This is the most complete bug out bag (BOB) checklist on the Web.
In this guide, I’m going to teach you the strategies we use to build bug out bags at Ready To Go Survival … module by module.
As you can imagine, putting together a bug out bag list for your personal situation is no easy task. Your goal is to build the best bug out bag, but when you scour the Web, there seem to be thousands of opposing ideas about the perfect combination.
Therefore, it’s easy to waste money on stuff that you’ll never use.
What is a Bug Out Bag?
A bug out bag is a long-term survival kit with one core purpose—to get you away from danger as fast and as safely as possible. Other names for it include: get out of dodge bag (GOOD Bag), I’m never coming home bag (INCH Bag), 72-hour kit, go bag, bail-out bag, SHTF bag, personal emergency relocation kit (PERK BAG), and many more.
This bug out bag checklist will help you create a 72+ hour kit to be stored where you spend the most time. Remember, even the government recommends having a 72-hour kit, although their recommendations are nothing like those we outline here.
A go-bag list includes enough rations for 72 hours and the tools to gather additional provisions and survive even longer.
Bug out bag shopping should be like buying a high-quality custom suit. It must fit your needs perfectly.
However, before we jump into the bug out bag packing list, here are some general tips for getting started.
9 Golden Rules for Building a Bug Out Bag
1) Comfortable Weight
The general guideline is that you shouldn’t carry more than 25% of your weight. For example, a 200-lb person shouldn’t carry a bug out bag that weighs more than 50 pounds. Therefore, unless you’re very fit and/or have trained to carry large packs, you should cap the weight at 20% of your body weight, not to exceed 50 pounds.
2) Keep it “Gray”
The gray man theory is simple—you need to blend into your environment as much as possible. Bugging out of a major city with a huge camouflage backpack is the same as putting a giant target on your back.
3) Keep it Modular
Staying organized is key to surviving a SHTF event, and the best way to stay organized is by creating a modular bug out bag.
For instance, if you have a bug out vehicle, there may be items you can store in it as they would be of little use without a ride. If you have items you carry every day (an EDC kit), you can create a pouch that connects to your bug out bag to not double up on items and still have your kits ready to go.
4) Bug Out Buddies
In times of emergency, there is strength in numbers. The more people you roll with, the less chance someone will try to rob you. Having bug out buddies also lets you carry more gear. You really don’t need more than one water filter, tent, or trench shovel in your bug out bag. Disperse such items among your crew to collectively have all the bases covered without adding weight.
5) Bug Out Location
Bugging out is all about evacuating a dangerous area to a safe area, right?
If the SHTF is in your local area, make sure you have somewhere to go. It doesn’t have to be a cabin in the middle of nowhere, but your bug out location should be far enough from the danger zone for the short-term.
If the emergency stops the supply chain altogether, you must consider moving to a secluded bug out location. The average Joes of this world will begin evacuating major metropolitan areas, moving into the suburbs, and looking for food and supplies on the way. This is also when your average Joe becomes an alpha predator, so it’s best to avoid him.
Keep in mind, the further you must travel to get to your safe-house, the more food and water you’ll need.
6) Your Environment
The type of gear you’ll need in your bug out bag for evacuating an urban area is different than if you already live in a rural area.
7) Your Health
Don’t forget to include things like prescription medications, glasses and contacts, and any other specific healthcare needs in your bug out bag.
8) More Skills = Less Weight
The more experienced you are, the less stuff you need.
9) Quality, not Quantity
A bug out bag is an addition to your life insurance policy. However, life insurance pays out when you die—the bug out bag is intended to keep you alive.
When it comes to potentially life-saving items, you don’t want to buy junk. Do your research and buy the best bug out bag gear you can afford.Even if that means buying a secondhand item in good condition. It’s better to have quality used items than a bunch of new, lower-quality items that won’t last nearly as long.
The Bug Out Bag List
One last thing before we begin. Here’s a little more context on what we had in mind when putting this list of bug out bag contents together:
- This bug out bag list is intended for one person. If you’ll be with others who can’t carry their own weight (children, disabled people, etc.), items will need to be added. If your plan is to bug out with a group, some items don’t need to be repeated for each person.
- The list breaks down bug out bag essentials into modules. Each module will cover any changes that need to be made for different environments. You may or may not need to get items from every module, depending on your personal situation. If you have questions about this, shoot us a message in the chat box below. We’re glad to help.
- If you included everything in this checklist for one person, your kit would be too heavy to carry. This list is intended to break down the components of your bug out bag, with recommendations to personalize the kit.
When it comes to choosing a bug out backpack, there are two schools of thought on the type that should be used. We will cover them both.
These backpacks are typically crafted from high-grade nylon and are used by military operators.
- Made from tough materials so they are less likely to rip when snagged
- Have many pockets to keep your gear organized
- Some have a compartment for body armor
- Most have MOLLE webbing, making it easy to add attachments
- Usually less comfortable than hiking backpacks
- Need to be disguised to remain “gray”
- Less breathable
If you plan to go with a tactical pack, make sure to get a waterproof rain cover. Not only does it keep your gear dry, but it also hides the tactical features of your bug out bag. Get one that fits with the grey man tactic.
The Rush 72 is fairly large at 47.5L, extremely durable, offers many storage compartments for easy organization, and it’s used by military operators all over the world. If you need extra storage, the front pocket expands for additional cargo. Also, the MOLLE webbing on the bottom allows you to insert ROK Straps and attach a compression sack and expand the storage even further.
The Rush 24 is the 72’s little brother with 37L of storage capacity. This pack is a perfect companion to the Rush 72 as a secondary bug out bag for another member of your group. As you don’t need to duplicate nonessential items, the secondary bug out bag should be much lighter.
Me, half way up Mt. Fuji with the Rush 72 backpack
The emphasis of this bug out bag is space and comfort.
- Optimized for weight distribution
- Carry larger amounts of gear over longer distances
- Draws less attention than tactical packs
- Better breathability
- Constructed with thinner nylon that’s prone to damage
- Difficult to neatly organize gear in large compartments
- Price can range up to several hundred dollars
I’ve tested dozens of hiking backpacks over the years, and the Gregory 65 is by far the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. The waist strap system makes it feel like the weight is floating with your body and eliminates pressure buildup on the shoulders. If you purchase a hiking backpack for your BOB, I recommend getting some packing cubes, 2-5L dry sacks (preferably different colors so you can identify which items are in each), or a few Maxpedition pouches to keep things organized within the main compartment. More on pouches below.
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If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, the 66L ALPS Commander X is a great option. Made from 1680D ballistic nylon, it may look like a normal hiking backpack from the outside, but this pack is a meat-hauling survival machine. Originally made for hunters, it is modular and disassembles into several components. There’s the frame, created to carry meat back to camp, a detachable pack that you can leave at camp with your outdoor living essentials, and a removable fanny pack for day trips looking for wild game or supplies.
Buy your backpack after you purchase the rest of your bug out bag gear. You don’t want to end up with a pack that’s too small to carry all of your items.
Shelter and Base Camp Module Checklist
The items covered in this module will differ depending on where you live and how far you need to travel to reach your bug out location. If you’ll evacuate an urban area and travel to a remote location, you may need to camp in the bush.
However, if bushcraft isn’t your strength, we recommend a more comfortable setup. After all, you’ll likely want to avoid having to make a shelter from leaves and branches.
If you’re staying in an urban environment:
You’ll probably be able to find an indoor shelter in an emergency situation. In that case, keep it simple and light.
Make sure that all compression sacks for your bug out bag are waterproof. Bad weather is almost a guarantee, and you don’t want to end up getting hypothermia because your gear is soaked. A stuff sack strapped to the bottom of your pack is perfect to hold a base camp kit or create a baby/toddler module if you have children that can’t carry their own weight.
- SOL Heavy Duty Emergency Blanket – Make sure to get the heavy duty version of the SOL blanket, as it is 2.5 times thicker than the regular one and can serve as a lightweight tarp. It’s also olive drab and much less noticeable than the neon orange version. The opposite side is reflective, so you still have the benefit of using it to signal if needed.
- SOL Escape Sleeping Bivvy – The SOL Escape, coupled with an emergency blanket and some warm clothing, could replace a heavy sleeping bag. Make sure to get the Escape version as it’s more heavy duty than the standard bivy. Also, get the olive drab color for alternative camouflage.
- UST Tube Tarp – If you’ll set up a tent, you’ll need a tarp to stay dry. Also, this tarp can be used to keep your gear dry below your hammock, if that’s your shelter of choice. The UST tarp is my top choice because it packs to a much smaller size than standard tarps, weighs less, and still gets the job done.
If you’re evacuating to a rural environment, add these items:
- ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2-Person Tent – Very affordable for what you get, and reasonably lightweight for a 2-person tent at 7.5 pounds. Make sure to split the load with your bug out partner, otherwise opt for a 1-person tent.
- Klymit Static V Insulated Sleeping Pad – If you live in a colder climate, get an insulated 4-seasons sleeping pad to prevent you from losing heat through conduction. Klymit is known to make great camping equipment with an emphasis on weight savings and packability, so the Static V is a viable option for your bug out bag.
- Esbit Alcohol Stove & Trekking Cook Set – Make sure to get Esbit 14g fuel tablets and denatured alcohol with this kit. If you encounter bad weather while bugging out, starting a fire might be difficult.
- Snugpak Jungle Bag – This is a very lightweight sleeping bag setup. Coupled with the emergency blanket, bivvy, warm clothing, and Klymit pad, it will keep you warm even in colder climates.
Depending on the size of your group, consider the following shelter systems to accommodate:
- 1 person: Hennessy Hammock Explorer Deluxe – I’ve personally used this hammock system for five years, and it works really well. In my opinion, the zip version is superior as you can’t accidentally slip out like you can with the classic. I recommend getting a few additional accessories to make setup quicker, including (2) GM Climbing Rappel Ring, (2) Omega Pacific Carabiners, (1) Hennessy Snake Skin, and a Hennessy Double Wide Hex Fly. Make sure you keep a tarp underneath it to keep your gear off the ground and to have something to step on when climbing out.
Here’s a video showing proper set up of the quick deployment system:
- 1 person: SnugPak Ionosphere Tent – If you’re solo, keeping weight down is imperative. This tent is very light at 2.5 pounds, and it offers an extra layer of protection from the elements. Considering its size, it’s easier to keep warm as it will trap body heat in a smaller area.
- 3+ people: ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 3-Person Tent – At a little over six pounds, the Zephyr is one of the lightest and most affordable 3-person tents available. The only drawback is the bright orange color, as you may not want to attract attention while bugging out. Thankfully, that’s an easy problem to fix with a little Rust-Oleum Camo Spray Paint.
Tents and sleeping bags are usually on the heavy side, so partner up with a bug out buddy to disburse the load. These items also take up quite a bit of space, so pack everything into a compression sack and strap it to your pack.
First Aid Module Checklist
The basic components of a first aid kit are trauma control, essential first aid, and medication. It’s time consuming to buy individual first aid items such as bandages and alcohol wipes, I recommend going with a high-quality, premade first aid kit and build on it with other items.
I recommend the Adventure Medical Grizzly First Aid Kit. It’s conveniently packaged and comprehensive, and it has many essentials needed for wilderness trauma.
Basic first aid kit contents:
- Ibuprofen tablets (2)
- Extra-strength non-aspirin tablets (4)
- Aspirin tablets (2)
- Diarrhea medication (6)
- Antibiotic ointment packs (4)
- Alcohol cleansing pads (8)
- Sting-free antiseptic cleansing wipes (12)
- Burn relief pack (1)
- Plastic bandages, 3/4″ x 3″ (50)
- Fabric bandages, 3/4″ x 3″ (10)
- Plastic bandages, 1″ x 3″ (20)
- Elbow & knee plastic bandages, 2″ x 4″ (1)
- Junior plastic bandages, 3/8″ x 1 1/2″ (20)
- Knuckle fabric bandages (8)
- Fingertip fabric bandages (8)
- Spot adhesive bandages, 7/8″ x 1/8″ (12)
- Medium dressings (3)
- Instant cold compress (1)
- Emergency blanket, 38″ x 60″ (1)
- Butterfly wound closures (5)
- Finger splints, 6″ x 3/4″ (1)
- First aid tape rolls, 1/2″ x 5 yd. (1)
- Trauma pad, 5″ x 9″ (1)
- Sterile eye pad (1)
- Gauze dressing pads, 2″ x 2″ (10)
- Gauze dressing pads, 3″ x 3″ (2)
- Latex-free exam quality vinyl gloves (2)
- Tweezers (1)
- Cotton-tipped applicators, 3″ (10)
Keep your first aid kit in a waterproof bag located in an accessible part of your bug out bag. You may need it at a moment’s notice
- Potassium Iodide Tablets (65 Mg) (20) – These pills block the iodine receptors in your thyroid, preventing radioactive iodine from binding in case of a spill, attack, or power plant meltdown.
- Ammonia Inhalants (10) – These ampules treat lightheadedness and fainting. If someone in your group passes out, this might get them back on their feet and moving toward safety.
- Moleskin – Blisters are almost guaranteed during a bug out situation as you’ll likely be walking for extended periods. They can slow you down, lead to infection, or even immobilize you if untreated. Moleskin is essentially an extra layer of skin you apply to the area surrounding a blister to keep it from rubbing and alleviate pain. Make sure to read up about blister care as part of your preps.
- Sawyer Bite and Sting Kit – Living in Austin, Texas, I’ve come to realize there are many critters in the brush that can bite and kill, so I have this as part of my kit. If you live in an area where venomous critters aren’t as common, you can skip it.
- SAM Splint – A C-Splint is a pliable sheet of aluminum, sandwiched between two foam pads that helps immobilize limbs in case of injury. They are a strong, supportive, lightweight, and a useful addition to your bug out bag.
- Dental First Aid Kit – AMK makes a convenient pre-packed kit, but you can build your own. The most important element of this kit is a filling repair kit. If you’ve ever experienced a lost or damaged filling, you can testify to the level of pain it causes until you can see a dentist. There may not be a dentist available during a widespread emergency, so this kit is an essential addition to your other first aid items.
- Prescription Medication – If you take prescribed medication, try to get an extra month or two from your doctor.
Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK):
The IFAK was developed for warfighters to intervene with the two leading causes of death in their vocation, severe hemorrhaging and inadequate airway. Today, IFAK use has spread to law enforcement, first responders, and regular citizens looking to prepare for the unexpected. The setup below is what I personally carry in my EDC IFAK, so rest assured that all of the items will fit in the recommended 5.11 pouch.
Any quality set of shears will do here. If you’re a gear head and want to go fancy, I highly recommend the Leatherman Raptor shears. They are strong enough to cut a penny in half and come with a ring cutter, seatbelt cutter, oxygen tank wrench, glass breaker, and a nice sheath. They also fold to take up less space when stored.
- Pair of Non-Latex Gloves (2)
- North American Rescue ARS for Needle Decompression (3.25″ 14 Gauge) – This device was created to relieve a medical emergency called a tension pneumothorax. This occurs when air progressively builds up within the pleural space, usually due to a lung laceration, which allows air to escape from the lungs into the pleural space but not to return. Basically, if you get stabbed or shot and your lung is lacerated, pressure builds up in the thorax and it needs to be relieved.
- North American Rescue Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) – A tourniquet is a medical device used to cut off the blood flow from a vein or artery in case of severe hemorrhaging in the arms or legs. Beware of counterfeit CAT tourniquets, and only purchase from reputable sources. North American Rescue has a patent on the CAT tourniquet, and fakes have been known to fail at the most critical times.
- North American Rescue Hyfin Chest Seal (2ct) – This is intended for sucking chest wounds, another common injury for those in the line of fire.
- Nasopharyngeal Airway 28F with Lubricant (NPA) – This tube is designed to be inserted into the nasal passageway to secure an open airway. It can prevent suffocation when someone is unconscious and the jaw relaxes letting the tongue slide back and obstruct the airway.
- Israeli Bandage 4″ and 6″ – These bandages stop bleeding by creating pressure on a wound. First used by NATO troops in Bosnia, they are now used worldwide and are very effective. I recommend one of each size to make sure the arms and legs are covered.
- Sharpie – On the CAT tourniquet, there is a space to put the time of application. This lets medical professionals know how much time has passed when you’re transferring a patient to emergency services. To make sure the time doesn’t wipe off, use a sharpie.
- Zip-Loc Bag – In case you lose a finger, you don’t want to throw it in your pocket and rush off to the ER. To keep it as clean as possible, a ZipLoc bag works perfectly. If you can put it on ice, that helps slow the process of decay.
- Emergency Survival Blanket
- Adventure Medical Kits Trauma Pak w/QuickClot – This kit has a hemostatic sponge with Zeolite to stop bleeding fast. It works on contact to accelerate the body’s natural clotting process.
6″ 12-Hr Glowstick – If you’re in a medical situation with low light or you need to signal for help, one glowstick can make all the difference.
PRO TIP #2:
Don’t buy a bunch of first aid stuff and expect it to save your life. Take a basic first aid, CPR, or even an EMT-B course. Out of all survival skills you should learn, this one takes priority—HANDS DOWN!
Hygiene Module Checklist
Keeping clean is not only important for health but plays a huge role in keeping up morale. Hence, a lack of emergency hygiene items can lead to infection, sickness, and a whole list of other crappy things you’d rather avoid. Here is what we recommend to make sure you stay clean and healthy:
- 5.11 6X6 Pouch
- Toothbrush (1)
- Toothpaste (2)
- Baby wipes (10 pcs) (3)
- Kleenex 3-ply tissues (10 pcs) (2)
- Lightload Towels (2)
- Lip balm (1)
- Bug spray (1)
- Advil (10 pcs) 200 mg (1)
- Bar soap (1)
- Deodorant (1)
- Baby powder (1)
- SPF cream (1)
- Disposable razor (1)
- Tampons (7)
- Nail clippers (1)
- Roll of toilet paper (1)
Get medicated baby powder. Chafing is almost guaranteed in a bug out situation.
Food and Water Module Checklist
The key here is sustenance and packing as many calories into the smallest possible space.
For a bug out bag, the rule of thumb is 72 hours’ worth of food and water. To maintain endurance and energy, add a few packets of powdered electrolyte mix.
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You should also have the means to procure food if you’re on the move long enough for your rations to run out. Aim to provide about 1,500 calories a day per adult, along with 1 liter of water, including:
- MREs (2)
- Datrex Emergency Food Bars (3600 cal) (18) – For something that can sit around for five years, these taste pretty good. Remember, the key is to pack as many calories as you can in the smallest possible space. These emergency food bars accomplish just that.
- Datrex Packets of Emergency Water (24) – For survival, you need at least one liter of water per day. Packets make it easier to ration water during emergencies, and they last 5 years. If you’re not looking to dig through your bug out bag every month to replace the water, I would recommend you go with packets. For 3 liters of water (72 hours’ worth), you need about 24 packets.
- Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Stainless Steel Water Bottle (64oz) – The 64-ounce Klean Kanteen is my go-to water bottle for emergency preparedness. It’s made of stainless steel which allows you to boil water in it. It has a wide mouth so you can prepare food in it without worrying about cleanup, and it’s large enough to store almost two liters of water. To suspend this canteen on top of a fire, use a fish mouth spreader.
- Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets (50) –
If your filter fails or the situation doesn’t allow you to boil water, water purification tablets are a viable alternative. When it comes to water, you want several backup plans in case one fails. You can only survive four days without water. Other options are to carry a small vial of regular, unscented chlorine bleach or potassium permanganate. For bleach, you can add two drops of 8.25% bleach per liter of water to be disinfected. For potassium permanganate, add a few crystals to make the water slightly pink. If the water turns purple, you’ve added too much.
- Uncle Flint’s Survival Fishing Kit – I’ve tested many premade fishing kits over the years, and Uncle Flint’s 63-piece kit is by far the most useful for its size.
- Flat Trigger Yoyo Reels (6) – Coupled with Uncle Flint’s fishing kit, these Yoyo reels make an automated system to fish while you’re tackling other tasks. They are essentially spring-loaded fish traps. Once a fish bites, the spring is activated and hooks the fish. Once it’s hooked, you can retrieve it a few hours later. Make sure to get the flat trigger model as it’s proven to be more reliable over time.
- Sawyer Mini Water Filter – I highly recommend the Sawyer filter over its popular competitor, the Lifestraw. With Lifestraw, you have to drink directly from a contaminated source and there’s no way to filter water into a canteen for later use. You would have to fill your canteen with dirty water and sip out of it using the Lifestraw every time. The Sawyer Mini Water Filter comes with a reservoir that you can use exclusively for dirty water, which is a big plus as you can keep your main canteen clean. Also, the Sawyer filter comes with a syringe for flushing out any debris stuck in the filter, but it can also double as an irrigation syringe for wounds.
- Vial of Olive Oil (1)
- Small bag of sugar (1)
- Bag of spices (salt, pepper) (1)
- Packets of instant coffee (5)
- Teabags (5) – Bug out situation or not, Harney & Sons Fruity Black Tea with Bergamot is phenomenal.
- Packets of Electrolyte mix (5)
This is where many people go overboard. Tools make your life easier when you need them, but they weigh a lot and take up space. Hence, aim to add tools that are multi-purpose, including the following:
- Core Element Titanium Spork – Grams turn into ounces and ounces into pounds. Stick with titanium to keep weight down.
- Black Diamond Storm Headlamp – I’ve used the Storm for several years now, including on a trip in 2018 to climb Mt. Fuji. During the climb, my wife and I got caught in a pretty gnarly downpour which put our gear to the test. Along with the inclement weather, we had started climbing at 4 pm so most of the ascent was in complete darkness. Although I own several headlamps, I’m happy I had this one as it’s rated to withstand water immersion for up to 1.5 hours, and it performed flawlessly.
- Olight S1R II 1000 Lumen Flashlight – Flashlight technology has come a long way, packing more lumens in smaller packages. The Olight S1R II weighs in at just 1.5 ounces, is IPX8 waterproof, and is USB rechargeable. Couple this with two extra Energizer rechargeable batteries, and you’re set for about three full days of light at the 60 lumen setting.
- Suunto M-3nh Leader Compass – There are many options out there for compasses. Stick to a model that’s light, reliable, and actually points to true North. Suunto has many options and is known to produce some of the highest quality compasses on the market.
- Roll duct tape (50″)
- 6″ glow stick(s) (5)
- 50′ 550 Paracord – Paracord has infinite uses, from creating a fishing net to building emergency shelters. Make sure to get the mil-spec 550-lb paracord, as it’s tested to withstand 550 pounds.
- Heavy Duty Zip-Ties (10)
This knife really offers the best bang for your buck. It works well for chopping and fine cutting, and it’s nearly indestructible. I own many knives and typically fall back on this one when I go camping as I don’t like beating on my safe queens. It comes with a nylon sheath that you can strap to a MOLLE pack, or use the belt loop for quick deployment.
- ROK Straps (2) – If you need to expand your bug out bag’s capacity, you need straps. While these were originally created for use with motorcycles, they work well for strapping a compression sack to the bottom of your kit.
- Leatherman Wave+ Multitool – Buying a Leatherman multi-tool should be treated as a long-term investment. Yes, they are expensive, but they are also expertly designed to be dependable for a lifetime. Each Leatherman comes with a 25-year warranty, so if you have any issues, send it back to the company and they’ll send you a new one free of charge. The Wave is a bit heavy at 11.2 ounces, so if you’re looking to shave some weight, I recommend going with the Charge+ that weighs in at 8.3 ounces.
- Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Notepad – When cellphones power down, you’re gonna need a way to write things down. One of the biggest uses during an emergency is leaving notes for other people in your group. Let’s say a loved one that was supposed to meet you by a certain time didn’t show up. You can leave a note for that person so they know where to go next. It’s probably best to leave out personal information like addresses since you never know who might come across the note, but a simple “Going to grandma’s” with your signature works just fine.
- Fisher Space Pen – The ink in most pens will run when used in rainy weather, but not the Fisher Space Pen! You can use it at any angle, even at zero gravity. It writes in extreme temperatures of -30 to 250°F.
- Assorted sizes of Ziploc bags (3) – While regular gallon-size Ziploc bags work just fine, if you want something more heavy duty and reliable, go with the Loksak brand of waterproof dry bags.
- Best Glide Sowing and Repair Kit
- Laminated Local Map – I typically like to have a laminated state map, along with local maps I print out using Google. Make sure these maps have a primary and secondary route to your bug out location and keep them away from prying eyes. For the state map, I typically go for the Rand McNally Easyfinder series as they are small, inexpensive, and one of the only pre-laminated options on the market.
Environmental Protection Module Checklist
Protecting your orifices is imperative in a bug out situation. After 9/11, over 20,000 people reported respiratory damage ranging from breathing issues to full-blown mesothelioma. If those people had had something as simple as an N95 mask, a set of goggles, and a pair of earplugs, that number would be dramatically lower.
- Earplugs (4 sets) – If you’re into shooting sports, ride a motorcycle, or have a baby or annoying co-workers, I recommend a set of custom molded earplugs from your neighborhood hearing specialist. They’re pricey at around $120, but they last 5+ years with daily use, work well to block your ears from debris in an emergency and are much more comfortable.
- Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite Poncho – Frogg Toggs makes lightweight ponchos that work really well to keep you dry. They are not intended to last forever as the material is quite thin, but with a little bit of duct tape, you’ll get some good mileage out of them.
- Mechanix M-Pact Gloves (1 pair) –
Durable gloves with the bonus of coming with thermoplastic rubber knuckle and finger guards to protect against impact. This glove also comes in Multicam, giving the wearer +5 hitpoints and +10 stealth.
- p100 mask (2) – These are a step above N95 masks and are intended to block 100% of particulates (as opposed to the 95% of the N95). They work well in a pinch, but if you suspect that there are dangerous gasses in the air along with particulates, you need a full-face gas mask to protect yourself.
- HotHands Hand Warmer Heat packs (6)
- Uvex Stealth OTG Goggles – Really comfortable and meet ANSI Z87+ for impact protection.
- Cotton bandana (1) – If you’re going to get a bandana for survival, you might as well get a bandana with survival information written all over it.
These items are also vital for your EDC kit. If you’re looking for an extra level of protection, check out the Firemask, an escape hood that converts CO into CO2. It allows you to breathe safely while evacuating from a fire.
Electronics and Communication Module Checklist
In a major emergency, there’s a good chance your cell phone won’t work. Even if phone systems are functioning, everyone will be trying to make a call at the same time, and the satellites won’t be able to handle the bandwidth. At that point, you’ll have to rely on other technologies.
The radio is tried and true. It lets you listen for important updates about road conditions, weather patterns, or even updates on imminent terror threats. You will need the following in your bug out bag for communications:
Storm claims that their whistle is the “world’s loudest” at 120 decibels. We’ve been packing them in Ready To Go Survival’s premade bug out bags since 2012 because they are very effective at getting someone’s attention, even underwater. You’re going to want to keep a Storm Whistle with you in your EDC or Get Home Bag as well, just in case you get trapped and need to signal for rescue.
- Eton FRX2 Emergency Weather Crank Radio – Although the cell phone charging feature doesn’t work well as this radio was designed back when power requirements weren’t as high, it works very well as an emergency radio and flashlight combo. There are several ways to charge the FRX2 including plugging into a USB, crank, or solar, so no matter the circumstances, you’ll always be able to use it.
- BaoFeng BF-F8HP 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio – While most preppers stick to walkie-talkies, if you’re serious about communicating once the grid goes down, you must become proficient in HAM radio. It may be daunting to learn this new skill and get a license (which is required to communicate with these devices), but the reward is being able to talk with someone in another town, another city, state, or even country. I’ve personally tested four separate walkie-talkie models, including a few Motorola and Midland models that claim a 35-mile range. They all fell short of their claims. The Motorola Talkabout, which claimed a 25-mile range, barely lasted a few city blocks. Those metrics could only be remotely accurate with an open line of sight and without any interfering waves. Bottom line, learn how to use a pocket two-way radio like the BoaFeng, or you’re not likely to be able to communicate if the grid goes down.
- SOL Flash Signal Mirror
Baofeng AA Shell – Allows you to use AAA batteries to run your radio, making it easy to charge when you’re away from home.
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Here’s our top list of electronics:
- BigBlue 28W Solar Charger – Although heavy at 1.64 pounds, the wattage you get increases the charging efficiency by up to 21.5% – 23.5%. I only recommend this charger if you have a bug out partner and can split up those items that you only need one of per group. If you’re solo, go with the Nekteck 21W Solar Charger as it weighs 1.1 pounds, saving weight for a battery charger and power bank.
- Anker Portable Power Bank Charger – While bugging out, you should always aim to top up your power bank with your solar charger. Once the power bank is full, use the solar charger as a default for keeping devices charged. The power bank is a backup in case of bad weather or days when the sun doesn’t come out. I recommend the AUKEY because you get more juice per ounce. It weighs in at 15.3 ounces; comparable models weigh in at 20+ ounces.
- Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus – Allows you to charge AA or AAA batteries via the USB port on your solar charger.
- Eneloop AAA Rechargeable Batteries – It would be ideal to have at least one extra set of batteries for each electronic item you have. That way, you can cycle these sets and never be without power. Eneloop makes reliable batteries that can be recharged up to 2,100 times.
- Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS – Keeps track of waypoints, routes, tracks, and heart rate. Military personnel all over the world use this system because of its compact size and rugged body. This navigation module is waterproof and comes with a versatile mount system that fits perfectly on rifle stocks, a plate carrier, or wrist.
Fire Module Checklist
Starting a fire is one of the most important survival needs, so redundancy is a must.
Your first resort should always be a lighter, and then matches, and then a fire starter. If all else fails and you’ve got a bit of sun, use the Fresnel lens. It’s very effective and weighs almost nothing.
Self Defense Module Checklist
In the face of calamity, you don’t want to walk the streets with a shotgun in your hands—especially if you live in an urban or suburban area. Depending on the emergency, police or even the military will be out patrolling the streets.
If they see you loaded up like Rambo with an AR-15 hanging from your neck, your bug out journey might end right there.
Be as discreet as possible. If local laws permit, conceal a handgun. Other options are to carry non-lethal weapons, like bear pepper spray or a stun gun. Self-defense options include:
- Concealed Handgun – Although my EDC handgun is the Glock 43, I prefer the G19 for a SHTF situation as it holds more ammo and is more accurate. Either way, I recommend a 9mm pistol, as 9mm ammo is plentiful and fairly inexpensive.
- Rounds of ammo (20) – For 9mm firearms, go with the Federal HST 124 grain Jacketed Hollow Point ammo. It’s rated by experts as one of the best options for personal defense considering the .61″ expansion when it hits a target. Forty-eight rounds includes three full magazines with an extra bullet in the chamber for each one.
- Bear Pepper Spray –
Personally, I wouldn’t want to deploy my firearm unless it’s absolutely necessary. If non-lethal means can get the job done, bear pepper spray is an effective option. Just make sure you don’t spray against the wind (for obvious reasons).
Breaching Module Checklist
These items are geared more for the urban dweller, although they are applicable to a rural environment for long-term survival.
When cities get locked down, the chain link fencing goes up. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be contained or detained for any reason. The Knipex bolt cutters are compact and will cut through a chain link fence like a hot knife through butter.
Along with that, the ability to open a fire hydrant or close a gas main is also important. The Ontario SPAX tool is perfect for this. It works as a gas main wrench, hydrant wrench, pry bar, and axe.
The lockpick set is an added bonus, but don’t expect to perform like Harry Houdini without training. Start off with some YouTube videos to learn the basics. Lock picking is a fairly popular hobby so finding a local club to advance your skills should be easy.
SouthOrd is a reputable brand for lockpicks. Make sure to get a quality set as cheaper ones tend to break. The last thing you want is a broken lockpick head stuck in your keyhole during an emergency.
NBC/CBRN Equipment Checklist
Since the atomic age began in 1945, humanity has harnessed the power to destroy the world with the push of a single button. Beyond that, nuclear power has become the high-efficiency standard for power production, with plants being built all over the world.
If you live within a 50-mile radius of a plant, it is recommended that you evacuate should a nuclear emergency occur. Furthermore, there is a 50% chance of a Chernobyl-level event happening by 2050. Also, with the threat of terror on the rise, there is always a chance that someone could detonate a dirty bomb. Simply put, they could also use chemicals or biological agents as weapons of war.
As many smart preppers have said, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.” In this case, I think they’re right!
MIRA Safety CM-6M Gas Mask –
Full disclosure, the owner of MIRA Safety is also the owner of Ready To Go Survival. The CM-6M mask comes with a drinking system, canteen, and speech diaphragm, and it’s made of butyl rubber in accordance with CBRN standards. This mask is highly regarded in the preparedness and tactical community as one of the best gas masks available to the civilian population.
NBC takes up a lot of space, so they don’t need to be part of your primary bug out bag system. If you hear of an active NBC emergency, put this on over your bug out clothing.
Also, if you have a car as your primary bug out vehicle, you can throw this module in your car to bring to the bug out location
Clothing Module Checklist
To save space, we recommend having a special set of clothes for emergency purposes. Keep them next to your bug out bag so you can quickly change and be out of the house at a moment’s notice.
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To avoid sun damage, wear light colors and long sleeves (roll them up if it gets too hot).
Clothing choices depend on the climate you live in and the time of year. As seasons change, swap out clothing as needed.
I’ve had two pairs of these over the last five years, and they are by far the most comfortable hiking boots I’ve ever owned. They are lightweight for the level of protection they offer, completely waterproof, and backed by Gore-Tex’s lifetime waterproof guarantee. These boots are used by U.S. military personnel.
Only wear nylon or synthetic clothing for emergency purposes. Cotton retains water and will make you hypothermic should it get wet.
Keep it GRAY! Nothing tactical-looking or flashy. The key here is to blend in with your surroundings and look like a typical person.
Documents and Money Checklist
When you leave your house, you won’t know when you’ll come home. Make sure you have copies of all important documents on an encrypted USB flash drive. Although not an exhaustive list, here are some to consider saving:
- RTGS Emergency Plan
- Birth certificates
- Ownership deeds
- Drivers licenses
- List of phone numbers and addresses of family, friends, family doctor, insurance company, etc.
- Repair manual for your vehicle
- HAM radio license
Physical copies of the following documents should be added to your waterproof bag:
- Driver’s license
- License to Carry Permit (or CCW)
- Insurance documents
- Pictures of Family
Also, when it comes to money, keep small bills and stash them in several places, both on your person and in your bag. This way, if you get robbed, a hidden stash may be missed.
You should have the following in cash:
- $1,000 in the following denominations: 1-$100 bill, 10-$20 bills, 10-$10 bills, 20-5$ bills, 50-1$ bills
- Quarters (4)
Bug Out Bag Checklist Conclusion
Just to recap, here are the most important factors to consider for bug out bag essentials:
- Geographic location
- Physical ability
- Skill set
- Group size
- Likely threats for your area
Is there anything you think we missed in this bug out bag list? Let us know in the comments below.
Do I really need a bug out bag?
It is recommended that everyone have a bag of supplies that has 72 hours worth of food, water, medicine, and other necessities. This allows you and your family to be prepared for common emergencies.
A more extensive bug out bag is a good option during uncertain times. Being prepared for moderately long emergencies dramatically increases your chances of survival. Having necessary supplies increases your level of comfort and boosts morale.
What are the most basic components of a bug out bag?
- Water Filter
- First Aid Kit and
- Hygiene Supplies
- ID and other important
- Extra clothing or comfort items if you have room
How much should my bug out bag weigh?
Your bag should not be more than 15%-20% of your body weight if you are in good physical condition. If you plan on bugging out in a vehicle, then the weight does not matter as much. If you have to abandon your transportation, packing too much can cause you to be delayed.
How much weight can a child safely carry?
According to Sutter Health, a 50-pound child should carry a maximum of 7.5 pounds. A 100-pound child should carry a maximum of 15 pounds. A 150-pound child should carry a maximum of 22.5 pounds.
Adults may need to carry all or at least some items for children when bugging out.
Should I head for the nearest wilderness if I have to bug out?
It is not realistic for most people to survive for a long time in the wilderness. Even if you are in great shape and pack good gear and lightweight freeze dried food, chances are you will start to run out of supplies in under 2 weeks.
Finding a safe location that is close enough to keep tabs on a developing situation and resupply when it is safe is better.