Your bug out bag should include everything you need to survive a SHTF situation. It should be light enough to carry on your back if you were to travel on foot for hours at a time. It needs to have items that are versatile and serve many functions, as space is valuable. While the items that should be included differ from person to person based on skills, experience, and bug out location, there is a core list of gear that should be considered when packing any bug out bag.
Here is our list of items that should be included in the standard bug out bag: (customize based on your personal plan of action)
Hydration. You’ll want at least two different ways to purify your water. Water is extremely heavy, so you will want to collect and purify it as you travel.
- Single-walled stainless steel water bottle (you can’t boil water in a plastic bottle)
- Water purification tablets
- Portable water filter
Food. You can hunt and fish along the way, but you will need to pack some food for when hunting and foraging is not an option.
- Calorie-dense energy bars
- Freeze dried meals
- Military meals (MREs)
- Multi-use, light-weight eating utensil
- Small collapsible bowl
- Fishing line and pocket fishing pole
- Hook, swivel, sinkers (only need a couple of each)
- Snare wires for trapping
Clothing. Only carry as much as you need to survive. Your specific clothing needs will be based on the climate in which you will be bugging out.
- Appropriate clothing based on climate (one change of clothes maximum)
- Extra pair of socks
- Quick dry undergarments
- Rain poncho
Shelter. A full tent will be too heavy to carry with you at all times. Instead, pack the basics to create your own, simple shelter to protect yourself at night.
- Waterproof tarp
- Ties and grommets
- TACT bivvy/survival blanket
- Seeping pad
- Zip ties
Fire. Fire is life in an emergency survival situation. It keeps you warm, allows you to purify water, and protects you from wildlife at night. You should always have 1-2 backup fire starting methods, so you can make fire in any conditions.
- Waterproof survival matches
- Windproof, waterproof electrical lighter
- Tinder/starter sticks
- Fresnel lens (can focus light to start fire if you run out of the above options)
First-Aid. There is an increased chance of illness in any wilderness survival scenario. First-aid supplies can prevent infections and injuries from becoming life-threatening. The first-aid kit in your bug out bag should be the bare bone essentials from your long-term med kit:
- Personal medications
- Surgical tape
- Band-aids, moleskin
- Pain killers
- Blot clotting sponge
- Alcohol pads
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Small scissors
- Insect repellent
Hygiene. Maintaining basic hygiene while in the wilderness can prevent infections from poor sanitation.
- Moist towelettes/baby wipes
- Mini toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Bar of soap
- Hand sanitizer
- Feminine hygiene products
Tools. You will need core survival tools. Look for multi-use tools to save space.
- Survival knife
- Multi-tool pliers
- Solar charger
- Survival hatchet or small wire saw
- LED headlamp and batteries
- LED tactical flashlight
Communication. Gathering and sharing information in a survival situation is essential. The more you know, the better you will be able to adapt and overcome challenges.
- Hand-crank radio
- Survival whistle
- Cell phone (properly protected from the elements)
- Notepad and pencil
Self-Defense. You will need to be able to protect yourself and your group from any number of threats.
- Firearm and ammunition
- Pepper spray
Misc. Not all survival gear fits cleanly into the core categories. Miscellaneous items are often overlooked, despite their importance.
- Duct tape
- Eyeglasses or spare contacts and solution
- Survival watch
Don’t wait until disaster strikes to begin gathering gear to go on the move. Prepare a bug out bag now so that all you have to do is grab it and go. Having a properly packed bug out bag ensures that you won’t forget any essentials during the chaos of a SHTF emergency.