks that you do leave, and helping you make less noise as you walk while hunting or needing to E&E.
You may also need to run a cold camp (no fire) or use a Dakota fire hole to hide your fire and it’s smoke. Setting tripwires and posting sentries will also help defend your group while camped.
Diversionary tactics such as such as making direction changes in rocky terrain or on stretches of pavement where you won’t leave visible tracks to follow will help thwart those who may be tracking you. This will cause your pursuers to have to walk ever larger circles from the point where they lost your trail until they can pick it up again.
Having someone in your group volunteer to study E&E tactics and cross-training the rest of your group ahead of time may pay off big down the road in the form of avoided conflicts.
All of the previous factors must be considered holistically to determine ideal pack weight per individual.
How Much Is Too Much?
Taking all of these factors into consideration, target pack weight may range anywhere from 15%-50% of target body weight for your build and height. That’s 15%-50% of what you should weigh.
If you’re overweight, calculating your pack weight based on your body weight will yield a pack that’s too heavy and you will suffer miserably under its weight on top of the extra weight that you are already carrying.
If members bring too much redundant or unnecessary gear, the group load should be adjusted en route, and excess gear should be bartered or cached along the way.
This article first appeared at Survivopedia: Packing Weight for a Smooth Bug-Out