A bug-out bag is something every survivalist / prepper should have. Even if you plan on bugging-in (surviving from one location such as a home). As a survivalist I believe in being prepared for all situations. I plan on bugging-in with my family and have prepared for it, but I also have bug-out bags for each one of my family members in case staying put is no longer an intelligent option.
We’ve put together a list of items you should have in a bug-out bug. Many of these will seem very obvious to you but some of them you probably weren’t aware existed. We also have a separate article written for finding some of the best bug-out bags. Made by companies that design bags for people of all ages, with unique designs that think outside the box.
1. Medical Kit
This shouldn’t come as any surprise. Here is a list of supplies you should consider having in you med kit
- Adhesive tape
- Elastic wrap bandages
- Butterfly bandages of different sizes
- Needle and thread with a lidocaine syringe (only if you’re confident in your ability stitch)
- Rubber tourniquet
- Roller gauze
- Finger splint
- Instant cold packs
- Tweezers & scissors
- Antibiotic ointment
- Some kind of antiseptic solution
- Syringes for flushing wounds, injecting medications
- Aloe vera gel
- Calamine lotion
- Medications: anti-diarrhea, antacids, laxatives, aspirin, anti-histamines, anti-inflammatories…etc.
Find a med kit that is right for your family.
2. Complete First Aid Pocket Guide
This booklet should be studied in your spare time before some dire circumstance like a poisonous snake bite present itself. At that time, time will not be a luxury. This 304 page booklet offers a vast amount of first responder knowledge, and weighs less 12 ounces with dimensions of 4.5 x 0.7 x 5.5 this can easily fit in your pocket. But if you have Amazon Kindle Unlimited it is free.
3. Freeze Dried Meals
Freeze dried meals are great to place in a bug out bag because they take up little space. And, brands like Mountain House have freeze dried foods that you cook inside the bag itself. You simply add hot water and in a couple minutes they’re ready to go. A lot of companies sell freeze dried food storage but in my experience most of them taste horrible and I eat everything. I’m in no way picky, so when I say it is bad, it is baaadd. The one brand that tastes amazing is mountain house, but they are very expensive.
One way you can overcome expensive freeze dryer foods is buy your own freeze dryer. They’re is only one company that makes them for residential use and they cost a couple thousand but if you’re serious about food storage they’ll get the job done. Also, in the long run they may save you money if you used them on foods that are going bad or or left overs. Here is a separate post I about freeze dryers, click here. If you know you’d rather purchase a freeze dryer. Click the button below to be taken to the only company that makes them for residential use. m
4. Compact foods
Foods that offer a lot of energy for little space are great for bug-out bags. MRE’s, high calorie bars with a decent shelf life, trail mix, pemmican bars are all great things to have.
If you don’t know what a pemmican bar is. It is a food bar that has been formed together by taking smoked shredded meats, then adding herbs and berries to make a paste that forms the meat into a bar. I don’t have a brand to recommend because the brand I loved was Bear Valley but they’re no longer around, so leave me a comment if you find one you like.
Personally I like Powerbars, they usually have a 9 month shelf life, they are not too expensive, and the taste is good.
A great tasting healthy alternative although not a great shelf life is Kate’s Real Food Bars.
I’m going to list two great options. It would be intelligent to have both since fire is something you definitely cannot be without. Make sure every responsible member in your family has one of these in your bug out bag.
First Option: Your standard Zippo Lighters you can easily find them on amazon.
Second Option: Are Arc Plasma Lighters. These may not light as easily as a flame but you won’t have to worry about your flame being blown out by a strong wind. You also will not be dependent on lighter fluid, instead you’ll be dependent on electricity, but that isn’t too bad when you consider there are lots of devices on the market that can easily generate small amounts of electricity needed to recharge one of these. Make sure you get at least a dual arc. I like plasma arc lighter made by Scotte brand, since it is combined with both a flash light and ferro rod.
6. Ferro Rods
Lighters are definitely much better at starting a fire than a ferro rod. However two previous suggestions are dependent on lighter fluid and electricity, so if those are depleted or the devices damaged in any way then they don’t work.
And as essential as fire is to your survival it may be worth having a ferro rod as a backup.
You have to have a way to cook your food and boil your water when necessary. And, it can’t take up a lot of space, thus the need for a mess kit. Some mess kits on the market are made out of plastic which makes no sense. Get one has all metal bowls, plates, and utensils.
8. Tinder / Fire Starter
Starting a fire with a lighter is not difficult to do on normal days, but when conditions are not ideal like it being wet, windy, extreme cold, it can be very difficult to start a fire and those are the times when you likely need a fire the most. I remember watching an episode of man versus wild where Bear Grylls could not start a fire and he is like the best.
For that reason I believe in packing a small amount of fire starter in my pack. Not a fire starter fluid that could leak, not to mention make your pack a flammable hazard but a product like Black Beard fire starter is a perfect solution, non-liquid, waterproof, and odorless. Black Beard is made from a braided cotton rope that has been completely dried out, soaked in oils and waxes. Cut a little off and apply a lighter and it will stay lit on a chunk of ice. It is great stuff.
9. Collapsible shovel
A shovel can come in handy for survival in the wild. Dig out a fire pit to help break the wind from your fire, dig a trench to direct runoff water away from your tent, towards a source you could collect and filter water, digging trapping pits to catch a meal.
Some are made with a pic that is foldable. It doesn’t do a whole lot since you can’t get much leverage but it’s something.
10. Knives for gutting & skinning game
Gutting, skinning, butchering is not easy work. A good set of knives can save time which can be very precious when you need to gut and skin quickly before predators come.
I wrote a separate post here explaining what to looking for in a knives that can be used for skinning and gutting your game.
One knife that has a beautiful aesthetic look to it and is a good size for skinning a variety of game is the the WT2718 Damascus Steel Skinning knife. Also, may want to consider getting a set of different size knives for taking your game apart.
11. Portable Water Filter
There are a lot of different brands of portable water filters on the market some have a lot more convenient features and benefits than others. If you’d like to know more about this topic we have a separate article written here going several different types.
Personally, I own the Katadyn Vario Water Filter It is an inexpensive high quality filter that removes the 9.999% of the harmful pesticides, parasites, protozoa, and bacterial from the water.
12. Ozone Pen or Ultraviolet Light Pen
Most portable water filters have around .2 micron filter, these are not designed to remove viruses, only a micron filter of .02 can remove viruses. And, those are more costly. Viruses are extremely small and able to pass through most filters, but they cannot survive ultraviolet light and they cannot survive ozone. Certain viruses can be lethal and when getting water from an unclean source you roll the dice if you don’t kill the viruses via boiling your water. But that is time consuming.
Ozone Pen made by Roving Blue and Ultraviolet light pens are ingenious devices to help solve this issue. The ozone pen costs more but is better, it works slightly faster but it also will alkalize your water (make it so it is not acidic).
13. Concealed weapons
Concealed weapons are difficult to find these days. When traveling through the country the wrong company could easily see you coming and get the jump on you. It may be worth it to have a concealed weapon that will give you the element of surprise. Here is a link to a page of concealed weapons we’ve found.
A compact drone you could pack away could help you with a number of things: looking for nearby water sources, food, shelter, finding nearby friendlees or unfriendlees to avoid. There are a lot of things to consider when looking for the right drone. We have a separate article written explaining what to look for in a survival drone.
15. Sleeping bag
1. Temperature Rating. the lower the rating the better, unless you live somewhere where the winter isn’t an issue.
2. Shape. Sleeping bags are made in a mummy shape which takes up less space or they are made in a rectangular shape. Personally, I can’t stand mummy because I have trouble sleeping without my legs having some freedom to move.
3. Weight & Compactness. How small does the sleeping bag compact too. How much does it weigh. The best sleeping bags will offer a great amount of warmth and insulation yet will still be light and compactible.
4. Insulation: Sleeping bags comes in a down made of goose or duck or synthetic materials. Natural down offers a better lightweight compact insulation than synthetic material, but synthetic insulation does a lot better at recovering if your bag gets wet.
16. Sleeping pad
Depending on your terrain and how well you sleep on a hard surface these may not be necessary. You could pile leaves and grasses underneath your tent, although that is not ideal for long-term as those things can attract mice or get moldy.
A tarp can be placed underneath your tent for waterproofing the bottom. It could be us as a rainfly to keep gear dry, or used to collect needed rain water.
18. Walking stick stun gun
I have only seen a black bear in the wild once. It was a big one, this bear was easily had 400+ pounds on me and was moving, If I had to guess 30 mph. Luckily, it wasn’t coming towards me, but at the time I saw the beast I was really wishing I had a weapon on my at the time.
This thing unleashes a crazy 950,000 Volts, it turns on with the simple push of a button, . In an apocalyptic situation animal attacks may become more common. As people encroach on established animal territories and with many people dead predators may start seeing people as a meal.
This item might be easily overlooked. If your eyes are sensitive to bright amounts of light like mine you’ll want o have a pair.
21. Fishing Gear
A telescopic rod will not take up much room in a pack. A reel with a small tackle box will be essential in getting you the food you may need. Fish are much easier to catch than any game on land, plus they have much needed fat on them, essential to your survival.
If you don’t know a lot about fishing and what kind of equipment to purchase we have a separate link here to help you with that.
22. Yo-Yo Fishing Reels
Yes, this could be included as part of your fishing kit but I wanted to list it as a separate item to draw your attention to these ingenious devices. Sold in a pack of 6 you can set these lines attached to a tree or a buoy walk away and let them do the fishing for you.
When you set these lines they stay set in place but the moment it gets a hard enough tug it trips the reel to start reeling in the fish. They are awesome… and a must pack in your bug-out bag.
Take a look at Yo-Yo Fishing Reels.
Cord can be used for hanging your tarp, making traps, building shelter, and other uses.
24. Flashlight / Lanterns
I always make sure I have a couple extra of these.
25. Toothbrush Toothpaste
No need to be nasty, don’t forget your toiletries. Best to avoid a cavity or gum infection through good oral hygiene.
26. Sharpening Stone
You may not be aware but sharpening stones come in different grits. A grit number below 1000 is used to help fix any small chips or rolls in the edge of the blade. 1000 – 3000 grit is used for sharpening a dull blade, and anything above 3000 is used to further refine the blade.
If you’ve ever skinned an animal you know how quickly hair can dull a blade. It would be important to have a 1000-3000 grit sharpening stone in your pack. Perhaps one below a 1000 as well.
27. Hand Saw or wire saw
A good foldable hand saw or a pocket chainsaw can be used when may want to cut down limbs for constructing a more permanent shelter or traps or any other projects. I would choose a quality made foldable hand saw over a pocket chainsaw. I think they more efficient but some might prefer the pocket chainsaw.
28. Small portable generator
I’ll recommend two device but just know these devices generate very minimal amounts of watts. They may help recharging phones, small batteries, electric lighter or other devices that don’t use a lot of electricity.
There is a product on the market called Water Lilly Turbine it is a small compact generator you can take in a bug out back. It can be used to generate water in a nearby river or set up as a wind turbine or used as a hand crank.
The manufacturers website state Water Lilly turbine will on average produce 360 watts a day but could produce more. That’s not enough but it’s better than nothing. And it’s practical free energy, you don’t have to do much.
There are also small stoves made by a company called Biolite. These stoves do a great job at burning biomass with a built in fan that helps to thoroughly burn everything. They generate some electricity from the heat of the stove to your phone but it is extremely minimal at 3 continuous watts and a battery of 2600 milliamps at 5 volts this translates to an internal battery of 13 watts. Smart phones have an average watt hour battery of around 6 -12 amps.
In summary if you use this stove for a couple hours it will charge your phone but that is about it, but don’t expect it to charge anything else.
29. Sewing kit
Quickly salvage a tear in clothes, would help prevent unnecessary trips to get clothing.
30. Compass & Map
If the GPS is not working on your phone then you may need to go back to the old way of map and compass.
31. Walkie Talkie
Walkie Talkie will allow you to communicate to each other via radio waves. Some long range walkie talkies can work at distances as great as 32 miles. A great device if you need to split up for any reason. Establish a coded language so you can communicate safely without enemies understanding.
32. Waterproof Deck of Cards
Survival at times can get boring, like in the winter when food is scarce, and going outside is risking your safety. It would be worth having a deck of cards to help kill the time, and help boost morale.
33. Nail Clippers
Always worth keeping up on the hygiene and a split nail from too long a nail can be fairly painful, annoying, and inhibiting to survival
34. Water bottles
There are so many different kinds of water bottles. It is easy to run out of water when hiking. You should be carrying at least a gallon on you, the more the better. A few decent water bottles and a camelbak bladders can help with this. I think it is a good idea to have at least one stainless steel water bottle that doesn’t get warped by the heat of the sun or damaged when dropped. Hydro Cell is a good brand offering great value.
35. Water Bladders
Once you’ve established a campsite you’ll want to have a way of hauling large amounts of water to it. Collapsible water containers work great for bugging-out. Nice and compact and able to haul more than 5 gallons of water per container. They’ve always been highly durable when I’ve used them.
36. Hatchet or Axe
It may be helpful to have a hatchet or axe to cut off dead firewood or help with building a shelter
37. Dedicated pot for boiling water, cooking, sanitizing
A small pot for boiling water needed for ready to eat meals, cooking root plants veggies, or stew you want to put together can all be done with a pot.
38. Portable lightweight stove
You could definitely survive without one of these but it may be worth taking because it gives you a couple advantages.
One, you can build a smaller fire for boiling water and cooking food. This will save you time on having to gather firewood.
Two, it should cook your food faster than over an open fire.
Three, they burn more efficiently so you’ll have less smoke, concealing your location.
Snares might help you catch a couple rabbits, squirrels, or small animals. Plus, they are much smaller than any other kind of trap so they’re really the only thing that works to fit in a but-out bag.
40. Pellet Rifle
Pellet guns are quiet. They hardly make any sound. They are perfect for hunting small game like birds, squirrels, and rabbits. You just have to make sure you purchase one with power behind it, meaning it can shoot around 1200fps or more.
Pellet guns work either by a gas piston or spring. I like a spring pellet gun better because as gas pressure decreases so does the force behind your shots and that affects the precision of your shots, whereas you don’t have that problem with a spring loaded pellet gun. Also as a survivalist it just makes sense to use a spring loaded pellet gun since you’d not be dependent on gas cartridges.
41. Zip Ties
You may not have thought about this one but zip ties are useful little items. They can be used to help you with building a shelter, tying someone up who means you harm. Police will carry zip ties to use when they have to apprehend several people at one time like in a riot.
42. Waterproof Container
You may have some important documents you don’t want to get destroyed such as phones, important documents…etc. It may be worth getting a waterproof container.
A set of pliers and other tools on a multi-tool may come in handy for situations you can’t foresee.
44. Lightweight Solar Charger and Battery Bank
Imagine a small battery bank that you could clip onto the back of your pack that is able to absorb the sunlight of day charging while not being used. There is a device just like that and it is definitely worth having.
There are a few devices like this online but I’m only going to recommend the brand I believe gives the best value which is Blavor solar charger with multiple panels & 20K mAh battery bank.
45. Rechargeable batteries with USB port
You may have noticed a lot of portable generators use usb ports. It would be nice to have some rechargeable batteries with a USB port on them to simply plug in and charge right? I think so.
46. Mosquito Head Net / Bug Spray
No need to bug-out only to get eaten by the bugs. Our ancestors had ways of surviving all the mosquitos. For example, Cajun people who settled the swamps used to apply the oils from alligator fat on them. They’d also burn excess oil to keep mosquitos away. Many cultures that have settled mosquito infested areas have burned oils from animal fats and other plants to keep mosquitos away. So pack some bug spray, maybe some citronella oil to burn in the fire on days they are really bad.
47. Guns & Ammo
Some bug out bags are designed for carrying firearms. We have a separate article listed on the best backpacks for survival that goes over a few of these types of packs.
Personally, I think the best weapon to take with you is a tactical rifle like the AR-15 or AK-47. These types of rifles are designed to quickly respond and fire accurately at 300 – 400 yards. Most combat is done within these ranges. Of course this type of firearm makes it difficult to hunt larger game like elk but it will excel in just about every other situation.
If you’d like to know more about what to look for when purchasing an AR-15 click here.
48. Lock Pick Set
I’m not suggesting stealing anything but end of the world scenario with a lot of abandon items. It may be worth picking a lock to get into a storage unit or in a situation you don’t want to break something to get in. A lock pick set could be useful.
Non-Packable Bug-Out Items (Vehicle Items)
The following items wouldn’t be able to be transported in a bug-out bag but if you plan on traveling by vehicle the following could be helpful.
49. Portable Solar Power Generator
You have to careful purchasing one of these. All of these being sold on the market don’t make a lot of sense. For that reason I wrote a separate article to help people to make a wise purchase. You can read more here if you like.
50. Plug-in Cooler
Ice may be hard to come by, some plug in coolers don’t require a lot of energy and if you have a decent portable generator with you, you may want to consider having one.
51. Portable Stove
It may be difficult to fit one a portable stove in your pack, plus they use a lot of electricity, but it you have a means of generating power it is probably worth taking.
You may not want the attention caused by smoke coming from a fire.
52. The Bug-Out Bag
Lastly, you have to have the actual bug-out bag. We wrote a separate article for that here. There are a lot of things to consider when purchasing a pack, and you’ll want a quality hiking pack.
If you’ve ever done a long hiking trip you know the extreme difference a pack that places weight on your hips does versus one that places weight on your shoulder. When the weight is on your hips it feels like you can hike forever.
We listed all the essential items you may not have thought of. We think if you have the above items listed you should be adequately prepared to survive outside for some time. Hopefully forever.
How did we do? Was there any other items you think we should have listed? Leave us a comment or a question. In the meantime, keep preparing and get ready for the inevitable.