The Ultimate Guide to Your Bug Out Bag Essentials

5.11 Tactical RUSH72 open

Bug out bags go by many names but when it comes down to it, they all mean the same thing. Your bug out bag should be at hand, ready to go, and contain everything you need to survive for a minimum of 72 hours.

In order for your bug out bag to actually work when you need it, there are certain items that must be included (essentials).

If you have done any searching online to help you when putting your bug out bag together, you will know that there are a million articles suggesting a million different items that should be included.

Now obviously, you can’t include every item from those lists or you would never be able to pick your bag up, let alone walk with it on your back.

So how is this guide different? We are going to show you the areas that your supplies need to cover as well as give you some suggestions to help you out. Don’t take out word for it but shop around and find something that best works for you.

You should also keep in mind that depending on your personal circumstances, your bag may be different from the next person’s. As an example, if you have a baby, you will need supplies for the baby also. If you have pets, you will need supplies for them, and so on.

We are not here to tell you exactly what you should put in your bug out bag, but the items that we recommend below, we know that they work.

What About Pre-Made Bug Out Bags?

Pre-made bug out bags are a trap that are waiting to sucker you in so you can part with your money. They come with items that may be named ‘premium’ but they wouldn’t last two minutes when you really need them.

I have yet to find any commercial bug out bag that has been worth my money, even some that I have been sent to review. They are a waste of money and time, and to get the most from your kit, you MUST put it together yourself.

I will say now, although I will try to save you money where I can, some of the items we suggest might seem costly, but that is because they are supposed to help you to survive and I am sure your life is worth much more than a cheap item that won’t work.

And remember, where possible, add dual-use items as they will take up half the space and cost half as much.

The Bag

5.11 Tactical RUSH72 open

ProductAmazon Link
Condor 3-Day Assault PackUK/US
REEBOW GEAR Military 3 Day Assault PackUK/US
5.11 Tactical RUSH72 BackpackUK/US

For obvious reasons, your first consideration should be the bag itself. You are going to need one that is comfortable as you may have to carry it on long journeys. It also needs to be made to last. If your bag breaks, there is no way that you will be able to carry all of your supplies.

There are many on the market that fit the bill and cover all budgets but usually any really durable hiking or waterproof backpack will be fine.

If possible, get a bag with plenty of MOLLE webbing which will allow you to attach smaller items to the outside.

We took a look at the five best survival backpacks of 2018 which you can check out here. Any of those listed will work great for your bug out bag.

Heat

Mylar blankets

ProductAmazon Link
Folding stoveUK/US
Mylar emergency blanket UK/US
Zippo hand warmerUK/US
Stormproof matchesUK/US
Ferrocerium rodUK/US
Windproof lighterUK/US
Ultra-light sleeping bagUK/US

Cold weather is one thing that can kill you much faster than going without food or water. You will need a variety of heat sources and means of making fire. If you choose to include a ferrocerium rod in your kit, be sure that you get plenty of practice BEFORE you actually need it. Warmth is a critical survival need that we must make sure to address with our bug out bags.

Emergency blankets are another great and inexpensive item that have plenty more uses than just a survival blanket.

Shelter

Survival tarp

ProductAmazon Link
Light 1-person tentUK/US
Ultra-light tarpUK/US
Emergency BivvyUK/US

Shelter is one area where you really can’t cut back. Your shelter is going to be your home for a while so you need to put some serious thought into your choices. Choose the wrong shelter and you won’t get much sleep which in turn means you won’t be able to function to your best potential.

Only you will know what you need to be comfortable but if a simple hammock is all you need, then go for it but make sure that you choose the ultra light options to cut on weight.

Hydration

Bob hydration

ProductAmazon Link
Pocket water filterUK/US
Sawyer Mini water filtration systemUK/US

Without clean water to drink, you are not going to last very long in a survival situation. Three days is all it takes for dehydration to kill you and that time can be drastically reduced in hotter climates or if you are doing a lot of exercise. You are going to need a water filter or two that can help with filtering any water you come across to make it safe to drink. You will also need a canteen of sorts to store clean water in.

Food

Clif bars survival

ProductAmazon Link
Folding stoveUK/US
Trail mixUK/US
Emergency rationsUK/US
Manual can openerUK/US
Camp potsUK/US
Clif barsUK/US
SporkUK/US
Freeze dried mealsUK/US

The next important part that we need to look at is food and ways of cooking it. You must make sure that the food you pack, is the food that you actually enjoy. We suggest some items that will get you through in a pinch and keep your stomach from rumbling, but we also suggest a few heavier things to cheer yourself up. Add a few cans of stew in there for something nice and homely.

Health and Hygiene

Bob health hygiene

ProductAmazon Link
Baby wipesUK/US
Hand sanitizerUK/US
Small waterproof medical kitUK/US
All weather blanketUK/US

In a survival situation, there is a very good chance that medical help will not be easily accessible. In addition to things to fight infection and fever, you need to be able to keep your body clean. A small wound can quickly become infected if you can’t keep it clean. Be sure to pack hand sanitizer, razors, and toilet paper. Cleanliness prevents diseases from spreading. Add in a survival blanket to fight frostbite, a nice first aid kit, and you’re ready to play doctor in the wilderness.

Clothing

Survival clothing

ProductAmazon Link
Hiking bootsUK/US
PonchoUK/US
Zip hoody base layerUK/US
BalaclavaUK/US
GlovesUK/US
Outdoor socksUK/US

You need to be a little bit careful here as you need suitable clothes for the season without adding a lot of weight. Keep your bag stocked with multiple layers for any weather condition.

A good pair of hiking boots is essential. Get a poncho to keep the water out, since it can also double as a tarp in a pinch. Invest in expensive gloves that give you dexterity and warm socks that keep moisture down and lock heat in.

Hunting/Fishing

ProductAmazon Link
SnaresUK/US
SlingshotUK/US
Fishing lineUK/US
Fishing hooksUK/US
Yo Yo fishing reelUK/US

You are going to need some way of catching more food when you run out. Learn everything you can about how to find the right places for setting your snares and practice as much as possible with your gear. A slingshot is a good addition for smaller animals but get practicing your aim.

This is one of those areas of the Bug Out Bag where your knowledge and expertise is going to be more important than the gear. Having it is fine, but knowing how to use it is what will save you.

Tools

ProductAmazon Link
Fiskars x7 hatchetUK/US
Hunter knifeUK/US
Leatherman Charge multi-toolUK/US
Screw lock carabinerUK/US
Duct tapeUK/US
ParacordUK/US
Entrenching shovelUK/US

Some good tools are always going to come in handy. Paracord and duct tape have so many survival uses that you are only limited to your imagination. No cheap made-in-china tools that will fail at the first hurdle.

Light Sources

Olight s1 baton review

ProductAmazon Link
Glow sticksUK/US
Olight S1 Baton flashlightUK/US
Windproof torch lighterUK/US
HeadlampUK/US

Predators hide in the dark; dangers lurk in the gloom; even an exposed root in your path can twist your ankle and leave you crippled. That means you should have innumerable ways to curse the darkness and shed some light on the matter. If you decide to use any light source that uses batteries, be sure to always keep spare batteries. Opt for LED flashlights or headlamps that will last for ages without issue.

We reviewed the Olight S1 Baton which you can view here.

Communications

Communication during a disaster

ProductAmazon Link
Safety whistleUK/US
Portable solar chargerUK/US
Emergency radioUK/US

Your ability to communicate with the outside world and gain news is going to be dependent on your communications equipment. It is essential that you have at least two methods of communication. It is also much better to go for an emergency radio that can be powered via solar or crank so that you don’t need to worry about carrying batteries.

We checked out the five best portable solar chargers of 2018 which you can check out here.

Misc Items

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag

ProductAmazon Link
Military compassUK/US
Alkaline batteriesUK/US
GPS trackerUK/US

Be sure to keep anything extra such as batteries for powering any equipment in your bag. Where possible it is much better to go for solar items as opposed to battery powered. Also be sure to pack items that will make the situation more manageable such as an mp3 player, a spare phone, and other stuff.

   

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