Bug Out Bag – Water, Food, and More


Most in the prepper community know that a bug out bag is a kit designed to keep you alive for 72-hours while ‘bugging out’ from a disaster situation.

A bug out bag is intended for the relatively short duration of evacuation rather than long-term survival, and is focused on keeping you alive while getting from point-A (the disaster area) to point-B (safety-refuge), or simply keeping you alive for 72-hours while sheltering in place.

Here’s what should go inside a bug out bag:

The reason that the bag should contain enough supplies for 72-hours:

1. It is generalized that disaster relief may take that long to reach people in a disaster zone.

2. It is generally an adequate amount of time to bug out from the disaster location to a place of refuge and/or resupply.

Note that relying on reason #1 (waiting for help) may prove to be fatal, depending on circumstances. Being proactive in a smart and logical way is often a better option for saving one’s own bacon.

The contents of a bug out bag will depend on you, your local region, and the designed intent of the bag (the expected circumstances to overcome).

Ideally, the bug out bag should be one which you can comfortably carry on your shoulders – a backpack of sorts. Given the likelihood of having to walk, the bag should be suitably designed for comfortable carry. This generally equates to cheap bags versus more expensive bags. You get what you pay for…

The contents of the bug out bag should definitely include enough non-perishable food and enough water to last 72-hours.

The most difficult issue is that of water – because it weighs 8 pounds per gallon (the generally recommended daily requirement). If you have to walk, carrying 24 pounds of water is not an easy task (along with the rest of your supplies). You may choose to pack enough water for a day – and include a small drinking water filter for the rest – assuming you can find water sources along the way. Or if you’re simply keeping your bug out bag in your vehicle – it’s not a problem keeping 2 or 3 gallons of water. Your local region (and climate) will affect how you handle this…

Non-perishable food is not a problem. There are lots of choices for you. High calorie food bars are simple and easy. MRE’s, freeze-dried pouches of food, peanut butter, canned food, etc. – just be sure to count the calories such that they add up to at least 2,000 calories per day. It is not desirable to include foods which require cooking (remember – most canned foods do not require reheating or cooking – they just taste better that way).

Depending on the environment (weather, temperature) SHELTER may be your #1 priority (even more than water). Maintaining a safe body core temperature is paramount to survival. This may include the clothes you’re wearing versus the existing conditions. This may include the ability to shelter from the elements. To make fire. To stay warm (when it’s cold). To cool down (when it’s hot). Etc. Give shelter a high priority when considering the contents of your bug out bag.

In addition to food and water, additional contents of your bug out bag should include items which deal with cover, combustion, cutting, cordage, cutting, and container.

These are the core elements of survivability, and things that would be difficult to reproduce in an outdoor situation if you didn’t already have them.

Cover & Shelter to protect you from the elements. This could be a wool blanket, a tarp, mylar foil blanket, etc.

You need ‘something’ that will start a fire, whether the environment is wet or dry.

Cutting Tool
The most difficult thing to reproduce in an outdoor situation. A high quality knife, preferably in a sheath and strapped to your belt.

Paracord, rope, twine, etc. will facilitate building shelter and other uses.

A container for water, preferably capable of boiling. A 32oz. stainless steel container.


Your bug out bag will also benefit you by including the following:

Map (non-electronic) and compass to navigate the region you’re in.

Walking Shoes (or hiking boots)

First Aid Kit

LED flashlight (head-lamp style is practical)

Portable Radio

Cash (and change)

Duct Tape



The choices are many. Tailor your bug out bag to your environment, situation scenario, needs and requirements. Start with the essentials (shelter-water-food) and go from there…

You can build your own bug out bag and you can also buy your own bug out bag. There are lots who sell these – e.g. some of our advertisers on this page. Just be sure that if you’re buying a bug out bag, examine the contents before you decide. You can always add or subtract from what’s inside.


  1. My bugout bag is my get home bag and my hiking backpack as well. I travel a lot and it generally includes hiking so it’s always with me. I break it down into three units: My fanny pack contains a 1st aid kit, sewing kit, survival kit, water, water treatment tabs, fire starting kit, sheath knife and about $150 in small bills. My day pack contains a change of underwear and socks, water, water filter, rain gear, small tarp, ultralight bivy, food/snacks, headlamp, Hygiene kit, $150 in small bills, gloves sun hat and watch cap, sweater, and comfortable sandles. My backpack contains a tent, sleeping bag and pad,small hatchet, additional clothes (appropriate for the weather), cooking kit, food for 3 days (except if I am actually going on a longer hike), $150 in small bills and other odds and ends.
    If I am using the day pack all the items from the fanny pack go into it too. If I am using the backpack then all the items from the fanny pack and the day pack get rolled up into it. When I’m at home they sit in my bedroom closet and when I travel they go with me. In addition I have two bags each packed with clothes one is for summer/mild weather and the other for winter. That way I can just grab the correct bag and consolidate everything later.
    I use these all the time. All the gear is in good condition and tested. The idea of having it in three different units may seem cumbersome but in use it is actually brilliant since I am prepared for every intended use without having to sort through everything every time.

    1. Gone! Thanks for the blueprints! I’ve been looking for a starting point. Thanks again!

  2. I have to be honest and say I tend to over pack. I have a lot of bags and they contain what I feel I will need most in the event of TSHTF. Mostly what I have are ways to procure food, water and shelter. I have learned from necessity and many outings what is truly needed to survive in the wood. Basic things you would not think about packing become valuable tools for survival. I was out for the weekend and forgot to bring a metal file. Was a bummer cutting wood with a dull ax! But I learned so now tools are VERY important to me.

    Everybody will have different things they need or THINK they will need to pack. The only true way to learn what you will need in a survival situation is to TRY survival. This way you learn from mistakes and you gain insight of the way of life you will most likely be living after TSHTF.

    The only advise I can tell anyone to pack is medications and have a good supply of them! Walmart wont be open after TSHTF so medications will likely save you if your not healthy enough to live without them.

  3. Gone, What is the weight of your backpack with all the clothes, etc?

  4. My Bag

    I’ve used this bag for years and this setup for decades. It’s my GMHB, Work Go Bag and Hunting Pack.

    It’s 32lbs in current configuration. This is just for educational ideas and not the answer. It works for me but might need tweeking for your requirements, weight and mission.

    Medical kit
    Extra CATT tourniquet in holder
    Mag pouches with 30rds 5.56 68gr HP and 115gr 9mm ball.
    Plastic D ring
    Baoefung UV5R radio preprogrammed

    Back outer pouch:
    AA battery pack for radio
    Extra batteries
    Barrel that turns my EDC light from 123 battery to AAs
    Rain gear
    Toilet Paper
    Skinning Knife
    Merino wool socks
    Steel Cleaning Rod (able to punch out stuck cases)
    Extra camelbak mouthpiece
    Space Blanket
    100ft 550 cord
    Dog Tag with lifetime hunting license info for field deer tagging
    Survival Food Tabs

    Small Upper Outer Pouch:
    Solar Charger and cable
    Allergy Dog Tag and religious medallion

    Outer Left Pouch:
    Extra eyeglasses, repair kit, padded pouch and cleaning cloths
    Blaze Orange vest, sticking cap, pack cover
    Reversible neck gaiter
    Lightweight face mask
    Light and medium gloves
    Water proof bag

    Outer Right Pouch:
    2 flashlights
    Gorilla Tape
    Goldbond Powder
    Hot Hands
    Knife Sharpener with 550

    Back Piece Pouch:
    Camelbak in carrier

    Top Zip Pouch:
    Radio earpiece
    1 day of meds

    Main Pouch:
    Stanley cooking pot that contains gateraid mixes, oatmeal and snacks
    Camo Tarp 8×10
    Maps to various locations like work to home, bugout locations, hunting areas etc.
    Metal Army kit spoon
    Snacks and propel drink mix
    Wire Saw
    Katadyn water filter
    Emergency fishing kit also used for defense measures
    Fire kit tin
    Bounce stove and fuel
    Sam Splint and pelican case with extended medical kit
    MRE and camp meals

    1. Matt, what kind of pack do you use?
      Just curious, i use my eberlestock dragonfly, can adjust quite a bit plus was one i already had and have been using for hunting, not a lot of pockets though,
      Just a hydro sleeve, and the two full length zipped pouches that zip together or fold out to add stuff in the center section, it does have the added scabbard that i can drop my 300wm in or my REPR. I dont keep it stuffed, my bad i guess, but use it for packing out from hunting

      1. Kulafarmer
        A Walmart special. This one was a digital pattern tan that I’ve been running for bout 5 years now. It’s held up well and I’m not easy on them.
        It’s like my truck gun in that I hate to have a high dollar bag that might get stolen (actually happened to the wife though we recovered it) because it is with me all the time. If I’m not in my truck and we take a trip in another vehicle it goes with me.
        My actual large bugout bag is a large internal fully adjustable frame military with numerous outer pouches in woodland (the correct camo). It’s heavier than what I listed with a sleeping bag, extra boots etc.

        1. The wife’s go bag was stolen one night when we lived in town from her car the very first night we moved in. She gave a description to the police which raised an eyebrow but in this state we ain’t that uncommon either.
          The stuff they had taken from the neighborhood cars was almost all recovered. The officer called us stating he had found it and would we could come get it. When she did he complimented the bag setup and really liked the spoon/P38 combo.
          I ordered 2 and she took them over to him a few days later to thank him.

  5. Wife’s bag:

    Much smaller due to her lupus but very usable.

    2qt canteen with matches and fuel tab
    Medical blowout kit
    550 and OD string
    Gobspark fire steel
    Floatation with dryer lint and charcloth and whistle
    Bug repellent wafer
    Readyman Card
    Razor blade
    Modified P38 with a spoon
    Small fresnel lens
    8×10 tarp
    Hot hands
    Latex free gloves
    Aquamire straw
    Bottle water
    MRE Heater
    Spam single
    Mainstay energy bar
    Wise meal
    Brigford cinnamon bun
    Fruit and grain bar
    Protein bar
    Mountain House Ice Cream
    Fishing kit
    SOL bicycle
    Water bottle holders
    Hoffman Richter mini pocket tool
    Kershaw pocket knife
    Heat compress
    Zip ties
    Local maps in ziplock
    Small sling bag

      1. Yeah Ken I was hoping that others would post their bags contents as well. It might spark ideas and help some make decisions or changes. There have been some new folks on here recently that might be wondering if they are heading in the direction and could use some experienced users.
        Everyone has different ideas, needs and outcome desires. Politics are fun bashing discussions and all but this is supposed to be about preparedness….

    1. Matt in OK I tried to look up SOL Bicycle as I was curious. Nothing likely came up? Could you please explain? I started to assume a tool but you have plenty so an actual bicycle, maybe?

      Nice bug out bag. I assume from the food (about 2-3 days worth) and the only shelter listed as a poncho (very handy item) you have a near by location to bug out to?

      From what I remember about Ft Sill OK and driving around your fine state there is a LOT of open areas with little in food, water or shelter from often fierce weathers you have. Windy and hot or wintery frozen as I recall.

  6. Our bags grow and shrink with the seasons. I’d love to see the contents of y’all that don’t mind sharing

  7. Me2
    auto correct got me lol. I caught one or two but missed that. SOL Bivy emergency sleeping bag with reflective on one side and orange on the other.
    I’ve got a 8×10 camo tarp in the main pouch listed. That’s my main shelter. I chose camo because it’s easier to highlight something to be found than it is to hide a bright colored one.
    Yeah the western side is pretty open and the eastern side is pretty wooded. The wind always blows except in August. In November when I hunt 40-50mph is not uncommon making the long range shot difficult to impossible and a 20 degree morning pretty rough. I hope not to need that much food but if I’m caught in a blizzard I might and I have used that bag in that aftermath of a tornado or 2 where I’m helping but self sustained so as not to put a strain on resources.
    I’m looking at a minimum 20mile hike from work area or farther too. Heck if we go shopping and IT happened I might be 50 miles away. I’m pretty good at foraging along the way but as we know resources seem to disappear when you need them the most.
    The water is something you had better know because there are years that are bad and a lot of things dry up. Printed topo maps can save you. Real knowledge of what holds water in the worst of years can make or break you even in a hunt.

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