In this second post and podcast in our beginning prepping series, and today we are going to go over bug out bags for beginners, and the essential bug out bag supplies. The first podcast was about prepping in general, The next post in this series will be about get home bags and everyday carry items.
One of the first things you should do when you start prepping is work on your bug out bag, get home bag and every day carry items or kit. Keep in mind, this will be different depending on your situation. Urban bug out bags or survival kits will be different than the typical bug out bag.
The reason I do this is because most of us are always on the go, and even though this is our bug out bag or our get home bag, it doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful around the house or on an everyday basis.
When I say the first thing, I don’t mean the only thing you should work on. While you are working on these bags you should also be working on building your food and water storage. We will go into this more in a bit, but food and water storage can be done with little extra cost and on an ongoing basis.
SPP250 Bug Out Bags For Beginners
Think of your bug out bag as a mini version of your overall preparedness plan. We have more room around the house to prepare for a longer period of time, but the 5 areas of preparedness apply to any survival situation.
This list is just the general items to start a bug out bag, you will want to add what you see fit later to personalize your bug out bag for your situation, but keep in mind the 5 areas of preparedness when you are doing this, and also think about multi use items. Items like hand sanitizer can be used as a disinfectant and in your fire starting kit. Bandannas, tarps, para cord and Duct tape also have multiple uses.
Basic Bug Out Bag Contents
Fixed Blade Knife: Fixed blade knives will stand up to heavy use, whereas a folding knife will eventually break. If you need to chop anything you will want a sturdy dependable knife to do it.
Folding Knife: These are convenient and take up little space. Having the right tool for the job is important, and sometimes a big knife is just too big. Because a folding knife has many movable parts, quality is more important with a folding knife than a fixed blade knife.
Multi Tool: You never know when a multi tool might come in handy. From opening a can to sawing a small tree branch a multi tool comes in handy more than you would think. This doesn’t need to stay in your bag, but you should have one on you at all times.
Small Axe: Regardless whether you live in an urban or rural area you might not be chopping down any trees in the city…but then again you might.
Folding Shovel: It’s going to be hard to dig with your multi tool so it’s always a good idea to have one of these. These range from basic folding shovels to shovels that have a saw edge and even a compartment in the handle for storage.
Lighters: Redundancy is key, and even though you will need a fire starting kit, it’s always better to do it the easy way if you can. These also take up little room and could be used for bartering items if necessary.
Fire Starting Kit: A fire starting kit includes a few things and it really depends on you. You can put this in an Altoids tin and include char cloth, ferro rod, cotton balls and waterproof matches, or you can keep them separate. Just make sure you have a few ways to start a fire.
MORE ON TINS AND SMALL CONTAINERS: There are quite a few small items we need to put in out bug out bags, and having small containers to put them in is a good way to keep them organized. Altoids tins are the most popular, but small baggies, waterproof plastic containers and the “I can use that for something” Items you have around the house.
Water Filter: Without water, your body will quickly begin to breakdown, and while it’s possible to go a couple of days without water, your body will be affected long before that. Making sure you have a way to make any water you find drinkable is critical. I love my Sawyer Mini, and while I do have a Lifestraw I don’t recommend them..
Water Purification Tablets: Redundancy is key. These take up very little room and are less expensive than a filter. Make sure you have multiple ways to lean water. The best tablets available are the Katadyn Micropur and the Aquamira Tablets.
Water Bottle: This can be plastic if you like, but I like to use an aluminum water bottle because it can be heated if necessary. Also make sure you don’t use the same container for clean water and dirty water.
Flashlight & Glow Sticks: Make sure you have multiple light sources and make sure they don’t all run on batteries. It can be a small pocket sized flashlight, a solar lantern or even glow sticks. It gets pretty dark at night no matter where you are so make sure you have this area covered.
Headlamp: You might be thinking that this is the same thing as a flashlight but it’s not. If you have ever tried to work on something while holding a flashlight in your mouth you know what I mean. If you are working in the dark having a headlamp and having 2 hands available will make the job much easier.
First Aid Kit: This can be as simple or complex as your skill requires. Include bandages, tape, dressings, prescription and over the counter medications and something like quick clot. If you become seriously injured you might need a trauma kit, and possibly more help than a bug out bag can provide. We have our simple BOB kit here if you want to take a look.
Compass: We sometimes take this for granted, but it can be pretty easy to lose our sense of direction regardless if you are in an urban setting, or a rural setting. Make sure you know how to use a compass as well.
Analog Watch: If you don’t wear an old school analog watch you might want to have one in your bug out bag. These don’t need batteries and can be used to find your direction if you happen to lose your compass. Once again, redundancy.
Tarp: A tarp is another one of the multipurpose items we have in our bug out bags. A tarp can be used to build shelter, protect you from the elements, user to collect water or used to protect other items from the elements.
Duct Tape: There is always a use for Duct tape right? Duct tape can be used in a pinch to close a wound, patch a hole or as a fastener. You don’t need an entire roll of Duct tape with you though, you can do what I do and wrap a lighter with it to save room. This is one of those you only miss it when it’s gone items.
Bandanna: A bandanna can be used for a few different things, it can be used to cover your head and face, it can be used as a filter for water, it can be used as a tourniquet or even be made into cordage if you run out of paracord. Having a couple of bandannas is not a bad idea because they are light weight and very useful.
Solar/Crank Radio: Depending on the situation you will want to stay up to date on the situation surrounding you. Depending on which crank radio you get it will also have a flashlight, compass and solar recharging options.
100 ft of 550 Paracord: When you get paracord you want to make sure it’s 550 paracord. 550 has 6 separate strands inside the paracord casing which can be separated giving you even more cordage. 550 is also much stronger than regular prarcord. Paracord can be wrapped around knife handles, zipper pulls and made into bracelets to save space. I have paracord on everything.
Black Heavy Duty Trash Bag: A trash bag is yet another multiuse item, it can be used as a poncho, it can be used to keep your supplies dry or even yourself dry. Make sure and get the heavy duty kind, you want it to be able to hold up in severe conditions.
Rain Poncho: Along with an extra strength trash bag it’s probably a good idea to get a rain poncho too, they cost between about $1 to $20 depending on the quality and don’t take up much space. Staying dry in a survival situation can become a matter of life and death. These can also be used to make a simple shelter.
Maps of the Area: Not only do you need a map of the area you are in, you need a map or maps of the area you plan on going. If you don’t know where you are going, you probably shouldn’t be going anywhere. A bug out bag is meant to get you from point A to point B, if there is no point B, you might need a plan B. At MyTopo.com you can get free topographic maps of any area.
Food Items: Pack 3 days’ worth of calories with you. You will need a minimum of 1,000 per day and even more depending on how active you are. Foods like peanut butter, jerky, granola bars are light weight but high in calories. There are also many different types of survival bars and MRE type meals you can buy, but stay away from packing canned food with you, it’s heavy and doesn’t pack the calories these other foods do.
Hand Sanitizer: This should already be in your first aid kit along with some alcohol pads but it never hurts to have an extra bottle. Just like and alcohol based product this can be used to help start a fire as well. Sanitation is important and in a bug out situation you probably won’t have access to a shower. This is especially important if the situation was cause by a pandemic.
Mess Kit: Once you get your fire started you are going to need a way to purify water and something to cook in. A mess kit is inexpensive and makes it easier to eat and drink when you need utensils. Along with a mess kit, don’t forget a small can opener, you won’t be bringing any canned food with you but you never know what you might come across.
Extra Batteries: Make sure you have an extra set of batteries for everything in your bag and then add some more. Not only because you never know how long your batteries will last in different conditions, they also make good bartering items if you find yourself in that situation.
Solar Blanket: Along the same lines as a poncho, tarp and a trash bag, a solar blanket can be used for many different things. It is light weight, packs small and you would be surprised at how well they work. This will not be your cozy down comforter, but it will protect you from the elements and help retain body heat.
Work Gloves: While you should have some nitrile gloves in your first aid kit, you also need some heavy duty gloves. There will not only keep you warm, they will help to prevent injury while you are building shelter, climbing, chopping or cutting. Avoid cotton gloves if possible because when they get wet they become useless. A good pair of gloves can cost about $30 but they are worth it.
Extra Clothes: Make sure you have a change of clothes in your bag. This includes a couple pairs of socks, underwear, a knit hat and shirts. This is not necessarily so you have clean clothes to wear, but clothes to change into if your other clothes become wet or damaged.
Important Documents: God forbid something happens, but if it did you would want people to know who you were, know what prescriptions you take and who your family is if you become separated. Keep copies of all these important documents in your bag along with a few extra dollars as emergency funds. I wouldn’t keep too much money in the bag itself, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few dollars hidden and tucked away.
Survival Manuals: These can be printed off articles, downloaded PDF’s of something like the SAS survival guide. While it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can now about survival techniques, having information on hand when you are stressed out and not thinking correctly will be very helpful.
Shortwave Radio: In any sort of survival situation, the ability to get information is critical. A shortwave radio you are bound to hear about all the time is the Beofeng UV-5R because it is a good starter radio. Keep in mind, the more you know about these radios and the different types, the more valuable they will be.
Solar Charger: You will most likely have a few devices in your bug out bag that require batteries. Having the ability to keep your cell phone, flashlights, and radios charged will be very important. I personally use the Goal Zero Guide 10 setup, but there are many other options available. Goal Zero is a little more expensive, but they are top of the line.
Final Thoughts on Bug out Bags
I didn’t go through picking the bag itself because this is an individual thing. You need to pic a bag that fits your budget and your body frame. Just as important as what is in your bag is how it’s packed because you will be carrying this bag for an extended period of time. You want the weight distributed evenly, and don’t want everything sitting at the bottom of the bag.
You might think that this is a lot to put in one backpack but it’s not. If you go back through this list you will see that almost everything is compact and light weight. There are a few tools that will not be light weight, but those are necessary items and it is what it is.
As you start building your bug out bag you don’t need top of the line gear, although you do get what you pay for. If you are building more than one bug out bag your budget might not allow you to spend $300 on each bag. Over time you can upgrade some of the items in this bag, and as you do that use the old items as hand me downs for the next bag you build.
Once you get the basics covered you can begin to customize your bag. Each person’s situation is different, and as you begin getting further into prepping you will get more ideas about what to put in your bag that fits your needs.
In the next post in this series I will go over the difference between get home bags and bug out bags, and the general supplies you need need to have with you to help you get back to your home, or where your bug out bag is.