In baseball, they are called utility players… members of the team who can step up and play multiple positions as the situation and demands of the game change. They are versatile, adaptable and ready to improvise.
We all have items scattered around the house that can be considered “utility players” as well. They may have been brought into the house for one specific purpose, but each is capable of other tasks as the situation warrants.
The flathead screwdriver could be used in a pinch as a pry bar or chisel, while the wire coat hanger might be fashioned into an antenna or used to unlock a car door if keys were inadvertently left inside. For some of these items, the only limit is our imagination and creativity.
When it comes to packing a bug-out bag featuring the grab-and-go, must-have items when a disaster strikes, the more “utility players” you include in your bag, the better your chances are for a comfortable bug-out experience and possibly even for the survival of you and your family.
Here are our nominees for Most Valuable Utility Players in a bug-out bag. Most of them are lightweight and take up very little space, and all of them can serve a variety of purposes, making them valuable additions indeed.
P-38 or P-51 Can Opener
These are can openers that were originally issued to U.S. Armed Forces during World War II, with the larger P-51 often replacing the smaller P-38. In addition to their intended usage to open cans, these items are ideal for prying open battery compartments, cutting tape and string, and as a flathead screw driver.
A corner of it could be used as a Phillips head for scratching away dirt or corrosion wherever necessary.
You’re going to probably want coffee in a bug-out situation, and even if you don’t drink the stuff, it will be a great bartering item. Same with the filters.
You can use them to filter larger particulates from water before using your water filtration system to extend the life of the unit’s filter. They can also be allowed to dry and repurposed as fire kindling or toilet paper.
Zip Ties/Electrical Wire
Both of these are great for securing shelters, repairing gear and bundling smaller items. Zip ties are better at attaching items to the exterior of a backpack or belt, and no tools are needed. Electrical wire requires cutters, but can be cut to needed length and demonstrates considerable strength.
Safety pins – like the ones they used to use on baby’s diapers before adhesives were incorporated – have a variety of functions they can perform when you are out in the wild. You can use them to temporarily repair ripped clothing or damaged gear, or replace a lost zipper pull.
They can also be fashioned into fishing hooks or used to secure a cloth bandage wrapped around a wound. Other usages including immobilizing an arm with a makeshift sling by pinning the cuff of a shirtsleeve to its chest, or remove splinters.
The blankets in these small, light and economical packets are great for keeping warm on cold nights, but they can also be bunched into padding, torn into trail markers, used as signal flags or set up to capture rainwater. If they make spacesuits out of this stuff, you know it’s sturdy.
Heavy-duty, contractor grade trash bags are only for garbage. That is, until you need a poncho, ground cover, tarp, carryall, water collector, sleeping bag or any number of things for which they can be used.
Resealable Zipper Plastic Bags
Keeping small items contained in one place is just one of the usages for these bags. They are equally adept at capturing liquids and keeping solids dry.
An emergency whistle or a coach’s whistle will help you communicate over distance, summon help or scare off a suspicious person. The last thing a criminal wants is attention. Be as loud and shrill as possible with this device.
Cordage is a tactical “must-have” item in survival situations. With its strength, elasticity and woven construction, paracord is the most versatile cord available. Not to mention the strongest. Keep a supply in reach at all times by replacing your shoe and boot laces with tactical paracord.
Or wear a bracelet or belt of woven paracord. Make a lanyard to easily wear tools such as a knife or multi-tool. Wrap a knife or flashlight handle with it to improve your grip. Around the campsite, use it to string tarp to trees for shelter or hang wet clothes.
You can also utilize it to bundle firewood for carrying, create a makeshift hammock or lash a blade to a long pole for hunting or spear fishing. The inner cord is thin enough to use as fishing line, weave into a net, set a snare, stitch wounds and torn clothing, or even floss.
Shemagh or Bandana
Pronounced “schmog,” the head wrap/veil/scarf can function as a sunshade, sling, carry pouch, towel, water filter, pillow, compress, knee pads, dew collector, shepherd’s sling, trail marker, flag, pot holder, belt, net or short rope.
Bandanas are comparable in their versatility. But we lean toward the shemagh for the simple reason that one can tear a strip from a shemagh to create a bandana, but no one can tear a bandana into the much larger shemagh.
Tampons make very good bandages. They are individually wrapped, sterile and ultra absorbent. The cotton can be stretched flat on the skin and taped down. Large puncture wounds can be plugged until help arrives.
Cotton is excellent fire tinder when stretched to spread the fibers. The plastic wrapper makes a waterproof container for unused tinder or matches. Use the tampon cord to secure the end of the wrapper.
The ultimate utility player. No explanation required. We have all used it on more items than we can list. Some day we might actually use it on ducts.