If you are about to bug out, you will surely need to know the essentials of packing up such a bag, and you need to have a bug-out bag checklist. We will tell you all about the items of clothes and tools you had better have with you to ensure your safety in any survival situation and in case of a disaster—appliances for cooking, a knife, and other gear: all that and more in our article.
Bug out bag is an essential thing if you need to run away and disappear quickly, or just going somewhere where you need to survive without any modern facilities. And yes, you absolutely can not take a lot of things with you, but your amount of items must be enough to keep you warm, secure and save you from being both hungry and thirsty. You can get lost easily while thinking about what to take with you. That is why this bug-out bag checklist exists.
This checklist will help you to gather a perfect bug-out bag and teach you more survival skills. Here you will see a pretty long list of different useful items and decide whether you need them or not by yourself, but depending on our advice. Let’s dive into this!
Before We Start Talking About The Bug Out Bag Gear
Do not forget that one of the most important things about the bug-out bag is the bag itself. It should be very high quality, long-lasting, waterproof, fireproof, spacious, and convenient. Taking an ordinary old backpack with you might be the worst idea ever. Consider choosing a proper bag made of thick fabric and have many different pockets to store your survival kit. Ensure that all zippers and clippers are of high quality, and do not forget about the MOLLE system and chest strap.
Types of the Bug-out Bag
There are many possible types and brands of a bug-out bag. For example, Propper, 11, Condor, SOG, Hazard 4, Helikon-Tex, Mystery Ranch, Osprey, and EVATAC.
The EVATAC Combat Bag might be one of the best bug bags out there. It has enough space to store all your survival gear; it is durable and has easy access. Actually, it has everything that makes a good bug-out bag.
You can find out more about it in this review if you are interested.
Say No To Dehydration
Everybody knows that water is vital. A human being can not live without it but drinking bad water can do more harm than not drinking. So, we need to think about having a water tank to carry water and purifying tools. Carrying a lot of clean water is impossible. Water is weighty. So it is more important to know how to filter water than you will find. This bug-out-bag list might be beneficial in this case.
Choice Of Water Bottle
This is very important. Your water bottle should be made of stainless steel only. Forget about plastic bottles. Remember one thing — the easiest and most successful way to clean your water is to boil it. So your bottle must give you this opportunity. The bottle should have a single wall.
Choose a proper water bottle or collapsible water bag, fill it with clean freshwater, and this is a good start for your bug-out bag already. Then you will use your bottle both to carry water and to purify it.
The quickest way to clean water
Boiling water can take a lot of time in certain circumstances, but you have a solution for that — water purification tablets. Actually, it is a great thing to keep in your bug-out bag because water purification tablets are very lightweight and easy to use. They also clean water faster than boiling, and the temperature stays the same, and you can do it literally on the go.
Filter Your Water!
The modern world gave us lots of new technologies for successful survival anywhere. One of the most important ones is a portable water filter. A portable water filter will perfectly fit your bag out bag and help you clean your water from dirt, soil and remove harmful bacteria.
We highly recommend you check out Sawyer Mini Water Filter. It is compelling and portable, which are the two most important criteria.
Another Powerful Tool
If you need plenty of clean water, then consider checking out Expedition Jerrycan Filtration System. It is a big item that would not fit inside your bug-out bag, but you can hang it outside your bag using the MOLLE system. This tool is handy if you are traveling, not alone, with a family. Expedition Jerrycan Filtration System can provide enough clean water for you and your loved ones for a year or so.
Remember, drinking water is essential. You just can’t survive without water.
“Man’s gotta eat.”
This is the most obvious thing you need to eat to be alive. The more calories you consume, the more power you get. And having enough powers is the most important thing if you want to survive.
You need to have some food supplies in your bug-out bag that is lightweight and easy to prepare. But taking a lot of food with you can be a problem. The chances are that it will be quite a complicated task to cook food in an emergency situation. Some products do not last long, and the products that do can be pretty heavy if you take many. Better think about food extraction. The land can provide different hunting ways, fishing, maybe even finding mushrooms, berries, and fruit. So be ready to pack some tools that can help you to get additional food wherever you are.
Fishing, by the way, is a smart solution because fish contains numerous elements useful for the body. It is full of proteins, can support your body weight in an emergency situation. It seems to be healthier than freeze-dried meals and is not too complicated in preparation — you can simply boil water and make some soup.
Magical Food Bars
Actually, there is no real magic, but the way these food bars work really makes you surprised. Calorie Dense Food Bars contain 2400 calories per bar. Though it differs depending on age and activity level, adult males generally require 2,000-3000 calories per day to maintain weight. So these food bars can do their work of keeping you alive pretty easily. You can eat them on the go and do not worry about a thing. They are pretty small and lightweight, which means you can take many of them in your bug-out bag. Also, they usually expire only after 5 years since they were made. A great choice overall.
You can also think of a trail mix as a source of fuel. Such a trail mix will give you additional energy during your survival journey.
Your food choice will be minimal during your survival, but you still need to be healthy and energetic. Choose some vitamins for daily use, such as vitamin D, vitamin C, Calcium, et cetera. You can even find a complex of multi-vitamins pills, which is the best idea.
Want a Nice and Hot Meal?
Of course, you can just eat food bars all the time and feel happy about it. One of the goals is to try to diversify your survival diet as much as possible. You can prepare a hot meal for yourself, think of freeze-dried foods. To prepare it, you need boiling water and a couple of minutes of your time. That is it.
One of the best options is Mountain House Beef Stroganoff. You can check it out.
It is also very light and easy to store in your bug-out bag.
Like a soldier
Military foods or MRE (meaning “Meal Ready to Eat”) is the most popular type of surviving food out there. Military foods can last up to 6+ years, and most of such products do not cost much, which makes them pretty affordable. Some people say that MRE has terrible taste, but if you are literally trying to survive, taste does not really matter, does it? But, of course, the matter of taste is completely individual, so that tastes bad for some people, might taste delicious for others. Take a try!
If now you seem to be interested in what MRE actually is and what it consists of, we are here to provide some clarifications. Here is the approximate list f what you can meet in a standard MRE pack:
- The main meal
The main meals vary from pack to pack, and you can choose those you like most of all. Some of the MRE’s include spaghetti as the main meal, others — the beef stew. It is up to you which one to pick.
- A side dish
A side dish is, in a sense, a complement to the main meal to increase its nutritional value. Usually, you can meet rice, mashed potatoes, or other options in the packs.
Some people do not consider the meal complete without a piece of bread. That is why MRE manufacturers try to add bread or crackers to their products. Besides, you can use bread to eat with the following point: spread.
To make the meal more diverse, producers add spread to the pack. It might be jelly or peanut butter. Sometimes it is cheese spread — tastes differ.
- Desserts & candy
After the main meals, we are used to having desserts: MRE packs foresee this point. You can meet cookies, pound cakes, or even M&M’s in the packs.
When we are hungry, we do not only want to “eat” — we also want to “drink” something as well. That is why a standard MRE pack includes tea or coffee, or cocoa.
MRE manufacturers realize that we are not always able to warm our meals up in survival conditions. That is why they prepared a special flameless ration heater — to heat the meals before consumption. A great thing about it is that it does not require fire flame to start heating — the secret is in the chemical reaction that “emits” heat.
- Additional accessories
Before you eat, while you are eating, and after it, you might require some additional accessories to enhance the eating process. Almost in every MRE pack, there are wipes, toilet paper, sugar and salt, matches (just in case), a spoon. It is great to have something to eat, but it is even better to eat in normal conditions, not with your hands getting dirty.
MRE is pretty light, so the weight is not a problem. Same with packability. Military foods were designed to be carried by soldiers in dangerous situations and any weather, so probably it is the best choice of meal in this checklist to put in your bug-out bag.
You Don’t Have to eat With Your Hands.
Yes, taking a knife, spoon, and fork with you is stupid. But that does not mean that you have to eat with your hands now. Luckily, we have a perfect solution — Sprok. It is a spoon and a fork at the same time, but not only. It actually has many wonderful tools like a bottle opener, flat-head screwdriver, and 3 different wrenches.
Make sure to always think about multi-tools devices like a survival knife when packing your bug-out bag. It will save space inside, weight, and time. Why taking 5 different things when you can have them all in one?
Contain your food
This is important because if you do not want to throw away your food, you need to contain it somewhere. We suggest taking a collapsable cup that can be transformed into a bowl made of stainless steel. It is a great survival tool that would come in handy in cooking, serving, and eating. You can also use Stainless Steel Camping Cup for boiling water.
This is not compulsory for your bug-out bag because fishing can be impossible in certain locations and circumstances. But if you are sure that there might be a chance to use these tools — do not hesitate to add them to your survival kit. A fishing kit might be a perfect idea.
First of all, the fishing pole. If you never heard about Compact Emmrod Pole, you should definitely check it out. You will be impressed by its size and weight. It is so small that you can keep it in your pocket, but it is still as functional as an ordinary fishing pole.
Also, you might need a fishing line. Better choose the braided fishing line because it is thicker and more durable. But, you can also think of the monofilament fishing line, as it is more affordable. And it will help you not only in fishing but in first aid needs, building a shelter, fabric repair, and many more — such a fishing line is a real multi-tool!
Another fishing tool is Mechanical Yo-yo Fishing Reels. They are tiny, and you can take a couple of them. They can actually save you a lot of time because you can just set them and do other important things instead of sitting with your fishing pole for hours. This might be successful or might be not. With fishing reels, it is usually just a matter of luck.
And last but not least — hooks, swivels, sinker set. You definitely need them if you want to catch anything. Remember about your bug-out bag weight. You can buy a small fishing case and take a little bit less than half of everything. This is a good solution to control the weight of your bag. This is enough for your fishing kit.
Your Portable Fire
A portable, lightweight stove is a handy tool, but it has its pros and cons. Imagine how fast you can cook your meals and boil water. It can also give you some heat in extreme situations. But even though it is very lightweight for a stove, it is still pretty heavy for your bug-out bag, and to be honest, you can survive without it. But a portable stove makes surviving more convenient. You can check out how it works here.
There are many different types of it, and probably you will also need to get some additional stove fuel.
Dress To Survive
This topic is pretty hard because you can not always predict what clothes you will definitely need and what clothes are better to forget about. Also, space in your bug-out bag is minimal, and the weight of it really matters. It is better to choose high-quality clothes, especially for surviving, and wear them all the way. Of course, you need at least one pair of underwear to feel comfortable and fresh. Be ready, not changing clothes for days or even weeks.
1. These Feet are Made for Walking.
Your feet are important, and you have to treat them with respect since you will need to walk a lot. You can have one pair of pants, but you can not have one pair of socks. Feet hygiene is serious. So be ready to have at least three pairs of clean socks and wear a fresh pair every day.
Your socks must be thick, warm, comfortable, good quality, and dry fast. You can wash them and let them dry on the outside of your bug-out bag.
The same rules apply to your underwear, by the way!
2. Crafty Hands
If you are not familiar with sewing, you better learn how to use a needle and a thread now. Your number of clothes is minimal, so you do not have a chance to throw items away; if they manage to get damaged, you will need to repair them, which is why a small sewing kit must be inside your bug-out bag. There are some essential tools suggested in this checklist, and a sewing kit is one of them. You can find many different options online. Usually, a small sewing kit contains some needles, some colorful threads, a pair of small scissors, buttons, pins, and other little things that will help you to keep your clothes in good condition.
Safety pins, by the way, are more useful than you think when disasters happen. We are not talking about any natural disaster, of course, but if you get not too serious injuries and you make a bandage, safety pins are also used to repair it or make it stronger and safer. In a sense, these safety pins serve as additional medical supplies, which, though they cannot save you in case of serious emergencies, deserve to be put in the first aid kits for sure. Besides, you can use this multi-tool as zip ties as well.
3. Protect your fingers
Keep in mind that your hands must be protected from cold and other dangerous situations that might appear when you are working. Check out Mechanix Gloves. They are designed to keep your hands warm and comfortable. These gloves are suitable for long-term wear, and they are also light and easy to keep in your bug-out bag because they do not take much space.
4. Wear a Hat!
Catching a cold in the middle of nowhere sounds like a complete disaster. You do not need this kind of experience for sure. Choose one made from 100% polyester fleece because this type of material is warm, light, and easy to wash. This kind of survival hat would not take a lot of space in the bug-out bag. There are different colors and a wide variety of choices.
5. Stay Warm
Everything can happen on your way, and some of our items design to keep you alive in an SHTF scenario. If it is winter, the frostbite chances are very high, so you will need to buy somebody warmers. You can keep them in your bug-out bag and save them for the worst times, and it would be a good thing if you won’t ever get to use them. But they should be there just in case because you never know. And just for the record, you won’t be able to grow your fingers and toes back.
6. When it Rains, it Pours.
Wearing wet clothes is a big no-no! This could lead you to an emergency where even body warmers won’t do any decent help. Saving body heat is important, and in wet clothes, it is impossible. Since bringing an umbrella with you is a bad idea, think about buying a raincoat with a hood. Do not be greedy at this point. Pay more to buy a high-quality one because regular raincoats are too thin and not durable at all.
A Place To Rest
Sleeping under the stars may sound romantic, but we all know that you can not survive like that. You need a proper place to sleep and rest where you will be protected from the wind and rain. Many beautiful technological tents on the market can replace you with a normal house, that is how good they are. But we can not afford this luxury because your shelter must be portable and lightweight. Now read attentively because we will share some advanced surviving skills that will help you build a perfect shelter without carrying a ton of everything in your bug-out bag.
Sometimes all you need for a perfect shelter is a waterproof tarp. This fabric is extremely durable, thick, and will protect you from rain and wind. It is also light and compact. What else do you need? Here is a nice tutorial on how to build a shelter with a waterproof tarp. Check it out! It is effortless.
Sleeping on the ground can be dangerous sometimes, and luckily we have a solution — a hammock. But not a regular hammock. We are talking about the one that was made especially for survival needs. It is a high-quality tool made from thick waterproof material, with a mosquito net and other useful things. But you still need at least two trees to set it up.
2. Advanced Sleeping Bag
Have you ever heard about it? Some people also call it a space blanket. This can easily replace any regular sleeping bag because it is super successful in saving your body heat. And besides that, it is more light and way smaller than a regular sleeping bag. And it might be quite expensive, but it is totally worth it. Check it out!
Sleeping gear is, of course, not a kind of emergency gear, but it is definitely one of the most important survival tools because sleeping directly on the ground sucks. And though a sleeping bag might have a quite high pack weight (we are talking about really cheap options), it will help you keep a healthy body temperature on the flat ground. Having a sleeping bag (or a sleeping pad) in your go-bag means that you are prepared for surviving during cold weather — you will not have to take too many things to wear — with the sleeping bag, you can take as much clothing as you might need, not too much, to avoid the additional weight of the survival gear.
Choosing sleeping bags might be a complicated task, especially if you are not a professional survivalist.
To buy a perfect sleeping bag, you have to pay attention to the following characteristics:
- Cold weather?
If you know that during your survival adventure, you will have to face cold weather, pay attention to the extra warm sleeping bag. Cold weather might be considered a real natural disaster if you are not well-prepared for such an emergency situation.
- Weight of the bag
Think of the maximum weight you can take with you. Hardly it will be such a large number (if we are not talking about car camping, of course). So, always pay attention to the weight of your sleeping bag!
Is it possible that your bag can guarantee sun protection? The chances are that you will not need this feature, but it is always an advantage if your bag is a multi-tool and comes with double duty.
An additional thing to obtain with the bag is a sleeping mask. A sleeping mask is a “device” to wear while you sleep to avoid sunrays disturbing your eyes. Some masks include plant extracts for better sleeping.
3. Portable Bed
This is just a suggestion in this bug-out bag checklist, but you sure need something to sleep on. There are many ways to create a bed from scrap things, but we recommend buying a sleeping pad — in other words, protective gear for your body. You do not want to risk your health, and it is better to sleep on something and know for sure that you will not wake up freezing. There are great durable and light sleeping pad options out there.
The chances are that such a sleeping pad will not protect you from a serious natural disaster, but it will definitely help you protect your body from the cold ground.
4. Useful Things for Building a Hideout
The pro tip of successful survival is to have many items that can be used in many different situations. We can suggest you putting a paracord survival kit and zip ties inside your bug-out bag. Zip ties are beneficial. You can easily connect everything with them very tightly. Also, they are light, and you can take a lot of them with you. Paracord Grenade is a must-have for every bug-out bag out there. You just need some of them, and you will be fine. Thank us later.
Fire is our everything. Surviving without fire is a hard challenge with a low chance of success. You need to learn at least 3 different ways to start a fire and use it from this checklist. This topic can not be ignored. There are too many reasons why you should treat it with serious attention, because without this knowledge you will face a hard time cooking your food, boiling water, drying your clothes, and keeping yourself safe and warm. It takes a couple of advanced survival skills, so be ready to get educated.
Fire starter’s must-haves
First of all, keep in mind that regular matches are a bad idea. The best survival tool for starting a fire has some waterproof matches. They can still work even underwater. Also, for some types of waterproof matches, the wind is not a disaster.
The next thought after talking about matches is lighter. But again, a regular lighter is not a good idea. It is not durable at all. Pay your attention to Tesla’s Rechargeable Coil Lighter. It is both windproof and waterproof. You won’t need fuel for it. A good solar battery and a USB will be enough.
Another device is also highly recommended for everyone who gathers good bug-out bags — a Ferro Rod. Make good research on this one. This can be the best of all items if you understand how to use it and practice it for a while. In the beginning, it may seem very complicated, but trust us, learning how to use it is worth it. Otherwise, we would not include it in this checklist.
Need for Tinder
You will need a tinder (and we are not talking about a dating app), which you can collect in a forest. But if there are no chances to do it, use rely. It is a great thing either for home bbq or for a bug-out bag.
Did you know that vaseline is also a great helper to start a fire? Well, now, you do. Use it with cotton balls.
A nice flashback from childhood — magnification lens. We do not need to tell you how to use it, right? Actually, it is a perfect item because it is lightweight, small, and straightforward to use. If there is the sun, there would definitely be fire with the help of a magnification lens.
And, of course, you need to store your fire tools in a waterproof container. Even though most of the items are waterproof themselves, it is important to play safe. Heavy rain can spoil the party.
This topic is the most important one. The thing about first aid might seem obvious to you because everyone knows how essential it is, but very few people know exactly what medicine they should include in the bug-out bags and how to use it properly.
One survival situation differs from another survival situation, and during your survival experience, you might face some serious medical issues. Illnesses and injuries are no joke, especially when you cannot reach for professional help and, most of the time, you have no one by your side to help you.
The first aid kit for your bug-out bag is, of course, limited because you do not have a lot of space and cannot carry too much weight. But still, these emergency kits should usually include first aid “helpers” that are supposed to help in an emergency situation. We have chosen some must-have essentials since we do not want your first aid kit to “gain extra weight.” The order in this list is not important. Every item matters to provide first aid close to professionals in a survival situation.
And make sure you do not have any personal allergies to the following items on this first aid kit list.
- Prescripted drugs. If you have some chronic illness, it is essential to have your medicine with you. Make sure you have enough of it in the first aid kit and won’t run off it during the survival time.
- Hydrogen Peroxide. This item is a well-known thing to be kept in the emergency kits that we all have and use pretty often. It helps to clean different wounds and kills bad bacteria. It is also cheap, and you can find a pocket version that perfectly fits in your bug-out bag.
- Sunscreen. Sunburn can be a serious thing, so you better have at least a small bottle of it with SPF 30 in your first aid kit. Of course, it depends on your location and the time of the year. You can protect your skin with clothes, but you can have this option if it is too hot outside.
- Surgical Tape. This is essential that will help you to fix pads on your wounds and will keep them on your wounds while you are moving. Also, this item is a good bug-out bag thing for not only medical needs — having it in the emergency kit is a sign of great emergency preparedness.
- Neosporin. This is a cream for wounds and burns treatment. It helps you to prevent infection and makes your wounds heal faster.
- Super Glue. For some people, it might sound strange, but among other useful qualities, Super Glue can be applied on small cuts and wounds and prevent them from dirt and infections. It sounds rough, but it works. And also, keeping it in your bug-out bag is a perfect idea for any survival situation because of many obvious reasons. It is small, it is light, and it will definitely come in handy.
- Survival Antibiotics. This item must be in your bug-out bag, just in case. No matter how careful you are, everything can happen. Survival antibiotics might save you from blood poisoning, which can happen even though a small unnoticeable scar and many other diseases. So please, do not ignore this advice and take it with you to survive any bug-out scenario.
- Pain Killers. When you are on the run, any pain can cause you big problems, even if it is a casual headache. Sometimes pain can be unbearable, and some people can pass out from it. You definitely do not want that. Grab decent painkillers and put them in your bug-out bag first aid kit, they won’t cure you, but they will surely win you some time.
Other allergy triggers
- Gauze Roll. A good covering for bad wounds. Very lightweight and small, a perfect option not to give extra weight to your bug-out bag first aid kit.
- Anti-mosquito spray. In wild areas, insects can be a real natural disaster because they can transmit some harmful diseases, like malaria. Research the area you are going to, but you can take this spray just in case of any survival situation.
- Band-Aids. This item is essential for every first aid kit. If you have a small cut or a blister, this is a perfect treatment. But in terms of survival, you should consider checking out moleskin pads because having a blister at home differs from having a blister on the run. Regular band-aids might be a little bit, not enough for keeping a wound one hundred percent protected when you are moving most of the time.
- Blood Clotting Sponge. When you have a bad wound, you need to stop the blood. In this case, band-aids will be of no help. To have some blood clotting sponges in your first aid kit is a must for a survival situation.
- Sterile Alcohol Pads. Using this item is the easiest way to clean your cuts and keep them bacteria-free, especially if you are doing
- this on the run.
- Vaseline. This is not the first appearance of vaseline in this bug-out bag checklist. That is because vaseline is a perfect moisturizer for the skin of your hands and your lips. This item is handy, especially if you spend a lot of time in a cold, windy environment — in a sense, this is a critical gear for emergency preparedness.
So, this is a shortlist of the first aid kit essentials. We also highly recommend you to think about buying a MyMedic Advanced Solo Kit. According to many reviews, this is the best compact first aid kit out there. It has the best supplies in one place, and it was perfectly designed for bug-out bags. This first aid kit contains everything you might need, and by purchasing it, you will save a lot of time. It has a variety of colors you can choose from.
It is also pretty light and does not take a lot of space. You can also use your MOLLE system with it.
Items for a Personal Hygiene Routine
If you love to take a hot bath surrounded by nice candles twice a week, then it is time to forget about it for a while. When you are trying to survive, your personal hygiene routine changes completely, and only basic steps are left. But it is not clever to ignore it completely because it can lead you to health problems, and your chances of surviving will be low at that point. So take it seriously and do not forget about basic sanitation even when you are far away from home.
Here is a bug-out bag list of products that will help you to stay healthy and clean.
- Wet wipes. When you cannot reach water to wash your face, hands, or body — wet wipes are the best solution. Wet wipes won’t replace a normal shower, but you have no choice in this situation. In some sense, they are a “multi-tool” — they can also be a good alternative for toilet paper.
- Sportsman soap. You cannot take a lot of it because it takes a lot of space, and it is pretty hard, and you should remember about the weight limits of your bug-out bag. But take some in case of a chance of showering in a river, for example. This is kind of a luxury.
- Toothbrush. Keeping your teeth in good condition is important because dental problems are usually the most painful and complicated ones. You hardly ever can fix them and help yourself in the wildness, so having survival tools for the teeth is a sign of a tactical backpack. Even painkillers won’t help you so that it can be a disaster. You can take one or two small toothbrushes. They are light and do not take a lot of space. And there are a lot of decent options on the market. Do not forget about toothpaste as well!
- Dental floss. You need to put it in your bag for the same reasons as the toothbrush. Floss takes even less space and sometimes might be even more helpful and useful on a par with medical supplies.
- Hand sanitizer. Wet wipes can solve the problem with dirty hands, but you need to eliminate bad bacteria. Eating with dirty hands won’t do you any good; it can cause serious stomach problems; we all know it from childhood. So hand sanitizer is a must-have — you can perceive it as a self-defense tool if you want!
- Q-tips Cotton Swabs. Cleaning your ears might seem unnecessary, but trust us, removing ear wax is important. Your hearing must be perfect when you are trying to survive. Basically, your life can depend on your hearing, so having those in the aid kits speaks for having a high-quality bug-out bag! Also, you can use these cotton swabs for many other different survival needs.
- Nail clippers. Your hands are the most powerful tool, and you need to look after them. Nails must be short during survival because long nails contain dirt and bad bacteria underneath them.
- Tampons. Tampons can be used for many survival needs, so do not hesitate to take a couple of those. They can even help you to clean water and keep you warm.
- Bandana. This item is also can be used in so many ways. You can use it as a face towel, face shield, or an anti-dust facemask. It can also save your face from the cold wind. There are many options on the market, do not hesitate to find a perfect one for your needs. But remember to wash it at least once in 72 hours.
Basic Survival Items
Here is a list of the most iconic and essential items for bug-out bags. These items are indispensable and time-proven, and you definitely will need those.
1. You Need a Knife to Survive
Surviving without a decent knife does not sound successful at all. The emergency kit without a knife does not feel complete. The knife is the most important tool, and you can use it for so many things, from building a shelter to self-defense. But not every knife is suitable for it. And you really have to spend money on a super high-quality best survival knife. Seriously, at this point, you have no right to be greedy. Very often, having a decent knife is a question of life and death.
We strongly recommend you obtain a real swiss army knife. This is a real must-have for a true professional survivalist. This swiss army knife is light in weight, and it is a multi-tool that will serve numerous purposes. You cannot imagine getting a real survival experience without such a knife.
This useful device contains numerous little tools to enhance survival. For instance, you can meet a can opener, a bottle opener, a wood saw, scissors, a hook, pliers, a LED light, and even a USB flash driver! And, of course, the main “tools” of a true knife — a large blade and a small blade for different purposes. Imagine how many functions it performs, how much use it brings, and do not hesitate to obtain one for your bug-out bag.
Do good research before purchasing a knife, though. Because there are so many options on the market and you can get lost. When you find a perfect option, also consider buying a knife sharpener. Even the best knives can become dull because of everyday usage, and you need your knife to be sharp always.
2. Survival ax
Sometimes a good knife is not enough, for example, when you need to chop trees fast. But we are lucky to have various survival axes that are light, small, and easy to use. It is only your own decision to put it in your bug-out bag or not, but we highly recommend checking it out at least. It is worth it.
3. Special Pliers
If it turns out that you do not have a swiss army knife in your bag, you should have at least the pliers for different purposes. This is a folding instrument, so it will not occupy too much space in your gear, but it will for sure help you solve numerous problems.
4. Perfect Navigation
To get lost during your survival sounds like a complete disaster, right? So you better purchase a decent compass and learn everything about using it in the wilderness. A compass might seem to be an old-fashioned item to you, but you are totally wrong. Yes, we have many super technological GPS items that show your location very accurately. Still, they all need to be charged from time to time, so in terms of a long period of survival experience, you can put your life on them. A Compass will be a loyal friend to you in an emergency. This is your ultimate bug-out bag must-have.
5. Pocket saw
If you decided not to take an ax, make sure to take this out — a portable wire saw. It will fit perfectly in all bug-out bags, and it is very light. The only issue is that you really need to learn how to use it properly, but it is not hard. The wire saw can be a surprisingly powerful tool.
6. The Queen of Shovels
Everything can happen during survival. You might need to bury a body, your treasures, or at least to level the ground for your tent, but for both of these tasks, you will need a shovel. Not the regular one, but, like pretty much everything on this list, a survival shovel.
This one is perfect for bug-out bags. You will be surprised by how light and functional it is. And it is not only for digging. It can do many other things, even chopping. At some point can be a great tool for self-defense too.
7. Sun Power!
Since you won’t use electricity, you need to have an alternative source of power. The solar charger is the first logical idea in this case, and it is totally right. Sun is the most powerful thing in our solar system, and you can definitely take advantage of it during survival. Check out this particular solar charger. It has a 10,000mAH battery capacity, it is very compact and perfect for bug-out bags, it also not afraid of the rain, and it is super durable. Remember, the solar charger is a must-have for you because, without a charger, you won’t even be able to use your cellphone in the wilderness. Sometimes having a power bank like this can be lifesaving.
Shine a light!
Survival is a dark and mysterious experience on its own. Why making it even darker without illumination tools? This bug-out-bag checklist wouldn’t be complete without the best illumination options for you. Sometimes during survival, you will need to run through the forest in the dead of night, and you can afford to break your legs and get lost. Also, you need light to hunt, to build a shelter, overall you need it to function in the nighttime without any problems.
1. Quality Torch
Make sure to check out one of these torches. This is not a regular torch but a Led Tactical Flashlight. It is super bright and belongs to your survival kit just right. It is compact so that you can use it even in an emergency. The choice on the market is huge, so you can really choose the perfect one for you. Think about the size and do not forget about the weight of it.
Though a Led Tactical Flashlight is essential for every bug-out bag, you may also need a decent headlamp for your own convenience. In the SHTF scenario, you better have both of your hands free and ready to protect you. So a nice Led Headlamp is a must-have. There are also many options online, but before purchasing it, make sure you have an opportunity to try it on because it must feel very comfortable on your head. Otherwise, it will be a disaster wearing it on the head. Also, choose a waterproof one, because heavy rain and snow aren’t a joke.
3. Little Helpers
Glow Sticks can be, if not super necessary items, but still pretty useful at least. They can help you to mark the territory in your bug-out shelter area or use them in the situation where you are not allowed to use your super bright led flashlight.
Also, think about solar lanterns. It is perfect to put it in your tent as a night light.
Items for Staying in Touch
Among other obvious bug-out bag essentials in this checklist, you need some good items to stay connected. You need to have updated information every day to survive or talk to other people in a bug-out gang. Make sure to treat it seriously because connection items can save your life.
You may use it to receive information about the weather, which is super important, for example, in the mountains or another extreme bug-out location. You also need to know about a possible danger on your way to prevent a disaster. So do not ignore this list!
1. Everything Must be Protected.
Most of the checklist’s survival items are durable and specially made for usage in the most extreme situations and environments. But if you want to take your personal smartphone without any special protection, it can fail you within hours. Smartphones are not made for heavy rain and extreme cold, and their screens are definitely too fragile when we talk about bug-out experiences. But sometimes, smartphones contain information and apps that are hard to replace with anything else.
So if you decided to take your smartphone with you, consider buying a special case and make sure you can charge it with your solar charger. And also, remember that you cannot one hundred percent rely on your smartphone anyway. Better prepare a plan B just in case.
2. Traditional Ways
It can be useful for some of you, for others not that much, but we give you the advice to take a small notebook and a pencil with you anyway, especially if you are an old-school person. Notebooks and pencils are very light and small items. They will fit in your bug-out bag for sure. You can make fast notes and even write letters and send them to your loved ones if there is a chance. Also, paper from the notebook might come in handy for survival needs. You can use your fire starters with it in an emergency. Of course, it is not a durable item, but you can keep it in a waterproof folder.
This might sound sentimental, but writing by hand and creating a kind of a small diary can help you get through survival mentally. A lot of people using it as a powerful tool. Keeping your thoughts and ideas can support you on your way and help to rationalize everything in your mind.
3. A perfect radio
We are talking about a Hand Crank Radio. But what does make it so special? First of all, it is wireless. Secondly, it does not need any batteries or chargers. Thirdly, it is compact and light. You don’t need to worry about the weight of the bag. And overall, it works just right. It has an inbuilt flashlight and will help you recharge other small devices from your bug-out bag checklist. So many advantages!
This item is a must-have because you need updates, and with this device, you will receive the latest news no matter what.
4. Pocket mirror
Mirror has a couple of interesting survival uses, but it can help you a lot in communication in the wilderness. If you are bugging out in a small group, you can send signals with the mirror on a long distance (of course, during the day and if you are not in a forest). It is also perfect for Morse Code messages (handy tip: learn it before the bug out!).
5. Do it loud
You probably did not think about putting a whistle in your bug-out bag. Yes, this checklist can be surprising for a new person.
Actually, a loud whistle is a useful tool. You can use it to communicate with your bug out-group. And also, it is a good thing in terms of self-defense. If a disaster is about to happen and your life is in danger, you can use it, and it will be better and louder than just screaming.
6. Good old walkie talkies
If you are in a small bug, the group — walkie-talkies are literally the first items to go into your bug-out bag. This is a traditional and time-tested way of communication. There are many different market options, from ordinary and cheap ones to the most technological and expansive ones. Choose depending on your bug-out location and be serious about that because you do not want to lose signal in the mountains and freeze to death alone. I did not want to sound dramatic, but a good walkie-talkie is sometimes a question of life and death.
Be Ready to Defend Yourself
We all saw movies where the main character managed to kill a bear with his own bare hands and survived, but can it happen in real life? You might not be that lucky person. Anyway, it is always better to be prepared for a fight both with animals and enemies. Staying alive is a tough job, especially in the wilderness. It does not matter if you are bugging out alone or in a group. You need to have some self-defense items in your bug-out bag, aside from your survival knife (which is a great self-defense tool, but sometimes it is just not enough). This part of the bug-out bag checklist is essential.
1. In your face, danger!
Pepper spray is great for self-defense in every situation. It is very light and small and can fit even in a lady’s purse. Pepper spray is a trendy item even among ordinary city people because it is easy and fast to use.
For your bug-out bag, we suggest you buy a super high-quality pepper spray. It will be good protection both from people and wild animals. There are many options nowadays, but we recommend you check out the Devil Juice pepper spray. Trust us, the name speaks for itself.
2. Stun gun
A stun gun, or a taser, is a perfect item to paralyze your enemy but not kill them. It is very popular with the police. The biggest advantage of this tool is that you can use it at a distance from 4,5 to 10 meters. It might be expensive, but it will be totally worth all the money in the case of a disaster.
3. Essentials for hunting
If you are a person who does not feel inspired by bows, here is the list of reasons why you should at least give them a chance to be in your bug out bag:
- These bows are completely silent. You can sneak up to any animal and silently shoot it.
- They are easy to use and fix, which makes them quite durable.
- Special survival bows can be easily folded, and you can keep them inside your bug-out bag.
- These bows are powerful.
- You do not need hundreds of arrows because they can be used over and over again. It will save you money, weight, and space.
- Using a bow is simply an exciting activity on its own and will dilute your survival adventure.
Sounds interesting? You are welcome to check them out.
4. Grab a gun
This might be the most brutal part of the whole bug-out bag checklist. You need firearms to be in your bug-out bag. So what option is the best? Well, the same rules apply to firearms as for any other items in the bug-out bag. It should not be super heavy, it should not be big, and it should be durable. Other criteria are your personal choice. Make sure to research this topic and find the best option.
We highly suggest taking a couple of firearms, though the weight might be too much. So try to search for the most compact and light versions, but make sure they are powerful too.
Also, it would be a great idea to buy a gun suppressor. Guns are extremely loud, and you do not always want another person to hear them, especially during the bug out. It might give you away.
Another important thing is firearm ammo. The most complicated part of it is weight, so you really need to think about how much you need and how much weight, in general, you are ready to carry. Luckily, many articles on the internet will help you make the right choice.
Other survival products you might need
This huge bug-out bag checklist is almost done. Here we put different survival items that did not really fit in other categories. Most of them are definitely not the bug-out bag essentials, but they can make your bug-out experience so much better anyway. Do not ignore this list. Maybe you will find here something you haven’t even think about before.
1. The memory of your loved ones
Every bug out is a very personal and unique adventure. It can be tough to be so far away from their home and loved ones for some people. Sometimes you are not even sure if you can ever get home again and see your family.
Putting pictures of loved ones in your bug-out bag is your own decision. This can be a long-term journey, and eventually, you will start to miss your home and people. A photograph can replace real people, but it can sometimes help you get through sadness and loneliness. And remember that it is totally normal to miss your home.
Survival is a serious thing, but without entertainment, you can go crazy. You just cannot be all serious and tense all the time. Having at least a deck of playing cards is a must-have, especially if you survive in a group. You need to have a good time and cheer up one another.
Playing cards are very cool because you can play a lot of different games with them. You can even build a house of cards and do magic tricks. And they are minimal and light. You can easily put them in all bug-out bags.
Also, there are special survival playing cards with useful bug-out tips. Check them out.
3. Personal ID
This is a doubtful topic of this bug-out bag list. For example, if you want to disappear and never be found, you should definitely NOT take your personal ID or credit cards or anything with your name on it. But if it is not your bug-out goal, you can take your passport, driving license, and credit cards just in case. You will probably never use them, but these are light and small items anyway. And remember that you will need a special wallet to protect them.
4. Duct Tape
Duct tape can be beneficial during your survival. Maybe it is underrated because there are really so many survival uses of duct tape — this guy is a real multi-tool. You can use it as a part of a first aid kit or use it to repair your survival gear. This is a pro tip to put at least a small roll of duct tape in your bug-out bag. It is very light.
You might be wondering how to use your duct tape as first aid supplies. Usually, this multi-tool is used for wounds. However, use duct tape in such cases carefully — for people with sensitive skin, you should better get special medical duct tape as a part of emergency gear. But still, having this multi-tool in the first aid kit is advisory.
5. Full Protection
Your bug-out location can be a perilous place. If there is even a small chance of air pollution, you should put a gas mask in your bug-out bag. Using a gas mask is very important because breathing contaminated air can cause immediate death or serious health issues. We do not know exactly which one is worse in terms of survival on our own. So the gas mask is a must-have like MIRA safety or Parcel Distribution. Do your research, and do not forget about buying filters for your mask.
6. What time is it?
If you cannot live a normal life without a watch, you probably will need them during survival. But the ordinary watch is a big no-no. You need a survival edition.
7. Ease the stress of your body
If you know that your bug-out location will include hiking activities, you should take a pair of tracking poles. They will help you to be harder and to span distant ground within a single breath.
8. Body art
In certain wild locations, it makes sense to cover the skin of your face if you do not want to be noticed. In this case, you can use special face paint. It is light and easy to apply to your face.
9. Traditional Map
You cannot one hundred percent rely on your electronic GPS devices. So maybe it is a good idea to keep a traditional map in your bug-out bag just in case. Of course, this map must be very durable and waterproof. Buying a high-quality map can save your life and prevent a disaster.
10. Wear a pair of shades
If you have sensitive eyes, it might be very complicated to walk in the bright sunshine. In contrast, snow can be very painful to look at as well. So sunglasses are your must-have. For survival needs, you need them to be super durable and protective not only from the sun but also from the sand. Check out these tactical sunglasses. Also, do not forget about the special case for them and additional lenses just in case.
11. Upgrade your MOLLE system
To fully enjoy your MOLLE system, you need to pack a decent set of carabineers. They will help you carry all the survival gear that doesn’t fit inside the bug-out bag. But if you also need carabineers for other needs, like climbing, you should not use the same that you use for the MOLLE system because that can be dangerous. Buy special ones that are designed to support human body weight. And make sure that they really support YOUR bodyweight plus the weight of the bug-out bag.
12. More tape
Electrical tape is very similar to duct tape, and it is also has a lot of survival uses. It can be a perfect addition to your survival kit of first aid. It can perfectly hold gauze and make a good replacement for band-aids for fingers. Pack a small roll.
If you have poor eyesight and you are wearing corrective lenses, you definitely need a second pair. You need to care about your eyes during survival because getting an eye infection and becoming blind equals death in the wild environment.
14. More power
We hope you already have a solar charger, but it would be a good idea for your bug-out bag to add some more rechargeable batteries or power banks. If you use it with your solar charger, you will always have at least a couple of power sources, which will make the charging process of all your devices a lot faster.
Rechargeable batteries are not really expensive, so getting them will not damage your wallet. A hint: getting a pack of rechargeable batteries is usually cheaper, so consider this point when looking for an alternative to solar power.
15. No one loves mosquitos.
These little creatures can be extremely annoying and dangerous at the same time. And you are probably not excited to have all your face covered in mosquito itchy bites. A head net would be a perfect solution, and it is very light and small and will fit in your bug-out bag. It is also very cheap, so have no doubts about investing in it.
16. What about cash?
Well, in terms of surviving, cash can be useless but less useless than a credit card. If you ever come across a gas station and need to buy such essentials as food, cash will always help. You never know what can happen anyway, so better put it in your bug-out bag just in case.
1. Little hunting essentials
Broadheads are minimal and light items. You can take a set of them. They will help you to hunt, and also they can work as self-defense tools as well.
Everything in one place
Creating a bug-out bag by yourself can be a hard task. It is not enough just to read this one article. You need to do a ton of research, decide what items you need and where to buy them, search for the best deals and the fairest prices. Many people enjoy this process, but sometimes you need to act very fast, and you do not have time to gather a bug-out bag. Bugging out without a bug-out bag already sounds like a disaster. But do not worry, there is a perfect option for you.
A complete bug-out bag!
These bags are made by a team of professional survivors so that you can trust them. It contains everything you need to survive, a complete survival kit. And the prices are pretty low because it saves you so much time and energy. Now you don’t have to spend hours and days on amazon com looking for everything by yourself.
You can always check these out and decide whether you can buy an already gathered bug-out bag or gather your own by your special preferences.
Having a bug-out bag is very clever. Disaster can happen anytime, and it is always better to be prepared. Make sure you take it all seriously and research every topic. Listen to the advice of skilled survivors, read about the different experiences, and you will be ready to create your own. This bug-out-bag checklist is just the beginning of a beautiful and dangerous journey.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What should be in a bug-out bag list?
Your bug-out bag should contain everything that will help you to stay alive. The best bug-out bag has all the items that a person might need to survive a disaster. Bug-out bag essentials must meet the basic needs, like a first aid kit, ready-to-eat food products, items to start a fire and build a shelter, personal hygiene products, self-defense and hunting tools, and other special survival equipment. Bug out bag is not only about sleeping bag and toilet paper, though these items are also important, especially the sleeping bag. Bug out bag is basically the emergency kit that you can grab with you if a disaster happens.
How much ammo do you need in a bug-out bag?
Usually, you will be fine with a couple of firearms. But this question is individual because it depends on your personal needs. Also, ammo is heavy, and weight is significant because you have only one bug-out bag, and you should be able to carry all the items without a problem.
What should be in a 3-day bug-out bag?
A go-bag for 72 hours still needs to contain everything that will help you stay alive because no one knows what disaster can happen for 72 hours. The pro tip for this type of go bag is to understand what you will definitely need and analyze your bug-out location. For example, you will probably need water purification tablets, a water bottle, ready-to-eat foods, and a space blanket with a sleeping pad. But will you need a hunting bow, sewing kit, and a huge water filter for 72 hours? Probably not. Consider focusing on a first aid survival kit, clean water sources, and tools for building a shelter. However, for every person, the bug-out bag list can be very individual.
What is the must-have survival gear?
In this bug-out bag list, you will find all of the best survival items for your emergency kit. Basically, you will need a first aid kit, water filter, a bunch of good firestarters, navigation tools, like a compass, personal hygiene tools, hunting equipment, and self-defense tools. You should decide for yourself your personal must-haves depending on this list because every person might have different survival needs and different bug-out circumstances.
How much should a bug-out bag weigh?
The weight of your grab bag is the most important thing. When a disaster happens, you should act fast, travel long distances, and sometimes even run a lot. Eventually, you will get tired anyway, but carrying your bug-out bag must be extremely comfortable for you. Consider your own weight and your physical capabilities. You should not take more than you can carry, especially if you have issues with your back. Take your bags’ weight seriously and remember that it is a very individual thing for every person.