Two of the most important aspects to consider when deciding how to make a bug out bag for yourself or your family are weight and accessibility. If you can’t carry your pack comfortably for 20 or 30 miles or if you can’t easily access the items that you need, then your bag isn’t serving the purpose that you need it to.
Depending upon your age and fitness level, you need to keep your pack weight between 1/3 and 1/4 of your body weight and make sure that it’s distributed well. Keeping that in mind, here are a few good ways to lighten the load without sacrificing things that you’ll need:
- Think multi-use! Try to pack only items that you can use for many different purposes instead of just 1. Think Swiss army knife instead of pocket knife, Phillips screwdriver, flat head screwdriver, and saw.
- Ditch the tent and opt for a tarp and hammock instead. You’re saving space and weight.
- Carry 2 space blankets instead of a sleeping bag or wool blanket.
- Water purification tablets weigh much less than water bottles, and a water filter like the Katadyn Pocket Microfilter is very lightweight and filters out viruses and bacteria. If you plan your bug out keeping watering holes in mind, you can get away with carrying less water. Never travel with less than a day’s worth of potable water though. A pack with a bladder versus loose water bottles will also be easier to carry.
- Before adding an item to your pack, ask yourself if you really need it to survive. If not, set it aside until you’ve packed all of the essentials.
- Keep the weight of each item, including the pack in mind. Even though separately they may weigh practically nothing, it’s easy to end up with 100 pounds of stuff when it’s all together!
Organize Your Bug-Out Bag
When thinking about how to make a bug out bag for yourself, think about this: Taking 10 minutes to dig through your pack every time that you need something is a huge time-suck and can mean the difference between life and death. Organize the items in your bug out bag so that it’s neat and functional, and so that the items are protected from damage. Here are a few tips:
- Use containers such as Altoid tins or plastic gum containers to store small items like matches or safety pins, then put the smaller containers either in a larger container with other like items or in a smaller pocket of your pack where you can grab them.
- Put items that need to stay dry in waterproof pouches or containers. Examples: socks and underwear (baggies keep them together, too), your personal documents, and your fire kit, if it isn’t already in a waterproof carrier.
- Save space whenever you can. For instance, pencils are always valuable to have, so wrap your duct tape around one instead of carrying the bulky roll.
- Think about what you’re going to need to access quickly and pack it where you can get to it easily. If you’re not going to need something until you make camp, bury it deeper in your bag.
- Organize the kits inside your bag including your first aid kit, your sewing kit and your fire kit so that small items are contained and the kits are easy to use.
These are just a few tips to get you started. Don’t lose sight of the fact that how to make a bug out bag is a process, and will require adjustments from time to time. Your bug out bag is going to be used in an emergency and you may not be thinking clearly, so it needs to be easy to use and organized, and you MUST be able to carry it.
Don’t have time to put a bug out bag together? Check out our selection of pre-packed bug out bags.