What to Pack in Your Bug Out Bag

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Emergency Preparedness Series

This Bug Out Bag article is the 3rd in a series of emergency preparedness articles. If you haven’t already read the other two, you may want to go back and look at the recommendations so you’ll be fully prepared for what may come your way.

#1 in the series is 12 Emergency Essentials for Your Home. This article addresses emergency supplies should you be trapped in your own home.  # 2 in the series is Top Must-Haves for Your Roadside Emergency Kit. This article addresses emergency supplies to use if stranded on the road. And of course, since you are here now, you already know the 3rd in the series is What to Pack in Your Bug Out Bag.

Hand holding up cardboard sigh that says SURVIVOR

Why Have a Bug Out Bag?

Survival kit. Doomsday prepper pack. Battle box. Bug out bag (BOB). It doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you have it ready to go BEFORE a disaster strikes. Whether it’s a tornado, flood, snowstorm, hurricane or zombie apocalypse, a strategically stocked BOB will give you peace of mind. And you’ll have a better chance of surviving whatever hardship has forced you to leave the comfort of your home.

You may be thinking that a BOB is just for doomsday preppers, but you’d be wrong. In fact, the shockingly damaging 2017 hurricane season in the United States prompted a survey that discovered 75% of people wished they had been more prepared for the storm. Survey respondents most commonly cited food, water, flashlights, batteries, and phone chargers as the most critical supplies.

Where to Begin

Curating the supplies for your BOB can seem overwhelming, but you can make it easier by starting by answering a few simple questions.

  • What are the weather and temperature conditions in your area?
  • What natural disasters are prevalent in your region?
  • Who are you packing for? Will you be alone, with children, pets, the elderly, people with medical conditions that require special equipment?

Red Alarm Clock with block letter that say RISK.

Survival Rule of 3s

Use these easy to remember guidelines for deciding how much food and water to pack. Believe it or not, hardcore survivalists swear by the following simple rules.

You can survive….

  • Three minutes without air.
  • Three hours without shelter in a harsh climate
  • Three days without water.
  • Three weeks without food.

The federal government advises all citizens to maintain a three-day stash of emergency supplies in the event of a catastrophe.

Woman filling water bottle from creek.

Building your Bug Out Bag

You’ve asked yourself the right questions. Now comes the fun part, creating the perfect bug out bag. Let’s start with a list of the absolute essentials.


Having potable water during a disaster situation is by far the most crucial resource for survival.

Consider packing the following items to ensure you have safe water:Wide Mouth Stainless Steel insulated water bottleA stainless steel water bottle (plastic bottles are also standard, but are less versatile in a disaster scenario because you can’t boil water in them). This bottle features a conveniently wide mouth and comes in a variety of fun patterns and colors.

Aquatabs water purification tabletsWater purification tablets that will allow you to collect and drink natural water from rivers, streams or lakes. The World Health Organisation approves Aquatabs for short and long-term use.

Lifestraw Water Filtration System

Lightweight and portable water filtration systems like LifeStraw remove 99.99999% of parasites and bacteria and can filter up to 1,000 gallons of water.


Natural disasters have the potential to make the air unsafe to breathe. Dust, pollutants or irritants or overpoweringly bad smells in the air can pose significant health risks.

Man wearing neoprene dust mask.

A simple but effective neoprene half face dust mask will protect your lungs from dangerous particles in the air and takes up very little room in your go bag.


Staying warm and dry during an emergency is essential for safety and your mental health. While some people’s instincts would be to pack a tent, this will take up too much room. Luckily, there are a plethora of portable emergency shelters options.

Mylar Survival Tent

If you’re bugging out on a budget, try this waterproof mylar survival shack that fits two people comfortably and is waterproof, windproof and easy to set up. This 100% rainproof heavy duty tarp is guaranteed to be long lasting and is a favorite among survivalists.

Thermal BlanketDon’t forget a thermal blanket for each member of your group. If it’s good enough for NASA astronauts, it’s good enough for you!

Food and Fire

Your food supply preferences depend on the size of your group and your familiarity with basic survival skills.

If you know how to safely build a fire and live in an area where you can fish, hunt, or forage, you might be able to pack less ready to eat food.


Portable fishing kit

This fishing kit fits in your pocket and would be an excellent addition for a more experienced survivalist.


Firestarter kit

An ultracompact all-weather fire starting kit is all you need to start a roaring campfire, with the addition of some dry kindling.

camp stoveA lightweight wood burning stove provides warmth and cooking options if you remembered to pack a pot or other receptacle.

Not everyone knows how to start fires and cook in the bush safely, but that doesn’t mean you have to starve. There are many emergency food options like freeze-dried emergency meals and military grade MRE’s that are perfect for a survival situation. 7-day food supplyYou can even buy a Wise Company emergency food and drink supply that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. This kit is a 7-day supply and will still perfectly intact and edible for up to 25 years!


Fashion is not a priority when packing for an emergency. What you want are versatile, quick-drying layers that allow you to adjust to any weather condition you might encounter in your area.



This Anyoo roomy poncho will fit most people and, most importantly, keep them dry in wet conditions. This unisex poncho comes in over 25 colors and designs. These White Sierra Women’s cargo pants are water resistant and also zip off into shorts!

Convertible pantsA pair of waterproof hiking boots will ensure your feet stay dry comfortable and supported even in if you have to walk long distances. They don’t have to be expensive, but they should be a little bit broken in – otherwise, you might get painful blisters that will slow you down.

Hiking BootsCommunications

The last thing you want in an emergency is to lose communication with your loved ones or be cut off from important safety and evacuation information. Make sure to pack off the grid energy sources (such as solar powered or crank devices) so you’ll never be left in the dark.

This apparatus uses a crank and solar energy to power a flashlight, radio and cell phone charger – all in one small package.

CrankSolar Flashlight charger

First-Aid Kit and Survival Tools

First Aid Kit

Of course, any bug out bag is incomplete without basic first-aid supplies. This handy survival kit comes with everything you need to dress small wounds and burns, plus scissors, a knife, carabiners, and various multi-purpose survival tools.

With this list to get you started, you are sure to survive the process of packing your first bug out bag. Take inspiration from the Girl Scouts and always Be Prepared!

By CJ Bentley

"Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life.” ~ Dr. Mae Jemison, Engineer, Physician, and NASA Astronaut

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