Bug Out Bag: The Beginning…

I regularly listen to Eric Shelton over at the Handgun Podcast. A while back he started talking about “Bug Out” bags. This is something I’ve long been meaning to prepare. For those unfamiliar with the concept. A bug out bag is designed to have a minimum of everything you might need for 3 or more days and the means to get you started for a more prolonged event.

While useful for the Zombiepocalypse. The bag has more basic and realistic function for a variety of situations. A good example is Hurricane Katrina or the fires of California a few years back. Let’s say you were in a similar situation where you needed to evacuate your premises.  What do you take? What do you need? What do you grab in order sustain you for the next few days? weeks? Especially, if the situation doesn’t allow for simply driving several hours and dropping your VISA card at Motel 6. What do you do?

If you’ve waited until the event to happen, than it’s probably too late. That’s where the “Bug Out” bags come in. This is a bag (can be a duffle, a back pack, a sea bag, you name it)…for which you have pre-thought and prepared ahead of time for such situation.  Everyone will have to decide for themselves what they will need in their “go bag”.  And it’s different for everyone and very different depending on where you live.  Everyone should include some light but high caloric/nutrient rich food and hydration (H2O, etc). But if you live in Arizona you are going to want a lot more H2O than myself, who lives in Pennsylvania where there is a fair amount of water.  I can probably find a water source and purify it, but such may not be possible for those in a desert climate.

Likewise, I have a family of 3 plus a 4th one on the way.  What I will need in a “go bag” will probably differ from what a single bachelor or bachelorette might need. (Oh yeah, a gals bag will most likely have some supplies that a guys bag will not.)

So there is no right or wrong way, to put together you go bag.  In fact, many advocate a number of bags.  Starting with a small “get back home” bag. This would be a small bag that you’d carry with you at all time. Probably include a spare mag, a few crunchy granola or sports bars, some $$ and a bottle of water.  Perhaps even a small transistor radio.  The purpose of this bag is just to get you back home to your family or base of operations.

The second level is your “bug out bag”.  This should be a bag that you can carry and travel with on foot. How much you can pack into this bag will depend a lot upon your build, being in shape, etc.

My go bag will likely lean rather close to being a vehicle bag. I am using an surplus Navy sea bag. But I intend to have a ready trunk as well.  And might consider making my Kelty hiking pack into a lighter weight go bag.

A third that I support is a “vehicle bag” or “ready-trunk”.  This will be a large rather heavy bag or trunk. It will contain supplies to enable you to be self-sufficient for a period of time. Up to a few weeks. And hopefully long enough for you to find a safe area, construct suitable temporary shelter, and harvest your own food and water supplies. No one said it’d be comfy.


Now it is my hope that I would never be in a situation which would require me to rely upon these preparations. Frankly, doing so would entail me carrying a sea bag strapped to my back and a toddler strapped to my front. While my wife would be carrying a Kelty frame pack on her back and a second infant on her front.  Um….no way to travel. Not unless you REAAALLLY had to!

So what’s going in side my “bug out bag”?

Well first off, let me make the caveat statement that my bag is very much a work in process. And I really have only started to assemble it.  So here’s what I have so far….

Bug Out 1

  • Tarp, just a small 6′ x 8′. Big enough to cover my family and protect us from the wind and elements.  (When paired with my old wool Army blanket. Not a bad combo.) ($5-$8)
  • Dynamo Powered Flashlight/ Radio (AM/FM/Weather/Shortwave Receiver) / USB Charger ($29)
  • Large Hot Hands for quick warmth. ($1-$2)
  • Fishing line & tackle. This provides a means to fish, or even spring a trap to catch something like a rabbit. The fishing twine can be equipped with a bell or two and used to make a perimeter around the camp. (Approx. $5)
  • Water tight storage container. My wife is working on our first aid kit. But this will be used to protect any medicines and other essentials that must be kept dry. (< $8
  • 9 hour slow burn candles. It’s often easier to light a candle and then light a fire. (< $2)
  • Lightstick (cold flameless long lasting light). [Actually I purchased this in order to attach a copy of our house key. I was given the following advice. If your home has been invaded and you’ve retreated to your safe room. It can be advantageous to have a house key attached to a glow stick. You dial 9-1-1 then toss the key and lightstick out the front window. This provides the police with an easy means to enter (ie: not having to break your door down, and confirms that you are in actual distress).  It also allows them potentially to sneak up quietly on your home invaders.]
  • Ozark Trail “Hobo Tool”: Okay one of the things on my list was silverare. I have packed a way one of those camp “fork, knife, spoon” that lock together. But this was such a cool setup.Hobo Tool

    It’s got a fork, a spoon, a knife as well as a cork screw, bottle/can opener. While it’s cheap Chinese steel. And I wouldn’t ever expect it to take much of an edge. And the knife blade does not lock open. So it’s not a combat blade by any means.  It does more than satisfy my utensil requirement. And it was dirt cheap, so I bought two!  (< $4 each)

There are a number of other items I have acquired or intend to acquire and haven’t put in the bag yet. Just to name a few of these…

  • Glock 17 (9mm) with standard capacity mags and a pair of “hi-capacity” magazines. And yes, I mean “high” as in 30+ mags.  Glocks are extremely good bug-out guns. They have a reputation for reliability and handling inclement weather. But they’re also one of the most common firearms. So the likelihood of picking up or interchanging magazines with someone else is probably higher with the 9mm Glocks than any other pistol.
  • BIC lighters. Cheap, disposable, and fairly reliable. Purchased these but I need to find where the Mrs. put them.
  • Changes of clothes for each family member. Though this might go in the Kelty. And for the baby it’s essentially going to be dual-purpose rags/cloth diapers, and a couple of diaper covers.
  • Chord/rope – I want to get some small twine or chord. As well as some decent rope (100+ weight capacity) + a few pulleys. (Oh the wonders you can do with just 2-4 small pulleys.
  • First aid kit include emergency treatment and standard fare of meds (Ibuprofen, PepcidAC, Zyrtec, etc)
  • GPS receiver (bluetooth model) can connect to either my old cell phone or my laptop.
  • Hatchet/Large knife
  • MRE’s (Planning to pick up a few of these. I ate one and realized that it’s really enough for two people. So I figure a just a couple should get us by for a day or two.)
  • Thumb Drive(s)… on this I will store a copy of all our personal records (Birth certificates, gun receipts, etc) and all our personal files (important family photos, creative writings, etc). Why a thumb drive?  Because I put one of those through the washer three times and the dryer twice and it still works years later.
  • Toilet paper – “important papers”, while you can use leaves and such. Do you want to?  Here’s a tip, many of the rolls used for business’ do not have tubes. They roll it solid. These are superb because you do not waste the space in the tube. If you do take a roll of toilet paper with a tube. Remember that you can fill that space up with all sorts of things.
  • Water….always a necessity.
  • Otis gun cleaning kit…I am contemplating getting one of these down the road for the bug out bag.
  • Wool blanket…wool can keep you warm even when wet. In combining this with the above tarp I have the means to break the wind and keep us warm.
  • Silver coin…you never know what the value of the $ will be in time of crisis. Having some silver on hand spares you from hawking your wedding band for a few gallons of gasoline.
  • Jug of gasoline in the garage. You never know if you’ll have a full tank or empty tank when the crisis hits. This way you always have the means to fill up your tank and get you as far away as possible. And also “refill” if you run out of gas before reaching a new source and need to hike a ways.

That’s not all I intend to have or think advisable. But it’s all I remember at the moment and/or have added to my list. Please feel free to suggest any other items of importance.

So what are YOUR suggestions?

Do you have a “bug out” bag? If so, what’s in it?

Published in: on April 10, 2009 at 11:34 pm  Comments (15)  
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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great write-up! ^_^

  2. Bug out bag. Try to take foods that do not take water to prepare, I see so many bug out
    bags with things like, instant oatmeal, hot chocolate & soups. The water should be for
    drinking & take vitamins & protein bars. I also take a bottle of fiber, not only is
    fiber needed but it also swells for a full feeling. I came across what is called
    Lifecaps. They are a capsule that has everything needed to survive without food with
    the exception of water. It is full of vitamins & minerals plus Iodine. Anyway, you take
    three of them a day & drink water. I can actually take enough food in one backpack to
    las 6 months because of these little Lifecaps, protein bars, fiber & water. I will run
    out of water in a week so I do carry a small filter & a couple of those straw water
    filters that filter the water as you suck.
    You do not always have the ability or time to heat water to make soup or oatmeal. Anyway,
    after I bought 25 bottles I found a coupon code & bought 75 bottles more. The coupon code
    is… healthcap It will get you 33% off. There are also sites that have those filter straws
    that are cheaper than any of the stores around here. (SLC) I think they are a really good
    idea along with some purification pills. I cannot remember the sites off the top of my head
    but you can Google for aquamira filter straw. Aquamira is the manufacture but do not buy
    off there site because I have found them for almost 1/2 what they want on their own site
    on other sites. Good luck, Gods speed & get serious about your bug out bag!

  3. I would suggest water cleaning tablets or some type of purification method. Also maybe some extra tarps for rain cover for the rest of the family. It snows in penn so also in my BOB I have extra socks and a shovel.

    My BOB (keep in mind mil medic here and gear is intended to be mounted on a yamaha rhino in the garage):
    Two canteen (1q ea.)
    3 power bars
    3 MRE
    100′ 550 paracord
    Zip ties
    3 1L IV bags
    3 IV start kits
    3 16ga caths
    3 20ga caths
    5 18ga caths
    10 4×4 gauze pads
    20 2×2 gauze pads
    Box of gloves
    25 10cc syringe
    10mg of epi
    10mg of atropine
    500 mg benedryl
    Box ETOH pads
    Assorted bandages
    Water tabs
    2 flashlight
    Extra batteries
    Topo map of my area
    Gold and silver
    …That’s just my but pack

    Now the chest rig:
    3 .40 cal mags
    Walther P99QA
    5 30 rds mag for M4
    Survival fishing set
    Reusable TP
    Smoke grenade
    Gun oil and cleaning swabs

    Wife’s gear:
    Add fem product

    Canteens x2
    She to good for MRE’s so canned goods and power bars
    Small first aid kit
    550 cord same length

    Her chest rig:
    3 mags 9mm
    Glock 17
    4 mags for her mini 14
    Compass whistle combo

    On the rhino is a small job box:
    3000 rds 5.56×45
    100 rds 9mm
    100 rds .40 cal
    300 12ga assorted
    100 win .308 for my M-14 should I have time to grab that
    Case of water (48 bottles)
    2 5gal gas cans

    Took years to gather all that but all the ammo is stored in air tight containers and oil dabbed on the primers. Am I missing anything

  4. Great list Chris…

    Definitely need to add a few of those to my bag. Zip ties are great tools. I think I am going to go with camel packs instead of canteens. Maybe some tonic water 1 litre bottles (disposable, and very light weight).

    The water tablets/filtration system is on my list of things to get…

    Got a tarp and an old wool army blanket. The one to break wind, the other to keep warm.

    Wife is working on med kit.

    Just purchased a case of MREs today. I’ve had the Tortellin before…not bad. A tad to sweet but the chili packet helps.

    The IV bags is something I haven’t considered. Do you have saline solution to go with those? If so, how long does such last for. My wife’s a nurse, so that’s a plus.

    What is the intention of the catheters?

    Where does one get atropine, and what is EPI?

    What are you using the batteries for? Batteries are expensive weight wise. And many items can be had now that do not need batteries. (Crank flashlights and radios.) Not to say there aren’t some good uses for them. Just curious what specifically the batteries are for.

    Reusable toilet paper? Do explain….never heard of such. (Unless you mean a “rag”).

    Oh, consider these for your wife…


    Missing items on your list:

    – Hand chargeable radio with SW bands.
    – Rechargeable crank light
    – Two way radio, so that if you and your wife need to separate. You can communicate.
    – Watches. Many of us no longer have them. Cell phone clocks having replaced them for many folks. Necessary item for synchronization.
    – Compass (just saw that you did have this after the Walther).

    • Good call on the radios i have a commercial band on the rhino but should grab a handheld one also. The light i have run on hearing aid batteries and are multi colored LED’s so they run 1000 hours on one hearing aid battery got like 5 extras in the removable section of my rifle. my scope runs on the same battery (I was thinking ahead). The rechargable crank light not to worried about w/ 5000 hours of run time on my lights.

      I always have a watch i am a runner so it pairs as a nice heart rate monitor aswell

      and the IV bags are saline, the catheters are IV needles + a latex free catheter so the needle doesnt have to sit in said patients arm. Epi is adrenaline.

      The reusable TP is just a couple of cloth baby diapers. Place in a bag w/ an eye dropper full of bleach. Add water and a couple of drops after rinsing the fecal matter let it sit for 30 min if no bleach smell add couple more drops. continue procedure till only a hint of bleach is present and you know its clean.

      Good way to clean water too for drinking. Only a hint of bleach smell
      Add one – two drops to a court shake and stand. The bleach is consumed by the disinfecting process so if there is no smell then there is still viruses and bacteria to kill. If there is a hint of smell its pretty much sterile.

      Any other questions shoot them my way.

      • Just had a great rainy 4 mile run.

        Anyways http://www.atlanticmedsupply.com has pretty much everything. as far as other stuff your wife is a nurse you said, you would be amazed at the stuff that finds its way into her pockets. Epi is plentiful, usually just laying around. Atropine also plentiful, you can also get it at some agricultural stores, its used to treat organophosphate poisoning (remember the movie “The Rock” nicholas cage and Sean Connery) yeah the big either atropine or 2PAM except you can do it in your thigh or butt.

      • Oh forgot, as far as getting antibiotics. Try the vet you would be amazed at how many meds k9 and humans share.

  5. All good stuff…


  6. A drop of oil on each primer. Hate to tell you this but that will case the round to fail.Most Mil spec rounds are sealed to keep out moisture and oil. Oil will penitrate the primer and kill it. Not good.

    See the test that someone did.
    http://www.predatormastersforums.com/killprimers.shtml It will take some time to kill them but that is what a BOB is for to wait around till you need it.

    For the issue of batteries try Lithium batteries. They last longer and do not weigh as much. I use AA for most things like my flashlights. Fenix makes some cool lights and you can find them at goinggear.com I am not involved with this site but they guy who runs it has videos of the lights he sells and this sets it apart from most.


  7. Great article. Keep on sharing 🙂

  8. Whether it is a 72 hour kit, a Bug out Bag or in food storage, these items are a necessity.
    Lets just say out of ten items, numbers 1, 2 & 3 is a good water filter. You cannot store enough & surely cannot carry enough water. Many emergencies leave you surrounded with water but cannot drink any of it because of contamination. You will die from lack of water long before lack of food. Put your money into a good filter.
    There are a few good brands out there, just do your homework. I like the filter straws that filter as you suck. Do not use them for your main filter ut they are a great back-up filter & weigh nearly nothing & take up no space. They are made by Aquamira, I would not buy them off the Aquamira site however, I found them cheaper just by googling, Aquamira straw filter.

    Ipecac is a great idea to have around. What would you do if you or someone you know eats or drinks something potentially poisoness? It is just a good idea.

    Hydrogen pyroxide cleans wounds really well. Infected wounds can lead to illness, loss of limbs or loss of life. You will not always be where medical attention is available or where the environment is even clean. Simple cuts can turn into major life threatening events if not taken care of. It can also kill some bugs as a last resort in water.

    The main reason to store food or have food in a 72 hour kit or bug out bag is for nutrients & sustain life. When emergency strikes you need to drink water & have nutrients. Your body uses 4-10 times the water, vitamins & minerals under stress. Your immune system drops when you do not have the nutrients. Fatigue will also come quicker. A great product I stumbled upon is called Life caps. They have all the vitamins & minerals, iodine & even a touch of natural sugar to keep your blood sugar normal to keep you healthy. They are assimulated in your body within 20-25 minutes.

    I have used these capsules on a 21 day desert survival in Northern Utah. I would open the capsule & dump it in my mouth. They taste good. They are of the highest quality all natural vitamins & minerals. They are light & you can carry 4 months worth in a relatively small space. I purchased 25 bottles & then found a coupon code to save 33%. You can find out more at lifecaps.net. The coupon code is “healthcap”.

    Anti-diarrheal pills are important just in case. If you are unlucky enough to get diarrhea, you need to stop it ASAP, because it can dehydrate you in a hurry along with wasting nutrition.

    I go on one or two survival trips a year. I hope these items help you complete your 72 hour kit or bug out bag.

    Any one of these items are potentially life saving.

    • hydrogen peroxide can be used in place of ipecac, fyi

  9. Thanks for the great input!

  10. Great article. The time to prepare is now. Everyone should get their hands on something called LifeCaps. They are the worlds first survival pill. Everyone should have a 72hr kit in their back pack, BOB, purse, glove box, or at the office. They are great for kids as well. You can get them at http://www.LifeCaps.net. I found that if you use coupon code GOCAPS you will save 33%.

  11. First off you don’t run your newer vechicles out opetro ever, so you keep the ta

    nk at least half at all times

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