Bug Out Bag

I was recently asked the following questions regarding the Bug Out Bag and bug out bag packing.

When you travel, what top 3 survival items do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

It depends! Well, I suppose it partially depends on what’s considered common stuff that everybody brings. And it also depends on where I’m going and how long I will be away. Additionally, if I could “only” bring 3 items my answer would be different.

That said, I always bring the following 3 items regardless of where or how long.

1. Knife
2. Fire kit
3. Flashlight

(Read on for more categorical checklist suggestions, such as the 5 C’s)

Why these things?

A cutting tool, in this case a knife, has countless uses in countless situations. From cutting tinder/kindling to scraping sparks off a FireSteel rod to cutting paracord, a knife is an essential item for any kit or every day carry.

The means to make fire is important! I build my own mini ‘fire kit’ for my various bags. In an ordinary Ziploc bag I keep at least a BIC lighter, a FireSteel, waterproof ‘strike anywhere’ matches, a tea light candle, and several Vaseline soaked cotton balls stuffed in a little container. The fire kit in my major bug out bag also contains a magnifying glass, magnesium firestarter, and some additional dry kindling.

I always have a flashlight. I might trade this item for another if I were only allowed 3 things, however that was not the question. To see at night has it’s obvious advantages!

Most Useful Categories
However I will say this… When deciding which survival items to bring it’s a good idea to consider the following categories:

Cutting (knife)
Combustion (fire)
Cover (shelter)
Cordage (paracord)
Container (water/filter)

[ Read: The 5 C’s of survivability ]

Not every situation will require the use of these items, however if someone doesn’t have at least a few of these basics covered, then I would question their decision making process.

How do you bring things with you?

All of my kits are contained within some sort of bag, pack, or backpack. I have different bags that are set up for a few various purposes, each with their own size and attributes.

I will add that I keep more complimentary items in my vehicle to compliment the bug out bag itself (72 hour kit) which also is kept there.

What type of bags do you carry? What are their brand names and models?

I primarily use three different bag types/sizes.

I’m not necessarily endorsing these specific bags as better than any others, rather it just so happens to be what I purchased at the time. I own the following:

Small bag
One fairly small size for relatively short outings. Large enough to hold the basics without being too cumbersome.

– Maxpedition Versipack (Several models of this bag, each with subtle differences.)
Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack
(view on amzn)

Medium bag
A medium/large bag for longer trips or simply those times when I want to carry more gear.

– 5.11 RUSH 72 (also love the MOLLE web platform for extended versatility.)
5.11 Tactical RUSH 24 Backpack
5.11 Tactical RUSH 72 Backpack
(view on amzn)

Larger bag

-Kelty Rewing 50 (Backpack with even better back support design – for longer travel, carrying even more gear, etc.)
Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack
(view on amzn)

How do you organize things in your bags?

Organization depends on the bag’s design, pockets, etc.. However I do attempt to sort items into categories and the need for frequent (or not so frequent) accessibility.

Logically things that I might access fairly often or items that I may need to get quickly will be placed where that can happen.

Otherwise I generally organize in terms of category. Navigation, First Aid, Fire-kit, Clothing, Cooking, Tools, Food, Water, Shelter, Rain gear, Firearm/ammo (if applicable), etc..

Part of the fun is packing one’s bag. There’s a bit of a trick to efficiently taking advantage of available space (which is always a premium). It’s also a challenge to keep the weight down while also carrying what you need or might need!

Do you feel you have enough/too little room in your bags?

Hahaha! Most would say there’s never enough room! However I suspect that would be the case regardless of bag size. Most of us would like to take more ‘stuff’ if we could. However it is a learned process to tailor a bag (kit) to the need at hand.

I have found that having various size bags is a convenient way to go.

I will say this though… When building a true “Bug Out Bag”, it is indeed a challenge due to the rationale behind building it in the first place. We want to take as much as we can. The thing is, you need to consider survivability first, and those things that are most important. Shelter, Water, Food, Security, Cordage, Fire. Then move on to the next level of gear.

What are your top tips for other traveling preppers?

My tips would depend on whether or not they’re traveling for leisure or Bug Out.

Let’s say it’s a true bug out (implying the potential for certain dangers) :

– Safety & Security. Be the ‘gray man (or woman)’. Inconspicuously blend in, stay out of sight. Get to where you’re going while relying upon yourself and your gear.

– Do not overlook or underestimate the need to maintain a safe body core temperature. Shelter. This includes your choice of clothing and outerwear. Bad weather happens, and so does hypothermia (even during the summer).

– Clean drinking water! You MUST carry a good water filter and means to carry it.

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

Something you see a lot of preppers do wrong?

Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink. I often push the notion and importance of safe drinking water. There may be water all around and it may look sparkling clear, but drinking it could lead to debilitating illness.

My feeling is that many preppers may be overlooking the importance of drinking water. You need a water filter for the bag and/or at least the means to boil it. Also water storage for the home. And secondary sources of water near your home and the means to transport it, store it, filter it.

Tip: How Long To Boil Drinking Water?

Your travel tips for new preppers?

Focus on the basics. Shelter, Security, Water, Food.

Think about various hypothetical bug out scenarios:
– Where might you be when ‘it’ happens? (at work, home?)
– Where might you be heading? (home? other?)
– Build a Bug Out Bag!

Keep a 72 hour kit in your vehicle!

Bug Out Bag Summary

The specific bug out bag itself and the specific checklist of items that you choose to pack should at least cover the essential categories of survival. Your independent choices are those for you to decide. Hopefully these questions and answers send you in a motivated direction…

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