How To Build The Best Bug-Out Bag
Life can throw a lot of different situations at you in a hurry, situations you might never see coming. With the world in the state it’s in, it can be easy to get scared and start feeling like you need to be prepared for “the worst.” The secret to having some peace of mind is being prepared ahead of time for the unpredictable. Because the very worst that can happen is a disaster in which you are unable to care for yourself or the ones you love. That’s where having the best bug-out bag comes in handy.
Article Originally published by Kelli Warner
Craft a strategically arranged survival kit, ready for at least a week of autonomous living. This kit comes in handy during situations that mandate a swift and possibly lasting exit from your home. In such circumstances, quick shop runs are impossible, hence it’s vital to plan, assess needs, and be prepared when putting together your family’s ultimate evacuation pack.
Understanding the Bug-Out Bag
Several types of emergency preparedness kits are commonly referred to as a Bug Out Bag or BOB. Each serves a different, though sometimes similar, purpose in being prepared for whatever might come your way. An everyday carry kit contains emergency essentials that you keep on your person at all times. These are items that will help you survive emergency situations and daily challenges more easily. A get home bag is designed to do just what the name implies, to get you home. It contains more gear than you would carry on your person every day, and you would typically keep it at your office or in your car. A bug out bag is an emergency kit that provides everything you need to survive for up to a week without any outside contact or resources.
A good way to perceive the bag categories is as follows: If disaster strikes, your daily carry gear enables you to reach your get-home bag. This, in turn, guides you to your bug-out bag. Your bug-out bag ensures your safety during protracted durations.
Determining Your Requirements
Various elements dictate various necessities. Factors to ponder while planning your bug-out bag should encompass:
Where do you live? Living in a rural or urban environment will influence your needs during a survival situation. If you’re likely to face survival in a disaster-stricken inner city environment, you may require self-defense and demolition tools more than shelter and fire starting materials. However, most people will likely attempt to make it to a wilderness area to wait out whatever situation they’re getting away from.
In case your home became unsafe, where would you take refuge? Pre-arranging provides you with the chance to familiarize with the terrain and assess its pros and cons. Should you require a map of your selected region, don’t forget to pack it in your bug-out bag.
What is your plan of transport? Depending on the nature of the disaster, walking might be the only option. You may need to prepare for two destinations, one reachable by car and the other on foot. If you are fortunate enough to “bug-out” in your vehicle, even better. Nevertheless, gear up your bug-out bag considering you might need to travel a long distance carrying it. This will help you make sensible decisions regarding its weight.
Who depends on you? Few people live in a vacuum. If disaster struck, who would look to you for help? Do you have children in the home? A spouse or partner you need to consider? Keep these people in mind when planning your bug out bag. Involve them in planning and have them, or help them, pack a bug out bag for themselves, as well.
Are there unique medical requirements to consider? Do you or your dependents have any specific health needs? Emergency medications like inhalers and Epi-pens always deserve prime importance in any emergency preparedness.
Once you’ve identified your needs, along with the people who will need you, make a plan with your family or extended group. Choose an area where you’ll gather should the need arise. Each person should have prepared their own bug out bag and be able to get there independently. For parents with children, consider their age and capability when creating a family disaster plan.
What Should Go In The Best Bug Out Bag?
Water is essential – humans can survive up to 72 hours without it. Plan for a minimum of one liter per person per day. Though carrying all that water may not be feasible, your bag must contain some pre-packaged water, along with tools for future water purification.
Food is crucial – pack meals for immediate consumption and means for future food acquisition. Options like protein bars, MREs, or jerkies are ideal. While canned goods can be considered, they increase weight and bulk.
Food Preparation – Remember, your meals will need to be prepared, so ensure you have the necessary tools.
- P-38 Can opener
- Metal pot or something else to cook in
- Portable stove
- Stove fuel
- Eating utensils and dishes
- Pot scrubber to clean up after
Clothing – This is a variable component, depending on your personality, region, time of year, etc. Layering is the name of the game. Some suggestions:
- Lightweight long sleeve shirt
- At least one pair of long pants – you might consider “zip off” convertible pants
- Hiking boots (on your feet) and an extra pair of shoes, if possible.
- Underwear – a change or two, it’s up to you
- Good socks – several pairs of moisture-wicking socks
- Fleece jacket – medium weight jacket for layering
- Hat with brim
- Gloves – winter or work gloves
- Neck protection – A scarf or gator, for sun or cold
Shelter and Bed
- Tarp – must have
- Tent – optional
- Sleeping Bag – must have
- Ground pad – optional
- Extra blanket – optional
Fire – You really can never have too many methods for starting a fire. Choose at least three to pack in your bug out bag:
- Flint and Steel
- Waterproof matches
- Magnesium rod and striker
- Batteries and steel wool
Tinder – You’ll want to pack several types of tinder, just in case:
- Cotton balls coated with Vaseline (keep them in a baggie, or they’ll make a mess)
- Pine chips
- Cedar shavings
- Dryer lint
- Commercial fire starters, there are many
First Aid – There are several very good first aid kits available commercially. If you want to put together your own, you’ll need at least:
- Alcohol pads
- Band aids
- Bandages with tape
- Antibiotic ointment
- Sunscreen – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and all that
- Insect repellent
- Super glue for closing wounds
- Medical needs – Inhalers, Epi-pens, blood pressure medications, etc.
- Wet napkins
- Hand sanitizer
- All purpose camp soap (dish soap or bar soap, whichever you prefer, or both)
- Mirror (hygiene and signaling)
- Small towel and a cloth
- Toilet paper (you’ll thank us later)
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Personal hygiene needs – deodorant, feminine hygiene products, a brush or comb, ponytail holders if you have long hair, etc.
Tools – It’s easy to get carried away when it comes to tools. Because it’s important to keep the overall weight and bulk down, you’ll want to choose combination tools whenever possible:
- Survival knife – you may already have one as a part of your everyday carry gear, but make sure you have a backup.
- Multi-tool – there are many on the market, get one that gives you the most bang for your buck.
- Hatchet or machete – you won’t want to do everything with your knife, so taking something heavier makes sense.
Lighting – Always have at least primary and one backup light source:
- LED lamp
- Glow sticks
- Extra batteries
Communication – Consider that your cell phone may not work in an emergency. You might want to have a short wave radio, or some other means of communication with you, as well.
Cash – Travel funds. It’s a good idea to have some cash, and perhaps some gold or silver bullion coins, as well.
Local Map – Even if you’re familiar with the area take a map. Not having one could be disastrous.
Compass – unless you have one integrated with your analog watch, ensure to include a compass in your bug-out bag.
Notepad and pencil – This is a good place to keep important numbers and addresses. Without a cell phone, many of us wouldn’t remember a phone number to call if we got the chance.
Self-defense – The need for a bug out bag implies that you are trying to survive. Take with you the best means of self-defense that you have. Include non-lethal means, in addition to whatever weapon you might choose to carry: whistle, pepper spray, etc. If you carry a gun, take extra ammunition, 25 rounds minimum.
Miscellaneous items – make choices based on your skills, lack thereof, carrying capacity, space, and other parameters.
- Paracord – Must have – 50′ is a good start
- Bandannas – several cotton bandannas will come in handy for a variety of uses.
- Duct tape
- Garbage bags – 55 gal contractor bags are best
- Resealable bags – four or five, gallon and quart size
- Sewing kit
- Fishing Kit
- Face paint (optional)
- Snare Wire
How to Choose
The fact is, unless your bug out bag is a camper hooked to a truck, you just can’t take everything. That would be camping and not bugging out at all. So at some point you’ll have to make choices based on space and weight limitations. You’ll need to consider the distance you’ll be traveling, as weight can really add up over miles. Being able to get a pack on your back and walk across the yard is no test of your ability to get from point A to point B with it. Remember, the best bug out bag is the one you have when you need it. Having more than you can safely carry, could force you to make decisions about what to leave behind, while already under stress. That won’t set you up for success.
The weight recommendation for men is up to 20% of their body weight. This is an outside max, and assumes peak physical condition. Ten to 15% is a much more realistic weight goal. The weight recommendation for women is 10% to 15% max.
Everything has weight and takes up space. Refer back to your planning phase; remember to choose those items that you are most likely to need first, and add to it as space and weight allow.
Selecting the Right Pack
Consider this: a densely packed compact bag with no additional space is easier to carry. Even with equal weight, a larger loosely-packed bag can be more cumbersome. Hence, choose the most compact bag that can hold the targeted volume and weight.
Assembling Your Bugout Bag
Packing things flat, or rolled very tightly, will allow you to fit more in less space. Make a list of items along with their weight. Start packing the most important, keeping track of the overall weight as it grows.
Underestimating your capacity to carry your pack for prolonged durations could lead to you being stranded without necessary survival gear. Plan and pack wisely, keeping the weight limit in mind at all times.
The key is to Stay Prepared, Not Petrified.
Once you’ve packed your bug out bag, take it out for a weekend of camping and survival training. Practicing your survival skills in a non-stress environment insures that you’re ready, physically and mentally, when the challenge arises. Skills that are only in your head, may not serve you well in the field. After a weekend of surviving with your bug out bag, unpack, re-evaluate and repack. Did you find that you needed things you didn’t have? Did you have things you didn’t need, or that would have been better traded out for a different item? Preparing for the future, and whatever eventualities it may hold, allows you the peace of mind to relax and enjoy the here and now. If you’re prepared, you don’t.