As important as the size of the pack you choose is the comfort of the pack. Many of the packs that we reviewed have compression straps, extra padding, and other features to ensure that your body is healthy and able to carry what you need. In general, comfort is largely a balance between enough padding and a lighter weight so that the bag doesn’t hinder your ability to move efficiently. When you’re considering the comfort of a given bug out bag, you’ll also want to pay extra attention to how the pack’s hip belt is constructed.
I always carry a Mountain Hardwear Lumina 45 sleeping bag wherever I go. To keep it dry and small, I use an XS Sea to Summit compression dry sack. I’ve had this bag and water-resistant compression sack with me through several deployments and camping trips. It’s very lightweight and packs to about the size of a football. Definitely a nice thing to have.
When you’re cold and wet and in desperate need of warming up you need a dependable way to get a fire started. The Gerber Bear Grylls firestarter is simplicity itself with one end providing a ferro rod to create a spark and the other a metal striker. There’s a lanyard running through both ends so you don’t lose track of anything and a powerful emergency whistle on that same lanyard that will allow you to signal for help. The whole thing tucks away neatly into a waterproof storage unit that measures a modest 4 ¾” in length. Mastery of fire is what separates us from wildlife. This piece of fire-related survival gear can ensure you walk out of the woods at the end of your ordeal.
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. 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.
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.
I agree with all except this one, “you should carry a water filter instead.” That water filter does NOT filter viruses which can incapacitate or kill just as quickly as can the bacteria it does eliminate. Carry purification tablets & a couple gallon sized double-ziplock baggies or an aluminum/titanium pot (multiple uses) or learn about SODIS instead. Why plan to fail?

Here’s another bug out bag that’s designed to help you survive in the out of doors for several days following a natural or man-made calamity. As you might expect from a company call “Ultimate Arms” this particular bug out bag is heavy on the armaments including an EDC knife, a large survival knife, a tomahawk and a full sized machete. Oh yeah, there’s also a pick axe and plenty of bandages in case you really get into it with hordes of the undead.
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:
Rain, snow, and dew are reliable sources of clean water you can collect with surprising ease, and they don’t need to be purified. With a couple of bandanas, Stewart has collected two gallons of water in an hour by soaking up dew and ringing out the bandanas. You can also squeeze water from vines, thistles, and certain cacti. Are there any maple trees around? Cut a hole in the bark and let the watery syrup flow—nature’s energy drink.
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!

Great information. But, please don’t tell people that pepper spray will drop someone in seconds. I was a chemical agent instructor for a medium size police department. I’ve been sprayed by a lot of stuff. Not all of it works on every person. I’ve seen people just sit there and look at you when they were hit full in the face with very good, very reliable chemical agents. We only taught that it was a distraction technique. Use the chemical agent to distract the person so you can hit them next, take them down, flee, whatever your plan is. But, it is only a distraction technique.
Taking a step back may not be a good look on the surface, but Anmuth believes that rationality is finally starting to make itself known in this niche. Both Uber and Lyft appear to be scaling back on their discounting promotions and shifting their marketing efforts to loyalty products and subscription plans that will keep customers close. An industry that lost billions last year could be profitable on an adjusted basis as soon as next year with Uber leading the way.
Some will think the omission of foodstuffs from this bug out bag to be a bit odd but it’s not if you think about it. It might be years before you have to use the bag so it makes sense that you’ll want to procure your own emergency rations and review their condition a couple of times a year, replacing anything that might look dodgy. That said this bug out bag does emergency kit right with the aforementioned items as well as a dozen pouches of purified water, rain ponchos, quality toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving razor, comb, emergency whistle, emergency blankets, survival handbook, duct tape (!), paracord and more. There’s also the obligatory deck of cards for when you finally settle into the emergency shelter. Toss in some dry clothes for everyone involved, charger cords for your smartphone in case you run into a power source and a good book or two and you’ll be ready to wait out events in good shape.

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!
I like your addition of a bug net. One thing I noticed is that the author correctly says to save space and weight to just pack a tarp. However, where I live, from late May to late September if you don’t pack bug netting, a tent with screens or plenty of bug spray you are going to be itchy, sore and tired from no sleep because you are up all night swatting mosquitoes
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.
A typical person will lose minimally two to maximally four liters of water per day under ordinary conditions, and more in hot, dry, or cold weather. Four to six liters of water or other liquids are generally required each day in the wilderness to avoid dehydration and to keep the body functioning properly.[5] The U.S. Army survival manual does not recommend drinking water only when thirsty, as this leads to underhydrating. Instead, water should be drunk at regular intervals.[6][7] Other groups recommend rationing water through "water discipline".[8]
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.
Water and food storage are particularly important in emergency preparedness. Do you have enough of each to last a year off the grid? If not, find the right supplies through our store. Our freeze-dried emergency food kits from Mountain House, Wise Foods, and other brands cover all meals of the day and require minimal preparation: Boil part of your emergency water, add it to the dehydrated or freeze-dried food, and wait a few minutes. Then, your meal is ready to eat as-is. Choose from several emergency food kits with enough items to last a year. For long-term emergency preparedness, many food storage kits last five to 25 years!
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