Yet another fantastic, incredibly well thought out article. You’re fast becoming my favorite lunch time reading, so I’m afraid you’re going to have to write faster (without sacrificing quality of course). 😉 Request: I would love to see an article about preparing an INCH bag. I feel like I’ve got the BOB / 72-hr thing pretty much down, but when I think about what I would need if I were never coming back, let alone how I could possibly get that in a BAG (or whatever), my brain just sort of shuts down. I get as far as seeds, water purification, and underwear, then I panic. Thanks so much!
Design – The best bug out bag is one with plenty of pockets. This allows you to compartmentalize your bug out bag essentials so that you know exactly where everything is and you don’t have to dig through mountains of other stuff to find what you need. Put all your fire and light things together such as tactical flashlight, candles, headlamp, fire starting kit and storm proof matches. Put maps, GPS devices, compass and other navigation related items in their own pocket and so on. The more you can separate things the easier it will be to transcend your difficulties.

The communications equipment may include a multi-band receiver/scanner, a citizens band (CB) radio, portable "walkie-talkies" with rechargeable batteries, and a portable battery-powered television. The power supplies may include a diesel or gasoline generator with a one-month fuel supply, an auto battery and charger, extension cord, flashlights, rechargeable batteries (with recharger), an electric multi meter, and a test light. Defense items include a revolver, semi-automatic pistol, rifle, shotgun, ammunition, mace or pepper spray, and a large knife such as a KA-BAR or a bowie knife.


These come in many flavors but most of them will do the jobs of a hatchet (obviously), pry tool, shovel, and wrench. We should look for any opportunity to remove high weight to volume ratio items such as steel tools to build the best survival kit, so being able to leave behind any of these is a good step. For more info check out our in depth reviews of the BEST survival tomahawks here.
I’d love to know what all that crap weighs you really don’t need half of it… dump all the water purification crap and boil water. You don’t need a bowl because you have a canteen cup to heat over a fire. Forget the MRE’s it’s heavier than freeze dried. Bring one large solid tang knife you can hit and dump the rest you don’t need saws and hatchets. Bring a .22 some ammo. Dump all that electronic crap & batterys. Forget the carabiners you can’t carry all that crap anyway, face paint, walking sticks, you name it. Take only what you need, bring a bic and learn how to make a fire bow with some 550 cord
Batteries and steel wool. Steel wool is actually a bunch of tiny wires. By rubbing it against a 9v battery, you complete the circuit and the current is enough to burn out the wires. If you are carrying any electronics that require 9v batteries, make sure you bring along steel wool as a tiny addition to your packs. You can use other sizes of batteries but keep in mind that typical ones are only 1.5v so they don’t push nearly the current so you may need several in series for it to work.

Since I have a ham radio license, I have a communications bag just for a portable ham radio that I bring with me whenever possible. I’ll definitely be putting together a post about how to do one of these because I think they’re essential for any prepper’s survival plan. I carry a Yaesu FT-857D portable radio as well as a Yaesu VX-6R handheld ham radio, along with a small motorcycle battery, Solar Battery Charger, and homemade rollup antenna. BTW, these Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radios are pretty awesome. They work on ham frequencies as well as FRS/GMRS and are under $40. They’re kinda complicated though so look through youtube for videos on them. There are some pretty thorough ones there.


Simon, I keep a canvas shopping bag in the bottom of my BOB. It has a ton of uses. You can use it to filter water out of muddy ground by digging a hole and lining it with the bag, or by filling the bag with mud and letting it drip out. It makes good material to fix rips and tears in your gear. It’s good for keeping flies off meat, good for putting wet clothes in and hanging on the outside of your pack, good for carried foraged food, good for getting wet and using it to cool things, and like you say, good for packing up all the crap that you’ve Tetris-ized into your bag when you had it on a nice clean, living room floor that doesn’t fit now that you don’t have 4 hours to pack your BOB.
Great information. But, please don’t tell people that pepper spray will drop someone in seconds. I was a chemical agent instructor for a medium size police department. I’ve been sprayed by a lot of stuff. Not all of it works on every person. I’ve seen people just sit there and look at you when they were hit full in the face with very good, very reliable chemical agents. We only taught that it was a distraction technique. Use the chemical agent to distract the person so you can hit them next, take them down, flee, whatever your plan is. But, it is only a distraction technique.

A very detailed and extensive list! But the only problem I have is all the electrical stuff. When we had survival training after qualifying, We were very limited in the tools they gave us, but we managed (basically eating everything we could). When hiking/camping for several days we always have the best experience without bringing any electrical gear.

List of contents. You should actually have several lists for your items and one master list to call them out. I use an Excel Spreadsheet with a tab for every bug out bag I own and then laminate a minimized printed copy of each. This can be a huge asset if you need to find a specific item, especially medical kit equipment (which you should have in a designated area anyway). This way you don’t have to dig through all your stuff to get to something.
Note: For long term reliable food supplies you should of course plan for a garden and growing your own. It is important to know that storage of seeds from many hybrids and other cultivated plant varieties sold in stores is not a good idea as their second generation seeds can't be repropaged in subsequent years. If they do produce viable seed, the resulting plants are usually inferior to the parent plant. Accordingly, we recomment purchasing open-pollinated, non-hybridized seeds or heirloom seeds for storage.
There’s an energy bar nowadays for every taste. Look for brands with a high calorie count as well as plenty of protein and a wide range of nutrients. Chocolate bars – Chocolate can be a quick source of energy and a great morale booster, while also being generous in calories. (Chocolate is also likely to become a commodity in demand in the weeks and months following a disaster.)
There’s no denying the that first aid kit, paracord, emergency tent, waterproof poncho, compass, tactical gloves, candles and more will all come in handy should you find yourself forced to flee with no shelter in sight. The tomahawk will also save you the need to try and harvest wood for a fire using a survival knife and the machete, beyond its obvious self-defense cred, may come in handy if you decide to hack some underbrush to make a cover for your shelter. Where this bug out bag drops the ball a bit is in having virtually no purified water (although to be fair it does include a water filter) and only a single package of emergency rations. Nonetheless if you find yourself wandering the wild due to natural disaster this bug out bag when augmented with food and water, will stand you in good stead.
Great read & outstanding list of items. Extremely helpful & very much appreciated. While I’ve found over the decades that there are usually several ways to accomplish most things, focusing on the core items/goal while adapting to the situations & environment an individual(s) find themselves in is crucial. You can have everything known to man & still have limited skills/experience leaving you vulnerable. You can have all the skills but arrogance & overconfidence can do you in. Applicable intelligence, balance in actions/approach to problem solving on the fly & practice with skills/preps can make the difference in most cases. So one has a 35 year supply of beans and rice, great to have no doubt, but who wouldn’t trade some of it for a coke and some M&Ms for normalcy occasionally? That may be just enough encouragement to get the companions/family through to safety. Again, it’s all a wag for the most part…do what preps you can, develop usable skills…plan, persevere & prevail. Fantastic prep checklist & ideas…thanks! Proverbs 27-17…As iron sharpens iron, so on man sharpens another!

This little dude fits right in your pocket, making it a great everyday carry survival multi-tool. Tungsten carbide blades can hone any blade or sharp edge you need to make, well, sharper, while an emergency whistle and fire starter keep you safe and warm without having to haul out the big guns. You can even sharpen fish hooks with this, which may not seem like a big deal, but you’ll be thankful when the fishmen come for you. Oh yes.


Keep in mind, a well-designed bug out bag should weigh no more than 25% of your body weight, assuming you are in average physical condition and are not overweight. Any heavier than that can make carrying the bag highly strenuous and limit your ability to remain mobile and travel long distances on foot during an evacuation. Limit your packing list to the essentials that will help you survive.

Which foods can you grab the most of, and get the most out of? It’s important to consider calorie count, ease of use / preparation, shelf-life, and even “weight” factored in. Why is weight a factor? What if you and your family have to evacuate an area on foot, and with nothing but survival backpacks and or suitcases? You’ll regret having stocked up on so much canned food when you realize just how much those cans weigh. The best survival food balances weight against nutritional and caloric value. This is something you should pay particular attention to if you also plan on having survival gear with you.
Can you imagine what it would be like to eat freeze dried food, day after day, month after month, in a time of extended disaster? Not only can packaged, processed foods be harder on a person’s health (due to food additives and preservatives, high cholesterol, sodium, etc., in some freeze dried products), but it may also get very, very boring in time.

Cell Phones: While cell phones are still not 100 percent reliable in the backcountry, service coverage and the usefulness of smartphones has increased dramatically in the last seven years. While cell phones are still questionably reliable in the backcountry, many adventurers will carry them anyway as they also serve as light cameras and can help with GPS and electronic compass navigation. Today, most of them also work as a flashlight. Regardless, they are worthless if the battery is dead, so plan accordingly.
Tools may include cutting tools such as saws, axes and hatchets; mechanical advantage aids such as a pry bar or wrecking bar, ropes, pulleys, or a 'come-a-long" hand-operated winch; construction tools such as pliers, chisels, a hammer, screwdrivers, a hand-operated twist drill, vise grip pliers, glue, nails, nuts, bolts, and screws; mechanical repair tools such as an arc welder, an oxy-acetylene torch, a propane torch with a spark lighter, a solder iron and flux, wrench set, a nut driver, a tap and die set, a socket set, and a fire extinguisher. As well, some survivalists bring barterable items such as fishing line, liquid soap, insect repellent, light bulbs, can openers, extra fuels, motor oil, and ammunition.
The Wise Food 5-Day bug out bag has an interior space of 10 x 10 x 16 inches, more than enough to store the 5 days of food stuffs, emergency kit, purified water and more that comes with this bug out bag. Add your own change of clothes, rain coat, boots or whatever else you want to take with you and you’ll be the best possible position to transcend the difficulties you face. The bug out kit includes a small but effective stove and all the food is factory sealed and dated including the 5 water pouches.
What to Put in a Bug Out Bag? – If your pre-made bug out bag focuses on tactical and survival gear you’ll need to finish it by purchasing dehydrated meals and other foodstuffs with long shelf lives. If the bag focuses on food you’ll need to supply survival gear such as a flashlight or two, emergency blankets, first aid kit, paracord, EDC knife and other things. If you’re making your own bug out bag read the answer to the next question.
I noticed that a reliable light weight firearm was on the list. While many may think it uselss, a good high powered barrel break pellet rifle can do almost as much as a 22 rifle. A hundred dollars will get you one at Walmart that you can switch from .177 caliber to 22 caliber. The rifle breaks down and is easily carried inside of a decent back pack. The weight of the ammo is significantly lighter as well. This can be used to take down most birds, squirls, rabbits, small pigs and even foxes as well as racoons, armadillo’s. And snakes. All sources of protein.
Like any emergency kit, the Pocket Survival Pak — which was developed by Doug Ritter, founder of the survivalist website Equipped To Survive — can help lost or injured explorers signal helicopters and planes, start fires, boil water, melt snow for water, catch fish, navigate through the woods, trap small animals, perform rudimentary first aid, and repair damaged gear.
A Bug Out Bag, also called a BOB, I.N.C.H Bag (I’m Never Coming Home Bag),Get Out of Dodge Bag (GOOD Bag), or 72 Hour Bag is usually designed to get you out of an emergency situation and allow you to survive self-contained for up to 3 days. A lot of people plan their Bug Out Bag to sustain them for much longer than that, but there is always a limit to what you can carry on your back and a 3 day target is a good place to start.
These come in many flavors but most of them will do the jobs of a hatchet (obviously), pry tool, shovel, and wrench. We should look for any opportunity to remove high weight to volume ratio items such as steel tools to build the best survival kit, so being able to leave behind any of these is a good step. For more info check out our in depth reviews of the BEST survival tomahawks here.
Cell Phones: While cell phones are still not 100 percent reliable in the backcountry, service coverage and the usefulness of smartphones has increased dramatically in the last seven years. While cell phones are still questionably reliable in the backcountry, many adventurers will carry them anyway as they also serve as light cameras and can help with GPS and electronic compass navigation. Today, most of them also work as a flashlight. Regardless, they are worthless if the battery is dead, so plan accordingly.

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Some will think the omission of foodstuffs from this bug out bag to be a bit odd but it’s not if you think about it. It might be years before you have to use the bag so it makes sense that you’ll want to procure your own emergency rations and review their condition a couple of times a year, replacing anything that might look dodgy. That said this bug out bag does emergency kit right with the aforementioned items as well as a dozen pouches of purified water, rain ponchos, quality toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving razor, comb, emergency whistle, emergency blankets, survival handbook, duct tape (!), paracord and more. There’s also the obligatory deck of cards for when you finally settle into the emergency shelter. Toss in some dry clothes for everyone involved, charger cords for your smartphone in case you run into a power source and a good book or two and you’ll be ready to wait out events in good shape.
Guess what? Your best survival tool is always going to be your mind. Stop making that wanking motion and listen, okay? This book of 100 survival skills was compiled by a Navy SEAL based on experiences in the goddamn killing fields, so I think it can probably help you survive a week or two camping. But really, it doesn’t matter what tools you have if you don’t understand how to use them, or how to use the environment around you. This book carries you longer than any single tool could.
Recent Examples on the Web In return, the friars lobbied the Venezuelan government to declare the Perijá Mountains an Indigenous reservation, protecting the Bari’s remaining lands and helping ensure their survival. — Anatoly Kurmanaev, New York Times, "Do-gooder or ‘Devil’? A Friar’s Work Divides a Venezuelan Village," 3 Jan. 2020 Cook Children's said hospital officials had been talking to Tinslee's family for months about concerns for her long-term survival. — CBS News, "Baby can be removed from life support at hospital, Texas judge rules," 2 Jan. 2020 Cook Children’s said hospital officials had been talking to Tinslee’s family for months about concerns for her long-term survival. — Time, "Texas Judge Says Hospital Can Remove 11-Month-Old From Life Support," 2 Jan. 2020 In the waning weeks of summer, word of his survival would turn that scared mother into an activist. — Souad Mekhennet, Washington Post, "Disarmed but not defused," 27 Dec. 2019 As early humans, our survival relied on our ability to either ward off danger or to run from it. — Lauren Jarvis-gibson, Teen Vogue, "Physical Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder That You Might Not Recognize," 27 Dec. 2019 Fighting for his political survival, Netanyahu left nothing to chance in the Likud primary contest. — BostonGlobe.com, "JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel easily brushed off a challenge for the leadership of the conservative Likud party early Friday, a crucial victory for Israel’s longest-serving leader but one that may only harden the country’s yearlong political standoff.," 27 Dec. 2019 Which would seem to suggest that the isolation had something to do with their survival. — John Jeremiah Sullivan, The New Yorker, "Mother Nut," 23 Dec. 2019 There was no other option for a president so self-absorbed and obsessed with his own survival. — Dahleen Glanton, Twin Cities, "Dahleen Glanton: Republicans are right. Democrats wanted to impeach Donald Trump from the start.," 18 Dec. 2019
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