Bug Out Bags
Beyond the ordinary: build an extraordinary bug out bag
Most of the commercial bugout bags on the market have items to get you through the
first 72-hours of a disaster; however, they pretty much leave you stranded for the long
term. As a prepper, you must think differently about your bugout bag. You must pack
as though it's the last man-made items you'll ever own.
While there is a lot of survival gear you could include in your bugout bag, if you had to
pair it down to three things, then these items will virtually guarantee your survival:
- a quality fixed blade knife
- metal water container (appropriate also for cooking/boiling water) and
- and a fire starter
Since you have the luxury of preparing an extra ordinary bugout bag or fixing the one
you have, consider the ten criteria for your survival.
Ten Criteria for the Ideal Bugout Bag
Pack wisely, because every item you pack should have several uses. Build an
extraordinary bugout bag by considering the following criteria:
Criteria #1: Color: Select a low-profile bug out bag (avoid camouflage).
Go incognito, not camouflage! Now this seems counter-intuitive, but if you've got a
backpack that looks too military, then it screams that you're the survivalist type or
military professional and that you've got something good to steal. In uncertain times,
this will make you a serious target for marauders in urban settings.
Think about it: if you were desperate, would you steal the pretty pink backpack or the
camouflage one? Color is an important factor in selecting a low-profile bugout bag. If
your bug out bag is a screaming shade of orange, then you will be too easy to spot
making you a potential target of marauders in the wilderness. Certainly an orange
backpack would be helpful if you want to be found, but in a bugout situation, your goal
is to blend in with your surroundings. Black is an acceptable solution for either setting
and will be a godsend at nightfall for preppers.
Criteria #2: Size: Find a Small Bag (Day Pack) and Compress your Gear.
For starters, think small about the bag itself. Make sure your fully loaded bag is no
heavier than a third of your bodyweight, such as with a day pack. If your bugout bag is
loaded like a backpacker, you're looking for trouble. The bigger the bug-out bag the
more attention you will attract from hungry looters. Another benefit for packing light is
that it will make you more mobile.
- Tip: Get compression sack. A compression sack is essential for your sleeping bag
or bivvy, but you may also consider one for a change of clothing. The PodSac,
lower left hand page, can help you compress a multitude of items with minimal
weight. As mentioned, the dry compression sack immediate right will offer the
added protection of keeping your items dry and being see-through allows you to
quickly identify the location of the contents.
Criteria #3: Prepare for the Elements -- Waterproof your Bugout Bag!
In the elements, your bugout bag will get wet or damp easily, which will ruin the
integrity of the contents inside. Most bags offer a level of waterproof protection, but
for ultimate peace of mind, spray your bugout bag with a heavy duty water repellent.
Also, get dry bags, pictured right, for your small articles and dry compression sacks for
your gear. (They're pictured directly below the dry bags.) Zip-locking freezer bags are
the poor man's dry bag.
Criteria #4: Plan your Hydration and Water Filtration.
Harvesting water and filtering it is a top priority in survival because you can't survive
beyond three days with out it. To plan your hydration, bring along water and a method
for securing more water and filtering it.
- Get a bladder pack insert. Water is an essential component of your bugout
gear. Water bottles are often bulky and hard to unpack to drink. That's when
the hydro bladder pack attachment, comes in handy. Camelbak offers hydration
systems as well; however, they may interfere with your bugout bag. If your kids
are too young to carry a bugout bag, consider having them at least carry their
own water for survival.
- Include water purification tablets. Potable Aqua, pictured at the bottom of the
page packs light and will give you the comfort of
- Ensure you have other water purification methods: A typical bug out bag may
include a water bladder and water purification tablets; however, thoughtful
preppers also pack a water filtration system. One such viable option is LifeStraw.
An ideal inclusion for a bug out bag, LifeStraw enables you to drink directly from
the water source without waiting.
- Have kids? Have them carry water in the Camelbak bug out water supply
pack, pictured left, since you'll be carrying most of their supplies.
- Consider ORAL IV: Heatstroke happens. An added measure of security in your
bugout bag is to avoid it and have Oral IV handy. This hydration aid helps
athletes maintain their physical exertion and avoid dehydration. It helps
maintain a heightened alertness too!
Criteria #5 Food and Cooking Utensils
While it's important to pack freeze dried or dehydrated foods along with hard candy,
beef jerky and protein bars. It's most important to pack survival gear to get you more
food and water, as with a quality knife or fishing equipment and a metal water
container. If you've got the bag filled only with MREs, and heavy water, then you're
essentially wasting space for your long term survival, and you'll soon be dead from
hydration and hunger!
- Get yourself a titanium cooking kit: Most cooking sets are bulky, but Titanium is
the lightest possible cook set you can buy. Above, right, is the solo camper set
that needs only utensils.
- Sanitation: Include soap and bleach to clean your cook set.
Criteria #6: Shelter/Warmth (tent, tarps, poncho, bivvy, sleeping bag)
Build your bugout bag to include shelter essentials. Shelter (backpacking tent, military
poncho, mylar blanket). A good knife can help you build shelter, but if you have
included a small mylar blanket or military poncho in lieu of a bulky backpacking tent,
you will have a head start for warmth and protection of the elements.
- Tarp: A tarp
- Compact sleeping bag: Suisse Sport Adventurer Mummy Ultra-compact Sleeping
Bag, at the bottom of the page, weighs just 1.5 Lbs, and includes a compression
stuff sack that brings the size down to a jug of milk. It's highly rated by Amazon
buyers and very well priced.
- Mylar and emergency blankets: Mylar blankets retain and reflect 90% of body
heat and is lightweight. You'll be able to use the material as lightweight tarp in
addition to using it as a blanket.
Criteria #7: Survival tools: Bugout bags require tools for survival. To build the perfect
bugout bag, consider a combination of these items:
Criteria #8: Hand and foot care:
- Paracord or a paracord bracelet.
- Magnesium fire starter.
- Survival knife and sling shot.
- Compass and maps.
- Pepper spray self defense.
- Duct tape. Yes, Duct tape could save your life.
- a quality fixed blade knife (blackbird SK-5, Becker BK2)
- Hard candies will provide a burst of energy and are lightweight.
- A bandanna has multiple functions: first aid tourniquet or sling, slingshot head or
neck covering, napkin or pot-holder.
- Backpacking bucket, immediate right, will help you carry water or edibles.
- Cable tie wraps are always useful! They are lightweight and inexpensive too.
- Chapstick for your lips, but also as a potential fuel source (because it's a
- Headlamp will help light the way and keep your hands free.
- Travel duct tape because ordinary duct tape is way too heavy.
- Lightweight trowel for digging cooking pits and for help extinguishing fires.
- Survival pocket chain will help you gather firewood fast.
- Fishing kit, and frabill net, will help you get past your freeze dried meals.
- Hand crank AM/FM Radio
- compass, whistle, and maps
Many articles on bugout bags forget entirely about hand and foot care. When building
a bugout bag, pack these essentials for your hands and feet:
- Hand care: Be sure to include:
- A small vial of lotion to soothe your hard working hands.
- A pair of heavy-duty all-weather work gloves. They are essential to your survival
as you'll be doing work from carrying fire wood and creating shelter, and for
shooting and other duties.
- Handwarmers (if climates in your area are severe).
- Foot care: Be sure to include:
- Good shoes on your feet! Don't include new shoes, instead pack a pair of
comfortable and gently worn shoes.
- Extra Socks: Consider protecting your feet with HydroSkin G3 Socks by NRS,
pictured left. You'll keep your feet warm without bulk. The 0.5-mm neoprene core
insulates and protects. 4-way-stretch PowerSpan" outer layer gives you
enhanced mobility and greater HydroSkin socks are the ultimate wetshoe liner,
providing an extra layer of warmth while helping to protect your feet from
- Extra shoe-laces or paracord, and SuperGlue!
- BlisterMedic and first aid for relief of blisters.
Criteria #9: Small First aid kit. Essential to survival, the first aid kit should be
lightweight and yet pack essentials in the seven areas of prepper first aid. Below, the
bright orange first aid kit will be easy to spot in your bugout bag to help you provide
critical first aid. Chapstick is an essential addition to the first aid kit.
Critera #10: Plan your bug out clothes: The contents of your bugout bag should
include your gear and only a little clothing. Don't wear camouflage clothing as you'll
stick out or be mistaken for military. Black is an excellent choice. Mix your tactical
wardrobe of black with drab olive or grays. Your bugout clothes should be ready for
you to slip on before heading out. It's essential to plan correctly. In addition to bugout
socks and heavy duty work gloves, consider these essential items:
- Tactical shirt: With Nyco rip-stop sleeves, the tactical shirt has an element of fire
retardant -- the vest portion resists melting and dripping! Look for jackets and
shirts with “pit zips”, these allow you to open or close to help you regulate
whether you want to cool off or warm up.
- Tactical pants. Sure they are fade, wrinkle, and shrink resistant, but the
important features are that the tactical pants, pictured left, are crafted with a
heavy duty double seat and double knee. Loaded with pockets they're made of
DuPont Teflon treatment that resists liquids and stain.
There's so much to consider when crafting the ultimate bugout bag. Remember to pack
as light as possible: plan to pack gear that weighs no more than third of your body
What's in your bug out bag? If you buy a pre-assembled bug out bag, be sure you know
how to use all the contents. Take out the contents and make sure everyone in your family
understands how to use the stuff inside. We're happy to hear your prepping ideas and link
to your site. Please drop us a note on Twitter or Facebook at HappyPreppers.
Remember, our family survival system is free! Learn how to store food, water, fuel sources,
survival medicines, sanitation, and self defense. See more at www.happypreppers.com
------------------------------------------------- Revised 7/15/14
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