Guest Post: How to Put Together a Bug-Out Bag

This article is a guide to creating your own bug-out bag. A bug-out bag is collection of items put together to help you survive and thrive in an emergency. If you need to leave your home in a rush, the contents of your bag should allow you to be as self-sufficient as possible.


Bug-out bags are usually designed to keep you supplied for 3 days. The first 3 days after an emergency are usually the worst, after which help (usually!) arrives. Carrying more than 3 days worth of supplies would also make your bag much heavier, drastically reducing your mobility.


This tradeoff is at the heart of every decision that comes with building a bug-out bag or survival kit- the tradeoff between added usefulness and increased weight. Every time you add a new item, you increase the weight of your kit, making it more difficult to carry. You want your kit to be as light as possible, so you can move with it, while at the same time being as useful as possible. The equilibrium usually falls at a point where all the essential items are covered, with as many multi-use items included as possible.


So here is a list of potential items, I would recommend including most if not all of them, and then if you have extra space adding other items you deem important. Put all of your items in a light-weight, easy to carry, weather-resistant backpack.




3L of water: This allows you 1L of water/day, the bare minimum for survival. More would be ideal, but water is heavy. So for the sake of reducing the weight, we’ll keep the minimum but have a backup option, which leads us to…


Water Purification Tablets: They will allow you to purify unknown water sources and make them safe to drink, giving you access to extra water if/when we need it.


3 Days Worth of Food: Go with high-calorie, high nutrient, non-perishable items that don’t require much (if any) preparation. Some ideas are protein/granola bars, beef jerky, peanut butter, fruit cups, etc.


A Small Mess Kit: Have some disposable plates, forks, knives and cups to eat your food with. Throw in a few garbage bags as well, to remove your garbage or waste with.


3oz Gel Fuel: Can be used for cooking.


A few Ziploc bags: for leftovers.




A First Aid Kit: An essential item for treating wounds and injuries.


A Portable, Battery-Powered Radio: This may be your only source of information if you’re on the move. Have a spare set of batteries just in case.


An LED Flashlight: You need a light source. LED flashlights are brighter and longer lasting than regular flashlights. Have an extra pair of batteries for this as well.


A Swiss Army Knife: Supplies you with a blade, plus many other items that vary depending on the make.


A Zippo or Water Proof Matches and Striker: You’ll need something to get fires started. These are two durable items that will come through for you in tough weather conditions.


Assorted Tools: Things like a hammer and nails, an adjustable wrench or crowbar can come in handy. Again, you’ll need to find a balance between usefulness and increased weight.


Dental Floss and Sewing needles: These can be used for repairing torn fabric, or stitching wounds.


Compass: For navigation.


A Candle Wrapped in Tin Foil: The candle can be a secondary, stationary source of light. The foil can have various uses.


A Mirror: For inspecting wounds, grooming, and signaling to others.


A Whistle: For scaring off animals, or signaling to others.


Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape: Can be used to seal broken windows or to build a shelter.




Copies of Important Documents: During a disaster, it is wise to have copies of your various documents (passport, driver’s license, etc) to verify your identity. You should also have a list of important contact numbers and info here.


Medication and Special Items: Have some extra medication on hand for anyone in the family who requires it. An extra pair of glasses/contacts for anyone who needs them is a smart idea as well.


A small pencil and notebook: For writing down information or leaving notes.


A poncho: To stay dry in the rain or snow.


Extra clothes: To stay warm and dry. At minimum, have a warm hat, and extra socks. Most body heat is lost through the extremities such as the head and feet.


A warm blanket: To keep you warm should you need extra covering.


Personal Hygiene Items: Have stuff like shampoo, bar soap, disinfectant, a toothbrush and toothpaste, floss, lip balm, Kleenex, sun screen, bug repellant, etc.


Some Extra Cash: A little extra cash to cover food, gas and lodging for a few days.


A Map of the Area: Have a map of your surrounding area, so you’ll be able to find your way around easily.




These items are much larger in size and investment, but if you have access to them and are moving with a group that can help with the burden of carrying them, they can be of tremendous use.


Camping Gear: Will allow you to stay outdoors for longer periods and in greater comfort.


A Camping Stove: Will allow you to boil water and cook food. Keep the gas tanks full at all times.


A Gas Mask: If you live in an area that could potentially be a terrorist target or be witness to some chemical disaster, this could be of use.


Keep all of your items neatly packed in your backpack, and store your bag in a place out of the way, but easy to get to should you need to leave quickly, such as the top shelf in a closet.


If you live in an area surrounded by wilderness or spend a lot of time outdoors, you may want to consider a variation of the bug-out bag, the wilderness survival kit.


Good luck and stay prepared!


You can read more from RamboMoe at his site, (link removed, website not active).

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  1. This is a really timely post for me as I have my daughter and grandson visiting and wanted to talk to them about putting together BOBs to take with them. I like the simplicity of your bag and would add one thing though, I would replace fruit cups with dried fruit and add perhaps a lb. of lentils and a muslin bag for sprouting maybe some freeze dried coffee or individually foil wrapped tea bags.
    Again, great post and thank you!


  2. Beware buying surplus gas masks and their filters. Especially from the cold war period. These filters have a shelf life and you could be buying something that offers you zero protection. =)

  3. Might I suggest a few things? First Aquamira makes a very handy item known as a filter straw or Survival straw. Basicely its a charcoal water filter with a plastic straw attached to it. It’s size and weight make it very portable. It’s rated for 20 gallons and is supposed to filter out 99% of giardia and protozoa. Secondly A poncho is a useful thing to have, but a nylon tarp can be better. It serves the same purpose but can be had in larger sizes. It packs down to roughly the same size and weight as well. Thirdly just in general, make sure the items you pack in a bob are multi-use and that they are able to be practiced with. There seems to be a trend in(pre-packaged) bugout bags/survival kits to use “one and done” items. As with any skill if you don’t use it(practice) your gonna lose it. While I’m sure this is all old news to the folks on this blog, it’s always good to get a reminder.

  4. Nice post. The only change I would HIGHLY reccomend is to switch the LED flashlight out with an LED headlamp. These things are awesome and they leave your hands free (very important for any nightime task).

    Be sure to get one that is at least water resistant, and has decent amount of Lumins. You get what you pay for, but you can get an excellent waterproof lamp for about $30. Most use AAA batteries and last for quite a long time.

  5. Good site! If you follow through the Wilderness Survival Kit, there are also additional links for Creating Your Own First Aid Kit and 72 Hour Emergency Survival Kit. Our Survival Kits (camping items) and Bug Out Bags (food & clothing) have been packed for a while. But, I am always interested in reading another “prepper’s” opinion. Even if I don’t get a new idea, I receive some re-enforcement that we packed the right things. Thanks.

  6. Good article, I never get tired of these. I like to see what others have for preps. I use my Large Issue Alice pack for my BOB, and a maxpedition Condor for my GHB. I agree with Daniel, anything multi-use is a force force multiplier and reduces wieght

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