Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Miscellany: Mulliga's Urban Survival Kit - Part 1

-- INTRODUCTION --

If the tragedies of the new millenium have taught us anything, it's that a modern city is only habitable as long as society is functioning. Imagine if every single store, office, and private residence was closed in your city - how difficult would it be to find food? Tools? Medical supplies? To the residents of New York City, New Orleans, Port-au-Prince, and plenty of other cities around the world, these are not hypothetical questions:



If disaster strikes your city, and you want to be a rescuer and not someone who needs rescuing, you'll need to be prepared. Part of that preparation comes from learning practical lifesaving skills like CPR and first aid (it's easy and free to learn via YouTube, your local library, and community classes).

This series of blog posts will address the other part of emergency preparedness: the supplies that you'll want to have handy in case the rule of law breaks down and you need to evacuate an urban area. Some people call it a "bug-out bag," but I call mine "Mulliga's Urban Survival Kit" for two reasons: one, I was inspired by this series of vids from prominent YouTuber Nutnfancy, and two, it actually spells something ("M.U.S.K.").

Some initial thoughts: your situation, requirements, and personal taste will dictate what goes into your urban survival kit. This is just how I have mine set up - hopefully I can discuss some of the considerations and thought that went into each item, and what items could be subbed out or improved upon. Also, I don't have SAS training like Bear Grylls or extensive wilderness experience like Les Stroud...but then again, I figure most people don't.

-- CHOOSING THE BAG --

The "bag" in a "bug-out bag" ultimately defines what kind of capabilities you will have. It's impossible (and foolhardy) to prepare for every scenario, at least if you want a kit that you can actually carry, but at the same time, you're going to be hard-pressed fitting everything you need into an Altoids tin.

My choice of bag was dictated by where I would be going - a lot of air travel (ulgh), a lot of federal buildings and courthouses. A good, full-size backpack would be an awesome way to hold a lot of gear - but it would also be pretty impractical to carry around everywhere.

As such, I decided on making a kit that would readily fit underneath a standard airline seat (about 1500 cubic inches max) - small enough to be considered a "personal item" that you could schlep onto a plane with your full-size roller luggage, but large enough to fit a decent first aid kit, food, water, and tools.

I also wanted something that was MOLLE-compatible. There's nothing quite like the versatility afforded by rows and rows of PALS webbing - you can hang stuff off of it with a carabiner, attach other pouches, or simply slip pens and other similar items directly onto the webbing itself.

Finally, I was on a budget. Sure, a Maxpedition Active Shooter Bag would have been nice, but it's pretty painful dropping $60 on a glorified manpurse. Surely there must be a cheaper way to get in on the PALS fun...

-- COUNTYCOMM EOD UTILITY BAG REVIEW --



Available exclusively from the good folks over at CountyComm, this bag is a decent value considering what you get. It's not large (12"x8"x4.25" - about 400 cubic inches) but with the judicious addition of modular utility pouches on the front and bottom of the bag, you can expand and customize it fairly easily. The EOD bag is made of some serviceable materials; the snaps in particular feel like they can take a beating.

A good double YKK zipper leads into the only compartment on the bag, with two internal pockets on one side and a large mesh pocket on the other. The compartment also contains dummy cord loops for hanging things. No other internal divider is present, however, so you'll need to throw in your own zippered pouches if you want to keep things organized.

Apparently, the quality control was lacking at whatever Third World factory CountyComm used to produce this bag. The stitching seems rushed and uneven in many places, with lots of loose threads and unfinished edges. It's mostly single-stitched, too, with the poorest stitching reserved for the internal compartments and flaps. Granted, most of these flaws are cosmetic in that they can be cut or burned away with a lighter, but they are noticeable.

Overall, though, the EOD bag provides just enough space and attachment options for a good urban survival kit, especially if space and weight are at a premium.

That does it for Part 1. Part 2 will discuss M.U.S.K.'s most important contents - a first aid kit. We'll also look at an interesting water-resistant option for carrying medications.

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