In our last article, we talked about why you might need a bug-out bag and I gave some recommendations for a good bag. In this article, I am going to give you a list of some of the things I think that everyone should have in their bug-out bag.
What You Need In the Bag
- Water Filtration – If there’s a chance you will be heading into the woods or anywhere where clean water is hard to find, you will need something to filter water. If you will be traveling with a family choose something like the MSR Trail Base Gravity Water System. It allows you to filter up to 2 liters of water at a time using the gravity system or detach the handheld pump and use it as a squeeze filter to work on demand. I love the versatility of the system. If you will be traveling with a smaller group, a lifestraw may be a better option.
- Food – There are two main options you should consider here: Packing MREs or freeze-dried meals. MREs are going to weigh a lot more per meal, but with the freeze-dried method, you will probably want a small portable butane stove as well. One thought is that with freeze-dried food you could just let it soften in water for the day and then consume it—while not nearly as appealing as a hot meal, in a pinch this would work and save weight. Mountain House is pretty well known for making the best freeze-dried meals. Throwing in some protein bars is probably a good idea as well.
- Medkit – I would recommend having a kit to treat hemorrhagic bleeding as well as a “boo-boo kit” containing bandages, prescription medicines, Benadryl, Tums, Immodium, etc. For ideas for a good stop the bleed kit, check out our article on the subject here.
- Firearm – Right now we advertise on Facebook, and due to their draconian policies we can’t recommend specific options. I would focus on something lightweight that packs small and uses commonly found ammunition. Having a handgun on your person is also a must in a bug-out situation, but a small caliber packable rifle can come in handy if you need to hunt for food. Some great options on the market are called takedown or survival models and shoot 22 LR ammunition. The ammo is lightweight and cheap, and in a pinch, you could hunt many different animals with it.
- Survival Knife – Again, I run into issues here recommending specific models. However, I’m not talking about a pocket knife. You should have a solid, well made, fixed blade knife in your kit. Look for something with good steel, full tang construction, and a solid sheath. I would recommend a blade length of 4 inches or more. Avoid gimmicky options. That Chinese survival knife from Amazon with the compass, fishing line, and matches in the grip will probably break the first time you use it and fail to hold a proper edge. You will also want a small sharpening rod or sharpening stone. Since you are in a survival situation, avoid super steel knives such as s90V, which require special tools to sharpen. You want something soft enough that you could sharpen it on a rock if need be.
- Shelter – This is going to depend on your specific situation. If you will be bugging out to the woods you will need some type of tent and sleeping bag. If you are solo, a lightweight bivvy tent and light down sleeping bag may be a good option. If you are with your family you may have to use multiple bags and have each person carry a component such as sleeping bags or a larger tent. Whatever the case if you anticipate needing shelter focus on lightweight solutions. If you are in a warmer climate consider a tarp and some guy lines to protect against rain while remaining lightweight.
- Light. A headlamp, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteries is going to be ideal. Check out our review of the Fenix PD flashlight here. You will also want to plan for items needed to start a fire if needed for light, warmth, or cooking. We cover all the basics for lightweight fire starting solutions here: How To Start A Fire.
- If you may be in an urban zone that is violent, items like hard and soft body armor may come into play. It will add significant weight to your kit, but if you need it there is no substitute for the protection it provides. You can read more about armor options here.
The options are endless when planning a bug-out bag. There are some basics that everyone should have, but the rest is going to come down to your situation and environment. I would try to manage your weight and stick to a maximum of 25 pounds per adult. Anything heavier could slow you down and lead to injuries. Hopefully, this article got you thinking about what you might need if you were forced to leave your home on a moment’s notice. Stay prepared.