The 68 Essential Survival Items To Pack In Your Bug Out Bag

I think you’ll agree when we say that Bug Out Bags are difficult to put together.

Following a clear and concise list of what to include will ease some of the stress of gathering all of the right contents.

In this post, we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to include in order to cope in any situation.

So, let’s start with a brief explanation of what a Bug Out Bag actually is.

bug out bag

What Is A Bug Out Bag?

A Bug Out Bag contains the necessities that you would need to survive life outside of your home, should there be some sort of national emergency, natural disaster or pandemic.

It is intended to keep you going for 72 hours but this it’s completely up to you to decide how long you want your supplies to last. Be realistic, you’re probably not going to be able to carry around a fortnight’s worth of emergency supplies on your back so we recommend sticking to the 72 hour mark.

Your bag will be your lifeline and should be properly thought out and researched in order to make sure that you’re not over packing or taking items which won’t be useful.

It includes clothing, food and tools, to name but a few of the ways we can categorise the contents.

Of course, this is all subjective and you may decide that you can cope without deodorant and a sewing kit. This list only serves as a guide and is definitely not the be-all and end-all of Bug Out Bags.

A search of the internet shows dozens upon dozens of posts telling you what you should and shouldn’t have in your bag. This becomes confusing and makes it difficult for you to decide what you actually need. After all, in an emergency you shouldn’t be carrying around unnecessary items which will only weigh you down.

You can also buy pre-packed Bug Out Bags online but they’re overpriced and often don’t include a lot of the items you’ll need to survive, therefore it’s much more practical and cost effective to do it yourself.

It’s important that you consider your own requirements and situation. For example, if you are travelling with children or elderly people, you may need to carry certain things that a lone adult wouldn’t even consider taking.

Understand that anything can happen, which is why you need to be prepared for anything. The contents of your Bug Out Bag will give you the basic equipment you need to survive but you will need to take responsibility and educate yourself on how to cope in the situations you’re packing your bag for. After all, a workman is only as good as his tools.

You may or may not have already thought of the majority of these items but we can confidently say that there will be at least one thing on this list that you hadn’t considered.

Before purchasing the bag itself, it’s a good idea to buy your emergency kit first to ensure that you don’t end up buying a bag that’s too big or too small.

You will need to take a lot of stuff with you so don’t underestimate the size and weight of your Bug Out Bag. For most people, it will be the biggest and heaviest bag they’ve ever had to carry so it may be worth getting used to walking around with this much weight on your back.

We’ve compiled a list of practical and affordable items you should keep in your Bug Out Bag, split into categories.

This list is your bug out bag shopping guide and could save your life.

Shelter

You should acknowledge that these items will definitely weigh you down so only take them if you’re sure that you’ll need them.

  • Tent - think carefully about this. You don’t want to take one that’s too big or small and you definitely need one that won’t fall apart in bad weather. Instead of a tent, you could take a hammock which will keep you elevated above ground

  • Sleeping bag

  • Tarpaulin

  • Warm blanket

Clothing

Depending on where you are and what type of situation you’re using your Bug Out Bag for, you might need to pack completely different items to the ones listed below. This will need to be reviewed seasonally - swapping for warmer, cooler or wet weather proof clothes. The following are only basics to keep you warm and dry:

  • Waterproof jacket

  • Underwear

  • Combat trousers - ideally ‘zip-off’ which convert to shorts

  • Thick socks

  • Fleece

  • Bathing suit - if you’re in a group and can’t get privacy for washing, this will be ideal

  • Gloves

  • Hat

  • Thermal underlayer

  • Walking boots

  • Flip flops

Food and drink

The following are essentials If there are other things that you really need, such as special foods for dietary requirements, think carefully about what you really need and what you can do without.

  • Collapsible water bottle

  • Water purification tablets

  • Lifestraw - filters out 99.9% of bad bacteria instantly. A Lifestraw is ideal in emergencies because all you have to do is put one end into the water source and begin drinking. For this reason, a Lifestraw is ideal for children and rushed situations.

  • Protein bars

  • Can opener

  • Canned foods e.g. soup, beans

  • Dried foods e.g. dried fruit, just-add-water foods such as pasta sachets

  • Metal pan

  • Spork

If you choose to take a bowl, make sure it is a lightweight plastic one. However, a bowl is not essential because you can just as easily eat straight from your metal pan.

Tools

Depending on where in the world you are and what type of emergency situation you’re in, the tools you need will vary. In certain countries you may or may not be permitted to carry a weapon so these are universal items:

  • Windproof lighter and/or waterproof matches

  • Multi-tool

  • Survival knife

  • Pepper spray

  • Folding saw

  • Tactical Pen

Communication Aids

  • Mobile phone

  • Portable charging bank - regularly make sure this is still charged while your Bug Out Bag is stored away

  • Wind-up emergency radio

First aid

A very basic selection of first aid equipment should consist of:

  • First aid kit

  • Painkillers

  • Antihistamines

  • Insect repellent

  • Any medication you need

Cooking & Heat Source

These are the basics that you’ll need for starting a fire or cooking. Be mindful that you may also need to gather other items such as wood or dry grass.

  • Tinder stored in waterproof container

  • Portable stove

  • Stove fuel

Hygiene Items

This is down to personal preference and will vary from person to person but mainiting a basic level of hygiene will help fight against illness and infection and will make you feel better about yourself.

  • Travel toothbrush & toothpaste

  • Soap

  • Small towel

  • Wet wipes

  • Toilet paper

  • Deodorant

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Other hygiene products e.g. tampons, mouthwash

Lighting

  • Candles

  • LED headlight

  • LED lamp

  • Batteries

You can also buy wind-up and solar powered versions of these items but remember that solar powered items may not be practical in extreme weather conditions.

Travel essentials

  • Cash - the amount is up to you but be realistic of how much you might need

  • Compass

  • Emergency whistle

  • Map of local area

  • Medical record or medical ID jewellery

Miscellaneous

  • Sun cream

  • Sewing kit

  • Notepad and pen or pencil

  • Nails

  • Duct tape

  • Sunglasses

  • Bandanna - can come in useful for weather protection e.g. sun, dust, wind

  • Ziploc bags

  • Rubbish bags

  • Earplugs

  • ID e.g. passport or driving license

Now that we’ve discussed the basic items, it’s time to think about the bag itself.

Choosing The Ideal Bag

The ideal bag will be durable, waterproof and big enough to hold all of the items listed above. This could mean that you have to spend a decent amount of money to get the quality required but remember that cheap isn’t always cheerful, especially not in an emergency. The average BOB has a capacity of around 44 litres.

You should also make sure that the bag is going to be comfortable for you to carry. It’s a good idea to choose a bag which has padded shoulder straps and extra straps to fasten around your torso to prevent it from slipping and rubbing on your shoulders. Consider the fact that you may have to run to it’s advisable to choose a secure bag which isn’t going to come open and leave a trail of items behind you.

It’s also advisable to choose a bag which has pockets and compartments so that you can keep the contents organised and won’t need to rummage around to find things as this could slow you down in an emergency. Take the time to familiarise yourself with where each item is.

Another important quality to look for is water resistance. Natural disasters can of course bring severe weather conditions. When you’re carrying around clothes and essentials needed for shelter, it’s important to make sure that they stay as dry as possible.

Now that you know exactly what to include in your BOB, it’s time to put it together! Make sure that larger items such as clothes and your sleeping bag are tightly rolled in order to take up less space.

Once you’ve packed your bag, make sure that you regularly assess what’s in there to ensure that you have appropriate clothes for the season. Don’t forget to check the expiry dates on the food and as mentioned previously, make sure that your portable phone charger is always fully charged.

So there you have it, a guide to the ultimate Bug Out Bag.

Now it’s time for you to go and pack your emergency kit without any hesitation. Disaster can strike at any time so don’t procrastinate when it comes to planning for the safety of yourself and those around you. Your life could literally depend on it.

Ask yourself, if a national emergency was declared right now, how prepared are you?

Andrew Holland

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