Bug-out bags are the topic of a lot of conversations these days, even within the government. This increasing awareness is good because they’re not just a great idea; your bug-out bag could save your life. You never know when you will be faced with an emergency and have to evacuate your home. With a bug-out bag at the ready, you can leave with a moment’s notice, sure that you have everything you need to survive.
That doesn’t mean that a bug-out bag has everything you might want in it. We’re not talking about packing a suitcase for a weekend vacation, but rather preparing something that will be available for use in an emergency situation. For a bug-out bag to be effective, it needs to be focused on survival, nothing else.
The biggest problem is fitting everything into your bug-out bag. If you simply start listing all the items you might want to take in the case of an emergency, you’ll end up with a huge load. You’ve got to make sure that you have the most important things. Then, if you have room left over, you can think about extras.
• Food. A bug-out bag is supposed to have everything you need to survive for at least three days; so it needs at least 72 hours’ worth of food in it. Avoid cans, focusing instead on dried foods, which are lighter and easier to carry.
• Water. You’ll want some water in your bug-out bag, but there’s really no way that you can carry enough.
• Water Purification. Since carrying fresh water is burdensome, make sure that you have some means of water purification with you. Better yet, pack two means of water purification.
• Canteen or Water Bottle. When you can find water, you not only want to drink up but fill up your canteen so that you have water to take with you.
• Backpacking Cookware. If any of the food you are taking with you needs to be cooked, you’ll want to have something to prepare it in. Backpacking cookware is made of aluminum or magnesium to make it lightweight.
• Fire Starters. This is another essential that you want more than one of. A butane lighter and some waterproof matches will work great. If you know how to use it, throw in a metal match as well.
• Backpacking Tent or Tarp. When you need temporary shelter as you are getting away, a lightweight tent made for backpacking is ideal. If you don’t have a tent, take a tarp with you. You can make some great shelters out of a tarp and some cord.
• Parachute Cord. Rope is one of those universal survival items; there’s so much you can do with it. Parachute cord, often called paracord or 550 cord, is thin, lightweight and incredibly strong. It is the ideal survival rope.
• Knife. The knife is probably the most important piece of survival equipment. Make sure you get a good one that will hold an edge. A fixed-blade knife with a full tang is best as it will survive the most severe use.
• Hatchet/Hammer. A hatchet is great for cutting firewood when you are out in the woods. Get a combination tool with a hammer head on the other side so you can also use it to drive tent pegs into the ground.
• Documents. Since a bug-out bag is supposed to be for any emergency, make sure it contains copies of important documents. This can be done by scanning them and storing the files on a flash drive. That way, you’re not carrying five pounds of paper around with you.
• Compass and Maps. If you have to leave home, you’re going to have to find your way to someplace where you can stay and hunker down. You should have both road maps and topographical maps of your area and the area where you are going. In case you have to leave your planned route, a map will make that much easier.
• Rain Poncho. Rain has a habit of appearing at the worst possible time. A poncho will help keep you from getting soaked to the skin. It can also double as a ground sheet when you are sleeping, or a way to carry extra items you come across that don’t fit in the bag.
• Clothes. While you won’t have the room to take a bunch of clothes with you, you should have at least one change of rugged clothes in your bug-out bag.
• Soap and Toothpaste. Personal hygiene is important for maintaining your health. Make yourself a little kit with soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush and other items in it to help you keep clean.
• Fishing Gear. Your survival food will run out eventually. Being able to catch a few fish along the way can make your food last longer. An emergency fishing kit doesn’t need to take up much room or add much weight, but with it, you can feed yourself indefinitely.
• Weapon. The world is full of predators, both four-legged and two-legged. Disasters seem to make both types come out of the woodwork. Escaping the disaster merely to find yourself killed by a hungry attacker isn’t exactly the ending you’re after.
The Bottom Line
Your bug-out bag should be prepared based upon your personal circumstances. Keep in mind what the weather is like where you are. If it is cold, add warm clothes. If it is arid, you’ll want more water. It has to meet your needs, not fit someone else’s idea of a best-case scenario.
It’s also important to know how to use everything in your bug-out bag. Don’t bother carrying along a fancy piece of survival equipment just because someone recommended it. If you try to carry everything that survivalists recommend, you’re going to have a very heavy pack. Before you bother bringing any item along, make sure you can and will use it.