What Do You Need in a Bug Out Bag: A Survival Kit Packing List

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You never know when disasters may strike or whether they will come from mother nature or humankind.

Over the past year, bug out bags have become increasingly popular and manufacturers started releasing their own best bug out bag list.

That is because more people want to be prepared to evacuate their homes in an emergency. But, what do you need in a bug out bag?

We’ve put together a recommended list and some tips on how to go about packing your own bug out bag.

This way, you’ll be ready for any fire, storm, earthquake, and other disasters.

Why Is It Called a Bug Out Bag?

The bug out bag is named after the term “bugging out,” which refers to a leaving-home response in an emergency.

It goes without saying that if and when you bug out, you should take your bug out bag with you to help you survive.

How Big Should a Bug Out Bag Be?

When we talk about bug out bag size, it actually refers to the weight capacity of the product.

That said, it’s recommended to keep your bug out bag’s maximum weight capacity below or equal to around 10% of your body weight.

Therefore, if you weigh 200 pounds, your bag should weigh around 20 pounds or less.

If you have good fitness levels, then you could raise this limit to up to 20% (40 pounds) if needed.

What Items Should Be in Your Bug Out Bag?

Ideally, your bug out bag should contain everything you need to survive for a period of at least 72 hours.

Knowing what to put in a bug out bag needs a good deal of consideration to the circumstances and terrain you may find yourself in.

You may also need to consider what should be in a bug out bag for your entire family’s needs.

That is especially if you have young children who can’t carry their own.

The best way to approach packing your ultimate survival kit is to concentrate on having your basic survival needs tended.

Therefore, the only things you should pack will help you keep yourself fed, hydrated, dry, warm, and uninjured.

1. Items for Warmth and Shelter

Extreme weather conditions could be more detrimental to your health and safety than lack of food for a few days.

That is why packing some means of shelter is essential.

You’re not going to fit an RV in your bug out bag, maybe not even a tent, but something to keep you dry and warm is a must.

  • Clothing

Clothing is your first line of defense in protecting you from the elements in extreme weather.

Plus, extra clothing is convenient to have if you get wet or have to leave in such a hurry that you’re not dressed for outdoor living.

  • Plastic Sheet and/or Blanket

Keeping warm and dry are the two main factors you should consider when it comes to shelter.

Therefore, a plastic sheet of some kind and a blanket are of the utmost importance.

2. Items To Keep You Hydrated

You will certainly need access to water, especially if you don’t know where you’ll go or end up.

As such, having an already-filled bottle or bladder of water is essential.

Also, when considering what to put in a bug out bag, you should keep in mind that you need a way to filter or boil more water to make refill water safe to drink.

The great thing nowadays is that there are already portable water filters, as well as water purification tablets.

3. Items To Help Make a Fire

Having the ability to make a fire will help you in many ways that you really don’t want to have to do without.

A fire will help keep you warm, signal for help in times of need, boil and purify your water source, and enable you to cook food.

To ensure you have access to fire, there are a few handy items you can pack that will take up very little space.

We recommend that you don’t just rely on a lighter or box of matches since they may get wet.

Instead, check out your local camping shop or shop online for more appropriate fire-starting equipment such as magnesium bars and spark rods.

4. Non-Perishable Food

For a bug out bag to work, you need to assume you’re not going to have any access to modern conveniences, including food sources.

Food should be nutritious to ensure you stay healthy before the situation gets better or rescue arrives.

It should also be lightweight so that it won’t weigh down your bug out bag or occupy a lot of space.

Otherwise, you’ll leave too little space for the other items.

For example, meat in pouches will be lighter in weight than cans offering a good protein source.

Food items with long shelf-life are also ideal because you will pack your bug out bag in advance, so you should be able to leave them in your bug out bag ready for an emergency.

Changing the content of your bag a few times a week or a month will be a waste of money, time, and effort.

Still, you should make a date on your calendar to know when it needs to be replaced to ensure it’s still safe to eat when you need it.

  • Ready-To-Eat

Food that doesn’t need cooking and can be eaten on the move will be really handy, so granola and protein bars, trail mix, and jerky are all great for this.

But if you want more variety, then, again, you’ll also need the ability to boil water.

  • Dehydrated Food

Dehydrated food products such as pasta and rice that you just need to add water to are very useful for their carbohydrate content and are very light to carry.

  • Dried Food

In terms of what should be in a bug out bag that can keep you full, dried fruits and nuts will offer a range of vitamins and nutrients.

  • Coffee and Sugar

Caffeine and sugar will also come in handy for extra energy when you’re on the move.

what do you need in a bug out bag

5. Tools

In an emergency, you need to try to be as prepared as you possibly can be for many unknown situations that may arise.

The ability to mend, build, and repair on the spot should not be overlooked.

As such, a decent multi-tool should be high on your list.

Some kind of a knife, such as a pocket knife, will also come in very handy, as will a flashlight.

6. First Aid Kit

A first aid kit could literally save your life if you’re injured while leaving your home in a hurry or while you’re on the road.

A bug out bag just isn’t cut out for survival needs if it doesn’t contain at least a basic first aid kit.

You’ll want a good stash of over-the-counter medications in there, as well as resources for wound cleaning and wrapping.

If you’re a first-responder or capable of performing sutures, for example, then your first aid kit can be more comprehensive than if you have no basic first aid training.

Don’t forget to pack an emergency supply of any maintenance medications you’re on, whether it be an asthma inhaler or insulin.

7. Communications and Navigation Device

Think about what you’ll do if you need to run out of your home at a moment’s notice, but your phone is upstairs charging.

Then think about what happens if the networks go down, and your phone becomes nothing more than a glorified calculator and flashlight.

Your bug out bag needs to contain everything you might need in an emergency, and you shouldn’t assume that you’ll have your phone on you.

The radio you can charge using the sun or a crank handle will help you listen for weather warnings or safety announcements.

You may also need to answer, to reach out to search parties, or just to keep in touch with a group, in which case a signal mirror and whistle will be useful.

Then you’ll need a way to navigate, and while a GPS would be handy, you shouldn’t rely on it alone in case it breaks or runs out of battery.

A compass and/or map would be helpful in this situation.

8. Miscellaneous

Finally, you’ll want to think about the terrain and seasonal influences near you specifically.

Will you need sunblock or bug repellent? Is there water nearby where you could fish?

If it’s going to be really cold, you should increase the items that will help keep you warm.

On the other hand, if it’s going to be wet, pack a thin raincoat.

If you’re preparing a bug out bag in case of a forest fire, you should also pack an air filtration mask.

You may also want to include important, irreplaceable documents.

Some people also include self-defense items in their bug out bags, as well as emergency cash, their passport, and lists of their friends and family’s phone numbers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bug Out Bags

1. Do you really need a bug out bag?

No one really knows if they’ll ever need a bug out bag until they do.

If you live in an area susceptible to flooding, fires, or hurricanes, you’ll probably benefit from owning a bug out bag more than most.

But the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic has led to more and more people investing in bug out bags just in case they want to make a run for the hills.

2. How do you pack a bug out bag?

The best way to pack your bug out bag is to keep all of the essential items on the top of your bag or in the easiest to reach places.

It would be best if you also packed everything slowly and methodically to know where everything is.

The last thing you want is for there to be an emergency in which you’re scrabbling around looking for things, wasting valuable seconds.

Start packing with items that wouldn’t normally have to be reached in a hurry, for example, food and extra clothing.

After all, a few extra seconds spent digging out your food isn’t a dangerous scenario to be in, but a few extra seconds with a first aid kit could very well be.

We recommend that you always make sure that your flashlight and first aid kit are the most easily accessible items in your bug out bag.

3. What is the best food for a bug out bag?

As mentioned previously, the best food items for a bug out bag are obviously those that keep for a long time and don’t weigh too much.

If at all possible, food that doesn’t need cooking is also best, just in case you can’t get a fire going or need to eat on the move.

Some companies specialize in producing dehydrated and freeze-dried meals that are really lightweight.

They have all of your essential nutrients combined with the calories you need, but they’re not for everyone.

So, if you plan on investing in this type of product, make sure you test it first!

Peanut butter is highly recommended for protein and more, but a jar will be too heavy, so opt for single-serve pouches.

If you’re still wondering what do you need in a bug out bag, the best bug out bag list of products already stocked with survival gear will be helpful.

What Do You Need in a Bug Out Bag?

A bug out bag is the ultimate survival kit designed to be grabbed as you abandon your home to increase your chances of survival.

Your bug out bag should reflect your personal situation, terrain, and potential needs.

Think about your biggest worry, the main reason you want a bug out bag, and make sure you’re prepared for that eventuality.

That said, make sure you’ve got the following bases covered:

  • Shelter and clothes
  • Water and water filtering abilities
  • Fire starting equipment
  • First aid kit (including any medication you’re on)
  • Food
  • Communications
  • Useful tools

Many people own bug out bags simply for the peace of mind offered.

Knowing that you’re as prepared as you can be if your worst fears come true is a great anxiety reliever.

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