The Lady’s B.O.B

November 5, 2008
This one could use a few extra MREs in her BOB.

This one could use a few extra MREs in her BOB.

Ever check out a firearms or preparedness forum? Threads abound where members show off or list the contents of their bug out bags. It’s the male equivalent of Ally Sheedy dumping out her purse in The Breakfast Club.

What’s a BOB? Well, it’s pretty much a grab-and-go 72-hour (or so) survival kit that you would take with you into unknown conditions in the case of a major emergency–anything from a house fire to massive evacuation to flat-out armageddon. Assembling a BOB is actually a lot of fun, if you’re into gear, gadgets and doodads.

There are variants on the basic BOB, such as the “Get My Arse Home from Work To My Real Bug Out Bag” bag, which you might carry in your vehicle, or the “I’m At Lockdown At Work” bug-IN bag, or maybe the “I’m Stranded in my Car for Weeks” bag. But the true BOB is equipped to provide warmth, a change of clothing and footwear, personal protection, shelter and the very most basic of survival tools.

When planning your primary BOB, take into consideration the most likely catastrophies that could strike your area. Factor in local climate, and whatever plans you and your family have for rallying in the case you have to bail from your home.

And factor in the fact that each person has his or her own requirements to keep safe and sane in a stressful scenario. Especially if you’re female.

I’m not going to list absolutely everything you should have in your BOB, since you can find that information anywhere. But, true to the mission of this blog, I will add a few things you won’t find in the typical survival blog or forum. That’s right–GIRL STUFF!

Feminine Protection: Well, DUH! Of course you’re going to want to pack along stuff to prepare you for the Invasion of the Red Army, if you get my drift. If you’re not familiar with applicator-free products, give them a test run and seriously consider adding them to your bag. Most brands make a multi-pack. Note in my Welcome post, I celebrate the OB tampon as one of the best survival tools due to the compressed volume of fire-starting cotton and bonus prize of 12″ cord.

For longer-term emergencies, consider reusable pads or cups, but ONLY if you’ve familiarized yourself with their use well in advance. Having to bug out is bad. Having to bug out while on the rag is horrible. Having to bug out and all you have to keep yourself tidy is some weird miniature toilet plunger is a catalyst for a meltdown.

You’ll also want to carry scent-proof baggies, or the more rugged and less-disposable O.P. Sack to transport soiled reusables.

Chocolate: I’m not being divine here, I’m serious. Chocolate has positive neurological effects that would be beneficial in a BOB situation, and it’s also a good energy boost. Problem with chocolate is that it melts, so use caution when packing in a BOB that will be stored in your car, for example.

If you have kids, chocolate is a great motivator. Looking after the psychological well-being of you and yours is often overlooked in emergency preps, and attitude is everything.

Toiletries: Along the same line as chocolate, toiletries will help your sense of morale. I’m not a fan of beauty magazines, but you can always rifle through them for sample packets or perfume strips, which are easy to pack and will help you feel better after a few days away from your shower and Spin Spa. Go easy on the fragrances, as an overdose of eau d’parfume can be more offensive than body odor.

I love witch hazel packets and baby wipes. But lacking these, a steaming hot bandanna rubdown is the best part of waking up to a back-country morning.

If you’re a cheapskate like me, you like free stuff. Save complimentary hotel toiletries, or even better, write to the manufacturers of your favorite products and request free samples. Now, you can pack the stuff that works for YOU. Don’t go overboard, though; you want your bag as light as possible, and in spite of the importance of morale, comfort and hygiene, your favorite hair gel will need to be 86’d if it comes down to that or emergency food rations, water purification or first aid items.

Sports Bra: Do you normally subject yourself to underwire, or otherwise less-than-comfortable undergarments? Get yourself a breathable, moisture-wicking, non-cotton sports bra, like this one, to stash in your BOB. It will help regulate heat, prevent chafing, and provide comfort while carrying a heavy pack.

Self-Defense: Whether you’re bugging out over road or trail, you must have some basic unarmed and armed defensive skills. Don’t rely on pepper spray alone to get you through a rough spot. Get a firearm and learn to use, carry and draw it. Get a good survival knife, and take a class in blade fighting. Contact your local police department, city college or YWCA to find out about effective, affordable women’s defense courses that teach simple physical and verbal techniques. I specify women’s defense courses because some of these offer techniques that are rarely taught to men, and I strongly believe that women-only classes allow participants to focus better on learning.

Train, and practice, and remember that you’re worth fighting for.

MISC: It’s a good idea to pack along pharmaceuticals and herbals that will help you if you’re bugging out with Aunt Flo, in addition to a basic first-aid kit. If you’re menopausal, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the shelf life of your medications, and have an extra month’s supply on hand to rotate into your preparations.

The necessities for a woman’s survival pack differ than those for a man’s, and there’s no shame in admitting it. Plan to take care of yourself.

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Concealed Carry Accessories

November 3, 2008

An important factor in selecting your carry firearm–or when deciding whether or not to carry at all–is how and where you will secure your firearm to your person. I’m hoping this post will save you the time and hassle many women have gone through in the search for the best carry method for their own personal style.

Following are a few options, and the pros and cons as I see them.

Purse Carry: Purse carry is among the least secure means of carrying your firearm. Unless your purse is specially designed for carry, your gun will be jumbled in with the rest of your urban survival items, and possibly covered in lint and Junior Mint crumbles. (Well, that last part is just me). Second, consider how easy it might be for you to “flash” your firearm when rummaging around looking for change, your library card, or your wallet. Honestly, people freak out when they see guns, and in many places here in the States, you could get into legal trouble for “flashing” a gun even if it’s barely visible from your handbag.

Of course, purses are easily ripped off or left behind. If you do insist on purse carry, look into the type that has a reinforced shoulder strap that can’t be cut by a passing pickpocket, and think carefully about your tendency to leave stuff behind.

Have nosy teens or young kids? If you think for a heartbeat that your purse could be accessed by kids without proper firearms safety training, don’t take this route. You may think your teenager is an angel, but I know of a lot of angelic teenagers (and pre-teens) that have fished a few bucks out of their mom’s coinpurse for one reason or another when Mom wasn’t looking. Just food for thought.

Last, but certainly not least, I have yet to find a concealed carry purse that wasn’t butt-ugly.

The Fanny Pack: There’s a saying among gun nuts. Any guy carrying a fanny pack is either gay or carrying a gun. Nothing wrong with either in my opinion, but it’s not a good idea to wave that flag if it’s the latter. Now, for women, we might be able to get away with a fanny pack, as long as we remember that if we say “fanny pack” among our British friends, we should expect gales of hysterical laughter. I’ll let you figure it out.

Fanny packs are a great option for women while running, hiking or doing that ridiculous speed-walking thing. (Wogging?). There are great packs out there that incorporate an interior holster to secure your firearm while leaving room for other essentials, such as a basic survival kit (necessary on any off-road jaunt) or a light jacket. Make sure you get a pack that has smooth, ergonomic access, and practice drawing your firearm. Don’t forget to take your CHL and another photo ID with you on your wogs!

Belt Holsters: Holsters come in all shapes and sizes, in leather, Kydex or nylon, to be worn inside or outside the waistband, with or without a belt, with or without pouches for magazines or moon clips. When I was a noob, my friend told me that it wouldn’t be long before I’d accumulated a huge box of tried-and-discarded holsters, but with a bit of research and trying-on, I found options that worked for me. You’ll have to do the same. But to be quick, I really like the Blade-Tech Ultimate Concealment Holster for my Kahr P9, and I’ll likely get one for my S&W 642 as well. For now, I’m carrying my S&W in a simple, cheap Uncle Mike’s IWB holster, and for this little pistol, it works great for pocket carry as well.

Shoulder Holsters: Ladies, you’re on your own here. I have no experience with shoulder holsters, as they require a jacket to keep concealment. A bit too “Barney Miller” for me. But they might work great for you, so suss it out and please comment on your findings!

Ankle/thigh holsters: Sexy, sure! But come on. No respectable or effective firearm can be worn on the feminine ankle, though it might be considered as a place for your “back up gun” (aka “bug gun”, “mouse gun”). My thinking is that if you’re planning on daily carry of more than one firearm, you need to move, change jobs, stop hooking, or do whatever you need to do to get yourself out of that necessity. Carry one firearm plus additional clips/mags, and learn to shoot well. Ankle/thigh holsters can, however, make good options for accessorizing formal gowns. For example, on your wedding day, you might want to wear a custom garter holster. Track down Lou Alessi and see if he’ll do something up for you in blue!

Belly Bands: I have one of these, and I’ll probably hold onto it. There are a few brands out there, and they have their place, but not for general everyday carry. Why? Well, some are itchy and can make you sweat; the more comfortable belts don’t accomodate larger handguns. You have to pull your shirt up or aside to reach or reholster your gun. Great if you’re good at those Girls Gone Wild moves; bad if you’re wearing lots of layers.

Some of these bands require “cross-draw” action, which–unless practiced diligently–increases your chances of self-injury or snagging of your firearm mid-draw.

None of these reasons should keep you from doing a bit of research. I’ve heard really good things about Smartcarry, and think they’d be a good fit for the compact 9mm or S&W Airweights with which I am most familiar in carry situations. Another one to look at is Thunderware, and you’ll find tons of forum threads comparing the two brands. (Note: Check out the hilarious pics on the Thunderware site. It looks like the wearer is about to whip something out of his pants, and “hard steel” isn’t what comes to mind)

The most important thing is to find something that works with your familiar style, without you having to go out and revamp your wardrobe to accomodate reinforced leather belts, suit jackets, fugly vests and nasty handbags. There is a balance between safety and fashion, and I’m not afraid to admit that if our gun rig makes us look like we’re hiding junk in the trunk, we won’t wear it.


Welcome!

November 2, 2008

Let’s get something clear: I am, by no means, an expert on survival and preparedness. You’ll probably learn stuff here, but most of what I’ll be sharing will be observations on established techniques, ideas and schwag from the perspective of a female. A female who, as a matter of fact, is too cheap to dish for a fake Prada bag, much less a real one, and who wouldn’t want one anyway. Let’s face it; I prefer Hoppe’s Number 9 to Chanel No. 5.

I was inspired to start this blog after reading post after post on forums exalting the virtues of firestarter kits. Kits that include the ubiquitous wad of cotton dabbed in Vaseline. For crying out loud, I kept thinking to myself. Just use some fluff from an OB Regular and a bit of Chapstick! Everyone carries that in their survival kit, don’t they?

Oh, wait…

Truth is–and here’s your very first tidbit of useful information–I’m convinced that OB tampons rate right up there with multitools for Things You Can’t Leave Home Without. With a Swedish FireSteel purchased from the wonderfully darling and brilliant Ron Fontaine of Survivaltopics.com, a rough metal blade, a bit of oil or wax-based beauty product and a nicely shredded (and absorbent!) OB, you can light a fire that would put Texas A&M to shame. Not to mention the nearly 12 inches of string you’ll have on hand for such things as hanging snares, repairing gear or maybe flossing that chunk of cattail tuber out of your teeth.

(Sigh). OK, so I know that any guys reading this might be a bit shy about carrying feminine products around in their gear. It’s not like you’re going to get sudden urges to get the Hello Kitty AR-15. But most of you already know how sanitary pads make great wound dressings right? Well, they do!

OK. So back to the purpose of this little blog. Which is…

  • To add a little bit of female perspective to the somewhat testosterone-sodden subject of survival.
  • To share what I’ve learned in my research and experience with survival and emergency preparedness.
  • To remind my gentle readers and myself that, as serious as the subjects are, life is what’s happening now…keep a sense of humor, keep your attitude positive, and make it fun.

(If some of you guys happen to find this site handy when introducing your better halves to the sport/hobby/obsession of bushcraft/survival/preparedness/tin foil hats, all the better.)