Bug Out Bag

Bug Out Bag Kit (Checklist – Packing)

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…


  1. Well Ken, I guess I would also bring a fire kit, knife, and a life straw. I would love a flashlight, but drinking water is just too important to leave out. I walk around in the dark at night anyway.

    1. #3 was a challenge because the context of the question and subsequent questions were not definitive to being a SHTF bugout.

      One thing I ALWAYS have is a flashlight (among many other things!) regardless of the situation or scenario.

      And I can boil water via my fire kit if I had to.

  2. I think if you are in the rurals, one more ‘C’ is worth considering – a chopping tool. In my case, a Cold Steel Spetnatz shovel which can be modified to work as a hatchet as well as serve a number of other functions. Can easily be rolled up in bedroll for concealment when or if that is a requirement.

    Knowledge of what grows, when to harvest and how to prepare is vital information. All of us live in various locales, so study what is local and know how to prepare them for medicine or food.

    1. Those little shovels are good, solid, way better than those crappy folding numbers, had a folder someone gave me and broke it in half using it in the garden, not so convincing as a SHTF tool

  3. All good suggestions. I travel quite a bit so also carry decent running shoes, a baseball cap and a light jacket. These are helpful for getting home ( or to the nearest “safe” place in heat or cold. And are as innocuous as possible.

    1. Bogan, I agree with you about the shoes, with very rare exception, I am always wearing shoes
      that I could walk/run several miles in…
      If you aren’t wearing or have in close proximity to you good shoes, you may find yourself in trouble
      Glad for this article today, I need to do a seasonal re-fresh of our bags
      Peace Everyone :)

    2. I am always in my running shoes. If I have to be somewhere with a dressier dress code, then I keep my running shoes in the car. Although I don’t run anymore at my age, I can sure walk very fast.

  4. I have a Condor 3 Day Assault pack that is in my vehicle at all times My wife and I have the same packs, packed with the same item and item counts. They go with us everywhere. We can do the 5 Cs plus.

  5. Where is that pack on the right from? It looks similar, if not the same as, to a bag I saw at Gander Outdoors for $60. Very nice.

    I vacuum-seal a pair or two of athletic socks that I keep in the bottom of a day pack we use to go hiking.

    When Mother Nature calls you will want to have read “How to Shit in the Woods”. It is a necessity for anyone ever who has been in this predicament.

    How to Shit in the Woods

    1. @Old Chevy, I have two of the Maxpedition Versipak bags (the one on the right). I bought them from Amazon. I really like them. Use it often when out on a relatively short hike.

      1. I looked them up, very interesting in that it isn’t a back pack but a hip bag or can it be used both ways? It is under the “youth” category but clearly an adult model, I don’t know what that means.

        1. That ‘Youth sports gear’ that you’re seeing is just Amazon advertising at top of page. Nothing to do with the product itself.

          The bag strap crosses the shoulder and is adjustable for the hip length you prefer.

  6. My list:

    10 C’s & 4 F’s
    1. Cutting tool – Sheath knife, pocket knife, small hatchet, sharpening stone, file, saw.

    2. Combustion – Bic, matches, magnesium w/ferro, fire starter, magnifying glass.

    3. Cordage –100’ paracord, bankline, duck tape, sewing kit, zip/rebar ties, wire.

    4. Container –Nalgene canteen & carrier, 2 liter platypus, zip lock bags, steel cup.

    5. Cargo – Back/fannypack, dry bag, small stuff sacks/pockets, carabiners.

    6. Compass –Compass, map, small binoculars, camera, cell phone, survival kit.

    7. Cover – Tent/tarp, sleepbag/pad/pillow, rain suit, hat (rain/sun/fleece) clothing kit.

    8. Candle or light – small flashlight, head lamp, spare batteries, glowsticks.

    9. Combination tool –multi tool, folding saw, flexible saw blade & split rings, trowel.

    10. Cloth or bandana, handkerchief, mosquito headnet, seat pad.

    11. Food & drink– spork, 3 liters water, tea/coffee/gatoraid packets, 3 day supply( energy bars, candy, PB&J, freeze dried meals, jerky).

    12. First aid kit, safety glasses, reading glasses, hygiene kit.

    13. Forage–frog gig, arrowheads & string, spear point, mini water filter, AR7, snares.

    14. Footwear–Good boots, extra socks, camp mocs, extra laces.

    I don’t take everything but each class of item contains options that can be tailored to fit the trip/hike

  7. I saw a picture of a man carrying or trying to carry a bug out bag that was 4 times his size. Of course it was a job but…….

  8. I carry 3 pocket knives, 2 flash lights, 1 lighter and a 45 every day. If I have pants on I have these items with me. We have multiple bags ready to go. The first one is an overnight bag. It’s packed in a gym bag with clothes, meds and money in case we have to go to the hospital. DW and I each have back packs that are 72 hour bags. These each have every thing the overnight bag has as well as first aid kits, food, water purification, fire starters and extra shoes. My pack has all of this and a tarp, small camp stove and mess kit. If we leave town for a weekend or longer I always put my pack in the truck. We also have oil, water, first aid kits, blankets and tools in each of our trucks.

  9. I believe that most would agree the need to have 99% of everything you need with you at all times, aka GHB, BOB, GOOD, Vehicle Bag and so on. So adding “stuff” might be difficult to list for quite a few of the regulars here it has become second nature.
    That said, here would be my suggestions.

    1. “what top 3 survival items do you bring”
    A. Documentation of whom you are (driver’s license/passport/CCL-card/etc.), medical needs, proof you belong where you are if cut off from your destination.
    B. Medications, enough for the entire trip plus a week or more.
    C. Cash and PM’s not a lot, but enough to barter with if needed.

    2. “most useless things you have seen”
    OMG the list is HUGE!!!!!, some of the crapo that is sold now days is absolutely amazing. One MUST think back to the basics when traveling in a SHTF scenario, can one just imagine loading 500 pounds of “stuff” into a pack and heading over the Rockies?

    3. “How do you bring things with you?”
    Depends on how one is traveling, let’s say via Truck or Car, easy, the GHB and Vehicle Bags are a must, plus extra fuel and some “break-down” items, “Duct Tape and Bailing-Wire” sort of things.
    If flying, I ship a “bag” to my destination if staying for extended time” than ship it back home.
    If just hiking, than a non-combat looking Day-Pack.
    Look up Camel Packs for water, and a filter somewhere

    4. “What type of bags do you carry?”
    I don’t like the Combat looking bags/packs, for the simple reason they are advertisement to “the bad guys” you have really neat stuff in them. Hard to be the Gray-Man when toting GI-joe style packs with all kinds of cool stuff hanging on them. Find an old POS hikers pack in the goodwill store and beat the stuffing out of it to make it look like junk and uninteresting.
    Looking uninteresting is the key, take a look at some of the Homeless photos, if you’re stranded, you want to look like that, NOT all decked out in Combat style “stuff” being all Mucho. Gray-Man is the idea.

    5. “How do you organize things in your bags?”
    I actually agree with Ken here, one recommendation, if your packing clothing, TP, socks, underwear or ANYTHING that can compress. Stuff them into a Vacuum Seal bag and suck the air out of them; you’ll save a LOT of space.

    6. “Do you feel you have enough/too little room”
    Again I agree with Ken (will not become a habit hahaha) One thing, how much stuff can you haul with the means of travel? Again the Truck or Car, you can take a LOT of stuff, if walking, than for most 50 pounds is probably the limit. Hence most will build several “bags” depending on the nature of TSHTF and means of travel staging from running out the door when waking up to a HUGE fire in the house, to driving to the BOL in the 1 ton Duramax

    7. “top tips for other traveling preppers?”
    Research the laws where you’re traveling, can you bring firearms, what about knives and other means of protection.
    Learn alternate routes home, what if the roads are blocked or destroyed?
    Know the Weather you’ll be traveling in, 4 feet of snow or 110 degree sun makes a LOT of difference.

    8. “Something you see a lot of preppers do wrong?”
    Counting on others to help or support you if/when TSHTF, do NOT depend on agencies like FEMA, The Red Cross, and the likes, if/when TSHTF you need to be able to take care of you and yours.
    There will be only one person you can trust for your safety and the wellbeing of your family/loved-ones, yourself.

    9. “Your travel tips for new preppers?”
    Practice your preparedness; park your car 5 miles from home, and get yourself home with all the Family. Do “Lights Out” weekends. Use the things in your “Bags” know how they work and why you have them. Teach your spouse and kids how to be quiet, and how to use your “Bag Stuff”. How to build a fire for warmth, how to cook over a fire, how to sleep on the ground and stay warm.
    A word about all the “Stuff” one has with them, if you don’t know how to use it it’s dead weight.

    10. “Bug Out Bag Summary”
    Build your BOB and other Bags for your needs, yes use others as a guild, but remember everyone is different, and every situation is different. I will tell you, if Ken and I traded GHBs, we both would go nuts as to what each of us has. Hence, build yours to suit you and your needs. And as I said, practice with what you have till you believe you have it correct.

    Ohhhh and lastly, PRAY that you or we never need to use them.

    1. I strongly Agree to practice moving with your bag. You will find out real fast how much weight you can physically transport.
      Over the last two months I have implemented a brand new daily work out routine. I pack a 35 lbs sand bag into a simple book bag. and huff it two miles at a fast walk. Takes me about 30 minutes to cover that 2 mile distance without having to breath hard. I do this daily.
      You can pack all the cool stuff in the world but if you can’t get to were your goin on foot that will suck…

  10. – While in the Army, I spent several months living out of a CVC (Combat Vehicle Crewman’s helmet) Bag for a week or three at a time. Of course, I was not having to provide my food day in and day out. I did have enough for at least 72-hours in it, though. I am okay with a medium sized bag for up to a week, if I have to. Dave Canterbury’s 5 C’s is a good place to start, 10 C’s is better.
    I carried both a fixed (Camillus M-5, or Pilot’s Survival Knife) and a folding Knife (SAK) as well as a ‘Hand’ brand folder (a friend calls it my Chinese box cutter), only about 2 inches of blade, and only about 1/2 inch wide and 3 mm thick closed. If I needed to, I could lace it into my boots for concealment. Nowadays, it rides in my billfold. A military poncho is an underrated bit of equipment, at least one liter of water (I carry two), a poncho liner (18 years in the Army and I never heard it called a “woobie”). A complete change of clothes, skin out, a spare pair of underwear, socks and glasses. 100 yards of 550 cord, a steel cup from Aladdin, with a lid and a no-name steel cup from Walmart that fits over the end, and the same lid will fit. a minimal shaving kit with soap, razor, a shaving brush, a comb, toothpaste and powder, and a mirror. My 4″ Ruger .357, 2 speed-loaders, a holster, a bore snake, and an MTM ammo wallet aren’t in the bag, except for the snake). They will go with me, though. Everything is divided up in plastic bags, almost all the zip-lock type. I have a couple of compasses, a topo map, a combination whistle/magnifier/thermometer, a couple of fire steels, a Lifestraw, and some other small stuff that doesn’t come immediately to mind. In all, about 27 pounds with the water. That’s what’s in my GHB, anyway. My Bug Out Bag is a bit different, but similar.
    – Papa S.

    1. – Ken asked about the bag, too. Mine is a beat-up, dirty Walmart special, tan color where you can tell. For my BOB, an old medium Alice ruck w/ frame. I’ll look just like the rest of the homeless guys out there.
      – Papa

    2. – Stuff I left out includes a Luci Light, a foil wrapped empty AA Mini Mag Pro LED, an old school xenon AA Mini Mag Light, empty and also in foil. 2 sets of 4 AA Lithium batteries, some cotton balls, a small tube of Vaseline, 2 Bic lighters and both waterproofed SAW matches in a match case and a second match case of lifeboat matches; a rat trap, a week’s worth of medications including “vitamin I” (ibuprofen) and my basic fishing kit. (Literally. Hooks, braided line, and a few small sinkers)
      “Travel light, freeze at night” LOL
      – Papa

    3. for my get home bag ,I have a twice a year change out from hot weather clothing to cold weather clothing , our Mississippi weather necessitates this, otherwise other items remain the same ,which are two sheath knifes one for my wife and one for me four pocket knives two for her two for me , sawyer mini water filter, 2 .22lr revolvers will be adding aRuger 10/22 takedown rifle soon , have fire starting supplies ,a small folding stove with fuel ,asingleperson cookware set , paracord , tarps, blankil.ets,food items are datrex bars,some wise food meals , a few canned items also,and I ke p a case of water in my vehicle .be prepared and ready .Keep your powder dry.

      1. Forgot to add two flashlights too. be prepared and ready. Keep your powder dry.

        1. Also the thin plastic throwaway ponchos from camping survival, they have a lot of great things there.

  11. Gotten sorta lazy in this department, never go anywhere, and im not bugging out unless , well im just not bugging out,

    1. Banger,

      I fear your BOB would consist of swim trunks and shark repellent. I’m glad you’ve considered alternatives.

      1. McG
        Ha! Good one,,,
        I have considered bugging, if im bugging at a run from my house theres different considerations than if im bugging in the truck, note to self,
        Get BFG KM2s

    2. We aren’t bugging out either unless of course it’s absolutely a must! I see the need for a BOB for our vehicles so we can get here if we are out and about. I also have my fifth wheel packed. But really have no where to go so… I guess we stay here with our preps and protect it the best way we can.

  12. Well Ken, I bow to your field skills, especially when it comes to fire starting. I don’t have a BOB, because I’ve got nowhere to BO too. So I’ve got a GHB because in all likelihood I would be somewhere on the CA freeway system when things go south. If things ever got that desperate on an unexpected hike home that I had to actually start a fire, I’m probably going to be too overwhelmed to mess with sticks and vaseline cotton balls. So I keep a nice sized roll of crinkled ribbon made of pure magnesium, a crack pipe torch and an old-school road flare.

    Beyond that, I’ve got the the typical water, emergency energy bars, sunscreen, dry clothes, several flashlights with extra batts, a Baofeng Ham radio with extra AA adapters and an extra long boosted antenna, first aid kit with trauma bandages. and some N-95 masks,and bunch of other stuff that made sense at the time.

    A couple other things I have stuffed in or near that bag that might be unique: 1. A Scott Aviation emergency escape SCBA hood. Just in case I find myself breathing more toxic crap than normal. and 2. A marine signal flare gun…. As far as I know CA hasn’t outlawed those. yet. Perhaps they will right after I hit ‘Post Comment’. But they can be used for the intended purpose of signalling. Also in an absolute life or death situation, I imagine it could put a real hurtin’ on someone looking for trouble. Cartridge innards might be helpful with that fire starting too.

    1. It just occurred to me, I got rid of my electric gerbil car and now drive a full sized pickup with a cross bed toolbox full of all kinds of neat stuff. Worse comes to worse, I could stay in my truck for awhile if circumstances warranted it. Still getting used to that truck, (my first one). Hopefully it means I might have alternate routes home that otherwise might not be passable.

      I’ll never forget being stranded in the Northridge earthquake, on the wrong side of the freeway collapse behind me. The only way I got home was following guys in trucks who blazed a trail on old fire access roads by either winching open the locked gates, or simply ramming them.

      1. MacGyver do you have room in your kit for a folding bicycle? You can go anywhere you can walk and if something made driving home impossible you have options. My big fear is that the information we have on EMP is flat wrong and my vehicle is DOA.

        Simply put in my opinion walking home is a bad last ditch idea. There will be a window of time Before the Gimmie Dat’s and such will be out in force. I want to be home ASAP. Aside from that for the MacGyver’s among us a slam fire 410 could be installed in the seat post of most bicycles. Better a single shot shotgun and pipe club than my bare hands.

      2. @McGyver – +1 on the Pickup. I now drive a 15 year old low mileage crew cab GMC with big tires and a modest lift kit. I can get around pretty much anything, In a bike bag in my truck I have a WWII folding paratroopers bike with modern neverflat bike tires on it (my dad is WWII vet and still shoveling his driveway at 96 years old) and I have shovel, axe, chainsaw, etc in my truck. During the Northridge quake we had to get across the valley to reach my husband’s elderly mom and we were “offroading it” over streets and sidewalks in the 4WD Suburban we had at that time, around gas fires, broken water lines, downed buildings, etc. but we made it. During a recent windstorm, we cleared down trees from our roadway by cutting them up and dragging them out of the way with the truck.

    2. Just a note:

      One thing I don’t particularly like about the acronym BOB (Bug Out Bag) is that it implies “leaving home”. When most people hear ‘BOB’ or bug out bag, the terminology implies “bugging out from home to somewhere else”. And it’s often presumed to be a permanent sort of action. Bug out.

      While that particular usage is entirely valid, I often prefer a general usage term, because the same bag could be used for just about any situation:

      – Getting home from work.
      – Getting home from anywhere.
      – Temporarily leaving home (evac).
      – Permanently leaving home (SHTF, overrun, imminent destruction).
      – Temporary survival on a trip gone bad.
      – Vehicle kit for just in case.
      – Etc..

      Anyway, I often use the phrase “72 hour kit” or “72 hour emergency kit”. Simply sustaining and assisting you for at least several days regardless of the circumstances.

      A literal bug out bag (usage: leaving home) would be built with that specifically in mind (and the possibility of not returning), and would be a quite serious pack out, potentially with much more or different included items…

      1. Ken;
        You bring up some interesting thoughts that I bet not many think on.
        Bugging Out and not returning.
        Just the statistic of that are mind boggling to say the least.
        Seems like every “Bag” is built with the thinking of getting home or away long enough to return at some time, OR going to a BOL. but basically is the same thing as returning to a permanent location….

      2. – Ken –
        I usually refer to my “72-hour” bag as my GHB. I suppose that my BOB + my GHB would equal my INCH bag in a pinch. There might be some redundancy, but that can be dealt with later if necessary. Still, have to agree with much different or more items included…
        If I were to ‘on-purpose’ pack an INCH bag, I would certainly start with those two bags I don’t know just what extra I would add, because it would be very difficult to pack for more than one week’s support on food. Doing as I mentioned above would give me about six days, but knowing that whatever you left behind would be gone, basically for good, would make triage pretty difficult.
        Time for an olive barrel.
        – Papa S.

        1. I use a “Glock” backpack. One can usually find them in Black or Coyote Brown on Ebay. I use the Brown one. I found that Target sells a SS water bottle with no finish. This can be used to boil water or heat soup. These packs also have a pocket for a Sig P938 type pistol. My pack is design for a 3 day mission whether bugging in place or bugging out.

    3. NRP,,,,,
      I agree with your comment, on BOB that looks nice or tactical in anyway. Had a tenant move out and leave two backpacks in the closet. Old, used, little color to one of them. PERFECT!
      Plenty of pockets inside and out. Loaded down with first aid, water treatment bottle Seychelle and life straw, lighters, kbar knife, compass, flint/ magnesium/ striker. Altoids tin with fishing hooks, stinkers and line. Change of jeans, shirt, waterproof jacket with hood, plus socks, rolled tight in plastic bag with air removed. Food bars, paracord, tarp ( or I spent early this morning, folding and rolling up covers from Canadian lumber rigs; they are stronger than store bought tarps, fold small and then roll air out and tie with baler twine- it rolls really tight and is free from stores that sell lumber. They cover the lumber and are light weight . I have used these lumber covers cut to width between garden rows. No tilling needed and mulch them down. Some I have been using outside for four years ( like I said, stronger than tarps.) In the Jean’s I have on now, a folding pocket knife and folding box cutter in my back pocket. Since I came in to eat and was cutting insulation with box cutter all morning in greenhouse. Of course EDC and ammo. Flash lite, glow stick extra batteries.
      Sure I forgot something, but got to get back to work.

  13. When I redid our bags a few years ago, I discovered that Dad’s bag had a full length winter coat and three pair of heavy gloves. There wasn’t even room for socks. :)

  14. When you mentioned “useless things” I couldn’t help remembering the time I was supposed to go hiking with 3 other hikers who claimed they were experienced hikers. We were going to hike for 7 miles –all above tree line.

    I packed my Ten Essentials and showed up to pick up my sister-in-law and she was carrying her sunscreen and a bottle of Vitamin C tablets. That’s all. We scurried around her house and found a water bottle and jacket. That’s all she wanted to carry.

    We went to pick up my friend. She met me at the door with an open faced peanut butter sandwich in each hand. “I got my peanut butter sandwich. That’s all I need.”

    We went to pick up my sister-in-law’s friend and she was wearing brand new hiking boots and had an expensive new back pack stuffed full.

    We went on our hike and after a while the girl with the back pack and new boots complained that her new boots were hurting her feet. But she was prepared. The only things in her back pack were her OLD hiking boots.

    Well, it rained. Everyone wanted to call off the hike after a mile or so, so we went to get ice cream instead.

    1. DaisyK,
      Good grief – what a group. Hopefully the ice cream was good! :)

  15. Hi Folks and fellow preppers! This subject is actually pretty fresh in my mind, since I finally finished up our GHB’s. I received a new backpack for Xmas and used that opportunity to adjust my set-ups.

    I keep GHB’s in both vehicles with items needed for a 10 mile trek home. I have a camo tarp, paracord, firestarters, and food and water among other things in the wife’s car. I also keep 3 days of RX’s in them. I keep extra/heavier things in the truck just in case… i.e. collapsible fishing pole and tackle, power inverter and ammo for my 40S&W and my 22LR takedown. Since I live in the “most-stupidest-state” in the Union, I don’t always carry, but when I do I know I have the backup supplies.. :) I figure I can readjust things as needed to make allowances for the extra weight of the ammo if I have to hike any distances.
    As far as flashlights go, I highly recommend headlamps at least, with a pen light as a back-up, but that’s just my humble opinion.
    My BOB has a few extra items, including a hatchet/tomahawk and redundancies in the basics. The plan would be to combine the GHB’s and the BOB if the SHTF.
    Thanks for the post Ken, I vote for your site all the time!
    Stay safe everyone!

    1. Rob,

      From yours: “Since I live in the “most-stupidest-state” in the Union,”

      HOWDY Neighbor!

      1. HOWDY BACK McGyver! I’m around the Sac area… for the near future at least! Looking at an exit plan to get my arse to Idaho ASAP.

        I work in the hi-tech manufacturing field and I’m a dinosaur in my area. Being an “older technician” puts a target on my back every time they speak of head-count reductions, so the exit plan is much needed!

        Would love to buy you a beer sometime, not sure how we’d work out the logistics tho!

        Stay safe on those freeways… they can be scary at times!

        1. Rob,

          We could be twins. I’ve been happily complacent in a field where possessing even a modicum of technical acumen caused some people to think I was a wizard. 30 years later, I’m scanning job ads and I can’t even make sense of the hundred’s of acronyms that mean nothing to me, yet are required skills and knowledge.

          I’m at the bottom of Mt. Baldy, eastern San Gabriel Valley area. A shame, I used to fly into SMF at least twice a month. Stay in touch friend, maybe we’ll end up having that beer after all.

        2. Rob,
          If you bug out to Boise (high tech area of Idaho) you may find your BOB contents may change a bit.

        3. Very true Minerjim. All I need is 4 more years here and I can bolt! We’re looking more around Northern ID or North-Central ID. Tired of big cities, and Boise is too much for us. :)

    2. Rob;
      First let me welcome you to the comment side of Ken-World hehehe
      Sounds like you have a good setup as far as the GHB, good job.
      Lucky you would only have a 10 mile trek to the Homestead, which helps. Of course in the “most-stupidest-state” may slow you down some, but regardless sounds like you’re a LOT further ahead than the other 40 million in So Cal

      1. Thanks NRP!

        Even with the little I’ve done, a true SHTF scenario scares the crap out of me with my current locale.

        1. Bob;
          To be perfectly honest “a true SHTF scenario scares the crap out of me”
          It should as much as it does anyone with 3 working brain cells.
          A lot of us here are a little better off out in the boonies, but nobody is clear of TSHTF.
          Just keep doing what you can, and a little hint, get out of CA if you can. not a good place to be if/when, or even now with the flavor of the current .gov there, just ask So Cal Gal how her blood pressure is now-a-days.

        2. Rob and NRP,
          Good to see you are still here, Rob. You are right to be concerned about SHTF here in the golden state… not that you want to be walking home in a SHTF anywhere, but we have a LOT of not-very-bright folks here who would be completely clueless/useless in the immediate aftermath of an emergency. And many who will be dangerous once the emergency is not resolved quickly.

          And NRP is right… my blood pressure is high… way too high. I think I need to take a page out of NRP’s book – cocktails and a big dog on a nice porch in a comfy chair. Out of state.

    3. Excellent advice regarding a headlamp. I like those which also include a mode for Red (or green) LED (for dim light without ruining your night vision which takes several minutes or longer to regain), similar to this one.

      1. I picked up a pair of headlamps with the redlight feature at Sam’s club a month ago for $20. Love a good deal! :)

  16. I might have missed it, but cell phones do work in some cases.
    For me, I have several packs, first aid, cold weather gear, summer gear, survival stuff, …. but I’m not going anywhere I can not walk home from in a few hours. I’m not leaving home in questionable weather. Heck, the more I study and learn, the less I wish to leave home.
    But if you go anywhere, you must be dressed for the conditions and wear good BOOTS – if you are not able to walk, you arn’t getting home.

  17. We each have a sealed black marker.
    We also have a small photo album like they sell at the dollar store .
    The black marker is to leave crypted info on signs for other group members to follow.
    The photos are for the supply locations on the way to the homestead.
    For example, picture of the wife in front of a vehicle with the hood up on the side of the road. There happens to be a power pole in the picture with its pole number.
    Car means it’s a fuel supply location. Pole number is location. How many fingers on the wife’s left hand that are straight gives the location number on our map.
    Everyone (adults) in the group have this info.
    Have a plan. Plan your work. Work your plan …

    1. BJH,
      Wow. Markers for leaving crypted info, just like the old hobos used to do. I see how you have your cache locations ‘hidden in plain sight’ with your photo albums. Have thought of something similar for hiding caches on our farm, around trees in orchard, vineyard rows, etc. Your post has me thinking along some very different lines. Thanks.

      1. Minerjim,
        I will put some more ramblings on supply locations on the weekend post. I have quite a bit of experience on finding and hiding stuff. Found hiding stuff paid better.
        I don’t mind sharing what I have learned over the years. It will be basic so as not to make a laundry list for any type of thug to follow. . .
        I will post about what works around the homestead.
        Btw, I will give an example how my group will use the signs to communicate. I will use you as an example.
        First you can use the signs to let other group members know you are ahead of them.
        Let’s say you are on the way to my location and now you are on foot. Now I figure you are about 60 to 80 miles away since you checked in last.
        So we head out to get you. We come on a speed limit sign and see MJ3 written on it.
        Now in our code I know it’s you and that you will be 3 miles up waiting. It could mean you are going to supply location 3..
        Your code is your code. No one elses.
        Just everyone has to be on the same page.
        Keep it simple stupid.
        Now we have trouble codes and injury codes as well.
        There is a stop sign on the end of the road.on the way to the homestead. Now you can go right or left and still get to our location taking different roads.
        Now it will get marked so our people will know which way group members took.
        Now ,maybe someone went right and saw danger ahead.(road block,gun shots,too many people on the road.)
        So the sign markings would reflect that for others coming after.
        I don’t recommend using L or R or even 1 or 2. Too easy for bad guys to figure out.
        So be clever and cautious.
        One other thing.
        You don’t want to mark a bunch of signs on the way. When the sign marks end means you and yours stopped somewhere close by.
        Don’t leave a trail of bread crumbs to follow.
        Opsec is the key.
        I know you can think of many other ways to use your code. Again,kids shouldn’t be privy to that type of info…

  18. I must be missing something. I follow the rule of 3’s.
    1 poncho….2 .water….3.energy bars……multi tool…..flashlight…..life straw…..pepper spray…..fixed blade knife……ham radio….cash etc etc

    1. – Need to bump up the energy bars to at least six for 72 hour coverage. Still pretty minimal.
      – Papa S.

  19. We were able to get most family members on board with carrying a “safety” bag in their vehicle to help get them home by calling it a safety bag. They have minimal help contained within but it could safe them in an emergency. I told them to think about it as the Triple A roadside assistance if they cannot call for help or receive help. New York winters can be tough so it makes them think at the very least.

    Each bag given has flashlight, firestarting ability (good lighter, matches, and quick start), first aid kit, multi tool, fixed blade, duct tape, paracord, silver emergency blankets (2), water purification unit (Sawyer mini), two bottles for water filled, map, bug repellent, sunscreen, chapstick, and 72 hour food kit. We started adding a small stainless cup with handles for cooking with a spork, and a slender wet clothe for the neck and can use it to wash things out. These kits are small and not intimidating and easy to store.

    We suggest that they carry minimum 6 bottles of water In small insulated 6 pack carrier so it is always there, easy to stow, and weather won’t hit it as hard (heat and cold). Also, suggest cold weather gear for winter. Don’t know if they will but several have really gotten onboard and when we are giving these as gifts everyone gathers to see what new item has been included…and of course, the others who are truly interested want The newest item also. I have actually been pleasantly surprised by how many who are not into prepping per se have gotten on board with these kits.

    Our packs are more complex and include emergency funds as well. I like solid cutting tools and personal protection so we have multiple options and may have to slim down if walking based on emergency and who is with me in the vehicle. Many items are carried on our person at all times, including multi tool, chapstick, zippo lighter, mini light, ID, usable currencies and protection of various sorts, including blades. Always have good boots on my fee or in the vehicle and kits include two good pairs hiking socks and undies. Sometimes it is hard to remember everything in there, which is crazy because I just repacked the kits before Christmas.

    New dilemma is figuring out how to hide bags in my new ride – 2 door Jeep Wrangler (out of sight from prying eyes) as this is the vehicle I will be driving a lot.

    1. Good idea calling it a safety bag. Could you not figure out a way to include Pepper Spray or say dogs and two legged animals? How we phrase our “Prepping” suggestions is often the sticking point for non preppers.

      I’ve had success recently getting some of my non prepper friends to buy two cases of canned soup and several cases of water using the recent salvo of Nor-Easters we have endured. Not enough but a start :-)

      Have you looked under the back seat of your Wrangler yet? I have a buddy that keeps a carbine holster strapped there so I figure a backpack should also fit?

      1. NHMichael, for my SIL, we included pepper spray because she does not carry a weapon. Funny thing is, she was excited to see that and a fixed blade. Go figure. I would prefer to keep people wishing me harm further away if possible, but in her mind – less lethal. So, yes, for those who do not carry, they get other options.

        I removed the back seat to allow room for my dog and carrying feed or other farm items. The jeeps have a shallow spot under the back which can handle a shooter but it won’t fit most of our gear. For now, throwing a dirty towel over the stuff works, but I would prefer a locking remedy beyond the door locks. Spouse said shoulda got a 4 door, but I like the shorter body.

        You can actually buy attachments that allow you to place shovels and axes on the tailgate door so I am sure if I look hard enough I will find a workable solution.

    2. Hi DA,
      That’s a great way to get buy-in from everyone!
      Maybe throw in a roll of TP if you don’t already (mine is in a plastic zip bag).

      1. SoCalGsl, we actually used the wet wipes in the bags rather than TP, it can serve two purposes.

        Yeah, friends and family get these types of items from us for most gift giving occasions since it makes us feel better knowing they have a chance. Once they received a safety bag, it is other items for the house. (LED pull up lantern, Gas One cook stove and butane, 5 gal water jugs, soap nuts and clothes pins with line, short insulated thermos, heirloom seeds for veggies or herbs, colloidal,silver spray, dried elderberries and medicinal teas with tea strainers – you get the idea). It is their choice to make the opportunity even better by continuing their preparedness for any emergency.

  20. 1 cutting tools….large,medium knife, Swiss army knife and multi tool

    2 fire kit ….with lighter, matches, magnesium fire starter,magnifying glass Cotton balls in Vaseline, flares.

    3 water….bladder, tabs,filter system, pot to boil.

    4 food……. MREs, power bars ,spam, ramen noodles

    5 projectile weapons….9mm, sling shot,ammo

    6 paracord

    7 way to cook….solo stove with pots

    8 first aid kit

    9 shelter poncho, tarp

    10 space blankets

    11 flashlight, extra batteries, solar/hand crank radio with light.

  21. My backpack is an old Lowe Alpine Systems internal frame backpack.

    It is an old backpack because I have not had to backpack for a living in a long time.

    There are 2 different body types that will have greater or lesser comfort with backpacks: For husky people that tend to lean towards big chests and big bellies, an external frame backpack will work just fine. External frame packs tend to get damaged going through packing in airplanes and helicopters.

    I am skinny in build so I spent more money and bought myself an internal frame backpack which I found to be the most comfortable for extended travel over mountainous terrain for 10+ mile days. (..a long day..)

    When I was backpacking for a living, I decided to spend what I had to in order to carry loads ranging from 35 lbs to 65 lbs with minimal chafing at the end of the day. Individual choice of a backpack is similar to choosing a carry holster. What works for one person may not work for another.

    I would encourage people on this site to try different backpacks and select the one most comfortable. Granted that carrying more than 1/3rd of your body weight at high altitude will not be comfortable. Sore muscles are OK. They will get used to the work and you can work your way through the soreness. Chaffing and blisters is not OK and it indicates a poor fit. Sadly enough, most retailers will not allow people to rent or trade in used backpacks because they tend to take on the smell of the previous owner.

  22. I thing I haven’t seen listed is a spare pair of glasses for us 4 eyed people. I keep a pair in my GHB and mt BOB.

    1. this has been on my mind because I only have one pair. I got these last summer and was amazed at how much glasses cost these days. Lens run about $150 each, so $300. That doesn’t include any coatings etc that you might want. Add in the cost of the exam and frame and it’s an eye opener (pun intended). I am trying to figure out how to order on line.

      1. Zenni has good glasses, cheap prices and fairly quick service. Look it up as I do not want Ken’s filter to move this message to moderation :-)

        My friendly Mormons use this service. You will need your glasses prescription.

        Hope this helps

        1. Yes it helps and thanks. There are a couple places online but I have no idea who is reputable.

  23. I have kit at home , EDC SHTF kit each vary some small others vary basics yet depending on travel and survival plan

  24. – I was looking back over the original article, and noted that I had not addressed a couple of points. I always have a knife, a Bic Lighter, and a mini-mag lite on my person, so I don’t know if that would count as my three articles. In my billfold I have a Readyman Card (the one in their ad), a fresnel lens, and a card compass from Brunton. Still don’t know if that counts as my 3 articles. So, I’ll leave that one alone.

    The most spectacularly useless item i have ever seen was the gent who packed a urinary catheterization kit in his trunk. When I braced him about it, his reply was that it was something that was frequently necessary, had multiple uses, and was always a real crowd pleaser. Not much to say to that.
    – Papa S.

  25. I just cleaned out my GHB from my vehicle. I had three Mountain House freeze-dried packages that had been in there for about five years (lasagne, chicken and noodles, and granola with blueberries and milk). I’m pretty much always parked outside, so it’s been sitting in the hot summer sun as well as the freezing cold of winter. Even though FD food has a super-long shelf life, it’s not supposed to be in the extreme heat. I made them all and ate them this week, just to see how they survived. I have to say that I don’t think that the taste suffered at all (though I’m not a big fan of the cereal). The only problem had to do with the ziplock on the inside. After opening the package, you’re supposed to add boiling water (except with the granola), then close it with the ziplock and wait for 8-10 minutes. On both of the dinners, the ziplock was only connected to the package in one place. Since I was at home, I simply folded down the bag and used chip clips to hold it shut. You might want to have something like that in your GHB (though you could probably tie it up with paracord or something, a clip (or even a couple of paper clips) would be easier.

    1. @Wendy, +1 on the clips. I keep four binder clips, same as I buy for my office, in my “earthquake” bag. Can be used for many things, including as clothespins.

  26. cheap glasses even if they are just readers in hard cases, if you need them. a cheap pair of safety glasses wouldn’t hurt anything either and they weigh nothing. heavy duty aluminum foil will be your best friend when cooking over an open fire and when folded it takes up no room or weight. i have cooked many meals just by wrapping everything up in foil all together and placing it on the coals.
    in scouting they called it hobo stew. it was always damn good or i was just hungry, one.
    everyone should have a scouting handbook, so much good info in it. i still have mine, cub, webelos and boy scouts handbooks from the 60’s. and 70’s.

  27. Lists.

    Another best practice is keeping a list of your bag inventory in your bag and where said items are to help memory and others when things are needed.
    If you need something in a hurry the most likely result is everything dumped on the ground in a fast search, a list could have avoided that.l

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