How to Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag

 How to Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag

A bug out bag is a kit that you put together in advance should you ever need to grab-and-go during a crisis. This kit contains all the essential items that you would need to survive a minimum of 72 hours. Your bug out bag can be put together in a number of ways but the essential items are always the same. When following any bug out bag list, don’t think that you should include everything from the list. Those lists act as a starting point and you should add and remove items for your own situation and circumstances.

Another important note is that you must take the time to fully understand how to use everything that you include. It can’t help you to survive if you don’t know how to use it.

We are going to break this guide down in to the following sections:

  • Choosing your bag
  • Clothing
  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Heat
  • Lighting
  • Tools
  • Hygiene
  • First aid
  • Communication
  • Navigation and signalling

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag

Choosing your Bag

When it comes to choosing a bag to use for your bug out kit, I suggest purchasing the bag as the final piece. This will allow you to see exactly how much you have and have big your bag will need to be. If you choose a bag beforehand, you may end up with something unsuitable that is either too small or can’t handle the weight of everything that you choose to include.


You are going to need two sets of extra clothes suitable for the weather so that you can ensure you are always warm and dry. The clothes you pack will depend entirely on your location and the seasons. However, you should include the following items:

  1. Pants
  2. Underwear
  3. Shirts
  4. Fleece
  5. Socks
  6. Hat and gloves
  7. Poncho
  8. Bandana (many uses)


The average human body can’t go much past 72 hours without water. You must include at the bare minimum 1 liter of water per day. Should you run out of water you must also gain the knowledge beforehand as to sourcing clean water and purification methods. Boiling is the easiest method of making water safe to drink but could also include purification tablets or water filters. So to break this down, your 72 hour bug out bag needs to include:

  • Minimum of 3 liters of water
  • Plastic water bottle (metal if planning on boiling)
  • Purification tablets
  • Water filters


The body can last much longer (about 3 weeks) without food than water but that doesn’t mean that you should neglect to include any food items. It can go without but that doesn’t mean that you should. You will only run the risk of making the whole situation worse.

Dehydrated meals, canned food, and protein bars are all a good starting point but only pack those food items that you actually eat. Some ideas as to what you can add include:

  • Protein bars
  • Dehydrated meals
  • Sweet snacks
  • Canned foods
  • Can opener
  • Cooking pot
  • Utensils
  • Portable stove/fuels


You must include a means of sheltering yourself from the elements. Go for lightweight options where possible so as not to add too much weight to your bug out bag. Consider the following items:

  • Tent or tarp (learn how to build a few different tarp shelters)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Survival blanket (folds up small)
  • Paracord


It is recommended that your bug out bag include a minimum of two ways of creating a fire. This way, if one method fails you will have a backup.

Obvious choices include lighters and matches. You can make the matches waterproof by covering them in wax. Just scrape off the wax before using them. You can also make your own fire lighters that can easily take a spark by soaking cotton balls in petroleum jelly.


In order to be able to use both hands whilst working, consider using a headlamp for lighting but as before, the more methods you have of creating light, the better as you will always have a backup should one decide to stop working.

If including a flashlight or headlamp, be sure to include extra batteries. Other options that you could include for lighting would be glowsticks and candles.


You will need a means of carrying out any tasks such as cutting or making camp. My preferred choice is a fixed blade knife but you could choose to go with a multitool, small folding knife, or even a machete. Again, locality may come in to play here as to the kind of terrain that you will be in.


Hygiene is very important during a crisis. The last thing that you want is to get ill and make the situation worse by getting an infection or spreading an illness. Include the following items:

  • Soap
  • Small towel
  • Baby wipes
  • Toilet paper

First Aid

Like any other first aid kit, what you include should cover cleaning and bandaging of wounds as well as any after treatment. The last thing you need is to find a wound has become infected. Items to include:

  • Antibiotic gel
  • Waterproof plasters (different sizes)
  • Sterile swabs
  • Roller bandage
  • Tweezers and a magnifying glass
  • A sterile syringe (10 ml)
  • Short scissors
  • Safety pins
  • Painkillers
  • Anti inflammatory medicines
  • Anti diarrhea medicines


When it comes to items for communication, it is better to be safe than sorry. You maybe won’t use these but it’s always good to have them just in case.

A fully charged cell phone is a must and consider a portable solar charger. You could also include an emergency radio to help keep up-to-date with the current situation.

Navigation and signalling

Hopefully the situation will not call for any of these items but again, it is better to be safe than sorry and if you end up in unfamiliar territory, they can come in very handy.

  • Compass
  • Map
  • Whistle
  • Mirror

The kit above should allow you to survive for a minimum of 72 hours. When putting together your own bug out bag, adapt it to your own needs and try to include items that have multiple uses which will allow you to cut down on the weight of the bag.

Your bug out bag will not automatically ensure your survival but it can help make it possible. The most important part of the kit is your mind, along with the skills and knowledge acquired and applied in time. Learn how to use the different parts of the kit and above all, stay safe.

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