Bug Out Bag Weight: It Can Add Up Fast

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Do you think it is essential to understand bug out bag weight? Because we do! A backpack can contain your survival gear, clothes, food, water, ammo, and much more. The question is, how much do you need in the field. Several pairs of socks is a great idea, preppers, but it’s unnecessary to take the whole house if you are heading for a three-day hike. Therefore, packing is an indicator of your survival skills. Join us and learn the essentials for different survival scenario types. Together we will choose a propper volume and weight for your bug out bag.

Heading for an adventure in the wilderness or preparing a family preparedness strategy? Then you probably already have a whole lot of stuff stacked in your backpack or Bug Out Bag. Have you measured its weight yet — how heavy is it — 15 lbs? 35 lbs? or more?

How Far Is Your Planned Bug Out?

How Far Is Your Planned Bug Out? Pose and consider this question each time you plan your trip as your bag weight seems to increase in proportion to your estimated route and intensified fatigue. Is it more than 10 miles, 25 miles, or even undefined in case it is an emergency escape? Anyway, if it is more than a couple of miles, your bag’s weight will not underrate…

Calculating and adjusting your bag out bag’s weight and contents is the topic of our today’s article.

First Decide On What A Bug Out Bag Is Really For

First Decide On What A Bug Out Bag Is Really For The best life hack on how to reduce your Bug Out Bag weight is always keeping in mind what it is for.

72 Hours Preppers’ Rule

When planning your Bug Out Bag and its contents, it’s easy to forget its ultimate goal. And it is always hard to stop packing more and more things since we are so used to devices and tools for all occasions and purposes. Including everything you can think of, envisaging any possibility is not the best way of dealing with it.

You are risking getting an aching back after walking a few miles with a 50 lbs. backpack.

The first rule to keep in mind is that optimally, a bug out bag should contain enough stuff to survive for around 72 hours (or three days) while on the go — this is an average time, so plan your Bug Out in accordance with your overall plan. Design it in a way that allows a quick journey from point A to your location at point B with no struggle.

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It is simple: the heavier the brick you carry on your back, the slower you move. In plus, long trekking with heavyweight requires top physical shape and related practical experience. Else walking the average 8 miles every day will be torture, not just a challenge.

Heavy Backpack is Painful!

Heavy Backpack In such an event, the pain will dictate to you what to drop and what to keep, so it is better to decide upon it in advance and not in the middle of your bug out.

The top criteria of your Bug Out Bag are:

  1. Lightweight
  2. Being Smartly Packed
  3. Being Ready To Go

All three are personal necessities and not detached options.

Even if you’re building an INCH bag (which deciphers as “I‘m Never Coming Home”), it is crucial to watch your backpack’s final weight.

Rule 2: The More Survival Skills You Master… The Less Gear You Need

To sort out the necessary items from useless ones,  let’s deal with all that bug-out gear a typical beginner prepper usually stuffs inside a pack.

First, mastering core survival skills such as building shelters and making fires will turn heavy tents and stoves into an unnecessary bug out load. Leaving out those two items, you get rid of from five to eight lbs of your bag’s burden.

The next option is the amount of food and water supplies — if it is hard to carry, it’s doubtfully of any use. Surprisingly, among the skills that can be obtained without lots of heavy gear are water procuring, fire-starting, making shelters from scratch, food-finding, and so on.

Your Choice of Bug Out Bag Counts More Than You Think

Analogically, this rule is as easy as pie: 30 lbs in poor quality and hardly fitting bag and 30 lbs in a resilient, comfy bag are two very different things.

When it comes to choosing your bug out bag pack, the key physical parameter to consider is not your height but the length of your torso so that it is adjacent to your back and fits your hips comfortably.

Finding a bag that really fits you is a crucial starting point in every survival strategy.

Before heading for a shop, measure your torso with a tailor’s tape (you should know that guesswork will not work here). How to measure your torso length properly? Here’s the tip: calculate the distance from your hip to the bone at the base of your neck, the point where your neck meets your shoulders (also known as the place where your dad threatened to separate your head from the rest of you when you misbehaved. Joking).

After torso length, proceed to measure hips (as it’s crucial for the hip-belt to fit right) by counting the round distance from hipbone to hipbone or from pocket to pocket. Then use these measurements when heading for the best prepper’s bag. Also, mind fixing the bag’s shoulder straps and hip straps properly because fitting too high or low will influence your gait and may overexert your muscles.

The average bugging out activities commonly comprise

  1. Running
  2. Hiking for a long
  3. Crawling
  4. Climbing

It should be unacceptable to buy an item that fits wrong or feels uncomfortable.

After you make sure, your bag fits right, go ahead to the next chapter.

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Rule 3: Your own weight is the determining factor of your But Out Bag.

Use it as a primary formula to bear in mind when estimating your backpack weight.

Your bag’s target weight should estimate as 10% of your own bodyweight while the maximum weight should not exceed 20 % — set it as your goal and follow it in the whole process of preparing your bag out.

For instance, if you weigh 200 lbs, then 10% of 200 equals 20 lbs and not more.

Setting the 20% may be your goal only if you are in a top physical state — else, it only impedes your quick bag out and speeds up your fatigue.

Likewise, 20% of 200 lbs would equal 40 lbs., and not a pound more.

To sort it out as detailed and attentive as possible, our team has prepared a small guiding chart.

Find your weight in lbs on the picture and see the recommended “optimal” and “maximum” backpack weight.

Caution: The Bug Out Bag weight figures set out in the chart below are defined by your physical state and fitness level, age, and other factors, as well.


*Embed Code For This Image Is Placed At End Of Article*

And now, let’s have a look at the required amounts of your bag’s key contents.

Ten Handy Tips On Reducing Your Backpack Weight And Saving Space

Ten Handy Tips On Reducing Your Backpack Weight And 1 – How Much Water Do We Have to Carry?

Lifestraw Personal Water

Usually, each prepper carries at least a liter of water, which equals around 2.2 lbs., so 6 lbs. may weigh about 13.2 lbs — does not sound like a burden, but if added to piles of other necessary stuff, is it actually worth its weight?

However, if you tackle your water-procuring and purifying skills, it may not be a problem (surely, unless you are bound for a desert or a selva).

The minimum amount of water required in any case per person is not less than 1 liter. And since carrying over 7 lbs. in a long route is definitely not for everyone, one needs to learn how to cache water along the way or seek, purify, and process it on the move.

The first option implies tracing and marking the places where you cached it.

If you plan to retrieve water in the wilderness, make sure there are consistent sources provided on the way. There are many options of refining some stagnant or soiled water, so master one or two means of purifying water to ensure enough drinking water supply for each member of your survival company. This will surely contribute to your bag’s space and weight economy.

2 – But What Will We Have to Eat Then?

It is stated that a human can exist for around 20 days without food. The keyword here is “exist,” and there is hardly anything in common with an alert, energetic, and speedy bugging out and staying strong to provide food and procure water for the whole family.

It is strongly recommended to build and follow the Bug Out Bag Checklist, which should ideally comprise a minimum of one freeze-dried meal per person plus several nutritious energy bars, which equals one supply per day. It will not keep away the hunger the next day but will allow you to remain active and vigilant. Sometimes people tend to underestimate the required amount of food supply to take with them. But when those people stay hungry for a long while, everything else does not matter.

And the knowledge of finding extra foods and cooking survival meals would be an invaluable bonus. For instance, when camping by the river, fishing would diversify and enrich your menu. A fishing rod and a hook are both lightweight. Besides, you can always come with a DIY approach and find a thin stick to fix the line onto. Simply cooking fish in the fire, hunting, and other food acquisition skills provide a means of staying alive. To cook the fish properly, just put the fish over a fire without removing the skin, and in some minutes, you’ll have a smoked fish dinner with no cookstoves and fuel.

If you are somewhat an expert in edible plants or keen on small game hunting, go to the woods or additional foods. Here the helping skills would be snare- or trap-building ones and some practical hunting experience, as well. No such skills are useless in the wilderness.

Another life hack to minimize your food load is to cook dinner from the heaviest products first.

Obviously, meat is the freshest the first day, and to reduce the weight of your filled-to-the-top bag, why not eat the heaviest foods on the first two days?

Firstly, it would boost your speed and energy with its calorie power. Secondly, it would lessen your bag’s weight for the following day and increase the speed you are moving with.

3 – Replace The Tent With A Tarp

Seriously, ditch the tent. Ditch it now, as all these stakes and poles do add several useless pounds to your backpack.

Aqua Quest Defender Tarp

Here is a picture of AquaQuest Defender – one of the best Survival Tarps.

So instead of carrying a tent, take a solid survival tarp with you.

The resilient quality material of a tent with many grommets is easy enough for a teenage kid to build a shelter. Besides, it may be used as a waterproof blanket.

Take a look at the pine trees — their low hanging branches may serve you good protection from rain and wind. Grab some handfuls of needles and use them as a basis for your pallet to lie on. Pines are a fine choice as the ground under them is generally soft enough that you can dig up the earth with a twig. This means you can use pine needles to give you some extra comfort and warmth if you have a thick tarp or a sleeping bag.

The second option is shallow caves and rock ledges used since the birth of the human race. A useful hint here is making sure the chosen location is free from wild animals and other unwelcome guests.

An alternative to it may be using a paracord and a tarp to make a lean-to shelter.

One of the downsides to building your own hideout is that it requires much time and energy. This is why we suggest practicing these skills with the whole family in a game-like manner so that each of you masters the making of at least two types of various shelters and challenges another one to do so.

By carefully exploring your route, you can tip your map where you found food, lumber, water, and whatever you need to help your survival.

Such survival knowledge and practice are good for basic scenarios, but how about tornados, heavy storms, forest fires, blizzards, you may ask. Talking about these as inherent parts of wilderness survival, the deadly heavyweight of your backpack will surely not foster it.

A huge classy tent in the open wide will barely save the situation, either.

So, on such an occasion, it is always better to find a cave, or if it is wintertime, to build an igloo-shaped shelter around a pine tree.

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4 – Sleeping Bags Are Often Overestimated by Preppers

Getting rid of your sleeping bag does not seem ridiculous sometimes, as it consistently lessens your “go bag” weight. Especially if it is summer trekking, camping, or bugging out, and the night temperatures do not change drastically — tarp is a fine solution. To ensure more warmth and extra comfort, carry a light liner instead of a sleeping bag. If you’re in montane areas or in cold winter temperatures, you can save weight by choosing a TACT bivvy bag. It covers the full-body, keeps the heat inside, and its material is the same as Emergency Blanket used by EMS attendants to cure patients with hypothermia.

Tact Bivvy Apart from warmth and comfort, another asset of such a combination (the bivvy bag plus the Emergency Blanket) is that it serves as a windbreak against snowfalls, colds, showers, and so on.

The TACT Bivvy is still more lightweight (only 6.2 ounces) than most sleeping bag options and, if stretched out, is around seven feet long and three feet wide — enough to cover and warm up a big fellow.

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5 – Are Your Extra Clothes Adding to Your Pack Weight?

Apparently, the defying factors when packing a bag out bag are not the diversity, style, label, or color match of your clothes, but the location and climate. It means choosing the most appropriate and reliable items in compliance with the current season and rearranging your stock every half a year before the new season starts.

Swapping out the clothes is not all — since it is a substantial part of your preparedness strategy, plan to invest only in resilient, high-quality, time-tested labels (for example, in these tactical pants) and not limit it with the items you wear in your daily life. To have a change of basic clothing items is a matter of your personal hygiene, so a fresh t-shirt and a pair of socks and underwear come in handy for all situations.

Rule 4: Another means of saving extra space and weight of your bag is to roll your set of clothes into a tight skivvy roll.

What is a skivvy roll, and what does it include?

A skivvy roll is a pair of common spare items that you roll into a tight little ball, and it comprises a change of socks, underwear, and a shirt. To make it, unfold the shirt and place the folded underwear in the middle of the shirt, just below the neckline, then fold the right side of the shirt towards the middle and then do the same with the left side. Grab a pair of crew socks, cross them toe to heel on the sleeves of the folded shirt, and start rolling from the collar down the shirt to the bottom. The more compact you roll, the more space you actually save. After that, fold two ends of the socks from the sides over the roll. A set of four skivvy rolls generally weigh less than one pound.

Here’s a brief video instruction on how to make the most compact skivvy roll.

6 – Leave Your Camping Lanterns Behind

Since a huge camping lantern is only good for camping, replace it with a decent survival flashlight that easily fits in your back pocket.

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While your fire may be a good source of light during nighttime (and keep the predators away), your compact flashlight will be handy for a greater range of situations and activities.

Another thing is fire starters.

Your set should ideally consist of three various sorts of fire starters, which are a waterproof match, a lighter, and a Ferro rod.

Leave sticks and stones to your ancestors, and do not waste your power on starting a fire like them (unless it is the particular skill you wish to hone).

Without fire-starting tools, you are deprived of time and subjected to all weather havocs.

A pro-tip: when walking in the terrain dotted with kindling, take some with you. It’s very light, and bonfires are crucial for survival, plus you never know if there will be any kindling further on the way.

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7 – Firearms: Keep It Light

Hunting is a great opportunity if you are into it, but it takes time and attention away from what really matters and what happens much quicker. It does not really make sense to carry about 10-20 pounds of firearms hoping to shoot something.

Nevertheless, it is reasonable to carry at least one loaded pistol for self-defense.

What if the civil order collapsed and was replaced by the strongest (or the smartest) one at power? Do not leave your gun relying on “nothing-will-happen” occasions.

8 – Hide Extra Ammo Along The Way

Hide Extra Ammo

It is not a superhero option from the movies if talking about true preparedness for rough survival: capable of defending yourself and your circle for a few days is one thing, carrying a train stiffed with ammunition enough to besiege a town is another.

Remember: the initial survivalist’s purpose is to reach the safe location and not to haul on your back a whole ammo depot.

Similar to water, the amount of ammo you carry is probably the most burdensome option.

Cacheing ammo along the way and marking certain locations is a working strategy allowing you to decide either leave out some ammo or grab it later if needed.

9 – Packing Bug Out Bag Right Makes It Feel Light

Packing Bug Out Bag Right Makes It Feel Light

If you already have some backpack trekking experience, you surely know the heaviest items should be placed closest to the back to reduce the pulling in your spine and strain on your shoulders.

So, the bottom line is putting the heaviest things close to your body, which helps evenly distribute the weight on your spine.

To see how this principle works, try carrying a heavy bottle or an ammo item with your arms fully extended out in front of you. However, hugging the weight is much easier and lighter.

Also, to find things quickly, pack the objects that you don’t need as often at the bottom and gear that you often reach for at the top. Another method of reducing the weight of your package while still keeping what you need is to put it in deep pockets. So, move the weight out of your spine and distribute it onto yourself and keep in mind that multi-purpose tools and devices take up less space and weigh less while being even more useful and handy.

Sometimes being inventive means being more adapted to survival.

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10 – Try Hard Core Ways Like Preppers Do

After you have followed the previous nine steps, are there any further ways left to upgrade your bag out bag?

Absolutely! Give a try to follow the next 10 hardcore tips and trim those tiny, meticulous ounces of your pack. None of these life hacks will have a significant effect on their own, but together they add up and finally trim the weight of your bag.

Light My Fire Titanium Spork

Hacks for the Hardcore:

  • Get rid of several (or all) additional straps, zipper tags, or pieces of fabric not needed on your backpacks and bags.
  • Cut unnecessary edges off of your map.
  • Remove all labels and stickers from both equipment and your bags.
  • Exchange your spoon and fork for a sturdy Titanium Spork linking to Amazon com
  • Shorten your toothbrush’s handle
  • Exchange toothpaste for a compact toothpowder
  • Pour all the liquids you carry (including sunscreens, soap) into 1 oz. containers
  • Replace sacks with extremely light ziplock baggies to keep things tight
  • Drill holes in almost every item like tool handles, toothbrushes, and more
  • Acquire lighter titanium items if possible

As a hardcore prepper, you have to practice being inventive. And almost anything may serve as the source for those inventions. Know more related life hacks? Leave a comment below.


How much should a bug out bag weigh?

Learn the following formula: the perfect target bug out bag weight is 10%-15 % of your own body weight while the maximum is %20. For instance, a 220 lbs. human (almost 100 kilograms) needs to take a 22 lbs. pack. Including everything + the kitchen sink is not only unwise but risking for your back.

How do you lighten a bug out bag?

Revise the article once again and try to follow these rules: use multipurpose equipment, ditch food containers (and replace them with compact freeze-dried meals), fit the necessary gear like medications in travel-sized packs, reduce water weight, bring tarps and learn to make alternative hideouts, cache items, find water and purify water, acquire and cook food, and so on.

What should be in a three-day bug out bag?

Bug out bags vary depending on the purposes but make sure you include enough ready-to-eat food supply and water (+water filter), tact bivvy and/or emergency blanket, first aid kit, some light, and safety gear (like flashlights, a handgun, cell phones with a power bank), core personal documents in a water-resistant zipper bag, and so on. These are the core things you really need in the wilderness.

Should I have a bug out bag?

Yes, as it is an absolutely crucial part of your preparedness strategy as it will help you survive! Otherwise, you would shamefully die after several days in the wilderness. If the arguments mentioned in this article do not suffice, browse through the Internet to find dozens of Bug Out Bag lists explaining to you how to pack, what to pack, and why on earth to pack.

How will your bug out bag kill you: hard proof?

If your backpack weighs more than 30 pounds or 20% of your body weight, you gain soft tissue injuries and move with a speed of a snail. Browse the “Ambry-Riddle Aeronautical University comprehensive study,” which surveyed trekkers of the Appalachian Trail. Around 1,300 hikers surveyed on this over two-thousand-mile-long track provided evidence on how additional weight caused serious injuries, sometimes with grave consequences.


A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.




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