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.

Wow! This is fantastic! I started out blindly trying to put together an emergency “bug out” bag and I found this well written breakdown extremely helpful. So much so that I’ve actually purchased many of the recommended items. A somewhat costly endeavor considering that I made two identical bags, one for my wifes vehicle and one for mine. We live in a earthquake prone region and the talk of the “big one” is always in terms of “when” rather than “if”. It gives me considerable peace of mind to know that no matter where my family is we have the means to survive as long as we can get to our car.
Just as you might imagine a company called “Ultimate Arms” would produce a bug out bag heavy on weaponry so to you’d be safe in assuming a company called “Food Insurance” would produce a bug out bag tripped out with food rations. This bug out bag eschews the notion that you’ll need to hack your way through starving, blood crazed, fellow survivors and instead assumes you’ll need to eat in order to keep your strength and spirits up should you be dislocated due to natural or man-made disaster. As such there’s ample food for a couple to keep themselves fed for a week or a single person for 2 weeks and still lots of room in the backpack for other things like Uzis, pepper spray and concussion grenades should you feel the need to bring them along.
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.
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!
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.
GPS is great but what happens when your battery dies, and you don’t have a portable battery handy? The compass is the one piece of survival gear that will never let you down. Sure, it can’t tell you if there’s a town nearby but it can prevent you from wandering aimlessly in circles. The Eyesky compass is designed specifically to help extricate you from emergency situations. It features conversion charts to measure distances, a rotating bezel ring to determine your heading and adjustable sight lines to plot your course. It’s also built to last. It will take you all of an afternoon to learn how to use the Eyesky compass and it may turn out to be the most valuable afternoon you ever spent.
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.
What happens when a disaster hits while you are on the road? Survival Supply has you covered in this area, as well. For preparing your any type of auto disaster, from a breakdown to a whiteout, go with a thorough roadside kit from our store. Each of our auto emergency kits has just the right supplies for handling standard car problems, increasing your visibility in the dark, and signaling for help.
There are a lot of ways to measure the weight of your kit. Some people do like I’ve done here and just counted the basic gear minus food and water, because food and water are very mission-dependent. Some people count everything that goes in or on their pack at full capacity, under worst conditions. Some people go “skin-out” and weigh their clothing, EDC Kit, and everything that they’ll carry under worst conditions. There were WAY too many variables with most of these methods, so I chose to go with the simplest: dry weight (what I’m calling it), without food/water, what I’m wearing, etc.
This wilderness survival guide wouldn't be complete without acknowledging this; hands down, skills are much more important than gear when it comes to wilderness survival. You can buy and collect all the best gear in the world, but what happens if you forget it? Or lose it? Or use it up? Then you'll be relying on yourself - your skills. With that said, it is still good to learn about wilderness survival gear and put together a wilderness survival kit. Just don't' depend on it.
The Trangia Alcohol Stove is a great addition to it because the Solo Stove makes it more efficient. The nice thing about the Trangia is that it has a screw-on lid so you can put the flame out and carry it with fuel in it so you don’t have to guess exactly how much fuel you’ll need each time. It burns alchohol so I carry 8 ounces of yellow HEET (which is methanol), carried in one of those cheap squirt bottles you find in the travel size section at the grocery store. Don’t get the red HEET (isopropyl), it’s not nearly as good. There are many fuels you can use with it though. Of note is Everclear, which can be used inside without worrying too much about the fumes, and you can drink it *shudder*.
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.
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.
Cold weather gloves: A sturdy pair of gloves will provide you with better grip, protect your hands from cuts and splinters, offer warmth in low temperatures, and keeps your hands clean to reduce the risk of infection. In the aftermath of a disaster, you may be tasked with moving fallen branches, gathering firewood, or making your way through broken glass, and high-quality gloves will give you the dexterity to accomplish these tasks.
I cut a 6′ section of that same Reflectix that I used for the pot cozy/lid, and sealed the edges with aluminum tape. It makes for a great lightweight sleeping pad. I take it camping but it’s not in my bug out kit normally because it’s 11 ounces and I’m trying to stay under 25 pounds. I may end up just keeping it in there anyway at some point but I’m trying to cut down another 10 ounces before I put it in if I can. This is it all folded up nicely n such.
A: When organizing materials in a tactical backpack there are certain fundamental rules to follow such as packing the sleeping bag at the bottom and placing most of your heaviest items in the center of the bag, with clothing like thermal tops and hiking pants etc above that. If you’re carrying a tent it should be lashed to the side of the pack. Survival gear – like most of the items reviewed above – is often small and light and should be distributed in the exterior pockets of the backpack where it can be easily accessed in an emergency. Place items related to the same task in separate pockets; i.e. place all your fire starting related items in the same ziplock bag and put them in one pocket then put your navigational aids together in another pocket. Things like emergency blankets and Mylar survival tents can go together in another pocket. While your tomahawk should be tucked away in the backpack, your knife should always be carried on your person. If you need to use your survival gear for any reason it should be returned to the same pocket you took it from so there’s no confusion if you need it again.
We are going to Need Long Term Gear because we will be at WAR. A Civil war, as a matter of fact. This is not going to be like Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, etc., etc. So, when it comes to the ESSENTIALS, there shouldn’t even be a Thought of “Games”, “Bipods”, “Frisbees”, or any such ‘stuff’ should not be a consideration. Simply put, unless you plan on joining up with a Group where there are enough people so that you can afford to actually have time to “Play” -when you [will] NEED time to eat, clean yourself, and then sleep: not to mention those Unknown Factors, such as Wood gathering, Repairs to equipment (Tents, Clothes, Weapons, Boots, Etc.), Catching/Cleaning/Cooking food (Then the clean up of it all) we are not going to have the Luxury of all this ‘stuff’. Seriously!
There are 2 types of bug out bags; homemade and pre-made. While there are some folks content to make their own bug out bag there are also plenty who would prefer to simply pick up one that’s already been well thought out and prepared for them. In this review guide we’re going to take a look at the best of those pre-made bug out bags and discuss what makes each of them the best bug out bag worth having should the creek rise or a hurricane make landfall in your area.
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.
“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.”
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.
Regardless of whether everything is going swimmingly or you’re lost in a whiteout above tree line your boots are one of the most important pieces of survival gear you have. You need them to stand up to the elements and keep your feet dry and comfortable. Irish Setter Men’s Waterproof Hunting Boot is a fine example of the state of the bootmaker’s art.

One of the most important things to have in a survival kit is a fixed-blade knife. I used to carry a SOG Seal Elite, and I even carried it in Iraq and Afghanistan, but for a bug out bag here at home, I wanted to see if I could cut down the weight and still have a very effective knife. After a LOT of research, I pretty much came back to the same thing but got the SOG Seal Pup instead.
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

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!
Most everyone loves fire. Fire is essential in a wilderness survival situation for a few reasons. One, it provides warmth which keeps body temperature up. Two, it provides heat used to purify water. It also provides light, heat to cook food, and serves as a center to draw people in. Earth based wisdom teaches us that fire is a spirit unto itself, and encourages us to have a good relationship with fire. I know that despite my passion for it, I didn't truly appreciate fire until it took me four days to get it with a fully primitive bow and drill fire making kit on my first wilderness survival solo.

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.


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
To me, the best option is to store emergency food. How much? If you have none, store enough for a few days. If you have enough for a few days, get enough for a week. How much you store depends on what time frame you think you're at risk for having to be completely independent. The early settlers of the southwest liked to store enough food for a whole year and still do to this day!
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