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You Can’t Survive Without These Bug Out Bag Essentials

If your home is no longer safe due to a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or some form of social collapse, you will need to take a Bug Out Bag (BOB) when you evacuate. A Bug Out Bag contains essential supplies and information necessary for emergency evacuations. This kit allows you to evacuate quickly and calmly, which can save your life!

Preparing a BOB, and knowing what to put in it, is important because you will want to focus on organizing and executing your bug out plan rather than looking for supplies at the last second. In addition, you might need to purchase supplies ahead of time. Often, we don’t have what we need in the event of an emergency. Find out what you need to have while traveling, instead of waiting until a catastrophe strikes. While it may be scary and uncomfortable to discuss disaster situations, we must think of our safety and our loved ones instead of our fears.

When planning for emergency situations with your family, it is crucial to make a “long-term plan” in case a more serious scenario happens. Consider having two meet up areas with other family members, and consider weather restrictions such as snow and rain.

What should you have in your BOB if you have little time to evacuate? Keep in mind that a BOB’s purpose is to get you through at least 3 days without the home conveniences of a shower, bed, or a roof over your head.

It may seem like a lot, but there are ways to save space by being smart and picking multi-use tools and lightweight gear. Surviving is about being clever, resourceful, and minimalistic. It is also better to be over prepared than under prepared.

To get comfortable with your BOB practice walking around while wearing it (or any other backpack of similar size and weight). Consider getting into shape so when SHTF, and you need to bug out, your body won’t shut down after a few miles.

Whether you purchase a basic pre-made BOB or make your own, make sure your BOB has these essential items.

Water/Water Purifier

Have one gallon of water per person, to start. Water is heavy and takes up a lot of space, so bring a water filter to supplement your drinking supply. You can also bring water purification tablets or a compact purification tube. A good example is the Sawyer Mini Water Filter. It’s a good choice for purifying thousands of gallons of water.

Once you’ve acquired the right filter, make sure you learn proper techniques to find water sources where you can use your water filter. This is important: you need both WATER and a WATER FILTER. Your body can survive up to three weeks without food, but you will die after three days without water!


Easy snacks like protein bars, MREs, and freeze-dried foods are a great starting point. Keep your canned food limited since it is heavier. Focus on packing high caloric non-perishable food that’s filled with nutrients. Since you will be exercising you will need a lot of calories to stay nourished. Pack a few small packets of instant coffee to help you stay awake when walking long distances. Make sure to pack any pet food, if it’s needed.

Next, you will need cooking supplies, like a small portable stove and a small cook set. Also, bring a spork and eat your food out of the pot or package instead of bringing bowls and plates.

hiking boots


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Consider only bring a skivvy roll (rolled up shirt, socks, and underwear) and leave out pants. You can re-wear your pants, and carrying pants will add too much unnecessary weight. Do bring a lightweight jacket. Also, remember to place a pair of hiking boots and socks near your bag so you can slip them on quickly.

Keep weather conditions in mind and rotate items out each season. Don’t forget UV protection, a poncho, and head protection. Bring Sunglasses attached to a cheap neck lanyard, maybe even a pair of safety goggles. Protect your eyes to prevent a set back from an eye injury, since there may be a lack of medical help.

A Charged Cell Phone

You will want to contact your friends and family and get updates during a crisis. Bring an extra battery and a solar or hand crank charger.

Emergency Radio

These radios will give you access to updates on whether it is safe to go back to a city. Remember to bring batteries or purchase a hand crank radio instead. If you’re looking for a hand crank radio, check out this hand crank and solar powered radio from Amazon.

Signaling Mirror

These assist in signaling for help. Mirrors work best during the daytime when there is a lot of sunshine. Alternately, you can make a signal fire. If that’s your plan, make sure to learn how to build one beforehand!

Survival First-Aid Kit

The first-aid kit container must be waterproof to protect the items from absorbing moisture. It should also be puncture proof, like Tupperware. Only take enough pills to last a week and store in zip-lock bags. Have an extra set of your medications in your BOB. You might want to write down instructions for your meds in case you become ill, so someone else can know your medical conditions and how to fix them. Also, include any glasses and contacts.

Take an emergency survival blanket. It will reflect back most of your body heat, is lightweight, and won’t take up a lot of space in your BOB. Your kit should also include rubber gloves.

Include tweezers to take out splinters. Make sure your kit has safety pins, wrap bandages, and insect repellent. An area with mosquitoes or other bugs can cause you not to sleep, which can sabotage your endurance when walking long distances. Lastly, make sure you have cut and wound items like Band-Aids.

Personal Documents

Bring your all your personal documents with you, they can help you track down friends and family and can help them find you too. Also, the government needs to keep track of the people that have moved. Having your ID is also essential for accessing bank accounts and for claiming other assets. You will need your passport, ID, birth certificate, social security number, and any medical ID cards. Scan these items on to a phone or USB stick– another important survival item!

Cash Money and Change

Because it is highly likely that there will be no electricity, you may not be able to withdraw your money. Having cash on hand will solve this.

Why will you need cash? You will need cash for transportation, food, fuel, and other supplies. Keep at least a few hundred dollars in cash in your BOB. Don’t carry just plain hundred dollar bills. Keep some change too. Place all the money in a waterproof bag.



You will need a firearm when you are out of the safety of your home and a dangerous person or people approach you. You should have a revolver or a pistol, as rifles and shotguns are too big to fit in your BOB. Plus, a firearm is a better defense option than a knife. Similarly, carry pepper spray, stun guns, batons and anything else the law allows in your area.

Re-Sealable Bags

Re-sealable bags can be used for many different storage uses, and they don’t take up a lot of room.

Respirator Masks

In the event of a chemical crisis, you will need something to protect you from inhaling harmful chemicals and dust. The N95 Dust Mask is one example. The N99 and N100 masks are better options, yet a little more expensive.

550 Parachute Cord

Make sure you pack some 550 Parachute Cord. It has many uses. 550 Parachute Cord is a lightweight nylon rope that soldiers originally used in the suspension lines of US parachutes during World War II. You can make or purchase survival bracelets made of several feet of paracord. Wear one so you can unravel them whenever you need rope.


A Monocular is a smaller, lighter and cheaper version of binoculars. Monoculars will allow you to spot unsafe circumstances and threats, to better protect your camp site and for spotting game when hunting.

Duct Tape

Duct tape has many uses. It is inexpensive, durable, and good for bonding items.

other bug out bag items

Standard Camping Equipment


  • A medium or a large tarp: tarps can be used to keep out moisture, whether as a roof or makeshift floor. Tarps can even be used for collecting water.
  • Contractor grade trash bags.
  • Sleeping bivy (lighter weight) or sleeping bag (heavier)

Fire Kit

You can use fire for warmth, to signal for rescue, or to cook and boil water. Having a fire burning protects you against freezing temperatures. It also gives you a way of illuminating an area in the event of power failure.

  • Get a small container, only big enough to fit three ignition sources.

Ignition ideas:

  • Tinder bundle and ignition.
  • WetFire fire starting tinder. This ignites under any weather conditions including floating in the water.
  • A ferro rod or a magnesium fire-starter
  • Common steel wool (extremely flammable).
  • Waterproof matches by storing them in a sealed case or by dipping them in nail polish a few times.
  • Multiple cigarette lighters.

Lighting Items

  • Flashlight, glow sticks, and a lantern for ambient lighting.


  • Check the sizes needed to make sure you have the right size for everything needing batteries.
  • Battery chargers for all of your devices.
survival knife


Tools allow you to hunt, prepare meals, and make a shelter.

  • Survival knife/ or camp knife: pointed edge, single edge, and full tang.
  • Machete
  • Multi-tool/ Swiss Army knife
  • Small fishing net
  • Small sewing repair kit
  • Wire-use for trapping animals and binding.
  • Notepad and pencil: make records or leave notes behind.
  • Map
  • Lensatic compass


  • Travel size toothbrush and floss combination
  • Toilet paper
  • A compact camping towel
  • Sanitizer
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • All-purpose soap bar/ toothpaste
  • A few feminine products: three days’ worth of tampons or sanitary napkins.

As you can see…

There are very specific things that you will want to have in your BOB when SHTF. If you remember that the BOB is designed to get you through 72 hours, you will pack just the right amount of stuff for when you need to bug out. The good news is you are already ahead of the game by researching which supplies you will need. It is possible that bugging out will be more of a transition than a traumatic and life-threatening event with your well stocked BOB!

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