I’m not sure if it has been stated, but thank you for your service! I am so happy I happened upon your page! I immediately was impressed by all the information you have on here. It is almost like sitting across from you having coffee and you are giving us your best info, and I truly appreciate it, I don’t feel so out there in the dark! I will continue to explore your site to glean. Thank you again, and I mean it this time!
All of our hunter–gatherer ancestors had classification systems for living organisms, knew their names, understood their uses, recognized how they inter-related to each other, and were aware of exactly how to utilize those resources in a sustainable fashion. This knowledge was at the foundation of their ability to thrive within the natural environment.
My big ticket items for weight are my cargo items. I currently use an ALICE pack with improved straps. That’ll be the first to go once I can afford a new pack, but I just bought a new rifle so the wife isn’t keen on me dropping a bunch more money for a new pack. I use a Snugpak jungle blanket and Stasha for shelter, I’m looking into getting a proper tent if I leave NC, for now I can string up the tarp as a tent, and bugs don’t like me so I’m okay there. I just swapped my MSR alpine pot for a kettle which dropped about half a pound off my weight. I tried your GORP recipe a while back and it was excellent, so any time I go on a trip I make sure to pack a bag of that. Once I replace my pack I’m sure I’ll be re-visiting this list to see where else I can shave weight, I’m currently sitting at about 42# for a fully loaded pack, I want the whole thing to weigh less than 35# when I’m done.

Everyone’s needs when they Bug Out are different. So your Bug Out Bag should suit your needs. Your size/strength, number in party, where you plan to go and for how long will determine what goes in the bag. Bigger groups can share load weights. The only way to determine which bag works for you is to research and try the different sized and designed back packs. In the end, the weight you’ll be carrying may determine whether an external frame or internal frame will be best.
Tenacious Tape is not the kind of survival gear you won’t use every time out but when that rogue branch falls on your camping tent and rips your fly you’ll be thanking your lucky stars you have it in your bag. It can prevent a difficult situation from turning into a life threatening one. Tenacious Tape is completely weatherproof and won’t ever wash out. It doesn’t leave any tacky residue and is also machine washable. It’s the kind of quiet innovation that elevates the outdoor experience for everyone without making a lot of noise and is essential survival gear for any outdoor aficionado. Available in 3” or 20” rolls and a variety of colors.
Sometimes there just isn’t the material available to create an emergency shelter. In that case if you have the Survival Shack Emergency Survival Tent in your survival pack you’re ready. With all the heat retention ability of the Mylar emergency blanket and the ability to provide real shelter in just minutes the Survival Shack Emergency Tent is genuine survival gear.
The Garmin High Sensitivity GPS tool is a potentially game changing piece of survival gear that employs a quad-helix antenna and GLONASS receiver to provide actionable GPS data even when you’re in the gnarliest locales. With its comprehensive selection of pre-loaded US topographical reference maps you’ll be able to plot an effective escape route from even the direst situations.
When calamity strikes you’ll still need to eat and if there are no shelters in the vicinity stocked with emergency supplies what are you supposed to do? The answer is the Food Insurance bug out bag that provides you with copious amounts of prepared food sealed in vacuum pouches and ready to be eaten. Every Food Insurance meal has a shelf life of more than a decade and requires only a bit of water to prepare. Everything from lasagna to omelets to rice and beans are here along with the stove to cook them. Add some of your own survival gear like a tactical flashlight, survival knife, emergency blankets and water filter and you’re ready for whatever comes down the pike.
I took all my “kit” electronics ie solar panels etc, a duplicate luci lamp (how fun is this!), and some spare LED flashlight bulbs and wrapped them in overlapping wax paper with a dessicant pack, then foil, then wax paper, then a specific 3M dri-shield mylar anti-static bag which I closed with HVAC metal tape (like they use to patch a/c ducting). The tape and bags make for some sharp corners and I’m still pondering how to solve that. You can write directly on the bags with a sharpie or use masking tape to make a label. Every couple of months I open it all up to see if it’s working and/or corroded. It’s a total pain in the patootie to seal it up again but I sure sleep better. Didn’t really add any weight and I didn’t wrap everything just the backup/spare stuff. If there was some weird solar or other event, then I would dump the more EDC stuff if it stopped working. Hubby thinks I’m nuts but I sleep better at night.
“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.
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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.
I know this is an old post, but I was wondering about some advice for a bug out firearm. I am new to shooting, and purchased a sig 229 9mm because if felt good to me- but it’s heavy and kind of bulky. I have modified my pack to allow a handgun to be concealed in the hollow of my back where that nice airflow webbing is in the suspension system. It’s a comfortable spot to carry, and easily reachable, but my sig is a little big, so I was curious about your thoughts on a good weapon choice for concealability, reliability, and stopping power. Keep in mind I’m a lady with smallish hands and even my 9 mm slaps me around a little. I am no gun snob, but I will pay for what works. Thanks in advance for your consideration, and for all the effort you’ve put into sharing your knowledge! I especially like that you are combining ultralight hiking theory with bugging out- exactly where I’ve been heading myself!
Slid into the back of my backpack is a sheet-sized Fresnel Lens. It weighs so little that it didn’t come up on my scale and since there’s a flat spot that it fits into nicely, it effectively takes up no weight. It’s a no-brainer to get one of these. Here’s a quick video I did showing how easy it is to start a fire with one of these if you have a sunny day and some dry stuff laying around:
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.
Some additional items that you should look for in a quality bug out bag include a hydration tube and bladder compatibility (although you’ll usually have to buy these separately), hip belt pockets (where you can store items you want quick access to), and at least one large compartment (where you can fit bulkier items like a tarp, sleeping bag, or large clothing).
Photo by mr.smashyContingencies in the wilderness abound, so it is important to plan for as many as possible. A compass will help you find your way; even better is a handheld GPS device. Flashlights and glow sticks help you find your way in the dark, and a flare gun will assist others in finding you during an emergency. For setting up camp, Paracord or rope, a tarp, duct tape, and cable ties are indispensable. Also vital is a good multi-tool, folding shovel, and gloves. Include waterproof matches, lighter, and fire starting kit; redundancy is a good thing in this instance. In a small tin, pack fishhooks and line, razor blades, sewing needles and thread, safety pins, nails, a small magnet, and some cash.
I noticed that a reliable light weight firearm was on the list. While many may think it uselss, a good high powered barrel break pellet rifle can do almost as much as a 22 rifle. A hundred dollars will get you one at Walmart that you can switch from .177 caliber to 22 caliber. The rifle breaks down and is easily carried inside of a decent back pack. The weight of the ammo is significantly lighter as well. This can be used to take down most birds, squirls, rabbits, small pigs and even foxes as well as racoons, armadillo’s. And snakes. All sources of protein.

Mylar emergency blankets are great survival gear but sometimes you need more than that. The Coleman North Rim Extreme Weather Bag will keep you cozy warm when the air temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit. In temperatures like that you can lapse into hypothermia quickly especially if you’ve been slogging through the woods all day and are sweaty. Just crawl in the North Rim bag and pull the drawstring to lock in the warmth. The cover is durable rip-stop nylon so you can lay it on the ground if need be and there are snag free dual zippers so you can get in and out quickly and easily. Must have survival gear for winter adventurers.
Thank you so much for the detailed info! That battery charger/light/usb charger is very impressive! I can understand why you opted for that vs anything dynamo, but I’m wondering if even with this kit, is there any room for dynamo? For example, a radio or radio/flashlight combo. Also, some people recommend a tactical vest with utmost essentials in case you’re separated from your bag. Would dynamo be best in that case?
The GR1 is a USA made backpack made to Armed Forces specs but with a civilian friendly design. The pack is a favorite among travelers, military personnel, law enforcement, hikers, emergency preppers, students, and of course GORUCK Challenge participants. This pack was specifically built for the Special Forces and has been used in Baghdad and New York City.(2)
I’ve had several times in just daily life that I’ve needed a wrench. Can’t hurt to have one if you’re out trying to survive and come across something that needs to be disassembled. Measuring tapes are useful to make sure you can fit something to something else and don’t have both of them together. I have a fiskars hatchet but it’s a different tool. Chopping a 9″ log is a lot of work but sawing it is pretty easy.
Seems like there are two different types of survival people talk about. One is emergency wilderness type of survival and one is surviving and living without modern conveniences like learning how to make medicine on your own. I got hooked on the first type of survival but realized there’s a whole world of people dedicated to the long-term survival too and I’m really starting to get into that now. Really fun.
Photo by mr.smashyContingencies in the wilderness abound, so it is important to plan for as many as possible. A compass will help you find your way; even better is a handheld GPS device. Flashlights and glow sticks help you find your way in the dark, and a flare gun will assist others in finding you during an emergency. For setting up camp, Paracord or rope, a tarp, duct tape, and cable ties are indispensable. Also vital is a good multi-tool, folding shovel, and gloves. Include waterproof matches, lighter, and fire starting kit; redundancy is a good thing in this instance. In a small tin, pack fishhooks and line, razor blades, sewing needles and thread, safety pins, nails, a small magnet, and some cash.
Culinary root tubers, fruit, edible mushrooms, edible nuts, edible beans, edible cereals or edible leaves, edible moss, edible cacti and algae can be gathered and, if needed, prepared (mostly by boiling). With the exception of leaves, these foods are relatively high in calories, providing some energy to the body. Plants are some of the easiest food sources to find in the jungle, forest or desert because they are stationary and can thus be had without exerting much effort.[12] Skills and equipment (such as bows, snares and nets) are necessary to gather animal food in the wild include animal trapping, hunting, and fishing.
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.
My big ticket items for weight are my cargo items. I currently use an ALICE pack with improved straps. That’ll be the first to go once I can afford a new pack, but I just bought a new rifle so the wife isn’t keen on me dropping a bunch more money for a new pack. I use a Snugpak jungle blanket and Stasha for shelter, I’m looking into getting a proper tent if I leave NC, for now I can string up the tarp as a tent, and bugs don’t like me so I’m okay there. I just swapped my MSR alpine pot for a kettle which dropped about half a pound off my weight. I tried your GORP recipe a while back and it was excellent, so any time I go on a trip I make sure to pack a bag of that. Once I replace my pack I’m sure I’ll be re-visiting this list to see where else I can shave weight, I’m currently sitting at about 42# for a fully loaded pack, I want the whole thing to weigh less than 35# when I’m done.
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.
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