What Is a Bug Out Bag?
A bug out bag is a vital part of any prepper’s equipment. It contains everything you need to survive for a few days. Your bug out bag should always be prepared and ready for you to grab and leave at a moment’s notice.
Ready Made Bug Out Bags
If you don’t have the time to make your own bug out bag, you can buy -prepared one. There are many different options to choose from, some being far better than others. A bug out bag that you create yourself will contain everything specific to your needs. Ready made bug out bags usually contain enough to survive, but won’t be customised to you.
A basic, one person bug out bag such as this contains ration bars, some water, basic tools and first aid equipment. A deluxe survival kit, such as this two person survival bag, contains better food options and survival equipment.
Make Your Own Bug Out Bag
Ready made bug out bags mentioned above do contain enough to survive, but you can also make your own. You can include better food options, more survival tools and equipment that are specific for your environment and needs.
This guide to bug out bag kit aims to include everything that you need to survive for at least 3 days. This bug out bag is perfect to grab and get out quickly when you need to. It can also be used as a three day survival kit when sheltering at home.
Each person in your household needs to have their own bug out bag with similar contents in each. If you have children, consider packing some of their items in the adults’ bags. The children can have smaller bags that they will be able to carry with some equipment.
What Should Be In My Bug Out Bag?
The most obvious bug out bag three day survival items are water and food. Clothing and shelter, however, are equally if not more important. A good first aid kit is vital to deal with any injuries. Bushcraft tools and equipment are necessary to to extend your survival period.
The guide below gives you a great bug out bag to survive many different disaster scenarios. Use this guide to create and customise your own bug out bag. Make sure that it fits your own circumstances as well as your survival plans.
Shelter, Clothing and Warmth
Tarp or Tent. Shelter from the weather is absolutely vital to survival. The best options for shelter that you can pack in a bug out bag are a tarp or small tent.
A tarp is the smallest and lightest. It takes practice and experience to make an effective tarp shelter. You need to make sure your bug out bag includes cord and maybe poles too. Once you have the experience, a tarp shelter is the most flexible shelter you can have, with many different ways to use it.
Our favourite tarp is the DD 3×3 metre (10×10 ft). It’s very tough, but light, and it has a useful number of attachment points.
If you don’t have the experience to use a tarp, a tent would be a better option. Tents can take up more space than a tarp, but they are easy to set up and provide great shelter. A bug out bag tent doesn’t need to be expensive, as you probably won’t be using it frequently. You can get good, one person, lightweight tents such as this without spending too much.
Sleeping Mat & Sleeping Bag. The tarp or tent will keep you out of the worst of the weather, but it won’t keep you warm. A sleeping mat reduces the amount of heat lost to the ground. A sleeping bag, bivvy bag or even just an emergency blanket will help to keep you warm.
Clothing. Clothing appropriate to your plans and to the local weather conditions will help keep you warm and dry. In the UK, it’s always a great idea to include waterproof coat and trousers in your bug out bag. Getting wet can be a threat to your survival and should be avoided if possible.
Footwear. Footwear is an often overlooked part of a bug out kit. If your plan includes leaving the home, you will likely be on foot for a lot of the time. A good pair of comfortable, worn in, waterproof boots is vital to avoid injury and discomfort. Although these form part of your bug out kit, store them with your bag rather than in it. You can then grab them and put them on quickly if you need to leave. Pack a couple of extra pairs of socks so that you can keep your feet clean and dry.
Fire Starting Kit. Being able to start a fire is very important for warmth and cooking. Your bug out bag should include a fire starting kit. A good fire starting kit has everything you need to start a fire. This includes tinder and something to generate a spark or flame. See our guide to making your own fire starting kit for more. The more experienced you are at survival skills, the fewer items you may need for starting a fire!
Water & Hydration
Water. Survival requires water, but containers of water are big, bulky and heavy. This makes it difficult to store and carry enough water for three days in your bug out bag. We need a minimum of 1 litre of water per day to prevent dehydration, assuming cool weather and being inactive. In warm weather or when physically active, this amount increases significantly. Carrying 3 litres of water in containers in your bug out bag gives you the absolute minimum you need for three days. Having tools needed for various water purification methods allows you to use other water sources too.
Water Purification. Your kit should include not only clean, fresh water, but also a means to purify and clean water. You can then use water from other sources such as streams and collected rainfall. There are various methods to purify water, including boiling, filtration, and chemical purification, each with their advantages and disadvantages. Boiling water is simple with a fire and container that you can use to boil water.
There are various water filters available to keep in your bug out bag; we think the Sawyer Mini is the best. Add some water purification tablets to your bug out bag too so that you have multiple options. A paper coffee filter adds an extra layer of filtration to remove dirt and particles before using any other methods. Keep a few in your bag as they take up very little space and weight.
Food and Cooking
Food. The best food to keep in your bug out bag will not take up much space or be too heavy. It also needs to last a long time in storage, and will be easy to prepare. Food in cans or jars lasts a long time, but adds a lot of weight, so is not ideal for a bug out bag.
Military style MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) can be a better alternative. They are usually packed in foil or plastic containers and are designed to be easy to prepare and cook. You can even get self-heating MREs that include a heating pack.
Determine how many calories you need as a guide to how much food to pack. Make sure you have enough food in your bug out bag to be able to survive for three days. Bear in mind that if you’re active, you’ll use more calories.
Cooking Equipment. If you have the means to start a fire, then you also have the means to heat food and water. A mess tin and spoon allow you to cook over a fire, and you can use them to eat too.
Alternatively, you may want to pack a small cooking stove and fuel source in your bug out bag. This Firemaple personal camping stove system is a great stove that takes up very little space. It also comes complete with a small cooking pot so you don’t need any additional equipment to cook.
First Aid Kit. You need to be able to deal with minor medical emergencies quickly in a bug out scenario. A decent first aid kit is an important part of your bug out bag. You can buy first aid kits designed for camping or outdoors. You could also make your own based on scenarios that you have considered in your bug out planning.
Knife. A good knife is one of the most important parts of the kit in your bug out bag. There are very many uses for a knife in survival situations. Uses include preparing food, cutting rope, paracord or bandages, cutting wood for fires or for making tools, cutting a path through brambles and many more. Your bug out bag should include at least one knife, as well as equipment to maintain a sharp edge.
Paracord and Duct Tape. Paracord (or parachute cord) is a strong, thin rope that has a multitude of uses. These include use in construction of shelters, attaching items to your kit, making repairs to kit, replacing shoelaces, making fishing equipment. Duct tape is another great thing to have in your kit for making emergency repairs.
Light. A wind-up torch, rather than a battery powered one, may prove to be invaluable after dark. Chemical light sticks are also useful but they can only be used once. They have uses that a torch won’t work for though, such as marking a location for you to find later.
Other Useful Items
Map and Compass. A good map of the local area is very important. Use it to identify sites that could be useful when bugging out: streams and rivers for water; woodland for camping out of sight, high ground for escaping floods or sheltered areas to escape extreme weather.
For navigation, a good map also needs a good compass. We recommend the Suunto M3 compass. It’s very accurate, quick and easy to use.
Other Items. A few other items that you may want to include in your bug out bag are: binoculars, documents (e.g. copies of I.D., ownership of house), notepad & pencils. Also consider printed photographs of family and a few small treats that may help during difficult times.
The Bug Out Bag Itself
The bag itself is obviously a very important part of the bug out bag kit. Without it you can’t transport your kit. However, the bag should be one of the last things you buy. Once you have assembled the majority of your three day survival kit, you can determine the size of bag needed. Buying a bag first may lead to a bag that is too small and unable to hold all your kit. Alternatively you may have a bag that is too big persuading you to add more items that you don’t need.
Pack your kit, particularly clothes and items that will be affected by water, within dry bags. These are waterproof bags that will keep your items dry even if water gets inside your backpack. It will protect your kit from rain, crossing a stream or river, or your water supply leaking within your backpack.
The 5.11 Rush 72 backpack is a great bag for your 3 day survival kit bug out bag. It’s a large (55 litre) and very well made backpack with plenty of compartments. This helps with keeping kit organised and easily accessible. The bag is also equipped with the MOLLE system, which enables accessories to be attached to the webbing around the outside of the backpack.