Status can be a funny thing. Of course its most obvious iteration comes with shiny hardware and easily recognizable logos, but it gets far more interesting as you narrow it down to the more opaque signals — when the way you tuck your shirt, or what you eat for breakfast, or your particular brand of notebook can mark you as in or out. And of course, what counts as a status item varies wildly across human tribes. In our series, Insider Goods, we’re talking to tribe members (some with their real names, some anonymously) to find out the status items among art-gallery assistants, or Broadway actors, or architects. Today, we hear from Todd Sepulveda, editor of Prepper Website and host of The Prepper Website podcast, who always has a bug-out bag (that’s a go bag ready for any instance in which you might be bugging out, from a power outage to a hurricane to a nuclear war) at the ready.
“Preppers are on all different spectrums. Some people are preparing for nuclear war, but I also just used my bug-out bag when Hurricane Harvey hit and we were going to be without electricity for 48 hours. So really, a bug-out bag and preparedness are common sense. To start, you definitely need a bag. Some people use a tote, but you’ll really want something comfortable with adjustable straps that will connect across chest, or maybe even on waist as well, to take weight off the shoulders. 5.11 Tactical has a lot of good bags that people use.”
“A bug-out bag is meant to get you to a location. Sometimes people are misinformed and try to load everything and the kitchen sink into that bag, and that’s not a good approach. You usually have a place you’re going to, like a family member’s house or a country home or a cabin or something along those lines, so it’s all about what’ll hold you over until you get to that place. One of the most important things is water, so you’ll want the Sawyer Mini Water Filter. That’s the one that the preparedness community talks about the most. You can filter 10,000 gallons with one of those. The top-of-the-line is Katadyn, but I haven’t seen a Katadyn talked about in years. Usually, it’s just too expensive, and the Sawyer is smaller and more compact.”
“The thing is, if you buy all this stuff, you need to learn how to use it. If you have a kid and you’re making a bug-out bag for them or you don’t want to learn how to use a Sawyer, you can use LifeStraw. They’re very simple; it’s a no-brainer. Put one side in your mouth, the other side in the water, and just start drinking. That’s for people who need something a little more basic.”
“You should have a way to make fire. People talk about Zippos and your basic Bic lighter, but a lot of the people in the know will have a ferrocerium rod. Ferrocerium is a compound that helps produce a spark to create a flame. The one by Survival Hax is big enough to hold, at about six inches, and it comes with a striker and its own little mini–survival kit. It has like 10,000 strikes.”
“A lot of the time, what you would have in a bug-out situation is something as simple as a Mylar blanket because the idea is to move from one location to the other, and to do it quickly. But if you do need some sort of shelter, there’s the bivvy bag. That keeps you nice and warm, and you can get into that and use it as shelter, but it’s still small and compact and can fit in a bag.”
“For food, you just want something to snack on. People often suggest trail mix, but there’s something else called Survival Tabs. It’s in a mustard-yellow package, and people have tried eating these for two or three days straight, and they’ll say, ‘I’m not completely satisfied, but I’m not hungry.’ So they work.”
“If you want something closer to real food, you’ll want to buy Mountain House dehydrated food. That’s the best-tasting dehydrated food you can buy.”
“A Kaito is the Swiss Army Knife of electronics. It has a radio, phone charger, flashlight, and a crank with a solar panel all in one. A lot of people will use one of those because you can listen to info and charge your phone.”
“You’ll also want a really good flashlight and a headlamp so that you can be hands-free. One thing to note is that you’ll want all of your electronics to use the same kind of battery so that you don’t need to be carrying backups of all different size batteries. For flashlights, we talk a lot about the Outlite, which actually has rechargeable batteries. They’re also cheap, so you can buy two to carry around and they have a lot of lumens, so they’re very bright.”
“Schrade is the best survival knife, even though it’s budget. You’ll also want a multi-tool called the Leatherman Wave, which is a bit more expensive.”
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