One of the simplest, most crucial steps in disaster preparedness is to have a well-thought-out and organized bug out bag list to aid in your preparations. This will ensure you have the equipment needed to make your departure from an area of disorder or complete chaos a safe one.
A Bug Out Bag List is Not One Size Fits All
An excellent bug out bag starts with a great bug out bag list.
It doesn’t necessarily mean everything you put on the list will end up going into your bag, but at least you’ve got a pretty good idea of where to start.
The last thing you want to happen is not start because you don’t now how. Especially if you’re just beginning, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the ton of information out there.
Some of it’s really good. Some of it’s… not.
Building A Bug Out Bag Does Not Have to Be Difficult
Building your own customized bug out bag doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it should be a fun and enjoyable experience. After all, having a solid bug out plan, and knowing that you’re planning well-in-advance should help put your mind at ease about “SHTF” scenarios.
So whether you’re new to the idea of bugging out, or you’ve been in this neck of the woods for a while now, there’s most likely something you can take away from the following.
Choosing a Bug Out Bag
The first item on your bug out bag list is the bag itself. There are several schools of thought on this topic, of which the two main ones are:
1) You should choose the best bag for you
2) You should only choose the bag after you have the items
Regardless of how you decide to go about it, make sure your bug out bag is durable, fits you well and is comfortable and has plenty of storage space and compartments to stow your survival gear.
Make sure your bug out bag list includes the following items:
Water and Hydration
Arguably the most important bug out bag essentials are related to water and hydration. The human body can go without water for only 72 hours, whereas it can go without food for about 3 weeks. Water is an absolute must-have in your bug out bag. One liter minimum, per day, per person is highly recommended.
Recommended items critical to adequate hydration are listed below.
- Drinking Water (3 Liters)
- Collapsible Water Bottle
- Hard Water Bottle
- Metal Water Bottle / Canteen
- Water Filters / Purification Systems
- Water Purification Tablets (Qty 3)
Food and Food Preparation
Next up are food stuffs. In the preparedness community there are a lot of people eager to recommend various products, mostly off-the-shelf, dehydrated, store-bought items. A goog bug out bag list contains a variety of non-perishable food items, some that might require water and some that don’t. In a real bug out situation, you don’t know how scarce your water source might be. To be safe, plan for more scarce than you think.
Most of these items are self-explanatory, but the important thing to know now is, you’ll want enough food to last three days at least. Multiply your food requirements by the number of people that would be traveliing with you. For heat-resistance and durability, make sure you have metal cooking utensils and cookware.
- Protein / Energy Bars (Qty 6)
- MREs / Dehydrated Meals (Qty 3)
- P-38 Can Opener
- Metal Cooking Pot
- Metal Cup
- Pot Scrubber
- Portable Stove
- Stove Fuel (Qty 8 Tablets)
Choosing clothing for your bug out bag is a very personalized selection as everyone has different body types, tolerances and levels of fitness. The items listed below are to be strategically layered to maintain a healthy, comfortable body temperature at all times.
Your clothes selection will obviously depend on your location, climate and the other factors listed above. You should evaluate your bug out bag every six months. At these times you’ll want to have a seasonal selection of clothes that you can swap out when necessary.
At least two changes of clothes ensure you can always have a dry set to wear. The last thing you want while bugging out, and in the elements, is wet clothes. Not only are they uncomfortable, but hypothermia is a real concern not to be taken lightly.
- Lightweight Long Sleeve Shirt
- Convertible (Zip-Off) Pants
- Wool Hiking Socks (Qty 3 pair)
- Medium Weight Fleece
- Hat w/ Flex Brim
- Working Gloves
- Rain Poncho
Shelter and Bedding
At first glance, to the experienced survivalist, some of the items listed for this category might seem excessive or even impractical. But the items on this list are specifically made compact and lightweight with the backpacker in mind.
Yes, you can make a shelter out of a tarp or use a trash bag filled with leaves as a makeshift ground pad, but these items are a wise choice to include for numerous reasons. Being well-rested, both mentally and physically, is extremely important when times are rough. Do what you can to make sure you’re at your mental and physical peak at all times.
- Sleeping Bag
- Ground Pad
- Wool Blanket
Having several means for starting a fire is also essential when bugging out. The following basics should be included in every bug out bag. The reason being, there is a saying in the survivalist and firearms communities:
“Where there are two, there’s one. Where there’s one, there’s none.”
Essentially that means, if you don’t have a back up, and your primary fails you… you’re toast.
For that very reason, have at least three different means of starting a fire on your bug out bag list of items to pack.
- Ignition Source (Qty 3)
- Tinder (Qty 3)
- Waterproof Storage
First aid is one of those areas where there are a lot of “done for you” type products out there that just aren’t well-suited for a survival kit. Look for first aid kits that are specifically made for “survival” and have high ratings from reputable sources. Of course, you can always build your own if you know the right items to include.
- First Aid Kit
- Insect Repellant
- Mylar Survival Blanket
Various aspects of personal hygiene are often overlooked when compiling a bug out bag list of essentials. But the implications of forgoing any of these for an extended period of time might lead to infections and a rapid deterioration in health. When bugging out, you need to be at the top of your game, so be sure to pack these items.
- Wet Napkins
- Hand Sanitizer
- All-Purpose Camp Soap
- Hygiene/Signal Mirror
- Small Pack Towel
- Travel Toilet Paper (Qty 2)
Next to weapons, this is the one category that everyone loves to go crazy over. And it’s easy to see why; gadgets are cool, and some of these are especially sweet. But remember this: “every ounce counts.” Determine the must-haves and forget the rest. That said, consider including the following three tools in your bug out bag.
- Survival Knife
Illumination, like fire sources, is something you’ll need multiple instances of as well. If one fails or you lose it somehow, you have another to take its place. Each item listed below has multiple uses, but they all serve the same purpose – helping you see what you’re doing or find where you’re going. Don’t forget the extra batteries!
Communications is another highly contested category in the preparedness community. Not all potential scenarios will allow for use of these items, but if your situation does, you’ll be glad to have these items with you.
- Cell Phone
- Crank Power Charger
- Emergency Radio with Hand Crank
Depending on the situation you find yourself in, these items might prove quite useful. Don’t leave home without carefully thinking these through first.
- Documentation (Passport, Identification etc.)
- $500 Minimum in Small Bills
- Quarters (Qty 8)
- Gold / Silver Bullion Coins
- Local Area Map
- Small Note Pad / Pencil
- Emergency Whistle
Without a doubt, this is a controversial topic.
Self defense is something everyone should give serious consideration. Bugging out, in its severest of circumstances, is a survive or die proposition. Whether you choose a handgun, a rifle, both, or just a can of pepper spray, it’s completely up to you. But you can be sure in a bug out scenario, being equipped to defend yourself and hunt wild game will be a welcomed option for most.
If you choose not to carry a weapon, or are not allowed to do so, then at least consider some degree of self defense training – especially if you have a family – as they’ll be depending on you for their safety.
- Pepper Spray
- Takedown rifle
- Ammunition (Qty 25 rnds minimum)
These are items that didn’t necessarily fit into any of the other categories, but they’re just as important for inclusion in your bug out bag. Chances are some of the items will have you scratching your head, but you’ll want these items in your bug out bag too.
- 550 Parachute Cord (50′)
- Cotton Bandana
- Duct Tape (25′)
- 55 Gal. Contractor Garbage Bag (Qty 2)
- Resealable Bags (Qty 5, Various Sizes)
- N95 Face Mask
- Sewing Kit
- Latex Tubing (3′)
- Fishing Kit
- Condoms (Non-lubricated)
- Binoculars (Optional)
- Face Paint
- Military Surplus Survival / Snare Wire
The Bug Out Bag List above isn’t intended as Gospel truth. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to do your own due diligence and come to your own conclusions. Your bug out bag will not “automagically” keep you alive. It is, however, intended to help you survive a bug out scenario.
If you don’t learn how to use these items effectively and practice using them on a regular basis, all the bug out bags in the world probably won’t be able to help you.
Emergency preparedness is not a fad, nor a hobby. It’s a way of life. If you believe that, you’ll be all that much better off as a result.
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