I’m sure you’ve heard the term thrown around a thousand times, but don’t feel bad if you don’t know what it is, it’s actually one of the most common questions we get.
What is a Bug Out Bag (BOB)?
A Bug Out Bag (sometime called a BOB) is a large survival kit that’s filled with gear and equipment specifically designed to be used during an emergency situation where you have to evacuate. The gear is usually stored inside of a backpack, or something that you can quickly grab when disaster strikes.
When seconds count, fumbling around trying to find your emergency gear can be deadly. Having a ready to go Bug Out Bag allows you quickly grab the emergency gear you need, should you be forced to evacuate during a crisis.
How do you Build a Bug Out Bag?
To start, you want to find a tough, durable backpack or bag that will hold up during extreme conditions. This bag should be large enough to carry your essential gear, but shouldn’t be so large that it becomes a burden to carry during a bugout situation.
The bag you choose will largely depend on your unique situation, and what types of emergencies you are planning for, but to get a good idea of what you should be looking for, check out our article on survival backpacks.
What to Put in a Bug Out Bag
When trying to figure out what equipment or gear needs to be stored in your bag, you need to keep in mind that it should only be filled with the essential tools you need to survive during an evacuation. The main purpose of the bag is to get your from your danger zone, to your bug out location (safety).
How Much Gear Should You Pack?
If you listen to most so-called survival experts, they often suggest that your BOB should contain enough supplies to last for at least seventy-two hours. Don’t listen to them; that number is grossly underestimated! Since most major disasters often disrupt essential services and normal life for far longer than 72 hours, we think it is a good idea to have a Bag that will allow you survive for at least two weeks and if you can afford it then aim for an indefinite period of time.
While it’s true the bag is really meant to help you make it from point A to point B, there is no telling how long that will take, and during a disaster, all plans usually go out the window – so plan accordingly!
Make sure your Bag is built to fit your needs; remember, some people may need items that are not listed on this list. The emergency supplies listed on this page are general guidelines, meant to help start building your bag. When putting your kit together, you need to take into consideration any special needs or items that you or your family might require. Below we discuss some of the things that you may want to include in your Bug Out Bags, as well as some items that will hold up when it really counts.
What Gear should be in your Bug Out Bag?
You bag should be built to fit the needs of yourself, and anyone traveling with you during an emergency. When selecting gear, please keep in mind that our list is only a recommendation of things that are important in most situations. Some people, such as those with disabilities or medical issues, may need items that are not listed on our bug out gear list.
The emergency supplies listed on this page are general guidelines, meant to help start building your bag. When putting your BOB together, you need to take into consideration any special needs or items that you or your family might require. Below we discuss some of the things that you may want to include in your Bug Out Bags, as well as some items that will hold up when it really counts.
Bug Out Bag List: Essential Gear
A Disaster Plan: The first piece of gear we want to take a look at, is really the first step in building the perfect GO Bag: A Disaster Plan!
Your disaster plan will be the foundation that everything is built upon, and will also be the map you live by when things go bad. Your disaster plan should be in writing, preferably laminate to protect from the elements, and include the location of emergency zones, rallying points, multiple evacuation routes, maps of the area, trail maps, emergency phone numbers and contact information, etc.
Water and Water Filtration Gear: During a disaster, water is going to be on the top of the list of essential gear. A good survival rule of thumb to live by is, 1 Gallon per day per person (or enough to get you by until you find a clean source of water).
That’s why we recommend having these three things: Water, Metal Water Bottles, and a Filtration System. We recommend the following products; they are products we use and products that are actually in our real-life bags.
- The Klean Kanteen Classic Single Wall Stainless Steel Water Bottle: We love these bottles! Not only are they well-made, but during an emergency where you may have to purify an unknown water source, you can throw them directly on the fire to boil and purify water.
- G.A.K G.I. TYPE, 1 QT Canteen With New Stainless Steel Cup: This GI style canteen and cup has been used for decades by the military to carry water, cook food, and boil water during an emergency.
Water Purifiers & Filters: (Any of the below items would make a good choice, or check out our full list of recommended water filters)
- SteriPen Adventurer Opti Mini Pack: A UV water purifier that will kill more than 99.9 percent of harmful microorganisms, including Giardia, bacteria, viruses and protozoa.
- Katadyn Water Filter: They’re not cheap, but they are built to last and I personally carry one in my own bag. It Filters all microorganisms larger than 0.2 microns and is good for up to 13,000 gallons (50,000 liters)
- Sawyer Mini Water Filter: We like these, because they are a budget friendly alternative, and cheap enough to store one in all your gear bags. It will removed 99.99999% of all bacteria (salmonella, cholera, and E. coli); removes 99.9999% of all protozoa.
First Aid Kit: Before we recommend the actual kits, I want to start off by saying that you should always look into building your own instead of buying a premade kit. Premade kits rarely have everything you need, so please check out our article on building an emergency medical kit first. If you have to buy one, here are the ones we like:
- Ever Ready First Aid Fully Stocked First Responder Kit
- Lifeline 4038 Red Premium Hard Shell First Aid Kit
- Adventure Medical Kits
Clothing: During a disaster, you need to take into consideration the fact that you are going to be put into environments where clothing and shelter become extremely important yo your daily survival. Make sure you have the following:
- Extra socks, pants, shirts, and clothing for your environment.
- Gloves, hats and dust masks.
- Weather Specific gear like rain suits, ponchos, and waterproof shoes.
Knives and Weapons: From self-defense and hunting to the hundreds of survival applications that a good knife can serve, make sure you have protection at the top of your list of considerations. We recommend the following knives and Guns:
- The Top Fixed Blade Survival Knives
- Best Takedown Rifles for Survival
- A 10/22 Ruger is a great all-around survival gun that will never fail and will last forever. Ammo is dirt cheap usually costing somewhere around $20 for 500 rounds.
Flashlights: We have an entire list of the best survival flashlights, but if you don’t want to read through that here are three that we recommend.
Emergency Communication Gear: To start, this is an area that shouldn’t be taken likely. We recommend checking out our articles on Ham Radio and take the time to learn how to communicate during grid-down disasters. Once you know the ins and outs, these are the bugout radios that we recommend.
- Yaesu VX-6R Submersible Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver (144/222/440)
- Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Transceiver: This is one I own, use, and carry! It receives between 108-520Mhz and 700-999.99Mhz and transmits on 44-148Mhz & 430-470Mhz.
Fire-starting Gear and Cooking Equipment:
- A Good Weatherproof Lighter
- Emergency Candles
- Waterproof Matches
- A Portable Backpacking Camp Stove
A Good Multi-Tool:
- LEATHERMAN Signal Camping Multitool
- SOG Power Assist Multitool: This is another one I personally carry and use almost every day! In fact, it sits in my sheath with my SOG Seal Pup EDC Knife.
Some more Survival Equipment to Consider:
Professional Survival Books:These should be studied well beforehand and kept for reference during a disaster. Recommended books are:
- The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide: Self-Reliance Strategies for a Dangerous World
- SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea
- When All Hell Breaks Loose
- US Army Survival Manual: FM 21-76
Camp Axe & Shovel
Cordage: (wide variety of uses, traps, etc….) *550 Paracord
CASH & Documents: have some extra cash in your bag, as well as a copy of all your important documents (SS Card, I.D., Fishing/Hunting License, Gun License, etc…)
Multivitamins: Keep your strength up as your diet changes
Extra Medicine: *If needed because of preexisting condition
Navigation Compass, Maps, GPS, etc…. :
Fishing Gear: Bobbers Hooks, fishing line, small collapsible pole
Emergency Food: Stuff that will last and give you the most bang for your buck ( peanut butter, jerky, sardines, granola bars, salt, dried fruit, MRE’s, etc…) Check out our list of recommended survival food.
Shelter: Sleeping bag, tent, tarp, etc….
Extra Batteries: Personally I buy EBL rechargeable batteries on Amazon. They’re cheap, reliable, and I use them in combination with my solar battery chargers.
Solar Charger: Check out our list of recommended chargers and battery packs, they will keep your electronics and batteries fully charged during a grid down emergency.
Signal Devices: Flares, Signaling Mirror, Whistle
Misc: Candles, Safety Pins, sewing needles and thread, Playing Cards for entertainment, Wire for snaring.
Rural VS Urban Bug Out Bags
One final note: The gear you choose should be suited for the unique locations you live in and where you plan to evacuate. If you live in a rural or wilderness location, then your bug out needs are going to be much different than those who live in an urban city. For instance, check out our article on urban survival gear to get a good idea on what I mean.