Bug Out Bag Packing List – Why You Need One

Why Do You Need a Bug Out Bag Packing List?

Putting together a bug out bag is not difficult, but putting together a comprehensive, well packed bug out bag requires more attention to detail.

A bug out bag packing list will help you stay organized, allow you to check off items as they are packed, and highlight any items you may have missed or additional items you want to include in your bag. Remember, you want to get all of your essentials packed first, including tools and supplies that are crucial to survival in an emergency.

Medical Considerations

Every person has different needs that should determine what they want to include in their bug out bag, aside from the basics of food, water, shelter, and fire. When making your bug out bag packing list, double check that you have listed any special medical supplies or medicine that you need.

For example, diabetics should have an extra supply of medicine and testing supplies, asthma sufferers should have an additional inhaler, and people allergic to food or outside allergens should include an Epi-pen for their bag.

Tornado as a catastrophePack Appropriately for Different Climates

Also take into account what type of weather you are likely to encounter if you have to bug out, do you need extra clothes for a warm climate or cold one? What type of terrain is in your immediate and extended area, and what shoes are best suited to traverse it? (Flip flops, backless shoes, and slip-ons are not ideal walking shoes)

If you are unable to use your vehicle or have to abandon it along the way, do you have a map to reference in case your GPS or phone doesn’t work? These are all questions that should help you think about what items will need to be incorporated into your bug out bag packing list.

Make Your List and Check it Twice

Once you have addressed all these issues, make a physical list of everything you think you need or could possibly need in your bug out bag. I find that having an actual printed list that I can check off is easier for me to use, however, you may prefer to use a digital version or handwritten version of a bug out bag packing list.

Once your bug out bag packing list is complete, review it a few times to make sure you haven’t left out anything, and make notes of items you want to have more of or have left off the list.

Below are essential items and common items to have on your bug out bag list, and to pack in your bug out bag. This is just a guideline, as everyone’s list will vary depending on their individual needs. I have included notes that were helpful to me when packing my own bug out bag.


*Enough for 72 hours (3 days) or more. The total caloric amount should equal at least 6000 calories, allowing for 2000 calories per day.*

Bug Out Bag Packing ListOptions:


*Your body requires water to survive; you should pack enough potable (safe for drinking) water for at least 3 days, including some for cooking and hygiene. Water sachets are ready to drink immediately, and a good water filter and purifying tablets will allow you to use whatever kind of water you encounter.*


  • Water sachets or pouches (12)
  • Water filter bottle
  • Water filter straw
  • Portable, lightweight water filter
  • Water purification tablets

Bug Out Bag Packing ListFirst Aid Kit

* Hopefully, most of  the injuries you encounter will be minor, but every scrape or cut can lead to infection; therefore, anti-bacterial medicine, vinyl gloves, and antiseptic cleansing supplies are vital to have in your first aid kit.*

This is just a general list, for a complete list of first aid items, see our article How to Build a Survival First Aid Kit.

Must haves:

  • 30-day supply of any life-sustaining prescription medication, more if obtainable
  • Assorted sizes and styles of band-aids, you need a sizable amount.
  • Assorted sizes of gauze pads, several of each
  • Gauze bandage
  • Surgical tape
  • Ace wrap
  • Antiseptic wipes or liquid.
  • Anti-bacterial cream
  • Alcohol pads
  • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • Waterless hand sanitizer
  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Aspirin
  • Benadryl
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Aloe Vera burn cream
  • Eye wash
  • Eye dropper
  • Ice pack
  • Tweezers
  • Various size needles
  • Safety pins
  • Sanitary napkins/pads
  • Scissors
  • Vinyl gloves
  • Moleskin (for blisters)

Fire Kit

*Always have at least 2-3 ways of starting a fire, and learn how to start a fire using various methods.*


  • Waterproof matches in protective case
  • Magnesium
  • Lighter
  • Ferrocerium rod
  • Fire sticks or tinder

Shelter and Warmth

*Having shelter and warmth is a must, but keep in mind that you will be carrying a lot of supplies, so pack a lightweight tent.*


  • Tube Tent with cord
  • Tarp
  • Tent
  • Space blanket/Mylar blanket
  • Lightweight wool blanket
  • Sleeping bag
  • Rain poncho
  • Extra hat, gloves. thermal underwear, etc.

Bug-out bag packing listTools/Light/Communication

*Choose multi-purpose tools to cut down on weight.*


  • Survival knife
  • Swiss Army style multi-function knife
  • Sharpening stone
  • Nylon rope
  • Paracord bracelet or a key chain
  • Extra 550 paracord
  • Duct tape
  • Eating utensils
  • GI style can opener
  • Fishing line and hooks
  • Sewing kit
  • Dust mask
  • Bandana
  • Work gloves
  • 2-3 waterproof pouches or bags
  • Survival tool with whistle, compass, and signal mirror
  • Flashlight and extra batteries or a hand crank flashlight
  • Light-stick
  • Emergency candle
  • Compass
  • Signal mirror
  • AM/FM radio

Hygiene and Comfort

*Keeping clean is important to prevent disease and illness. Individual packets and travel size items are lightweight.*


  • Cleansing wipes
  • Camp soap
  • Toilet tissue
  • Comb
  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Pads/tampons
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Dry shampoo
  • Lotion
  • Lip balm
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses


  • Important documents/copies (inside waterproof pouch)
  • Cash in smaller bills, coins
  • Maps of area
  • Pencil, paper, sharpie
  • Bible
  • Favorite book
  • Family photo

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1 comment… add one
  • bereadyforsurvival

    There must have been a lot of research and effort to put this list together – thanks for sharing the info!
    Only other thing I could think of adding was maybe a small, collapsible, lightweight stove (Firebox makes one). I would recommend that once your bag is assembled that you take it out for a good long hike – test drive it – see how heavy it is, how long you can go before resting – and I would suggest you practise starting a fire, cooking some food, filtering some water, building shelter with your tarp, using your paracord and multitool and if you do all that you might even get to use something from your first aid kit too:)

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