Being prepared in a disaster, whether manmade or natural, will help you and your family survive. Having a bug out bag packed that is well-suited to your family and the area where you live is key, and putting one together is not difficult, if you have a comprehensive list to guide you. Here is our list of 62 bug out bag essentials to get you packing:
Since humans can only go without water for 72 hours, this is one of the most important items to consider. It is also heavy, so here are some recommendations to make sure you have enough, without weighing you down completely.
1. Drinking Water (2-3 liters) – It could take some time to find water, so having some in your bug out bag is essential.
2. Water Filter Bottle – A filter bottle can clean impurities out of the water you find, and make it more palatable.
3. Hard Water Bottle – A BPA-free plastic or metal bottle or canteen keeps your water clean and fresh.
4. Water Filters / Purification Systems – Potable water is a challenge in a survival situation, but carrying a small filtration system like Lifestraw will decontaminate up to 264 gallons of water, and weighs less than 4 ounces.
5. Water Purification Tablets – These tablets disinfect contaminated water, making it suitable for drinking.
Lightweight, non-perishable and nutritious foods is your aim when packing a bug out bag. Keep in mind some of these might need water to prepare, so plan well.
6. Protein bars or trail mix are high protein density and lightweight.
7. MREs or other dehydrated meals are easily prepared and light.
8. Jerky of all types; make them simply with a food dehydrator.
9. Tuna or peanut butter pouches are more good protein sources.
10. Instant oatmeal pouches are easy to fix and filling.
11. Meal replacement powder is easy to carry in a Ziploc.
12. Sardines come in small, lightweight tins but offer a good nutritional punch.
Of course, you will also need some cooking and eating utensils, so we recommend these:
13. Spork – Spoon and fork combo, but be sure to get a sturdy metal one.
14. P-38 Can Opener – This is a small and lightweight metal, military style can opener.
15. Metal Cooking Pot – You need this for heating food and even water. Get one with a handle for easy cooking
16. Metal Cup – More durable and lightweight than other cups, and you can also use it for heating.
17. Dish Scrubber – You need to keep your minimal cooking tools as clean as possible.
18. Hooks – You’ll need some S or J hooks to hang pots over a fire for cooking.
Clothing that you choose for your bug out bag – lightweight but layerable to handle different temperatures. Your selections will depend on the climate in your location, your level of fitness and general preferences, with seasonal change outs as needed. Pack two sets, so you’re never stuck in wet clothing.
20. Shirts – These should be lightweight and long-sleeved.
22. Hiking Socks – Having dry socks and feet is key to staying well, so carry at least three pairs.
23. Medium Weight Fleece – Fleece is lightweight and non-bulky, but warm, so it’s the perfect layer when needed.
24. Hat – A brimmed hat is great to keep the elements off of your head, whether it is extreme sun or rain or snow.
25. Working Gloves – These should be sturdy, leather-palmed gloves to use for multiple purposes.
26. Rain Poncho – Another useful item to keep you dry is a lightweight rain poncho.
27. Shemagh – The shemagh is sometimes called an Arab scarf or keffiyeh. It is a square piece of fabric used in different ways; it protects your neck and face from sun, sand or wind. In winter, it protects against snow and stronger winds when wrapped around your head. We recommend the fast-drying wool and cotton blend.
Shelter and bedding
This is generally the area where your bug out bag will get weighed down if you are not careful. Choose the items wisely, always looking for compact and lightweight gear created for backpackers and you should do fine.
Heat and fire
Being able to start a fire, both for cooking and for heat when needed, is essential when you bug out. Pack several means of starting a fire in your bug out bag, so that you will be sure that something works when needed. In other words, always have a backup fire starter.
32. Waterproof matches – These come in standard matchboxes or plastic cases.
33. Lighters – There are handy waterproof lighters in sealed cases that actually float if necessary.
There are lots of first aid kits available on the market, but most are not suitable for a bug out bag. Do yourself a favor and find one made for survival or build your own kit.
37. Mylar Survival Blanket – A mylar blanket comes in handy when the temperature plummets, but takes up very little space.
39. Baby wipes – Handy for cleaning up anytime or anyplace.
41. Towel – Find a lightweight, thin and absorbent towel to pack. Microfiber works great.
43. Dental items – A travel size toothbrush and paste, plus a roll of floss should suffice.
This is an area where you can go really crazy, but always keep in mind the weight of everything you pack will be on your shoulders. Determine which tools are “must haves” for your situation and leave the rest behind. We’d suggest these tools:
46. Survival Knife – We recommend something like the Bowie Knife used by the military, with a fixed tanto blade and nylon handle.
48. Cellphone – Make this a basic phone that holds a charge for a significant time.
49. Crank charger – A crank charger can repower your cellphone, without worrying about electricity or a battery.
50. Emergency radio – Again, this radio should be one that you can power with a hand crank.
Some of these items will be useful for travel, depending on what kind of situation you are dealing with. Think this category through before you leave your home.
51. Compass – A small, mechanical compass is still the best wayfinder available.
52. Maps – Good, old paper maps are handy when you aren’t sure of GPS access.
53. Cash – Always handy to carry cash with you, in small bills, for needs along your journey.
55. Change – Change is handy if you run across vending machines.
Let there be light
57. Tactical flashlight – These flashlights are powerful light sources in a small and lightweight, but extremely sturdy casing.
58. Don’t forget basic light sources like candles, which can also add a little source of heat inside a tent.
59. Batteries – Another important thing to remember is extra batteries for your light sources and other devices you take along.
Lots of items don’t really fit into the above categories, so we’re adding some more here. These are things which prove themselves indispensable for many tasks.
We’re almost done! 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 we assure you, you want these items in your bug out bag.
60. Duct tape – You know that duct tape fixes anything, right?
There you have it – our list of things to consider for your bug out bag. Put together your bug out bag and you’ll be ready for the worst, while always hoping for the best.