Bug Out Bags
Beyond the ordinary: thoughtful bug out bags for preppers
Think differently when it comes to your bugout bag, because your life depends on it!
Most of the commercial bugout bags on the market have items to get you through the
first 72-hours of a disaster. After that, they pretty much leave you stranded for the
long term. While those types of bugout bags certainly fill a niche for hurricanes,
earthquakes, and other natural disasters, where relief is in sight, preppers must think
beyond the ordinary to create a unique survival bag as if it's the last set of man-made
items they'll ever own.
Bugout bags for preppers go beyond the ordinary! Here's how to build a bag to ensure
your best chance for survival...
How to build an extraordinary bugout bag
There's so much to consider when crafting the ultimate bugout bag. Preppers should
have a strategic plan of minimal weight (about a third of your body weight) and
maximum survival possibilities. At minumum there are three things to include in your
- a quality fixed blade knife (blackbird SK-5, Becker BK2, bothh pictured right)
- a metal water container (appropriate also for cooking/boiling water)
- and a fire starter.
These three items will do you well. Wondering what else to put in your bugout-bag?
- 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.
- Food and water. While you should pack some food in your bug-out bag, such as
freeze dried or dehydrated food and hard candy, it's more important to
remember that your bug-out bag is your lifeline for your long-term survival and
should include mostly the essential items to get you more food and water, as
with a quality knife or fishing equipment and a water filtration system. 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!
Ten Criteria for the Ideal Bugout Bag
Pack wisely, because every item you pack should have several uses. Take heed,
because the perfect bugout bag fufills ten basic criteria. Here's how to build an
extraordinary bugout bag.
Criteria #1: Select a low-profile bug out bag (avoid camo). 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 Hello Kitty 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: 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,
but you may also consider one for your 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: Make Sure to Waterproof your Bugout Bag! Your bugout bag will get
wet easily and the contents inside will get soaked or damp without adequate
protection. Most bags offer a level of protection, but for ultimate peace of mind, 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: 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, top of the page, comes in handy. This is a feature
often overlooked by preppers. Camelbak, pictured left, 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 water.
Water purification: Typical bug out bags may include a water bladder and water
purification tablets; however, thinking beyond the norm, thoughtful preppers pack a
water filtration system. One such viable option is LifeStraw. An ideal inclusion for a bug
out bag, this device, pictured immediate left, will help you source life sustaining water
beyond the 72-hour survival target. With LifeStraw you can drink directly from the
water source without waiting offering you a solution for quick hydration.
- 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.
- Tarp: Your tarp should be
- Compact sleeping bag: Suisse Sport Adventurer Mummy Ultra-Compactable
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 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.
- Heavy duty work gloves are essential to your survival as you'll be doing work
from carrying fire wood and creating shelter.
- Hatch Specialist All-Weather Shooting/Duty Gloves, pictured immediate left.
- Handwarmers are another option to consider if climates in your area are severe.
- Foot care: Good shoes should be on your feet, plus extra socks, shoe-laces and
BlisterMedic and first aid for relief of blisters.
- Consider protecting your feet with HydroSkin G3 Socks by NRS, pictured at
the top of the page. 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 blisters.
- First aid kit: Essential to survival, the first aid kit should be lightweight. Right,
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.
Remember your toothbrush and unscented toothpaste.
- Headlamp will help light the way and keep your hands free.
- Hard candies will provide a burst of energy and are lightweight.
- A bandana has mutliple functions: first aid tourniquet or sling, slingshot
head or neck covering, napkin or pot-holder.
- Backpacking bucket, immediate left, will help you carry water or edibles.
- Cable Ties/tie wraps
- Chapstick for your lips, but also as a potential fuel source (because it's a
- Bug out Bag Kitchen Tool Set: This handy cooking tool set, pictured immediate
left. Sure, there's no kitchen sink, but it has just about every utensil you need to
fix a meal outdoors: a stainless whisk and grater, a cutting board, telescoping
spoon and spatula; 12-piece plastic silverware set, and a scrubby sponge and
- Titanium cooking kit: Unfortunately, cooking sets are bulky even when
streamline. Titanium is the lightest possible cookset you can buy. Above, right, is
the solo camper set that needs only utensils. Remember the soap to clean the
Here's a quick list of unusual things to include in your bug-out bag:
- Proper bugout clothes. (Bug-out socks that prevent blisters and keep your feet
- Heavy duty, all weather work gloves for shooting and other duties, also pictured
- 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.
Bug out bicycles: Preppers often have elaborate schemes to bug out with vehicles
ranging from ATVs to school buses, but fail to prepare for an escape from the Bug Out
Vehicle. In the event your won't start or in case all cars won't work, as with an
electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event, ultimately, survival could depend on bug out bikes.
Plan your bug out clothes: The contents of your bugout bag should include your gear
and only a little clothing. Like your bugout bag, you won't want to wear camouflage
clothing as you'll stick out or be mistaken for military. Black is an excellent choice. Mix
your tactical wardrobe 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.
Consider packing a bike bag for your bugout.
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 1/31/14
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