Ultimate Bug out Bag Checklist – 223 Proven Essentials for SHTF (+PDF eBook)

Comments: 33 Post Date: March 20, 2019

This is the most complete bug out bag (BOB) checklist on the Web. Period.

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, it seems like there are thousands of opposing ideas on the perfect combination.

Therefore, it is easy to waste money on stuff that you’re never going to use.

If you who don’t know what a bug out bag is, here’s a simple definition:

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 is to help you create a 72+ hour kit to be stored in a location where you spend most of your time. Remember, even the government recommends having a 72-hour kit, although theirs is nothing like the one we outline here.

The go bag list includes enough rations to survive for 72 hours, while also providing the tools to gather additional provisions and survive longer.

Bug out bag shopping should be treated 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 To Building a Bug Out Bag

1) Comfortable Weight

The general guideline suggests 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 lb. However, 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 lbs.

2) Keep it “Gray”

The gray man theory is simple—you need to make yourself 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 would leave behind as they are of little use without a ride. If you have items you carry with you every day (an EDC kit), you can create a pouch that connects to your bug out bag as to not double up on items for each purpose 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 these items among your crew to collectively have all bases covered without adding additional weight.

5) Bug Out Location

Bugging out is all about evacuating a dangerous area to a safe area, right?

If the SHTF 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, then you need to 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 need to 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’re already living 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’ll need.

9) Quality, not Quantity

A bug out bag is an addition to your life insurance policy. The only thing is life insurance pays out when you diethe 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 that you can afford.

This even goes for buying a secondhand item in good condition. It’s better to have used quality items than a bunch of new, lower-quality items that won’t last nearly as long.

The Bug Out Bag List

There’s one last order of business 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 have other people with you that 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 of the items don’t need to be repeated for each person.
The list breaks down bug out bag essentials into modules. For each module, we’ll go over any changes that would need to be made for different environments. You may or may not need to get items from each and every module. This would all depend on your personal situation. If you have questions on this, shoot us a message in the chat box below and we’d be glad to help.
If you included everything in this go bag checklist for one person, your kit would be too heavy to carry. This list is intended to break down the different components of your bug out bag, with recommendations to help you personalize the kit.


When it comes to choosing a bug out backpack, there are two schools of thought on the type of backpack that should be used. We will cover them both.

Tactical Backpack:

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
PRO TIP #1: 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. For the rain cover, get one that fits with the grey man tactic. That means avoiding bright colors or anything that would attract attention. Also, if you’d like to go next-level grey man, put some pieces of dirty duct tape on it and make it look overly used. Someone with new gear will be a more attractive target for thieves. Another key feature to look out for is an elastic rim as it will help the rain cover stay firmly on your pack. Some rain covers only have a drawstring for retention, which can be problematic.

Recommended options:

  • 5.11 Rush 72 BackpackThe Rush 72 is fairly large at 47.5L, extremely durable, offers many storage compartments for easy organization, and is used by military operators all over the world. If you need extra storage capacity, the front pocket expands to add additional cargo. Also, the MOLLE webbing on the bottom allows you to insert ROK Straps and attach a compression sack and expand storage even further.
  • 5.11 Rush 24 Backpack – The Rush 24 is the 72’s little brother with a 37L of storage capacity. This pack serves as a perfect companion to the Rush 72 as a secondary bug out bag for another member of your group. Considering you don’t need to overlap on non-essential items for an extra person, the secondary bug out bag should be much lighter.
Rush 72 bug out bag on Mt. Fuji
Me, half way up Mt. Fuji in Japan with the Rush 72 backpack
Hiking Backpack:

The emphasis with this bug out bag is on space and comfort.


  • Optimized for weight distribution
  • Carry larger amounts of gear over longer distances
  • Draws less attention than tactical packs
  • Better breathability


  • Constructed using thinner nylon that’s prone to damage
  • Difficult to neatly organize gear in large compartments
  • Price ranges can go up to several hundred dollars

Recommended options:

  • Gregory Baltoro 65 – 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 end up purchasing a hiking backpack for your BOB, I would recommend getting some packing cubes, 2-5L dry sacks (preferably different colors so you can identify which items are contained in each), or a few Maxpedition pouches to keep things organized within the main compartment. More on pouches below.
  • Alps OutdoorZ Commander X – 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.
PRO TIP: 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 contents of this module will be different depending on where you live and how far you need to travel to reach your bug out location. If you will evacuate an urban area and travel to a remote location, you may need to camp out in the bush.

However, if bushcraft isn’t your strength, we recommend a more comfortable setup. After all, you will likely want to avoid having to make a suitable shelter from leaves and branches.

If you’re staying in an urban environment:

You will probably be able to find an indoor shelter in an emergency situation. In this case, keep it simple and light.

  • Large Sea to Summit eVENT Compression Dry SackMake 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 BlanketMake 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 an olive drab color and is 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 need be.
  • SOL Escape Sleeping BivvyThe SOL Escape, coupled with an emergency blanket and some warm clothing, could be a replacement to carrying a heavy sleeping bag. Make sure to get the Escape version considering it’s more heavy duty than the standard bivy. Also, get the olive drab color for alternative camouflage.
  • UST Tube TarpIf you 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 down 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 TentVery affordable for what you get, and reasonably lightweight for a 2-person tent at 7.5lb. Make sure to split the load with your bug out partner, otherwise opt for a 1-person tent.
  • Klymit Static V Insulated Sleeping PadIf 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 along 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)  Omega Pacific Rap Rings, (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 offer something to step on when climbing out.

    Here’s a video showing proper set up of the quick deployment system:

  • 1 person: SnugPak Ionosphere TentIf you’re solo, keeping weight down is imperative. This tent is very light weight at 2.5lbs, and 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 TentAt 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.

PRO TIP: 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.
Bug out bag first aid module on a white background

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 one-off small 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 would recommend the Adventure Medical Grizzly First Aid Kit. It’s conveniently packaged, comprehensive and 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)
Additional Items:
  • 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 do the trick to getting them back on their feet and moving towards safety.
  • MoleskinBlisters 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 they go 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 KitLiving 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 this.
  • SAM SplintA 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 KitAMK 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 are 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 items will fit in the recommended 5.11 pouch.

  • Trauma Shears – Any quality set of shears will do here. If you’re a gear head and want to go fancy, I would 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.
  • 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 there is a progressive build up of air 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 get relieved.
  • North American Rescue Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT)A tourniquet is a medical device used to cut off 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 on the market 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.
  • SharpieOn 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.
  • Adventure Medical Kits Trauma Pak W/ QuickClotThis 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 GlowstickIf 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 #1: 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.
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 that you should learn, this one takes priority—HANDS DOWN!
PRO TIP #3: If you’ve been putting off surgery or a medical procedure for a later date, I would recommend you take advantage of our medical system while it still exists.
Car survival kit hygiene items on a white background

Hygiene Module Checklist

Keeping clean is not only important for health. It 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 would rather avoid. Here is what we recommend to make sure you stay clean and healthy:

  • Toothbrush (1)
  • Toothpaste (2)
  • Baby wipes (10 pc) (3)
  • Kleenex 3ply tissues (10 pc) (2)
  • Lightload Towels (2)
  • Lip balm (1)
  • Bug spray (1)
  • Advil (10pc) 200mg (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)
PRO TIP: Get medicated baby powder. Chafing is almost guaranteed in a bug out situation.
Emergency food and water module for your bug out bag list on white background

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 carrying 72 hours’ worth of food and water. To maintain endurance and energy, add a few packets of powdered electrolyte mix.

You should also have the means to procure food if you are 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:

  • 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 would 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 system fails. You can only survive four days without water. Other options are to carry around 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 disinfect. 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 will provide 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 come by a few hours later to retrieve it. Make sure to get the flat trigger model as it’s proven to be more reliable over time.
  • Sawyer Mini Water FilterI 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, prepper) (1)
  • Teabags (5) – Bug out situation or not, Harney & Sons Fruity Black Tea with Bergamot is phenomenal.
Bug out bag survival tools on white background for survival kit checklist

Tools Module Checklist

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 SporkGrams turn into ounces and ounces into pounds. Stick with titanium to keep weight down.
  • Black Diamond Storm HeadlampI’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 performed flawlessly.
  • Olight S1R II 1000 Lumen FlashlightFlashlight 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 MR16340 rechargeable batteries, and you’re set for about three full days of light at the 60 lumen setting.
  • Suunto M-3nh Leader CompassThere are many options out there for compasses. Stick to a model that’s light, reliable, and actually points to true North. Sunnto has many options and is known to produce some of the highest quality compasses on the market.
  • 50′ 550 ParacordParacord has infinite uses, from creating a fishing net to building emergency shelters. Make sure to get the mil-spec 550lb paracord, as it’s tested to withstand 550 pounds.
  • Schrade Ultimate Survival KnifeThis knife really offers the best bang for your buck. It works well for chopping, fine cutting, and is 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 bags capacity, you’re going to 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 NotepadWhen 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.
  • 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.
Bug out bag checklist for your personal protective equipment on white background

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 on that day, the victims had used 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, have a baby or annoying co-workers, I recommend getting a set of custom molded earplugs from your neighborhood hearing specialist. They’re pricey at around $120, but 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 PonchoFrogg 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 glove 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.
  • 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.
PRO TIP: 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.
Bug out bag checklist for communication items on white background

Electronics and Communication Module Checklist

In a major emergency, there’s a good chance your cell phone won’t work. Even if the phone systems are functioning, everyone will be trying to make a call at the same time and the satellites can’t 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 whistle (1)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 RadioWhile 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, and solar, so no matter the circumstance you’ll always be able to use it.
  • BaoFeng BF-F8HP 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way RadioWhile most preppers stick to walkie-talkies, if you’re serious about communicating once the grid goes down, you must become proficient in HAM radio. While it may be daunting to learn this new skill and get a license (which is required to communicate with these devices), 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 which 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.
Radio upgrades:
Here’s our top list of electronics:
  • RAVPower 24W Solar ChargerAlthough heavy at 1.64 pounds, the wattage you get increases the efficiency of charging by up to 21.5% – 23.5%. I would only recommend this charger if you have a bug out partner and can split up items that you only need one per group. If you’re solo, go with the Nekteck 21W Solar Charger as it weighs 1.1pounds, saving weight to also carry a battery charger and power bank.

  • AUKEY 20000mAh 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, weighing in at 15.3 ounces. Comparable models weigh in at 20+ ounces.
  • Goal Zero Guide 10 PlusAllows you to charge AA or AAA batteries via the USB port on your solar charger.
  • Eneloop AAA Rechargeable BatteriesIt 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 GPSKeeps 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.

Bug out bag list for your fire module on white background

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 close to nothing.

Bug out bag list for your self defense module on white background

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 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 and stun guns. Self-defense options include:

  • Concealed HandgunAlthough 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 (48)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 for your bug out bag list on white background

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 up 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.

CBRN gas mask, hazmat suit, and other CBRN equipment on white background

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!

PRO TIP #1: 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 (more details on this below).

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

PRO TIP #2: Putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) is called donning and taking it off is called doffing. Remember, going through donning and doffing procedures properly is just as important as having the equipment in the first place.
PRO TIP #3: Buy an NBC Gas Mask with a hydration system pre-installed. Taking the mask off every time you get thirsty might not be an option in a true emergency.
PRO TIP #4: If you envision using a rifle while wearing your gas mask, you’ll need a mask with side filter ports to make it easy to lean your cheek on the stock. The MIRA Safety CM-6M is a great option as it has a slimmer profile, allowing your cheek to get closer to the stock.
Clothing module for your bug out bag list on white background

Clothing Module Checklist

To save space, we recommend having a special set of clothes for emergency purposes. Consequently, keep them right next to your bug out bag so you can quickly change and be out of the house at a moment’s notice.

Summer Clothing:

To avoid sun damage, wear light colors and long sleeves (roll them up if things get too hot).

Winter Clothing:
PRO TIP #1: Clothing choices depend on the climate you live in and the time of year. As seasons change, swap out clothing as needed.
PRO TIP #2: Only wear nylon or synthetic clothing for emergency purposes. Cotton retains water and will make you hypothermic should it get wet.
PRO TIP #3: 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 don’t know when will 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:

  • Passports
  • 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
  • Maps
Physical copies of the following documents should be added to your waterproof bag:
  • Passport
  • 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, there may be a hidden stash that was 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.

Finally, rather than making costly mistakes when building your BOB you can get help by clicking here.

Disclaimer: Along with selling our own survival kits and other gear on the website, Ready To Go Survival is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Ready To Go Survival is also a participant in other affiliate advertising programs.

Comments (33)

  • Steve Reply

    Roman, This is a great list, I have 1 suggestion, just saw this recently online: MosquitoBlock. Its an electronic mosquito/pest repellent bracelet. Small, easy to carry, and rechargeable. Supposedly lasts 130 hours per charge….

    April 28, 2020 at 00:48
  • Marlon Simpson Reply

    Great article. Really helped me out!

    February 10, 2020 at 13:47
  • Sy Goodman Reply

    Maybe I passed this tip, but people should either gather or create their own season blend, salt and pepper. Hard to say bland food. Peanut butter and honey. NOT Maple syrup, it molds.

    January 29, 2020 at 19:32
    • Sy Goodman Reply

      I meant eat bland food..

      January 29, 2020 at 19:33
  • Christine Reply

    Thank you, Roman, for all of the thought and work you put into this comprehensive list! Much appreciated!!

    November 11, 2019 at 16:46
  • kjeld christensen Reply

    Roman, I have spent over 100 hours so far, reading all I can, that is posted on the internet, regarding Bug Out Bags, and so far, in my own opinion, your site is the best! Keep up the great work.

    November 7, 2019 at 11:21
  • azure Reply

    National Poison Control Center recommends against using bite & sting kit (such as the Sawyer). You may want pads for insect bites though.

    July 16, 2019 at 15:01
  • Joseph L Stankiewicz Reply

    This is a list for the Glamorsurvivor bag who looks good in Gucci or Under Armour and only carry the North face tents. . Come on. Most people need a practical, yet affordable bug out bag who doesn’t have thousands to spend. Who is really going to care anyway if all hell breaks loose anyway.

    July 11, 2019 at 17:27
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      The brands mentioned reflect the products I’ve personally tested, but you can certainly apply these principles to a less expensive setup.

      All in all, the type of gear you buy also reflects on the priority you place on your preps. Some people put money into their truck, some into their bikes, some into their bug out bags, etc. Some things you can cheap out on, and some you certainly shouldn’t because cheap gear tends to fail.

      July 11, 2019 at 20:44
  • Preppaaja Reply

    Thanks for this very informative article. All things in one place.

    April 14, 2019 at 05:13
  • nate Reply

    A hatchet. nothing like a good hatchet. preferably sog, because they are very lightweight

    April 3, 2019 at 13:44
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      Good point Nate. We have the Ontario SPAX tool on this list which has a built in hatchet. While it’s not as good as a stand alone hatchet, it get’s the job done.

      April 3, 2019 at 13:51
  • K. Edward Reply

    Use compression bags to save space. They make a huge difference when packing a sleeping bag, personal items and shelter items. Also, it is critically important to label individual module packs so you don’t have to root through all the packs to find what you need. Lastly, assume it is cold, dark and wet when you need to access your pack. This makes finding and using items a lot different than when the pack is on your kitchen table.

    December 30, 2018 at 06:02
  • Joe Ready Reply

    Many people overlook the need to keep money and some ID in their bug out bags. In most bug out situations, society will still be functioning and agencies like FEMA will probably be intervening unless there is a complete collapse of the government. This means that having ID can be critical if you run out of options and need to seek aid from these agencies.

    April 25, 2018 at 11:55
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      Thanks for the comment Joe. Yes, having ID is essential.

      April 25, 2018 at 12:44
      • RC Reply

        Obviously one will encounter different threats depending on the circumstances (fire evac vs earthquake vs war).

        Do you differentiate what goes into a bug out bag in any way? Or do you suggest just bringing additional items if you’re evacuating from a wild land fire?

        Also I’d like to suggest fishing line, camp rat traps & peanut butter.nails, and shot gun shells, 22 cal ammo, deer netting and fish hooks. They all can be creatively used to catch food, start a fire, create a perimeter breach alarm or an escape route if being chased.

        September 13, 2019 at 02:11
        • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

          As part of our Personalized Preparedness Service, yes, we do differentiate depending on the threat you’re prepping for. For wildfires, our sister company, MIRA Safety, just released CBRN/CO filters that convert CO into CO2, allowing you to breathe it out. Other than that, all great suggestions, thanks for sharing.

          September 13, 2019 at 19:34
  • Steve Reply

    The best resource I have found on bug out bags is a book called, “Realistic Bug Out Bag, 2nd Edition: Prepared to Survive” by Max Cooper. This book is huge (620 pages) and covers a very wide range of topics to include 30 scenarios and 10 drills to increase your chances of survival. Well worth checking out. I found it complete and insightful.


    April 25, 2018 at 09:13
  • Philr Reply

    Physical and mental well being are covered in this list. Many POWs got through their internment in WW2, Korean Conflict, and Vietnam (which I believe is probably harder on a person than when the SHTF because of spiritual faith. So add a small bible to your list.

    April 8, 2018 at 04:39
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      I agree Phil, mental fortitude and a sense of hope for a better future can mean the difference between life and death. Thanks for the comment.

      April 8, 2018 at 10:20
      • Bemused Berseker Reply

        Coffee and Tea give you caffeine, but without sugar or creamer, they have no nutritional value (they are of psychological value though). So instead of a lot of instant coffee or tea bags, we split the difference with individual packets of cocoa and apple cider. They have the calorie boost one needs as well as they can be drunk cold to hide the unpleasant taste of chemical water treatment. Also consider throwing in packets of Instant Oatmeal (regular or flavored, flavored does have sugar already in the packet) in your bag for an quick and easy warm meal. A long time ago, the Highland Scots used pinhead (steelcut) oats as a survival food when they took to the heather. Oats can be mixed with a little water to form patties and fried into oatcakes. When on the run, they would mix a little water with the oats, to consume uncooked as they moved (they called it Dramach when eaten this way).
        My next suggestion deals with toilet paper. I’ve completely gotten away from keeping it in my kit, and have opted for baby wipes instead. My reasons are as follows. First: Once wet, a roll of TP is essentially useless. Even if you can stop long enough to allow the roll to dry, it still comes off in chunks. Baby or Wet Wipes may add a little more weight, but a large package occupies roughly the same space as a roll of TP. Second: Wipes clean you better than TP, and are easier on your skin. Cleanliness is top priority in a survival situation. The chance for a bath or shower will be difficult at best. A dirty bum will soon get irritated, and if you don’t already have hemerrhoids, you soon will if you don’t keep your bum clean. Wipes simply work better. Third: And please folks don’t be offended, but what I’m about to say is a reality that the majority of us will face, and that is we’re going to have an abrupt change in our dietary habits. Couple that with the increased stress the scenario we face presents and for many, one of two things are going to happen. You’ll either become constipated, or for most, we’ll begin to have diarrhea. With either or, wipes will be much more soothing to the orifice that suffers from the sudden change. Fourth: Wipes can be used as a “Spit Bath.” Especially when water may be at a premium. Last: Even if the wipes dry out, add a little clean water, and they’re ready to use.
        There’s other things I would recommend, but I’ll save those for another post down the line.

        December 29, 2019 at 19:58
  • Anthony ( Tony ) Mashburn Reply

    For a shelter idea, scratch the heavy gear, a simple shower curtain will suffice. It’s light, can pick colors for camo reasons and you can pack more than 1. Make sure you have plenty of duct tape for shelter repairs. Idea’s are endless. Trust a Marine Corp Vet….

    October 19, 2017 at 20:58
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      Thanks for the comment Anthony. As an ultralight shelter system, that seems like a good idea.

      October 19, 2017 at 21:12
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  • Derek Spinoza Reply

    Nice list. I would add some olive oil, a sponge, tea and coffee inside the cook set. A nice cup of Joe can go a long way in lifting morale.

    November 11, 2016 at 16:02
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      Thanks for the feedback Derek and definitely a good point. It’s in there now!

      November 11, 2016 at 16:05

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