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.


“It’s your number one, go-to rescue knot,” Stewart, who uses a mnemonic for every knot, says. It’s foolproof for fastening rope to an object via a loop, particularly when the rope will be loaded with weight: the harder you pull, the tighter the knot gets. Stewart’s mnemonic for tying the bowline from any angle is “the rabbit comes out of the hole, around the tree, and back in the hole.” Use this mnemonic, says Stewart, and “it doesn’t matter if you tie it spinning on your head. It’s going to come out right.”

To keep as much of the cooking stuff together, I put the Trangia Stove inside the Solo Stove, which then fits inside the pot and lid. I put all that inside the Reflectix cozy/lid. Because that leaves some room (and bangs around inside as you walk), I put the salt, seasoning blend, and sugar (each in a different colored UST 1.0 Aluminum B.A.S.E. Case) on top of the stove and a scrubbing sponge on top of that. It all fits quite nicely. You can see it all in the pic above in the bug out gear list section.
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.
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.
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. 
You sir are an inspiration. My EDC is decent and moving on to build my BOB. Your list is comprehensive and explained very well. To those wanting GW to build their bag… move on. You need to do the work yourself because he isn’t going to be there to hold your hand when SHTF! Plus, I find a lot of my “additions” at thrift stores/garage sales. “Oh, I can add this to my bag!” always is in the back of my mind. Prepping doesn’t happen overnight… it’s a mind set.
From the SpeedSafe, one hand assisted opening to the 4 position pocket clip to the uber-secure liner lock that prevents the blade from closing on your fingers the Brawler from Kershaw is the kind of safe, effective survival gear you want at your disposal when things get gnarly. The modified Tanto blade has a pointed tip for precision work, spearing or piercing and the high carbon holds an edge longer than standard carbon steel blades. An invaluable addition to your emergency supplies when the weather closes in and you’re miles from nowhere.
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.
Although most people have enough room to designate a corner of the pantry or an area in the basement for their emergency supplies, there are other options. Assemble or buy a 72-hour survival kit for each member of the family and each pet. Store these items where each family member can grab his or her own in an emergency. Conveniently place these kits in a bedroom closet, on a shelf in the mudroom, or in the trunk of the car. Make sure everyone knows where you have stored the kits, and designate someone to grab kits for pets and young children.
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.
Nice list. Its uncanny that I myself have most of the same exact gear. Even so I would like to give all my gear a cold weather weigh in as I live up north. I have warm and cold weather kits and the cold weather kits get heavy quick since the sleep systems are so darn heavy. Havent done a weigh in for a while, made me think. I cant carry what I used too a decade ago.
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!
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.
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
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.
A lack of water causes dehydration, which may result in lethargy, headaches, dizziness, confusion, and eventually death. Even mild dehydration reduces endurance and impairs concentration, which is dangerous in a survival situation where clear thinking is essential. Dark yellow or brown urine is a diagnostic indicator of dehydration. To avoid dehydration, a high priority is typically assigned to locating a supply of drinking water and making provision to render that water as safe as possible.
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.
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.
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.

I’d love to know what all that crap weighs you really don’t need half of it… dump all the water purification crap and boil water. You don’t need a bowl because you have a canteen cup to heat over a fire. Forget the MRE’s it’s heavier than freeze dried. Bring one large solid tang knife you can hit and dump the rest you don’t need saws and hatchets. Bring a .22 some ammo. Dump all that electronic crap & batterys. Forget the carabiners you can’t carry all that crap anyway, face paint, walking sticks, you name it. Take only what you need, bring a bic and learn how to make a fire bow with some 550 cord
It is an extremely important list in my opinion but dances between the motive. Sometimes it’s hiking, sometimes it’s nuclear bombing and sometimes a fugitive (I even felt Zombie Apocalypse). I think you should set specific scenarios and then try creating a list. For example, a person leaving his home to find a job in a new city or a person who is on a constant move. So you can think about what exactly matters and what does not. We are easily confused homo sapiens, we don’t need a big list of items that may come to our use, we need a list of items we may have forgotten but are very important to us. So, having a scenario-specific list is better. But I do like the list, it made me add a few more items to my almost perfect list.
It is an extremely important list in my opinion but dances between the motive. Sometimes it’s hiking, sometimes it’s nuclear bombing and sometimes a fugitive (I even felt Zombie Apocalypse). I think you should set specific scenarios and then try creating a list. For example, a person leaving his home to find a job in a new city or a person who is on a constant move. So you can think about what exactly matters and what does not. We are easily confused homo sapiens, we don’t need a big list of items that may come to our use, we need a list of items we may have forgotten but are very important to us. So, having a scenario-specific list is better. But I do like the list, it made me add a few more items to my almost perfect list.
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!
To keep as much of the cooking stuff together, I put the Trangia Stove inside the Solo Stove, which then fits inside the pot and lid. I put all that inside the Reflectix cozy/lid. Because that leaves some room (and bangs around inside as you walk), I put the salt, seasoning blend, and sugar (each in a different colored UST 1.0 Aluminum B.A.S.E. Case) on top of the stove and a scrubbing sponge on top of that. It all fits quite nicely. You can see it all in the pic above in the bug out gear list section.
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.
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.

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.


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.

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.

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 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!
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.
Untold numbers of people wind up suffering frostbite, shock or hypothermia every year because they didn’t have adequate survival gear when the weather on their wilderness adventure took a rapid turn for the worse. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Titan 2-sided Mylar Survival Blanket is light as a feather and yet capable of retaining up to 90% of your body heat.
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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’.
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.
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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