Welcome To The Bug Out Bag Guide!
Welcome to The Bug Out Bag Guide! If you are new to the site, please START HERE.
No one wants to be in a situation where they have to drop everything and leave in an emergency but given the increasing uncertainty in today’s modern world many wise people are choosing to prepare themselves in the event of the unforeseen.
Bug Out (verb) – to leave quickly
The majority of these people (myself included) are not fear-mongering paranoids but everyday citizens who have taken a rational look at the world around them and undertaken simple, basic steps to protect themselves by building a Bug Out Bag (BOB) and creating a Bug Out Plan for themselves and their families.
Sometimes individuals do it for fear of a big, dramatic event initiating an end of civilisation cataclysm but there are a great many more common events that happen all the time that would make a well prepared person happy to have prepared a BOB:
- Mass Shooting
- Home fire
- Home Invasion
- …….or just seeking peace of mind
What makes a good Bug Out Bag?
This can be answered many ways. There are a wide variety of premade Bug Out Bags that are sold online and if you are not interested in individually picking out your Bug Out Bag essentials, they can be a good option. However because they are mass produced and sold to the general public they often do not account for variables that may make the difference for your locality. For example, you would want to tailor your Bug Out Bag essentials in different ways if you lived in an urban location versus a wilderness environment. The same goes for if you are packing a BOB for yourself or a family. Regardless of these variables there are a few simple rules that should be followed when deciding your Bug Out Bag contents:
- Make sure you can carry your BOB comfortably – you may have to walk for a long distance to safety. If your bag is ill fitted or too heavy you might as well have taken your chances sheltering in place. See our post on How to Pick the Right Bag For You for more information on this.
- Keep it SIMPLE – you are not trying to build a mobile home that you will carry around. Many sites list dozens and dozens of items to buy and bring, adding cost and weight. Remember that electronics need power and are prone to breaking. Pack simple, reliable things to cover basic needs. Check out our Free Bug Out Bag Planning Tool to plan what you want to include and see how your items will affect the overall weight of your pack.
- Pack things that make you self sufficient – If you are thinking about an item that you will need to pair with something that you are going to need to source on the way, forget it. If you are moving to safety the last thing you want to do is worry about scavenging. Pack complementary items that can be used both individually and together to save space.
- Plan your bag with a defined time period in mind. 72 hours is a good starting point as this is approximately how long a person can survive without water. Once you start planning for weeks out you will have added too many complications to your list of Bug Out Bag essentials. Have a look at our post on Making a Bug Out Plan to see what you need to consider as a part of your survival preparedness.
- Remember the goal here is survival, not luxury. If you do not need it to survive, leave it behind.
OK, I’m ready to start, what are some Bug Out Bag Essentials?
I am not going to list everything here but here are some essential items that should be included in any Bug Out Bag list:
- Map and Compass – how you will know where to bug out to
- Multitool – infinite uses
- Tarp or Emergency Shelter – can be used for shelter and signaling
- Paracord – can be used to build shelter and about a million other things
- Magnesium fire starter – this is better than matches as it will work when wet and you don’t have to worry about a gust blowing out your last match. Note that the EverStryke Firestarter is basically an upgraded version of the classic magnesium firestarter and is good for up to 15,000 strikes.
- Spare socks – If you pack any spare clothes at all, put these at the top of your list. Taking care of your feet is one of the most important things you can do when bugging out. Dry socks will keep your feet blister free and you moving for longer. Wool socks or synthetic blend socks are superior to cotton.
- Survival Blanket – lighter and smaller than a sleeping bag
- LED flashlight – LEDs use less power than old fashioned light bulbs
- Hand cranked radio – to get information on the situation as it develops
- Water and high energy/low weight food such as energy bars
If you would like to start building your Bug Out Bag list try out our free tool using the button below:
The above items make a very basic list of Bug Out Bag essentials (you can find an extended list of essential Bug Out Bag contents here), it would need to be tailored to suit an individual’s needs based on geography, duration, and number of people expected to be traveling with. Picking a bag to carry your survival gear in is an important step as well. Be sure to also check our out Basic Survival Skills post to see what tactics you can master to help increase your odds of success. Your personal Bug Out Bag contents may vary from your neighbor’s based on what you see as important but this makes a good start for anyone with enough foresight to plan for the unforeseen. It is also important to periodically review your Bug Out Bag essentials to ensure they continue to meet your evolving survival needs. Learn how to do this and get our free Bug Out Kit Update Checklist here.
Will I ever really need a Bug Out Bag?
Hopefully no one will be faced with a situation where they are forced to flee their home but as you can see with some simple planning you can take steps to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones. Always remember, chance favors the well prepared.
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