What is a Bug Out Bag?
How to make a Bug Out Bag is one of the very first things any prepper should learn how to make. A Bug Out Bag is designed to be a relatively light-weight, self-contained, kit stored in a home, or Bug Out Vehicle, which will enable you or your family to survive for 72 hours while en-route to a Bug Out Location. A Bug Out Bag is an essential item for any prepper and must be readily deploy-able at a moment’s notice.
What goes in a Bug Out Bag?
A Bug Out Bag’s inclusiveness and contents will vary widely from prepper to prepper. Climate, survival environment, size of family, and survival expertise are all factors to plan for when making a bug out bag. Even with all the factors to account for there are a number of reoccurring categories and themes present across all Bug Out Bags and they are (in order of importance):
The Bug Out Bag
The bag you choose to use can have as much an impact as anything else in your prepper gear. It should be relatively light-weight with an inherent sound structure and the ability to hold up during rough situations, think hiking for days through rain and snow. We have a collection of packs and bags that you can choose from in our “Backpack & Bags” section. Here’s a few of our favorite bags:
Water & Water Storage
Water is the most basic requirement for any human being to survive; it is essential for our very existence. An active adult requires 640z (1.89 liters) of water per day, summed up this means each adult would require 192oz (5.67 liters) of water over a 72 hour period; however a bare minimum to consider would be approximately half of that amount or 32oz (1 liter) per day.
Alternatively you may choose to take a minimal cache of fresh water which would be replenished via natural water sources during your trek, this would obviously require a water filtration or purification system as well as some form of water storage. There’s no way around it, water storage and filtration is a requirement for any prepper’s bug out bag. Here are some of the most valuable items you will put in a bug out bag:
Being the second most important item in a bug out bag, food requirements can be handled by MRE’s (Meals, Ready to Eat) or energy bars. MRE’s or any other freeze dried meal’ is prepared by simply adding boiling water, this re-hydrates the meal and prepares it for consumption.
In addition to these types of meals being great for the short term to put in a bug out bag, they can also be included as a long-term food storage solution for your entire family at your bug out location. Here are some of the food items we all keep in our Bug Out Bag at Doomsday Prep.
Another basic necessity which is requisite for survival. Clothing required for bugging out is particular to each prepper’s climate and environment. A good rule of thumb for clothing in any bug out bag is that the clothing be light-weight and waterproof or at minimum water resistant. Below is a list of items great for any climate, but please remember to research and modify this list depending upon your climate and locale.
- A pair of boots (Note we’ve listed boots, not plain shoes.)
- A pair of long tactical pants (Note we’ve listed tactical pants, not blue jeans or the like.)
- 2 Pairs of wool socks (Socks should be at least a 50% wool with an optional synthetic blend. Do not pack plain cotton socks.)
- 2 Shirts (1 long sleeve & 1 short sleeve, this is for layering purposes for all climates.)
- A Jacket (The jacket should keep you warm on winter nights and protect you from the elements: rain, sleet, and snow.)
- Long and/or thermal underwear
- A hat (90% of body heat escapes through the head.)
- A bandanna or face cowl
A bug out bag should include at least one form of shelter. Those in warmer climates can get by with less than those in the north, but basic shelter is another necessity for survival and should not be skimmed over in your preparations. Skilled and thoughtful preppers often pack items that can serve more than one purpose as weight and space is limited. We suggest packing at least two utilitarian synthetic tarps.
Tarps can serve many purposes, one would most likely serve as a ground tarp (to keep gear and shelter dry from ground moisture), the other would be used as a makeshift tent. Most preppers also pack a basic bedroll or a sleeping bag. A more formal means of shelter, i.e. a tent, should not be in a bug out bag; however if you have a Bug Out Vehicle you plan to use, a compact tent would be a great use of storage space. Here are a few shelter essentials:
It is surprising the number of tools we take for granted in our day to day lives, don’t get yourself into a pinch finding you need a tool that you do not have. All bug out bags need one sturdy multi-tool. Multi-tools are just that, multiple tools (can openers, screwdrivers, scissors, knives, pliers etc.) stuffed into a very compact form factor and are incredibly useful. Be sure to include some, if not all of the following:
- A Multi-tool
- A Fire starter or flint & steel (Matches are one use and your Bic will be useless after a tromp through a wet area.)
- A Compass (It doesn’t have to do have bells and whistles, but a basic compass is very useful.)
- A Fixed blade knife (When SHTF a hearty fixed blade knife will be worth it’s weight in gold.)
- Food preparation (Basic campfire style cooking set and portable butane stove.)
- 2 flashlights (After batteries are dead/unavailable you will be thankful you chose a solar powered or hand cranked light.)
Accidents happen, especially when your not living an ultra cushy and plush existence; a first aid kit is a must in any bug out bag. A small cut by today’s standards could be life threatening when SHTF and there is no means to disinfect or protect an open wound or burn. As you will be outside a great deal, you may want to also include a small snake bite kit which can be used to extract venom when worse comes to worse.
Optionally you can purchase a pre-built First Aid kit, however you may want to take the time and hand select each item and then build your own. This exercise will provide you with the ultimate level of control customized to your planned existence and environment. There are so many articles and items that we can list here, but these are the bare essentials we try to keep in our bags:
There is an incredibly fine line (which borders on invisible) between society as we know it now, and pure chaos. Think of Black Friday sales, the incidents you hear about with people being trampled, maced, shot, and killed for a sale on a 60″ television will be absolutely child’s play compared to the chaos erupting from when people aren’t after the last Tickle-Me-Elmo but the last can of beans or jug of water.
You will need to protect yourself and the ones you love. Weaponry in a bug out bag is sometimes overlooked and brings a very real chill down the spine, but it is something that must be done.
Why build a Bug Out Bag?
Bug out Bags are a great place to start prepping, it allows you to really think through a number of possibilities and how to best prepare for each. When SHTF you will hopefully have made a plan of action, one which you’ve rehearsed; but we all know how right Uncle Murphy can he and what’s been said about the best laid plans. A bug out bag which has been carefully and purposefully built will be a small hedge for you and your family’s survival.