Think of “inch bags” as oversized bug out bags because their purpose is to keep you alive for an indefinite amount of time out in the wilderness. In these situations, you’ll be pretty much a refugee, which is ironic because, as I’m writing this, hundreds of thousands of immigrants are flooding Europe.
INCH is an acronym and it stands for I’m Never Coming Home. I know, you might say to yourself that you’re almost sure you’ll bug in when it happens but who can tell WHAT will happen? Bugging out is a dangerous scenario if you leave it out of your prepping plans and an inch bag is the best place to start.
If you already have a bug out bag, you’re halfway there. All you need now is a bigger (and more solid) backpack as well as the extra survival gear to fill it with.
So, where on earth do you start when packing a comprehensive inch bag? With the backpack itself, of course.
Choosing your INCH bag
There’s no shortage of backpacks out there for you to choose from but be sure to take the time to consider these questions to make sure you get just the right bag for your needs.
Purchasing a pre-made INCH bag might seem like the simplest option, but it is not the best one for you and your family. You will get a much better result if you put the time and effort into planning and buying your own gear – it’ll be tailored to suit your personal needs and you’ll be able to quickly find what you want, when you need it.
Here’s a few things you to consider before you buy:
- Does the bag fit you properly with the correct torso length and adjustable straps to distribute the load between your hip and shoulders?
- Does it have adequate supports? External frames packs are typically better for large loads. Look for padded comforts, compression straps, and adjustable fit.
- Are there enough compartments and pockets inside it to store everything?
- Is the fabric durable and waterproof?
Don’t be sucked into buying a low quality bag, just because it’s cheap. It might be so, but is it going to be able to contain everything you need to survive?
Although your bag needs plenty of room, don’t buy one that is too big for you. Remember, you’ll have to carry this bag, fully outfitted for long periods at a time. The total weight of your INCH bag should not exceed 25% of your total body weight.
Avoid brightly colored backpacks as they will make you an easy target as you maneuver through crowds of looters and desperate people trying to survive as well.
My Top I.N.C.H. Backpack Recommendations
- MALICE Packs from Tactical Tailor
- ALPS OutdoorZ Commander Pack Bag
- Kelty Cache Hauler Pack
- Kelty Trekker External Frame Pack
The Contents of your INCH bag
When assembling your INCH bag, your priority should be on basic survival gear rather than luxury or comfort items.
So, what exactly what do you need to survive? I’ve broken the topic into basic categories to make it easier to digest. You will need to customize for your personal needs, but here’s a basic outline:
Air: we don’t last long without clean air, so perhaps the first thing you’ll need is:
- NBC Gas Mask with a NATO filter the correct size for each person.
- Several disposable N95 or N100 surgical masks
Shelter and Heat: Hypothermia is nature’s silent killer, so be prepared with:
– Small tent (make it a 2-person tent if possible)
– Sleeping bag (waterproof and cold weather rated if possible)
– Waterproof groundsheet
– Waterproof matches/firelighter blocks/lighter/flint (as many ways to start a fire as possible).
– Magnifying glass
Water: you will need clean drinking water for the first couple of days, and a method of purification after your initial supply is gone. Include water purification tablets as well as personal water filter (hint: the Sawyer mini can purify 100 times more water than the LifeStraw, that’s 100,000 liters).
Food and Cooking: Try to make sure your pack contains enough food to last one full week, without having to forage from nature. Here are some suggestions:
- High energy protein bars
- Dried fruit & nuts
- Oatmeal seeds,
- Dehydrated vegetables
- Meal replacement powders
- Tea, coffee, sugar
- Chocolate, candy
- Stock cubes
- Dried soup mix
- Mineral salts
- Powdered milk
Of course MREs are decent, but they’ll take up more room and we’re talking long-term here, not just a day or two. Pack one or two to get you started, but consider items that provide the most nutritious and satisfying meals yet take up minimum space.
How are you going to prepare your food? Consider:
- Tactical stove/stove kit
- Utensils for preparation and eating
- A billy or kettle
- Stainless mug/s and plate/s
- Sharp knives
It is wise, however, to start supplementing by hunting and gathering right from the start. This will help to ‘stretch out’ the contents of your pack. Be sure to include:
- A fishing kit (rod, line, floats, lures, reel, etc)
- Hunting knives + whetstone
- Guns and ammo
- Traps or snares
- Edible plant guide for your area
- Bags to collect roots and plants in
First Aid Kit: injuries are debilitating, there are literally hundreds of ready-made kits available for purchase, however make sure your kit includes:
- First aid manual
- butterfly sutures
- Nitril gloves
- Antiseptic liquid and wipes
- Burn relief cream (or aloe vera gel)
- Decongestant spray/tablets (for common cold)
- Eye wash & patches
- Gauze pads/cotton balls
- A good supply of any prescription medications you need
Personal hygiene: this is really important, because you have to keep yourself as healthy and confident as possible. If you fail on hygiene, you’ve taken the first step towards giving up. I suggest you keep all of these into a single pouch, so you know where to find them. Be sure to include:
- 2 x rolls toilet paper
- Fold-up brush, comb & mirror
- Toothbrush, toothpaste & dental floss
- Bar of soap
- Wet wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Disposable razors
- Pocket-sized tissue packs
- Nail cutters
Clothing: Make sure you include a full change of clothes (you know your own climate and what you will have to include) as well as an extra (2 full sets) of underwear. Also, include:
- A hat
- Mosquito net
- Extra shoelaces
- Hiking boots
- Thermal underwear
- 4-5 pairs of socks (of various thicknesses)
- Wet weather gear
Pack all clothing in watertight bags.
Other tools and equipment you’ll find invaluable include:
- Work gloves (leather)
- Garbage bags (assorted sizes)
- Multi-purpose tool (eg. Leatherman)
- Miscellaneous hardware items (nails, screws, cable ties)
- Measuring tape
- Sewing kit (various sizes of needles and thread)
- Duct tape & fluorescent marking tape
- Small folding saw
- Crow bar/hammer
- Screwdriver set
- Wire cutters
- Zip-seal bags
- Assortment of small batteries (AAA, AA, 9V, etc.)
- Hand crank and/or solar powered flashlight
Communication and navigation are both very important. Vital items include:
- Orienteering Compass
- Backup compass (either orienteering or at least a button compass)
- Topographic maps (learn to read these in advance)
- GPS system + backup batteries
- Distress flares
- Survival whistle
- Cell phone and extra battery (fully charged)
- Solar powered charger for phone
- Prepaid phone card
- Backup batteries for hearing-aid if applicable
- Small emergency radio (hand crank or solar powered is ideal)
Other items you may want to include:
- Cash (a few hundred in smaller bills at minimum, but the more the better!)
- Passport/ID photographs/vital information and documents (plus copies)
- the Holy Bible or other religious reference book of your choice
- Notebook/pen and several permanent markers
- Capsicum spray
- A second pair of reading glasses
- Assortment of containers with lids (useful for 101 different things)
These lists give you a basic idea of what you’ll need, however the limitations to your INCH bag will be space, pack weight, and the money you’re prepared to invest in it.
Honestly, the lists could go on and on, but focus on what you actually need to survive. Soft comfort items and daily conveniences can be added later if you still have room in your pack after you pack in all the basic necessities.
These are basic and common sense suggestions, but use your judgement too. Customize your INCH bag based on your local weather climate, your location, your personal needs, and the needs of your family members. Get cracking and organize your INCH bag before it’s too late.