Bug-out bags are crucially important components in a prepper’s overall readiness plan, and serve as a mobile store room, armory, medicine cabinet, workshop and even house.
No matter what the situation and no matter what you might be facing you will rarely make things worse by grabbing your bug out bag when you head out the door, and it could be the only thing you have time to grab when it is time to evacuate and seconds count.
Myself and other authors have spent a considerable amount of time all across the preppers- sphere examining, dissecting and questioning what items warrant inclusion in a BOB, and under what circumstances, because no matter what those circumstances might be, a prepper has to justify every single ounce of gear that they include, because they will be the ones hauling that BOB all across creation.
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, there are some items that are chronically forgotten from inclusion in a bug out bag’s loadout. These are universally useful items and supplies that will really make you go d’oh! if you have omitted them.
Luckily, we are here with a list so you can avoid embarrassment and aggravation. Below is our list of ten bug-out bag items that you have completely forgotten about!
#1. Wet Wipes
Just because you are bugging out to escape some life-threatening disaster, don’t plan on suspending your normal hygiene regimen. Disease and other maladies resulting from a lack of cleanliness can be just as or more dangerous than whatever it is you’re fleeing from.
You still need to keep your body clean, but the procedures are likely to look a little bit different. Instead of your normal bathroom routine you might have to freshen up using some handy and disposable wet wipes, either the typical baby wipe variety or the larger, sturdier variety intended for hikers, soldiers and other outdoor professionals.
It is fine to assume that you can utilize natural water sources for bathing, but remind yourself that many smaller natural water sources are absolutely filthy all on their own, and furthermore there might not be any around at any rate when it is bath time!
No, it is not as good or as refreshing as getting a proper bath or shower, but it is a whole hell of a lot better than marinating in your own sweat and filth for days at a time.
Even if you do nothing else but target the typical “trouble spots” of armpits, crotch, butt and feet you’ll be drastically reducing the chances but you will take on some bad condition or that there will be an outbreak of disease.
#2. Emergency Blankets
Much ado is rightly made about shelter supplies and materials for inclusion in a bug-out bag, and you’ll get no complaints from me: if the conditions are just right, or I should say perfectly wrong, the only thing that will kill you faster than a lack of shelter is a lack of oxygen.
When it is cold, wet and/or windy you must be able to get warm and maintain your core body temperature, or else you are done for.
A tent, sleeping bag and a warm toasty fire will certainly go a long way towards accomplishing that, but it is criminal to forget the inclusion of one flyweight shelter item that can help you maximize your heat retention: the emergency blanket.
Sometimes called a space blanket, these lightweight and paper thin foil blankets will leave the person using them look like a baked potato that was just brought out of the oven, but as insubstantial as they seem these blankets do reflect a ton of heat, helping to keep you much warmer than you would be normally while adding almost nothing in terms of weight and bulk to your pack.
Beyond wrapping it around yourself, it is possible to set up a space blanket as a reflector to capture even more heat that would otherwise be lost off of your camp fire. Don’t leave home without one or two!
#3. Can Liners
Can liners are sort of a multi-tool for improvisers, and you should not discount the many capabilities of these extra large, extra sturdy trash bags.
These waterproof, durable and adaptable plastic bags can be used for all sorts of things during a survival situation, from carrying large amounts of water, to waterproofing yourself or your pack as an improvised poncho or rainfly respectively, to crafting windbreaks, ground covers and even small bivys or tents.
Perhaps the can liner’s best attribute is its ability to be fashioned into an improvised sleeping bag. All you need is a little duct tape and two can liners. First start by cutting the bottom open in one of liners, then tape it atop the opening of the other liner.
Now you can pack the inside of this extra large bag with dry leaves, pine needles, newspaper or any other insulating material before crawling inside and you will enjoy a surprising amount of warmth, made even better by the fact the exterior of the can liner is almost entirely windproof.
Several can liners removed from their roll and folded flat take up almost no room and next to no weight inside your BOB, making these an easy inclusion.
#4. Snap Lights
Snap lights, or chemlights, are not just popular at raves and haunted houses. Lighting is an ever-present need when you are afield, or even bugging-in at home when the power grid goes down.
There’s always a trade-off to be made with light sources, as they either require a power source of their own or a certain element of risk owing to an open flame.
Snap lights are a light source that can provide you with soft area lighting, excellent signaling capability, and relatively low-profile marking capability, all in an easy to use and completely self-contained profile that is as safe as any light source can be.
All you need to do to activate a snap light is, duh, snap the housing and then shake it. The chemicals inside will mix together and illuminate with an eerie glow lasting for hours, all the while producing no heat and no toxicity. A multitude of available colors gives them some adaptability for signaling, low-light task illumination, trail marking and more.
One of my favorite uses of snap lights is to attach one to a length of cord before whirling it over head like a helicopter. When spun quickly enough this creates a large “disc” of light that is easily visible from the air and perfect for signaling for rescue.
No, I’m not talking about the app. I suspect you can live without that for a little while. I’m referring instead to the hot burning, quick lighting first stage fuel you will use to build a proper campfire.
Tinder is an essential element of creating a good fire that is oftentimes one of the most difficult to come by in a wilderness setting, being susceptible as it is to moisture. For that reason, it is a benefit to any prepper to carry a reasonable quantity with them, either natural or man-made.
Tinder comes in many shapes, forms and materials, and seasoned outdoorsman and preppers alike have their favorites. From over-the-counter fire starters to repurposed items like dryer lint, and even such oddball options as Vaseline-soaked cotton wadding, small strips of bicycle inner tube or even corn chips!
#6. Anti-Diarrhea Meds
Smart preppers will keep with them a well-equipped medkit at all times, one capable of taking care of lesser boo-boos as well as significant trauma. However, in my travels I have noticed that even the best equipped prepper will usually forget to include anti-diarrhea meds among their other pharmaceutical inclusions.
It is understandable when one is worried about infection, pain and other serious ailments but this could prove to be the “lost nail” that loses the war when it comes to survival.
If you have to start drinking from natural water sources and eating food that you hunt or gather yourself you have drastically increased chances of contracting some kind of gribbly illness that could see you leaking out of both ends, if you get my drift.
While many of them are not too serious otherwise, the catastrophic loss of water and electrolytes in your body could put you into a perilous condition that is difficult to recover from. At the very least, it will sap your strength and seriously slow you down, to say nothing of how miserable you’ll be.
You can afford none of those things in a survival situation so hedge your bets against such an unhappy fate by including anti-diarrhea meds with your supplies.
#7. Spare Prescription Lenses
Preppers who need corrective eyewear of any kind, contacts or spectacles, must not forget to include a backup pair in their bug-out bag. Otherwise, you are putting all of your eggs into one basket concerning your vision.
If you choose eyeglasses, make sure they are safely ensconced in a heavy-duty crush-proof case. Do the same for contact lenses, but ensure that you also include the requisite cleaning solution and other required items.
If you are a contact lens-wearing diehard there is a good case for including a specialty pair of prescription safety glasses in your bug-out bag since contacts present unique vulnerabilities in survival situations, especially if they get damaged while being worn on your eyes.
At any rate, no matter how careful you are and how sedate your initial evacuation plan is things will go wrong. It could be an accident, it could be human error or it could be violence.
If you lose your eyewear or it is damaged beyond repair your vision is going to be significantly degraded when you will need it the most. Don’t risk it. Two is one and one is none!
The humble bandana is one of my favorite pieces of gear, and one of the most multi-purpose items you could possibly include in your kit. No matter what you think about them as a fashion statement, you cannot deny the utility of a bandana in a survival situation.
With the inclusion of a single cloth, your bandana can serve as a cap, a sunshade, a bindle, a sack, a ground cover, a rag, a bandage, a sweatband, a signal, padding, a compress, a patch and more.
You can get even more utility and performance out of a bandana if you spring for a high-performance material like silk. Make sure you include a handful in your bug-out bag, as you will always find uses for them.
Though trapping will rarely be a significant part of a prepper’s hunting and gathering plan when living afield, it should not be underestimated, and among trapping plans it boggles the mind that more people do not plan on catching rodents which are among the most plentiful and easiest to catch of potential wild protein sources.
Instead of concerning yourself with elaborate, scratch-built primitive traps, why not carry a couple of mouse traps that you can bait with miniscule amounts of food that you find or brought yourself?
Beyond their use in supplementing your food intake, the sturdy, reliable triggering mechanism of the mousetrap can be used for all sorts of things, including setting up noisemakers and larger, more elaborate traps for bigger game.
Mouse traps are dirt cheap, lightweight and surprisingly handy once you get creative, so it is worth tossing at least a couple into your bug-out bag, particularly if you’re going to be surviving in or around an urban area.
Superglue ranks up there in the adhesive pantheon just a few pegs below duct tape. It works fast, is super strong and is multi-purpose. Those are the trifecta of characteristics that all preppers like to see when considering a tool. Superglue is obviously useful for repairing all sorts of things, from wood to fabric, and that means it is extremely useful for hasty repairs like patching a leaky tent, replacing a splintered handle on a knife or axe, and more.
But super glue also has an additional use you might have heard of, in that it works very well as a sort of liquid suture and cover for small lacerations and scratches.
Though it is true that you would be best served by buying the fancy medical-specific “liquid bandage” for the task, there is vanishingly little difference chemically between the two, and if you don’t have time or the means to close a wound where infection might be the biggest threat it is easy to squish the two sides together, apply a bead of superglue over it and get back to business.
This durable closure will also keep out germs, dirt, and other contaminants.
Your bug-out bag packing list might have every item checked off, but you would be wise to go back and double-check that you did not leave out these ten surefire inclusions.
Some of them are obvious ones that most of us simply forget, while others are more esoteric that nonetheless afford preppers significant capability against their weight and bulk. Whatever the case, think carefully before you leave any of these items behind!