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Putting together a bug out bag is really not that difficult if you have a bug out bag list to go by. However, putting together a comprehensive, well packed bug out bag requires a little bit more attention to detail.
Using a bug out bag 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.
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.
Pack 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. You will not be able to fit all of these items into one bag, you will need to pick and choose which items are best for your budget and situation. 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.
Home-Based Bug Out Bag List
Backpacks & Gear
Instead of listing what kind of pack to get, we will just tell you to get a good one. Hiker-style packs that are designed to be light are not the way to go. These light packs are about as durable as they are light. Trail hikers have stations and trail heads along the way to deal with equipment failures, bugging out you want to avoid places like that. Our recommendation is a sturdy tactical pack that allows you to separate and hang items with a MOLLE / PALS webbing system. This will afford you more room inside the pack, and give you quick access to the items you use most often. Pouches are your friend, buy pouches. We suggest Condor or Eberlestock.
- Sturdy 3 Day Tactical Pack
- MOLLE Pouches
- Rain Gear
- Pack Straps
- Dry Bag(s)
- Zip Bags
Food, Forage & Hydration
Water is the most important thing to plan for in this section. Foraging is the next area to concentrate on. Food on the other hand is one of the least important when bugging out from home, we can actually survive weeks without food. Besides that, when bugging out from home you can do something as simple as grabbing a bag of rice on your way out the door to sustain you for weeks.
- SOS Ration Bars
- Millennium Energy Bars
- Mountain House ProPaks
- Homemade bags containing non-perishable items
- MRE’s (Heavy)
- Water Purifier Tablets
- 2.5 Liter Hydration System
- GOOD Water Filter
- Water sachets or pouches
- Water filter bottle
- Water Containers, Canteen water bottle
- Collapsible cup, if not included elsewhere.
- Dry Rice & Beans
- Tea Bags (lighter than coffee)
- Edible plants guide for your area.
- Snare Traps
- Cam lock Snare
- Additional Snare Wire
- Fishing Gear
- Fish Nets
- Game Traps
- Salt, many different uses.
- Packets of sugar, Light and provides energy.
Tools & Blades
- Saw (Don’t Skip This on long missions)
- Hand / Pack Axe
- Micro Multi-Tool Black
- Entrenching Tool/ Shovel
- Full Tang Survival Knife
- Whet Rock Sharpening Stone
Shelter & Warmth
- Small Tarps, ground and top
- Tent or Large tarp for shelter building
- Waterproof Bivi Bag
- Wool Blanket
- Sleeping Bag +20°
- Survival Blanket
- Hooded Poncho
- Rain Suit
- Gloves, work and warmth
- Hand Warmers
- Spare shoes/boots and extra laces
- Extra socks, kept in zip lock bags, this can’t be stressed enough.
- Underwear, Ditto.
- Dry Bag
- Emergency Hypothermia Blanket
- Waterproof Pouches / zip bags
- 42-Gallon Contractor Trash Bags (most valuable item for cost by far)
- Foam Ground Mat
- Lightweight Hammock (Extremely comfortable, can be used as a chair / table / shelf)
Survival Core-Kit Items
- All in One Survival Kit
- Bic Lighter
- Heavy Duty Zip Ties
- Waterproof/ Storm Matches
- 550 Paracord
- Army Field Manuals
- G.I. Can Opener
- Flint Fire Starter
- Duct Tape
- Sewing Kit
- Military Style Compass
- Sling Shot Band Kit
- Chow Utensil Kit
- Mess Kit
- Emergency Stove
- Pack Grill
- Survival Manual if you’re inexperienced
- Cable Ties
- WetFire starter / Tinder
- Cook Set
Lights & Energy
- Crank Flashlight that does not need batteries
- Am/Fm Radio
- Portable Solar Panel
- Battery Pack for Panel
- Rechargeable flashlight
- Rechargeable Batteries
- High Lumen Flashlight
- Headlamp w/ Extra or rechargeable batteries
- Glows sticks
Health, Hygiene & First Aid
- MOLLE First Aid Kit
- 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
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Aloe Vera burn cream
- Eye wash
- Eye dropper
- Ice pack
- Various size needles
- Safety pins
- Sanitary napkins/pads
- Vinyl gloves
- Moleskin (for blisters)
- Hygiene Kit
- wet naps
- bar of soap
- dental floss pick
- hand and body lotion
- deodorant gel
- twin blade razor
- shaving cream
- Toilet Tissue
- NIOSH N95 Respirator Mask
- Foot care kit
- Potassium Iodide Tablets
- Snake Bite Kit
- Bug Spray (Mosquitos have killed more people on earth than any other animal)
- Mosquito Netting No See-Um
- QuikClot Advanced Clotting Sponge 25g
- Surgical kit
- Potassium Iodide (IOSAT) For nuclear attacks
- Loperamide (Diarrhea medicine) Diarrhea has killed more sailors than all the wars.
Children’s Bug-Out Bag
In an emergency situation, having a role and responsibility can help keep your kids from panicking. Practice emergency procedures with them regularly and let them help you pack their bug out bags so that they know what’s in them. Explain how to use each item in the bag and develop a plan in case you should get separated. Don’t just assume that everything will be OK - hope for the best and prepare for the worst!Here are a few items that will be specific to a kid’s bug out bag contents list:
- Written (or drawn) map to a close designated meet-up place.
- Document with your child’s personal information as well as yours
- Change of clothes
- 6 rations of snacks/meal bars that they can easily open
- Water 4-6 bottles if they can carry it, and water purification tablets. For younger children, purified water pouches are lighter.
- Wind-up or shake flashlight
- Polar Blanket
- Rain Poncho
- Glow Sticks
- Small first aid kit
- 2-way radio with new batteries, set to a preset channel
- Comfort item such as a small stuffed animal, family picture, or coloring book and crayons.
Odds and Ends and Other Considerations
- Extra Cash, Coins, Gold.
- Important phone numbers Written Down.
- Passport and copies of other important personal information.
- Cotton, Used to silienge clanking gear and as fire tinder.
- Zip lock bags, Keeping stuff organized and dry is paramount
- Map of your area, SERIOUSLY IMPORTANT.
- Magnifying glass, redundancy for fire starting.
- Super glue, light and can extend the life of your equipment,
- Salt & pepper, why not?
- Bandanas, Sooo many uses, Google it.
- Personal protection, besides bug out problems, hungry things lurk in the woods.
- GPS, make sure you have a compass as a back up and a renewable energy source.
- Red spray paint, mark your path in unfamiliar territory.
- Respirator or gas mask, takes a lot of room, use your best judgement.
- Frying pan, very heavy, but extremely nice to have.
- Gold-bond powder, for chafing and foot care.
- Sun block, a life saver if needed.
- Signaling mirror (great for non-zombie apocalypse)
- Glow sticks (in case of disco)
- Spare battery for your electronics.
- Solar powered rechargeable batteries or plenty of extra batteries
- Pocket Survival guide, if you’re inexperienced.
- Aluminum foil, millions of uses.
- Towel, chamois cloth.
- Clothes pins, Rubber bands
- Signal flares