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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.
It is really important to know what all you actually need to prepare yourself and your family for an emergency. The first and foremost thing is the first aid kit. It is really important to store your firstaid supplies in a sturdy box or nylon case. But the point to remember is that, the case should be easy to carry and water proof. It is better to keep all the important medicines in your case and also make sure they are not expired.
What to Put in a Bug Out Bag? – If your pre-made bug out bag focuses on tactical and survival gear you’ll need to finish it by purchasing dehydrated meals and other foodstuffs with long shelf lives. If the bag focuses on food you’ll need to supply survival gear such as a flashlight or two, emergency blankets, first aid kit, paracord, EDC knife and other things. If you’re making your own bug out bag read the answer to the next question.
Find Polaris, or the North Star, which is the end of the Little Dipper’s handle. If you can find the Big Dipper, draw a line between the two stars at the outer edge of the constellation’s dipper portion. Extend this line toward the Little Dipper, and it will line up with Polaris. Face Polaris, and you’re facing true north. If there is a crescent moon in the sky, connect the horns of the crescent with an imaginary line. Extend this line to the horizon to indicate a southerly bearing. Once you determine your direction, pick a landmark nearby or in the distance to follow by daylight.
The Emergency Zone bug out bag is one of the best equipped you’ll find with everything from the expected like drinking water and flashlight to the unexpected like works, a tube tent, toilet paper and even a multi tool. What it’s light on is food but there’s plenty of room in the water resistant bag for 4 or 5 days of food or more. While the shoulder straps on the Emergency Zone backpack could use some more padding the rest of the pack is logistically sound with plenty of external pockets for the included gear plus your own compass, GPS device, tactical flashlight, maps and more.
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.
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.
Some additional items that you should look for in a quality bug out bag include a hydration tube and bladder compatibility (although you’ll usually have to buy these separately), hip belt pockets (where you can store items you want quick access to), and at least one large compartment (where you can fit bulkier items like a tarp, sleeping bag, or large clothing).
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.
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.
I also have a Petzl E+LITE Ultra-compact emergency headlamp that comes with a little plastic case. I keep a spare battery inside with it since I can’t recharge that size. Sometimes it’s just a lot easier to do stuff with a headlamp so you can keep both hands free. I’m still debating on whether I want to drop this from my kit or my secondary flashlight since I really don’t need both. I hate sucking on a flashlight while I try to get things done though.
You might be surprised to see food so low on the basic survival skills priorities list, though we can survive for much longer without it as compared with shelter and water. Remember "The Rule of Threes": humans can survive without food for roughly 3 weeks (though I'm sure you would not want to go that long without food!). Thankfully, most natural environments are filled with a variety of items that can meet our nutritional needs. Wild plants often provide the most readily available foods, though insects and small wild game can also support our dietary needs in a survival situation.