5 Items to Swap Out of Bug Out Bag

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By Bryan Lynch •  7 min read

Packing a bug-out bag is a highly personal thing. After all, you are packing a bag with gear and supplies whose sole purpose is keeping you alive in the event of a disaster. In part, this why the contents of one person’s bag are different than another bag, what may work for me may not work as well for you. Of course, the cost of certain items is also reflected in what a person chooses because not everyone’s budget is the same. 

Having said that, I believe there may be some items that are better suited for bugging out than what may already be in your bag. Now, there certainly could be bias in some of the items I am going to recommend swapping out but there is also a logic behind it, which I will discuss. 

There is one last thing I wanted to bring up before getting into the items. Remember that a bug out bag is meant for a short period, a few days, and some of the items may not be appropriate for the region you live in. With all that in mind, let’s jump right into it.

5 Items to Swap Out 

Purification Tablets

Water purification tablets have their place and I do recommend storing them in your supplies. They are appealing because they are so easy to use and are compact. A tab or two is dropped into dirty water, wait the said amount of time and you are good to go. 

However, the water needs to be filtered first for the tablets to be the most effective. Also, the packaging that the tablets come in could become compromised. I once had the cap of a bottle twist off inside of my bag and the tablets went everywhere. 

Instead of tablets, carry a water bottle with a built-in filter. This eliminates the need to have additional supplies to filter first and the wait time tablets require. 

I suggest the Seychelle water bottle and filter. It’s a bit pricey but it has one of the best filters around and separates more material than most other products. It is also incredibly easy to use. Simply remove the cap, fill the bottle up, replace the cap, and start drinking. It’s a filter and water-carrying container all in one.  

Handheld Flashlight 

Flashlights use to be a bit of an obsession of mine and I always had a ton of them laying around. A sturdy, handheld flashlight is nice to have because it can be used for other purposes than just a light source. 

But if we are talking about just having a light source, then I would recommend swapping out the handheld light for a headlamp. 

It took me quite a while to come around to headlamps but once I did I absolutely fell in love with them. I usually use headlamps that run on common batteries and I found that they seem to last longer than handheld lights that run on the same type of batteries. 

However, the main reason I suggest using a headlamp is that it can be used completely hands-free. 

Having one hand occupied with a light is not ideal when walking about in low light conditions. Two free hands are better so that you can better protect yourself from possible dangers such as arresting a fall or blocking something that may be coming at you such as a tree branch. 

Also, being hands-free allows you to easily work on a task while still having a light source shining where you want it.

Paper and Kitchen Matches 

I love all things fire and it pains me a little to say you should get rid of any type of match. But if we are being realistic, paper matches are on the bottom of the food chain where matches are concerned.

But what about wood kitchen matches? While they are a step up from paper matches, they are by no means the best option, and I believe both should be swapped out of your bugout bag.

Instead, pack a butane lighter. In fact, pack a few of them because they are extremely affordable, durable, will last longer than matches, easier to use, compact, and are more water-resistant. 

If you insist on carrying matches then spend a few extra bucks and purchase Stormproof Matches. I can already hear people in the background saying, “but they cost more, you get fewer of them, and they take up more space!” 

This is all true, but quality stormproof matches outperform regular matches on all levels. One of the biggest problems with paper and kitchen matches is that they are easily extinguished by wind or water. Once a stormproof match is lit, it is next to impossible for it to be extinguished by the elements.

When you are trying to get a fire going in a survival situation, you do not want to be wasting time or resources with regular matches striking them over and over again.

Ditch the Dryer Lint 

This is another item that pains me a little to say get rid of. I enjoy using dryer lint as a fire starter because it is free to collect, is extremely easy to ignite, and burns well. 

However, once it becomes wet the lint will be useless until it is completely dried out. Premade fire tinder is worth the money because it ignites just as easily as lint, works while wet, and will burn longer. 

Improvised Tourniquets 

One of the best tips for keeping the weight of a bug-out bag down is to include items that have multiple purposes. I am all for having versatile items in a BOB, but improvised tourniquets are not one of them. 

There are a few reasons I have heard as to why people do not carry tourniquets. They include:

The first two reasons on the list I can somewhat understand. The last reason should only ever be used as a “last-ditch, there is nothing else available and this person is going to die from the injury if I do nothing,” effort.

It does not make sense to pack a first aid kit to address minor issues that a person will undoubtedly survive from, such as scrapes, small cuts, sunburn, and headaches, but not pack a tourniquet. 

If the need for a tourniquet arises, a person may only have minutes or less to survive. Why would you want the primary tool for such an injury to be improvised?

I know this one isn’t so much a swap out but an addition, but I felt the need to bring it up because it is so important. Get away from the notion of improvising a tourniquet when you don’t need to, and you won’t need to if you pack a proper one in the first place.    

Wrap Up 

After discussing the above items to swap out I realize that there could be a bit of confusion about what I was trying to get across and I want to be abundantly clear about this article’s purpose. I am by no means suggesting that if you can’t get the items I recommended, that you shouldn’t carry the original items.

If all you have is paper matches, then carry them. If water purification tablets are more within your budget than an expensive bottle and filter, then carry them. The purpose of this article is not to have you go without, but to offer suggestions that I think work better. Remember, in a survival situation the best gear is the gear that you have. 

Thanks for reading and stay prepared! Stay tuned for future articles about other supplies that should be swapped out.

Do you have any questions or comments about bug-out bag items? If so, be sure to sound off in the comment section below and let us know!  

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.