The bug out bag is a key prep for every prepper. It’s your fallback when everything else goes wrong. In a future post I will take you inside the contents of my bug out bag to help you see what I feel is key to survival and help you make yours. In this post we are going to discuss some key considerations you must take into account when packing your bug out bag.
1. Sustainability — These are the last items you will ever own, make them good. Good quality and things that can be reused. If it has too many moving parts it will break. If you are going to run out of it and it’s not essential why pack it? For instance I know toilet paper is something that comes to mind. Why waste space on a ton of it when it’s something you will eventually have to do with out? Plan to start without and know how to obtain it or find something comparable. If it’s not a sustainable item look for alternatives that are.
2. Immediate Needs while in transite — this is were the last statement is thrown out the window in some ways. While you are bugging out let’s say the first 72 hours you are on the move and needing to move fast to prevent the chaos from following you. You will want some things in the bag to meet you needs without having to scavenge. Quick eat foods, emergency water packets things you can use with out having to build a fire or setup camp. You many not have the luxury of stopping for long, so maybe some toilet paper is ok, but not too much!
3. Creature comforts — Your spirits are important in a bug out so make sure you have some creature comforts with you that can help you through the stress, maybe some candy you like or some photos or key items to help you find some peace with the SHTF you are running from. This is where the bible and other inspiring works may be a good use of weight.
4. Keep it light — As much as I would love to take all the ammo and guns in the world it’s not feasible. So plan to keep it light. You want your pack to be 25% of your body weight to conserve energy. So start with the weight and figure out how to best use it.
5. Redundancy — Have 2 or even 3 of key items such as fire starters, knives, key firearms components, flashlights, etc. Things can get broken, lost, or stolen so plan for it with your key items.
6. Don’t put your eggs into one basket — In my bug out I actually have 2 bags, first is a small butt pack that has the essentials, second is a larger hiking bag with everything else (and redundancies of the essentials) as well things like the knife and firestarter will always be in my pocket. The idea is if you had to drop the bug out bag and run at a high speed for your life you could and continue to live. You can get more stuff but not a second chance. If everything is in your bug out bag you are putting a lot of risk with it.
7. Party up and Disperse Comfort items — Every individual in your party should have the basics needed for survival. Think of it like if you got slip up can you all survive by yourselves? However some of the less important items that can help make a more enriching life could be brought with you by splitting them between members.
8. low profile — This is something I struggle with, I’m the guy that wants to buy all tactical gear and wear camo 24/7. However you want to create a low profile that says “nothing you want here!” So make sure you have some solid civilian looking clothes to head to town without scaring people if needs be. I recommend the 5.11 tactical clothing. Good ripstop cloths that will last. I saw a recommendation by someone to use a guitar case to carry your stuff as people won’t mess with a looser with a guitar. Not a bad idea but’s I’ve already bought civilian hiking bags to use.
9. Think all weather — Don’t forget to prep for rain or snowy season. What would you add to make sure you stay dry and warm and ultimately well. Just cause it’s not snowing doesn’t mean it won’t when you are out there.
10. Communication — think about a radio ideally a ham radio, but you can get a transistor radio to help you stay informed. Think about the dymo powered radios or solar radios.
11. Quick access — put the items at the top or on the outside that you will need to access most, and the items that you will use less or only need when setting up camp in the more difficult to reach areas. This will help you from having to constantly pack and unpack your kit.
There are a lot of considerations when packing your bag in the end it’s better to have a kit and missing things then no kit, so get what you can now and upgrade overtime. Think realistically. Sure you can pack bug spray but how long will it last? you can use smoke like on your clothes etc to repel them consider the natural alternatives to items. Survival is a mindset so work on developing your mind in the end it will make up the difference for what you lack.
From: Christopher de Vidal
One of the best articles on bug-out bag philosophy I’ve seen yet. Had learned some of this intuitively.
My BoB is a rolling suitcase with zip-out shoulder straps, the kind that pilots use. It’s slightly uncomfortable on my back but I’m on a budget so it worked because it was free. Also I anticipate taking roads to my bug-out location but can hump it if necessary. And as a bonus, it doesn’t stand out at *all*. I’d look like a loser with a rolling suitcase. I definitely will fill it no more than 45lbs, my target weight, and hopefully less so that humping it is more doable.
One thing you forgot to mention: Knowledge and skills weigh nothing. If you’ve ever watched even staged shows like Bear Grylls, you get the idea that you need less than you think if you know what plants to pick, what grubs to eat, etc. So for example I was packing a SAM splint and e-tool, but after watching these guys for a while I saw that sticks can accomplish both tasks relatively well.
Good article. You’ve earned a new regular reader.
Great additions to the article, I tried to touch slightly on the skill with the sustainability and mentioning that you need to find other ways then single use items or gadgets but you are right I needed to go more in depth on that. Rolling suitcase isn’t a bad idea, definitely a benefit to roll it. My only thought on that would be if the wheels got messed up would you feel comfortable with it? Also I wouldn’t recommend walking on the roads, only because you easily silhouette yourself. I’m sure most every prepper has had a little crush on the show The Walking Dead and seen some of it. We all love zombie apocalypse after all. There is a scene in season 3 where Andrea is trying to escape woodberry and I keep seeing her travel along the roads and open fields and want to yell at the tv for that and say “NO FIND COVER!”.
The problem is you make yourself an easy target. Sticking to a woodline or close cover or concealment would be best. Walking down the road puts you in danger of a sniper round from a ambush and gives you a less chance to respond and evade. It’s a fatal funnel. So ideally make sure you can carry it on your back because you might find yourself in more wooded terrain then you think. Remember the safest place to travel is the hardest to traverse because no one else wants to take that path. However if you are gonna take roads you considered using a peddle bike? You will get further faster.
For anyone else reading Christopher’s comment there is no substitution for Skill and knowledge, being able to adapt and overcome if key to survive. The more you know the more options you have. I know in my bug out bag and many people’s we have the SAS survival guide. It’s good reference materials but your are far better off learning the material before you need it. Then waiting until your shot to grab the book and figure out how to stop the bleeding and potentially survive the trauma.
I’m glad to have you reading the blog, if you have any topics you want me to cover let me know. The blog is pretty new so I have a lot yet to cover from what I have learned so far. Stay Calm and Keep Prepping!
From: Christopher de Vidal
Agree I wouldn’t normally want to use roads but it depends on what you’re prepping for. If an EMP I’m planning on getting out early, well before the snipers ambush the roads. And I can zip out the shoulder straps if I do happen to get out too late, or for other situations. Or I can carry it by the handles for short distances. Have worked hard to reduce the weight but if need be I could drop some items and run for it with 30lbs of pack on my back. I carry 20lbs every day to the office in my EDC
But most importantly, it was free, and that saves resources most likely survival situation: Job loss I’ve got to prioritize between my likely incidents and compromise where appropriate.
Good call, have you looked into an earlier model pickup truck one that has no computers on-board? that would be one of the best investments for your prep at least as far as gas/diesel will get you. I am still searching for a good one personally. I really haven’t done a lot of research into an EMP Prep yet, however I do know some about EMPs being a tech guy by trade. Have you considered Faraday Cages to protect any valuable electronics or are you just looking to go no electronics in the aftermath?
From: Christopher de Vidal
Yes I have; Am thinking a 1970s era Ford F-series truck but again, there’s that sticky job loss thing. It takes highest priority. Gas mileages on those beasts left a lot to be desired, and we get along fine with our 20mpg Toyo Sienna for our family. So a truck would drain our wallets while using it.
Another EMP-protected option is a small 1970s-era car, so mileage would improve. But that wouldn’t haul much, would stick out like a sore thumb after a hit (I’m driving around, no one else is) and our insurance would go up about $30/mo.
So I’ve placed this as low priority because I consider the likelihood of an EMP attack low. Not out-of-the-question, but low probability. (Believe me, I was watching the North Korea situation very closely last month! They could EMP us.)
So I just have done some very basic prepping for an EMP. For example, my collection of eBooks, downloaded articles and websites, along with a mini solar charger and ab eBook reader are all Faraday-protected. How about your data?
I haven’t worked on EMP protection or prep. Overall for the most critical stuff going back to old school paper books, and just trying to learn the skills I need so books aren’t useful. With north korea the one thing that really stands out is I believe our cyber warfare division is behind the curve compared to china and such. If I were north korea and actually looking to shoot a nuke at someone I would first hack the missile defense systems to injected some sort of unnoticeable flaw that even if they fired interceptors they wouldn’t work. Then do it. Sure it’s a suicide move on korea’s part but still how to get one good shot in.
It’s funny I’ve been in the tech industry for over 15 years and I can say even though it’s my Job I am so much more anti-tech. I see people lose sight of what’s really important and see how fragile computers really are. So yeah an EMP like a solar flare or other would serious cause chaos.
As for the car being the only one who can drive isn’t bad as long as you can go off road to avoid obstructions. Just get out of dodge and don’t stop in public places. Also you would be able to siphon a lot of gas from the non-working cars.
In general I haven’t had as much time to prep as many preppers out there a little over a year or so (hence “last minute prepper”). So there are a lot of things I need to yet do. I have done a lot of research and skill learning, where as the gadgets and dodads that require money are the slow additions as money is available. Initially I was security heavy in the prep. Which proved out somewhat good given today’s state of ammo and guns. I mean I picked up a 10/22 with a scope for $150 and built an AR15 for $600, now in days that’s impossible. But that means a lot of other things are lacking. We have built up some basic needs stockpile that realistically will probably be about 4-6 months. Which is good for a non-WROL scenario. Recently it’s been about Bug out prepping not having moved out to the country yet and being in a urban environment there a limit to how much I want on hand if SHTF happens. Not to mention everyone’s Plan B is a bug out. So to investing in the gear is definitely valuable no matter the scenario. However I’m trying to buy high quality items that will last a long time. Then after this the main goal is a plot of land in the country, while slowly adding to food stores. Once out there I can switch gears to Homesteading.
So more then anything now is about learning what I need for later.
From: Christopher de Vidal
Man, only one year? I’m impressed how far you’ve come in that time. You have plans, some gear, knowledge and the start of skills. You’re ahead of probably 98% of everyone else.
Yeah when I started I felt like I was waiting to the last minute to start prepping and it was already to late. Of course once I got into the community I learned that was natural. But that’s why I called in last minute prepper. I felt if nothing else I will chronical my journey and try to find way to help people just starting out in prepping. Granted I am no expert by my standards but I will share everything I have learned. =)
Awesome tips! Keep up the good prep work! You will get there! Slow and steady wins the race! It can become overwhelming just stay focused and work in one thing at a time. Keep us updated! We are there with ya!!! For me it has been 10 steps forward 9 steps back. Still plugging away though and not giving up!
Thank you for the encouragement. This is definitely a lifestyle and something you work on over time. I don’t feel the same urgency I use to. I feel with what I know and what I have now I can survive, and at this time it’s about improving quality of that survival. I’m hoping through this site I can help contribute to the community and make it easier for at least one other prepper out there.
Well you have helped me rethink a few things! I had thought of having a backpack as well as the smaller pack however I’m now thinking it would still make me a target so now I am thinking of how to be less noticeable. Keeping the prep items more concealed. Instead of cargo pants doing something under the shirt/pants/ etc. if it makes you or your clothes bulky in the event your busted. I like the loser look idea. Just rethinking….
Well I’ve also considered if I have a big pack and a smaller maxpedition pack and am being pursued I can drop the big pack and setup a hasty ambush with the big pack as the bait and worst case scenario keep going with my small pack. Just another thought to consider. Keep in mind if you plan ahead cache some items at your desired location. This way you won’t have to carry it all or can afford to carry a really small pack.
I just started prepping, still confused with lots of things, like what to have, not to have. My BF thinks I am nuts and would not help. I am learning to forage for food, and to use herbs. What would you recommend that I have in my pack?
I am actually working on a post about what’s in my bug out bag so you may want to subscribe to the emails and you will see it show up in your email box. Here are the real basics. You need a good knife. I have a post on my knife recommendation. The knife is the key to most other things you can make from things you find. Next you need methods of starting a fire. Multiple fire steel starters are good to have, along with alternatives like matches or lighters. you need a way to carry water and to purify it. I like a stainless steel canteen because you can use it to boil water if you need too. For water purification I have a post on that read the comments Christopher posted a great inexpensive alternative to the katadyn I recommended. If you develop your survival skills those items would be the most essential items if you had to leave today and couldn’t carry much. You will want some basic supplies to handle at least 3 day trek without a chance to stop make camp and resupply. Everything else can be improvised with skill, or is essentially comfort. I’m a big fan of a handgun and a rifle and lots of ammo. You would also do well to have fishing and trapping items. So those are your most important items. The rest of my recommendations will be included in the Bug out bag contents article that will be in the coming weeks.
Good luck with your prep, there are many preppers out there where the couples don’t see eye to eye. I’m lucky that my wife agrees with me that things in this country are on a bad track and the possibility of a collapse is high. One thing I would recommend to help warm your BF up to it is to bring the idea of prepping away from bug out bags and doomsday and more into day to day life. You have a savings account and insurance in case something goes wrong that is prepping. This prepping is about having durable goods and skill in case something like katrina, hurrican sandy, or other disasters happen that potentially makes supplies hard to come by and money useless to obtain them. Start small and work your way outward. Instead of calling it your “bug out bag” call it your “emergency bag” and say it’s there for peace of mind should something happen. Work on a kit to survive 3 days then work outward beyond that. Focus on skills more then anything. Learning martial arts, how to fish, gardening, hunting, making a shelter, wood working, first aid, etc. In the end it’s the knowledge that is most valuable to pack, everything else can acquired with skill. Youtube.com is your friend on this one.
From: Wild Bill,nc
Greetings, Good article, similar beliefs. I have multiple bags in my truck, basic gear in the large bag with room to add, weapons bag, food and water bag that I rotate monthly. A Boy Scout manual will get you home, keep one next to the toilet instead of Redbook…lol….Good call on “what’s in your pocket”, two knives, Bic, money, Chap Styx, ID,….I plan to incorporate some type of wheeled cart to help in my journey,….if my bag has to go, then what is left will secure me other options, keeping both weapons at hands reach, smaller fanny pack will hold Army poncho, micro fiber blanket, masons twine, water and extra fire starters…..so traveling lite will incorporate; thigh rigs, two shoulder bags, and a carbine, and cram food in the empty spaces….like you said, we are on a mission, not skip through tha park, I will collect what I need along tha way……