Bug Out Bag Gear- A Guide for Building the Perfect Go Bag

A Bug Out Bag

What is Bug Out Bag?

A Bug Out Bag is an emergency survival bag filled with the essential survival gear that you would need to survive during a short-term or long-term disaster or crisis. It’s meant to be grabbed at a moment’s notice and should always be kept somewhere where you can quickly access it during an evacuation.

Most people who have a basic understanding of survival and preparedness understand the need for a good Bug Out Bag. It’s probably one of the most talked about items on survival websites and is something that has become a bit of an iconic symbol for preppers and survivalists.

If you haven’t heard of the term Bug Out Bag, you may have heard someone refer to it as a Go Bag, 72 Hour Bag, Get Home Bag, Get out of Dodge bag, or some other variation of the name.

What you call it isn’t important; the basic idea behind a Bug Out Bag (BOB) is pretty simple. At its most basic, a BOB is a pre-packed bag filled with the essential gear and supplies you need to survive during an emergency situation.  It’s something that you can grab quickly, should a disaster or emergency situation occur that would require you to leave your location.

What type of gear should you pack in your Bug Out Bag?

There is no One-Size-Fits-All Bug Out Bag solution. When it comes to packing your bag, a number of things need to be considered; first and foremost, should be planning.

Starting with a good plan is the only way to get started. To select the best gear for your bag, you need to consider the following couple of things:

  • What are the most likely disaster situations you will face? Part of actually being prepared for anything means knowing exactly what situations you’re preparing for. Before ever buying a single piece of gear for your bag, you need to first figure out what disasters you’re preparing for. This will give you a good idea of what you need to pack, how long you need to pack for, and how much gear you will need to survive.
  • What Threats might you face?  Understanding what threats you will face in an emergency situation is a crucial part of the Bug Out Planning Phase. Performing a threat assessment will help you figure out which items you need to pack, and which items you can do without. I highly advise reading our article on Pre-Trip Planning for Backpackers; it’s filled with information that directly relates to planning for a Bug Out Situation.
  • What are your Strengths & Weaknesses? One of the things I often recommend for anyone serious about preparedness is to perform a SWOT Analysis. A SWOT Analysis is a simple but effective method of really understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses. By honestly accessing your situation, you will not only get a good idea of what areas you need to train in, but you’ll also get a good idea of what gear will complement your strengths.

Once you’ve thought about the above considerations, you can then start to pack your bag. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, we do have a list of some gear that you may want to consider along with a list of some common Bug Out Bag Gear.

Considerations to think about before packing your BOB:

  • Make sure you pick the right Survival Backpack: Every situation is different, from tactical bags and hunting packs to covert bags, you need to think about which type if right for your situation.
  • Who will be traveling with you? Do they have any special needs or medical conditions that need to be addressed ahead of time?  Do they have their own bag filled with gear, and will their equipment complement your gear?
  • Do you have a BOB for your kids? During a SHTF situation, it’s important for your kids to feel as safe and secure as possible. Having a custom Bug Out Bag filled with familiar items and comfort foods can help defuse a stressful situation, and give your child a sense of control. With younger children, comfort items are a top priority that will help ensure their mental health during a stressful emergency situation.
  • Are you actually prepared to Bug Out? It may sound like a silly question, but I don’t think most people realize what it’s really going to take to survive in a real-life bug out situation. It’s one thing to talk about bugging out; it’s another thing to carry your gear 10-15 miles a day in dangerous and unforgiving conditions.
  • Do you need more than one bag? Since we have no way to know exactly when and where a disaster will hit, you might want to consider having a bag at home, at your office, and in your vehicle.
  • Don’t forget your EDC.  Let’s face it; carrying 30 pounds of gear at all times is pretty impractical. Yes, you can have multiple bags stashed at your home, office and even in your vehicle, but no matter how much you prepare there are going to be times when you may not have access to your BOB. That’s why I suggest always having and carrying an EDC Kit.
  • Do you have an evacuation plan? Having an emergency evacuation plan is one of the most important steps in preparing a Bug Out Bag. Having a BOB is great, but if you don’t have an evacuation plan and a place to go, what’s the point of having a bag?

THE BIG 4 – Water, Shelter, Food, Protection

Water, food, shelter and protection are the most important things that you can focus on. They are the fundamental building blocks to any good survival bag, and should be the foundation that the rest of your gear is built upon.

Water Supplies

Insulated Kleen Kanteen

While some of the items on this list may be considered optional, this is one survival category that’s definitely a necessity. Simply put, without water you are as good as dead!

Hydration Considerations:

  • Gallon of Water per Day: While your exact needs will depend on a number of factors, including your environment, activity level, and overall health, a good rule of thumb is to carry a gallon of water per day per person.
  • Water Bottles: Having a way to carry and store water is essential to your survival.  I recommend the  Klean Kanteen for its ability to carry and boil water right in the bottle.
  • Water Filter: In my opinion, a water filter is another essential piece of gear. It helps you cut down on your overall water weight, and gives you the ability to purify even the most disgusting sources of water. There are a number of quality water filters on the market, but so far there’s only one that I trust enough to carry in my bags.  I recommend checking out our Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter Review.
A simple Tarp Shelter

Bug Out Bag Shelter Gear

Your ability to regulate your internal body temperature, and protect yourself from the elements, is going to be important during any type of survival situation. A shelter is one of those survival necessities that can literally mean the difference between life and death.

The type of shelter you choose will depend on your situation, your environment, and your overall ability to build a shelter from local materials.

Shelter Considerations:

  • Clothing: Although some people might not consider clothing to be a form of shelter, I believe it’s one of the most important items in this category.  In a survival situation, the clothes on your back, combined with what’s in your bag, will be your primary source of shelter and protection. Clothing is your first line of defense against the elements and is something that should never be overlooked.
  • Portable Shelters:  Some of the most common items include a small tent, a lightweight tarp, sleeping bags, a Bivy Bag, and even plastic sheeting.
  • Insulation: In a survival situation, knowing how to properly insulate yourself and your shelter can mean the difference between life and death.
Cooking Survival Food over a bug out stove

Packing Survival Foods

While food probably won’t become a top priority during a short-term emergency situation, it is something that needs to be considered.

When it comes to choosing the right types of survival foods, keep in mind that your caloric needs are going to be much higher than they are today.  When determining what types of food to carry in your bag, consider the energy you will receive from those foods versus the weight that you will be carrying. Pick High-calorie, high-protein foods that will help provide energy while at the same time cut the overall weight of your pack.

Energy bars, trail mix, nuts, and seeds are all things that take up little room in your pack, but deliver an enormous amount of calories, protein, essential fats, and energy producing nutrients.

Check out my article on Backpacking food; most of the items you would take on a backpacking trip will hold up great in a bug out bag. Remember this in not your long-term food supply; the food in your go bag is meant to sustain you during an evacuation.

tactical shotgun

Adding Protection to your bag

One important, but often overlooked category is protection. No not that kind of protection, get your mind out of the gutter. The kind of protection I’m talking about is firearms and knives.

The great thing about this category is the items really serve dual purposes. From hunting and protecting yourself from wild animals to protecting yourself from criminals and anything that wants to do you harm, protection is one of the top 4 things you need to consider carrying.

The Key to Building the Perfect Bug Out Bag is Testing

You can have the best gear that money can buy, but if you fail to train with that equipment you might as well call it quits before you ever begin.

I don’t mean to be harsh, actually, yes I do. Your Life Depends on it!

The key to survival is knowledge, testing, and training. Please take the time and learn how to use your equipment in a real world setting. Reading about it is one thing, really knowing how to use it during a crisis can only be achieved through experience and rigorous training.

Shirts of Liberty

OFFGRID Survival book



  1. I must agree that there no such thing as a “One Size Fits All” BOB, and anyone trying to sell you a complete solution is surely making money off your naivety. Sure some reputable vendors will sell a generic solution, and some of those ‘may be’ a good start for somebody that has not yet started with their own preparations, but it is just that… a start. IMHO I believe you could review the multitude of “Bug Out Bag Contents” lists out there and come up with your own solution at a much cheaper price, AND it fits your specific needs for your location and perceived emergency scenario.

    Some people and organizations believe the BOB should only fulfill each individuals’ needs for only 72-hours; others believe 5 days, and still others believe an even longer extended evacuation including up to a permanent condition. Years ago I have lived on the streets for months out of my backpack in an urban environment and while I can look back and consider it an adventure, and an eye-opening learning experience, it certainly was no fun. But then twenty-five years ago the economy and ability to find jobs was easier than it is today.

    While considering the potential ‘Threats’ that you may face, regardless the situation, there will be some commonalities required for any BOB. Again, in my opinion, water is THE most important consideration, at least during warmer months. I would place Shelter and Protection as a tied secondary concern with Food (more than the quick energy snacks) a close third place. For water, I have a purification straw in my EDC, a Kleen Kanteen in my GHB, and multiple platypus containers in my BOB with a Katadyn Pocket Filter. For Shelter I have plastic bags in my EDC and a sil-nylon tarp in my GHB, along with a Merino Wool sweater and compact hooded rain jacket in my GHB. In my GHB I have quick energy snacks that will certainly last until I reach a BOB pack.

    Being alone has its advantages and disadvantages; the main advantage is that you only need to look out for yourself, with the primary disadvantage being personal security of body and property. There are ‘worse’ people than you out there to contend with. If it is just you and your spouse / significant other, there is an improved security with numbers, at least allowing some restful sleep.

    If you add children to the picture, you open a whole new perspective because the kids most likely cannot cope and you must carry almost all of their needs in addition to yours. You always hear kids are resilient, but if you must evacuate your home for any length of time, they will be impacted by the loss of their home, so you need to provide the best circumstances by any means necessary to make the children feel safer.

    Do not expect kids under 10 to carry more than their own rain gear and a couple of layering items, some quick energy food/snacks, a liter or two of water, and maybe a game or toy to keep them somewhat entertained; keeping it to between 5 and 10 pounds or less. The older the kids are, the better they are able to understand and the more responsible they need to be for their own items as well as helping with smaller children. If you fall into this category, you know how your kids are and can make a better decision than anyone else (except Social Services… ugh… being sarcastic here).

    Personally, with the kids grown, I am pretty much fending for myself, with plans to join daughter and family increasing the ‘extended family’ of family, including in-laws and friends if necessary; pooling resources and allowing for increased security / safety in numbers.

    Since no one knows when an emergency will take place, or where you will be, I like the modular system of my Every Day Carry (EDC), which is in my briefcase or Get Home Bag (GHB). My GHB remains in my truck, which is typically not more than 120 seconds or two floors away. If I am going to be farther away from my truck, my GHB is slung over my shoulder. Combining my EDC and GHB, I have multiple methods of water purification and storage, multiple knives, multiple fire starting methods, multiple emergency shelters, multiple cordage, multiple lights, multiple signaling devices, and multiple meds/vitamins. My EDC fits in my GHB with room to spare, and allows a stealth blending into the crowd if that becomes an issue. Once home, if the S has truly HTF, my EDC in my GHB will fit into my BOB, at which time, if warranted one of multiple evacuation methods and routes would come into play. If my home is lost to whatever the disaster is, I have replicated items at different storage locations in different directions.

    If it comes to the point where the area needs to totally be vacated, we have multiple rendezvous locations and realistic timelines identified depending on which direction we need to go. So having different egress plans and a method to communicate the intended route is something needed in addition to a BOB. The BOB is designed for just the essential requirements to “survive” in a potentially hostile setting as stealthily as possible in any of the 4 seasons for a prolonged time, and with pooled resources it becomes an easier task.

    • Mike, I’ve never heard of bags other than the BOB. I’m new to this. I was wondering, why shouldn’t I just keep my BOB in my car? Instead of in my house. Thanks for any advice!

      • Brina,
        You could keep your BOB in your vehicle if that suits your situation, i.e., you work over 20 miles from your home.
        I personally like a nested group of bags, with my Every Day Carry (EDC) pouch in my briefcase at the office, which fits into my Get Home Bag (GHB) in my truck, and when I get home, my GHB fits into my BOB.
        I feel a Bug Out condition is one where I may never be coming back and it has much more in it that will endure all four seasons (just tested in the Rockies 2 weeks ago) and is just under 35 pounds without food and water and includes the 3 pound EDC, plus the 8 pound GHB.
        If disaster happens while at work, I can get home faster carrying a 12 pound pack than a 35 pound pack.

        • Brina, you could keep your BOB in your car IF you have a way to securely lock it up. I know people, including myself, you have had them stolen out of a car.

        • I live in Washington State. I am always trying to figure in the bag situation. Your bag , in bag, in bag is an excellent idea, thanks for sharing.

    • I have to make a point about keeping any knife in a car. My Dad his knives with him on a hike in New York State. He was pulled over at a DUI check point and declared both knives. Even though he did that he was arrested and put in handcuffs and charged with a felony weapon charge.
      His wife and 6 month old daughter were also strip searched as well as there car. Be careful. He never gave it a thought. Even if not convicted the felony charge stays.

    • Does anyone know. If a grounding chain attached to your car frame. Will protect against. Electro magnetic pulse bomb ???? Thank you. Dr Ron Klatz.

      • NAPA sells static straps – when I replaced mine approx 2010/2020 they cost ap[prox. $15. I also use a thick piece of swingset chain for redundancy.

        • Meant 2019/2020 – some say static straps are not necessary or worth the effort – I’m keeping mine just in case – better to have a static strap and not need it than to need a static strap and not have one installed.

      • No, a chain will not protect against an EMP. They will help keep your car grounded. Go to Amazon and look for EMP PROTECTION. They have protection for Cars, Home , and Generators.

  2. I think there should be a 5th to the big 5: Health! First aid/medications/medical items are just as important as food in a really dire situation. I carry a 3 bag setup, all of which can work independent of each other, but are meant to work together. Ever since I saw how you can combine a Maxpedition Sabercat waist pack, with a backpack (in my case the Falcon 2), you have a more versatile setup than stuffing everything in one larger heavy pack. You can wear both bags on your back, but you could also turn the waist pack around to the front to distribute weight. The key is adaptation. With a 2-3 bag setup, you put yourself in a much better situation to adapt. Each bag has its main purpose, but each can be re-purposed as needed. We talk about the 2=1, 1=none, but don’t forget your bags in that idea as well. Buy quality bags, too. You may spend a lot on your gear, but if you skimp on your bag to carry it all, what good is it going to be then?

    • I agree with the 3-bag setup and using quality gear. My EDC is a fanny / belly pack, my GHB is an excellent daypack, and my BOB is a full sized backpack, each of the smaller fits into the next larger, and the compliment each other. When at a designated site, I can also use just the fanny pack or just the daypack for recon or gathering excursions while leaving the main pack, which has other items contained within their own daypack/stuff sack back at ‘base.’ In all I have 6 different packs making up one primary BOB.

  3. I believe the evacuation plan should get a second mention. Knowing precisely when and where you will go should you ever need to (written down) goes a long way to avoiding panic from you and your family.

  4. Having an evacuation plan is pointless. You are better off not having a plan but rather a general knowledge of all you’re avenues of escape or evasion. Know which direction to go while avoiding detection or danger whichever direction that may be. If you plan to go south but all avenues are blocked destroyed or unsafe know where to go north west or east that will still take you south to you’re objective while giving wide berth to what ever threat you are avoiding. Standard escape and evasion for aircrews.

    • While there is a logic to your method, as well as a good mentality, it fails if you have any dependents/partners. I support the ‘escape plan’ readiness to know your regional surroundings and being ready to move any direction based upon the shtf event (which is what I do) but be on the same page with any others who you will join up with.

  5. Also this may stir the pot a little bit but dog leash and food and water bowls. In my opinion and I can’t stress that enough but the value of a well trained dog at you’re side is understated. Man could not have evolved as fast or survived as long with his dog. What are everyone’s thoughts

  6. I agree that a (Hu)man’s best friend is the dog, and should be taken into consideration in all your plans if you plan to bug out. Even if you do not plan to bug out, taking your dog camping or hiking, by having the dog “carry its own weight” of food and water is a good thing. No more than about 10-15% of the dog’s weight should be the maximum weight in the pack.

    Obviously you do not start a dog new to packs with a full load; not if you want to be successful anyhow. It took time starting with just the empty pack every time we go out to play and hike; after a while the dog became familiar with the pack in hand meaning it is time to go on an adventure. I gradually added weight, building up to the full load.

    I have a good pack for my Lab mix and I distribute weight as equally as I can on each side with a 1L platypus water bottle on each side, with food and a collapsible bowl on each side. Balancing the weight equally is important, and can get tricky. I try to use water from both sides as the primary balance of weight, and split up meals where half of a meal is on either side, and the collapsible bowls for food and water are the same size.

    • I have a husky so summer months she can’t really carry anything but winter and fall I can put not a bag but a small sled or cart to tow what are you’re thoughts on that. Estimated pull weight ( obviously varies from dog to dog) would be around 40-50 pounds. Also where besides the cheap shit at the local pet store do you find working bags?

      • I’ve been training my Lab for scent tracking, and Leerburg dot com has a lot of training material as well as some decent equipment along with links in their material for other providers of quality gear for dogs.

        • Thanks for the input check out rayallen.com modular harnesses with Molle straps and accompanying bags. I look forward to further conversations and sharing of info. There are few reasonably intelligent people out there this is one place that has a small collection of them

    • A used pair of jeans, with the legs sewn closed and a bit of rope/a belt, can be used on a dog so they can carry some, if not all of their own supplies. Backpacking, I use this technique with my St. Bernard. He carries not only his own goods, he carries my tent too! Obviously modifications would need to be made for tiny kick dogs. Enjoy!

  7. A bugout bag is for all the losers in the world hoping for doomsday and not justing living life to the fullest right now. What a bunch of dinks.

    • That has to be one of the dumbest things I’ve read today. It isn’t about hoping for doomsday, it’s about being prepared to react to situations out of your control. Simple thing taught and understood by Boy Scouts yet grown adults can’t handle the concept. It can be used for something as normal as your house catching fire while you are at work and you lose everything or a flood in the area forcing you to move to higher ground which for some people means the woods. Your statement shows you to be nothing more than an idiot.


      • you said it!!! if many of the people (and yes I know many were poor, but just water would have made a HUGE Difference)caught up in Katrina had had some preparation..and that means extra food for their pets..they would not have suffered so badly a tarp over your head on a roof would have made a big difference and carriers for pets might have saved many of them. Yep, someone is living in a little bubble with no idea what life can hand a person. Even with hours jammed on a freeway due to an accident makes the long wait bearable. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a doomsday scenario dear.

      • I’d just like do add…

        Today I’m 44 yo… How I’d like to learn all about camping, survival, pellet guns, archery, MacGiver, etc, etc, when I was a kid!

        It’s about having a rich childhood for children too… more creative ones, with more perspective, courage, etc, etc.

        Wild animals teach your children survivel skills while play with them.

    • Hey just my emergency medical supplies in my truck has helped people often on I-5 in CA and local streets, involved in car accidents. The supplies have stopped bleeding, protected an eye, and even an everyday bandage can make a difference when someone has cut a finger, foot.

      Think beyond your own little world. I can’t even imagine how you will navigate in the real world with it’s unforseen incidents. But then, maybe you are one of those people that just drive or walk by when someone is in distress.
      Make sure you i.d. yourself so those of us who give a da*n can make sure we don’t waste time with you since you seem invincible and bubble wrap protecte.

    • Heheh….
      thats funny!
      Heck, my bugout bag IS a big part of how I live life to the fullest! Camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, crafting materials, star watching, nature watching, sight seeing…. my bug out bag is my ticket to anywhere and I use it almost weekly to get away and relax. I am more peaceful, happy and fulfilled than I ever have been. And, if hurricane (Louisiana or NY 2012), quake (how many should I name?), power grid failure (as in San Diego 2011), riots (I have lived through many in the US) I have the peace of mind to know that if I must leave my home, I am fully equipped and capable to go and even to treat it like a vacation!!!

      When the power goes out (not if) enjoy your video games and satellite TV while your food spoils & water stops flowing like in New York still today over 2000 homes are without power.

    • Hey Trout!

      Contrary to what the other good folks, here have opined, I want you to keep thinking like that. Then, when the crunch comes you will be a dead mackeral and one less oxygen thief we have to deal with.

    • I’ve been through a half dozen natural disasters and one time I needed that bag. It gave me food and shelter. It had nothing to do with domesday and all about a little comfort and security. I wake up every day and give the day likes it’s my last. For me and mine getting home is living life to the fullest. Take care and a do share.

    • Making a BOb is not just being ready for ” end of the World “. I live in a tornado area and just want to be ready, Four (4) years ago we had bad weather with heavy rain and tornados it was hard to get some stuff , just prayer and luck for sometimes doesn’t do it. tack Care Be Safe

    • I agree with you Kilgore. All insurance is worthless. You should immediately cancel your home fire insurance since you are never going to have a fire. You should also cancel your car insurance since you are never going to get sick. And don’t forget to remove the spare tire from your car since you are never going to have a flat tire. And why put aside money for a rainy day since you are never going to lose your job? Yup Kilgore – all “prepping” is stupid. Just like you.

  8. @ Kilgore Sheep

    A “Bug-out-Bag” is intended for an emergency, any emergency, to sustain you for a 3-5 day period in case you need to evacuate your home, for whatever reason. Having items like a couple changes of clothes, emergency water, some food, scanned digital copies of photos and important documents, all ready to go in a moments notice.

    I also have a bag of essential items IF a regional disaster occurs while I am away from home in efforts to get me home.

    You will never see me touting to load my BOB with guns and ammo preparing for doomsday; I do not even own one. I do still have an evacuation method, and if I wake up at 2:30 AM with my home engulfed in flames, I know that as I exit with BOB in hand that allowed me to evacuate with at least most of my critical and irreplaceable items saved, as well as a change or two of clothes with some personal hygiene items and some emergency cash.

    As far as I am concerned, being prepared is a winning situation and for those sheep living life to the fullest for the right now, and do not have a plan, those are the real losers.

    • I actually carry my BOB ( Camelbak , Linchpin) with me at all times securing inside some of the things I don’t want on my belt or outside the pack but I end up going in it almost everyday and most of the time it’s to help someone else. My first aid kit gets used by coworkers as well as knife and multitool. I end up using the tarp and 550 for outtings at the park. And everyone has a use for tape from time to time. Point is I find a use and practice for SHTF scenarios everyday. Not to mention the very task of carrying a thirty pound bag is preparation for a bug out getting yourself in shape.

  9. Hi… Been reading this and I feel the need to prepare a bag as well. New to all this, so what kind and where do I find a good quality back pack (s)? I am overwhelmed with which food sites for food, where to find and what kind of water filter?? I could use some specifics… Thanks

    • Being new, start slower and build up.

      If you had to evacuate your home because of a natural or man-made disaster… anticipate how long would you have to be away from your home. Many people start with a 3-day / 72 hour bag.

      So what do you need for 3 days?
      A couple changes of clothes;
      A method to ensure potable water is available; get the best water filter you can afford, there are many out there with a large consensus the Katadyn Pocket Filter tops most lists.
      At least 3 different ways to start a fire to boil water or cook food, or provide heat;
      Some emergency cash;
      Will a hotel or shelter be available or will you use a tarp/tent, or car camping?
      How much food do you realistically need for 72-hours?
      If your home is on fire, and possibly destroyed do you have copies of all your important documents and photos digitized onto a thumb or external drive?

      I would search the net for “bug-out bag contents” and be ready for as many lists as there are people setting one up. Only you can know for certain what you need.

      There are two typical methods, one is to put together everything you think you need to have, and get a pack that will hold all of that. The other alternative would be to get a good fitting backpack, and put what you can into that pack. If you buy a larger pack, you do not have to fill it, but it does allow for expansion and added gear for weather changes…

      Focus on multiple use items so you do not have to load up on a bunch of trinkets that only do one thing, unless that one thing is critical in nature.

      After you get your 3-day bag, expand to a 5-day or a weeklong bag… beyond that, you start looking at “stores” of items in a closet, or garage, or trailer…

      Look at this like a camping backpack, what would you need for a 3-day weekend camping trip? The go use it and see if what you have would let you survive ‘off-grid’ for a few days or more. Realistically, a well thought out and planned weeklong camping backpack could last you for months except for food and water, and be under 35 pounds.

      Whatever you decide on, one or multiple bags, make sure you know how to use all the gear. Determine if you need a bag for your home and vehicle, or both. Some use a nesting or module method of an Every Day Carry (EDC) that nests into a Get Home Bag, which nests into a Bug-Out Bag…

      Again, start small, buy smart, test your gear, develop more useful skills, practice and refine… use and refine… it may take some trial and error, but each improvement is a lesson learned.

    • Getting more “specific” as your post indicated would cause some merchant and material plugging… my recommendations are based on my experience.

      Go to a local sporting goods store that carries camping equipment, such as REI, Sports Authority, Big 5, or whatever is in your region. Most of these stores have somewhat knowledgeable staff, some better than others that hire the local high-school kid novice. Get a good “expedition” sized backpack fitted. You do not have to purchase from that store, but it lets you know the correct pack and size. You can also determine the size of pack by measuring the distance between the crown of your hip to the point in your spine where your head leans forward. Placing your hands on your hip with thumbs pointing to the spine, and measure between there as the crown. Once you determine the bag you want, search the Internet for the best price.

      Internal Frame versus External Frame; both have their advantages and disadvantages, as well as personal preferences on both sides of the fence. External frames typically can carry a heavier load better and have the ability to strap additional gear, as well as removing the pack and use to haul quartered animal sections. The downside is not many vendors make external frames any more, leaning more to Internal frame designs. Internal frames are tighter against the body and are able to maintain a center of gravity balance better (when properly packed). The proximity to the back typically makes for a sweaty back and pack padding.

      You can also go to military surplus stores and find a lot of gear. Most of the gear has been tested over time, but military and camo material could portrait you as a “prepper” or “someone that has more important / relevant stuff for a SHTF situation than I do” and mark you as a potential ‘undesirable’ or target to raid. Personally I like neutral colored civilian gear so it will blend into a crowd better, and still being able to be easily hidden should that become necessary.

      Like mentioned before, a bigger bag is better to get than a smaller bag. Sure the smaller bag weighs less, but you become limited in what you can carry, where a larger bag, while weighing a little bit more does not have to be filed to the top, it will carry just what you need with room to spare, so you can add food, water containers (note I say containers, since a filter will fill those containers that weigh less than water), and enough water to get you between watering locations. I like the collapsible water bags, like Nalgene or Platypus along with one 40 ounce Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottle that can be placed into the fire to boil water. Make sure not to get the ceramic painted colored bottles.

      As for food… I agree the number of locations and resources are overwhelming. I like freeze-dried and dehydrated food, so I went to the local camping store and got a number of ‘backpacking meals’ to try. Yes, the individual and two-serving meals get to be expensive, but I would rather see if I like it before buying bulk. With those bulk items I did get, I have quality quart freeze zip bags and a single 1-cup plastic measuring cup; then I write the ration of water to 1-cup of the item on the lid. This way when it comes time to portion out meals, I place one cup of the bulk item in the freezer bag, and permanent marker the bag with amount of water needed to be added. You might want to look up “Freezer Bag Cooking” for more ideas.
      MRE’s are another consideration, and I would remove all the superfluous packaging to carry just what is needed.

      • Mike, I have read your comments and they are probably the best I’ve seen on the web ever. You have a structured way of thinking that is extremely rare. Will not tell too much about myself but I live in Scandinavia, which is a low risk area but consider preparedness not as a SHTF fear but more as mitigating experiences of my childhood when storms could make power cut off for days. I grew up on a farm and with no expectations of others to solve our problems. For you in the US, who have encountered severe hurricanes recently, I’d say that only the village idiot would not prepare for this happening again. Similarily to how one author in the thread put it, you do not buy an insurence because you hope for something bad to happen. You just want to reduce the discomfort to you.

    • Get Started, is the first step. When I began this prepping lifestyle 8 years ago, I started with an EDC, limited to those items that would enable me to safely get home from anywhere in the general area of my town in a 24 to 48 hour period of time ON FOOT. Mike’s on the money, in stating there are as many You Must Have This To Survive Lists out there as there are people with opinions, so take most of them with a grain of salt. There is a lot of contradictory information out there, as well as people making money off the fear factor, and it’s sometimes difficult to discern and dependent upon one’s life experiences to separate the real and practical from the dubious.
      Those of us who’ve spent a lot of time in the great outdoors during our lives, do have an advantage over folks that haven’t, but it’s not impossible to learn. Reading what you can and participating in forums and discussions is a ready and inexpensive way to separate the chaff from the wheat. Posters like Mike, bring a lot of practical first hand knowledge to discussions, concerning everything from A to Z, and like Mike, it comes from a willingness to help. Even those of us raised to hunt, fish, backpack and so on, were all beginners at some point in our lives, and some forget that when they post. I enjoy Mike’s comments because I believe we think along the same lines on most of the topics.
      Everything that goes into your bag, needs to be practical and applicable to you, your situation, and your long term goals for surviving whatever TEOTAWKI scenario we may face.
      Mike puts a big emphasis on knowing/learning how to use the items in your gear, and I strongly second that, and a good way to learn that is to spend time relying on the item(s) during a camping trip. You’ll not only know how, you’ll learn the limitations each item has as well.
      At 60, I learn my own age related limitations every day it seems. 30 years ago, I could’ve walked with a 75# pack to our Bug Out location 70 miles away in 2-3 days. Now at 60, I know that 75#’s is too much, and it will take at least a week to get there. Shah, the Joys of joining the Grey Panthers

  10. Bugging out wouldn’t be an option for me, a single mom with numerous underage children…I’ll be holed up in this house until somebody burns it down…working on the lists of supplies, but what about defense strategies?

    • Increase the number of adults to stay with you so you can get sleep and take turns with the kids and “watch shifts.” Encourage and enforce “quiet discipline” with the kids… that will probably be the hardest thing to accomplish keeping the kids quiet so you are not “found” so you do not have to defend yourself.
      There are a number of other posts related to defense and security away from the BOB posts.

      • I second the training of the children, to be quiet when under an “alert” situation, and train them to be obedient to your word- the first time they are asked, with no questions asked til later. I was in a dangerous situation many years ago, and my two children were 8 and 5. They had been taudpght to obey my word the first time I asked something, and it probably saved their lives. I had a situation come up where we had less than 7 hrs, to pack an apartment, move all furniture into storage, get myself and the children out of there with time to spare before my now ex husband got home from work.i didn’t tell the children we were leaving til the morning we were going, and after husband left for work, one friend came to pick ump the children, three others came to help me get the uHaul and get it loaded, and when that was finished, two more came to pick me and the children at a third place and we left, with nothing behind us.i If the children hadn’t been trained to obey, it could have been a real disaster, but it went pretty smoothly, and 8 hrs later we were on our way to a new and better life, which we enjoy to this day. It pays to train children to obey. They still have minds of thier own but know that when Mom spoke quietly and seriously, it was best to obey, and I would explain later, which I always did. That moved changed thier lives for the better.

    • Defense can be as simple as solid steel doors and deadbolts to firearms to teaching noise and light discipline to children to fire extinguishers to full fledged security systems. It all depends on your budget and what your percieved weaknesses are. Perhaps the best advice would be to hire someone to do a security audit of your home. Hope this helps.

    • Being very new to this myself a couple of things did cross my mind for your question.
      Being a single female with small children in a bad or dangerous situation you could be persevered as easy prey. For myself I would definitely have a firearm and ammo for protection. If you do not own one and your not used to a gun? buy one and get trained. Even a .22 is good in most cases. If your worried about the gun and the kids? Get a small gun rack and hang it up on a wall out of reach, use a trigger guard. If a child is old enough to follow instructions, old enough to pick up their own toys, they can easily be taught gun safety and they can be taught to shoot. Bot of my kids,daughter and son were by the age of 4. Get a big dog, their noise by itself. A deep loud bark is a good deterrent. Make sure it is obedience trained. You might not be able to leave but you can with a little effort make yourself, your kids safe and your home a very safe place to hole up. As long as you feel you can’t leave make sure that you have what you’ll need inside before you need it.

    • You have to differentiate between “wants,” which will help fulfill your comfort level more; and “needs,” which will allow you to sustain life based on rule of threes… 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.
      I would love to be able to carry everything that would make me warm comfortable, well fed and secure, but all that can become quite heavy to a point of negative returns. If you are in a situation where you must be out in the elements for any length of time, the focus should be on “what must I have to survive” which for me is a pack weighing about 35 pounds filled with durable multipurpose items.

  11. just thoughts… what about having laminated and labeled photos of family on your person or in your EDC? we see missing persons and unidentified corpses turn up all the time in these circumstances. could be used as a ‘have you seen this person?’ image when passing through crowds looking for family as well as a ‘return my body to my family’ notice if someone finds your person in a ditch. i know you gram counters and back packers can spare the single gram for a few laminated wallet sized prints.

  12. I’ve a good large military backpack with most of the above items. One for me and one for the wife. I have some redundant items but they are light enough that they are not a problem. Keep in your trunk and keep your vehicle well maintained and full of gas. have cash and credit cards handy also.

  13. question :in europe(holland)you cannot just get a gun because its iligal overhere……i know its retarded lol……..but i wanna get me a crossbow or compound bow for hunting and protection…(its stealt might give me a small benefit i think……i live in the urbs and not much woods too run for….

    what tips do you guys have for me???

    • An English style longbow will give more firepower than either a crossbow or a compound … it can be fired faster and further. The bows of the American Indians packed a lot of wallop into a smaller size – they are worth considering. Do some research and make your own. 1) you’ll save serious money 2) you’ll end up with a more reliable weapon that is field maintainable 3) if need be, you will be able to replace it from locally available materials.

      The term for someone who makes a bow is “bowyer”. That should help you start your research.

    • The company Primal Gear Unlimited at goprimalnow dot com has a compact long bow where the carbon fiber limbs rotate into the aluminum bracer. I have one and it is awesome. It is ambidextrous so can be used left or right handed by changing the bow string 180 degrees. It does have a 55 # pull at 27 inches (measured at the archery range).

  14. In a location like Holland, a folding “wrist rocket” (sling shot with wrist support) may be a viable option.
    Although slower to get into action, there are several makers of bows who offer take apart bows. Although they aren’t compounds, they’re recurves; they can be carried but out of sight.

  15. I love my bug-out-bag. Not only do I have the essentials for survival, it is part of me. Around 30-40 pounds at anytime my BOB is with me 24-7. If I leave the house, it goes in the trunk. I work at a shipyard as a crane operator and it goes from the car to the crane with me. I have had my bag inspected and some items checked off by the guards at the yard while some items I have to leave back in the car. Not only are most of the guards familiar with me and BOB but some stop me for questions, advice and have created their own BOBs. Co-workers used to joke on me until they noticed that even with double shifts, I had everything I needed in my bag, no going hungry, thirsty or cold. After seeing the advantages of my BOB, they have stopped joking and have begun to ask advice.

  16. Those who think EDCs, GHBs. and BOBs are not necessary, let me tell you mine came in very handy in a recent situation.
    My late husband suffered from CHF and we regularly spent 4 – 12 days in a hospital 3 hours from home. Often he was admitted from a doctor’s appointment. The doctor was always surprised when I would say, “Its ok if you need to admit him, I’m prepared.” I always put all my bags in the car when we went to the dr. Although I didn’t need emergency shelter, I needed the emergency cash, food, and clothing.
    The final trip to the hospital came the day before payday and in the middle of the night. I was glad I was able to grab my bags, already packed, and go. In an emergency situation, only having to think about shoes, keys, and bags is a lot easier than thinking about everything else. It is also much nicer to have a change of underwear when you have to stay at the hospital multiple days!

  17. Anybody who’s got an answer, advice needed. Someone who is, oh, I dunno, 15, a Football Player and is using most money towards his sport wants a BOB so he can save himself and possibly his coaches and teammates were the S to HTF, what would said person do to gather supplies?

  18. i use to drive a one ton ford, now i drive a mini.. the EDB and GOB has been a large part of my transportation for some time now. i now subscribe to the BIB (bug in bag) rather than leaving my already secure property….25acre farm w/well and generator.

    do your research, know what’s around…. maybe a BIB would be safer/better

  19. Im thinking we all need to be ready for what ever come our way no matter what it is. lets all be as prepared as we can. We can do for ourselves when it happens.

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