Bug Out Bag, also called a “go bag” or 72-hour emergency kit. These bags should be easy-to-carry for emergency situations. No two bags are equal. The same goes for the contents. But all bags need to contain key items to aid in your survival.
Join me as we cover those here.
You are unique. So are your bug-out bag needs. All bug-out bags need to contain an item or two from universal categories though. What you need to remember is, YOU are going to have to CARRY your bag and your gear. Be careful in choosing your gear. Try to have as many multi-use lightweight items as possible in your bug-out bag.
Each bag will need to contain items from categories such as:
- Fire Starting
- First Aid
Category No. 1 – Hydration
How you capture, clean, and carry water.
- CLEAN = You will need a way to clean water. Filtering is a better choice than disinfection. Something renewable is best. But you can always use supplies you carry and find in nature.
- CAPTURE = Carry a separate container for dirty water. A collapsible container is best to save space when not in use.
- CARRY – A container for your clean drinking water. 32 oz is optimal, 16 oz will save weight but increase your workload.
Category No. 2 – Shelter
What you sleep on, in, and under.
- ON = A pad to create a barrier from the ground and trap heat to keep you warm.
- IN = Think multi-use. Extra clothing, a survival sleeping bag, or even a lightweight hiker sleeping bag.
- UNDER = Again, multi-use. A survival tent, tarp, or poncho will work. Also, learn how to make a shelter out of what is around you.
Category No. 3 – Food
Maintain energy levels. Source and Prepare.
- ENERGY = Have something on-hand that is ready to eat, rationed, and high caloric. You will need to maintain energy at first to leave the situation and area.
- SOURCE = Hunting. Fishing. And Foraging. You don’t have to have heavy MRE’s or meals that need extra energy and water to prepare. First, take supplies that will help you trap, hunt, and/or fish. Second, learn how to identify edible wild plants. Carry a guide if necessary.
- PREPARE = Fire source. Cooking essentials. Always carry at least two ways of starting a fire. You will need a way to cook food, especially meat. Multi-use items are always best for all survival items and situations. You can also always use a rock or spit for cooking in a pinch. Get the knowledge.
Category No. 4 – Fire Starting
With what and how to start a fire.
- WHAT = Tinder. You will need some tinder to help you start a fire. Tinder choices: coffee filters, pre-packaged tinder, or cotton balls covered in Vaseline. The knowledge on how to gather and dry tinder will be indispensable.
- HOW = You will need at LEAST two options for fire starting. Options include waterproof matches, Ferro rods, magnifying glasses, or a lighter. 9-volt batteries with steel wool also work. You can use a can or tin to carry your fire-starting supplies and it will double as a way to capture sparks.
Category No. 5 – Navigation
Where to go and How to get there.
- HOW = GPS. Compass. Maps. Navigating by the sun. If you decide upon a GPS you will also have to have a way to power the device. A portable solar panel will work. If you choose to carry maps, know this will cut into your total weight. You will have to carry many maps for the best results.
- WHERE = First, getting away from the cities is the best starting point. Second, have some basic navigation skills. Moreover, knowing how to read a map and knowing how to use a compass is crucial.
Category No. 6 – First Aid
Essentials that are a must and Extras for the “what if’s”
- ESSENTIALS = Think A, B, C’s. A = Airways. B = Breathing. C= Circulation. A tourniquet, pressure dressing, bandaids in various sizes, allergy meds, and anti-diarrheal pills. Also, trauma shears, pain meds, chest seals, and butterflies are good choices. You should also carry safety pins, tweezers, and nail clippers. Do not forget your everyday prescriptions.
- EXTRAS = Petroleum jelly, isopropyl alcohol, a needle with thread, and an irrigation syringe. Moleskin, a keffiyeh to use as a sling, hydrocortisone, masks, gloves, goggles, and wound glue.
Category No. 7 – Tools
Multi-use Tools and Kits
- TOOLS = A knife and multitool are your two biggest allies. Remember multipurpose is king in survival situations. A good multitool should have a least one blade, a screwdriver, scissors, a can opener, and a saw. That one tool alone is a life-saver. Also carry a dedicated knife, a field knife to be more specific. Something that is ergonomic, durable, and strong is a must. Moreover, do not neglect a way to sharpen such a tool either. Paracord is another tool that is a must in all survival kits, 50 feet is optimal for all situations.
- KITS = Survival kits include a few basic items. Which include a basic fishing set, compass, signal mirror, and a few first aid essentials. Remember, multipurpose is king. Don’t overlook your bug-out bag weight.
Category No. 8 – Weapons
Hand. Long-Range. And Renewable
- HAND-TO-HAND = You will already be carrying a blade that can aid in a hand-to-hand situation. Keeping a distance between you and those wishing to do you harm is the safest bet.
- LONG-RANGE = A renewable long-range weapon such as a bow is ideal. Keep your pack weight in mind when selecting any long-range weapon. With a rifle or shotgun, you are looking at a higher weight and will also have to carry and source ammo.
Category No. 9 – Clothing
Multi-purpose. Moisture-wicking. Adaptable.
- OUTERWEAR = For warmer climates and seasons you will need a light outer layer to block UV rays and wind. In the rainy seasons and climates, you will need something that is able to repel water. During winter or in colder climates, you will need items to create layers.
- MULTI-PURPOSE = Carry items with you that you can use in many different ways. Such as a Keffiyeh/Shemagh to keep the sun and dust off your face. It can also turn into a sling, a ground pad to conserve heat and be a cushion, or even as a rope.
- Above all, if you are going to spend money in any category, make sure it is clothing. Buy clothing that is convertible. Covers as many seasons as possible. Is moisture-wicking to keep you dry. Avoid fabrics such as denim, khaki, and cotton. Take great care of your number one asset – yourself!
Category No. 10 – Other Important Items
For the “what if’s”
- Lighting – rechargeable is best.
- Solar Panel – foldable, and mount it to your bug out bag.
- Duct Tape – Invest in a flat roll.
- Fasteners – carabiners, MOLLE straps, or heavy-duty ties can attach items to your pack.
- Bags – trash, Ziploc, dry, or stuff sacks. Bags work for human waste, organization, first aid, and even water collection. Plus they are light.
- Currency – think bartering. Carry something light that you can barter with.
- Weather-proof/Waterproof Document Sleeve – you will need to carry important documents. Documents such as your Social Security Card, Birth Cert ID, Titles/Deeds, and more. You will need something to keep these items secure and safe.
- Waterproof Notepad & Pen – you will want to carry important information with you in your bug-out bag. That includes contact information, medical information, or even survival notes.
- Entertainment – Do NOT neglect this! Your mental health and wellbeing are as important as your physical health. Take something to fill the time, such as cards or small lightweight games or puzzles. Carry items that mean something special to you. A few pictures, small trinkets, or something that brings you joy. Don’t neglect your spiritual needs either! Bring a small Bible or another religious book to help guide you.
- Hygiene – is very important, often overlooked and simple to remedy. Carry dry soap, shampoo, travel toothbrush & toothpaste, wet wipes, moisturizer, floss with you.
- Signaling/Communication – can be a signal mirror, cell phone, a solar-powered NOAA radio, or even a HAM radio.
Whatever type of bug-out bag you choose, pick items that serve multiple purposes and keep your total weight in mind. We will cover more this topic more specifically later.
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