Why every bug-out bag should have…
This is the first in a series of posts regarding useful items for a bug-out bag. The “best” bug-out bag will be different for different people depending on your strength, endurance, height, and budget. This series will try to point out useful options for all situations, with special attention paid to size/weight and price. (Note: You may need adblock plus disabled to see all the photos on this page.)
*A note about research methodology; I am not consumer reports. I have not purchased all of these items. Some of them I have. If I could, I would buy and use them side by side. Because I cannot afford to do this, for the items I don’t personally own, I utilize Amazon’s robust commenting system. I generally look for items with a lot of reviews, 4-star average or higher, then I read several comments both positive and negative to get the inside scoop – paying special attention to confirmed purchasers and the history of a commenter. Do they only give positive reviews? Are all their reviews negative? Is this their first review? These are things I pay attention to. I also patrol various forums, especially those frequented by active duty military, for great survival gear and ideas.
Why every bug-out bag should have lock picks.
When considering what to put into a bug-out bag, the size/weight to utility ratio of an item is the most important factor. In other words, how useful is it compared to how heavy it is and how much pack space it requires. Weighing in at a few ounces and barely larger than a deck of cards, a quality lockpick set is a no-brainer.
Sure, in the early stages of post-disaster looting, it may not be useful to go after locked-goods. Weeks and months later, though, the easy to reach items will be picked dry. That is when these things really show their value.
There are several options for bypassing locks, requiring various levels of skill and cash. The fact is, a lock pick set is useless in the hands of someone who has no training at all. So before we dive into advanced techniques like picking locks, I think it’s important to consider the brute force option:
Weighing roughly ten pounds, a quality bolt cutter is heavy, but a must if you have the room in your pack. These can also be used to cut-though fences and various other obstacles.
8-Inch Bolt Cutter
Heavy Duty Bolt Cutter with Chrome-Moly Jaws
Neiko Heavy Duty 30″ 4,000 LB Bolt Cutter with Chrome Molybdenum Blades
For those serious peppers willing to learn a new skill, the next option is lighter, cheaper, and has immediate pre-apocalypse benefits:
Pocket Lock Pick Set
Most locks are simple and require only two picks – which is great for portability. You can easily carry a set of picks with you every day. The credit card set listed below looks cool, but has no Amazon reviews. If you buy it, comment on here so we can know if it’s worth the money. For those looking for a larger set of high-quality picks, I’m afraid you’ll have to roam outside Amazon. Lockpickshop.com, referenced below, has a good selection.
5-in-1 Pocket Credit Card Lock Pick Set
HPC 2 Piece Lock Pick Set
Southord PXS-14 – Beginners Lock Pick Set
Learning to Pick Locks:
A competitive lock picker named Schuyler Towne posted a 21 video lock picking training course on Youtube here:
Also, check out these great books:
How to Open Locks With Improvised Tools: Practical, Non-Destructive Ways Of Getting Back Into Just About Everything
Visual Guide to Lock Picking (Third Edition)
Practical Lock Picking, Second Edition: A Physical Penetration Tester’s Training Guide
Other tools to get you in:
Slim Jims are used to quickly and easily break into locked cars. In the post-apocalyptic world, I suggest heading directly to the nearest dealership with one of these in hand. Thats a freebie.
Another must for the post-apocalyptic scavenger. Bump or bumper keys are extremely effective against most locks. Amazon doesn’t carry them, but the internet is a big place:
Bump Key Set $13.99
Some doors can be taken from their hinges while other locks can simply be removed – all with a simple screw driver. This handy tool is good for more than just breaking-in and belongs in every bug-out bag of worth.
Stanley 4-in-1 Pocket Screwdriver
Stanley Stubby Ratcheting MultiBit Screwdriver
Stanley 8 Piece Standard Fluted Screwdriver Set
Stanley Ratcheting Multi-Bit Screwdriver
Don’t use these as weapons. That only works on TV. But they are great for busting in windows or prying things open.
Stanley 12-inch Wonderbar Pry Bar
Stanley 36-Inch Forged Hexagonal Steel Ripping Bar
Thermite is the ultimate brute-force option for true survivors. There is no barrier that Thermite cannot breach. This stuff can literally melt steel. How amazing is that? It is fairly easy to make with just two ingredients from Amazon – though you will also need an igniter (and a lighter adequate to start the igniter for that matter).
This is just the kind of thing that can kill you if you don’t treat it with respect, so I suggest you do plenty of research before touching anything. Also, make sure you don’t look at it when it burns. It can seriously harm your sight. See here for a good overview of thermite creation and use.
Is stocking thermite worth it? For starters, you can use it to destroy old hard drives, guns – literally anything. In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, they use thermite to destroy an indestructible robot from the future. Need to crack a safe or breach a door? Thermite is good for that too. ANY door will be open to you. It requires time and patience to learn the proper handling of thermite and how to avoid the dangers, but a good working knowledge and an adequate store of thermite will make you a superhero in the post-apocalyptic world.
Thermite Ingredient 1
Red Iron Oxide – Fe2O3
Thermite Ingredient 2
Ginsberg Scientific Magnesium Ribbon
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