What to Pack in a Bug Out Bag
Previously, we’ve addressed what a bug out bag is, how to choose one, and even how to pack it. Now, we’ll be addressing the most important aspect of bug out bags: What to put in them!
There are a lot of items that you can put inside your 72-hour kit. You’ll want to make sure that you have items that are specific to you and your family. Also have items that are specific to your area. For example, if you live in a desert, a water filter won’t do you much good.
Here are a few ideas of what you might consider including in your bug out bag:
Calorie bars. These bars are full of your daily caloric needs. You can get some 3600 calorie bars for less than $10. They usually have a shelf-life of 5 years.
MREs. The great thing about MREs is that they come in meals. They can also come in self-heating containers. That way, they save you time and preparation. Where you store MREs can also have an effect on their shelf-life. Check out the graph.
Freeze-dried pouches. These are a great solution because they are light-weight. Freeze-dried items have 98 percent of the water sucked out of them so they are light and can stay on the shelf for 30 years. Large temperature changes can also effect the shelf-life of freeze-dried food. So consider putting your bug out bag in a cellar, basement or other cool location.
Plant life. Many people include a plant guide for local vegetation. If worse gets to worse they can eat from local vegetation and know which ones are safe to eat.
Hunting gear. A lot of people plan for longer-term survival by packing guns, snares, bows and arrows, etc.
Cooking and Preparation
Knives. Having a good knife is a great tool to have. It can be used for cooking, hunting, preparation or any number of things. A lot of times hunting knives also come with saw blades
Pot and pan. Some light-weight pots and pans will help you prepare your food. You can also consider purchasing a light-weight camping stove or a Stove In A Can.
Firestarting. If you have to create your own warmth, it’ll be helpful to have a fire. You can include a road flare, matches, a lighter, magnesium starter or any number of fire starters.
Water containers. If you live in a water-scarce environment, it’ll be important to have some water on hand. Be sure to include containers that won’t puncture easily or leak. A You can also include canned water.
Water filters. If you live in an environment that has rivers, lakes and other nearby water sources, a water filter might be better than hauling bottles around.
Water purifiers. You can include water purification drops or tablets to ensure that the water you drink out in the wild won’t get you sick.
Having a good first-aid kit on hand could save your life. You can read our previous blog posts on things to consider for your first-aid kit.
Light & Communication
Whistle. Many times if you have to get someone’s attention from far away, something like a whistle, blow horn or small megaphone is a great way to call out.
Radio. A small crank or solar-powered radio will allow you to receive updates and other information during an emergency.
Walkie Talkies. If you’re going as a family, you can include walkie talkies that are pre-set to a certain channel. This will help you stay in contact even if your family gets separated.
There are a lot of hand crank and solar powered emergency options. Many of the options also include jacks to charge phones or other communication devices.
Warmth and Clothing
Extra clothes. Depending on the situation, you might leave with only the clothes on your back. It’s a smart idea to include at least one extra pair of pants and a shirt. Make sure the clothes are heavy duty in order to protect yourself.
Gloves. Having a good pair of gloves could definitely come in handy if you need to do some hard labor.
Hat. A cap, beanie or other hat can keep the sun off the top of your head or keep the heat from escaping.
Emergency blanket. These blankets are a great way to stay warm. Plus, they’re light-weight and fold into small spaces.
Compass. This is a light and simple way to navigate.
Maps. Maps are a great utility if you know how to use them. Be sure that you know what the maps represent and how to use them efficiently. Be sure to include maps of your area and surrounding areas.
GPS. This is a great option if you have the money. This would also be a great option if you had a GPS that tracked different people. That way, you could easily locate different family members. Remember though that sometimes GPS systems can run slowly or need updating.
Medical records. You’ll want a list of prescription drugs or allergies in case you receive medical treatment at another location.
Identification. Don’t forget to leave without a copy of some identification papers.
Be sure to include travel size toothpaste, a toothbrush, an extra pair of glasses, soap, etc. These things will allow you to stay clean and ward off disease.
After doing some research, we saw a lot of packs that included some unique and potentially helpful items.
Fold-up Shovel. This can be helpful in digging a fire pit or disposing of waste
Cord. Some light-weight cord can be a great replacement for rope. It can also fold together as a wristband or in a small pocket.
Gas mask. This might take up a lot of room, but there are probably some inexpensive alternatives like this one.
Hunters’ vest. Wearing those bright orange vests can call out that you’re a person and that you don’t want to be shot today.
Binoculars. These could come in handy with your hunting or navigation.
Screw driver. If you need to tighten screws on your GPS, compass, walkie talkie or other items, this could definitely come in handy.
BUT if you don’t want to put all that effort into building a kit, we do have a great supply of 72-hour kits on our site! Check them out!
Thanks for reading our 4-part series on bug out bags. We hope you enjoyed it!
Updated February 24, 2012