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.
I originally had a SOL Breathable Emergency Bivvy but I absolutely cannot sleep in it. It’s WAY too restricting if you’re broad-shouldered. You could try one and see if it works but if it does, you need to hit the gym bro. I almost packed it regardless because it would have been ok to bring along as a pad I could fill in with leaves etc but that put me over my 25 pounds so I dropped it from the list.
Thank you. Real nice job here and I appreciate all the experience and thought that went into it, plus the fact you acknowledge it’s continual work in progress. I’m a former Army Sgt and I’ve done a long extended hike and well as other hiking, additionally I hunt. I’d call this a must read for any prepper. Pack weight, pack weight, pack weight! With all the gadgets, experts, and marketing out there, I cringe at how much this really gets overlooked, or even ignored. For those of you just starting on a BOB, I’d recommend your think more like a hiker– and this article is definitely a great start for you.
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.
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.
For a cup, I originally got a Kupilka Cup to carry along. It’s a very good cup, and one that a lot of ultralight campers use. It’s made out of a composite wood/plastic so it’s very sturdy and insulates well. It was just too small for what I wanted, even though it’s only 3 ounces. Instead, I oped for a Snow Peak Titanium H450, double-walled cup. The double walls make it so your drink doesn’t get cold right away but also means you can’t cook with it. A much more popular option is the Snow Peak HotLips Titanium Mug, which you CAN cook in, but it loses heat quickly and you need the little rubber things on it so you don’t burn your lips. Also, the one I got doesn’t have a handle on it (because it doesn’t need one), so it saves a little space. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the new cup in these pics. The cup FINALLY came in. It does work great though. Even though it’s titanium, it doesn’t burn your lips when you’re drinking something hot like a single-walled cup would. Here’s a pic:
How to Make a Bug Out Bag? – If you decide to make your own bug out bag you’ll want to start with a good-sized, water-resistant backpack and then fill it with a combination of food and practical implements that will allow you to transcend any difficulties you’re likely to encounter. You’ll want to include purified water as well as a water filter (in case the emergency has fouled the local water supply), plenty of freeze dried food along with power bars (but no perishables) and things you can use to protect yourself from the wind, cold and any precipitation that may be falling. Which means you’ll want emergency blankets, dry clothes and rain ponchos. You’ll also want to include other practical implements like a compass, tactical flashlight, walkie talkies, multi tool and more.
Staying healthy in an emergency is imperative to survival. We offer a large inventory of food selections to please your pallet and give you the necessary nourishment you need to survive. Staying hydrated is also key to remaining healthy during an emergency. Our water filtration systems are available in a variety of sizes, including purification tables, liquid treatments, and filters. These products are suitable for camping, hiking, or as part of your emergency plans.
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.
Disaster preparedness doesn't need to be complicated, but you’ll find that shopping and collecting gear for a DIY bug out bag can prove to be difficult. In many cases, the DIY approach may prove more expensive than necessary, leaving you with items you don’t really need—and shouldn’t waste your money on. Instead of forcing useless items into a bag that won’t hold up, opt for a pre-packed, top-rated bug out bag. 

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.
An excellent resource regarding bug out bags is a new book by Max Cooper called, “Realistic Bug Out Bag, 2nd Edition: Prepared to Survive.” This is a monster book at over 600+ pages. It has scenarios, drills, and is full of useful and insightful information. I like that the author stresses planning and has a section devoted to bug out plans and how to practice & train your plan. The section on self-defense is great. The chapter on trauma has very valuable information. He is also a huge advocate of designing a BOB that fits your needs based on factors that pertain to your situation. I highly recommend this book.
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.
Often survival practitioners will carry with them a "survival kit". This consists of various items that seem necessary or useful for potential survival situations, depending on anticipated challenges and location. Supplies in a survival kit vary greatly by anticipated needs. For wilderness survival, they often contain items like a knife, water container, fire starting apparatus, first aid equipment, food obtaining devices (snare wire, fish hooks, firearms, or other,) a light, navigational aids, and signalling or communications devices. Often these items will have multiple possible uses as space and weight are often at a premium.
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.
I don’t know how much you guys weigh, but ideally the total load you’re carrying should clock in under 1/3rd your body weight. Add to that the fact that you might have to carry the kids for a bit, and you may want to shoot for 1/4 body weight. Since you do have kids I imagine you have a some type of stroller or wagon or some such. Might not be a bad idea to put extra water and consumables in there and tow it instead of carry it. It’ll save you calories, help to keep you from having to carry the kids when little legs get tired, and allow you you to pack a little extra. Shoot for something like a baby jogger though, so it’s at least equal to the same terrain as your kids are.
It’s now all in one kit – and not counting food and water, it’s all under 25 pounds. That may not sound like that much of a big deal but when you consider that includes two stoves, a hatchet, a sleeping bag, a slingshot/ammo, and still have room in my pack, it was quite difficult to accomplish. To be as accurate as I could, I got a postal scale and weighed everything individually myself because manufacturer’s weights aren’t always accurate and I’ve modified some things on a couple pieces – and will modify things further later.

When loaded and put on properly, your hips should carry the bulk of your pack’s weight. Because of this, extra padding in the hip belt can make a lot of difference. However, you should also make sure the hip belt isn’t so bulky that it ends up rubbing your hip bones or ribs uncomfortably. In an ideal world, your bug out bag’s hip belt should fit comfortably between the top of your hip bones and the bottom of your lowest ribs. 
The mind and its processes are critical to survival. The will to live in a life-and-death situation often separates those that live and those that do not. Stories of heroic feats of survival by regular people with little or no training but a strong will to live are not uncommon. Among them is Juliane Koepcke, who was the sole survivor among the 93 passengers when her plane crashed in the jungle of Peru. Situations can be stressful to the level that even trained experts may be mentally affected. One should be mentally and physically tough during a disaster.
I have a 5500 version of that bag. I’m 6’0″ 185 and in pretty fair shape. I’m doing everything I can to get weight down on mine. Full at relatively loose packing density the 7000 is gonna be heavy. Without knowing how strong and aerobic you are it’s impossible to say if it’s too much, but I can say it’ll definitely slow you down pretty good. I think that 7000 is more of an INCH size bag. IMHO a BOB should be built for speed and essentials, so you can get where you’re going and regroup. My INCH is a shade under 60, and decreasing, but my BOB is 35 or less, with 2qts of water included. What really helped me was leaving out seasonal clothes and just keeping a beanie hat, neck gaiter, mechanix gloves, windbreaker, and extra socks. It’s there if I need it, but not in the bag.

Sandals are really handy to have if you’re living out of a tent. You can put them on in the middle of the night instead of hassling with boots if you need to go “see a man about a horse” and also for when you’re getting around in the morning with your fire etc before you pack up and head out. Get some strong, lightweight ones though. Some of them won’t hold up very well. The ones I have have been worn through many miles of large gravel walking out to the shower/latrines on FOBs and are still holding up well – and I wear them most days around Phoenix.
The biggest misconception about bug out bags is the idea that the contents in and of themselves will be enough to keep you alive. The truth is that the contents of your bug out bag are only as good as the individual using them. If you don’t know how to make the most of the contents of your bug out bag or ration them appropriately, they won’t help you survive any more than a firearm without any ammunition. You should always take the time to familiarize yourself with the contents of your bug out bag and feel comfortable using everything so that you’re best prepared when TEOTWAWKI does occur.
I got a really good laugh out of several comments here- thanks. Ditto on the nearly 30 years of military service ( and thank YOU!) I have most of the same things, with Smartwool layers added since I live in the mountains. Someone mentioned boots–best I’ve found are Ariat ATS which are waterproof, lightweight, VERY comfy and have a Thinsulate lining. Nothing else I’ve found even comes close. Pricey, but worth every dime as they Really hold up well. But oh God- that thong thing!!!lol
I have a 5500 version of that bag. I’m 6’0″ 185 and in pretty fair shape. I’m doing everything I can to get weight down on mine. Full at relatively loose packing density the 7000 is gonna be heavy. Without knowing how strong and aerobic you are it’s impossible to say if it’s too much, but I can say it’ll definitely slow you down pretty good. I think that 7000 is more of an INCH size bag. IMHO a BOB should be built for speed and essentials, so you can get where you’re going and regroup. My INCH is a shade under 60, and decreasing, but my BOB is 35 or less, with 2qts of water included. What really helped me was leaving out seasonal clothes and just keeping a beanie hat, neck gaiter, mechanix gloves, windbreaker, and extra socks. It’s there if I need it, but not in the bag.

What I will do is recommend that you build your own First Aid Kit instead of buying one of those prepackaged first aid kits that claim to have 1001 things to get you through any emergency. While some are ok, in my experience these types of kits are usually filled with a lot of stuff you are unlikely to need and not enough of the things you will probably need a lot of.
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I agree less is more. Use two contractor refuse bags sandwiched together with leaves and moss in between the layers will make a good sleeping bag, floats for river crossings.water storage etc. Not so detectable on ir, properly camouflaged. Thermal a whole different story. The Oath Keepers site has instructions for a thermal evasion cloak. With a little bit of tweaking it will make a very warm and snug sleeping bag. So if evasion from thermal is a concern this might be a solution. It can be used as poncho, lean to, and rain fly. For survival needs I carry .22 with subsonic 1000 fps thereabouts and a silencer. The sound signature is that of a click of the firing pin. For motion detection $ 9.99 motion detector from Harbor Freight, they come in white, mask and and paint black avoiding the white detector cover.

I have a Harley handkerchief that they gave me at the local shop on Veteran’s Day last year. It can be used to filter out all the big stuff and to soak up small puddles. You can also brush it on tall dew-covered grass and plants as you walk through and wring it out into your mouth, although that won’t taste too good. Much better than using your socks though.
Another factor that affects comfort is the pack’s ability to breathe and dissipate the heat that your body generates as you move. The major area where heat builds up when you’re wearing a bug out bag is along your spine. This is why certain models offer a mesh back panel that creates a small gap between your back and the back panel of the bug out bag. Even a small space here can dramatically improve heat loss and help your body stay cool.
Don’t forget spices and nutritional supplements. Yes, you can plan a well-balanced diet with prepared foods, but not everyone has the same taste. Spices and herbs allow you to change up the flavor of the same basic ingredients for variety and interest. Vitamins and supplements are an important addition to your emergency supply stash. Choose nutrition bars, protein powder, or multivitamin capsules that support nutrition and boost natural immunity.
SHTF is an acronym that stands for sh*t hits the fan. This means that something drastic has happened, like a natural disaster, financial crisis, or a war has started. This term is generally used for when things go south quickly. The other acronym that is commonly used to signal it is time to pull out your bug out bag is ‘TEOTWAWKI’. This stands for ‘the end of the world as we know it’.
Hello i see your thinking it out on the right track . Be careful you might end up like me going almost entirely with true ultralight backpacking gear and in the end you will end up with things like cuben fiber stuff sack tents ect. Using expensive had made 900 fill down sleeping quilts, your already on your way with the stove setup . But you will find you rethink everything and test it over and see if something else lighter smaller can do the same job needed . Good to see ppl starting to get tye real idia less is more.
Prepping is kinda associated with people who prep for stupidly over the top unlikely SHTF scenarios were if the world as we know it has gone then yes maybe a lot of electronics will be useless, but not all, the longer you keep your mobile alive the longer you could have access to what is basically an e-reader which could house millions of survival books and associated materials like mechanics, first aid etc etc, I’d rather carry my tiny phone and a few batteries and a small solar charger than the weight of a stack of books, because in reality you’d need much more knowledge to survive than the significant majority of people possess in their heads, knowledge is power.

When loaded and put on properly, your hips should carry the bulk of your pack’s weight. Because of this, extra padding in the hip belt can make a lot of difference. However, you should also make sure the hip belt isn’t so bulky that it ends up rubbing your hip bones or ribs uncomfortably. In an ideal world, your bug out bag’s hip belt should fit comfortably between the top of your hip bones and the bottom of your lowest ribs. 


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.
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