bug out bag list

Bug Out Bag List: Essentials You Need In An Emergency

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A bug-out bag is a kit that contains gear to survive for at least 72 hours in an emergency situation. Also known as a “Get Out of Dodge” bag; these should be packed and ready to go at all times so that you can grab it on your way out the door at the drop of a hat.

The idea is that you have everything you need to stay alive for 3 days containing at least the basics: clothes, food, water, shelter, as well as a first aid kit and a survival tool – all stored in one convenient location for quick access in case of an emergency evacuation. This can be from anything like a natural disaster such as hurricanes or tornadoes, to man-made disasters to an alien invasion.

While everyone may have their own idea of what should be in this list, it can vary depending on where you live, your environment, and what you are planning for. Nonetheless, there are a few essentials that you should be sure not to leave home without. In this blog post we will go over some essential things to include in your bug-out bag.

What to Put in Your Survival Bug Out Bag B.O.B & Why You Need one

One thing about emergencies is the fact that they come without an invitation and this is why one should always be prepared just in case of an unlikely scenerio. Making a bug out bag list is a good first step for making yourself ready for any emergency. 

A bug out bag list is a list of all the survival items you would need to survive when SHTF.  This list is not just a survival kit which is more for medical emergencies, a bug out bag list includes gear specifically used so that you can get from point A to point B and wait out any emergency situation such as natural disasters, war, emergency relocation, etc. 

The basic three elements needed for survival are food, water, and shelter.

Depending on where you are and in what circumstances you are facing will dictate what would be most practical. Other categories including food, water and shelter, that are important are things like having a way to light a fire, having a light source, having some way to navigate and a form of weapon for self-defense.

Deciding what goes in your bug out bag is not always so straightforward and requires some planning. However, having these basic categories in mind will go a long way in getting the essentials right.


How to Pack your Bug out Bag? 

The first thing you’ll want to do is divide items into weights. Place all the heavy ones in one place, light and mid-weight items in another. This will make packing much more efficient – especially if you have an external frame pack. When it comes time for loading up your bag with those weight groups, keep heavier things near the spine and lower down near your hips so the bad isn’t top-heavy.

The idea here is to make the weight evenly distributed, closer to your spine that will allow you to move easier when you are on the move. All of the extra pockets and webbing should be used for lighter items. If you have some long heavy dangly pieces hanging out its pretty easy to feel unbalanced. If you set off on a jog these pieces of equipment often start to swing and can easily get caught which can through you off-balance.

Because you are going to be on the run, you are going to want a bag that is light, ideally something that is less than 25% of your body weight fully packed. Anything more and you will not be as light on your feet. You are not looking for an (INCH bag) or packing for an extended long-term survival scenario, but are primarily looking to prep for immediate emergencies as most situations change within 72 hours making those three days the most critical in any survival situation.


What is a Bug-out-Bag?

Bug out Bags (or BOBs for short) aren’t really as crazy as it all sounds. You really don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist or a member of some underground guerilla movement to understand the importance of being prepared in times of emergency.

Emergency prep comes in many forms. It’s about risk mitigation. Not that you hope anything will happen, but you plan for the what-ifs, so that if IT does happen you will have gone through the physical and psychological motions of preparing in advance so that you will survive IF such an event takes place.

When disaster strikes, you will not have time to think. This is where training comes in, the body responds on instinct when faced with life or death scenarios which can come in the form of a fight, flight or freeze response. There is no single best response to cover all situations. Sometimes the best chance of survival is to fight your way through, however, in environments that are outside your control, the best thing you can do is take flight to someplace safe.

One of the worst things you can do in an emergency scenerio is freeze and do nothing.

Aside from being attacked by a bear, there are very few situations where freezing is a good idea. Freezing is often the result of being confronted with an experience so overwhelming, so unexpected that your brain is unable to respond to the situation that presents itself.

Prepping is about preparing yourself so that whatever may happen you have the necessary skills and gear to survive for whatever may come.


Why do I Need a Bug-out-Bag?

A bug-out bag is for those what-if scenarios.

Bugging out’ refers to an individual’s decision to abandon home in response to an unexpected emergency situation. There usually is the option to stay put and bug in at home, which is the first option that should be looked at. Staying put is often advisable in the face of civil unrest or riots, as you are likely to be more secure staying indoors rather than taking flight.

Bugging out is preferable in situations such as:

  • immenent natural disasters (fire, tornado, flood etc…)
  • immediate man-made disasters (power plant meltdown, war, etc…)

Other situations could be something like when your reserves or stockpile have run low, when certain social systems break down (like transportation), or if there is any type of local threat that threatens your family and house.

Preparation is key in these scenarios – it’s what helps you make it out alive.


When to use a Bug Out Bag?

A bug-out bag is used in the event of a voluntary or mandatory evacuation. Voluntarily evacuation is really only needed in extreme emergencies – and is usually a last resort. Bugging out should only be considered when there is a greater danger in staying put than there is in fleeing.

Most often than not you will be safer in your home than. In those times where staying inside is not an option, in case of a fire or chemical leak, then knowing where your local evacuation zone or town meeting point will likely be your first point of call.


What Can I Find in a Bug Out Bag?

Although people can put just about anything in these bags they are more for essential goods. Think food, water, shelter and survival as we talked about before.

This can come in the form of:

  1. food supplies like MREs, energy bars, meal replacements;
  2. water supplies such as chlorine tablets or water filters;
  3. shelter materials like tarps or tents;
  4. first aid kits containing medications and bandages
  5. self defense items like a hatchet, knife or handgun.

We will go into each section more in the next section.


Bug Out Bag the Essentials: What You Should Always Carry with You

Essentials for Living – Food and Water

This is the most important part of your bug-out bag list because it will keep you alive. Period. Whatever, you put in the bag if it doesn’t include food and water you are not going to last very long. That means having enough food and water for 72 hours.

When we say food we are talking about:

  1. MREs
  2. Protein bars
  3. Ready to Eat Meals

And for water purification, we are talking about

  1. Iodine tablets
  2. Chlorine tablets
  3. Water purifier
  4. UV water wand
  5. Survival straw

This will allow you to pretty much take any water that you find and turn it into drinking water quickly without having to carry large amounts with you.


Essentials for Warmth – Shelter and Fire

Along with food and water, the next couple things that are essential are shelter and fire. Now shelter can mean a number of different things that will again depend upon where you are bugging out to. If you are in the jungle you likely won’t need a down jacket.

Here are a few ideas for shelter:

  1. Tarp
  2. Tent
  3. Sleeping Bag

Having a means of warmth if you are bugging out in colder environments can mean the difference between life and death if you are exposed to the elements.

For a heat source you are going to want something like a:

  1. Firestarter
  2. Flint and steel
  3. Lighter
  4. Ferro rod

And for warm clothing:

  1. Jacket
  2. Blackets
  3. Hats
  4. Scarfs

Essentials for Survival – Navigation and Self Defense

You are going to want a few things with you that you can use for self-defense whether that is from wild animals or other humans.

A few of the most common weapons you can use for self-defense:

  1. Knife
  2. Hatchet
  3. Handgun

Knowing where you are, and where you are headed is pretty important when you are escaping somewhere fast. Having at least one of these 3 would be adviseable:

  1. GPS
  2. Map
  3. Compass

Bug Out Bag List: What you Need For Emergencies

1. Msr Traillshot Pocket Sized Water Filter

Dimensions: 11.5L x 7.72W x 3.39H inches

Weight: 0.27 kilograms

Pros: Easy to use and clean, Light weight, Has a fast flow (faster than other water filters)

Kills up to 99% of the germs and bacteria that can contaminate water

Cons: A bit expensive when compared to other water filters

Description: This water filter is one survival item that you should always have handy if you care about having clean drinking  water. It is light-weight and can be used at home, at work, while traveling or anywhere in nature whether camping or trekking.

Access to clean water is very important for human survival. MRS TRAILLSHOT POCKET SIZED WATER FILTER is our top choice for our bug out list because it can filter 99% of water contaminating germs and bacteria and can be used to filter a total of 2000 liters of water during emergencies. 

If you find yourself in a place where there is no clean source of drinking water, this water filter has your back.

The MSR Traillshot pocket-sized water filter is a great option as far as water filters go for your Bug Out Bag list.  Finding a reliable water source during emergencies can at times be problematic or difficult and that’s why carrying a water filter with you is highly recommended. 

MSR Water Filter can filter up to 2000 liters of water. It also kills 99% of germs and bacteria, effectively trapping  protozoa, like giardia, and salmonella and making the water safe for drinking.

The MSR water filter is llight-weight and easy to carry around. It is also very easy to use and can be used directly at the water source or using containers.


2. Coleman Sundome Tent

Dimensions: 82.68L X 59.O6W X47.24H.

Weight: 6.38 pounds

Material: Made with fiberglass materials and a  polyester taffeta 75 denier flysheet.

Pros: Portable and light-weight, Water resistant and well ventilated, Comes with a one year warranty, Durable and sturdy against wind and rain

Cons: Does not have a footprint included, Not suited for very cold weather

Description: The Coleman Sundome tent provides you with a good emergency shelter option.  Having a shelter can really be a game changer when unforeseen events take place or extreme weather conditions strike.

This tent is specially designed for emergencies to keep you dry and warm. It is leak-free, made with polyester, which makes it water-resistant and can be used in most weather conditions. Its design includes welded corners and inverted seams that prevent moisture from accumulating, thus keeping you dry.

The Coleman Sundome is easy to use and can be set up in just ten minutes or less.  It is durable, engineered with strong fiberglass poles that can withstand stormy conditions.

It also comes with a storage bag and it has an E-port, which makes it easy to bring an electrical wire inside the tent.  Finally, it can accomodate 4 people when needed.


3. Swiss Safe 5 in 1 Fireplace Starter

Dimension: 5.5L X 3.2W X 1.2H inches.

Weight:0.11 kilograms.

Material: Made of magnesium

Pros: Light-weight and compact, Multi-functional, Works perfectly well in any weather condition

Cons: It comes without a scraper or sparking tool

Description: The Swiss safe fire starter is not your regular fire starter since it is designed to be multi-functional.  It comes with a compass and a whistle and therefore not only helps you start a fire but can help you stay oriented and safe.

It is easy to use, compact, and light-weight and is a great firestarter for emergencies. 

The downside is that it doesn’t come with a scrapper or sparking tool but this is intended since the flat spine of a knife blade or any other long and flat metal surface can usually be used to spark up.


4. Otu Men’s Light Weight Waterproof Rain Jacket

Material: Nylon. 

Size: comes in various sizes for adults ( S to XXL) 

Pros: Waterresistant and windproof, Comfortable and does not irritate the skin, Lightweight and perfect for emergencies, hiking, or any other activities, Comes with an adjustable hood , Accurate sizes, Breathable

Cons: It is not insulated enough to keep you warm during cold weather

Description: When getting a rain jacket, it is important to see what kind of fabric the jacket is made of since this will determine how weather resistant it is. This is one reason why we recommend the OTU hooded rain jacket. It is made of 100% polyester making it water-resistant and a good windbreaker.  Unlike jackets made with a blend of polyester and cotton, this one doesn’t absorb water so easily.

This is a comfortable and stylish jacket. The inner lining does not irritate the skin and is designed to help wick away sweat. 

When it comes to emergency gear you need things that are lightweight and won’t be a burden since you may need to carry your bug out bag with you if you are on the move (hiking or trekking).   Therefore the OTU jacket is a good choice for your bag since it is light-weight and packs down really small.


5. Glide Ase Compact Survival Fishing Kit

Dimension: 3.31L X 3.15W X 0.51H

Weight: 0.8 ounces

Material: mixed

Pros: It is portable and lightweight, Easy to use, Packed in a zip-lock bag, good quality tools

Cons: Not useful when fishing for bigger fish, Does not come with a fishing pole

Description: The ASE fishing kit comes in handy when you find yourself stranded in a place without any food,  but are near a river or lake where there are fish. 

This fishing kit contains all the necessary gear for fishing. It has 2 jigs, 2 jig heads, 1 tube of bait, 6 hooks fishing line, a wire-wound leader, and different sizes of split shot.

It is portable, lightweight and will fit easily in your emergency kit.   The tools in this kit are durable.


6. First Aid Only 299 Piece All Purpose First Aid Kit

Dimensions: 9.25 X 2.88 X 7 Inches. 

Weight: 1 pound

Material: Polyester

Pros: Portable and ideal for emergencies while traveling, Contains 299 supplies for treating various ailments, Comes in different colors

Cons: Each piece is counted individually (1 bandaid – 1 piece so many buyers thought they were supposed to get more)

Description: This is an all-purpose first aid kit containing most of the essentials you might need during an emergency where first aid is needed.

It contains 299 various first aid supplies that are useful in treating common cuts, scrapes, aches, and pains. It also has supplies for treating swelling, burns, cold abrasions, and many ailments.

The supplies are protected by a bag with a nylon inner and outer layer and are not likely to get wet or damaged. 

If you are a lover of color, you get to pick from a wide range of different colours. All items are neatly arranged and organized making it easy to find what you need.


7. Garmin Inreach Mini Gps Satellite Communicator

Dimension: 6.1L X 4.92W X 2.24H

Weight: 0.31 kilogram 

Pros: Compact and lightweight, Enables you to send and receive messages using global iridium network, Can be used to trigger an SOS alert to the nearest rescue team, Rechargeable, Provides an optional weather forecast service

Cons: Expensive

Description: This GPS satellite communicator is portable, light-weight, and easy to use. With Garmin GPS, your family and friends will be more reassured and lessed worried since they can easily keep in touch with you when you find yourself outside of regular communication range.

This GPS allows you to send and receive messages even from areas without cellular reception.  It also tracks your journey, and can even trigger an SOS alert. This device provides up to 50 hours of battery life when fully charged and an optional weather focus service is also available.  

Lastly, it is lightweight, easy to use, and gives you access to maps, U.S NOOAA charts, and even Facebook.


8. Snap Headlamp Kit

Dimension: 6.34L X 5.34W X2.09H 

Weight: 0.21 kilogram

Pros: Water-resistant, Portable and easy to use, Comes with a headlamp attachment

Cons: Does not come with a red vision mode light

Description: Snap headlight kit provides a solution to all your lighting needs for emergencies. It is a combination of a headlamp, flashlight, bike light, lantern, and a magnetic area light.

It is portable and easy to use in any activity, providing plenty of light.


Making a Bug Out Bag List For Emergencies

Here are various things to consider before making a bug out bag list for emergencies:

1. Weather Conditions

Keep in mind the terrain and environment and the time of the year. For example, in desert areas, you are going to need a good water supply and since the chances of finding a body of water in the desert are low, you will want to trade out a water filter for extra water bottles which you fill before setting out.  

If you are going to be in a cold, wintery environment then thick clothing and a bigger jackets will be more useful. A rain jacket and a waterproof bag will help rainy season or when the forecast predicts lots of rain.

2. Weight 

Avoid anything that will create any extra and unnecessary weight. When making a list for your bug-out bag, consider getting lighter gear as you are going to be packing quite a lot of gear. You may also need to walk some miles when you are bugging out and a heavy pack will only weigh you down.

3. Affordability 

Don’t break the bank when prepping. You can easily get affordable quality and even second-hand gear if need be. The basics are not expensive and you do not need to have all the latest techno-gadgets.

Bug Out Bag List

  1. Food and Water
  2. Water
  3. Water Purification Tablets
  4. Canteen
  5. Eating Utensils
  6. Fire Starters
  7. MREs
  8. Protein Bars
  9. Shelter and Fire
  10. Blanket
  11. Poncho
  12. Sleeping Bag
  13. Tarp
  14. Firestarter
  15. flint and steel
  16. Lighter
  17. Jacket
  18. Communication and Navigation
  19. Radio
  20. Flashlight
  21. Compass
  22. Map
  23. Signal Mirror
  24. First Aid Kit
  25. Survival and Self Defense
  26. knife
  27. first aid
  28. map
  29. compass
  30. Miscellaneous Gear
  31. Multitool
  32. Paracord
  33. Duct Tape
  34. Batteries
  35. Bandana
  36. Fishing Kit
  37. Hatchet
  38. ID
  39. Extra Cash

Last minute tips

  • Have a list of things ready in case you need to flee your house quickly, including contact information and important documents.
  • Map of the area with possible routes for you to take in case evacuation is necessary.
  • Emergency food supplies such as MREs or canned foods that do not require refrigeration or cooking for each member of your household over a 72 hour period
  • Extra batteries for all electronics – flashlight, radio, cell phone charger/batteries
  • Backup copies of every document stored on electronic devices such as computers and phones before packing it away
  • Make sure to pack clothes that are appropriate for all weather conditions 
  • Remember to include any medications you need or special equipment if needed 
  • If you are more than one person divide the gear amogst the group so that if one bag is lost you will not lose all your food
  • Travel with the slowest person in the middle so that they will not lag behind
  • Have a rendevous point picked out in case you or your party get seperated
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Bram Johnson
Hi, My Name is Bram, the Editor of Survival Artist. Here you will find all things Wilderness, Survival, & Primitive Living. I grew up in the backcountry and got hooked on the simple chop wood carry water lifestyle. If you know anything about me then you know you can find me either running up mountain trails or sipping coffee over a book of philosophy.