bugout bag

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Bug Out Bags
Beyond the ordinary: build an extraordinary bug out bag

Your bugout bag can either have everything you need or it can be light: it can't be both.
You will need to make wise choices about what to pack and this article provides a concise
guide to get you started...

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, yet you must also pack light
(no more than one-third of your body weight, preferably far less).

How to pack an Extraordinary Bugout Bag

Top three items to have in your bugout bag:
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:
  1. a quality fixed blade knife
  2. metal water container* (appropriate also for cooking/boiling water) and
  3. and a fire starter (BIC lighter is the most convenient firestarter).

* A water filtration device is the fourth essential item for your bugout bag, but the metal water
container could suffice to help you obtain potable water without water treatment.

Since you have the luxury of preparing an extra ordinary bugout bag, consider the ten
criteria for your survival and compare your bugout bag contents to our list at the
bottom of the page.

Ten Criteria for the Ideal Bugout Bag
Pack your things 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 bugout bag (avoid camouflage).
Selecting the proper color for your bugout bag is imperative. 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, your camouflage bugout bag will make you vulnerable to marauders
in urban settings. Likewise, if you choose a screaming shade of orange will be all too
easy to spot making you a potential target of marauders in the wilderness. Certainly
an orange backpack would be helpful if you're on a backpacking trip and find yourself
lost in the wilderness in civil times, but in a bugout situation, your goal is to blend in
with your surroundings.

Color and style is an important factor in selecting a low-profile bugout bag. Think about
it from the other side: if you were desperate, hungry and cold would you steal the
pretty pink Hello Kitty backpack or the camouflage military looking bag? The military
style backpack might have something more useful in it.

So what color should you choose? Black is an acceptable solution for either setting and
will be a godsend at nightfall for preppers. Other good color options include blue, navy,
olive, brown or tan.

Criteria #2: Size: Find a Small Bag and Compress your Gear.
If you look 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.

For these reasons, choose a bugout bag that's on the small size (rather than heavy
frame backpacker's bag). Your fully loaded bag should be no heavier than a third of
your bodyweight. For this reason, pack a day bag.


  • 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!
When exposed to 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 waterproofp
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. Zip-locking freezer bags are the poor man's dry bag.
Garbage bags can serve as

  • Water repellent
  • Backpack Waterproof Cover.
  • Dry bags

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

  • Get a Water filter: A typical bug out bag may include a water bladder and water
    purification tablets; however, thoughtful preppers also pack a water filtration
    system, such as AquaMira, Sawyer or LifeStraw. An ideal inclusion for a bug out
    bag, a water fil 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 hydration: Consider adding tea bags, which can help you quench
    thirst quickly after boiling water. Add to your bugout bag, sports drink mixes and
    hydration salts.

  • 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!

  • RecoverORS Adult Clinical Rehydration Powder. RecoverORS is for the
    clinical treatment of dehydration due to events such as diarrhea, vomiting,
    fever, excessive sweating due to strenuous activity, traveling and more.  

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.

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! So be sure to pack a quality knife or fishing equipment and a metal water
container.

  • Titanium cooking kit and utensils. 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 camp suds soap and a small bottle of bleach to clean your
    cook set and hunting equipment.

  • Food ideas:
  • Beef Jerky or Freeze dried chicken (both are edible straight from the
    bag and are packed with protein)!
  • Pemmican bars: Pemmican is a concentrated food bar of protein that
    offers quick energy.
  • Dehydrated meals: Harmony House dehydrated foods, pictured
    immediate left.
  • Coconut ration bars.

Criteria #6: Survival tools.
Bugout bags require tools for survival. To build the perfect bugout bag, consider a
combination of these items:

  • Camp stove: Portable stove and fuel
  • Hunting tools: Hunting / fishing / trapping kits
  • Self defense tools: firearms, Mace/pepper spray, Tazer
  • Sanitation: pot scrubber,

Criteria #7: 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 should not be blue. Pick green or camouflage.

  • 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.

  • Rain poncho.

  • Bandanna/ tactical scarf

Criteria #8: Hand and foot care.
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: Pack wool socks because they will wick away moisture to keep
    your feet dry and cozy. Wool socks in summer won't overheat you, and your feet
    will stay warm in Winter. Best of all, if wool socks get wet, they won't loose any
    thermal heat -- you will continue to stay cozy even when wet. If you are
    sensitive to wool, try HydroSkin Socks by NRS, pictured left. You'll keep your feet
    warm without bulk.


  • Moleskin. 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.

  • Be sure to also include a Dental Aid kit to help you mitigate dental pain and
    emergency repairs.

Criteria #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
weight.

  • Pack safety pins in your bugout bag! Why? A safety pin has a multitude of
    purposes, you can: affix gear to your bag, improvise a tweezer to remove ticks
    or a splinter; make a fishing hook; secure a bandanna to make a bandage to
    compress bleeding; tighten pants to keep out ticks or snow; improvise a finger
    splint; among many other ideas.

Bugout bag contents
You won't be able to fit everything in your bugout bag if you are going to keep it
lightweight. You'll have to "make do or do without" some things. Do you need a geiger
counter in your bag if you're prepping for an earthquake? Sure, it might be good to
have one if you live near a nuclear power plant
Nuclear Power Power Plant Locations

To help you get started on what to include in your bugout bag, you've got to make a
list, then pair it down. We've compiled such a list!  Here is a list of vital contents for
survival. The happy prepper list of bugout bag contents (in order of importance):  
  1. Knife: a quality fixed blade knife (blackbird SK-5, Becker BK2)
  2. Metal container / cookset: metal water container (appropriate also for
    cooking/boiling water) and
  3. BIC Lighter (Primary fire starter). A BIC lighter is the easiest fire starter to
    own, water proof matches)
  4. Secondary firestarter (e.g., magnesium firestarter,  ferrocerium rod with metal
    striker).
  5. Water.  Certainly it will weigh down your pack, but water is life and having a
    pouch or a bottle or two handy will help provide you with comfort when you
    need it most.
  6. Water filtration. AquaMira water filter, Lifestraw, Sawyer, Katdyn, etc.
  7. Water treatment. Water treatment tablets.
  8. Self Defense tools: Firearm, knife, mace or pepper spray.
  9. Dried meat. Freeze dried chicken dices can be eaten straight from the bag! Left
    you'll find Legacy Freeze dried chicken provides 16 servings per pouch (1/2 cup
    serving size provides 25 grams protein)
  10. Camp stove.
  11. Fuel. Fuel tabs or home made fuel (cotton balls with petroleum jelly)
  12. Wool blanket. Wool is ideally suited to protect you from the elements and keep
    you dry.
  13. Hunting tools: sling shot, snares.
  14. Fishing kit: Fishing kit, and frabill net.
  15. Fix-it tools: duct tape, superglue, safety pins, zip ties.
  16. Cordage: Paracord or a paracord bracelet.
  17. Duct tape. Pack what you need without the heavy cardboard center, or buy
    Travel duct tape.
  18. First aid kit (snake bite kit, tweezers for tick removal)
  19. Medicines (prescriptions, anti-diarrheals)
  20. Pandemic supplies: Dust mask, nitrile gloves,
  21. Sanitation: towelettes, antiseptics
  22. Navigation supplies: compass, maps, cell phone with GPS
  23. Communications: small hand crank or solar radio
  24. Clothing: Wool socks, underwear, change of clothes, pantyhose! (Yes,
    pantyhose as it has a number of survival uses!)
  25. Torch (headlamp, LED flashlight or solar light)
  26. Hand warmers. Handwarmers are especially important for kids bugout bags.
  27. Oral hydration: tea bags, hydration salts, sport drink mixes.
  28. Bivvy or sleeping bag (be sure to use a compression bag).
  29. Tactical scarf or a bandanna
  30. Extra batteries
  31. Utility tools: Gas shutoff valve, Military can opener.
  32. A bandanna has multiple functions: first aid tourniquet or sling, slingshot head or
    neck covering, napkin or pot-holder.
  33. Lip balm. Pack your favorite Chapstick for your lips, but also as a potential fuel
    source (because it's a petroleum product).
  34. Energy candy: Chewing gum and hard candies will provide a burst of energy
    and are lightweight.
  35. Collapsible Bucket. Backpacking bucket to help you carry water or edibles.
  36. Whistle in which amplitudes can travel a mile or more
  37. Trowel.  You'll need a lightweight trowel for digging cooking pits, sanitation pits,
    and for help extinguishing fires.
  38. Zip Ties. Cable ties wraps are always useful! They are lightweight and
    inexpensive too.

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
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Lifestraw water filter
Bug out water supply pack
Securing potatble water
hydropack bladder is essential
Black bugout bag is ideal
Dry Gear bag
Travel Duct tape
Government issue magnesium fire starter
Titanium cookset
Camping knife
Solilder Fuel bars
Tiny backpacking stove
How to Pack Your Bugout Bag
water filtration pump
Sawyer mini water filtration
Rapid rehydration
Potable-aqua two-pack
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Camp Dry (heavy duty water repellant)
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