Inch bag

“…At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? — Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

–Abraham Lincoln
(January 27, 1838)

All of us in the prepper arena constantly talk about having a bug-out bag (B.O.B.) or sometimes called a get-home bag (G.H.B.). It’s accepted that this is a staple to have in your prepper arsenal. The intended purpose of a B.O.B. and a G.H.B. is to give you the basic necessities to sustain you on your trek from point A to point B. When stocking your bag, it is recommended to prep or gear-up these bags for a 72 hour window (depending on your situation). High-calorie food, water storage and filtration, change of clothing, fire starter and rudimentary shelter is typically what you’ll stock in your bag. The point of limiting your gear to these essentials is to keep the weight down so it doesn’t slow you down. With that, you have already planned on a more long-term survival plan at your “point B”.

But speed isn’t everything when it comes to survival. And since some people don’t have a dedicated bug out location (that “point B” in your trek), after 72 hours your B.O.B could turn into a S.O.L bag. This presents a problem if the only plan you have is to “just survive.” The need to have a lot more gear than what can fit in a B.O.B. becomes necessary after that 72 hour mark…Enter the I.N.C.H.

I.N.C.H stands for “I’m Not Coming Home” or “I’m Never Coming Home”. The I.N.C.H is basically a large, long-term survival kit that is self-contained into one mobile carrying device. It contains all the items that are critical to your survival following a disaster or other SHTF scenario. The difference between an I.N.C.H. and a B.O.B. is that an I.N.C.H. can sustain you (at least theoretically) indefinitely. If you’re that person without a “point B” in your plan, it’s time to gear-up your I.N.C.H.

There are a few things to consider before building your I.N.C.H. bag. First of all, keep in mind that the B.O.B. is based on the 3-day rescue rule. So, no matter what happens…flood, fire, civil unrest, snowstorm, hurricane, or other catastrophic disaster…you should be able to survive the first 72 hours on your own and then, sometime within that window, be able to locate assistance (be it professional or otherwise) or just be able to return home. The concept of the I.N.C.H. bag is much different. When stocking your bag you need to consider a few things: First, you’re assuming that the disaster that you are prepping for is going to be of such magnitude that you will be totally independent even after the 72 hours has come and gone. Second, you have to assume that, regardless of the disaster, civil unrest will follow. This means that there will not be any way to restock your supplies. Third, you have to assume that there may be no home to come back to. With that in mind, let’s step through some of the major items that you will need to add to your I.N.C.H. bag:

  1. The bag itself needs to have a frame along with major back support. A long-term hiking pack is the recommended style. Make sure that it has a rain cover to protect everything that you own and that it fits your body’s frame.
  2. Take everything you would normally put in a B.O.B. and add it to your I.N.C.H. bag. This is a good start. We’ll be replacing and adding to it next.
  3. Add at least 3 more changes of clothing. You may even want at least one set to be a size larger to wear as an extra layer. Also, start thinking “barter” as means to obtain more of what you need to survive. That extra outfit could be worth food or water to someone else.
  4. For colder climates, add a heavy-duty jacket and cold weather boots along with gloves and a hat. You really have no idea how long you could be stuck outside and what time of year. Even summer months in the north can get chilly at night.
  5. Add a high quality hiking sleeping bag and sleeping mat. A tarp or small tent (possibly a hammock-style tent) would also be practical if it isn’t weight prohibitive.
  6. Now take everything from the B.O.B. and start multiplying the quantities of the items that you’ll be consuming (food, water, toiletries, and fire starter). Aim for a week’s worth but assume that you’ll need a lot more. When doing this, consider weight vs. reward. You’ll need to be able to carry all of this.
  7. You can replace some of the high-energy bars from the B.O.B. with MREs and dehydrated meals. A safe number to pack food for is 7 days. At some point you should be able to obtain potable water for cooking. You’ll also be able to “acquire” edibles from places such as abandoned stores and homes.
  8. (I can’t stress this enough) Purchase and pack a rifle. While most States have some type of restrictions on handguns, rifles are not nearly as restricted. Even the most liberal of States should allow you to purchase a 22LR rifle. This can be used for self-defense as well as hunting (more accurate than a handgun). The ammunition for a 22LR is very small and lightweight. You can carry a lot of ammunition in a small space.

This is not an all-inclusive list but it will give you a good jump on building your perfect I.N.C.H. bag.

Let’s be clear though…of course at some point you will be able to go home. The fires will burn themselves out. The earthquakes will stop. The hurricane will blow over. The great flood will recede. And the civil unrest will end…it just may take longer than you think. However, putting a time frame on when you can go home is never a good idea. It’s this sense of optimism that can get you in a lot of trouble. Preppers are known to be “pessimistically optimistic”. Which means that we hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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