The nice thing about Creek’s bug out bag list is that he gives you a list of categories and then goes through examples for each. What goes in your survival kit shouldn’t be chosen from a list of items you read from a prepper website – even this one. You should look at these bug out bag lists as examples so you get the idea of what you need and can generate some ideas. What you need is a list of essential bug out bag categories to choose from and then some examples from each to get your mind flowing.
A good military style entrenching shovel can be the difference between life and death when you’re out there all alone, and this foldable beauty can be hauled with you everywhere you go. Made from tough carbon steel, it will dig through whatever ground you need it to, while the pickaxe that comes with it ensures that you’ll be able to break through those extra-tough complications along the way.
Keep it SIMPLE – you are not trying to build a mobile home that you will carry around. Many sites list dozens and dozens of items to buy and bring, adding cost and weight.  Remember that electronics need power and are prone to breaking.  Pack simple, reliable, things to cover your basic needs.  Check out our Free Bug Out Bag Planning Tool to plan what you want to include and see how your items will affect the overall weight of your pack.
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.
Canned Alaskan Wild Salmon is rich in protein and healthy fats like omega 3s. Look for “Alaskan Wild Salmon” and you’re likely to get salmon with minimal or no environmental contaminants that can sometimes show up in other canned fish from other parts of the world. Salmon may not be your thing today but realize the Inuit people (native people of Alaska and northern Canada) on a traditional diet are known for low rates of heart attack and stroke, which is attributed to their long term, continuous diet of fish. Like tuna fish, you can eat canned Alaskan wild salmon right out of the can, without cooking — though, if you have leftovers, it will have to be refrigerated where it will then keep for the next 3 – 4 days. If refrigeration isn’t an option, plan to share one can of salmon with 2-3 other people at a time, so nothing goes to waste. Thanks to it’s long shelf life and great protein content, it’s on the top of our list when it comes to the best survival foods. It tastes good too!
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.
Plan your bag with a defined time period in mind.  72 hours is a good starting point as this is approximately how long a person can survive without water.  Once you start planning for weeks out you will have added too many complications to your list of Bug Out Bag essentials.  Have a look at our post on Making a Bug Out Plan to see what you need to consider as a part of your survival preparedness.
If you want to get a headstart on building up your stockpile, there are some excellent survival food kits out there that can help you do that. None of us know when disaster will strike, and you’ll be kicking yourself if you had plans to build a stockpile but started too late. That’s where these food kits come in. Most of them have 25-30 years of shelf life and include a pretty good variety of flavors. Now, granted – with these emergency food kits, you’ll be paying more per calorie/per meal than if you build your own stockpile. But if you’re looking to get a headstart because you feel like something catastrophic could happen at any time, then it might be a good idea to pick up one of these food kits ASAP so at least you have the beginnings of a longer term stockpile of survival food.
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!
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.
But regardless of the actual situation, it’s a very good idea to equip yourself just in case. Better safe than sorry and all that. And you definitely won’t be sorry if you arm yourself with these essential survival tools, which include everything from pocket knives to Leatherman tools to hand-crank radios. Everything on this list will keep you alive even when nature wants to kill you.
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!
I think you’re both correct, although you are addressing separate threat levels and emergencies (civil disobedience vs. natural disaster). I keep a basic bag, plus a small box with optionals that can be quickly loaded, depending on the threat. I realize this may take precious seconds, so this is time dependent. I live in the Chicago area, so civil unrest is a greater concern, and my firearms choice reflects this probable eventuality.
A backpacking tent is a great thing to carry in your bob bag, but what do you do if you can’t get to or carry a bug out bag large enough to carry one? If you really don’t have any room, consider a tiny space blanket as one of the smallest shelters, but understand they’re  only good for like one use. I keep one in pretty much every survival kit I have. They are only if you have no other choice though because they tear so easily. For medium kits, consider a survival tarp, which can be used to make a field-expedient tent or as a rain-sheltered area outside of your packed tent.
It’s an impressive lineup – did we mention the 2 person tents? – that, like many of its competing bug out bags, is light on food. Although there’s plenty of room in the heavy duty nylon backpack for all the food you’ll need to survive several days in the wild. The company advertises their bag as being ‘discreet’, which is their way of saying others won’t recognize that it’s full of high quality survival gear and try to steal it from you. That may very well be but if Hurricane Harvey is bearing down on your location you have bigger things to worry about. The 2 person tent we mentioned is minimalist in nature but will provide welcome shelter if you can find a dry place to set it up and the waterproof backpack cover that comes with the bug out kit is a major plus this bug out bag has over some of the competition. The Stealth Tactical bug out bag costs a little more but it’s ready for whatever comes.
The learned professor assumes that while a long-continued war had strengthened rather than weakened the instinct of paternal devotion, it had also dulled other humanitarian instincts, and raised to the first magnitude the law of the survival of the fittest, with the result that when the exodus took place the strong, the intelligent, and the cunning, together with their offspring, crossed the waters of the Channel or the North Sea to the continent, leaving in unhappy England only the helpless inmates of asylums for the feebleminded and insane.
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