Best “Gray Man” Bugout Bags for Two (and why they include SCUBA gear ?!!)

In this video, I’ll detail the two-pack 
“gray man” system my wife and I will rely   on should we have to abandon our home and 
run. In keeping with my commitment to you,   I do a lot of homework and plan these projects 
carefully, so you have the best-possible   starting point for your own projects. If 
I do my job, the video will both validate   and refute some of your beliefs, and perhaps 
present new ideas you’ve never considered.
  As always, I’ll be brief as possible, but this 
video has a lot to cover, so I apologize for   the length. For your patience, I’ve included 
two surprises. First, why these desert bags   include some SCUBA gear. Second, a shot near the 
end that’s so cute your wife will love it. So,   grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy…
I think these packs are better planned,   and a much better choice, than our original 
more “tactical-looking” bug out bags.

In the   next few minutes I’ll detail some important 
planning principles that make them so.
  When I released the original bug out bag video, 
I asked for your advice, and did I get a lot of   great ideas! Some of the most well-considered and 
critical advice addressed the bag’s weight. At just   under 40lb, the original bag is close to 20% of 
my body weight, falling within the one-sixth to   one-third range many backpacking experts 
recommend. However, my wife and I are more   representative of the demographics of our viewers 
– 45-65, and I think the experts probably represent   a younger crowd.

For these bags, I set a strict 
weight budget of 15% of each of our body weights.
  I also got a LOT of suggestions for things that 
people really think are important – ranging from   the brilliant to the fanciful – but every comment 
gave me reason to think, and has been much   appreciated. I took your advice to heart, did more 
homework and planning, and this is the result…
  For the “gray man” version, we 
had four key considerations:
  First, the bag had to do the job – keep 
us alive and healthy for 72 hours in our   local environment without outside support, save 
additional water should we be in the five-month   summer season where daytime temps will be above 
100F or 38C.

We live on the edge of the city,   and have both urban and wilderness environments 
within a mile of our home. In the summer season,   water is near non-existent in the desert, so will 
likely have be scrounged in the city unless we’re   lucky enough to have a monsoon rain.
Second, the bags had to be light enough   for us to manage over multi-mile distances, 
and allow us to move quickly if necessary. We   budgeted 15% of our body weight, and this 
tyrannical limit made planning difficult,   but really made the bags a success in the end.


weighed and recorded every item, and this was a   great help in the agonizing choices of what did, 
and did not, make the cut. I also recorded the   calorie content of every food item, and planned 
both the energy and sodium contributions that   will be important for sustaining energy and 
replacing salt that will be lost to sweat.
  Third, the bags my wife and I will carry 
work together, splitting the inventory of   what we’ll need, but in such a way that 
each bag is reasonably self-sufficient.   Should we be separated or need to abandon one 
of them, each has what we’ll need to survive.
  Finally, in keeping with the “gray man” concept, 
the bags should not call unwelcome attention.
  So, let’s get to the bags.

Both bags are 5.11 COVRT 18   models that appear much like those you’d see on 
a campus or around town. To reduce notice, we   chose two different color schemes so they wouldn’t 
match. The bags have excellent mesh padding that   helps keep your back cool and adds comfort. I’ve 
added web waist belts that transfer weight to our   hips and keep the packs from bouncing. They’re 
both equipped with Camelbak water bladders:   3 liters for my bag, and 2 liters for my wife’s. 
On the exterior are gloves and a washcloth,   and my bag is equipped with two one-liter 
bottles of water, one of which is stainless steel   so it can be used for boiling water we scrounge.
The First Aid kit moves to my belt, and we’ll   likely clip our radios to the loops on the pack 
straps. The radios are inexpensive dual-band HAM   radios, for which we’re licensed. For people who 
aren’t licensed, a good alternative are Midland   FRS radios that need no license, have weather 
band, and can also operate on the higher-powered   GMRS band if you register online with the FCC. 
A GMRS license is around $80 for five years,   and covers all the radios for your group.


recommend you get the license and learn good   radio etiquette, so you can practice, and also 
use the GMRS channels for travel or events.
  The Ka-Bar knives are short models with 
full-length half tangs and Kydex sheaths.   We’ll wear them in the wild, or likely put them 
in the packs or conceal them for urban travel.   On the back of each sheath are two sail needles, 
secured with duct tape. We can use the interior   strands from the 550 cord should we need to make 
clothing or equipment repairs. The pepper spray   could clip on the pack straps or be carried in 
a pocket.

Both of us are extensively trained,   qualified and permitted for other defense 
options, but I’ll skip detailing that equipment   in this video. We’ll pocket the whistles 
so the bright color doesn’t draw notice.
  My EDC includes a quality automatic watch 
that’s self-winding so needs no battery and   is waterproof. Also, there’s a waterproof butane 
lighter, an excellent Kershaw Scrambler folding   knife, a Leatherman Sidekick multitool, a 
Streamlight flashlight that runs on a single   AAA battery, and an Exotech fire rod.

My wife 
carries a Leatherman Wingman multitool. A viewer   commented on my lack of a multitool, so I did 
a lot of homework in selecting the best ones,   and I’ll cover the evaluation and 
selection process in another video.
  The bags are carefully planned for fast access to 
things that may be quickly needed when travelling,   and the contents are grouped logically. The main 
compartment is accessed only when stopping to   cook or camp, excepting that we take advantage 
of the very top space behind the zipper for   storing the shemaghs for quick access.
The compartments are loaded by function,   so everything needed at one time is kept together, 
and we know exactly where to find it. This   planning will minimize repacking time, and leave 
us less vulnerable to having to abandon unpacked   supplies if we’re surprised while stopped.
As I mentioned before, the bags are organized   to be mutually-supporting, while each 
having enough kit to be used independently.
  In the very top compartments are our 
monoculars, glasses and headlamps.
  Next down is the hygiene compartment. It contains 
toilet paper, wipes, disposable toothbrushes,   50 SPF sunblock, sanitizer, and coin towels. 
The coin towels can be dropped in a capful of   water to make an instant disposable wipe and, 
after drying, are a good fire starter.

My wife’s   bag also has a P-Style unit so she need not be 
pants-down any more than I am. (Google it.) There’s   a pack of Aspirins here to remind me to advise 
you to pack a week of your daily medications.
  Also shown here is my wife’s “girl stuff� 
kit from the main compartment. She had   a one-pound budget (that’s weight, not currency) 
for the kind of things from the travel section   at Wal-Mart that she can’t be without.
Below the hygiene compartment on the right   side of my wife’s pack is a small compartment 
that has boo-boo kit for minor first aid.   While I’ll carry a much more robust first 
aid kit on my belt, the boo-boo kit gives   her the basics if we’re separated.

The kit has: 
latex gloves; a QuikClot sponge; salt tablets;   blister pads; antiseptic wipes; insect sting pads; 
butterfly closures; Band-Aids; a compression wrap;   antiseptic ointment; and wound seal clotting 
powder. There are also single doses of   antihistamine, anti-diarrhea, and pain meds.
There’s a separate video that details the big   first aid kit I’ll carry. At just two pounds, it 
can cover much more serious injuries. I’ve left   a link to the video in the description fbelow. 
In the corresponding compartment in my pack,   I carry a plastic poncho I can wear 
over myself and the pack if it rains.
  There’s another small compartment on the left 
side where we keep what we need for water,   signaling and communications. There are coffee 
filters for keeping out larger particles and   purification tablets that we can put in the 
containers while the water sloshes around.   Then signal mirrors and earphone / microphone 
combos so we can use the radios quietly. I carry   a silcock key – the missing handle for the faucets 
on restaurants and commercial buildings, which may   be a good source of potable water.

You really can’t 
do urban survival without one of these. There’s an   excellent video on it in the “Using Survival 
Tools” playlist in my channel. My wife has a   stand-up water bag that can be filled and carried 
in the bottle pocket on the side of her bag.
  We both also carry a piece of SCUBA gear � 
GloToob dive lights that we can attach to   back of the pack so we can be seen on the road at 
night, or so we can find each other in the dark,   or one can be left behind to provide a reliable 
way to find our way back to camp on a dark night.   They have high, low and flash function and 
run 4-15 hours on a single AAA battery.

  The rear compartment has our non-cook 
food, LifeStraws and maps. Besides jerky,   there are CLIF energy bars and GU energy gels. 
Between them, good sources of carbs, protein,   electrolytes and caffeine. We’ll have ready access 
to food that replaces sweat, and provides energy   as we’re travelling. It’s also where I keep 
my topo map for the wilderness, and a city   street map. Plus, drink mix to add electrolytes 
and make poor water taste a little better.
  The main compartment has the things 
we’ll need when we stop: shelter, fire,   cooking and eating equipment, cookable food, 
lighting, clothing, sleeping and repair items.   The two inside pockets have hot food in one, 
fire kits and miscellaneous items in the other.
  My main compartment has: a shemagh at the top 
for ready access; a tarp; foil; stove and pot;   sleep sack; large nylon ties; 60 feet of 550 
paracord; towel and soap; change of clothes;   cooking spoon / fork; light sticks and a bivy. My 
wife’s main compartment has: her “girl stuff” kit;   a poncho; shemagh; change of clothes; light 
sticks; 50 feet of #36 bank line; sleep sack;   Esbit stove and tablets; and a stainless cup.
We both have what’s needed to independently collect   and purify water and create fire and shelter.
Here’s a very cool trick I got from Creek Stewart.   Set out a shirt, underwear, socks as shown 
here.

Fold in the sides, and then place your   heavy socks as shown. Then roll it all from top 
to bottom, and pull the sock ends over the roll.   Now you have a change of clothes that can fit in 
a compact space and makes a great travel pillow.
  The hot food pocket has: four-serving meal packs; 
coffee kits with instant coffee sugar, creamer,   salt and pepper; beef bouillon cubes, which are 
good for salt; and an extra salt bag for spicing   scrounged food should we go beyond our food supply 
and for heat injuries; eat’n’tools and can openers.
  The miscellaneous items pocket has: our fire 
kits; spare radio batteries; nylon ties;   spare batteries for all our devices; $100 cash; 
button compass; and small entertainment items.   The batteries are AA and AAA sizes to cover all 
our devices, and are Lithium because that type   has the longest shelf life, the longest 
run time and lowest weight. In addition,   my pack has: duct tape; insect repellent; a 
knot guide; knife sharpener; and our important   documents scanned on a flash drive.
There were a lot of comments suggesting   a power bank to charge phones, but it 
simply didn’t make the cut.

If we bail,   we’ll simply turn off the phones to save power, 
and use them for the reference materials on them,   not for communications. We have the radios.
You’ve probably noticed the bags used throughout   the video. Some time ago, I ordered 100-packs 
of heavy-duty 4-mil zipper bags in a variety   of small sizes. They’re extremely useful for 
organizing and protecting small items for this,   for travel, and for countless other uses. 
Here, they not only keep things together,   they help prevent loose items from falling 
unnoticed and then being left behind. There’s   about a one-ounce weight penalty for both packs 
– a small price to not lose an important item.
  Water is life-or-death here, and practically 
absent if we go to the wilderness a mile away.   With summer daytime temperatures passing 113F (or 
45C), water is not something we can compromise   on. Local convention is each person will need 
to consume four liters per day, and we simply   can’t carry that much weight. Between us, we have 7 
liters in the initial load-out, representing 15.5   lb out of our combined total load of 45.8 lb. 
This weight will decline as we consume it but,   if pressed, I can quickly empty the two water 
bottles for an instant 4.4 lb reduction.

We will   need to scrounge (and probably purify) water in 
nearby urban areas, so we need to have containers   to carry and boil it. We also carry LifeStraws so 
we can hydrate while collecting water for later   use. Your local environment and water availability 
will likely lead you to other choices.
  My research resulted in a “consensus” weight 
allowance of 15% of body weight. For me, this   produced a weight budget of 28.5 lb or 13kg, and 
my pack weighs 28.3 lb. or 12.8kg. For my wife,   15% is 17.5 lb or 8kg, and her pack is 17.4 lb 
or 7.9kg. This is an 11 lb or 5kg reduction in   combined weight from the tactical bags. The 
outdoor outfitter co-op, REI, categorizes the   weight of my bag as “lightweight” and that of my 
wife’s as “ultralight”. We’ve done a mile night walk   with the bags, and for that short distance, they’re 
an easy carry. A real shakedown is in the works.
  In the planning process, I weighed absolutely 
everything, and this was a real help when I   needed to compromise, accounting for both 
the weight and the utility of items when I   needed to cut down.

When it came to food, 
I could evaluate the calories to weight   ratio of each item, and choose those with the 
best ratio. This really made the hassle of   measuring everything well worth the effort.
The food in my pack adds to 5,370 calories,   and my wife’s pack carries 4,110 calories, 
for a total of just under 9,500– easily enough   for 72 hours, and certainly longer if needed.
As a final note, the ground here is very hard and   rocky, and everything in the desert bites, stings 
scratches or pierces. To get any comfort at all,   we’ll add one additional pound to the bags 
by fixing a sleeping pad to the exterior.
  Finally, here’s the cute part I promised. Our 
other family members – two small dogs – carry   their own food, taking three pounds off our 
loadout. They’re both young, and reasonably fit,   so can mange 12-15% of body weight. I can’t help 
laughing when I see these shots, but it is pretty   practical. The two small packs split about 2.5 
lb of dry food, two small toys and a great little   lightweight water bowl.

The bowl is actually 
a rubber egg poacher that folds flat, and is   flexible enough to jam into a corner of the pack.
I’m grateful to every person that took time to   comment or advise on the original video, and if 
you’re one of those people you should know that   your opinion was considered carefully 
when building these bags. Some things   obviously made the weight cut, and others 
were painful to discard, but every idea was   a contribution to the planning of these bags.
Frankly, we’re a lot better equipped to bug in,   but if the need to grab and 
run arises, we’re prepared.
  So, what do you think? What ideas would make 
this two-bag system even better.

What things   would need to be considered in your environment? 
I try to respond to every comment, so leave   your thoughts below, and please save, Like and 
share the video with others that might like it.   Don’t forget to subscribe so you see the upcoming 
videos and, as always. be prepared and stay safe..

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