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.

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