When it comes to survival, having a plan for all unforeseen situations is crucial. Therefore, keeping a bug out bag for each family member is important for any family survival preparedness plan. Your BOBs need all the essentials to keep you alive for the first 72 hours after disaster strikes.
Building a Bug Out Bag
What is the bug out bag essentials? When SHTF and bugging out becomes necessary do you know what supplies you need most in an emergency supply kit?
There aren’t any set rules saying what each bug out bag should contain. Each BOB is different since it contains items exclusive to a particular person and their survival.
When building each family member’s survival bag, you must individualize it to their needs. The emergency bag needs personal high-priority survival items like medicines, specialized food and supplies, and other items.
I recommend using survival gear checklists for making sure you include all the essentials for each person in your household. It makes things a heck of a lot easier.
In addition to family member’s individualized survival supplies, there are a few high-priority go bag essentials you need to include. I cover these in greater detail later in this article.
Survival Prepping and the Bug Out Plan Importance
The basic bug out bag’s helps you stay alive for 72 hours when forced to evacuate your home. But, before you run out and get survival gear for your bag, you need a good bug out plan.
During an emergency, you must act fast, know where you’re going, and keep your go bag easily accessible. Your survival might depend on the emergency preparedness plans you put in place. A solid emergency survival plan helps ensure you’re ready for anything that comes your way.
Include your family when making preparedness plans. Families planning together helps everyone know what to do when the need arises. As a result, your preparedness plans have a better chance of success.
You don’t need a wild imagination when coming up with different disaster scenarios. Just listen to the news. Disaster events are an everyday occurrence. With earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and hurricanes happening so frequently, you may need to fend for yourself at any time.
The ideal situation is hunkering down in your home during a survival situation. However, many times, this isn’t possible, making a reliable and easily adaptable plan the best answer.
Your first step in any survival prepping plan is looking at the disaster characteristics common in your area. Learn your surrounding terrain for a feel for what you need for your bug out plan and bag.
One of the best steps you can take in preparedness planning is having more than one bag per person. I recommend, in addition to your main home bag, having a BOB in each car and at work.
Disasters can strike at any time, and you may not be at home. Having a bag in your car and at work covers all your bases.
The 7 Bug Out Bag Essentials
As you begin gathering your emergency bag contents, you soon realize there are lots of items you might consider essentials. While these supplies seem necessary, not all of them are. Understanding what you need to survive for the next few days is an important step in your planning.
The seven items considered essential supplies for your emergency go bag:
- Non-perishable Food
- First Aid Kit
- Basic Survival Tools
- Self-Defense Items
Once you gather these supplies, whatever else you include adds to your comfort and not necessarily your survival needs.
The top priority in any survival situation, whether hunkering in or bugging out, is water. As I mentioned in my Emergency Water Purification article, we only survive three days without water. And the closer we get to that three days, the weaker we become as our body functions begin shutting down.
When it comes to bug out bags, trying to carry the water needed for each person probably won’t be possible. Each person needs at least 1 gallon of water each day, with 1.5-gallons being the best amount. Because of the weight, carrying three gallons of fresh water per person in a go bag may not be possible.
For your survival bag, the best option is packing drinking water plus the items for gathering, filtering and purifying water. If you come non-drinkable water bodies, filtration supplies give you a way to gather and purify drinking water.
Most of all, the purpose of a bug out bag is keeping you alive for 72 hours. Thinking ahead and having a way to purify water covers the worse case scenario.
To ensure continued hydration with a backup for purifying non-drinkable water sources, include these items in your prepper bag:
- Drinking water 3-liters per person
- Water filtering system
- Water purification tablets
- Refillable water bottles or canteens
2. Non-Perishable Food
Humans can survive without eating for three weeks. But, adding high-energy foods to your bug out bag keeps you functioning and alert.
High energy foods that are lightweight with a long shelf life, like freeze-dried or dehydrated foods are best. Foods like beef jerky and vegetables are easy to pack and retain their nutrients when freeze-dried or dehydrated.
Packing lightweight preparation utensils and tools for catching or trapping food helps when supplies run low. Also, carrying a combination of non-perishable foods and hunting tools give you better survival chances.
Here is a list of items perfect for including in an emergency survival kit:
- Dried fruits and Vegetables
- Energy Bars
- Freeze Dried Meals
- Small Aluminum Cooking Pot or Skillet
The lighter weight the supplies you carry in your go bag, the better. I always recommend using free dried meals or dehydrated snacks.
If you don’t want to invest in a freeze dryer, I recommend this 72-hour emergency food bucket by Legacy Foods. It’s lightweight and easy to carry, and it tastes decent too
3. First Aid Kit
- Adhesive Bandages
- Wound Closure Strips
- Sterile Gauze
- Medical Bandage Tape
- Suture Kit
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Pain Relievers
- Anti-Inflammatory Medicine
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Sharp Scissors
Clothing is why you should check and rotate bug out bag supplies at least two to four times a year. Southern areas have erratic weather patterns at certain times during the year. You may have a temperature of 80° Monday, but Tuesday, you might only get to a temperature of 40°. For those living in these more volatile areas, you should rotate BOBs four times a year.
The extra change of clothing you carry with you might be the only thing protecting you from hypothermia. If you have wet clothes and the temperature drops, extra layers and dry clothing keep you warm. When choosing clothes for your bug out bag, you want something that’s easy to move in and suits the weather.
Consider choosing clothes made of durable and heat regulating materials. If it’s cold, select wools and other heat retaining materials and layer your clothing whenever possible. If the mornings are cold and it warms during the day, with layers you can remove is a tremendous help.
In warmer weather, you’ll want clothing made of cooler materials like 100% cotton and moisture wicking cloth. Stay away from darker colors as they absorb the heat.
For footwear, always choose hiking shoes, preferably boots, that keep your feet comfortable during the long periods of walking. Boots protect you from injury and give your feet needed support. In addition, footwear should provide your feet with comfort and protection while allowing them to breathe.
Depending on the climate, here are some clothing items you should include in survival bags:
- Wool socks
- Sturdy hiking boots or quality walking shoes
- Long- sleeved shirt and cargo pants
- Baseball cap for sun protection
- A raincoat
- Wool sweater or fleece jacket
Probably, you find packing shelter a little much for a bug out bag. But, having a safe place for resting and recuperating while getting protection from the elements increases your survival chances.
Since your SHTF bag helps you survive 72 hours after an emergency, it stands to reason you need temporary shelter. Also, there’s always the chance you can’t find shelter so having a quick fix can mean surviving. Even the odds of coming across discarded material or plastic are slim to none.
Having temporary compact shelters in your bug out bags can save your life. While most of these shelters won’t last much past a week, you have protection while you build something more permanent.
If you have enough room in your survival kit, include some bedding. Getting some decent sleep helps your mind and body perform at their best.
For some lightweight and practical shelter for including in your BOB, try one of these:
- Sleeping bag
Some Great Compact and Temporary Shelters
|Emergency Tube Tent||Emergency Mylar Blankets|
|Emergency Sleeping Bag|
6. Basic Survival Tools
Civilization started when humans began making and using tools. So, it’s vital that you have useful survival tools in your bug out bag for increased success.
Usually, when you have a bug out situation, you won’t have access to a power source for using modern electrical tools. So, when it comes to choosing survival kit tools pick ones that are useful regardless of the survival situation.
During a time of need, the right tools in your bug out bag are a great help. Having the right tools can help you take on the challenges of your surroundings. Whether you need a fire, capture food, or build a temporary shelter, proper tools are a lifesaver.
Most of all, you need these tools in your bug out bag:
- Fire-starting items (lighters, tinder, fire striker)
- Light source (LED lamp or headlamp, glow stick or a LED flashlight)
- Multi-tool or Swiss knife
- Small knife
- Parachute Cord
7. Self-Defense Items
When people see the words “prepper” and “self-defense.” the first thought many people have is a zombie apocalypse scenario. But, if you think packing self-defense items isn’t necessary for a more plausible scenario, you couldn’t be more wrong.
When things go crazy due to an emergency, you need something for defending yourself and your family. Consequently, an emergency has the habit of bringing out the worst in people. Regardless of the reason for bugging out, whether natural or economic disaster, all bets are off on how people react. Weapons add a sense of security but avoid trouble if possible.
Even if you end up not needing the weapons for protection, chances are you might find them handy. A weapon allows you to fend off animals and hunt for food. While you may not need it for defense, you still might find carrying a weapon in your bag useful. One example is the compound bow. Check out my review of the Best Compound Bows Under $500.
Because weapon laws vary by area, it’s best to read up on the weapon regulations where you live.
Here are some items you might consider adding to your bug out bag. While they are self-defense weapons they also serve other purposes:
- Gun or rifle and ammunition
- Compound bow
- Pepper Spray
Additional Non-Essential Bug Out Bag Items
I’ve listed the seven essential items every bug out bag needs. But, the seven essentials aren’t the only items you should add to your survival bag. When I say essential, I mean must-have items for helping you survive.
However, there are other items you should consider including in your bag. Depending on your skills and surroundings, there are some survival items for making things a bit easier. During unforeseen emergencies, extra items suited to you and your area help tremendously.
For example, if you live in an urban area, include gas masks for protection against airborne contaminants. Also, consider adding collapsible fishing rods and tackle for supplementing your food supply from nearby lakes or rivers.
Creating a good bug out bag starts with a concrete bug out plan in mind. Once your bag contains the seven main essential items, any additional supplies are your choice. Only you know your surroundings and personal abilities, so use the knowledge to your advantage.
Choose additional supplies from our suggestions or add items suitable to your bug out plan or area. Being prepared for unexpected situations is the key to survival. Therefore, bug out bags packed with essentials and customized additions is a way of staying ahead in an emergency.
Our list of universally useful non-essential items for your BOB includes:
- Map and Compass
- Emergency Radio
- Duct Tape
- Sewing Kit
- Signal Mirror
- Insect Repellent
- Portable Stove
Choosing the Bug Out Bag Itself
Finally, an important aspect of the BOB is the bag itself. Many people mistakenly choose the bag before the items. Once they have their survival items, they find they have a bag that’s too small.
By collecting the survival items before buying the bag, you’ll know exactly how much space you need. You also get an idea of how much weight the bag needs to support.
Once you have the supplies, look for a bag that’s durable. You want a bag that can stand up to the bumps of traveling long distances. If you have a bag that comes apart at the seams or the straps fall apart, you have a problem.
I recommend a backpack above any other bag. The backpack gives ergonomic comfort, is easier to carry, and has a design made for larger loads. A key to a quick and successful move is comfort.
One of the best and highest rated bags, perfect for a bug out bag, is the Teton Sports Scout 4000. This internal frame backpack gets its super sturdy build from an internal frame versus an external frame found in other backpacks. The Teton keeps all the pack weight close to your body, preventing excessive pack swaying.
The backpack is a popular choice for bugout bags. With the weight on your back instead of in your hand, you get an easier more comfortable carrying survival bag.
If you want a ready made but out bag, check out my 72-Hour Emergency Survival Bag Review. This particular bag gets high marks, so if you don’t want to put your own bags together, this is a great choice.