On this week’s Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Inmn finish their talk about go bags. They talk about important documents, knives, tools, sleeping systems, shelters, coping with isolation, food, water, firearms, specific situations you might need a go bag for, and of course, DnD.
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Live Like the World is Dying: Margaret on Go Bags Part II
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host Inmn Neruin, and this week we’re continuing to talk about go bags. We have the second part of an interview with the founder of this podcast, Margaret Killjoy, where we continue our conversation from last week at literally the exact place that we left off. But first, this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network. Doo doo doo doo doo. [Making noises like a song]
So Margaret, we’ve gone through hygiene kit, survival kit, and… I immediately forgot the third part of it.
First-aid kit. And so that wraps up kind of like an emergency pack?
What what what else goes in a bug out bag.
So, now that we get to the bag itself, I would say the next most important thing is a water bottle. Specifically, I like–and I give to all my friends–single wall steel canteen style water bottles. And the reason that I like these is that you can boil water in them. The double wall vacuum sealed canteens, they rule for a lot of purposes, like actually, they’re really good for like putting hot soup in your bag. If you’re going out hiking for the day and you get to the top of the mountain you get to–as if I’ve ever climbed a whole ass mountain. By my standards where I live, the mountains are very short. And so when you climb up a whole ass Appalachian mountain, you can have your warm soup up at the top even when it’s snowing and shit, you know. But overall, I use 32 ounce steel wall canteens. I like them a lot. And then you’re also going to want to make sure that you have food in there, protein bars and other snacks. So that’s the core. But then for the bag itself, it’s really going to depend on what you’re doing. So, I guess I’ll go over the not camping stuff first, the kind of like…the stuff that is like…Okay, because there’s all the camping shit. And that’s really useful depending on your situation. But, things to put in your go bag: your passport. If nothing else, if you don’t want your actual main documents in here, you’re going to want to put photocopies and digital copies of your stuff in here, which is of course somewhat of a security risk. If someone steals your bag, they get this stuff, right. But for me, the threat model is that my passport is more useful to me in my backpack than it is at home in a safe when I’m 1000 miles away. So, your passport, which I would push anyone who was capable in the United States of making sure that they have an updated passport, especially these days. You want your important documents backed up. This could be some of your medical records. It could be your dog’s medical records. It could be your children’s medical records. And, you might want the deed to your house. You might want some of the vehicle registration stuff. You want your like stuff–not necessarily the originals in this particular case–but you want the documents of it in case you’re like coming back later and need to prove some shit. You know? Because a lot of crises might disrupt a lot of the institutions of bureaucracy. And you would think that in times of crisis, bureaucracy will be like, “I guess we kind of get in the way of human freedom.” But no, in times of crisis borders will still be like, “Oh, I don’t know about you. You don’t have the right document. I don’t care that the road you’re on is literally on fire.” or whatever the fuck you know. Another way to back these up is to literally just to take pictures of them on your phone and have it on your phone. But I think it’s actually a good idea to have a USB stick with these documents as well and you might want to consider encrypting that, which I don’t know if all computers can do easily but at least my computer can do easily. And you probably want…you might want more of an expanded first-aid kit in this. I guess I gets into the other thing thing. And then the other thing that I think you’re gonna want in your go bag is you want fucking entertainment. Like this gets over overlooked so much. But, when when Covid hit, the way that my mental health works I was very isolated, right? I could not put myself at risk to Covid because of my mental health. And so, I lived alone in a cabin without much electricity. And the best purchase I made was something called a Bit Boy, and I highly recommend it. It is this tiny…it looks like a tiny Gameboy and it has all of the Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and everything else games like on it. And it uses almost no battery. It’s rechargeable. It’s a little finicky. If you like turn it off it like fucks it up because it’s like a it’s like a $30 thing full of pirated shit, right? So it’s super finicky. But, I swear that this thing had a better mental health effect on me then like almost anything else during that time. And the other thing that got me through it was I had legally purchased downloads of TV. And so even though I didn’t have internet, I once a week, once a day, like sat down and ate my cold soup and watched fucking Steven Universe, and that she got me through it. And so like a USB stick full of like movies, TV, also, specifically, a USB stick full of like survival guides and information about how to build things, fix things, all of that shit. I think it’s a super useful thing for a bug out bag. And I leave it up to…
It’s funny because I feel like this episode is something where we’re covering a lot of stuff that–and I just want to start flagging things–we did a whole episode on how you can build a mesh network essentially to have things like libraries of entertainment, or Wikipedia downloads, or like survival bits. So, if you want to learn more about that then go check out that episode. I believe it’s called Andre on Solar Punk.
Oh, yeah. I forgot we talked about some of the mesh network stuff. That shit’s fucking cool. And yeah, so have a library with you. You know, keep a download of Wikipedia on your computer. My computer bag is an example of the kind of bag that theoretically I should be a little bit smarter and kind of keep next to the bug out bag when it’s not in use, right? Because I’m going to throw my laptop into my bug out bag if I’m running, right? And so it’s like people are like, “Oh, but where’s your like giant knife.” and like, don’t get me wrong, I have a giant knife on my bag. But. I also now have a Nintendo Switch in there, which is an upgrade from the Bit Boy. And like, I am proudest of that of all of the things in my bug out bag. I see that as the most likely for me to use. And I remember before Covid, I remember thinking to myself as I was preparing a library hard drive. And as I was preparing–well I didn’t have the Switch yet–but I was like, “Man, what kind of Apocalypse leaves you with free time?” And I’m like, “Oh, Covid.” or the next pandemic or fucking hanging out in a refugee center for trans people in Canada or whatever the fuck horrible shit we’re gonna have to deal with, you know?
Yeah, and just sorry, just to clarify, free time for a lot of people and an incredible amount of not free time for a lot of people.
Well, yeah, no, I I think I mean more about isolation. It’s not like I like…maybe I’m just being defensive. But it’s like at the beginning of the pandemic, my cabin did not sustain life. And so I had to put all of my work into plumbing it, solaring it, you know, washing all my clothes by hand, like doing all this shit, right? But, I think that especially in times of isolation there’s like downtime that people don’t expect. And I could be wrong, but I suspect that this would be true almost no matter the crisis is that there’s like downtime you don’t expect where turning your…where not thinking about the crises that are happening is incredibly important. No, it is funny. You’re right because I think in my head there’s like the beginning of Covid a lot of especially middle class people were like, “Oh, fuck, I’m stuck in my house and bored.” Right? Versus a lot of working class people who are like, “Well, now I’m still working in the middle of this nightmare,” you know? I think that like…but I would guess that…I dunno, whatever I’ll stop being defensive.
Yeah, sorry, less of a push back and more just a bringing in this other piece of the piece of the context. But, you know, there were also overworked doctors who were separated from their families. And so, I imagine they also did have probably this weird amount of downtime where It’s like, “Well, I’m not at work, but I’m not with my family. What am I doing?”
Yeah, and specifically for me, games are a really good anti-anxiety because I definitely hold by the, “Busy bee has no time for sorrow.” But then you’re like, “Well, it’s dark out and I don’t have lights in my house. Fuck am I gonna do?” You know? Okay, so that’s some of the stuff from a bug out bag point of view. That’s the kind of…like;, documents and things like that matter a lot. You’re also going to want anything that you need for taking care of other loved ones and or animals that you might have to do. Like, my dog has a smoke mask. He does not like it. If we were in a wildfire situation, he would deal with it. You know? And so there might be like different stuff like…I should probably get a muzzle for my dog. I do not. I do not muzzle my dog on any kind of regular basis. But, I could imagine a situation in which like, everything is so stressful that it would be necessary, right? And you’re gonna know better than us what specifically other other stuff you need. But I guess we’ll talk about more of the expanded survival stuff that a lot of people are gonna put in their bug out bags, if that makes sense?
Yeah, totally. And sorry, just to keep flagging some things. So folks, if you want to learn more about other little pieces of this topic like how to prepare for needing extra medications in a world where like medication systems kind of break down, we do a whole episode on it. I’m blanking on what the episode title is. But I believe it’s called “Taking care of your medical needs.”
That sounds right.
And I forget who the guest was. But yeah, I love that we’re having this go back conversation now. Because I feel like we can really tie a lot of larger topics that we’ve talked about before into it, which I’m really loving.
Yeah. And then maybe we’ll go through, you know, kind of some more of this checklist type stuff and then talk more about the different situations in which one might need to go bag. How does that sound?
That sounds great.
Okay. So, for the bag itself beyond the emergency kit, you’ve now added your documents, you’ve added your water bottle, you’ve added snacks. And for snacks from my point of view, I recommend snacks that you don’t like because otherwise you’re going to eat them beforehand. If you’re me. [laughs] I used to keep Clif Bars and not Builder Bars as my snacks because I didn’t like Clif bars, but I ate so many builder bars as part of my regular life as being an oogle that now I’m kind of sick of them. So now it’s like reversed. And Clif Bars are my regular protein bar and Builder Bars are my my snacks I throw in my bag, you know. And, everyone’s gonna do this a little differently. And then that stuff is like…most of the stuff in here is…Like I also pick things that don’t really expire, but food expires. And also so does that medication, although the medication tends to just lower its efficacy rather than become dangerous. Other things I keep in my bug out bag: a collapsible plastic water canteen. These are useful for a bunch of different things. Like if you just need to hold more water for a while, you might want one of these. I also have moved to a hydration bladder. A lot of people move away from them. I’ve recently moved towards them. People kind of go back and forth in the hiking world about hydration bladders. As an oogle, I never used them. As a hiker, I really like them because you can hands free or like minimal effort drink as you go, you know. And, you know, more water good except for the weight part of it, you know? And you’re also going to want, to keep talking about water, you’re going to want to filter in water. And I think that this is true in most circumstances. I think that this is like…you know, some of this like survival stuff is very back woodsy, but a lot of the survival stuff also applies to cities. And it applies to cities where like if you got to boil advisory… like I don’t know, anyone who’s not had a boil advisory where they live at some point or another, right? You know, every now and then they admit that the water isn’t drinkable in your area, and also a lot of like urban survival stuff is like…whatever, I’ve like slept on a lot of rooftops in my life and shit, you know? Like shelter from the elements is often easier to find in a city but not necessarily a lot of other stuff. So for myself, there’s a lot of different water filters. A lot of them are designed for backpacking and those tend to be pretty good. I use a Sawyer water filter. They’re these little tiny ceramic water filters and they have a bunch of different attachment sense to them. I used one of these at the beginning of Covid for all of my water because I didn’t have a great water source. And, I was just like basically like…I set mine up to a five gallon bucket system where I put water in the five gallon bucket, and then it goes through a hose into the Sawyer filter, and then it gravity drips into a five gallon jerrycan. That’s like a stationary kind of thing. For a go bag, you use the same water filter, but it has like one bag of dirty water and one bag of clean water. You can also just rely on chemical filter…not filtration but like purification. Some people like the UV filter chemical things. I’ve never used one. I don’t totally understand them. I mean, I understand the concept, but I don’t…I can’t attest to them. It seems like most people are picking ceramic water filters. There’s also a LifeStraw. And a LifeStraw is a perfectly fine thing to have. I keep one in my hiking day bag. These are these cheap water ceramic filters–like 15 bucks often–and you just drink through it. Usually I go up to the stream and you stick this thing in it and you drink out of the stream.
It acts as a filter but also you can’t get viruses or stuff?
Exactly, it’s a ceramic filter that…Yeah, all of these filters are designed to take like mountain stream water and make it potable. Actually, the thing that they’re bad at is filtering large stuff like mud. And these can get like clogged up. It’s the biggest downside of a ceramic filter. What a lot of people do is they take their bandanna or their…if you’re an oogle you use a banana. If you’re a military bro, you use the…I forget what they’re called. They’re the like, giant bananas that…Folk…I can’t remember the name of them. Folks in the desert and like, you know, Southwest Asia and stuff tend to use, I think. You use one of those. And then if you’re a hiking bro, then you use your…what did I decide they were called? Buffs?
So, you filter all the water through that if you want to keep the ceramic water filter lasting longer. I haven’t done as much like hiking filtering, I usually just bring enough water because I don’t go on really long hikes. But, I mostly have used the ceramic water filter in a stationary sense. So that’s like my personal experience with it. But, that’s what I carry. You can also add, if you would like, you can add these more ready-to-eat food besides just like bars and stuff. They make these…it’s basically Lembas [like in “Lord of the Rings”] bread. They make these like military rations that are like vacuum sealed and are good for five or ten years. And it’s just like oil and flour. And it tastes like nothing. And it’s just calories. It’s just like a block of calories. And your body can go a fairly long time without food compared to water, right? But like, for peak efficacy–and also to not be a grouchy asshole–you want to at least put calories if not nutrition in your body. A lot of the survival food isn’t really focused on nutrition because like it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get your vitamins for a couple days.
Yeah, but obviously everyone has different, you know, body needs or like food requirements.
And so this is like maybe a good time for folks with diabetes or just any any other kind of predisposition that requires to have more food around.
Yeah, and different types of food. And I think it’s actually worth having a variety of types of food also for the people around you because I think a lot of this is going to be based on sharing, because greediness in times of crisis, people are like, “Oh, that’s when you got to be greedy.” And I’m like, “The single most useful tool you can have is another person.” Like I can’t imagine something I would rather have in a time of crisis than someone else. And so like, yeah, having a variety of types of foods, I think is great from that point of view. No, yeah. And like, yeah, everyone’s going to need different things. Okay, so next, fire. In most people’s day to day life, fire is not a big component of it. And honestly, most random overnight…like, when I was in oogle, I didn’t like fucking stop and make a fire in the woods most nights, you know? And if I did, it was kind of like a celebration type thing, you know? However, from a survival point of view, there’s a lot of situations where being able to have a fire is really useful specifically mostly for warmth, also for other like, you know, signaling purposes and for like…you know, if you make a wet fire, it’ll smoke more and things like that. And for both boiling water to…another way to, you know, purify your water or whatever. And also for cooking. It’s kind of a morale thing for cooking a lot of times. A lot of foods you can just eat them cold and that’s especially the kind of stuff you might want to keep in your bag. But for fire, you might want to have additional fire methods, but you’ve already got a lot of them going on in the rest of your kit. The kind of thing that I always sort of made fun of, but now I understand, is the big fuck-off knife. I mean, you’re a knife maker. So you probably think about knives more than the average person. But…
It’s true and I think I’m curious what you have to say about the big fuck-off knife mostly because I’ve kind of worked my way back from it, because I used to have a big fuck-off knife all the time. Like when I was an oogle, I was that oogle with the big fuck-off knife.
The big fuck-off knife has two purposes. One, is to get people to fuck off. It’s not even about drawing it, it’s about fucking open carrying it. It’s just about being like, “Yeah, I’m in a miniskirt. And I have a like seven inch knife on my waist.” Like, people just fuck with you less when you have a big fuck-off knife. And so that’s like one of the purposes. But then, bushcraft. I didn’t understand why survival knives were big because I was like a big knife…I’m not a knife fighter. I think anyone who is a knife fighter is not thinking about how long they want to live. Like, that’s why I mean having a big fuck-off knife is to make people leave you alone, not to like fight them with it. But just to like fucking get people to leave you alone. But the giant knife is really useful for bushcraft. It’s really useful for processing wood especially if you don’t have a hatchet or something with you. That’s what I’ve like come to understand as to why survival knives are big and how specifically they’re bladed on one side with a wide–you’re going to know these words better than me–like spine. [Inmn mummers affirmatively] And they have a wide spine so that you can split wood with it. You can take a stick and you can put it on it on the end of the stick and then you can hit it with another stick or a rock. And you can push the knife through the thing. That’s [Inmn interrupts]
Yeah. You know more about knives than I do.
Yeah, yeah. Just to offer a little bit of re-contextualization. So you know, I’m not a bushcrafter by any means. I wish that I was. I’d be. God, I’d be so much cooler. But I do know knives pretty well and I’ve been asked to make bushcraft knives before and so you know, I did a bunch of research about bushcraft knives. And what I found was that and then what I found from use is that like the big fuck-off knife is not actually great for bushcrafting.
Yeah, most Bushcraft knives are like they kind of max out at six inches. And a lot of people err more on the like, you know, four and a half to five and a half range. And what that gives you…because for bushcraft, it’s like–you described batoning earlier–if you’re batoning your knife through wood to reduce it you don’t need a big knife for that. You need a sturdy knife for that. And with a smaller knife, you kind of get a lot more manual dexterity so you can do all of your other tasks. I love knives, I love big fuck off knives. I agree that the purpose of a big fuck-off knife is for people to fuck off. And, you know, I can imagine like survival knives are often longer because you might need them for heavier, larger tasks. But I’m honestly a fan of having a belt axe for that purpose because it’s does that thing better. Sorry. That’s my that’s my segue into knife world
No, that makes a lot of sense. And if you ever want to lose a lot of your life–and I feel like you might have also–read people talking about survival knife versus axe versus saw versus machete, about what you’re supposed to bring into the woods, you know?
Yeah. And what you’re gonna learn is that knives…there’s no single knife. That’s good for everything just like there’s no single bag that’s good for everything. You need to pick the things that you’re comfortable doing. And you need to pick the tasks that you need done. And then find the right tool for it.
No, that makes a lot of sense. I will say in terms of saws and knives and all that shit, I have found that the little wire saw is sort of bullshit. Have you seen these?
I always wondered.
But yeah, I think…and the one…I haven’t used that much. I think I tried to use one once. The pocket chainsaw is not bullshit, which is basically a chainsaw blade with two loops on either end, and you loop it around a limb, and then you like, saw back and forth. You know, I think those are not bullshit. Although I think, personally, I’d rather have a folding saw. But they’re bigger. So.
Yeah, yeah. And that’s the key thing here is like if you want to build shelters, use the saw. Don’t…You could use your knife for some of it. But yeah. You don’t want to build a structure with like hacking 10,000 sticks into something. Get a saw.
No, I think you’ve convinced me. Because I’ve been like, I’ve been pondering my–I have a survival knife on my bag–and I’ve been pondering its actual usefulness versus its weight and stuff, you know? And like, besides the like, I keep it on the outside of my bag and it’s a little bit of a like, leave me alone, you know? I think that I have been seeing…Yeah, like, yeah, I think I want to fuck with this more. Redefined my own…Because the knife that I use on a day-to-day basis is my folding pocket knife. You know? It’s what I use for almost everything. I’m not going to baton wood with it. Well, I would. It just wouldn’t do a very good job of it.
Yeah. And, you know, I say this as someone who is always going to have a big knife, probably. And I don’t have a purely rational reason for that. But yeah, it makes me feel more comfortable.
No, and it’s like, and I think it’s telling that backpackers don’t tend to have large knives. They don’t tend to have survival knives at all. Backpackers also tend not to have axes or saws because they’re not really…they’re focused on getting somewhere and camping, not like building large fires or building structures and things like that. Yeah. And then like, I think more and more, I think fighty type people have been focusing more on smaller knives anyway. Like the karambit is a popular fighting knife or whatever and it’s not a big knife.
Yeah, yeah. And if you see the…like a lot of the like, original from…I actually don’t know where karambits come from. But, where they were developed, they’re incredibly small knives. They’re like inch and a half long blades. They’re incredibly tiny.
It’s Indonesian. I just looked it up. Yeah. Yeah, no, yeah. It’s not a like…Like don’t fight a bear. Like a general rule. Don’t live your life in such a way where you’re fighting bears. And then, if you are then use bear spray. If you’re not using bear spray, use a 10mm handgun. Like, you know? Oh, we haven’t really talked about firearms.
Anyway. Sorry. Derail into knife world over.
No, no, I think that…I’m really…It was useful. I learned some. It’s probably worth carrying some kind of knife sharpener. If you suck like me, you can use the pull through style–that Inmn is probably going to be disgusted that I use because it destroys the initial original bevel. If you know how to sharpen a knife properly, you can bring a whetstone. It’s a little…
But, whet stones are heavy.
I know. And it’s also…or you can also bring a little diamond sharpener stick and stuff like that. Yeah, what would you…Okay, what would you suggest? What would you suggest as your portable knife sharpener? Light and transportable?
Yeah, so you know, a knife doesn’t do much good if it’s not sharp. And most people’s knives are not very sharp. I would say that it is a great skill to invest in is learning how to sharpen a knife. There’s a lot of stuff…
I’ve tried it so many times. I don’t believe in it. I don’t think it’s real. Anyway, yeah, let’s continue.
And yeah, like, you know, like what I have at home are these big series of benchtop whetstones. There’s a million grits and…but one of the better things that you can have is a strop. Just a leather strop, which is just some like full grain leather. You want it to be fairly thick and use some green polishing compounds that you rub on it and you strop the edge, which helps maintain the edge. And, but as far as pocket sized sharpening devices, the strop doesn’t sharpen the knife, the strap like helps redefine the burr on the edge. And there’s a million different little pocket sized whetstones. But, the important part is that you want something coarse and you want something fine to like refine the bevel. And so like if I had to build a little to-go kit, I would get a little miniature like 400/1000 combo stone. That is probably not something ceramic because it’s heavy. But, they make a bunch of different things. I’m actually less knowledgeable about these pocket things. Yeah, but you want something coarse and you want something fine. 400/1,000 are great grits and then a strop to kind of like polish out the edge with. With that you can’t go wrong. Well, you can go wrong…
Yeah, I will go wrong.
I don’t know enough to tell you how to go wrong.
No, I will successfully go wrong. I’ve been trying to sharpen knives my whole life. I will continue to do it. I can kind of do it. I actually use a little all-in-one pocketstone, a little bit larger than the like stick ones, and it’s a longish yellow piece of plastic with two sides. And then also has a little fold out part that can be used for filing in the saw parts. And it has kind of a guide, has a little bit of an angle guide built into it, and that’s the most useful part for me. So that’s the only time I’ve been able to sharpen knives to where they like can shave.
Knife sharpening is is a skill. Don’t…That would be my advice is don’t think that you’re going to…don’t rely on learning how to sharpen your knife for the first time when you’re in an in an emergency. Practice that now.
And I will say as someone who has used all knives for almost everything over the years, it’s like, it’s all right. I mean, it’s not as good. But, I can still cut a cord with a shitty knife, you know?
Yeah, well, you know, the old knife making adage, “A dull knife…” or sorry, the old kitchen worker adage, “A dull knife is a dangerous knife.”
Yeah, so live dangerously. Cut… Cut paper with your knives and never sharpen them. Yes. Okay, let’s talk about sleeping systems.
Live dangerously? [laughing] Sleeping systems! Thank you for indulging my derailment.
It’s what we’re here for. And some of this we might kind of like…some of the like camping stuff we might not dive as deep into. We’re already on episode two of what was going to be one episode. So, I believe in the sleeping bag. And that’s leftover from being oogle. I would say that the one thing I would carry in any kind of bag is a sleeping bag. This is not always true. I don’t always carry sleeping bag. But, it’s like almost a comfort item. It’s a like no matter what I’m warm kind of item. I believe in sleeping bags with a good stuff sack. I personally don’t use down. Backpackers tend to use down. It’s lighter. It compacts more for the same warmth. However, it doesn’t insulate once it gets wet. And that is a big deal from my point of view, from a survival point of view. When everything is fine, I prefer a non down one. They’re also cheaper. And that might be why I have that preference. And also, I don’t know anything about how the birds who produce down are treated. So, sleeping bag super important. A lot of backpackers have now moved to backpacking quilts. And then a lot of old timers will actually just use like wool blankets and stuff like that. I love a sleeping bag. You’re gonna want to get off the ground. However, that said, in an urban environment you can use cardboard. You just need to layer it a lot. And it’s not as good as a sleeping pad. But it is still useful. And you’re going to need a sleeping pad that is appropriate to weather and desired comfort. If you want to hear me learn more about sleeping bags and tents you can listen to me talk to Petra a year and a half ago. I don’t remember the name of the episode besides Petra being the guest. And that’s where I learned that the combo move of an air mattress and a foam pad is is often really good. For shelter, the sort of three choices kind of is a tent, a bivy, or a tarp. This is not necessarily in a lot of bug out situations. It is necessary in my bug out situation and it might be in yours. And the advantage of a tarp is that it is like only one object. It is light. It is kind of easier to hide in a lot of ways. And I actually, when I’m sleeping in dangerous situations–like a lot of oogle life is like trespassing–I don’t like tents because tents, you can’t see out of them. Like it’s like a little bubble. It’s why people do like tents is that they want to be in their little bubble and I totally get that. And I’ll probably be a tent person moving on because it’s like comfortable, and safe, and stuff. But when I was younger and everything was well, not easier, my life was fairly hard. But like whatever. It was easier for me to not bother with a tent so I used a tarp. And then the other option is the bivy. And a bivy is like a…It’s like a waterproof sleeping bag. And there’s like ones…like I have one that has like one pole, just to keep the head of it off your face, you know. And these compact really small. This is what a lot of people who are rucking, who are doing military shit, tend to prefer are bivys. They’re not popular among backpackers. The kind of closest equivalent is hammocks. A lot of people also use, but that involves there being good trees in the right place. However, hammocks can be light, and good, and stuff, too. And these are all gonna be preferences. And the reason I no longer fuck with bivys is I have a dog. And he’s coming with me. And so I’m now probably a tent camper. Because if I’m sleeping outside, I’m just leashing my dog to a tree. But, I don’t want him to get rained on. I want him warm. So I’m probably going to be a tent camper from now on. And then some tents now, a lot of backpackers are moving to these tents where you use your hiking poles to keep them up and then they’re super lightweight and they’re actually kind of cool. And they’re a little bit…like some of them are like almost halfway between a tarp and a tent. And…
I love as like camping technology evolves it just like…I feel like it gets more old timey and more oogley but with you know, fancy stuff.
The $700 oogle tent. Yeah. Some of these tents are like fucking $600-700 and made out of like, space material or whatever. Yeah. What’s your favorite shelter for camping?
So this is funny. I once bike toured across the entire country. From the west coast to Chicago, I built a tarp tent every night.
Like an a-frame?
Yeah, I built like a little tarp tent every night, which I had to get really creative in the West. As you know, there’s not a lot of trees everywhere it turns out. And then when I got to Chicago, I went out and bought the Big Agnes ultralight backpacking tent, which is like sort of halfway between….Yeah, it’s halfway. It’s like…It’s not a bivy, but it doesn’t have a much larger footprint than a bivy. And it was the best thing that I’ve ever spent money on. I’m embarrassed to say that I spent money on it.
But, I did.
I’m revoking your oogle card. You didn’t scam it from REI dumpsters? I can’t believe you. Yeah, yeah. Fuck yeah.
All right. Yeah, but I love that thing. But, I would love to move to a bivy. Yeah.
Yeah, I think that..Yeah, honestly, like, I’ve only…I haven’t slept a ton in my bivy. But I was like, “Oh, this works.” The other downside of a bivy is that your bag doesn’t fit in the tent with you. And so if you sleeping in a bivy in the rain, you’re going to need to work on waterproofing your bag. But that is something that like as a backpacker, you’re probably trying to do anyway. The main ways that people do it is 1) a pack cover that goes on the outside. And then 2) people often either put things in dry bags, or just like fucking contractor bags, like trash bags, inside their bag and let the bag itself get wet. And if you’re, if you’re bivy camping, you’re accepting that your bag is getting rained on and you just need to work around that. Which, is I think part of why it’s the tactical person’s choice or whatever. Because you’re like, “Comfort doesn’t matter. Surviving to get where I need to go shoot somebody is what matters.” or whatever, you know. Or not get shot or whatever. Which actually, you’re going to have to take into mind when you when you choose what kind of color for all of these things you want. I personally would lean towards the camo type stuff for my…I live in a red state. I could imagine having to leave.
I’m gonna like I’m gonna like speed run the rest of the camping stuff. You might want a poncho or a raincoat. Some people like ponchos because you can also turn them into shelters or whatever, but I think sometimes it’s a little bit just fucking carry what you like. You want additional socks in your go bag no matter what, no matter what you’re…Even if it’s not a camping go bag, put some fucking socks in there and some other…change of underwear and possibly like better soap, like camp soap, like more hygiene type stuff. My go bag has a fucking battery powered Waterpik so that I can floss with water at night because I have spent a lot of money on my teeth. They are not in great shape and water picks rule. I also have a portable battery powered electric toothbrush that I fucking love. You might want an emergency radio. If you’re like good at radio shit, you might want a Baofeng. It’s like an all channel and it can send as well as receive. It’s called a transceiver. It’s really easy to accidentally break the law with a Baofeng because you’re not allowed to actually use any sending signals on it most of the time. But they’re very useful crisis if you know what you’re doing. On the other hand, I would just say get one of those like, your little battery powered weather AM/FM radio. Have and put it in there. At home, I keep one of those like hand crank solar panel everything survival radios or whatever. But they’re like a little bit bulky and a little bit cheap. And so, I like don’t quite trust it in my bag, but I keep one at home. But, other people feel differently. I like having a monocular or binoculars in a go bag. I like this because looking at shit is cool. And sometimes also, I could imagine there are situations where I would want to look at and see what’s ahead and not go there. If I had money, if I was a money person, I would have at least a thermal monocular if not full on like night vision shit. But that’s money. You want the rain cover, the dry bag, you want to beef up your first-aid kit a little bit. You probably want an ace bandage at the very least. There’s some other stuff like moleskin and other things for like long distance walking that you might want. I’ve heard good things about leukotape–and I haven’t used it yet–but as like…people use it as a replacement for moleskin for covering blisters and shit. You might want cooking stuff, which I’m just not gonna get into cooking stuff here. And you might not. You can also like cold soak your food and just like put it in like a peanut butter jar with water and fucking have it turned into food. Whatever. You might want hiking poles. You might want a solar charger. You might want, as we’ve talked about, a folding saw, a hatchet or machete. You might want more light. Like some people like the collapsible LED solar lanterns. They’re not like a great bang for your buck in terms of like, I mean, they’re actually really light and shit, but like, you know, you can use a headlamp just fine. But, like sometimes if you’ve got like a family and shit, it’s like nice to have like a little bit of ambiance and niceness or whatever. Especially like maybe if you’re in like a building right when the power’s out, you know, like that’s the kind of thing that like is a little bit more likely and is useful. You probably want a plastic trowel of some type for pooping outside or a little aluminum trowel for digging a hole so you can poop into it. And alright, guns really quickly, and then…My recommendation is only carry firearms if you train in them. Unlike everything else. Carrying something you don’t know how to use is fine if you know you don’t know how to use it and you get someone else to use it, like your first-aid kit. Like, my IFAK for gunshot wounds, If I’m shot in the belly, it’s for someone else to use on me if at all possible. You know. I am trained in how to use it, but so guns are the exception to this. Do not carry a gun unless you can keep it secure at all times and you pay a lot of attention to the ethics and also the legality around firearms. Those have been covered a lot more in other places on this show. Specifically, my current recommendation that I’m a little bit this is like do what…Whatever, I haven’t yet mastered this. The handgun that I keep near my bed in a safe, in a quick access safe, would go into my bug out bag in a moment of crisis or be on my person. And then in the bug out bag is additional magazines with 9mm ammunition. 9mm is by far the most common ammunition besides like .22LR, which is a survival round meant for hunting small animals. But, for a self defense point of view, I believe a handgun 9mm. And if you are the type who wants long guns, if your whole thing is you’re gonna be surviving in the woods or whatever, you might want to consider some type of backpacking .22. They make, I think it’s the AR-7 is one type of survival collapsible .22. And then the other one is a 10/22 with a backpacker’s stock that folds. What I personally plan on carrying if it was a get out past the militia checkpoint the US government has fallen scenario or whatever is a folding 9mm carbine, which is a rifle that shoots nine millimeter rounds. A lot of people don’t like these from a tactical point of view. It’s not nearly as effective at long range stuff as say an AR-15 or other rifles that are meant to shoot larger rounds, right, or not larger but more powerful rounds. But, the ability to use the exact same magazines that I already use for my other gun and the exact same ammunition makes it worth it for me for specifically a bug out bag scenario. I don’t have enough money to do this yet. That is why I don’t have that. My only bug out bag gun is my handgun that is also my home defense gun. And now everyone knows what I have at home. Anyway, that’s my firearms.
They know one thing that you have at home.
Yeah, totally. Or do they!? They think I have a 9mm but really I have a 10mm. Whatever. Oh, and then the other thing. Randomly. Okay, if your other threat model, if you’re in like fucking Alaska or some shit, you might want a 10mm, but you already know this if you live in Alaska. 10mm is a round that’s better at shooting really big animals. It doesn’t really have any like particular advantage against people in it and shit, right, but like against grizzly bears and shit. One, bear spray more effective. There’s a bunch of studies, bear spray is more effective at stopping a charging bear than any gun that exists. Whatever, I mean maybe like a bazooka or some shit, I don’t know whatever. Oh, poor bear. And then also, you don’t kill the bear. It’s just trying to fucking scare you and live its life. Yeah, yeah, that’s my bug out bag. Do you feel ready? And or do you wanna talk about, really quickly, like some some scenarios?
Yeah, I feel a lot more informed. I feel overwhelmed,
I should address the overwhelm. And I should have led with this. I’m so sorry everyone. You don’t need all this stuff. This is the “I’m building a bug out bag. And I have all the time.” You slowly build the bug out bag. You slowly get prepared. There’s no one who’s entirely prepared for all things. And the purpose of a bug out bag from my point of view is to ease your mind. When I first made my bug out bag and my cabin in the woods, I was able to say to myself, “If there’s a fire in this forest, I know what I will do. And now that I know what I will do, I am not going to worry about a fire in this forest anymore.” And so the first little bit that you get is the most useful. You get diminishing returns as you spend more money and more size and things like that. Massively diminishing returns. The everyday carry, your cell phone is the single most important object. You know, the pocket knife, the pepper spray, the the basic shit is the most important. If you have purse snacks and a water bottle, you are more prepared than almost anyone else. Yeah, I should have led with that.
Yeah. Oh, no, no, it’s okay. I feel like, you know. We eased into it then it got real complicated. And I’m, grateful to think about the overwhelm afterwards. But, Margaret, so in thinking about a lot of these things, there’s like…I’m like, okay, like, if I’m in real life DnD or if the literal apocalypse happens then I could see needing these things. But why else might one need a bug out bag? What is some threat modeling kind of stuff to think of?
Yeah, I mean, like, again, it’s gonna depend on where you are. If I were to pick where I’m at, I can imagine gas supplies running out, right? I don’t think…or like getting interrupted in such a way that, you know, suddenly, there’s a lot of limitation to the amount of fuel that you can have, right? I could imagine grocery store stuff. I could imagine like, you know, supply chain disruptions. We’re seeing supply chain disruptions. People might have to leave because of earthquakes. People might have to leave because of fires. Like, natural disasters is like probably the number one thing, right? And where you live, you will know what the natural disasters are. Where you live, personally, I would worry about drought. And I would worry about water war. But, and I would focus my prepping around rain barrels and you know, keeping five gallons of water in my truck or whatever. I didn’t even get into the shit you should put your vehicle. Some other time will the vehicle preparedness. And but yeah, I mean, like there’s scenarios where like…it was completely possible that January 6th type stuff could have happened on a much larger level, right? They tried to have it happen on a much larger level. We could have had a fascist coup in the United States, because they tried. And in that scenario, you might need to leave the country or you might need to move to a safer part of the country. Or you might need to move to a place so that you can prepare to defend. God, defend the country. But like, fight fascism, even if that means being like, “Alright, it’s us and the Democrats versus fascism,” or whatever, you know? Like, I can’t imagine like the partisans in Italy were like, “Oh, no, you’re a bourgeois capitalist. I’m not going to fight the Nazis with you.” You know? Like, I mean, actually, that probably did happen.
Yeah, or how there’s…there have been tons of anarchists who are fighting in Ukraine.
That is a…Yeah. Yeah, totally. And like if we were suddenly invaded by Russia, there would be like us and some patriots next to each other fighting on the same side, and it would be real awkward. Right? Real awkward, but like, you know. Okay. And so I think that it was entirely possible, at that moment, that my threat model included, “What if I need to get out of the south?” you know? And if I need to get out of the south, yeah, I’m driving until I hit the points where I start thinking that there’s gonna be militia checkpoints. And then I’m in the woods, you know? Yeah. And like, so. It’s not nearly as likely as other things. But, most bug out scenarios, yeah, are like, “I need to go spend a weekend somewhere.” It could even literally be like, a go bag is like, if I got the call that my dad was in the hospital and I just need to get in my fucking truck and go see my dad, right? Like, nothing else bad is happening in the world. It’s still real nice to have the bag that I am grabbing and walking out the door. You know? Yeah. Yeah. What are some of the scenarios that you imagine that you would worry about?
There’s kind of, there’s kind of a lot. I mean, there’s, you know, there’s a lot of scenarios, and I’m wondering if this is the potential for like, future episodes is like…You know, where I live, I do think about drought, I think a lot increasingly more about militia checkpoints, because I live in a–I mean, I feel like everyone lives in a place where there could suddenly be an active militia–but I think about those things. This is a whole episode that we should do. But, I think about friends who live in places where it floods, I think about friends who live in places where there’s hurricanes.
And a go back is also getting to go…If you need to go help someone who’s in a tight place of crisis, you know, like having your truck–don’t drive your truck into standing water ff you don’t know how deep it is– but like, if you needed to get into a disaster zone to help people, if you’re more prepared, you’re more able to do that.
Yeah. Oh, and actually, could I suggest an addition to to go bags? Just as a thing. Yeah, I would love to heavily urge people to have in their go bags or to have this as a separate bag in your emergency kit is, you know, something that we’re learning a lot from harm reduction communities and organizing right now is harm reduction supplies. Yeah, Naloxone or Narcan, fentanyl testing strips, drug testing stuff in general. And, you know, even if you don’t use drugs, then I would suggest having stuff in case other people who do use drugs and need them to some extent or have complicated dependency around them, having that kind of stuff for someone else could be life saving to someone else.
Of course. No, everything I said is the only stuff you can use.
That is a really good point. Alright. Well, that’s some stuff. Is there anything else we should talk about go bags. It’s cool to have a go. That’s what I’m gonna say. Don’t let the right wing have it. It’s fucking cool. Being prepared rules. People are gonna think you’re cool. They used to make fun of you, but now…now they don’t. I have two kind of silly questions, because I love rooting these discussions in humor and light heartedness. There’s another word for it.
I famously hate joy.
Yeah. Okay, so we’ve just gone through this big list of stuff and do you remember Donny Don’t from Crimethinc? Yeah, what is the Donny Don’t of go bags?
Donny Don’t is a, just so people know, it’s the don’t do with Donny Don’t does. And what is the Donny Don’t of go bags? It’s probably the like crazy overkill versions. Like I probably don’t need an ice axe in my go bag. Now that I say that I’m like, I mean, if I had to cross into Canada on the East Coast I would actually need an ice axe. So, but like, gear obsession, I think that and letting go bags be an endless bottomless non fun thing. If it is fun for you to geek out and find the the version of the thing that’s two ounces lighter, do it–as long as you give away the old one or like, you know, maintain it in such a way that it’s useful to somebody else. But yeah, I think that Donny Don’t is the overkill, like a bag that you can’t carry. Unless, I mean, some people can’t carry certain amounts of weight that they would need and then they need assistance and things like that. That’s actually okay too. But like, but overall. Yeah.
Cool. Yeah. And actually, that is my retrospective answer for which knife to bring is the knife that you will carry.
Is the knife that does not that does not impede you from caring it. And then my other comical question because I can’t do a single interview without talking about it is: So in Dungeons and Dragons, you have the adventuring kit and what is the 50 foot of hempen rope, which every single adventurer uses at some point, and what is the like climbing like…not crampons. Pitons. What is the pitons thing that no one has ever used. If you use them, please tell us about it.
Everyone uses the the eating stuff. The spork, the utensils. Everyone uses…Yeah, the stuff that everyone uses is the tiny light cheap shit. You know? It’s the fucking BIC lighter. And know what what no one uses is the magnifying lens to start the fire, which I didn’t even include. I actually include tiny little magnifying lenses in the kits because they cost like five cents, like little Fresnel lenses size of credit card. But, it’s mostly so you can read small stuff. And that weighs nothing. I like throwing it in. But the magnifying lens. That’s the Yeah.
The piton thing.
Yeah. Whatever it is.
Cool. Thank you. Thank you for indulging my silly questions. Well, it seems like maybe we should do some more…Talk about this more some other time.
Yeah, you should ask me about vehicle preparedness sometime. And home preparedness.
Yeah, vehicle preparedness, home preparedness, like specific disaster preparedness. Yeah. Like, I know, we’re gonna…we’re planning on doing a hurricane thing at some point.
We’re just gonna throw a hurricane. Inmn’s a level 17 Wizard.
And, you know, maybe we like…do we eventually started talking about…Do we just throw you, Margaret, into situations and say, “How would you deal with this issue?” Like as an episode concept?
I thought you meant physically. Like, while I’m on tour, be like, “Sorry, Margaret, you’re suddenly survivor lady.” And I’m like, “Wait!”
No, no, I’m thinking of like, this funny episode concept where we come up with situations, almost like roleplay situations, but real life, and you tell us how you would prepare and deal it.
Okay. Yeah, we should do that sometime. I guess I’ll have to get good at this. Usually, because I’m like…Well, my whole thing is I’m not quite an expert. At this point. I think I do know more than the average person. But my whole point was like, I’m not an expert. I find experts and ask them things. But, I guess at this point, there’s a lot of this shit that I either sometimes have hands on experience and sometimes I just fucking talk to people about it all day. So. Yeah, sounds good. Well,
Well. Thanks so much for coming on this, what ended up being a two parter episode of your own podcast that I am a weird guest host of right now.
No, it’s our podcast. It’s Strangers’ podcast at this point.
Yeah. Do you have anything that you would like to plug?
You can hear me on my podcast, Live Like the World is Dying, it’s a community and individual preparedness podcasts published by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can also hear me talk about history. I spend most of my time reading history books and talking about it on a podcast called Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff on Cool Zone Media. It’s very confusing that one of my podcasts is on CZN and one of my podcasts is on CZM, but that’s the way it goes. And my most recent book is called “Escape from Incel Island.” You can hear me talk about a shotgun that I used to really want, the Celtic KSG which is what Mankiller Jones carries. It’s no longer that shotgun I lust after. Now I want to Mossberg 59A1. But, you know, I don’t know whether I want to change what they’re carrying. And I’m on the internet. @MagpieKilljoy on Twitter and @Margaretkilljoy on Instagram and you can also follow…I’m now trying to make people follow our social media, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can also follow us on social media @TangledWild on Twitter and then at something on Instagram. I’m sure if you search Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness it will come up. Do you know what it was? What is our Instagram?
It is @tangled_wilderness on Instagram.
We did a really good job of grabbing all the…we’ve been around for 20 years and we didn’t fucking grab good Instagram handles at the beginning. Yeah, that’s what I got.
Great. Great. Well, we will see you next time.
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