Regardless of what it looks like, a wilderness survival shelter should embrace these essential principles. It should provide insulation and protection from all elements. It should include a heart source, whether that is a fire, the sun, or trapping body heat. It should be placed in a good location - think high and dry. And lastly, it should offer comfort and sanctuary. After all, this will be your new home.
Since the human body is composed of up to 78% water, it should be no surprise that water is higher on the list than fire or food. Ideally, a person should drink about a gallon of water per day. Many lost persons perish due to dehydration, and/or the debilitating effects of water-born pathogens from untreated water. In addition to water-borne pathogens, minerals and metals can be found in waters downstream from industrial and agricultural operations. The best sources for clean drinking water in a wilderness setting are springs, head-water streams, and collecting morning dew.
Design – The best bug out bag is one with plenty of pockets. This allows you to compartmentalize your bug out bag essentials so that you know exactly where everything is and you don’t have to dig through mountains of other stuff to find what you need. Put all your fire and light things together such as tactical flashlight, candles, headlamp, fire starting kit and storm proof matches. Put maps, GPS devices, compass and other navigation related items in their own pocket and so on. The more you can separate things the easier it will be to transcend your difficulties.
There are a lot of ways to measure the weight of your kit. Some people do like I’ve done here and just counted the basic gear minus food and water, because food and water are very mission-dependent. Some people count everything that goes in or on their pack at full capacity, under worst conditions. Some people go “skin-out” and weigh their clothing, EDC Kit, and everything that they’ll carry under worst conditions. There were WAY too many variables with most of these methods, so I chose to go with the simplest: dry weight (what I’m calling it), without food/water, what I’m wearing, etc.
Wetfire is a non-toxic product that won’t produce clouds of noxious smoke. All it takes is a tiny bit sprinkled on the camp stove to get it going even when the rain or snow is coming down in blankets. In survival situations many perish because they’re unable to create the warmth they need to counteract cold, wet conditions. Wetfire is pocket-sized survival gear that allows you to withstand nature’s worst. Wetfire has a 5 year shelf life and can be activated using any stormproof lighter or other sparking device.
A BOB is the minimum equipment you need (depending on your skill set) to get from point A to point B. It is not meant to last a month or a year or ten years. If you don’t have long term gear at point B and you can’t stay at point A, you’re better off in a FEMA camp. Point B can be anything from a motel to a relative’s house to a cabin deep in the woods someplace but you have to get there when the going gets tough. That’s why a BOB is important. What I think people fail to understand is that what takes 72 hours in good times might take two weeks or more in tough times and that BOB needs to get you through. Hunting, fishing, trapping and foraging are required skills in that case; you can’t rely solely on what you can carry on your back.
The kind of gear you need – It’s easy to get obsessed with survival gear and start accumulating every new product that comes on the market. If you have money to burn and engage in a variety of backcountry activities this might be a sound strategy. Most people however decide pretty early on what type of outdoor activity floats their particular boat and as such any survival gear should have some sort of relationship to that activity. Everyone, for instance, should have an emergency whistle with them but not everyone will need an extreme sleeping bag. Everyone will need first aid items but not everyone will need to carry croval shovel or a tactical watch or field watch. If you’re a mountaineer you’ll probably want that shovel, especially if you’re climbing in the winter. If you’re going on a day hike and aren’t bringing food that requires preparation there’s no need for a mess kit and so on.
To address all the areas first aid kits are needed, Survival Supply offers several types. The most versatile is a nylon bag, with all supplies stored in compartments inside. Such a kit is ideal for motorists and outdoorsmen, as it can be stored in a pack or glove compartment. Wall mount kits are another option. For the easiest access inside a facility, a wall mount kit is clearly visible and marked, and just by opening the door, you have access to all supplies.
Size – Everyone overestimates how much they’re carrying when they go backpacking (if everyone who claimed to carry a 100 pound pack actually did we’d have thousands of hiker deaths every year in the US alone). But a survival situation is one time when you need to be cold-light-of-day honest about how much you can carry and what that load should be comprised of to give you the best possible chance of survival. As a general rule you shouldn’t carry more than 15 or 20% of your body weight, which for most people will be between 20 and 40 pounds. With this in mind you’ll want to take into consideration the weight of the pack itself (which must be deducted from the total load) and its volume so that you wind up with a bug out backpack that can carry the appropriate amount of supplies.

On point number 9. It is best to try and reduce the carry weight but having utensils can drag you down. One solution that I have used is to take a frisbee instead of a plate. Its lightweight, easily cleaned, can be a water dish for any pets, they can be brightly colored for signaling and it has the added bonus of being a toy. A little stress relief can go a long way when times are rough.

The Wise bug out bag comes equipped with most of the things you’ll need to keep yourself and your loved ones well fed and comfortable during a crisis although you’d do well to take the claim of 32 meals with a grain of salt, since they’re counting a 12 serving whey package as 12 meals. As such you’ll want to use some of the extra space in the bag for additional food which you can pick up at any store that sells mountaineering equipment. As for the rest of the items there’s a well-appointed first aid kit, 5 function emergency whistle, an LED flashlight, dust masks and even a deck of playing cards to keep everyone occupied during those long hours in the storm shelter. The nylon bag is water resistant though not waterproof so keep that in mind, but it’s comfortable and well made. If you’re looking for an affordable, well stocked bug out bag you’d be wise to have the Wise Food bug out bag ready and waiting in the closet.


I carried over 100 pounds in Afghanistan including body armor, ammo, etc and it was not very fun. I wanted this bag to be the minimum I could carry and have 80% of what I’d need in almost any scenario within reach. For a full load-out, I’d be adding food, water, weapon, ammo, and maybe even my concealable body armor if it warranted it. That will all certainly push up the total weight but nothing close to deployment load.
There are many choices of packs out there that would make a good Bug Out Bag. In the end, the important thing to keep in mind is your personal preference. Bigger doesn’t always mean better when it comes to selecting the right bug out bag. Remember that a Bug Out Bag is recommended to store 3 days worth of rations, water, and gear in a survival situation.
Great read & outstanding list of items. Extremely helpful & very much appreciated. While I’ve found over the decades that there are usually several ways to accomplish most things, focusing on the core items/goal while adapting to the situations & environment an individual(s) find themselves in is crucial. You can have everything known to man & still have limited skills/experience leaving you vulnerable. You can have all the skills but arrogance & overconfidence can do you in. Applicable intelligence, balance in actions/approach to problem solving on the fly & practice with skills/preps can make the difference in most cases. So one has a 35 year supply of beans and rice, great to have no doubt, but who wouldn’t trade some of it for a coke and some M&Ms for normalcy occasionally? That may be just enough encouragement to get the companions/family through to safety. Again, it’s all a wag for the most part…do what preps you can, develop usable skills…plan, persevere & prevail. Fantastic prep checklist & ideas…thanks! Proverbs 27-17…As iron sharpens iron, so on man sharpens another!
It is easy to improvise most things on this list but some can’t be improvised so easy on the go, thing is if you are bugging out to a safe area you can possibly keep things minimalist, and if you are lucky enough to legally obtain firearms then a reliable compact pistol such as a Walther P22 or Springfield XD 40 can be teamed up with either take down .22lr rifle (AR7-1022tdr) or .40S&W carbine so you can have close in capabilities and also reach beyond the typical shotgun toting highway raider.
Many classic cowboy movies, classic survival books and even some school textbooks suggest that sucking the venom out of a snake bite by mouth is an appropriate treatment and/or also for the bitten person to drink their urine after the poisonous animal bite or poisonous insect bite as a mean for the body to provide natural anti-venom. However, venom can not be sucked out and it may be dangerous for a rescuer to attempt to do so. Modern snakebite treatment involves pressure bandages and prompt medical treatment.[20]
The centerpiece of my food prep is a Solo Stove Wood burning Backpacking Stove in addition to a Trangia Alcohol Stove. The Solo Stove will burn sticks, Esbit fuel tablets (providing you lay them on a piece of aluminum foil or metal so they don’t fall through the grate), pine needles, pine cones, and lots of other things. It would be very difficult to run out of fuel with it. Here’s a good video on the combination:
Every bug out bag should be 100% unique. Sure, there are some basic items that every bug out bag should have (food, lighter, water filter, flashlight, etc.), but you should customize your bag based on where you live, what type of disaster is most likely to occur in your area, and how much weight you can carry over a long distance. Many preppers forget about that last point.
On average, we humans can go about three weeks without food, so this tends to be last on the wilderness survival priority list in most situations. As a wilderness survival guide, I encourage my students to connect with their hunter-gatherer ancestors. The reality is that the majority of our time on Earth, we humans have lived as hunter-gatherers. It is deep in our DNA.
The Stealth Tactical bug out bag assumes that you have not been able to make it to a shelter and will need to fend for yourself in the outdoors. As such there’s plenty of tactical gear to keep you moving, keep you dry, keep you hydrated and keep you safe. That includes a dozen packets of purified water, rain ponchos, emergency sleeping bags, a fire starting kit, survival knife, foldable saw, emergency whistle, first aid kit, paracord, multi tool, candles and even a stethoscope so you can monitor your health.
Tent: In many emergency situations, shelter may be hard to find. While packing a traditional tent may not be a viable option, a good bug out bag should always include a waterproof survival tent. The best survival tents are made of Mylar, which can retain heat and repel water. Pro-tip: Be sure to stack leaves, grass or anything else from around the campsite against the tent for added protection from the elements.
It is easy to improvise most things on this list but some can’t be improvised so easy on the go, thing is if you are bugging out to a safe area you can possibly keep things minimalist, and if you are lucky enough to legally obtain firearms then a reliable compact pistol such as a Walther P22 or Springfield XD 40 can be teamed up with either take down .22lr rifle (AR7-1022tdr) or .40S&W carbine so you can have close in capabilities and also reach beyond the typical shotgun toting highway raider.

I already have 3 very, very, good books on Survival. My favorite is the SAS Survival Handbook by “Johnny Wiseman”. It is the most complete Survival Handbook I have ever studied from. Not only does it have all the basic skills but also details for different food sources & how to find & identify edible plants, but the ones you should not eat. Making weapons & traps. I could go on & on.
Every year in the US about 150 people die while out and about in national parks, more than 1,000 die in hunting-related incidents and thousands of backcountry enthusiasts get in deep trouble and require a Search and Rescue team to save them; with dozens of those folks dying while awaiting rescue. Most fatalities are the result of poor preparation. Bad weather descends and people get lost. They wander without water or shelter, often injuring themselves in the process. If they survive they often suffer frostbite, hypothermia, dehydration, trench foot or some combination of them all.
If you’re ordeal is an extended one you can lash the Ultimate Pro Knife to a small branch to create a spear for catching fish or small mammals. The pommel at the butt end can be used to hammer tent stakes and that little thing hanging from the lanyard cord is a powerful emergency whistle that can take over emergency signaling duties from the tactical flashlight or your long range walkie talkies when the sun comes up. A top-notch knife like this is essential survival gear.
Ideally, when traveling in the wilderness, it is best to carry multiple fire-starting tools, such as a lighter, matches, flint and steel, etc… Even with these implements starting a fire can be challenging in inclement weather. We highly recommend practicing fire starting in different weather conditions within different habitats. Good fire-making skills are invaluable. If you were to find yourself in a situation without a modern fire-making implement, fire by friction is the most effective primitive technique. Popular friction fire-making methods include bow drill, hand drill, fire plow, and fire saw.
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