Building a Bug Out Roll: 4 Reasons to Have One, and Gear to Include

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By Jordan Copplestone •  8 min read

In a nutshell, you can think of a Bug Out Roll as behaving similarly to a tool roll. It’s a compact and secure way to transport your survival items, either separately or within your Bug-out-bag. However, if it were only providing another means to stow your gear, then chances are it wouldn’t have succeeded at becoming a ‘thing’- which it most certainly has.

4 Reasons To Get A Bug Out Roll (BOR)

Building A Bug-Out-Roll
  1. Oozes organization capabilities – you can section-off gear, have it grouped by type, urgency etc. Some bug-out-rolls offer transparent pouches/panels to enhance the ease at which you can quickly find certain items.
  2. Gives you instant visual and physical access to the gear you are transporting. Instead of endless rummaging through bug-out-bag dividers and pockets, dry bags etc. – you can quickly lay bare all, or your most important items in a way that presents you with your most comprehensive range of options.
  3. Maximizes your bug-out-bag carry capacity: With a bug-out-roll taking up the bulk of the organization of gear challenge – you are free to reap the benefit of having a bug-out-bag with a simplified, larger main compartment carry space. Even if, like me you will still store the bug-out-roll in your BOB; you’re still likely to notice that you have gained additional space by not having to rely on your bag to offer organization options.
  4. Creates a more fail-safe way of ensuring that you have everything with you when you unroll the BOR and crucially that you didn’t forget to omit any vital piece of equipment.

What are the disadvantages of a Bug Out Roll?

Yes, as with any piece of gear or equipment there will be times when this won’t be the most suitable solution.

heavy tool bag

Building a Bug Out Roll: What Contents You Should Consider

This will of course mainly be determined by what you are looking to achieve. For instance, some preppers may be inclined to solely concentrate in creating a first-responder type of bug-out-roll, purely for medical applications.

While others may opt for a more tool-specific focus, looking to pack the heaviest items. Personally, I think for the majority of us, we want an all-round bug-out-roll that can cover a range of applications.

which tools do you need?

Also, I think it’s important to play to a BOR’s major strength, which is its…um strength actually. When you are transporting heavy or sharp utensils and tools you always run the risk of tearing your bug-out-bag.

My actual BOB is waterproof and while it is strong, there are sections to this backpack that are thinner and more vulnerable to tearing.

My own BOR negates this from happening and allows me to transport critical gear, in a highly organized way without allowing sharp tools to endanger the structural integrity of the BOB that houses it. Which I think you’ll agree is a win:win scenario. 

So, let’s break down the essential areas to cover starting with:

Fire & Shelter

Water & Food

Tools & Repairs

Basic Intel Gathering & Comms


Lighting & Electrical:

Just Say No To Space Invaders

The content that I have listed above are just some things you may wish to consider allocating to your BOR. As with the best inventions, the most ingenious solutions often come because of clear restrictions rather than having every option under the sun available to you.

A bug-out-roll shouldn’t be thought of as simply a different format of bug-out-bag. Rather it has its own restrictions that will shape how you decide to kit yours out. Free space is likely to be your main challenge here.

Even if you decide to opt for something like the very well made and quite literally massive Canadian Prepper Bug Out Roll  (model 1 or the more streamlined model 2) you’re still going to have to plan out which gear you pack and think about once stowed, how easily it will ‘roll up’.

This is why I haven’t listed items like a water canteen, stove, mess tin, portable radio, ham radio, food more than a few energy bars or a firearm etc. You really will need to decide where you would allocate certain gear to – it’s probably safe to assume a large proportion of items would likely be stored in you BOB, carried on your person, in your vehicle etc.

Wrap Up 

To round things off, I would just like to add that aside from the aforementioned Canadian Prepper Bug Out Roll, you may wish to opt for a much smaller scale solution. Incidentally, a bit of digging on YouTube and you can find the moment that the site’s founder had the idea for what would later become this product. Canadian Prepper fist started to look at the normal tool-rolls and wondered how he could adapt this into what is now his modular, Canadian Bug Out Roll.

That’s certainly something that I have gone with myself. I went with an old model of tactical bug out roll. The only real discernible difference between my model and the cookie-cutter tool roll type found in most hardware stores was that the spacing between slots where tools would slide into were more widely spaced apart. That and many of the nylon slots also featured elasticated webbing meaning I could squeeze wider, or non-uniform shaped gear more easily into mine.

Sadly, the model I have is no longer available and has been discontinued by the manufacturer, otherwise I would happily share the details here. However, you may wish to consider looking at fishing tackle tool roll bags such as No products found. that tend to feature transparent pouches that seal using hook and look closures. Examples like these are a good, cheap, no-frills solution if you don’t fancy exploring hardware tool roll bags.

Jordan Copplestone

Looking back, I think it’s fair to say that my interest in preparedness and survival skills were seeds that were sown from an early age. Growing up in overseas countries across Europe, Africa, The Middle East, and The Far East gave me an appreciation for life’s challenges. Skills like situational awareness, bushcraft, and survival training which I accrued in my youth have proven to be invaluable as a writer, researcher, and digital nomad in my professional life. I see the relevance of these and other self-sufficiency skills being applicable to everyone, regardless of whether you’re living in urban or rural locations, within the first world or developing nations.