Stewart views fire building in terms of four key ingredients: tinder bundle of dry, fibrous material (cotton balls covered in Vaseline or lip balm are an excellent choice, if you’ve got them) and wood in three sizes—toothpick, Q-tip, and pencil. Use a forearm-sized log as a base and windscreen for your tinder. When the tinder is lit, stack the smaller kindling against the larger log, like a lean-to, to allow oxygen to pass through and feed the flames. Add larger kindling as the flame grows, until the fire is hot enough for bigger logs.
Napoleon was fond of saying that an army moves on its stomach. Well that’s also true for hunters, mountain climbers, backpackers and campers as well. If you find yourself in an emergency situation proper sustenance is even more crucial. The MalloMe 10-piece mess kit is survival gear that allows you to prepare the kind of meals you need to stay in the game. Everything is here from a 1 liter non-stick pot with cover to 2 bowls, stainless steel spork, wooden spatula, drawstring nylon carrying sack and more. Don’t let events get the best of you. Stay well-fed with the MalloMe survival gear mess kit.
Keep in mind this is my personal bug out bag list. I say it’s the ultimate bag because it’s better than anything I can come up with for my circumstances, that takes into consideration my budget, my skills (and lack thereof in some cases), my geographic area, my 25-pound dry weight limit I imposed, and what my most likely scenarios for using it are. There is no perfect or ultimate bug out bag that will work for everyone. Also, some of this stuff I chose because I already had it and some of it I paid more than most people are willing to spend.
So despite the impression many people got from my “50 Items” article, I don’t think you should pack your bug out bag with as many items as possible. In fact, I think you should check your bag for any non-essential items with a large weight-to-space ratio and remove them. To that end, here’s a list of survival items I’ve seen in various lists online that, in my opinion, you don’t really need in your bug out bag.
Making fire is recognized in the sources as significantly increasing the ability to survive physically and mentally. Lighting a fire without a lighter or matches, e.g. by using natural flint and steel with tinder, is a frequent subject of both books on survival and in survival courses. There is an emphasis placed on practicing fire-making skills before venturing into the wilderness. Producing fire under adverse conditions has been made much easier by the introduction of tools such as the solar spark lighter and the fire piston.
The wise outdoorsman always has a multitool with his survival gear just in case. They’re light, affordable, and in the case of the Leatherman OHT they’ll put the venerable Swiss Army Knife to shame. The OHT features needlenose pliers, spring action wire cutters, a high carbon blade, a serrated edge, a can opener, Phillips screwdriver, bottle opener and myriad other attachments.

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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The more you know about nature, the better you will be able to survive in the outdoors. To be great at wilderness survival, beyond the basic survival skills, requires an in-depth understanding of a variety of nature skills. For example, wildlife tracking skills allow one to effectively locate wild game for food, and knowledge of herbal medicine allows one to heal illnesses with wild plants. Especially for the situation where you may choose to purposefully practice survival living for a lengthened period of time, naturalist knowledge is absolutely invaluable.
On another note, the only thing I had trouble with was #1. Yes, sleeping bags are big and fat and are a pain to carry, but they will make up for it in heat. You need that heat, at least here in the Pacific Northwest where I live. You use a space blanket or bivvy, you get either a miserable night (lucky), or hypothermia (normal). I wouldn’t mind packing a bivvy instead if I lived in a warmer climate, but seriously, don’t skimp on the sleeping bag.
Not all automobile needs and breakdown situations are the same, and Survival Supply keeps this in mind. To cover all possible instances, we offer AAA-approved, DOT, and winter roadside emergency kits; survival tools for opening a car door or breaking through a window; separate safety items, such as fire extinguishers and triangles; and additional road safety supplies for first aid and emergency preparedness.
If you choose not to can or dehydrate your own foods, Emergency Essentials has all your bases covered, with a huge selection of freeze-dried and dehydrated foods to see you through in a crisis. We’ve got everything from whole grains to fruits and vegetables to premium meats, so you know you’re getting high-quality food that’s packaged and processed with your family’s needs in mind.
Stewart views fire building in terms of four key ingredients: tinder bundle of dry, fibrous material (cotton balls covered in Vaseline or lip balm are an excellent choice, if you’ve got them) and wood in three sizes—toothpick, Q-tip, and pencil. Use a forearm-sized log as a base and windscreen for your tinder. When the tinder is lit, stack the smaller kindling against the larger log, like a lean-to, to allow oxygen to pass through and feed the flames. Add larger kindling as the flame grows, until the fire is hot enough for bigger logs.
Here’s my post on the best ultralight bug out bag/backpacking tents. The Hilleberg Nallo GT2 tent is at the top of that list for me. It’s a pound and a half heavier than one I have right now but MUCH better. If I lose the large vestibule and go with the Nallo 2, I’m at about the same weight as I am now. Just not sure exactly which way I wanna go with it.
That’s true, we do. It’s clear that we can’t carry everything to survive for a year or more on our backs and we count on our stash at point B. If it’s not there, we do the best we can, go to a FEMA camp or die. What are our alternatives? I think that most people will go to point B if they see the problem before it arrives (hurricane) but a surprise nuclear attack on Houston (in my case) would necessitate a quick exit along with everyone else still alive. As to ‘bring it’, I certainly would if a. I had an operational vehicle and b. the roads were clear enough to get around minor obstacles – I don’t and won’t have a two ton or half track at my disposal. If not of if my vehicle becomes untenable along the way, I’ll put on my boots and my BOB and do the best I can. As you say, there are many scenarios.
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.

Hunting, fishing, and trapping are also significant endeavors, ones that take much time and practice. These are also skills that are often times unnecessary in a short term survival situation. However if you are in a wilderness survival situation for any length of time, you'll want these skills. Throwing sticks, bow and arrow, primitive fishing, spear fishing, and primitive trapping are all important to learn.

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.

Yes, this is something that often goes overlooked. I wouldn’t COUNT on everyone being there for a bug out situation, as by nature you never know where everyone might be at the moment and if they will all be there with you, but spreading the weight across several people can make a huge difference. Suddenly an unfathomable 50 pound carry load becomes more than reasonable with a family of 5.
Making fire is recognized in the sources as significantly increasing the ability to survive physically and mentally. Lighting a fire without a lighter or matches, e.g. by using natural flint and steel with tinder, is a frequent subject of both books on survival and in survival courses. There is an emphasis placed on practicing fire-making skills before venturing into the wilderness. Producing fire under adverse conditions has been made much easier by the introduction of tools such as the solar spark lighter and the fire piston.
As a wilderness survival guide, I often am called upon to differentiate wilderness survival from primitive living. Often times these two are lumped together as one, but in fact they are distinct. Wilderness survival refers to the actual experience of survival in the wilderness, which may or may not be a "primitive" experience depending on the gear you have access to. Wilderness survival is usually a short term experience. Primitive Living is usually a long term experience, and refers to the experience of living in a primitive setting, practicing primitive skills for an extended period of time.
Ummm. Take a closer look. A Baofeng uv-5r has 4 rows of numbers and a Yaesu vx-6r has three (I have both). The photo shows three. Obviously, it’s a yaesu. As far as where I gained my experience, I guess you’d have to actually look around the page to either the top right or near the bottom to find it, or look on the about page, which is also linked.
It’s an impressive lineup – did we mention the 2 person tents? – that, like many of its competing bug out bags, is light on food. Although there’s plenty of room in the heavy duty nylon backpack for all the food you’ll need to survive several days in the wild. The company advertises their bag as being ‘discreet’, which is their way of saying others won’t recognize that it’s full of high quality survival gear and try to steal it from you. That may very well be but if Hurricane Harvey is bearing down on your location you have bigger things to worry about. The 2 person tent we mentioned is minimalist in nature but will provide welcome shelter if you can find a dry place to set it up and the waterproof backpack cover that comes with the bug out kit is a major plus this bug out bag has over some of the competition. The Stealth Tactical bug out bag costs a little more but it’s ready for whatever comes.

sorry Paul…if you get a Lifesaver bottle, it does filter bacteria…in fact it filters everything. And its good for 1000s of litres. http://www.iconlifesaver.eu/ Theres lots in the article I agree with, and lots I don’t. Get an SAS style hammock with shelter for over top and at least be comfortable. An ultra light sleeping bag weights less that 12 ozs and is a whole lot more comfortable than an emergency blanket. There are so many LED lights out there that you can pack a small crank or solar rechargeable light. Fire might bring the baddies. Better to be safe and unseen than seen an unsafe.
sorry Paul…if you get a Lifesaver bottle, it does filter bacteria…in fact it filters everything. And its good for 1000s of litres. http://www.iconlifesaver.eu/ Theres lots in the article I agree with, and lots I don’t. Get an SAS style hammock with shelter for over top and at least be comfortable. An ultra light sleeping bag weights less that 12 ozs and is a whole lot more comfortable than an emergency blanket. There are so many LED lights out there that you can pack a small crank or solar rechargeable light. Fire might bring the baddies. Better to be safe and unseen than seen an unsafe.
Here’s my post on the best ultralight bug out bag/backpacking tents. The Hilleberg Nallo GT2 tent is at the top of that list for me. It’s a pound and a half heavier than one I have right now but MUCH better. If I lose the large vestibule and go with the Nallo 2, I’m at about the same weight as I am now. Just not sure exactly which way I wanna go with it.
As a wilderness survival guide, I often am called upon to differentiate wilderness survival from primitive living. Often times these two are lumped together as one, but in fact they are distinct. Wilderness survival refers to the actual experience of survival in the wilderness, which may or may not be a "primitive" experience depending on the gear you have access to. Wilderness survival is usually a short term experience. Primitive Living is usually a long term experience, and refers to the experience of living in a primitive setting, practicing primitive skills for an extended period of time.
Making fire is recognized in the sources as significantly increasing the ability to survive physically and mentally. Lighting a fire without a lighter or matches, e.g. by using natural flint and steel with tinder, is a frequent subject of both books on survival and in survival courses. There is an emphasis placed on practicing fire-making skills before venturing into the wilderness. Producing fire under adverse conditions has been made much easier by the introduction of tools such as the solar spark lighter and the fire piston.
Many people who are forced into survival situations often get into serious trouble because of direct exposure to the elements. Most people in survival situations die of hypothermia, which can be easily avoided with basic survival skills. A shelter can range from a natural shelter, such as a cave, overhanging rock outcrop, or fallen-down tree, to an intermediate form of man-made shelter such as a debris hut, tree pit shelter, or snow cave, to completely man-made structures such as a tarp, tent, or longhouse. Here are some things to think about when planning to build a shelter:
Not surprisingly, hypothermia is the number one outdoor killer in cold weather. That means a well-insulated shelter should be your top priority in a prolonged survival situation. To make a simple lean-to, find a downed tree resting at an angle, or set a large branch securely against a standing tree, and stack smaller branches close together on one side. Layer debris, like leaves and moss, across the angled wall. Lastly, insulate yourself from the cold ground–which will draw heat from your warm body–by layering four to six inches of debris to lie on.
I carry electronics also, but use a 1L dry sack ( http://pin.it/TST5oS- ) should Murphy’s Law define the moment. A larger dry sack is the ideal container for carrying my spare underwear (hot or cold season), and another dry sack is carried for bandanas, bandages, and gauze. A 35L dry sack is used as a liner for my Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 pack and doubles as a floatation device when sealed for hasty stream / river crossings.
The LifeStraw filter meets EPA standards and has been shown to remove more than 99.9% of waterborne parasites and bacteria. Humanitarian relief workers in all corners of the globe use the LifeStraw to help bring safe water to threatened communities and refugee camps. The “straw” itself weighs a scant 0.1 pounds and measures 9” in length and 1” in diameter. Few things are worse than being lost and being besieged by waterborne illness. Bring this essential piece of survival gear with you whenever you venture into the wild and make sure water problems are not on the menu.
Great information, I was getting ready to buy a 5.11 Rush tactical bag, but you made a great argument against, will look at the Osprey instead, plus this will allow me to use my gear during normal conditions without looking like I’m going on a tactical outing. Also added a bunch of stuff to my wish list from your list of items. Thanks for your article, it was very helpful.
With goTenna you use a simple smartphone messaging app as a platform for sending SOS messages along with your handheld hunting GPS coordinates should you need emergency help. You can also use it to chat with emergency services so they know your exact condition and can prepare accordingly. It’s off-grid survival gear at its best and could be the difference between life and death.
MOLLE organization systems are a great added feature for a BOB. MOLLE webbing is straps built into the outside of your pack that allows for additional gear and even other packs to be attached externally. If you have a sturdy pack with MOLLE webbing and carabiners, you can add a lot more gear on the outside of the pack that you otherwise might not have been able to pack inside your BOB.
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.
The wise outdoorsman always has a multitool with his survival gear just in case. They’re light, affordable, and in the case of the Leatherman OHT they’ll put the venerable Swiss Army Knife to shame. The OHT features needlenose pliers, spring action wire cutters, a high carbon blade, a serrated edge, a can opener, Phillips screwdriver, bottle opener and myriad other attachments.
That is strange, and I can’t imagine what triggered it either. Just happy that the thanks, and the boot info went through. generally I don’t comment at all, but thought it would be good to help out with the hiking boots info. We use them for riding as well as hiking, which should be a pretty good indicator as to how well they do hold up. Mine look pretty new considering what I’ve put them through. Much of my stuff is the same as yours. I’d spent a lot of time and effort on the choices made. One major ” ouch” price-wise was my choice of Western Mountaineering’s Ultra Lite Sleeping bag. Rated to 10 deg. F, it was a good choice for the high altitude area I live in. I really had to think long and hard before coughing up the cash, but I think it was worth it. Still do!

“You’ll come across two kinds of water in the wild,” Stewart says. “Potable water that’s already purified, and water that can kill you.” When it comes to questionable water—essentially anything that’s been on the ground long-term, like puddles and streams—your best option is boiling water, which is 100 percent effective in killing pathogens. But sometimes boiling isnt an option.

Another concern when you’re lost in the wild is where to procure potable water. Sometimes there will be bubbling streams of crystal clear water rolling down wooded hillsides to fill your water bottle and sometimes you’ll have little more than a stagnant pool standing between you and dehydration. The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is survival gear that can turn that stagnant pool into a lifesaver.
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