By the author of The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications and The Cartoon Ham Exam Handbook: A Complete Ham Radio Technician License Study Guide
Bugging out today is much different than the bug-out bag that Anne Frank would have had (and yes, she does write in her diary that her entire family had bug-out bags at the ready).
Whereas the Franks would have had matches, wool, and canned food, we have different options available to us today, and one of those things is electronics.
You likely have a Baofeng UV-5R, a solar panel, a crank charger, and maybe even a tablet stowed away in your bug-out bag.
But if you’re going to carry electronics with you, then you also have to make sure that you have the cords to keep them charged and functional. Just throwing all of those cords into your BOB results in a terrible mess that not only leads to slower access, but also leads to things being hooked and pulled out of your BOB when you go to retrieve a cord.
Imagine being in a rocky area, and when you go to pull out the cord for your solar charger, it hooks onto your spare fire striker and causes it to drop deep into a recess between a few boulders. Then, you have no means of accessing it.
Perhaps you think that’s far out. Ha, perhaps you have better luck than I do. I’m the guy that can be standing atop a mountain and have a magical gust of wind knock me over and send my trekking poles bouncing toward a cliff edge (I caught them!).
So, to prevent all of this, today I wanted to show you how I keep all of my cords to my electronic devices situated within my bug-out bag.
I use a little squishy, soft mesh case I picked up who-knows-where. I prefer the soft case for this purpose rather than a hard case because I think a hard case only takes up valuable space that it doesn’t have to – at least for this purpose. I think a hard case is good if you have some type of medication that requires syringes that you need on a daily basis or for something like that. Otherwise, whether it’s a tablet, solar charger, or whatnot, I’m personally a fan of soft cases.
Cords don’t really take up a lot of space at all, and it’s okay if they get tossed around a bit. A soft case should work perfectly for keeping them protected as a result.
The next thing I did was pick up a few cord labels at the store. You can find these just about anywhere. They’re even on Amazon, they’re super cheap, and they’re incredibly convenient.
I probably could have done a color coordination scheme (red is radio, yellow is solar, etc.) but I didn’t think that hard when I did this. So I have a motley assortment of colors for no other reason than that when I did this, I thought, “OooOOOoohh! A RED one! That would be cool! OoOOOOOoooh! A grEEEEn one!”
That’s something of a look inside my brain.
I did use a Sharpie pen to write down exactly what each cord goes to, however. This step alone has saved me a LOT of time fiddling around with the ends of cords to see that, nope, this cord doesn’t go to this radio either. I highly recommend taking this step. Even if you have two devices that use the same cord endpoint attachments, I would still include both of them (that cord is doubly important, after all) with the corresponding name on each cord label.
I also make sure that each cord is wrapped in a semi-organized manner before I toss it back into the bag. I try to minimize their all getting tangled up with each other as much as possible. If you’re really a stickler for organization, there are special reusable tie-downs that you can use explicitly for this purpose. If you’re a cheapskate, you can get by with a twisty tie from a bag of bread.
The other thing that I do here is trying to keep all charging cords on one side of the bag and all “functional” cords on the other side. So, if a forest fire in northern California has you evacuating your home in a hurry, and you need to contact your elderly, ham radio buff dad but cell phone reception is out, then you can hook up your tablet to your radio use JS8 Call to send him a message.
But these are just my thoughts and how I do things.
What are your thoughts on this subject? Are there other, better ways to organize cords within a bug-out bag that you’re aware of? Let us know what you’re thinking and some of the tools that you use to assist you in this endeavor in the comment section below.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper, An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.
I’ve done pretty much the same thing Aden. I used Velcro Tapes I picked up at Walmart, that come in precut 3″ and 6″ lengths. 3″ works for short cords, and 6″ for longer cords. They loop around and pass through a die cut hole, so you can attach them to each cord. I mark them with a Sharpie as well.
I store them in two separate smaller DAKA pouches. One for charging and one for device/data. The DAKA pouches are waterproof, to keep the cords from getting wet, and from water getting into the plug ends as it’s hard to get H2O out of those small slots and holes in them.
I blame it on my OCD, as to my organizational obsession. I don’t like having to rummage to find something. So I agree this is a great method to keep track of the small stuff.
I have found ponytail holders quite versatile, including organizing cords, and more durable than bread ties for things that are taken out and put away.
Instead of store-bought pre-cut ties … I keep a long roll of velcro handy to cut from (with shears) to whatever minimum width and length fits the gadget. That works for zillions more uses than just the bug-out bag cable examples of today’s article. There’s also an extensive list of choices on Amazon when you run a search for WIRELESS CHARGER so you can minimize the charging cord mess.
I also didn’t see any mention of Faraday bags to carry or store one’s vulnerable electronic gadgets inside … regardless of where the charging cords (if any) are stored. Cords or wireless chargers don’t help much if your gadgets get fried.
And of course it’s worthwhile to examine this website:
Okay, this was kinda not useful. I’m more worried about ammo, food and ways to start fires and treat water. Bringing along my I-pad, laptop, cell phone etc.
A tip from my SF days; dummy cord everything you use on a regular basis (compass, canteen etc) to your LBE or MOLLE. You won’t lose it and you’ll not leave any evidence behnd.
Sounds good, Aden. I am trying to put together an electronic go bag. When my hubby had a heart attack I had to search for the proper cords for the devices before I left to stay with family in another city. It seems that we only have one of each type. So, short of getting a second computer charger, I am trying to get duplicates that stay in the bag. Our phones, hearing aids, eReader, etc. seem to have different connections. So, what do we need two of and what can share? Plus, Labeling!! As I get older, I want it easy. I like the little zipper bags; label on the outside and on each wire. Good idea with the soft-sided and special bag. That way I can just grab it and stuff it wherever. Plus, not for camping, but, I have added an extension cord/multiple outlet to the bag because outlets are never enough or where you want them.
I received the ad below by email this evening for one gadget that claims to charge all your devices. No rat’s nest of cables needed:
Whippy Charge — to charge all your devices
Fed Up with Your Charging Cables Breaking? Meet the 3-in-1 Rotating, Magnetic Charger That Can Charge ALL of Your Devices
Wow. I must admit I would never have thought of this topic. I have a solar charger and it’s cord for my cell phone. My bag is heavy enough, thank you. Absolutely no need for a computer, I pad, etc. if I ever need my BOB, electronics just might be obsolete anyway. I would rather carry things that I would need. I would hope, I don’t need to tell you what those important things are.
When you Bug Out, Stop depending on any Grid Devices. They could and may all fail you. You are carrying lbs of BS wires and devices as an anchor. Instead carry weapons, ammo, dehydrated food and fire making tools and a pot or pan to cook over open flame. Carry Paper MAPS of your area, compass, medical kit, a Knife to clean animals, snare traps, water filtration and some bottle storage, shelter and good hiking boots and an extra set of wool socks and clothes in layers and rain coat. FYI- I have all those wires and solar chargers, and when you place that dead weight on a scale, I clearly decided not to put any of that Useless BS in my escape BOB. Get real people, you think you will log into your Fraud book and check your thousands of fake friends for advice, when surviving in the woods? You will have other survival problems to deal with. Like human predators. You will become your own 911. Ditch the dead weight. Bwhahahahaha
I agree that if I have to bug out to a mountaintop I am not going to need my laptop, but I think this article has a great plan for organizing all of my cords in my home. We have made attempts to organize our many, many different charging cords and connections, but I plan to get this done right! The idea of having it all in one bag and each cord labeled to identify its device would prevent a lot of frustration. One thing I would add is to label chargers with your name. Whenever family visits I usually have a phone charger disappear. ????