Having a bug out bag is important for everyone because we don’t get to choose when disaster strikes. This bug out bag checklist will help you build the perfect go bag with the prepper gear that fits your needs.
How to choose a bug out bag, and what to put in it could be one of the most popular subjects in the preparedness community.
It can be a bit confusing at first, and those of us that already have one are constantly tweaking and changing the gear in our bug out bags.
The reason there are so many different bug out bag lists is because everyone has different needs and skills. While there are some supplies and gear that belong in every bag, your bag will need to be personalized to you.
What is a Bug Out Bag?
A bug out bag is a sort of “micro preparedness plan” or a portable 72 hour disaster kit. It’s basically a survival kit that will help you in emergency situations, and get you from point A to point B with the basic survival supplies.
As preppers we mainly refer to these as bug out bags, but you may also see the same bags or kits referred to a little differently.
- Go Bag
- 72 Hour Bag
- Grab Bag
- GOOD Bag (Get Out Of Dodge)
- PERK Bag (Personal Emergency Relocation Kit)
- INCH Bag (I’m Never Coming Home)
Why EVERYONE Should Have a Bug Out Bag
Because we don’t get to choose when disaster strikes, or where we are when it does, it’s our responsibility to be ready at any given time, and have our bug out bags with us.
We spend a large amount of time in our homes, but the average person is out and about quite a bit. A bug out bag sitting by the front door does you no good if you are driving home from work.
A bug out bag is not only useful in disaster scenarios, they are also useful throughout our daily lives. Car accidents, minor injuries, and unexpected events happen all the time.
While I have yet to use my bug out bag for an actual bugging out situation, I am usually digging into it for one reason or another a few times a month.
Other Considerations for Bug Out Bags
- Be Realistic: Quite often I see people packing their bug out bags with everything but the kitchen sink. Pay attention to weight as you put together your bug out bag, and only add the gear you really need.
- Understand Your Environment: The core prepper gear in a bug out bag is the same, but the rest should be customized for your situation. Your needs in an urban area will be different than your needs in an rural environment.
- Have a Plan: The first question we should ask ourselves is “where am I going?” Not having a plan beforehand is a recipe for disaster. While your at it, you might want to think about plan B and C as well.
- Survival Skills: Just like everything else with preparedness, the more survival skills you have, the less supplies you will need. Having these skills will also make the bug out bag supplies even more valuable.
What’s the Best Bug Out Bag?
Asking what the best pack to use for a bug out bag is like asking what the best car is. You’ll probably get 20 different answers, but the truth is, there are plenty of good options, and it all depends on you.
Some people tend to go with the “TactiCool” route because these military packs are Molle compatible (detachable pouches), are rugged, and have a large number of pockets for organization.
Some people go with the “Gray Man” approach and try to blend into their environment. The thought process behind this is that if you are wearing a tactical backpack downtown, you stick out like a sore thumb.
I Personally went the “TactiCool” route because I like the versatility and the durability. It’s more important to think about the quality and comfort than what your bug out bag looks like.
Bug Out Bag List of Supplies
Whether you are putting together your first bug out bag, making a bug out bag for a family member, or just upgrading your current bag, picking the right supplies can be a challenge.
The reason we love to read all these articles about bug out bags and prepper gear in general is because it gives us new ideas for our personal bug out bag checklist.
In the beginning you’ll want to keep it simple, and over time you’ll find that your trying to figure out what prepper gear to keep in the bug out bag, and what can go.
Remember, a bug out bag is a 3 day emergency bag, so you don’t need a lot of food. While you can go 3 days without eating, having some lightweight high calorie food will help you maintain your energy level.
- Mountain House Meals
- Survival Bars
- Trail Mix
- Beef Jerky
- Tuna/chicken Pouches
- Dehydrated Fruit
- Protein Bars
Water & Hydration
Water may very well be the most important aspect of a good bug out bag. How much water you store in your bug out bag is up to you, but make sure you also have a way to filter water you come across.
- Stainless Steel Water Bottle
- Water Purification Tablets (Chlorine Dioxide)
- Portable Water Filter (Read More on Water Filters and Tablets Here)
- Hydration Bladder
- Portable Water Filter (more detail in link above)
First Aid Kit & Supplies
There are far too many first aid supplies to list here, so I skipped listing band-aids and and other basic first aid supplies. We have quite a few articles on first aid and supplies here.
- Basic First Aid Kit
- Mole Skin
- Mylar Blanket
- Insect Repellent
- Sam Splints
- Triangular Bandage And/or Bandanna
- Pain Relievers
- Prescription Medications
While most situations won’t require you to defend yourself, you just never know. Along with carrying some self defense supplies in your bug out bag, you should also know how to craft a few.
Clothing & Warmth
What clothes you pack in your bug out bag all depends on your personal preferences and your environment. The clothing in your bag should be rotated out with the changing seasons.
- Long Sleeve Shirt
- Rain Poncho
- Socks (2) 1 Wool in colder climates
- Fleece or Jacket
- Extra Set of Clothes (dry set of clothes)
- Hat or Cap
- Work Gloves (water resistant, not leather)
- Underwear (because you never know!)
We may have no plans on bugging out into the woods, but navigation is important wherever you are. Avoiding conflict and evasion should be a big part of your bug out plans. When you alter course, you need to know where you’re going.
- Maps of the area
- Quality Footwear
- Baseplate Compass
- Flashlight and or Headlamp
- Chem Light Sticks (military grade)
In a bug out situation, we may be trying to avoid contact with people as much as possible. With that being said, there will be people we need to communicate with, and information we need to gather.
- Crank Radio
- Handheld Radio (Ham or GMRS) More Information radios here
- Survival Whistle
- Signal Mirror
- Cell Phone
- Solar Charger
When the weather gets bad or the sun goes down, we are going to need a safe, dry and warm place to lay our head. We should not only have the supplies in our bug out bag for shelter, we should have the skills to build a field expedient shelter.
- Large Emergency Blanket
- Tarp (with grommets)
- 100′ 550 paracord
- Sleeping Bag
- Fire Starting Kit
- Extra Clothing
Miscellaneous Bug Out Bag Items
Some of these bug out bag supplies were mentioned above in the different bug out bag categories, but I wanted to list them here because most of these have multiple uses.
- Good Multi-Tool
- Fixed Blade Knife
- Folding Knife
- Duct Tape
- Bic Lighter(s)
- Ferro Rod
- Folding Saw
- Instructional Manuals (building shelter, tying knots, water collection etc…)
Your Skills Will Determine Your Supplies
As you get further along into preparedness you are hopefully trying to learn new skills. As you do so you will find that some of the supplies you have become less and less important.
This is not to say they become unnecessary, this just means that in a “worst case scenario” you could survive without the prepper gear you have in your bug out bag.
With the right skills, you can literally make anything with a good fixed blade survival knife. Building a survival shelter, water collection, and other tools can be made with a little imagination and a lot of skill.
Bug Out Bag VS Get Home Bag
One question I want to address really quick is the different between a get home bag, and a bug out bag. The main difference is the amount of gear you have in the bag.
A get home bag is meant to do exactly that…get you home. The odds are, getting home won’t take 72 hours (you hope haha) and once you get home you have all the preparedness supplies you need.
Because the supplies in both a bug out bag and get home bag are similar, some people use their bug out bag as both. I am one of those people. My Bug out bag goes with me everywhere, and if i need to get home I can always drop some unnecessary gear and reduce weight.
Fine Tuning Your Bug Out Bag
The supplies listed above is just the basic bug out bag gear, and is meant to be a starting point for your personal bug out bag checklist. There are many different things you will want to take into account while completing your bug out bag setup.