Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About A Bug Out Bag

Whether its due to a natural disaster or a terrorist attack we would all like to be prepared for the worst. A key part to preparing for disaster is a bug out bag.
A bug out bag is any bag
or pack you chose to hold 72 hours worth of gear and supplies to sustain yourself until help arrives.
The bag you choose should be big enough to hold your gear, light enough to grab and go, and be comfortable to carry. You may also want to consider a pack that has a self contained water system or camel back capability. The gear that you chose to carry is the most important part of the bug out bag. You can assemble a simple bag to sustain yourself for 72 hours or a more complex pack that has long term capabilities. The following is a list of the essentials you will need to survive. Learn how to use everything in your bug out bag, a piece of equipment is useless if you don't know how to use it.

Water- You need at the very minimum 1 liter per day to keep you alive, however, during normal activity you need 2-3 liters, and at least 4 liters for exhaustive activity. Keeping this in mind you should carry 3 liters of water in your bag to get you by until you find another source of water. Once you find water you will need a way to purify it. You can purify water by boiling it, a solar still, with a water filter, and water purification tablets. You will also need a way to transport it such as a canteen or nalgene bottle.

Food- A person can survive far longer without food than water however being hungry is a huge distraction in a SHTF situation. A BOB should contain approximately 6000 calories worth of food. Back pack meals, MRE's, energy bars, granola bars, beef jerky, trail mix, and salt are all great because they are light weight and will provide the energy and calories you need to survive.

Survival Knife- A survival knife is the number one most used tool in your bag. This should be a good quality fixed blade and a sharpening stone.

Multitool- A leatherman multitool will perform all the tasks a survival knife has a difficult time with. These tasks may include tightening a screw or using the pliers to pick up a hot pot

Food Procurement- Once your food runs out you will still need a way to eat so learning how to hunt, fish, and trap are essential to any type of long term bug out. Another source of food is plants so finding out what edible plants are in your area is a good idea. A bug out bag should contain a small fishing kit, an ice fishing combo rod and reel, and snare wire. A slingshot may also be considered because you don't need to carry ammo and it doesn't take up much space.

Clothing- This category is more of a personal choice and based on the weather in your area, for most, packing what would be taken along on a weekend camping trip will suffice. There should be 1 pair of pants, 2 pairs of socks, 2 shirts, 1 pair of good hiking boots or shoes, a jacket, long underwear, a hat, a bandanna, an extra pair of glasses if you wear them and sunglasses both in a hard case, and finally work gloves.

Rain Gear- Being wet is a horrible feeling and can lead to rash, hypothermia, and general discomfort. A bug out bag should contain at least two ways to stay dry such as a good rain coat and a disposable poncho. Your shelter will be another way to stay dry.

Shelter- Shelter is vital to protect you from the elements and provide a bit of safety. A survivor should have a small tent and a tarp as well as the knowledge to set up the tent and rig a make shift shelter from the tarp. A sleeping pad prevents heat loss through the ground as well as making your bed a little more comfortable, they are lightweight and some take up very little room. Getting a good nights sleep will be difficult without a sleeping bag or some form of bedroll. An emergency blanket takes up very little room and can be a life saver but should not be substituted for a sleeping bag, but rather a compliment to one.

First aid kit- This will be covered in more detail in a future article. The main thing to remember is build your own so you know what is in it and how to use it. Most premade first aid kits only contain band aids and maybe a few pieces of gauze so do not assume all your bases will be covered with a premade kit. Don't forget to add a first aid book and a one week supply of any personal health items such as prescriptions.

Fire- If you plan on making it as a survivor you need to have fire. Fire is used for cooking, warmth, keeping wild animals at bay, signaling, and it is a great morale booster. To be sure you can always have fire you need at least three ways to make fire. Waterproof matches, lighter, flint and steel, magnifying glass, and magnesium block, are five examples of fire starters. Dry tinder wont always be available so consider adding a few types of tinder like dryer lint and cotton balls dipped in Vaseline. All of the above won't do a survivor any good if you do not posses the knowledge to use them, so learn basic fire making skills that don't require gasoline.

Wood cutting- To efficiently build a fire you need a way to cut and split wood. If you plan to bug out on foot a camp axe should meet your needs. A camp axe is a multi function tool for splitting, cutting, hammering, and self defense. Its small size makes it ideal for a bug out bag. If you will be bugging out to a specific location by car then a full size axe may be a better option. A hand operated chain saw or folding saw will also be useful and these are both very compact.

Cooking- The bare minimum for cooking is one small stainless steel pot. A better option may be a GI mess kit paired with a penny stove and fuel for it. If there is dehydrated food in your pack you need to have a way to cook it and boiling water is much easier if you have some form of metal container. *Never attempt to cook anything in a container that once had petroleum based products in it.*

Light- A good quality flashlight should always be included in a bug out bag. From collecting firewood after dark to looking inside your pack a flashlight will make the task a whole lot easier. You should have one small flashlight and one large flashlight. For hands free operation look at head lamps or the clip on hat lights. Batteries go dead so be sure you have extra, also include a few Glo-sticks and at least one candle.

Navigation- If a disaster occurs you must know where you are going. The main equipment used for navigation is a lensatic compass and a map. Learn how to use a compass and read a map. GPS is a good training tool because it allows you to make sure you are reading and using your compass and map correctly. While it is a good training tool GPS should not be relied on in a SHTF situation.

Cordage- 550 cord and duct tape are both excellent additions to your bug out bag. Possible uses may include rigging a tarp for a makeshift shelter or making a spear for an improvised weapon. Tying knots will be important as well so learn as many knots as you can now. Lace your boots with 550 cord in addition to the 50-100 feet in your pack, this will give you three feet of 550 or 7 three foot strands that can be made into 21 feet of 80 lb cordage. Duct tape also known as 100 mph tape is useful for construction and repairs.

Signalling- As a survivor you may need to signal for help. Signalling devices are a whistle, a signalling mirror, flairs and a smartphone. A signalling fire is also a way to let people know you are in distress.

Folding shovel- A folding shovel is not essential but will make life easier. It can be used to dig a cat hole, making shelter, and as an improvised weapon.

Emergency Radio- A hand cranked or solar powered emergency radio is usually small enough to fit in your pack without much difficulty. It is nice to know whats going on in a crisis and if your power goes out an emergency radio will keep you informed.

Cash and Copies of personal documents- In the event of a catastrophe you should have cash. Even if the economy were to collapse and the dollar had no value anymore you would still be able to use it for probably a week or two thereafter. People will probably not have change and ATMs and credit cards may not work, so keep $200 in your bag. The $200 should be made up of 6-$20, 5-$10, 8-$5, and 10-$1 bills. You should have copies of your personal documents such as birth certificate, drivers license, marriage license, social security card, and any other important documents.

*** currently there is an ammo shortage so ammo is not going to be easy to find for anything***
Weapons- It is a grim reality but you may need to arm yourself in a SHTF situation. A human is the most dangerous animal and when people get desperate they do stupid things. Your neighbor may try to rob you, you just don't know so you have to protect your family. Ideas would be a 12 gauge shotgun, .22 rifle, or a pistol. Ammo will be easy to find for all of these weapons and you can pick up 500 round boxes of .22LR ammo cheap enough to stockpile it. Be sure to carry as much ammuniton as you can. You can also improvise weapons or use your survival knife if you do not wish to carry a firearm. Its better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Personal Items- Even if you are out in the middle of nowhere hygiene is still important. You are more likely to die of infection or disease than starvation. Basic hygiene products should be fine. Toilet Paper, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.

Miscellaneous- There are many other things you may wish to include but these are a few I have.Zip lock bags for storage and water transport, 55 gallon trash bag for shelter or a poncho, and quik steel for fast epoxy based repairs such as a broken zipper.

Every bug out bag will be a little different and you have to build one to suit your personal needs.

Here's my personal bag


  1. very informative site!

  2. That`s guide what I was looking for. Good job!

  3. Couldn't you just use a watch and the sun to find north?