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.

A bug out bag is critical but what do you put in it? When considering disaster preparedness, keep in mind that what survival gear and emergency supplies you add to your bug out bag and then pack for your survival kit can mean the difference between life and death, or at least affect your level of comfort if SHTF and you had to get outta dodge. Read this article to find out what you should consider putting in your bug out bag.

For even the recreational wilderness skills practitioner, a basic knowledge of the natural sciences (such as botany, ecology, geology, etc…) can be very useful and enriching. A great place to start is by purchasing the relevant plant and animal field guides for your region. These resources can help you begin to identify species and understand how they relate.

I have three little Keychain lights that I got in care packages when I was in Afghanistan. They weigh pretty much nothing and are convenient to have in certain areas. I keep one clipped to the inside top of my backpack so I can see inside it to find things without having to get my flashlight, one clipped to the front chest strap, and one inside my Survival-Tools Bag.
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.
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.

I also switched out all my internal bags for ultralight ones. For organization, I got a set of Eagle Creek packing cubes and an REI expandable packing cube. If I didn’t already have the REI bag, I would have gotten another set of the Eagle Creek cubes instead and separated things even more – and the whole set weighs about the same as the one REI bag does.


Ok I have done a few bug out bags before and have learned/ suffered with my choices. But what I can’t seem to find is a good Bag! I have tried the framed hikers bag , just a backpack and a military grade backpack. All of them had good and bad set ups. I just want to know what are your thoughts and what should I stay away from before I dump money into (what every one says) good one.
That is a big statement. That is also what I see so many people searching for, especially in contrast with the superficial values of our degenerative, consumeristic, capitalistic, western society. Perhaps more than anything else, wilderness survival served as the doorway to a deep and profound experience of connection, belonging, and meaning to my life. I've discovered along the way that my passion and purpose is to mentor others into that same profound sense of connection, belonging, and meaning that comes through wilderness survival and deep nature connection, ultimately guiding them to their deepest calling.
Look for a pack that has multiple compartments, with pockets and organizers built in to help keep track of the small items, and try to pack your BOB strategically with items grouped that you’ll use together. Remember to pack clothes and bulky items on the bottom and heavier items at the top for better weight distribution and to ease the strain on your body.  

Electronics are a definite combat multiplier and make things much simpler and more accurate, which is why we used pluggers instead of looking up map coordinates to call in and a GPS during surveillance (except in the schoolhouse). Still have to be able to function without them but having a cell phone for emergency contact and to hold survival pdf’s can be a HUGE lifesaver – if it works.
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.
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.

Electronics are a definite combat multiplier and make things much simpler and more accurate, which is why we used pluggers instead of looking up map coordinates to call in and a GPS during surveillance (except in the schoolhouse). Still have to be able to function without them but having a cell phone for emergency contact and to hold survival pdf’s can be a HUGE lifesaver – if it works.
I also switched out all my internal bags for ultralight ones. For organization, I got a set of Eagle Creek packing cubes and an REI expandable packing cube. If I didn’t already have the REI bag, I would have gotten another set of the Eagle Creek cubes instead and separated things even more – and the whole set weighs about the same as the one REI bag does.
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.
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.
I’ve seen that 1/3 of your body weight number getting tossed around a lot. Any idea where that comes from? In Afghanistan I tried to keep my pack around 35 lbs so I was never over 75 or so with my weapon, ammo and body armor. Even then, walking all day with that much weight is brutal when you’re not used to it. I’d hope most people would shoot for around 35lbs total in a bugout bag. Add in a weapon and some ammo and you have another 8-10 lbs if you take a rifle. It adds up quick.
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.
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.
One thing about Eberlestock packs is that they are built with high quality and they are tough. The packs are expensive but you won’t need to buy another pack again. Made with top-notch materials in the United States. Users have given it fantastic reviews and we agree, this is a high quality pack that can be used to carry a small load or a huge load. The pack is very versatile which makes it an attractive choice for a bug out bag.
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.
I have what may be a silly question, but here goes anyway. The one thing I rarely, if ever see is mention of a watch. I’d dearly love to have my old wind-ups back, but all I can find are outrageously expensive Solar Watches, so- called Automatics, and old but pricey wind-ups. Has anyone else given thought to this item…or did we decide it wasn’t a necessity? Next question is how does one deal with the fairly large number of items that need button type batteries? Is there a way to recharge them? I was thinking of the Petzl mini-headlamp because we both have it, but there are other things as well. I’ve tried to keep those type of battery needs low, but there’s no escaping the need for at least a few. Any suggestions and thoughts on this? Has anyone come up with brilliant solutions for these things? Would truly like to hear from everyone who’s come up with brilliant fixes.
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
My biggest problem is weight. I have two small children so for each vehicle bag I pack as if it is for four people, two kids and two adults. The reality is that it woukd most likely end up being either one adult with two kids or one adult on his/her own. With the children being only 2 & 4 they cannot be expected to carry much. I’d estimate that right now the packs are at 60lbs including food & water. My wife and I are fit and strong so it seems reasonable when wearing them in our living room but in a real situation with two kids in tow I think it’s too heavy. I just can’t figure out where to cut weight. Every time I want to remove something I imagine my wife and kids without it and can’t bring myselr to do it. It’s a real dilemma for me.
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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.
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.
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.

The most important factor that will determine the right size bug out bag is your torso size. You can measure your torso by having a friend or casual acquaintance measure the distance from the top of your Iliac Crest (hip bones) up to the bony prominence at the base of your neck (the last cervical vertebrae). Knowing the length of your torso will help you choose a bug out bag that fits comfortably.
Paracord is one of the most versatile pieces of survival gear you can carry. It has applications as diverse as helping you set up a makeshift tent to creating a clothesline for drying wet clothes to establishing a perimeter around your campsite that will warn you of the approach of curious or hungry mammals. On top of that you can use it to transcend physical obstacles like small cliffs you might encounter as you attempt to reach civilization. It’s essential survival gear for the person that likes to be prepared for any eventuality.
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