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15 Essential Items In Any Bug-Out Bag

bug out bagWhen deciding on what to pack in your bug-out bag, you need to decide what it is intended to do. Is it a 72 hour pack designed to keep you alive three days? Is it your get-home pack designed to be used to make your way home if you are caught away in an emergency? Or is it your off into the wilderness kit?

Whatever you intend for your BOB, these things should be considered.

1. Shelter

Shelter in your BOB can be as simple as a large garbage bag to keep the rain off, or as fancy as a tent. Whatever you decide on, you need to have some way of getting out of the weather. Exposure to the elements is one of the most deadly things you will need to survive.

Since shelter is mostly about keeping you warm, I will include hand warmers in this spot. Buy several on closeout after hunting season at all the big box stores. They do, however, expire after a time. I tried using some that were several years old and they barely warmed up at all, so rotate them out after a couple years.

2. Blanket/sleeping Bag

If you have the room, a nice sleeping bag will keep you warm in an emergency. If not, some sort of bed roll tied on the outside of your bag will do. If nothing else, a wool blanket folded up and stuffed in the bag will still keep you warmish even when wet.

3. Fire-making

Fire making is important for survival since it is helpful in so many ways, from keeping you warm to purifying your water. You should shoot for at least three separate methods of starting a fire in your kit.

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These can be things like waterproof lifeboat matches, butane lighters, Zippo type lighters, flint and steel, or a fire piston. Include with these things accelerant such as cotton balls soaked with Vaseline and candles to help get a stubborn fire going.

4. Water filtration

Speaking of purifying your water, you should have a water filter included in your kit. Even one of the personal straw type filters is good. You don’t want to be drinking water of unknown quality in an emergency situation.

5. First aid/medical

You need a decent well-stocked first aid kit. It is worth every penny buying one of the better kits on the market. I have said many times that a lot of the kits on the market are glorified boxes of bandages.

Along with your kit you will need to include any medications you or your family might need. It is a good idea to include this medication in the kit of everyone in your group. That way if someone loses a kit the person needing the meds will still have them available.

6. Knife/multi-tool

Personally I don’t care for multi-tools in general. But when you need a tool they have on them they can be a God-send. The cheap ones are almost worthless except for the most basic tasks, and in that regard I have broken a few just by using the pliers.

Your BOB should have a large sheath knife for heavy cutting chores and a smaller pocket type knife in case you don’t carry one all the time. If you have room, it is a good idea to have a spare pocket knife or two anyway.

7. Light

A nice big Maglite doubles as a light source and a club if you need it. Include an extra set of batteries and a bulb to keep it going when you need it.

A smaller LED light will work well when you don’t need to light up the countryside.

I am not happy with the shake lights I have seen, and the Russian squeeze type lights leave a lot to be desired. I have discovered a squeeze light that charges an internal battery, which in turn lights a set of LEDs. I have seen two models that look like an almost identical design with one being total junk and the other holding up well and putting out quite a bit of light. They are cheap so try a couple different sources to find one that works well.

8. Cordage

As much as I like making natural cordage, in a bug-out situation the last thing on my mind will be sitting around the fire, making it. Sure, I will keep my eyes open for sources as I am going, but a few feet of Para-cord is a much better thing to put into your pack. Several years ago before I discovered Para-cord I always carried a small roll of poly rope.

9. Clothing

Depending on the size of your pack, you should include some spare clothing for your bug out. If you have a lot of room, pack a complete outfit change with extra underwear and several changes of socks. If you have a small pack you should at least include a change of socks.

A good pair of leather work gloves will save your hands from lots of potentially serious problems, and they don’t take up much room.

The pack for anybody who wants to be fully prepared for an unexpected emergency

10. Food

Depending on what you envision your pack getting you through, you may or may not pack food in it. Most people will put in an MRE (or three) or some similar shelf stable food to get them through a couple days.

If your pack is for a long-term bug out, you will need to include provisions for harvesting your own food supply. Adding in some traps and snares should feed you in the wild, but only if you know how to use them.

11. Weapons

Weapons are by and large a personal choice for the person building the BOB. Some people will not feel comfortable with a firearm, while others feel the same way without. You need to decide what type weapon you want to carry with you on your bug out.

If you have a firearm, you need to figure out how you are going to feed it. Ammunition can get heavy if you are carrying several hundred rounds.

If you don’t want a firearm, consider learning to use a quarterstaff. It is a deadly weapon when wielded by someone who knows how to use it, and looks just like a walking stick.

12. Toiletries

Keeping yourself clean in the field is important to keeping yourself healthy in the field. TP, soap, deodorant, toothpaste/brush and moist towelettes are things you should include in your kit.

13. Communications

In any breakdown, you will want to keep up on the most current information available. Since cell service and Internet is easily knocked out or spotty, you should get a portable radio that has short wave receiving capabilities. I have a windup radio that works well.  I use it for listening anytime I am out doors.

A pair of high end walkie talkies, along with spare batteries, can keep you in communication with others in your group.

14. Money/barter items

One thing most people don’t think of including in their BOB is cash money. Money can come in handy when you are in need. Some will suggest adding silver or gold coins since they have “real” value over the fiat money currently being churned out by the Fed.

You may have to buy housing, passage or even bribe your way past a checkpoint; you never know. Take as much as you can afford.

You may be able to barter any of the high value items in your pack if you come across others who are in need. If you have the room to spare you might pack extra sets of basic items such as first-aid kits, fire starters or extra ammo with the sole idea of trading them.

15. E-Reader

An e-reader filled with all sorts of books is something you can pack with you in your BOB. Fill it with survival manuals, tech manuals, the classics and other fiction and you will have hours of education and entertainment.

You should try to make a provision for charging your reader. An inexpensive model without a lighted screen can run for days on a charge, while the higher end multi-media models only last a couple hours.

BOBs are personal bags, full of things each person thinks they need for their survival. Everyone builds them differently and if they are like me the contents tend to change from time to time. Many items can be added to these 15. The choice is up to you.

What’s in your BOB?

© 2008-2014 Off The Grid News

10 comments

  1. If this were your bug out bag, you would be better of hiding in the attic.

    • Tom, these are always only suggestions and never a set-in-stone menu. My bug-out bag is for a forested area and not like this one much at all. I use the Army manual minimalist approach and plan accordingly. My stint in Nam taught me to carry only what I need to live. The difference in Nam was there was folks trying to kill me and ammo was required. I can only suggest different ways to approach BOB but that should be decided by you for your situation and please don’t condemn someone because their needs may be different than yours…

  2. I have to agree with Thomas… E-Reader?? and no mention of first aid? Are you kidding me? This sounds like it’s been written by someone who’s just guessing. I suggest the author take his “bug out bag” into the field for a few days and see how things work out.

  3. I agree with everything on the list except the e-reader. If you don’t disable the wifi on it, and you get close enough to a wifi signal, you can be located.

    • If you are close enough for you’re e-reader’s wifi to connect most people will see or hear you. I also believe that most people that have used an e-reader for any length of time know to keep the wifi off to save the battery.

  4. A good summary of items to consider and it did remind me that I have everything except the e-reader. Only problem, a few of the less required items are not currently in a BOB!!
    I do agree with the e-reader, if you can afford the extra room and weight of it + recharging capability. I am quite well capable of anything but those items I am not especially skilled at would benefit from lots of documents saved in my Survival folder.

  5. I think many of the respondents have missed the point here all together. These are not the only items in his bag. These are just some things the author feels are essentials. Also most people overthink things.
    Really Lynno? In the immediate aftermath of a disaster do you really think your wi fi signal will matter one fat rats ass? Those signals are going to fill the air everywhere. I rather doubt the NSA or whatever black helicopter conspiracy agency you can think of will be looking for me or even you for that matter.
    I have always thought that an e reader with a small solar charger would be an outstanding addition to a BOB.
    All in all a good list of SOME of the things that we should consider.

  6. The only real problem that I have with this article is the use of the word “essential” in the title.
    In my estimation many of the items listed are luxuries (except for the lack of a cook pot).

    However I take a very minimalist approach with a BOB, so my ideas probably don’t match many peoples. My idea of a BOB is a small bag/backpack/buttpack that has enough of bare essentials in it for me to survive for a few days until I can either reach a better position, or build up a better survival kit.

    This is the basics of what I normally carry in all my vehicles, and have kitted up in my house:

    1) Knife
    2) Fire – I like to carry at least 2 Bic lighters – flint and steel or a fire bow are good things to have
    the ability to use, but why carry it if a better alternative is available?
    3) Basic shelter – I carry two plastic painters tarps and a space blanket. – one tarp for overhead or as
    a poncho the other for ground cover.
    4) A small pot for cooking and sanitizing water
    5) Breakfast bars – usually six or more – two a day for three days, just enough to keep me going
    6) A water container – in the old days I would usually carry a rubber and a sock (for making a
    canteen) but now I usually carry an old plastic drink bottle (or 2) – I live in an area where
    for the majority of the year any water left out will freeze and break the container, so
    except for in the summer or if I’m going on a trip I usually don’t carry any full water
    containers.

    Other items I might carry in my kit can vary slightly depending on space, weather, and terrain but these basics always stay the same.

  7. My BoB is locked and loaded. It’s everything I will need. The biggest question… will I be able to get to it if shit hits the fan quick. It’s not like I lug it all around just in case, nor is it next to the desk at work. I can imagine an escape route with a system of caches along the way would be ideal.

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