This is a discussion on Bug Out Bag business idea? within the Related Gear & Equipment forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; A word of caution: a friend of mine started this exact same business online, and lost lots of money. Not destroyed, but was a pretty ...
A word of caution: a friend of mine started this exact same business online, and lost lots of money. Not destroyed, but was a pretty good blow to his ego and finances. Be careful.
"Just blame Sixto"
I reserve the right to make fun, point and laugh etc.
I think you have a great concept but I would gear it toward an on-line market. In my opinion, and allow the user to build their kit based on their perceived needs and their budget. List the key categories and then have a good, better, best for every key item in the kit. For instance, for the flashlight category the customer can select between 1 of 4 flashlights from a low end light to a high end Surefire. Each option has a clearly stated "upcharge". That way the customer can get exactly what he wants and is willing to pay for.
I started to build a bug out bag a few months ago and did not get very far as I keep get caught around the axle on stupid stuff. Paralyses by analysis.
I would love to be able to go one spot and be able to build my kit based on what I think is important. I would be willing to have nicer items of some things that I value and less expensive kinds of things I do not think I would ever need or use.
The value you are offering is a one stop shop where users can customize their bags based on their perceived needs. Obviously you need to be buying everything at wholesale so you can offer these bags at a reasonable value. Keep in mind that the typical person who wants to buy everything ala-cart from different retailers is going to end up spending a lot of money just in shipping so your one stop solution can make good financial sense for those who want to build their BOB.
You would be surprised at how inexpensive you can have a hi-end website built for. Good luck.
To all you current and former military ... thank you for your service! Let no one forget that the sacrifices you have made allow us the freedoms we enjoy.
I am a rank beginner so please take everything I say with a grain of salt. I am neither a proficient gun user looking to transition up to survival issues nor am I at all familiar with any of the likely contents, apart from rations, you might include in your BOB options.
That said, I am quite likely a candidate consumer for your proposed gun-show bug-out-bag display. Sixto did a yeoman's job of describing visually what would attract a person like me to your table. He also made the point with his visual of why I would *drag my emergency-response-team boyfriend* along with me for the ride, rather than come along for myself to view and discuss with him what I saw at some nebulous later time.
What he sees there, at your table, which he may have totally chosen to overlook on his own, will likely make the point of whether or not we purchase anything from you. What *I* see there, under his guidance and watchful eye, will likely drive home the purchasing decision of whether or not we purchase a bug-out-bag at all. Your ability to communicate actual value in your pricing and purchasing chioces will likely determine whether we come back to you --- that day, that hour, another day another gun show, or on purely our own terms at your website available always -- to make our purchases from you.
Probably, the above statement will not provide any new insight you didn't have already. In the event that it did, I'm glad I spoke up.
I think the idea has merit. Though, the moment you've published the contents, you've given up the idea. It had better leverage specialty sourcing/pricing, to maintain an advantage in costs, contents.
Some thoughts ...
A $99 kit, containing emergency survival basics. Something covering two or three injuries of moderate size.
A $399 "premium" kit, for larger groups (ie, Boy Scout outings, summer camp, picnic/gatherings, etc). Something covering a half-dozen injuries or more, for moderate-sized groups on extended outings.
A number of vendors sell specialty "survival" type kits: AAA (for driving, trip related kits); Cabela's and others for camping/outdoors related kits; any outdoors type store such as REI.
Making it a general-purpose survival "Go" bag might have a lot of applications, from basic winter/mountain travel to outback type weekend activities, to SHTF for an individual or couple (1-2 people), a small family/group (4-6 people), or a larger group (10-12 people). But covering all the bases for all the various types of activities and threats could get very expensive. For example, what about a couple 100ft lengths of high-quality rope and emergency block/tackle arrangement to help folks who are separated reach each other? Or, snake-bite items? If considering general survival and food/water, what about water purification? What about broad-spectrum anti-bacterial / anti-viral type medications (ie, sulfa)?
If intended to be a longer-term type SHTF bag, what about all the services that might not exist or be easily obtainable, such as when lost in a foreign country or area? Fuel, heat, communications, ability to be seen/heard over distance (ie, flares, whistles/sirens), serious medical issues such as poisonous animal response, gunshot wounds, severe breaks/fractures.
Water can be extremely heavy, but up to a gallon can be easily ported as part of a "go" bag or kit. If no actual water is part of the kit, how about a water purifier/filter type device to leverage water sources that already exist? For the "coastal" variant, what about some sort of ability to desalinate sea water?
What about the ability to fend of dangerous animals? ie, "Bear spray" and similar products?
What about the ability to be heard over long distances, so for example a product that acts like a compressed-air horn, but without the pre-compressed air (something that'll work in an emergency by compressing then releasing the air manually)? Or, an emergency transponder type device (ie, EPIRB for boats, or SPOT personal satellite messenger) or other low-cost device if caught in the wilds?
The EMS / first-responder market has been around a long time. I am assuming that basic "bags" exist on the market already.
By the way, OpticsPlanet is a DC supporter and carries the QuickClot products. At least ,in the over-the-counter varieties.
Lots of the items are dirt-cheap on the general market, now. Not a lot of room for profitability. For example, 100ft of 550 cord at Cabela's for $6. Or, any number of sources on cheap MRE's and "emergency" or "camping" foodstuffs.
As for the cost of such an endeavor, definitely keep in mind that most of this stuff is generally available. And that once you give up the list, you've effectively given up the idea.
If you're going to sell all this stuff, you better have a good reason for people to buy it from you instead of an established online retailer. IMHO, packaging it all together probably won't cut it. That simply requires people to drop a lot of money at once, when they could buy it piecemeal and distribute the cost over a few months. There's probably a business here, but you need a more effective hook.
How about financing? You'd need to line up a financial backer, but plenty of people want higher end gear than they can afford all at once. A $500 or $1000 BOB worth of good gear would be a heck of a lot more affordable split over a year of payments.
ccw9mm, thanks for the link.
I am targeting the gun show audience, maybe a limited online option. If I can address the consumer who doesn't want to source/order the parts themselves I think I will be successful. Gun shows should be a good spot to offer the kits. Customization is key. In Virginia we can tailor the contents to the region. On the east side we have hurricane danger, west is snow and the occasional tornado. The DC area is an entire can of worms. If I only traveled in VA I would have to address each of these situations based on the region.
I love the thoughts and comments, keep them coming.
I am attending the Norfolk gun show tomorrow to scout for anyone who might already be doing this.
I think it would be a rough business to be solely at shows. It's a pretty specialized concept to get people to drop the amount they would likely cost unless they've seen you there often enough to plan for it.
On a recent recommendation, I remembered to check out Chinook Medical Supplies, who I was told tend to have very good prices on both individual items and packages like you describe (might be a possible supplier for you if you want to give it a try). However, I was a bit shocked at the price of some of their packs even then. I was even more shocked to discover that they're located less than 5 minutes from me, but that's unrelated :)
I would like to see someone who actually puts together and/or offers options for QUALITY bags, and supplies. Obviously some people will opt for a cheaper setup, but I cant stand seeing all the emergency preparedness kits that can hardly survive storage let alone an emergency situation.
Note: This post may contain misspellings, grammatical errors, disorganized sentence structure, or may entirely lack a coherent theme. These elements are natural to the process of writing, and will only add to the overall beauty of the post.
Merischino was kind enough to let me post under her name.
Great business idea, but bear in mind that a bug-out bag for a city dweller would be rather different than a bug-out bag for a rural resident. Also, a bug-out bag for the tropics (I live in Florida) would be different than one from up north, and so on.
I've been a relief worker in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, and worked in EMS as either a paramedic and/or EMT for almost twelve years. I have also survived several hurricanes, so I have a lot of opinions about the contents of a bug-out bag.
* First, keep it light. More is not always better. A huge stash may attract violent theft, and a heavy, massive bag may keep you from moving in a fast, agile manner if the situation dictates.
* Second, pay careful attention to how things are packaged so materiel does not deteriorate in storage with heat, humidity, etc.. Of particular concern is careful attention to how liquids and gels are packaged, as liquid iodine tincture (for example) can destroy other supplies in the bag.
* Third, practice with your bag until you fine-tune your needs, rather than relying on a list from someone else who isn't in your shoes.
* Fourth, keep a written record of expiration dates. Replace materiel several months before the expiration date if you store the bug-out bag in a car where high temperatures, vibration, and, perhaps, extremes of cold (if you live up north) may cause the materiel to deteriorate more quickly.
* Choose materiel that has more then one function. Tincture of iodine is an example, as it disinfects wounds and purifies water (see end of post for cautions about this substance), and a Gerber multi-tool is another example.
* If possible (and space permits), include materiel that can be traded. I suggest cigarettes and, possibly, liquor. Cigarettes can be useful - I've traded them for band-aids, canned food, etc. after a hurricane.
* Include reading material.
For your consideration (and my case may not be typical or correct for the next guy), here is my bug-out bag.
1) Katadyn water filter, with a brush to remove deposits from the filter. Supposedly good for many thousands of gallons.
2) Tincture of iodine with plastic eyedropper. Five drops to one liter of questionable water supposedly renders it safe to drink. Also used to prevent infection in minor wounds.
3) Jungle hammock with mosquito/midge netting. This is lighter than a backpacking tent, and requires no poles and only a couple of ropes. It folds down into a truly small size.
4) Gerber multi-tool. Need I say more?
5) Three sections of 6' by 6' foot clear, 4 mil plastic sheeting for making solar stills, which can actually purify sea water.
6) Three 6' sections of aquarium tubing for such a still, and three 1 gallon plastic tupperware containers for such a still. I also add a turkey baster, as this lets me suck up the water and squirt it into whatever I'm using as a canteen.
7) Gatorade powder for the electrolytes and calories.
8) Ka-bar Marine combat knife. I prefer a D2 steel model with a seven inch blade and kydex sheath, but almost any model will work very well.
9) Dehydrated fruit, nuts, beef jerky, peanut butter, and honey.
10) Multivitamins, triple antibiotic ointment, ibuprophen, benadryl cream, benadryl capsules, caffeine tablets (ie: No-Doz), petroleum jelly, DEET insect repellent, sunblock (30 SPF minimum), small quantity of ammonia (useful for stings), baking soda (can be used for brushing teeth, can be used for stings, may be used as an antacid, etc.), syrup of ipecac (to induce vomiting), activated charcoal, oil of cloves for toothache, and aloe vera gel.
11) Butterfly sutures, box of disposable surgical rubber gloves, band-aids, duct tape (useful for everything, but surprisingly effective for bandaging large wounds when used with a sterile dressing), large individually sealed feminine hygiene pads (useful for large wounds as well as for intended purpose), tweezers (for stings, ticks, and splinters), magnifying glass (for stings and splinters, as well as for fire-making), tube of Ben-Gay, toenail clippers (ingrown, infected toenails can happen in a tropical environment with a lot of walking), disposable razors, lice shampoo, toothbrush, antibacterial soap, and moleskins for foot blisters.
12) Leather work gloves, eye protection, and reusable platex rubber kitchen gloves.
13) Birth control supplies.
14) Socks, underware, foot powder, extra boot laces, and insoles for shoes.
16) Small, minimalist fishing kit (8 pound test line, 10 sinkers, 10 snap swivels, 10 hooks, small gill net).
17) 30 feet of para cord.
18) Five disposable Bic cigarette lighters, Zippo cigarette lighter with extra flints, small container of lighter fluid, lifeboat-style waterproof matches, small candle.
19) Hand-crank flashlight and hand-crank radio.
20) Sewing supplies (10 needles of various sizes, buttons, safety pins, thread, and dental floss).
21) Sunglasses with Croakes neck cord (floats your sunglasses if they fall off in water).
23) Ball of twine.
24) Gun supplies. I can carry 150 rounds of 9mm hollowpoint ammo, three spare 13 round magazines, a cleaning kit, and a holster for my Hi-power clone without being too overloaded.
25) "The SAS Survival Manual" by John Lofty, "Peterson's Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants", and "The Special Forces Medical Handbook".
26) Soft, collapsible water bottle.
27) Spool of brass wire for snares, shelter-building, and making repairs. Available at any art supply store for less than $2.00.
28) Garden trowel.
29) Small, lightweight aluminum pot for cooking and for boiling water. Find a small, used sauce pot at Goodwill or the Salvation Army for a dollar, and cut part of the handle off with a hacksaw. Make sure you get a lid to go with it.
All of this seems like it should weigh a ton, but it really doesn't. Try adding everything up and see. I can get all of this materiel into a medium-sized backpack with space left over if I select the size of the individual packages carefully and package thoughtfully according to the item's shape, size, and geometry (ie: I can put things into the empty space in the middle of a duct tape roll).
Another bug-out item that I highly recommend is a folding, collapsible bicycle. A collapsible bicycle can be kept in the car as a kind of lifeboat in case you break down somewhere and need to bail quickly. I also believe a folding bicycle can actually be faster than a car in a disaster. An average person can carry a bicycle through a flooded section of street that a car can't drive through, and a bicycle can be carried across a median if the road is clogged with debris and downed wires. Using a bicycle in the aftermath of a disaster saves precious gasoline for generators, and a bicycle can be easily serviced and repaired when compared to repairing a car or motorcycle.
I've seen new folding bicycles sold for as little as $165.00 on the Internet, and I've bought a good used one for $50.00 at a pawn shop. I think folding bicycles should be included as an accessory with every bug-out bag.
Please note that some of the medical supplies are controversial. Iodine will not kill a micro-organism called cryptosporidium (which can cause a nasty, chronic intestinal illness that may actually kill you if you have AIDS or are undergoing chemotherapy. As of this writing, there are no known antibiotics that work very well against crypto, although supportive treatment and time are usually effective). Also, anyone allergic to shellfish should not ingest tincture of iodine, and, lastly, pregnant women should consult their physicians before considering any of the medical supplies that I've listed.
I hope this was helpful.
All my best,
A minuscule note from a gal who has the benefit of being with a man so well-prepared: I will be learning exactly what these items are and how to use them myself in the event something serious goes down. Also: Kevin is available and able to detail for you exactly how to use anything in this list you are unfamiliar with. (I asked: para cord?!)