25 Bug-Out Bag Tricks and Advice You Wish You Knew Sooner

Ask any prepper what the most vital piece of gear they own is and 9 out of 10 times they’ll tell you it is their BOB.

green backpack with two water bottles in side pockets

The bug out bag is an essential, some would say pivotal, piece of kit for any savvy and properly equipped survivor.

It is not a stretch of the imagination to assert that your survival plans may well revolve around having the BOB with you when you need it.

But we as preppers ask an awful lot from our BOB’s. They have to be our mobile armory, store room, pantry and medicine cabinet.

They even have to carry our shelter. When the chips are down we cannot afford to get it wrong, and that means we can’t afford to get anything wrong with our BOB’s.

Accordingly, preppers are always experimenting, innovating, improving, and tinkering with their beloved packs trying to squeeze an extra ounce of efficiency into their current setup.

Everyone has their own way of doing things, but it stands to reason that there are few among us who have all the answers.

Chances are, there is an innovative tip, trick or procedure that you are aware of, something you could use to improve your own BOB in some way.

In the following article we have gathered together 25 pieces of prepper lure that you can use to improve your bug-out bag.

All Things to All People?

Before we jump into our list straight away, keep in mind that the following tips and tricks might not apply to you, your equipment, your situation or even to your pack itself.

Additionally, you won’t necessarily be able to implement every single tip on this list to produce some sort of “ultimate” bug-out bag. You’ll notice as you read through the tips below that some of them are mutually exclusive.

That’s okay, and you should consider each of these as a standalone nugget of wisdom that might be the missing piece for your personal perfect setup, or just something that you had never considered previously.

In short, treat it like a grab bag, or a buffet: take what you like or what works for you and discard the rest without worrying over it.

With that said, let’s get to the list!

Bug Out Bag Tips from an Expert-Alan Kay. Who's Actually Used it. Summer to Winter Transition

25 BOB Tricks and Advice Almost No One Knows

1. Remove Carried Water

One great way to improve your bug-out bag is to get rid of all that water that you are probably carrying.

What on earth?! Has this guy gone mad?! No, I am entirely sane, reader, but for a great many prepper who plans on bugging out in an area where natural water sources are absolutely abundant and regularly encountered along or near every bug-out route, it makes sense to simply ditch the heaviest component, ounce per ounce, of the average survival loadout.

By doubling down on water filtration and sterilization equipment, you’ll be able to partake of plenty of clean drinking water only when you need to fill it up.

2. Stitch It Right!

Many preppers focus on getting the right gear, but fewer focus on learning how to repair that gear.

No matter what you’re talking about, there’s a good chance you’ll break something, something important, in the middle of an SHTF scenario.

If you are unlucky and that happens to be your bug-out bag, either a strap popping loose or, even worse, a panel tear you could be up a creek without a paddle.

It is nonetheless possible to stitch up modern synthetics if you have strong thread and appropriate needles.

Dental floss makes excellent improvised stitching material since it is so strong, flexible and lightweight, meaning you should always keep a roll in your pack, even if you don’t floss yourself!

Lights Out Black Out Kit Power Outage Plan- Prepping for No Electricity

3. Add Power Support

The modern prepper is just as likely to go afield with an assortment of electronics that are going to make his life easier and help him accomplish the things he needs to get done.

Our parents and grandparents who were or are preppers might think such a thing sacrilege, but technology marches on, and marches with us!

But, electronic gadgets of all kinds require electricity to function, and if you want to keep them charging or just sipping power to top off while you are on the move, it would be wise to incorporate power banks and routed cables into your bug-out bag so you can easily hook up and stow your device within easy reach while you walk.

4. Keep It Quiet!

Anyone who has ever served as an infantryman or even in certain capacities during a law enforcement career knows how critical noise discipline is to mission success.

There are all kinds of situations where making noise could directly lead to you being killed, and keeping quiet will never hurt you.

Reducing the noise that your BOB makes will improve your auditory awareness of your surroundings and possibly help you detect trouble before it gets you.

Take the time to meticulously and ruthlessly go through your pack as you have it loaded and silence every bang, squeak, clang and rattle.

5. Enhance Ergonomics

You are going to become intimately acquainted with your pack anytime you take it afield and have it loaded heavy.

You will begin to learn all too well the intricate and interesting ways that it makes you sore, chafed and raw.

If anything about the way your pack rubs you the wrong way, literally, you need to take care of that now before you were in the middle of a real-life situation.

Don’t be afraid to modify your pack with new components, or have professionals modify it for you, for better fit, comfort, and ease of carrying.

The pain and aggravation you save will translate into better physical and mental performance, an edge that adds up over time.

6. Make It Visible

Not every situation is best served by being a super sneaky camo-clad assassin.

Sometimes you need to remain visible, even enhance visibility, so that you can be rescued or just to make it easy for other people in your group to see you in adverse conditions, at night or over long distances.

Since your BOB is likely a large object and will be covering a significant fraction of your person it makes sense to enhance the BOB’s visibility in such times.

Fluorescent covers, reflective panels or even brightly-colored cloths or bandanas tied on can do the trick.

7. Check the Weight

If there is one thing pretty much every prepper with a brain cares about concerning their BOB it is cutting weight.

Saving ounces, ditching redundant gear and getting the BOB and its contents as lean as possible can become an obsession.

Funny, then, how few preppers actually take the time to weigh the BOB with its contents to know exactly what they are dealing with and better inform themselves how they can further improve it.

Remember, if you cannot measure something it is hard to turn it into meaningful data!

When you are tinkering with your loadout, weigh your pack after you make changes so you can better inform your decisions.

8. Use Pack as a Ground Cover

One large and bulky item that some peppers choose to carry is a sleeping pad. Inflatable or foam, this is one of the more difficult items to carry in a well-equipped bug-out bag, even if it doesn’t weigh very much.

They take up a lot of room and generally get relegated to external storage- not an ideal solution.

You can dramatically reduce this burden or perhaps even eliminate it entirely by using your bug-out bag itself as a ground cover when you break down for rest or sleep.

Obviously, this will work best when you unload the contents from your BOB, but if you are making a long stop or you are just a minimalist packer this is an easy way to eliminate that bulky pad.

9. Add a Hydration Bladder

If for whatever reason you need to carry a significant amount of water as part of your provisions and you’re going to be moving on foot you should think about adding a hydration bladder to your bug-out-bag.

Though not as popular as they once were, for a variety of reasons, these are still the things to beat when you went to easily access your water and drink on the move.

Aside from carrying a substantial quantity of water these beat water bottles and canteens hands down for ease of access.

The time and aggravation you save trying to fish your water bottle out of its holder not to mention taking off and then putting the pack back on will add up to a significant gain in efficiency.

10. Visual Inspections Save Lives

If there’s one thing that I’ll bet right now you aren’t doing with your bug-out bag, it is inspecting it for damage, wear, and defects.

It’s funny how we can miss the forest for the trees, and spend so much time fretting and fussing over what goes into the bag that we forget the bag is a piece of equipment unto itself, equipment that also requires a suitable amount of care to ensure that it functions as intended.

If you get in the habit of giving your bug-out bag its own “12-point inspection” every time you pick it up, set it down or otherwise mess with it pretty soon you’ll become so intimately familiar with it you’ll notice when stitching starts to loosen up, when a panel looks a little worn or when something else is going to go wrong. Then you can nip the problem in the bud!

AR15 / M4 Rifle Scabbard

11. Consider a Scabbard

If you have a long gun or even a bow, as part of your bug-out complement consider adding a scabbard to your pack in order to carry it more efficiently.

Carrying a long gun or a bow on your back in addition to a large backpack is challenging, and typically leads to frustration.

It is far easier to control both when you keep your weapon in your hands, but there are times, many times, you’ll need your hands free while underway.

A scabbard will keep the load close to your body and with a little tweaking keep the weapon accessible if you need it.

12. Blend In!

In stark contrast to the other tip above, there are times you’ll need to blend in order to avoid detection, and that means you’ll need to camouflage yourself and your gear to match the surrounding terrain and foliage if any.

Camouflaging your bug-out bag could be as simple as pulling on a dedicated camo cover, rigging up an old laundry sack into a sort of “BOB ghillie” or even spray painting it.

13. Lose the Tent Poles

Some preppers choose to carry tents as a dedicated shelter option when they bug out, and if you are carrying a tent that relies on dedicated tent poles or even a multi-part frame you should consider ditching them.

Invariably these are some of the bulkiest items in your load, and sometimes the heaviest, also, considering what little they do.

Most environments will provide natural or man-made replacements in the form of sturdy branches or some other similar item.

If you already carry a walking stick or trekking poles you can use those to set up your tent effectively.

14. Waterproof It!

Water is a life-giving resource but it is also the enemy of pretty much all man-made goods. You want to keep water off yourself and also off your gear, and that means you need to waterproof your BOB.

This can be accomplished with a built-in or separate rainfly, a commercial waterproofing compound or even a classic, natural material like beeswax, the same thing your granddad probably used!

Whatever option you go with, always test it for integrity before you need it, and in the case of rub-on substances stay on top of maintenance and periodic reapplication.

15. Pack with a Process

You should endeavor to pack your BOB with military precision, the same way, each and every time you pack it.

Once you have determined the final loadout, you should then prioritize knowing where everything goes so you can put it back together quickly should you need to pack up and move with haste, but also so you know where everything is in the dark, by feeling alone.

16. Carry Fragiles Intelligently

Face it, some items we are going to carry are just plain delicate, and improper packing can lead to breakages and ruin no matter how carefully and how gently we move them.

It could be fresh eggs or fresh-picked berries, glassware, or some other incredibly delicate item that you don’t want to break.

What is the solution, aside from wasting even more space and weight with a crush-proof container that you might not have?

All you need to do is tie up your precious cargo in a bindle made from a bandana or similar cloth and then hang it from the outside of your pack.

So long as you don’t take a tumble or set your pack down carelessly this will function as a sort of suspension system to cushion the goods.

17. Condense All Non-Essential Packaging

There are quite a few things you’ll carry, food, in particular, that is guilty of hideously wasting space on superfluous packaging.

Assuming there is an internal package or wrapper that will maintain preservation, sterility or whatever you should remove and discard these bulky outer packages in order to save room and a little bit of weight.

OPTIMIZE Your Survival Kit And Bug Out Bag | Survival Tips & Tricks

18. Add Quick Access Pouches

No matter who you are there will be a few tools or other goods that you will want to access regularly while on the way during a bug out.

It could be a pocket knife, a compass, a small monocular, or even a bag of gummy bears.

Instead of cramming these items into your pants pockets where they could be difficult to access and certainly subjected to copious perspiration consider mounting compact pouches to your pack’s belt or shoulder straps to keep these items handy and safe.

19. Ditch the Bridge!

Hands-down one of my most hated “innovations” that you’ll find on modern backpacks is the periodic, head-scratching, and downright infuriating addition of a bridging strap that runs between your two main shoulder straps, connecting them about where your shoulder blades are.

Bottom line, these straps suck and force you to carry the pack far lower and less efficiently than is nominal.

I don’t know who these straps were intended to help, but they aren’t human beings! If these straps detach, detach them, and if not consider cutting them off if it won’t compromise your main straps.

20. Use a Load Journal

This is a great tip for people who practice regularly with their bug-out bags, or just those who go camping and hiking as a sort of trial run for a live event.

Create and keep a load journal, which is nothing more than a small notebook you can use to detail when, where, and how you use a particular component of your loadout.

After several outings, you can review this low journal and see which items you included that you thought you needed, but turned out not to.

Delete them unceremoniously unless you have a damn good reason for hanging on to them.

21. Avoid Exterior Loads When Possible

One of the worst and most amateur mistakes you can make with your BOB is to start lashing all kinds of crap to the outside.

While it is true that extremely large, awkward or bulky items cannot be reliably carried inside the main or secondary compartments, this practice is to only be employed when you have no other choice.

You don’t want to go banging around looking like an old-time prospector with pots, pans, raccoon tails, blankets and all sorts of other curios hanging off of your pack. It is inefficient and will wear you out quicker.

The Truth About Backpack/ Bugout Bag Weight

22. Pack Smarter!

When packing your BOB, pack it smart, with as much weight as possible close against your back and carried below your shoulder blades.

As you add items to the pack heavier items should be placed close or as close as possible with the lightest items on the outer layer.

The other consideration you should manage is how often you need to access a given item.

Keeping in mind your load order, items you’ll need more regularly or quickly should be kept closer to the zippers, or panel opening.

23. Ditch the Sub-loads

Some folks that carry a lot of gear in a pack rely on stuff sacks, boxes and other containers to organize their goodies.

Only for the most crucial items or the smallest do I encourage this practice, because the sum total of all these containers adds weight but more importantly in this case gobbles up precious volume in your pack since there’s always a dead space that you can’t take advantage of due to the containers.

Better to pack your items loosely so you can take advantage of every single cubic inch.

24. Solarize It!

We’ve already talked about carrying electronics afield as a prepper, and if you are one of those folks that means you probably have a power bank and a solar charger that you are going to use to feed those hungry little gadgets.

If you are smart and take the time to rig up a reliable attachment system, you can hang your solar panel from the top or front of your pack so we can get a little sunlight while you are on the move.

25. Dye It!

If you have a light-colored pack and you are no longer happy with the color or it doesn’t serve your purposes you can dye your pack, straps and all, wholesale.

All you need to do is come up with some fabric or nylon dye, get yourself a large, sturdy container that can withstand boiling water, and then mix up the dye with water according to the package instructions before immersing your pack in the prescribed amount of time.

The end result will be a new, low-profile color!


There is your list of 25 slick and hard-earned BOB tips. Chances are you found at least a few on this list that you are eager to try, and there is no time like the present.

You might find that one of these was the missing link to set up your personally perfect bug-out bag. Give these tips a try and let us know what you think in the comments.

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1 thought on “25 Bug-Out Bag Tricks and Advice You Wish You Knew Sooner”

  1. I really dig the rifle scabbard idea, makes a ton of sense. And many models have molle webbing to attach it to the back of your molle vest, or pack. I prefer the vest, mainly for weight distribution and ease of access for certain items.


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