What You Need to Build the Best Tech Bug Sack
It could be a floodor one Fireor something man made, but sometimes you just have to get out of Dodge. In the event of a crisis that forces you to leave your home, you need a purse full of the basics you’ll need to stay safe and in touch. While this bag is undoubtedly will contain things such as water filtration and a first aid kit, it should also be equipped with the appropriate technical essentials.
A good tech bag will already contain the things you need and a place for the things you use daily. If you keep this bag ready, you can throw the last things in there and be out in seconds.
(A quick note here: I’m focusing on the technical element. For tips on creating a more general bug out bag, check out the New York City website. guideor FEMA control List.)
This one is obvious, you might think: just grab your cell phone. Fair enough: for most people, a cell phone is the main way to keep in touch with the rest of the world, so you should make room for it in your backpack. But it won’t help if you can’t charge it, so get a charger to go. The Anker 735 ($59.99) can charge three devices simultaneously from one wall outlet.
Don’t forget the USB cables. You must have as many cables as devices. I recommend the Nomad Universal Cable USB-C ($44.99) as the Kevlar sleeve can withstand rough treatment. A connected USB-A and micro USB adapter means it can charge just about any Android phone or tablet. For Apple devices that use the Lightning port, Nomad offers a Lightning port version.
You might also be tempted to grab an old smartphone and throw it in your bag as a backup. Don’t. Smartphone batteries break down over time, eventually becoming a fire hazard. It’s the last thing you need in your bug out bag.
If you travel a lot or go off the grid, consider a satellite device like the Garmin InReach Mini ($299) or the $199.99. These devices send a ping to a satellite that keeps track of your location. Plus, they can send an SOS to emergency services at the push of a button, which is great if you find yourself out of cell phone network coverage. However, they only work with a subscription, and those cost $14.95 and up per month. (You can also purchase a monthly service.)
One thing to note here: an old cell phone called SpareOne Emergency might work on a few standard AA batteries, but it’s no longer available. You can buy SpareOnes on eBay, but the 2G cell phone networks they rely on have been disabled, so they won’t work in the US.
You should always store vital documents such as your passport, credit cards and IDs in a fireproof safe, but make sure they’re all easy to get at once. I store my essential documents in a Pelican 1040 Micro Suitcase inside my safe so I can grab them all at once, and the case keeps them safe and dry.
You should also have copies of these documents (it is much easier to get a replacement passport if you have the details of the original). The same goes for credit cards, ID cards, birth certificates, and other important pieces of paper. So take a photo of them and store them on an SSD drive with a fingerprint reader like the Samsung T7 Touch ($157). If you lose the device, a thief cannot access it to steal your identity. The USB-C connection works with laptops and phones, and the drive has enough space on the drive to store music or videos to keep kids entertained. Don’t forget to set up your family’s fingerprints on the SSD, so they can access that data as well.
Having all the technology with you won’t help you if the batteries run out, so you’ll need a way to charge these devices. A portable battery like the Mophie Powerstation Go Rugged AC ($75) can charge phones, includes 110V AC output, and even start your car. (In fact, you can charge it from your car battery.) The AC output tends to drain the battery quickly, and it’s heavy, weighing in at 1.6 lbs; if that’s too much for you, try a smaller option like the Mophie Powerstation with PD ($34.99), which has enough juice to charge your cell phone twice.
As stated above, cell phone batteries should not be stored idle, but AA batteries like the Duracell Coppertop or the Max Energizer will last 10-12 years in storage. So why not combine the two? Throw a pack of AA batteries in your bag with a MintyBoosta compact device that takes two AA batteries and converts the voltage to power a USB device.
Your smartphone includes a GPS receiver that can find where you are and share it with others through services such as Google Maps Where Apple’s Locate app. It won’t help if family members are separated from you. To follow everyone, buy a Apple Air Tag Where Samsung SmartTag+ for every family member and pet. Configure them and test them with the Apple Find My Where Samsung SmartThings app, then remove the battery. Then, if you need to troubleshoot, put the battery back in and give each family member a tag or animals. These devices are surprisingly efficient as other phones receive and transmit the signal. Indeed, they can follow people even if you are not nearby. This is invaluable if your children are separated in a crowd.
Your bug out bag doesn’t have to be fancy. Instead, you need something that won’t draw attention to itself and will be difficult to steal. I use an old one Peak Design Messenger Bag, which looks harmless and, with its over-the-shoulder design, is quite difficult to steal. It can carry a lot, with room for a laptop, tablet, and everything else I’ve listed here.
It’s not waterproof, so I keep a few Pelican Marine float pouches ($21) inside. These neat pouches can hold a phone, batteries, cables and other tech, keeping them safe and dry. I also keep a few rolls of dog poop bags in there because, aside from the obvious use for my dog, they’re waterproof: just throw your phone in them, tie a knot in the end and it’s protected. It might be low-tech, but it gets the job done. And, when you need to get away because the world is going to hell, that’s what you need.