A Bug Out Bag is a name given to any form of a prepared kit be it in a backpack, tote, or gym bag when used to carry necessities for surviving a crisis. Some other names for the Bug Out Bag are a 72-hour kit, a Battle Box, a Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) Bag, a Go Bag, a Grab Bag, Personal Emergency Relocation Kit (PERK) among others.
Due to today’s uncertainties, there has been a surge of people interested in becoming Survivalists (one of the best sites, if you’re just learning about survival, is survival life), with this surge came countless sites telling you that their products are superior because of x, y, and z. When it comes down to it, surviving comes down to two questions:
- What is the emergency
- How long do you need to survive for
Everything hinges on these two questions and once those have been answered it makes planning your Bug Out Bag so much easier.
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Quick List: Bug Out Bag Essentials
As mentioned above, the two fundamental questions you must ask yourself when finding out what is needed for a Bug Out Bag and from there you can build yourself a kit that will assist in any disaster be it the one you had planned for or not as any form of preparedness is better than none.
The critical elements to any bug out bag are:
- Heat Supplies
- Medical Supplies
- Hygienic Products
- Multifunctional tools
- Communication Device
Factors to Consider when Building a Bug Out Bag
- Emergency Type:- Whether you want to prepare for earthquakes, floods, government unrest, military strikes or even a medical emergency, there are plenty of reasons to cause a person to prepare for the worst. By doing so you’ll have a higher chance of being able to wait it out until the storm passes, or to set up a more permanent solution.
- Urban Environment:- If you are planning on remaining in an urban environment there is an aspect you must be prepared to deal with and that is people. Lots of people. In an emergency the standard people you see on your commute will not be politely standing in lines, cars will not be obeying road signs and thieves will no longer be hiding in the shadows. In an urban environment, it is best to stay as low-key as possible to allow for more maneuverability as well as to draw the least amount of attention to yourself and the preparations you carry. Foraging for food is not much of an option and water may be a major issue although finding shelter will be significantly easier than in a more rural environment.
- Rural Environment:- In a more rural environment, a larger bag is warranted and larger items are encouraged for protection as well as for hunting and making water safe to drink. There will be significantly fewer people and chaos yet the exposure to the elements is something to keep in mind as Mother Nature is not known for being forgiving.
Bug Out Bag – A Detailed List of Items
While planning a bug out bag is a very personal thing as not everyone’s needs are the same, there are basics that need to be kept in mind and made a primary focus. Things such as water, food, and shelter are obvious additions, but in an emergency, items like medical supplies, dental hygiene products, and a good Gerber knife may all be overlooked.
- Water:- Water is an obvious place to start; as everyone knows you need water to survive. The standard minimal amount is 1 liter per day per person. That is a bare minimum. Purchasing items such as water bladders, purification systems (such as iodine tablets) will help your water supply go even further as you can use those items to add water as you find it. Even coffee filters will assist to filter out larger debris making the water cleaner for drinking.
- Food:- Food is another obvious part of any survival kit. There are quite a few options and the duration of your time away will determine the best options for you. If you are only planning on going from point A to point B, pre-packaged meals and energy bars are convenient options although they are usually quite bulky. Longer term solutions include vacuum sealed freeze-dried foods which require re-hydrating to eat along with snares and other methods for catching game should be considered.
- Clothing:- Clothing is often a weak point in preparing as it changes by the season. During the summer a lot of weight can be shed from the bug out bag yet the bulky items remain. If this is to be a longer term get out of dodge type escape, looking into ultra-light and compact clothing similar to that worn by those who spend a lot of time camping and climbing as those items are designed to take up the absolute minimal room and can range from summer wear to winter wear. For instance, Arc’teryx’s Ceres jacket is their heaviest jacket and has 225 grams of down and yet it still can fit comfortably in a 30L bag and weighs un ouns.
You will want to make sure you have at least 1 pair of socks to rotate out with the ones you are wearing, good hiking boots with ankle support which have already been broken in as you do not want to break in new shoes as you are escaping, an extra set of laces, 1-2 spare sets of clothing and a weather-appropriate jacket. Jeans, while versatile in most conditions should be avoided as they absorb water, remains wet for hours and therefore add weight and lack of protection.
- Shelter:- Shelter can be as simple as a knife and a tarp or as elaborate as a pop-up tent. It all depends on how much room you have and how long you are planning on living out of the bag. If you are just going from point A to B, it would be more efficient to just use a tarp as it provides plenty of protection from moisture and folds down tidily.
- Heat Sources & Fire:- Some form of fire starter should be an obvious addition yet a lot of times these are overlooked. The more times you can use this device, the better so options such as matches and lighters which cannot be refilled are poor choices.
The other source of heat you need to think about is a blanket. In some climates, you can get away with not having a blanket in the summer yet it is advised anyway as you never know what the weather will do with 100% certainty and it is better to have one and not need to use it than to not have one and suffer being cold. Blankets also allow for better sleep as if you do not sleep properly your body will not have time to heal itself and prepare for the next day making an already difficult situation more daunting as exhaustion sets in.
- Medical:- Having a small medical kit is always useful and should contain everything from your basic medical kit to equipment to create a sling as well as to do sutures if needed. Having to rely on a standard sewing needle would be a last resort and can be easily avoided.
- Hygiene:- Things rarely thought of are the little things that are often taken for granted. Toilet paper, sanitary pads, tissues, toothbrushes and toothpaste, hairbrush, etc. are a few of the items required. While you will not die if you do not brush your hair, it does prevent hair from becoming matted and providing a hiding place for bugs such as lice and ticks which may carry harmful diseases; as the saying goes:
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
- Tools:- Basic tools such as hammers, knives, axes and possibly screwdrivers depending on your environment are all very useful and should be kept on hand at all times.
- Light Source:- There is a good chance you will need to see at night and therefore a light source is always a good idea complete with additional refueling sources such as batteries.
- Communication Devices:- To keep an eye on the outside world and to get updates a radio, preferably a wind-up one to avoid the need for batteries, and possibly a 2-way walkie-talkie to keep in contact with your group.