What Goes in a Bug Out Bag
Although this site is geared toward people who intend to ride out disasters in the city, there may be instances where you are forced to leave your home or neighborhood. There might be flooding, earthquake damage, a fire or any number of hazards that make your home unlivable. In case this happens, you need to have a bug out bag (BOB).
What in the world is a bug out bag?
A bug out bag is a portable bag that contains all the items that might be needed in a disaster. It needs to be light enough to carry, but large enough to hold everything you need. It’s a good idea to keep one in each vehicle and one near your front door.
There are hundreds of thousands who probably wish they’d had a bug out bag when disaster struck, from the survivors of the Haitian earthquake to the victims of hurricane Katrina. By planning ahead, your life will be infinitely easier should you find yourself in a survival situation.
Where can I get one?
You’ll probably have trouble finding a good bug out bag locally. Even sporting goods stores don’t usually carry fully stocked bug out bags. But there are many places you can purchase one online. I recommend getting a 72 Hour Kit from nitro-pak.com. They have kits designed for 2 or 4 people and several extras. However, it might be a little cheaper to make your own bug out bag.
What kind of bag should I use?
You can use any type of bag strong enough to hold the weight, such as a duffel bag. However, I think it’s better if you use a sturdy backpack, preferably one with an internal frame. A backpack won’t slow you down as much as an awkward duffel bag. Jansport and Teton make some really good backpacks, but get whatever works.
What goes in a bug out bag?
All kinda of goodies! There is no set list that everyone follows. Some of it depends on your personal preference. Use your judgment and try to anticipate some situations you might encounter and what items you would need. Here are some essentials:
- Bug spray. After hurricanes and floods there is going to be a lot of standing water which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The situation is even worse if there is a pandemic as mosquitoes are known for spreading disease.
- Camp axe. You might need this if you have to cut down small trees for shelter or split firewood.
- Compass. It’s not as easy to tell the direction by the sun as you might think, especially in the middle of the day. Keep one in your BOB in case you get lost.
- Disposable ponchos. If you’re forced to move in the rain this will make your day a lot less miserable.
- Duct tape. You can fix all sorts of things with duct tape.
- Emergency whistle. One for each family member. This important if someone goes off alone to use the bathroom. Criminals sometimes take advantage of the lack of policemen during disasters. They can also help attract the attention of rescue crews.
- Energy bars. If you don’t like energy bars, food that is high in calories but doesn’t take up much space will do. Examples: rice, tuna, beef jerky, etc.
- First aid kit. When traveling on foot, going to new places outdoors, setting up camp or cooking food, people can be hurt very easily.
- Flashlights. You should have one in each bag. Only use one at a time so you don’t waste batteries. Speaking of which, pack several extra batteries, too.
- Folding shovel. Great for digging a fire pit or burying waste (hopefully you won’t have to do this).
- Hand crank radio. These take no batteries or electricity and can keep you apprised of weather, info, evacuation routes, etc.
- Hand sanitizer. You’ll definitely need this if you’re outside or with other people. Germs spread quickly when people don’t have access to showers, toilets aren’t working, and garbage isn’t being collected.
- Imodium A-D. If you or a family member gets diarrhea in a survival situation, the resulting dehydration can be life-threatening.
- Map of your local area. Forget using your iPhone or car’s GPS system in a survival situation. There’s a new kind of map that works without electricity!
- Multi-tool. Not just for bug out bags. You should carry one of these almost everywhere.
- Multivitamins. You won’t get all the nutrients you need from your food or rations passed out by FEMA. Supplement your diet with these to keep your energy up and your immune system strong.
- Paracord. This stuff is strong and light and can be used for securing a tarp, setting traps, making a clothes line and many other things.
- Playing cards. In a survival situation, a lot of time is spent sitting and waiting. These are essential for fighting boredom.
- SAS Survival Guide. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about building shelter, finding food and water, staying healthy, getting rescued and more. And it fights right in your pocket.
- Stainless steel water bottle. This keeps water contaminant free and can easily be used for boiling water by hanging it over a fire with paracord threaded through the top.
- Sun block. Critical in case you’re stuck outside in the sun. A bad sunburn hurts badly and can become infected.
- Tarps. By stringing these between two trees with your paracord, you have an instant shelter.
- Thermal Blankets. Mylar blankets are great for holding in heat when you’re stuck out in the cold.
- Water proof matches. You might also consider a butane torch lighter, a firesteel, or kindling sticks.
- Water testing/purification. If you can’t boil water, you’ll want to test it to make sure it’s drinkable (even tap water might be contaminated in a disaster). If it’s not clean, you’ll need some drops or tablets to purify it.
- Waterproof case. You’ll want to keep have at least a couple hundred dollars in cash and coins on you. This will keep your money dry along with your phone, passport or other small items.
- Ziploc bags. Great for keeping things dry and preserving food.
Pick up a few of these items on every shopping trip or order a few online every week. If you have the money to get it all you need at once, I recommend visiting the Emergency Preparedness Center where you can build your own survival kit. If you’re just getting started with survival preps, a bug out bag should be your first priority.