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What Should You Include In A Bug Out Bag?

Updated on August 2, 2012
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A bug out bag is something that is extremely useful and in some circumstances can save lives. So why is it that not many people have them? or haven't put the time into considering this option of safety and self reliance? Well here I hope to provide you with some reasons as to why a bug out bag is a great option to consider for real SHTF situations and everyday troubles that we all face at one time or another.

So what is a bug out bag? To put it simply it's a bag that allows you to "bug" out or survive in a situation where supplies are scarce. The idea behind the bag is to give you typically 2-4 days worth of supplies to allow you to get by until you reach a safe area, preferably your home.

The contents of a bag can vary from person to person. Typically each person's bag will have most of the same basic essentials that are needed by everyone. Some examples are water, food, fire starting equipment, a source of light, multi tool, medical supplies and some form of weapon for defence. There are literally endless combinations that you can put together, but these variables depends on a few things, location, what weight you're able to carry and the situation/emergency that arises.


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I will give you an example of a typical bug out bag, this is what I have in mine for a small town based location. This is enough to last for roughly 3 days.

1) Matches/lighter/flint & steel to start your fire, also include some form of fuel to start your fire if the surrounding area is damp or moist.

2) Water bottle and water purification tablets or a pump to be able to have a constant water supply

3) Basic medical supplies, pain killers, sterile dressings, heat blankets, gloves etc

4) Change of clothes in the event of you getting wet these can make the difference to your survival

5) Multi tool, this gives you the option to craft items, personal defence, etc

6) A compass is essential to give you a sense of direction, I'd also add a map of your local area too.

7) Some form of water resistant material to build a shelter or keep you out of the elements.

8) Survival manuals are a must, you could also include a book that gives you information on plants and berries that you can consume in your area.

9) Para cord is another great item, you can use it for shelters, traps, crafting and if you use 550 para cord you can break it down to multiple strands for endless uses. You can also wear a para cord bracelet.

10) Foods such as dried rice, pasta, high calorie chocolate bars, whey protein, nuts etc are all great as they are light and pack a punch in the calorie department. Also you can include a multivitamin supplement to make sure you get some vitamins and minerals.

11) Cooking/eating utensils are a must, you need something to cook your food in and store your water, include basic cutlery, water bottle and metal dish to cook your food in.

12) Some form of soap or cleaning product should be included to keep yourself clean and to avoid infections.

13) Bartering items are something I thought about recently, a small amount of petty cash, an ounce silver coin, alcohol or cigarettes are all relatively light and good trading items if you come across other people that have something you may want.

14) A wind up torch is a good item to include as you will need a light source that doesn't require batteries for power. I also included a head lamp and this gives you light with free hands to work on a shelter for example.

15) A small fishing kit is a good idea if you live in an area with rivers and lakes, why not take advantage of a sustainable food source.

16) Some form of weapon for self defence is essential. This can range from a knife, axe, machete or a firearm if you are located in a country that permits the purchase of firearms.

17) Toilet paper is a great item to include, you can remove that cardboard centre and vacuum pack a few of these to save space and reduce weight.

18) A radio capable of picking up radio signals is something that can be essential to contact people in the area or to be able to tune in to get news on the situation.

19) I like to include a pack of cards to use to pass the time if you are needing to keep entertained while you wait.

20) A mirror can have endless uses, you can use one to signal other people, use to set up traps to locate an enemy or your next meal, to even looking at parts of your body that you couldn't do if you were alone.

21) A towel can be covered with water and placed on areas to keep cool in a warm climate and can be used to clean an area.

22) Some cleaning products like bleach can be diluted and used to clean an area before you set up a camp to avoid any insect bites and reduce the risk of infection.

23) A hat and some sun screen/cream is essential if you live in a warm climate, dehydration and sunstroke can be fatal especially is water is in short supply.

24) A pen/pencil and some paper is something to include, they can be used to communicate, write down important information and give you something to do to pass time.

Here is an example of a bug out bag

The above is what I currently have in my bug out bag, I have other small things in there but above is the main components that everyone should be including. I am constantly upgrading or swapping out items for newer more reliable ones or taking away items to reduce the carry weight, we don't want to be carting around a huge bag on our backs for miles now do we. As I mentioned earlier there are endless combinations that you can use, but this one suits me and the area that I live in.

I hope you can take some tips from this and maybe add some items to your kit to give you every advantage you need to survive! If you have any suggestions of items for me to include in my bug out bag or if you have anything in yours that is worthy of a mention, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear what you have and get some new ideas as I'm sure there are things I've missed that should be included!

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    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 3 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Good article. I would add pepper spray for a weapon. I am planning to add it to my BOB.

    • Adamowen profile image
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      Adamowen 4 years ago from England

      @Johnrr631992 Yes a firearm is essential, as you pointed out they are an option if you live in the U.S. and there are other hand held options for other countries, such as knives, bats etc. What sort of firearm would you recommend? an assault rifle, side arm, shotgun? & Thanks for your comment!

    • Johnrr631992 profile image

      John Reid-Roberts 4 years ago from Boston, Massachusetts

      Some sort of firearm should be included in a bug out bag. EVEN if you do not like guns, since all this gun control talks in the United States (If you live in the U.S.) gun sales have never been higher, and stores cannot keep ammo on the shelf. While not necessary, if something did happen everyone who does survive I would see having a weapon, and even if it a small compact handgun, you should have some sort of firearm to protect yourself.

    • Adamowen profile image
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      Adamowen 5 years ago from England

      @Thepennygirls, they are priceless in the right situation! don't cost a lot of money and most of the contents you can use on a daily basis too.

    • Thepennygirls profile image

      Thepennygirls 5 years ago

      I love this idea! Everyone needs this bag.