For someone new to being a Survivalist building your first Bug Out Bag can seem like a big task. Everybody you read about has been tweaking theirs for months or even years and has a pile of gear built up. It’s hard to know where to start, but if you cover all of the basics in a survival situation you will still be much better off that 99% of the people.
A Bug Out Bag, (also called a BOB, Get Out of Dodge Bag, GOOD, or 72 Hour Bag) is usually designed to get you out of an emergency situation and allow you to survive self-contained for up to 3 days. A lot of people plan their Bug Out Bag to sustain them for much longer than that, but there is always a limit to what you can carry on your back and a 3 day target is a good place to start.
Here are the 7 basic types of gear you will need for your Bug Out Bag:
It should go without saying that water is a survival basic for any situation. In a survival situation water quickly becomes the most precious commodity.
1 Liter per day per person is really the bare minimum. So your 3 day Bug Out Bag should have at least 3 liters of water.
To expand your capability or survive longer than a couple of days you will need a water purification system. This can be as simple as boiling water and iodine tablets, or a serious water filter.
- You can use a Collapsible Water Bottle for extra storage.
- Make water collection easier with a Backpacking Bucket.
- Use Coffee Filters to extend the life of your water filtration system.
- Find out How Bottled Water Can Improved Your Bug Out Bag
Obviously you will need a longer term food solution in any type of wide area catastrophe, but for your basic Bug Out Bag backpack meals are a good set up.
- A pair of sturdy boots or shoes
- A pair of long pants (preferably not blue jeans)
- 2 Pairs of socks (preferably not cotton)
- 2 Shirts (Maybe 1 long sleeve and 1 short sleeve for layering)
- A Jacket that is both warm and protection from rain
- Warm long underwear of some kind
- A hat
- A Bandana (30 Uses for a Bandana)
This list could go on for a while and many people would never dream of leaving their Bug Out Bag without twice that much, but in a pinch that set up could get you by for 3 days.
Be sure to plan for the weather in your area: Do You have Seasonal Clothes in Your Bug Out Bag
If you are going to survive for 3 days you are going to need protection from the elements and a warm dry place to sleep. You need at least:
- Some type of tent or tarp and a way to set it up
- A ground tarp for underneath your shelter to stay dry or a sleeping pad (Never underestimate the importance of this)
- Some type of Bedroll, preferably a good sleeping bag.
5. First Aid Kit
Trying to cover everything you need in your Bug Out Bag First Aid Kit is another article entirely to itself, probably several more. I won’t try to cover it because I would surely leave something out.
What I will do is recommend that you build your own First Aid Kit instead of buying one of those prepackaged first aid kits that claim to have 1001 things to get you through any emergency. While some are ok, in my experience these types of kits are usually filled with a lot of stuff you are unlikely to need and not enough of the things you will probably need a lot of.
Plus, building your own first aid kit gives you an intimate knowledge of what it contains and how to use it. How many people buy one of those pre-made set ups and just assume they are prepared because there’s so much crap in it there must be what I need? Bad Idea.
First Aid Gear: Have a Sawyer Extractor for Poisonous Snake Bites
6. Basic Gear
Basic Gear sounds repetitive (what have I been talking about?) but it is my category for the things you absolutely cannot live without but don’t really fit well into another category. Many survivalists will not like this list because it is not exhaustive by any means, but again I will say: It will be enough to get you by for a couple of days.
Rain Gear – at least 2 ways to stay dry in the rain. Poncho and Coat are good coupled with your Tent/Shelter
Fire – A bare minimum of 3 different ways to make fire. I wrote more about this here: Do You have 5 Ways to Make Fire? With that you can get a flame but you will have to actually build the fire up too: 5 Ideas for Fire Tender.
You’re also going to need something to cut your firewood and a knife uses too much energy long term: Choosing the Best Survival Chainsaw
Cooking – Bare minimum here is a small pot/large cup to boil water in for both drinking and freeze dried meals. A small backpacking stove and fuel are better.
Light – At least 2 dependable flashlights and a backup set of batteries for each.
Survival Knife – The most used and most versatile tool in your Bug Out Bag is your survival knife. I wrote more about this here: 7 Things You Should Consider before Choosing Your Survival Knife
The fact of the matter is you are might be dealing with a “Without Rule of Law” situation, or close to it, and people are likely to do crazy things. Being prepared to defend yourself is part of the survivalist mindset.
Obviously a firearm of some sort is best for this. (Though not in all situations) I will not go into specifics about what type of gun you should bring because that is hotly debated and really a personal choice. Take what is comfortable to you.
Outside of guns your survival knife could be used as weapon if you had to. Also something as simple as a big walking stick or club can be a strong deterrent for bad guys. It’s all about giving yourself options.
More about Survival Weapons:
Once you get these basics covered you can begin to test and refine your Bug Out Bag with other useful gear and prepare it for longer term survival situations.
Check out our new Survival Gear Store – Forge Survival Supply
I recently started building my own Bug Out Bag and writing about everything I am packing: Starting My Bug Out Bag