Everybody has their own ideas about what are the most important things to include in a bug out bag. Different strokes, different folks. But whatever items you choose, make sure a lot of them are multipurpose items.
Your bug out bag might not seem very heavy, but after carrying it all day, it will begin to seem like the heaviest thing you’ve ever held. Multipurpose items can help you reduce the number of items you need to pack, thus making your bag lighter.
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The list below includes some of the most useful survival items you can get your hands one. You don’t necessarily have to put all of these items in your bug out bag—like I said, you don’t want it to be too heavy. But I encourage you to seriously consider each one of them. Take your location and personal needs into account and decide whether these items are worth including.
For each item, I added a link to an article or video (most of them on this site) where you can learn more about the many uses for it.
A knife is a standard piece of equipment in any survival situation. Make sure you have one tucked away that is full-tang and durable enough to serve multiple purposes. The knife should have a handle that gives you a good grip and not one that will easily slide out of your hand. Little multipurpose knives are not going to cut it.
2. Plastic Bags
Tuck some of these into your bug out bag to use for keeping gear dry, wrapping over your shoes to keep your feet dry, collecting water via transpiration, and so forth.
3. Trash Bags
Large kitchen trash bags can be transformed into a comfy mattress or used to clean up your campsite. Cleanliness will be doubly important during a major disaster.
Paracord is another staple of any bug out bag. You can wear a paracord bracelet, belt, lanyard, or carry a length in your pack. Paracord has numerous uses that could save your life.
Keeping a bottle of water in your bug out bag is crucial, but once it is empty, that bottle will serve a multitude of purposes. Don’t toss it out!
6. Paper Clips
Paper clips are tiny and weigh almost nothing, but they’re very useful in a survival situation. Keep some stashed away in one of the pockets of your bug out bag.
7. Ziploc Bags
Ziploc sandwich bags are perfect for keeping your gear dry and organized, gathering wild edibles, collecting water, and more.
Keep at least one poncho in your bug out bag. Ponchos obviously keep you dry, but they can be used for a variety of other purposes as well.
Tarps are a little bulky, but you can roll one up and attach it to the bottom or top of your pack. They are great for throwing up a shelter, making a stretcher, carrying supplies, etc.
While oral health is important, there are many uses for floss besides keeping your gums in good shape. Building shelter, mending clothes, setting traps, and even stitching wounds.
11. Zip Ties
Zip ties can be picked up at the dollar store, but they are truly invaluable. Using zip ties to repair your gear or hold bandages in place are just some of the uses.
12. Chap Stick
Chapstick is a luxury that can mean the difference between dry, cracked, painful lips or healthy lips. But it can also be used for miscellaneous things like starting fires and making candles.
Bandanas are lightweight and can be tied to your pack if you are worried about them taking up space. And there are nearly 100 survival uses for them.
14. Glow Sticks
Glow sticks are cheap, but they are very useful. If you have kids in your bug out party, have each kid wear a glow stick so you can keep track of them. The larger sticks can be used to light up a camp or illuminate the inside of your shelter.
Condoms aren’t just for their intended purpose. There are many surprising uses for them that make them worth packing in your bag.
16. Duct Tape
Duct tape has long been a favorite of preppers. Buy a roll and keep it in your pack. You can stuff gear into the center of the hole if you are worried about losing any space. There are literally hundreds of uses for duct tape.
Empty pill bottles are an excellent vessel to store Vaseline soaked cotton balls, dried moss, or even matches. Once you’ve used up what’s inside, you can save the bottle and use it for a variety of other purposes.
18. Bobby Pins
Bobby pins aren’t just for old ladies. A small package can be stashed in your bag without taking up much space. Use the pins to keep your hair out of your face or as tiny pry sticks that could be used to scrape bark for tinder.
Tampons are probably already a part of any woman’s bag, but they can be used for a number of other things as well. A bloody nose can easily be stopped with a tampon or you can shred the cotton material and use them as tinder.
Old pantyhose or even a new cheap pair is a great way to keep small gear organized. The pantyhose can be used as cordage or part of a filtering system after you’ve collected water.
21. Mylar Blankets
Mylar survival blankets are about the size of a wallet, but once you open them up, you are looking at a lot of possibilities. Always carry at least two. They are flimsy, and reusing them is not always easy.
22. Safety Pins
Safety pins are great for hanging items from your pack, off your jacket, or keeping a tent door closed. Keep several of varying sizes in your pack.
Shoelaces are easy to get your hands on. Put a pair in your pack to replace broken strings on your boots, to use as a belt, or to use as a sling.
24. Sewing Kit
Specifically, a travel-size sewing kit. These can be stuffed into one of those empty pill bottles or stuck inside an Altoids can. You never know when you will need to fix a tear in a tent or mend a hole in a shirt.
25. Super Glue
A couple of tubes of super glue is going to be very helpful. You can use it to close a cut on your skin or repair a flapping shoe sole.
26. Cotton Swabs
Some cotton swabs, better known as Q-tips, can be used to clean a small cut, cut off to use as tinder, or used to clean a gun barrel.
27. Folding Shovel
A folding shovel isn’t exactly small, but they do fold down to about 6 inches. A shovel with a serrated edge is perfect for cutting large branches. Use it to dig a hole for a firepit or a hole for taking care of bathroom business.
What you pack in your bug out bag needs to be carefully thought out. Don’t waste any space whatsoever. Pick items that can be used in many different ways. You’ll be glad you did.
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