Planning to bug out so you’re building a bug out bag?
Maybe a get-home bag?
An emergency vehicle kit?
Ask people what you should put into a such a bag and you’ll get a million different answers. In the end, the best answers lie only with you. Each person has his/her own situation, environment, destination, and abilities. You need to get the gear that fits the role you need it to fill. The overarching role should one of meeting your basic survival needs, however.
To determine that, we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The most basic level there is your physiological needs: food, water, warmth, and rest. The second level is safety needs: security and safety. We will address each of these below. What we won’t address here is the many different types of bug out bags you can use for bugging out (or getting home). Decide that only after you’ve figured out what it is you need to carry. In addition to our list, SurvivalCache has a detailed guide on designing a bug out bag.
The assumption here is that you need food with a long shelf-life so you can set your bag and forget it. Maybe your situation is different and a box of Ring Dings and some beef jerky will do just fine, but we doubt it.
- Wise Food Freeze Dried Packets – just add boiling water
- Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) – yum!
- Starbucks Instant Coffee Packets – obviously – it keeps you moving and prevents headaches (if you’re addicted)
- Prolab Caffeine Tablets – don’t have time to make coffee but you need the energy to keep going? Caffeine tablets – pop ’em in your mouth and go-go-go!
- Titanium Spork – such a great word, spork
- Camping Cookware Mess Kit – this set is made for hikers, so it’s made for a pack
You’ll need to heat water for your Mountain House and, more importantly, coffee!
- MSR Whisperlite – takes a variety of different fuels (winning)
- Jetboil Flash Cooking System – boils water wick’d fast
- Waterproof Matches – screw it, you’ll just build a monster fire for cooking
- Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter – better than matches? You decide.
Boiling water is, of course, another means of purifying it for safe drinking.
Even if you plan to keep fresh water ready to go at a moment’s notice, you’ll still need some method of obtaining additional, potable water. Thus, we have a few personal, portable water purifier suggestions.
- Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets – the water won’t taste great but it’ll kill the little nasties
- LifeStraw Personal Water Filter – small and lightweight
- Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System – lotta good reviews
- Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filter – the one A-Poc uses on Mount Katahdin
- Nalgene Water Bottle – you’ll need to carry that water so buy a few
Warmth represents a category of equipment that will vary widely depending on the situation. Staying warm enough to survive will mean one thing to a person living in Texas, something quite different to someone living in North Dakota. Warmth, in most cases, will come down to clothing. We’re not going to list a whole slew of different types of clothing to keep you dry and warm (think fleece and wool), as those aren’t apt to go into a bug out bag, but we do have a few items to consider.
- Mylar Survival Emergency Blanket – small and lightweight
- Ever Ready Olive Drab Wool Blanket – the military uses them for a reason
- Extra Wool Socks – odds are your bag will be used for walking – keep your tootsies warm and dry
- Wool Blend Hat – according to the U.S. Army Field Manual, you lose 40-45% of your body heat through your head – don’t be a dum dum, wear a heat
- Poncho – it can be packed tight and can be used for purposes beyond just keeping you dry
You’ve been walking for two days trying to get to your bug-out bunker. You’re tired. You need rest.
- Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest Foam Sleeping Pad – get off the ground for warmth and comfort. This model doesn’t need to be inflated, i.e. it can’t pop
- See Wool Blanket Above
- Camo Tarp – why a tarp for rest? We find it more useful/practical/lighter than a personal tent.
Blam blam! Most people will immediately think of a handgun here. That’s a whole other subject not well-suited for a bullet-point list (no pun intended). There are other options for personal safety, of course. Here are a few:
- Vipertek Stun Gun – surprisingly inexpensive and bonus – it also has an LED flashlight
- Gerber StrongArm 420 Fixed Blade Survival Tactical Knife – having to stab someone in self-defense sounds rough, but bonus – a knife like this has many other survival uses
- Fox Labs Mean-Green Pepper Spray – I can’t see! I can’t see! Argh – the pain!
- Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen – wow, you can write poetry and defend yourself at the same time
Again, what constitutes “safety” depends on an individual’s situation. Safety to one person might mean staying hidden. Safety to another might mean getting found. Figure out what it means to you. Here are some product ideas:
- Petzl LED Headlamp with Extra Batteries – better than a handheld flashlight, keeps your hands free and it follows the direction of your eyes
- Garmin Handheld GPS with Extra Batteries – you can mark where your stashed supplies are with this bad boy
- Boy Scout Survival Compass – always be prepared!
- Road Flares – help that search and rescue chopper see you from afar
- Duct Tape – you don’t need to carry an entire roll, just wrap some around a pencil for later use
- Fox Sonik Blast Emergency Whistle – wick’d cheap, could be a real life saver when you’ve lost your voice screaming for help
- Topographical Maps for Your Area – get a weather proof case for them
- First Aid Kit – to include any personal medications you need
- Travel Toilet Paper – unless you’re only eating MREs, you’ll have to poop at some point
This list is by no means exhaustive. Choose other gear to fit your needs, which might be anything from condoms to a deck of cards. After all, playing strip poker with radioactive mutants might sound like a good idea once you’re dehydrated and delusional. Be ready for anything!
Obligatory disclaimer. We are not experts, we just pretend to be online. Do your own due diligence and come to your own conclusions on what to carry. Your bug out bag will not keep you alive, it will only help keep you alive. Lastly, purchases made via the Amazon links above will yield a small commission for our wick’d hard writing work.