An area that is often overlooked when assembling a bug out bag, get home bag, or other kit is boredom relievers. Granted, if you’re in a situation where you are needing to rely on your kit to survive, you would think there are more important things than entertaining yourself. However, there are many potential scenarios where you may end up spending a fair amount of time sitting around with nothing but your thoughts to keep you occupied. When that happens, you’re going to want something that will help keep your mind from gravitating to the negative thoughts that are sure to surface.
Not to mention, a brain that is dulled by inactivity will not be of much help to you in a crisis. You need to keep your wits sharp.
As with any addition to a bug out bag, there are certain qualifications that must be met. First, it needs to be small in size and lightweight. Every single ounce counts when you’re carrying it all on your back or over your shoulder. Second, it needs to be at least somewhat weatherproof, or easily packaged in a way to prevent damage from rain or snow.
With regards to entertainment options, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind. There should be a minimum of parts, for starters. You don’t want to pack something that will end up useless because you lost one of the pieces. You also want to avoid anything that is overly complex to use. The idea here is to relieve boredom, not increase stress.
So, with that criteria, let’s look at a few options. Personally, I’m an avid reader so I always include a small paperback book in my kits if I have space to do so. I keep them stored in ziplock plastic bags so they don’t get wet.
Another item to consider is a deck of cards. Bonus points if said deck is of the type that has survival related information printed on the cards. This is a great option if you’ll likely be traveling with a companion, since there are roughly a gazillion different card games you could play. If you go this route, do yourself a favor and pack two decks of the same type. This way, if you lose a card from a deck, you can replace it.
There are a ton of different small games or puzzles out there that you might consider adding to your kit. One such game consists of a wooden triangle and a handful of golf tees. That particular one could keep you occupied for hours. If you don’t feel like buying one, you can follow these instructions for building your own. (That link in particular is worth the read, if only to see the awesome 70s haircut in the photos!) If you lose a golf tee or two, you can always just use small twigs snapped off to the proper size.
For those of you who have a few Altoids tins lying around, you can make some pretty nifty portable games with the instructions here. As it mentions on that page, since the games make use of magnetic pieces, be careful where and how you pack the games as they can mess with electronics.
There are, of course, a ton of ready-made travel size games at any discount retailer and even some dollar stores, usually in the toy department. The downside of some of these is the number of very small pieces involved. But, for just a few bucks you can pick up several of these games and scatter them among your kits.
Finally, something else I always try to include in all my kits is a small notebook and a few pencils. I use pencils rather than pens because they aren’t affected by temperature extremes and I can always sharpen them up when they get dull. If I were to lose the pencils somehow, I could always used a charred stick. The notebooks are great for keeping track of information, such as the route you walked that day, as well as leaving notes for searchers if you’re lost.
What do you have in your kits to keep your mind occupied?