This article gives you a good starting point for a bug out bag checklist. A bug out bag or “BOB” bag is an important and necessary piece of your survival and prepper plan. The idea is that you have a bag ready that contains everything you and your family need in order to survive for a few days to a week. This is in case you need to ditch out of where you reside and head to a more safe place. I call this your “safe zone.” You should know ahead of time what your safe zone is and you should know how to get there on foot or bicycle, using back roads. This is because in a SHTF or other type of emergency scenario, the main roads will likely be closed or overwhelmingly congested.
This could be because of a disaster, a terrorist attack, or social unrest. Your bug out bag should have a tactical supply of the things you need for survival in a dangerous situation. You will probably not have much time to go through your house and put stuff together. You should have your bug out bag packed and ready so that you can just grab it and go.
When preparing a bug out bag, you have two options. 1) You can build your own. 2) You can buy it pre-made.
Option one would require you to make a bunch of individual purchases. This might end up costing you more in the long run. However, the advantage to this option is that it is prepared exactly how you want because you are the one who put it together. Option two will probably save you some money because you get the cost savings of buying everything at once.
Buying A Pre-Made Bug Out Bag
If you are going to buy a pre-made bug out bag, I recommend that you look at either the “Executive 72-hour Kit” or the “Executive 72-hour Kit with Solar Upgrade,” both sold by Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center, Inc. These are my recommendation for the following reasons:
- All of the items I have listed here are included, plus some other useful ones.
- You will save a lot of money compared to if you were to buy all of these items individually.
- The bag is extremely high quality.
- It is designed to take care of two people if needed.
- There is a 120-day 100% money back guarantee. So if you think it is crappy, you can always return it.
If you are thinking more in terms of being able to support several people, I would recommend the 72 Hour Emergency Survival Kit for 10 People sold by Survivor Industries.
LIST OF BUG OUT BAG ESSENTIALS:
If you are going to build your own bug out bag, the following is a bug out bag checklist to help you get started. Everyone’s bug out bag list is going to be different, so use this article as a starting point (NOTE: You need to balance having enough with being able to get around quickly. Use your discretion on how much or how little to pack. Of course if you have a bug out vehicle and the roads aren’t closed or too congested to navigate, you can pack several bug out bags and throw them into your bug out vehicle. This article is geared more toward you being on foot):
The first two items, food and water, are the most important items on the bug out bag checklist. Make sure that you have enough food to keep you alive for at least three or four days. Hopefully, you can make it to your safe zone within that time period. MRE meals are ideal because they are quick and easy to prepare. Also, they are light and do not take up very much room. Eight to ten MREs should be good. If you don’t like MREs, make sure you pack food that is non-thirst provoking, high in calories per weight, and will not spoil quickly. If you do want to stock up on some MREs, they cost anywhere from $8 to $12 each depending on the quantity you buy at once. I personally don’t think there is much variation in the quality of MREs, so wherever you get them is probably fine.
2) Water Purification Tools
Obviously, carrying enough water to last you two weeks is not practical. You should fill up a couple of canteens or water bottles to last you a couple days. But you should also have a water filter and sterilization device to obtain clean and safe drinking water along your route to safety. UV sterilization devices such as the SteriPen are great because they are small and can make your water safe to drink in less than a minute. For more on water purification and devices, read this article The First Necessity For Survival: Water Purification.
3) Guns and Ammo
You will need to protect yourself from wild animals and possibly looters. You may also need to hunt for food if you are on the road for longer than you can sustain yourself on your food supply. A .22 caliber rifle is good for hunting small animals like rabbits, squirrel, and birds. You should also have a pistol for self defense. For you pistol, consider at least a 9mm, preferably something with more stopping power like a .45 caliber. I would suggest that you have at least fifty or so rounds for each gun, but pack as much as is practical, given needed mobility and space. Remember, ammo (as well as any useful item) can be used for barter as well.
4) Fishing and Trapping Gear
If your food runs out and hunting with a gun is impractical or you don’t have a gun, fishing and trapping gear can come in very handy and can be a more low key way to get food. If you don’t know how to fish or trap, you should take some courses or watch some video tutorials on the subjects. If you have friends that go fishing, you should go with them and learn all you can.
5) Extra Shelter and Warm Clothes
A tent, sleeping bag, rain pancho, and a couple of changes of clothes are essential. As far as clothes go, you want at least two pairs of socks and underwear. Think wilderness survival rugged attire like army style apparel. If it is winter and you are going to be in the cold, make sure there is enough to bundle up. The shoes you are wearing should be army style boots, durable and strong enough to endure heavy bush-whacking.
6) Stove and a Fire-Starter Kit
You will want a stove to be able to cook food. There are some great compact propane stoves that you can add to your bug out bag. If you run out of propane, or you don’t have a stove to start with, you will need to be starting fires to cook food and to keep warm. Make sure you have a bunch of matches and that they are stored in a waterproof container to prevent them from getting wet. It is also a good idea to have a durable magnesium flint steel fire starter in case you run out of matches. In addition to matches and a magnesium flint fire starter, it is a good idea to have some tinder. Tinder is easily combustible material that you can easily ignite to start the fire as it builds and catches onto larger pieces of wood. Newspaper works well, but my favorite method, and my suggestion for your bug out bag, is to coat some cotton balls in petroleum jelly (vaseline).
7) A Survival Knife
There are so many uses for which a survival knife will come in handy. Self-defense, cutting, skinning, digging, sharpening, etc…to name a few. For a discussion on how to find the best survival knife, read this article: Survival Knives
8) A First Aid Kit
In a survival situation, you are likely to get some cuts and scrapes, and maybe even some more serious injuries. Your bug out bag first aid kit should contain many different sizes of bandages, disinfectant, a suture kit for stitching wounds, gauze, pain killers, antibiotics, and any medication you rely on. For more information on first aid kits and medical supplies, see my article on Medical Supplies
9) A Map and Compass
It is likely that in the event you are putting your bug out bag to use, there will be no cell reception or data connection for your smart phone, and thus there will be no google maps to guide you. Have a paper map and a compass in your bug out bag so that you can get to where you are trying to go. If you don’t know how to use a map and compass, i suggest that you watch some tutorials and learn this valuable navigation skill. It is a good idea to have previously mapped out and marked on your paper map a course to your designated safe zone so that you can navigate your way there.
10) Sewing Material and Paracord
Sewing material can come in handy for stitching torn clothing or other important materials in your survival supplies. It can also serve to stitch wounds in an emergency (if you don’t have a proper suture kit). Additionally, paracord is a must for any survival situation. Paracord is a lightweight, but extremely durable and strong type of nylon rope. It is the material used in parachute cords (hence the name “paracord”). Paracord can be used for building shelter, fishing, trapping, tourniquets, etc…
In conclusion, these are what I think are the most important items to have in your bug out bag. I’m sure you might be able to think of some more, but this should give you a good start.