How to Make a Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Emergency Evacuation Survival Kit

by A Manly Guest Contributor on March 7, 2011 · 247 comments

in Manly Skills, Self-Reliance, Survival

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Creek Stewart of Willow Haven Outdoor.

The term ‘Bugging Out’ refers to the decision to abandon your home due to an unexpected emergency situation–whether a natural disaster or one caused by man.   A ‘Bug Out Bag’ is a pre-prepared survival kit designed to sustain you through the journey to your destination once you’ve decided to ‘Bug Out’ in the event of an emergency evacuation.  Typically, the Bug Out Bag (BOB) is a self-contained kit designed to get you through at least 72 hours.  This kit is also referred to as a 72-Hour Bag, a Get Out Of Dodge Bag (GOOD Bag), an EVAC Bag, and a Battle Box.

The thought of having to evacuate your home due to a sudden and imminent threat is not at all unrealistic.  The reality is that sudden and uncontrollable events of nature and man do happen.  Natural disasters such as hurricanes, storms, earthquakes, floods and volcanic explosions can strike fast and hard–wreaking havoc on homes, vehicles, roads, medical facilities and resource supply chains such as food, water, fuel, and electricity.  When Hurricane Katrina struck the Southern US Coast just a few years ago, tens of thousands of people had to evacuate their homes with little warning.  Unprepared and with no emergency plan, many of these people were completely dependent on scavenging and hand-outs while living in make-shift shelters–fending for themselves in a time of complete chaos and disorder.  A 72-Hour Emergency Kit packed with survival essentials would have been an invaluable and priceless resource.  In our unstable and unpredictable world economy, we would be foolish to think there is also no chance of a terrorist or military attack from forces domestic or foreign that could possibly force us to evacuate our own home.  An act of war is not the only threat from man.  Dams burst, power plants go down, pipelines explode, oil spills occur, and other man-made structures and facilities can fail, resulting in disaster.   Outbreaks of sickness and disease could also warrant an evacuation.

We cannot control when, where, or how disasters strike. But we can control how prepared we are to deal with a disaster. There is a fine line between order and chaos and sometimes that line can be measured in seconds.  When every second counts, having a plan and the tools to see that plan through are crucial to survival.  The Bug Out Bag is your #1 resource in your overall Bug Out Plan and may very well be your key to survival one day.

There are 10 supply categories that need to be considered when assembling your Bug Out Bag.  Before we dig into each of these categories it is important that I discuss the bag (or pack rather) itself.  Your Bug Out Bag needs to be a backpack.  It needs to be large enough and sturdy enough to contain the gear necessary to get you through 72 hours of independent survival.  You need to be comfortable carrying it for extended periods of time.  And, in my opinion, you don’t want to APPEAR TO BE PREPARED and STOCKED with gear.  A ‘tricked-out-pack’ can make you a target of people who want the supplies that you have.  Try not to let your pack send the message that you are stocked to the brim with all kinds of survival necessities.  Keep it basic.  I personally use a SnugPak Rocket Pack as my Bug Out Bag.

Once you have chosen your pack, below are the 10 supply categories that need to be considered when assembling the contents of your Bug Out Bag:

Category #1: WATER

You will need at least 1 liter of water per day for proper hydration–preferably more, especially considering hygiene concerns and certain weather conditions.  Since this is a 72 Hour Survival Kit, that means it needs to contain 3 liters of fresh drinking water–minimum.  This water should be stored in 2-3 durable containers with at least one of them being collapsible to reduce bulk as the water is used.  A metal army canteen is another good choice because it can be used to boil drinking water that is collected ‘in the field’ if your immediate supply runs dry.  I carry a collapsible Platypus water bottle, a 32 oz. Nalgene water bottle, and a metal US Army issue canteen.

Because water is so critical to survival, I highly recommended also packing at least 2 water purification options.  Boiling water for 10 minutes is an option but is not always the most convenient.  I suggest packing 1 water filtration system and also some water purification tablets.  I personally pack a Katadyn Hiker Pro Filtration System, an Aquamira Survival Straw (as a backup) and sodium chlorite water purification tablets.  The 3 options of boiling, filtering, and chemical treatment will give you more flexibility in securing one of your most basic survival needs: clean water.

Category #2: FOOD

Don’t worry about planning for three well balanced meals per day–this is survival, not vacation.  I’ve gone on many survival trips where I haven’t eaten for a few days, so you can live without any food at all for 72 hours.  However, it isn’t pleasant.  You should pack simple & easy to prepare meals.  Canned meats and beans are great options.  Canned beef or chicken stews are equally as effective.  If the weight of your Bug Out Bag is an issue, dehydrated camping meals are excellent choices.  Remember, though, they require hot water to prepare–so that means a stove or fire and valuable time (if you are traveling).  Military MREs are also good options.  They have a long shelf-life, contain their own heating systems, and are very packable.  They can be expensive, though.  I would also suggest tossing in a few energy bars and candy bars.  These are packed with calories and carbs–both of which are extremely important.

When we discuss food, we also need to discuss preparing it.  A very simple cooking kit is all you should need.  It should contain at least 1 small metal pot, a spork, a metal cup and maybe a metal pan or plate.  Anything more than this is overkill.  In many instances, preparing food requires heat.  A fire will always work but may not be practical in every situation.  I would suggest packing a lightweight backpack stove with 1-3 fuel canisters.  I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.  I personally carry a self-igniting MSR Ultra light stove in my BOB with 1 fuel can.

CATEGORY #3: SHELTER

I include clothing in this category.  Regardless of climate, I recommend packing the following (some of these items can be on your body when you leave): 2 pair of wool hiking socks, 2 changes of underwear, 1 extra pair of pants (NOT BLUE JEANS AND PREFERABLY NOT 100% COTTON), 1 base layer thermal underwear, 1 warm fleece hat, 2 extra shirts (1 long sleeve, 1 short sleeve), 1 mid-weight fleece, 1 warm rain jacket, 1 heavy duty military poncho (can be found at any Army/Navy Surplus), 1 pair of comfortable waterproof hiking boots.

What to pack for an actual shelter is a heavily debated topic within the survival community.  I like having options and I like redundancy–especially when it comes to shelter.  Protecting yourself from the elements, whether rain, cold, or heat, is incredibly important.

Your first emergency shelter option is the military poncho listed above.  These are designed with grommets in the corners to be used as a make-shift emergency tarp-tent and are actually quite effective.  I’ve spent many nights in the woods during all kinds of weather conditions with nothing more than a wool blanket and a military poncho…and have been fairly comfortable.  Practicing the set-up is the key.  Know HOW to use it before you need to.

A second emergency shelter option is a simple reflective emergency survival blanket.  There are many different kinds and brands of these on the market.  I prefer one from Adventure Medical Products called the Heatsheet.  Not only can it be used as an emergency survival sleeping bag, but it can also be used as a ground tarp or as a tarp-tent shelter.  These are lightweight and cheap.

Besides the poncho and the heatsheet, I also carry a 6′x10′ waterproof rip-stop nylon tarp.  I use this style of tarp as a year-round camping shelter, so I know it works.  It’s lightweight and really effective if you practice setting it up.  You can also bring a lightweight camping tent.  These can be pricey, but they are really nice.

Lastly, you will want to include a very packable sleeping bag.  If I had to give a general degree rating I would say a safe bet is a 30-40 degree bag.  This pretty much covers all of your bases.  Sure, you’d be cold at 20 degrees, but you would live.  If you have the room, a nice wool blanket is a great addition.  Wool maintains 80% of its warming properties even when soaking wet and is a very durable survival fabric with incredible insulating properties.

CATEGORY #4: FIRE

Making fire is one of the most important survival skills of all time.  You need a minimum of 3 ways to make fire.  Because you are preparing this Bug Out Bag in advance, you can toss in a few of the easy options like lighters and waterproof matches.  You will also want to include a fire steel which can generate sparks in any weather condition.  Besides these items, you will need to pack some tinder for fueling your initial flame.  You can buy tinder from any outdoor store, but cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly is the best I’ve ever seen.

CATEGORY #5: FIRST AID

Whether you build your own kit from scratch or buy a premade kit, make sure it includes the following items at a minimum: 1″ x 3″ adhesive bandages (12), 2″ x 4.5″ adhesive bandages (2), adhesive knuckle bandages (3), butterfly closure bandages (2), gauze dressing.

My personal gear for this category includes: Adventure Medical Kit’s First Aid Kit 1.0 and, I’ve added 3 suture kits, more alcohol pads, 2 rolls of 2″ gauze, CARMEX Lip Balm, and some larger butterfly bandages.

CATEGORY #6: TOOLS

The first and most important tool in your Bug Out Bag is a knife.  Choosing your survival knife is a very personal decision, and besides your knowledge, it will undoubtedly be your most useful survival tool.  I suggest carrying a full tang fixed blade all-purpose survival knife.  It should be large enough to use for chopping, splitting, and self-defense but also small enough to use for more delicate camp chore tasks such as carving feather sticks and preparing food.  The right balance is a personal decision.  In my opinion the overall length needs to around 10″ –not too much over.  Any larger than this and the knife becomes more difficult to use as an effective tool and starts to get bulky.  I have made the decision to carry 2 knives in my Bug Out Bag.  I carry a Ka-Bar US Army Military Fighting Knife and also a Mora 840 MG Clipper Knife which I use as a smaller all-around camp knife.  Mora knives are very reliable all-around camp knives, and a good Mora can be purchased for under $15.

Besides a knife, one other item you will want to consider is a good multi-tool.  A multi-tool comes in handy for all types of projects–from cutting wire to complex mechanical chores.  Your multi-tool should have a screwdriver (both phillips and flat-head), pliers, a knife blade, and wire cutters at a minimum.  Leatherman makes all kinds of great multi-tools which can be purchased at almost any sporting goods store.  I personally carry a Leatherman MUT Military Multi-tool.

CATEGORY #7: LIGHTING

You need to pack at least 2 light sources.  I would suggest having 1 flashlight that with throw light some distance like a mini mag light or a mini LED flashlight.  The 2nd can be a smaller one to use around camp or while fixing meals, etc. Mini keychain LED lights are lightweight, cheap, and last a long time.  Other ideas are glow-sticks, candles, and LED head-lamps.  I personally carry the following light sources: Gerber Firecracker Flashlight, a lanyard multi-function tool with small LED light, 1 glow-stick & 1 package of 9 hour candles.  Again, I like options.

CATEGORY #8: COMMUNICATIONS

A fully charged cell phone is at the top of this list.  In an emergency, cell phone service will probably be jammed up.  However, text messages typically still go through, so having a cell phone is a necessity.  You should also have either a fully charger EXTRA cell phone battery or a means of charging your cell phone.  There are several options for charging your phone in the field without electricity.  Some include solar charging units, hand crank chargers, and aftermarket battery boosters.  You need to research and determine which solution is best for your current phone make/model.

In addition to a cell phone, you should also pack a small battery powered or crank powered AM/FM radio.  This could be an important source of information and for the price and weight, you can’t go wrong.  I personally carry a hand-crank FR-300 Emergency Radio.  The hand-crank also has a cell phone charging feature.

Under this category I will also include IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS.  In the case of emergency evacuation, you should carry with you certain important documents.  Among these should be your driver’s license, passport, social security card, medical information, important phone numbers and account numbers (bank, insurance, credit cards, etc.), and your gun carry permit.

The last item in this category is to pack a detailed map of your surrounding area, your state, and any area in-between your location and your Bug Out Location (your predetermined destination in case you have to Bug Out).  You would be foolish to depend on a GPS in an evacuation emergency.  PACK MAPS!

I personally carry all of these documents in a sealable waterproof map case.

CATEGORY #9: PROTECTION & SELF-DEFENSE

You can almost certainly guarantee that in an evacuation emergency there will be chaos and disorder.  Events of this magnitude inevitably overwhelm normal police and public safety measures–at least for a short time.  History tells us that rioting, looting, rape, and violent crimes will occur.  You need to be prepared to protect and defend yourself and your resources–especially if you have a family.  You would be naive not to take this category seriously.  The best measure of self defense is a gun–period.  Besides the intimidation factor, a gun has reach and stopping power.  A gun can also be used for hunting if necessary.  What kind of gun to pack is a lengthy topic all by itself.  Some like shotguns, some prefer rifles, and others choose handguns.  I have chosen to pack a 357 Ruger Revolver.  I chose a handgun because it is easy to conceal and is fairly lightweight.  I chose a 357 because of the stopping power, and I chose a revolver because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that every time I pull the trigger a bullet will fire.  I’ve had automatic pistols jam on me enough times to know I don’t want my life to depend on one.

Other formidable weapons of self-defense can be your survival knife, a machete, or even a walking stick.  I, though, would hate for anything except a gun to be the only thing between me and a gang of thugs.

CATEGORY #10: MISC. GEAR

Just in case you have to Bug Out on foot, the weight of your pack should always be a consideration.  You should be comfortable carrying your pack for up to 3 days.  Because of this, everyone’s pack load will vary depending on their comfort level.  Below are some additional items that I have packed in my Bug Out Bag that you will also want to consider when building your own:

  • CASH – $1000 minimum (because cash talks)
  • Toilet paper
  • 200 feet of paracord (building shelter)
  • Duct tape (100s of uses)
  • 100 feet of Army issue trip wire (misc. projects, snares)
  • Pad of paper & pencil (leave notes or record information)
  • Small Bible
  • 2 Bandanas (because they are so dang multi-useful)
  • Leather work gloves
  • Small knife sharpener
  • Machete (clearing brush, chopping wood, self-defense)
  • 4 spare AA batteries for my Gerber Firecracker
  • 2 dust masks (can double as crude filters)
  • Bar of soap & small bottle of hand sanitizer (hygiene)
  • Travel toothbrush w/ tooth paste
  • 36″ length of rubber tubing (siphon, tourniquet)
  • Small sewing kit
  • 2 heavy duty 30 gallon garbage gags (water storage, shelter, poncho)
  • P38 can opener
  • Binoculars
  • Small fishing kit
  • Stakes
  • Sunglasses (can double as safety glasses)
  • Whistle
  • Insect repellent
  • Earplugs
  • Compass

At the end of the day, there is no perfect Bug Out Bag.  Even my own BOB changes and evolves with my needs, thoughts, wants, and tastes.  An incomplete and imperfect Bug Out Bag is better than nothing at all in an emergency.  For me, the peace of mind in knowing it’s there on the shelf to grab if I need it is reason enough to have taken the time, effort, and money to build it.  I hope that my thoughts about the Bug Out Bag have been informative and helpful (and maybe inspirational) as you consider building your own.

____________________________________________________________________________

Creek Stewart is a Senior Instructor at the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness & Bushcraft.  Creek’s passion is teaching, sharing, and preserving outdoor living and survival skills. Creek is also the author of the book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit. For more information, visit Willowhaven Outdoor.

 

{ 247 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Sgt. Joe Friday March 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I live in earthquake country and keep two weatherproof cases full of emergency gear. Even here in southern California, you’d be surprised at the looks I get from people when I tell them we’re prepared for when (not if) the “big one” hits.

I agree that firearms are a necessity. Because most people do not prepare, you can bet that when a sizeable quake hits there will be groups of people who band together and try to steal from those who took the time and trouble to prepare. Personally, I think a shotgun is probably the right choice, because you don’t need to be 100% accurate – important if the power is out and there’s not much light. The sound of a shotgun being pumped is also distinctive and by itself is can be a deterrent.

As for water, I’ve got 25,000 gallons in my swimming pool. Even if a quake splits the pool wde open there’ll more than likely be plenty for days.

102 Phil March 9, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I’d like to be prepaired when I go to another country. How can I smuggle a BOB without looking suspicious?

103 Ron March 9, 2011 at 4:36 pm

The need to boil water for ten minutes to make it safe to drink has been proven a myth. You are wasting time and, more importantly fuel.

Fact is, all you need to do is get the water boiling and your done. Water is actually safe to drink before it even reaches the boiling temperature but if you do not have a thermometer then you simply apply heat until the water is boiling.

It is also a myth that you have to boil water longer at higher elevations. Even on the summit of Mount Everest as soon as water hits the boiling point all disease organisms have been destroyed or rendered inert.

See this article on how long do you have to boil water:
http://www.survivaltopics.com/survival/how-long-do-you-need-to-boil-water/

104 OutsideBrian March 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm

You’re not going to bug out far if you’re carrying 80-110lbs of gear on your back. You could lose/replace about 1/2 the stuff in that bag and do just as well if not better. Remember, when planning your pack; ounces become pounds, and pounds become pain.

Here’s what I would do, for example:

-Water: Carry 1-2 nalgene type bottles, at most. They don’t weigh much and they can take quite a beating in the back country. Throw in an MSR mini water pump/filter to clean your drinking water. It’s lightweight and can filter about 1000 liters or water on one filter. Toss in some iodine tablets for backup just in case you lose/break your MSR.

-Shelter: Get a 1-2 person backpacking tent with the rainfly. It will weigh hardly anything and provide you with a lot of options, like just carrying the rainfly and poles. Tossing a simple green army tarp is good too and doesn’t weigh much.

-Food: Why would ever carry canned goods!? NEVER EVER EVER do that. Canned goods add needless lbs to an already overweight pack. Freeze dried, MRE’s and foiled bag foods is all you should be carrying.

-Cooking/eating: Speaking of food, a simple jetboil flash system can cook your food quickly (boils a liter of water in about 2 minutes) and you can eat directly from the jetboil container. This plus a titanium spork is a lightweight, versatile and economical solution to preparing your food.

-Lighting: Candles? Really!?! Why not pack a kerosone lantern while you’re at it? Seriously though, you’ll need to pack a quality head lamp for sure. Head lamps are light and they make wandering through the dark much easier while leaving your hands free. I also recommend a mini LED flashlight from maglite and some battery powered emergency glow sticks (last about 100 hours on 2 AA batteries).

-Fire: Again, don’t pack too much here. A good qualify windproof lighter and some waterproof matches are all you need.

-Protection: A machete? really? Who are you fighting, ninjas? A decent side arm, that you are PROFICIENT in using with about 50rds of ammo and a decent pocket knife from Benchmade or CRKT is all you need. Please note that I emphasize you should be proficient in using your side arm. Take a class on safety, spend some time at the range and get used to drawing and firing your weapon quickly and accurately if you absolutely have to.

I could go on, but I think the overall theme here is less is more. Don’t try to carry every single thing you think you’ll need, try to bring only the things you absolutely cannot do without. You’ll get a lot further and be a lot better off that way.

105 A. Gilbert March 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm

By all means carry asperin to ward off heart/angziety attacks; cold meds for colder season; Neosporin, alcohol and bug repellent swabs, medicated bandaids, too. Larger Nail clippers can be used to cut with and pull splinters too.

106 luke March 9, 2011 at 7:18 pm

You know what more of us might find useful than an apocalypse-now bag? A bag you’d need in the trunk of your car or under your bed with enough things to cover you for a three day emergency get away. My father was rushed to the hospital in northern california so I threw together one of these bags at my home in southern california and hit the road. Would have been easier if this bag was sitting in my trunk or was already packed and ready. You’re not thinking with a clear head at these times and the bag I packed reflects that. Wish I had something stowed away for this kind of situation. Would also serve as a ready-made bag for a weekend holiday with the lady.

107 jcm March 9, 2011 at 7:59 pm

hey outside brian, did you read the article’s text or just look at the pictures??

“If the weight of your Bug Out Bag is an issue, dehydrated camping meals are excellent choices. Remember, though, they require hot water to prepare–so that means a stove or fire and valuable time (if you are traveling). Military MREs are also good options. They have a long shelf-life, contain their own heating systems, and are very packable.”

and what’s your beef with candles?

and i think the point of this article is to show people who are not familiar with BOB’s what a sampling of one’s contents COULD include, not SHOULD include.

108 Rob Berra March 9, 2011 at 10:32 pm

@ Stephen (post 96)
There’s a wide range of options between “FEMA Camps” and roughing it in the wilderness. BOBs, for the most part, are for people who need to get away from a disaster and know they may have to take care of themselves for a few days. Katrina was a wake-up call, and FEMA and other emergency management agencies learned a lot from that debacle (not as much as they should have, but there’s still hope).

For most people, three days of supplies will be enough to get them to a place of relative normalcy: Katrina was also an exception in many ways.

1/ A small Bible still weighs more and takes up more space than no Bible.
2/ I don’t need a Bible (or any book) for my faith or hope
3/ It’s not a question of being an atheist (I’m not) or being “above” anything. I absolutely guarantee you that a Bible would serve me no purpose that couldn’t be served better with a good survival manual.

Look, a Bible will doubtless be a wonderful addition to some people’s BOBs, but for some of us it’s just wasted weight. Take one by all means, but please, people: don’t assume it makes sense for everyone to have one.

Baron, thanks very much for the link. I’m two pages in, and know what I’ll be reading when school’s out in a couple of weeks.

Speaking of which, I have homework. Good night, gentlemen!

109 akwilco March 9, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I’m a member of a local emergency planning commission, and I heartily agree that everyone should have the capability to be self-sustaining for at least 72 hours after an emergency. Even the Red Cross will tell you that it takes at least 72 hours to mobilize relief efforts into a disaster area. Water, food, and shelter are the big three items to make sure you have. I disagree on Category 9, protection & self-defense, and on the general tone of the article that emergencies automatically imply lawlessness, however. Outside of TV shows and movies, real emergencies tend to bring out the best in people, not the worst. Crime typically goes down during and after an emergency, not up. The violent crime rate in NYC hit historic lows after 9/11 and didn’t rebound to normal levels for nearly a year. Despite the news media fixation on crime after Katrina, the reality was that the crime rate in New Orleans after the hurricane was slightly over half of normal. The University of Delaware has done a lot of research on this. During an emergency, the national news typically reports each crime an average of 17 times (across all the networks), while each act of relief or help gets reported an average of 1.4 times. My personal experience conducting civilian emergency response operations is that people quickly form ad hoc communities during emergencies to support each other. Most chaos and disorder were either there before the emergency (think Haiti), or are manufactured by the news media.

110 tsherry March 10, 2011 at 2:36 am

Instead of packing a large roll of duct tape (takes up lots of space!), try wrapping it around an old credit card or gift card (something thin and rigid). You can put a decent amount of tape on the card without taking up much space.

Another duct tape space-saver is wrapping it around a nalgene bottle. It provides grip and your tape is always an arms length away.

111 R. Downs March 10, 2011 at 8:43 am

This is an AMAZING article, and one which I’ve already heartily recommended to my friends and family. However, I was surprised to note one thing missing which surprised me, given that the author of this post teaches outdoor survival, and that is a pocket-sized outdoor survival guide. They’re amazingly affordable, lightweight, easily stowed with other documents in a waterproof bag, and for most people could very well prove the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. Especially for those who have lived mostly urban lives and don’t have years of ingrained ‘know-how’ when it comes to how to build a fire to stay warm, where and how to construct a safe shelter, what tracks belong to which animals, etc. Granted, not all survival situations would warrant such measures, but as the author stated and as I firmly believe, I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Well, that’s my two cents, for what it’s worth. I loved this post! More, please.

112 One Backpack March 10, 2011 at 9:22 am

I can see Brian’s point and the author’s and jcm points. First off, jcm…you said that the article was intended to show what you could carry not should carry….that is clearly not the authors intent. He carries all of this stuff. Pretty much three options of everything and everything else he talked about. If the point is to survive 72 hours and that’s it, then he’s got way too much stuff…did you see the packed pack?! But if the real or unspoken goal is to be prepared for much longer than that…then I guess you can never carry too much stuff. In either situation, he doesn’t have “way to much stuff” in the sense that you can never have too much…but if you’re planning on moving around, then you can easily have too much stuff.
The standard for hikers hiking the AT was to carry 35-50 LBS of gear….it’s what pretty much everyone did and it was the norm. Today, there are ultralight hikers on the AT carrying 15 lbs of gear (not including water weight). I’m not saying a BOB should be 15 lbs or less….but if you thoughtfully consider everything and “trim the fat”, there is very little reason to carry around a pack as large or as full as the one pictured. I don’t want to go in to specifics of what I believe should go or stay…but again, if we’re really talking about 72 hours then…well you get my point.
I’m also not trying to “bash” or criticize the author. I just wanted to throw in my thoughts on the topic…just a different point of view. No one’s right or wrong…well I might be wrong and would be knocking on his tent door when I run out of rations! Great article though…really good to be thinking about.

113 William March 10, 2011 at 10:54 am

He is getting you to think about what will be needed by you for the area you are in. His is an excellent guide but no list is absolute.

114 J.A. Greystone March 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

We can pick and poke this as to what should or should not be included. The only huge red flag I see in this is the inclusion of a suture kit. Are you kidding me? We’re talking a 72 hour bag here. There is absolutely no need for that, you’re just going to do far more harm then good. Clean the wound as best you can, pack it with gauze (for deep wounds, tampons work great) and be prepared to change the dressing every day or so. Wounds heal from the inside out, and all you are doing by this is sealing in any foreign bodies and increasing the risk of infection.

115 Gabe Keway March 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Great article, Creek (good name too, your mamma give you that?)

I have kept a frame pack at the ready for years; when I was single, I used to keep my truck packed and ready too. I used to be able to pick-up-and-go at any time. While the truck used to have longer term supplies like 5 gallons of water, a full camp stove, foods like ramen noodles and quick oats, an air mattress, 12v compressor, sleeping bag, a cooler, and a tent; the frame pack is stocked with a hiking stove, a water purifier, a sleeping mat, some wool blankets, first aid, and a mess kit. There is plenty of room to quickly add what I need in just a couple of minutes notice.

Although the pack is stocked, it’s really just full of luxury items. Most of what is really necessary for survival in any conditions is right outside anyone’s door as long as you have the proper training and you remember that in true “survival mode” anything goes.

116 mjf March 10, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Brian’s ideas aren’t bad — just his criticisms, which I think ultimately is myopic at best.

Get a 1-2 person backpacking tent with the rainfly. It will weigh hardly anything and provide you with a lot of options, like just carrying the rainfly and poles. Tossing a simple green army tarp is good too and doesn’t weigh much.

Brian’s commentary on this is short-sighted and narrow, IMHO. Please re-read the original article as it provides many multi-tasking possibilities that would be at home in a shelter or outdoors.

Also including clothing as shelter (as the original article does) ensures that you will be well enough if you wish to be more mobile than sitting in a tent all-day. Wool socks, and the like, are hiker’s favorites for a good reason. Hiking very far in tube socks, or having to wash/wear the same pair for three days, will give a good lesson on why they are.

A tent isn’t bad, but neither are the original article’s suggestions.

Why would ever carry canned goods!?

Again, this is disappointingly short sighted. Cans provide their own cooking pot that can be on or next to a fire. They also provide material for useful items during an emergency, e.g. making a cooking stove with coiled up cardboard.

Sometimes its not all about you, but what you can provide others (kids, friends, neighbors) to improvise in case of need. Cans are one of the most useful items for improvisation that I know of — next to bailing wire and duct-tape.

Candles? Really!?! Why not pack a kerosone lantern while you’re at it?

I like to contrast this with Brian’s short-sightedness above when it came to shelter. Where he neglected the need to be flexible and mobile in his shelter recommendation, he needlessly criticizes the candle as not being mobile enough.

There is probably no more perfect at-the-ready lighting source than a candle, it provides light longer and with less weight than a battery and flashlight. It has the side benefit of giving some heat and smoke. Also wax has many possible uses when one needs to improvise.

-Fire: Again, don’t pack too much here. A good qualify windproof lighter and some waterproof matches are all you need.

A basic kit would do well with these items. But don’t discount the lighting stick can be used more than a match or lighter. Its application is more simple and can be used in many instances where a lighter or match cannot if your hands/fingers are injured.

-Protection: A machete? really? Who are you fighting, ninjas?

I won’t call any attention to the sad lack of Ninjas in Brian’s neighborhood. But if you are only looking at weapons, note that a machette is good when everyone else has a knife. It is also a very worthwhile survival tool to cut paths where there is thick underbrush (for instance in the Southern US states). That it has a saw blade on the back is an added bonus.

Where I live a small hatchet is a better option. The tomahawk kind for both utility (sold in hardware stores even) in carving/chopping and classic weapon potential.

Too heavy? Honestly, a big enough crowbar, saw, and hatchet are literally life savers in our pine-framed stucco forests we call suburbia. Its big, heavy, and metal, and most likely your best friend. Red Cross training includes how to move a 2 ton boulder (concrete fragment?) with just a crowbar. A 4 ft crowbar is going to leave you less tired than a 16in crowbar.

That training is not so people can better collapse buildings on themselves, but to help clear roads and sidewalks, etc… as well as hunt for survivors.

I could go on, but I think the overall theme here is less is more.

This isn’t bad advice, but less is not more. Make sure and try your kit out on mock-survival adventures like a weekend camping trip in many different areas (including your living room). Then is the best time to wish you brought something else.

An old Navy engineer in So-cal pointed out that year round he could survive 72 hours just by sitting in a field. And, well, he’s right. But when it comes to survival, it is better to be prepared and a little more tired, then unprepared.

Again, if you are worried about weight, and anyone ready to strap three days of water on their back should be, consider what we did. Get a little red wagon, or look into packing a mountain bike (but remember that you might need to carry your kit in a car for a ways also).

117 Bill March 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm

A few things I like to add on these kinds of topics is:

1. Learn to fast. You know, go without food. Try it for a day, then two then three or four. You need to know how you can handle not eating, or you’ll eat all your food quick and then think you’re starving. If you’ve fasted, you know that there is a rush of energy coming when your body taps into reserves and hits all that sugar you’ve stored up. You’ll be better prepared for the hunger, and for preserving food for when you need it.

2. Assemble a kit like the author and use it. If it weighs a ton, you’ll start dumping stuff. An example of this- I lve near the start of the Appalachian Trail. There is a well known stop on the trail at a store (the trail actuall goes through the store). It’s known as a dumping spot where new hikers stop and dump stuff they’ve realized they can live without. The owner ships the stuff back to the house for them often. The same thing is going to happen with you.

3. Eliminate redundancy. The author shows three blades. I’ve owned a K-BAR. I choppped small trees down with it. It’s a sound knife. So I’d dump the machete. I can’t think of one thing I could do with it that I couldn’t so with the K-BAR. Or compromise and get a bigger camp knife. Dump the little Mora. The multi tool has a blade for cutting small stuff. I have a nice old coleman backpacking stove. It weights maybe three pounds with a full fuel reservoir. I don’t carry it. I have a military canteen with a stainless steel canteen cup and aluminum stove that fits the bottom of the cup. I can build a little fire, put the stove on the coals, and heat or boil in the cup and eat out of it. It eliminated carrying fuel and carrying an additional stove. At least where I live there is an abundant source of fuel in the woods in the way of rich pine, which is a good firestarter, and burns when wet. I always carry a little piece (a few ounces of weight and little space, and keep my eye out for more when hiking or hunting.

On that note, I always carry my pack when hunting. It keeps me used to carrying the pack, and often I reconsider what I have in it. Every once in a while I unpack it and take a look at what I’m carrying and consider whether I’ve used each item, and what the likelihood of me needing it is.

If you think you’re going to tote around even a 40 pound pack for a 20 mile hike and you’re not used to it, you are kidding yourself.

118 Dennis J March 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Hey:
The fact we are debating the bug out bag at all means we are thinking about it.
A point to consider is your environment, do you live in a flood plain, mountains, earthquake zone, near railroad tracks. As to what you would need to take.
For me the bug out bag would be bugging out to the back yard, as i would use it as a one stop site for all the items to survive, as to hauling somewhere.
other items not listed but could be on the nice to have list,
a folding mountain bike, gets you out of town quicker, and if the roads are blocked with cars, and also you can haul a lot more weight strapping it to a bike.
Also a bug out bag for me would be more of a bag of supplies to take to get to relatives that may need help
some of the items mentioned are a bit high priced for me, but I think the article is a good source of data to start putting something together, just in case.

119 Jay March 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

I agree with many of the items but a lot of the purpose of a 72-hour bug out bag is to be light so many of those items are probably not needed. In most bug out situations you don’t want to use light as it attracts attention so you could probably ditch the lighting sources and a building a fire would be the last resort if it were cold. I’m with you on the .357 revolver as it can knock down any predators and can be easily concealed plus has less problems.

120 Jon March 10, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Another great option for filtering out debris in water that has proved useful for me is coffee filters. They are lightweight and you can have about a hundered of them and it doesnt take up much space at all. I also like to use Crystal Light “on the go” travel packs to mask the taste of the iodine tablets, but you can get the neutralizing tablets as well. I have continually updated my B.O.B. throughout the years and the one thing that I have gotten that I cannot do without is my lightweight hammock. It weighs 12oz and takes up as much room as a water bottle. I tossed my old tent, It was nice but I have replaced it with a tarp and hammock combo, its nice being off the ground ya know. I would agree with almost everything else except for the bible and $1,000 cash when you have a gun and shit hits the fan it’s every man for himself. You could use the bible as TP though I suppose, it would be alot more useful.

121 Dave March 10, 2011 at 11:37 pm

A lot of good points made in both the article and the comments. Being a long time hiker/backpacker, I lean to the less is more mindset. I did find it funny to mention a carry permit. I guess Yogi Bear will be asking for it.

122 lived-through-it March 10, 2011 at 11:42 pm

I can understand people who don’t want to carry a Bible.

But lets be honest, nothing like reading apocalypses and plagues, 40 years traveling in the desert, and red-sea parting to put your current problems in perspective.

Honestly though, everyone needs some comforting items. These spartan posts, you know the ones where people imagine themselves hacking through hordes of people trying to get to your stingy stash of 3 not-too-heavy emergency items, are imagining a survival scenario out of “night of the living dead”.

99% of the time (fire, flood, drought, etc…) you’ll be heading out in your car to a nearby shelter.

Can one of these spartans tell me a real scenario that justifies as many guns, but as little tools as possible? Where three ounces for a good book will make the difference between life and death?

123 Michael March 11, 2011 at 11:38 am

Their right in calling it a bob bag but the proper term is Bail out Bag. You can say it either way, I’m just telling you how I say it.

124 Dennis J March 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm

have to comment again,
As we all have seen the recent Earthquake in Japan and the tidal wave.
Like the article stated, you personal bag most likely will differ with your own selection of supples, but just by being here we are doing something about it.
Also a gun, you can have more than one, a handgun for up close and some sort of survival rifle (ar7) it folds and floats.
Remember Katrina, the govt was confiscating every gun they saw, What can you do sitting on your camp site with a shotgun and a half dozen feds wander by and take your gun or else expecially when they all are packing m4 assault carbines.
You need to be as stealthy as possible.
other items, the one fella mentioned you would be in your car.well remember 9/11 all the major highways out of the cities were parking lots for hours, do you want to be stuck in a situation like that?
There are many items to add to a kit, like 1 gallon zip lock baggies, they organinze your smaller items and also waterproof them.
and baby wipes, those 10 to a pack for a buck you can buy at walmart, i take them whenever i go into the woods, to clean your face, your hands for eating and wipe your butt when needed.

125 joseph S March 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Great great article. You’ve convinced me and inspired me to go out and get this done. Thank you!

126 Gabe March 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I feel this article provides good guidelines to assembling a bug out bag. The need for security can never be underestimated. A good sidearm e.g. 1911 .45ACP with 50 rounds is an awesome idea. I carry it on my gunbelt (which is where I will be carrying my two Army canteens) where it is barely noticeable. A shotgun with multiple ammo (double 00 buck, and some game load) is a great deterrent. When racking a shotgun a would be threat will experience the puckering of his a$$hole and likely flee. That is a good thing so I can conserve my ammo. I would replace all canned goods with stripped MRE meals.

127 Nathan March 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I’m pretty sure your bug-out bag weighs more than I do.

128 Chase March 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm

It’s kind of a creepy coincidence you posted this article right before the earthquake and tsunamis last night.

129 Josh March 11, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Hey, just wanted to give kudos to the author of this article. I put my 72hk together yesterday in direct inspiration to this article.
I have a couple twists that I think you survivors out there will like.
1) Vacuum sealed bags.
I was originally going to stuff my clothes into a ziploc bag, like always. But it was then that I realized that I found freezerbags wanting in space, and the ability to be squished down hard without fearing for the seal. That’s when I remembered I had a Foodsaver at my disposal.
I now have my separate sets of clothing in super dense little bundles. Wool socks got smashed down so thin you’d think they were… vacuum sealed. You could submerge these as deep as you want, pull them out and they’ll be as dry as they’ve ever been. The fear of having the seal compromised is nonexistent. Feels good man.
But the vacuum sealing served another purpose. They were not re-sealable. Now despite the obvious conclusion that that is undesirable, I decided that they made my 72hk an emergency thing, instead of a “hey I need batteries and can’t find any others” thing.
2) Extenders.
When I was putting my kit together, I realized that I really had to limit what I was putting in there. I couldn’t slap a package of batteries in there. Just what I needed for 72 hours. I couldn’t fill the cracks in the packing with loose .45 rounds. Just what I needed for 72 hours. I couldn’t put extra in for another person, or conceivable trading. Just what *I* needed for 72 hours.
And so I began making extenders. Smaller, more compact kits of things I’ll need replaced after 3 days. New batteries. More TOTMs. More washcloths and clothes, a box of ammo. Supplies that will keep my body and my tools going for that much longer. Stash one in your car, stash one at/near work, stash one 30 feet up the trunk of a tree for all I care. At very least, they could prove useful if you’re unable to get to your 72hk. At most apocalyptic, they’ll either keep you alive, or be safe storage of valuable, tradable goods.
3) Modifiers.
I live in a rainy climate. Very rainy. Thus, a lot of my clothes that I packed are fit to go under a waterproof shell. However, it does snow from time to time. What if I needed gators and thicker set of clothing? What if I pack it and it’s unused? Queue a couple small duffles packed with colder weather clothes. I now am prepared to clothe myself for harsher conditions. It doesn’t have to be in my kit or not in my kit. It can be in another, kept in the car, or wherever else I might need it.

Now to yell at other commenters!

I see a lot of people whining about how so-and-so’s kit isn’t as good as it could be (Canned food, redundancy, so called useless items). I would like to submit to you that some gear is better than no gear, too much gear is better than too little gear, and an imperfect 72 hour kit is better than no 72 hour kit. If you’re bagging (no pun intended) on someone’s BOB because it’s gear is sketchy and you don’t have one, you’re best off eating your words later when he’s opening up a can of beans.
I finished my 72hk and woke up to hear about the devastation in Japan. Those people were at work. Their cars were swept away by the tsunami. A disaster does not wait for you to be at your home, or have access to your car. Do what you think needs to be done. If you think the only way to be ready is to drag your 72hk around with you everywhere you go, people won’t be laughing when you have to use it. And trust me, it will happen. Get your kits together yesterday, and get a plan for using/keeping/getting to them together.

130 HighWater March 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm

I’m curious if you have tried the Katadyn Pocket filter. Seems to be popular due to its durability which would be important in the BOB

131 Bill G. March 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I thought this was one of the better articles I have read on putting together a Bug Out Bag. The author’s choice of equipment seems reasonable and practical. I think that some of the people commenting negatively on the article need to realize this BOB is meant for 72 hours – max. Which means you are on your own for 3 days and nights – you’re not trekking across a post-apocalyptic wasteland and fighting off zombies for several weeks!

132 DD March 12, 2011 at 12:47 am

Now I am prepared!

133 Martin March 12, 2011 at 3:26 am

I’m a helicopter mechanic, and am familiar with small aircraft/helicopter survival kits. I won’t comment on other parts of a BOB, only food. In our aviation standard survival kits, the food/rations come in roughly 500g packages (8-12 ‘bars’ each), with enough calories in one package for one person to survive 3 days (low calories, but still enough). I broke one open one day for giggles, and got half way through one bar before I had to put it down because I was feeling full. This stuff is highly concentrated! Packages are roughly 3 inches cubed, fully sealed, usually nautical or aviation rated/approved, and have a shelf-life of 5 years. I don’t have a BOB (yet), but the Japan earthquake (plus I live on the west coast) makes me want one soon. Been thinking about something just like this for a while. The time has come to put something together. I think I will include 2 or 3 of these concentrated aviation rations.

134 TonyS March 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm

If you require prescription glasses or medication (that does not require refrigeration) then add these as well. Also a small laminated list of what’s in the bag – it’s easy to forget what you have unless you are going through it on a regular basis.

I replace toilet paper which is bulky, with a small pack of non-allergenic anti-bacterial wet wipes. The can be used to replace toilet paper and also to clean your hands and face without water.

135 Oscar March 13, 2011 at 3:18 am

Its almost eerie that this was posted around the same time as one of the worst earthquakes in resent history. It goes to show how things like this really do happen and being prepared will and can save lives.

136 Bobrowicz March 13, 2011 at 9:37 am

I generally agree with Ron’s comment about being clear on the 10 minute myth for boiling your drinking water, but I’m going to point to both Health Canada and the USEPA who recommend at least one minute of boiling…the point being to make absolutely sure that your water is in fact at a rolling boil and that all of the water in the pot has reached that critical temperature. And that’s why you need to boil longer at elevation…to ensure your water reaches the critical temperature of 100C…remember your high school physics; water boils at a lower temperature at high elevations.

137 Toybuilder March 13, 2011 at 11:11 am

I am a Vietnam War era Navy Seabee with some basic Marine survival skills. I have never had to use most of them, though anything can happen.

My family has taken CERT training classes, also Red Cross classes. I advise anyone that reads this should also get CERT training. FEMA brought us up to speed as regards that “72-hour window”; plan on five days to be safe.

One thing they stressed was to take care of your family first, and then go do what it is next.

Most of the supplies you will require in your BOB are listed in a descending order on this timely, (Japan), blog.
We live on the west coast, which means the ring of fire, sleeping volcanoes and seismic faults are much closer than you can imagine.

The addition of a wagon, (remember radio flyer) is a very good idea.

I would add “Super glue” to my first aid kit. Get a good cut, it bleeds until sutured, but clean the wound and join tissue with the glue. Less chance of infection and it will heal faster.

Another addition would be a few N-95 surgical masks. When the avian flue scare was at its highest FEMA field personnel advised carrying a pack and slapping it on the face of the one that’s coughing, not yourself. Coughing spreads many diseases remember!

Remember, “That’s not a knife. This is a knife”? One-up-man-ship can be intimidating and bring out the worst in good people.

Tying a pair of comfortable hiking boots to the head of your bed means you won’t wake to glass and rubble with bare feet.

138 Steve March 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Ya’ll forgot the coffee :)

Thanks for the info, good stuff. I live in hurricane country. In another month or so, will prepare my home for the season. The best thing with hurricanes is to know where to evacuate to, with your bugout bag. Or in my case, seven miles inland. Just stay put and ride it out. Many leave, I do not. Better to stay and help my family and community. I also have enough supplies for at least two weeks. BTW, cash is king, as is water and non perishable foodstuffs.

139 Greg M March 14, 2011 at 1:38 am

My family lives in Japan. We are using our BOBs right now. The number one thing is to keep a level head.

140 MRC March 14, 2011 at 6:08 am

There are only two reasons I would pack a “religious book of your choice” or a dictionary in a BOB.
1.)Nice thin pages for personal cleanliness
2.)Pretty good for staring fires

141 injapan March 14, 2011 at 9:58 am

My truck is always ready. But the BOB is lacking. I’ll need the BOB when I must abandon the truck. Must prepare BOB.

142 Bill March 14, 2011 at 11:54 am

Highwater- I’ve used the Katadyn Hiker for the last four years. I’ve gotten around 3000 liters through my first filter, and it’s still o.k., butI’ll replace it soon and relegate the first to back up duties. I’d buy another in a heartbeat. It comes with an attachment that fits on my Camelbak so I don’t have to remove it from my pack to fill.

Josh- I don’t think anyone was whining about their opinions. The bottom line is you have to start a pack and then put it to use to find out what’s better. My first pack weighed near 80 pounds. Too much stuff. I had a tent and full sized sleeping bag attached to it. Now I use a Lafuma bag that’s about the size of a loaf of bread and I’ve tested it to 10 degrees even though it’s rate at 30. I know what else I need to be comfortable at that temp. I use a tarp instead of a tent, and am shopping for a siltarp for less weight.

On the notion of the shotgun pumping being a deterrent- don’t put much faith in that. There are those out there that might just know they have you outgunned once they hear the shotgun and will pry it from you cold dead fingers. Don’t let false bravado make your decisions for you. Discretion is the better part of valor.

143 Skræling March 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm

A bible is the last thing you’d need in a crisis. Sure, the small amount of panic you will delegate to it will quell your induced mania, however it will cause you to value your own skills and abilities as less important than the whims of God, thereby tricking you into relying on the intangible to do things for you. Believe me, this is not how it works. One time I spent three months inside my room, asking the dragons who I roomed with to get me some frozen waffles from the store. They did not get them.

144 WileyR March 14, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I tend to be a belt and suspenders kinda guy, so I agree with a large part of the redundancy items listed. I do have some things that I would substitute, a few that I would leave out, some that I would increase, but I think the most important thing is to make sure it fits YOUR needs. The best (maybe) way to do this is to pack your BOB, then take off into wherever you would go (for me the southern mountains) and see if it really fits my needs. Except possibly for the protection items, in 72 hrs. IF you rely on your BOB, whether you are in the southern mountains, the Rockies, the ice fields in the north, swamps, or desert areas you could evaluate your equipment, fine tune, reconsider some items, and make the adjustments that would serve YOU in your situation. I think it would be impossible to construct a “universal” BOB list for all needs, but the author has given us a good outline for general use, and pretty much challenged us to be prepared for that disaster when it comes.
One thing that I’m surprised that hasn’t been mentioned is gel hand sanitizer. Most are about 65% alcohol and can be used for cleaning wounds, prep for bandaging, and for general fire starting in wet weather. A used food can (if you choose to take some canned food or beverages) can be perforated and with a small amount of sanitizer make a usable emergency stove. Like any other set of tools, the BOB is best if you know how to use it. Knowledge is almost always power.

145 DaveyU March 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm

S-T-O-P (Stop, Think, Observe, Plan)

The basic needs in any survival situation, regardless of duration are;
1) First Aid
2) Fire
3) Water
4) Shelter
5) Food
6) Protection

The basic tools needed, and you should always have on or close to your person, are;
1) Knife or Quality Multi Tool with a Knife
2) Matches or a Lighter
3) Bandanna
4) Water Bottle

In a wilderness situation, where you may be going hiking, camping and more, you can pack as much as you like as long as the basic needs of survival are met. Remember, there are no Wallmarts in the forest and what you take in may be your only resources.

In an urban situation, where you may be traveling to and from the home to the office, you don’t need to carry anything more than a quality knife or multi tool, matches, a bandanna and a water bottle. Why? You can scavange and obtain everything else you may need in the vacinity which you are in at the time. You carry a knife for immediate protection, carving and/or prying, cutting, etc. You carry matches to burn, cut, mend, start a fire. You carry a bandanna to cover your nose and mouth from dust and debri, filter water, clean or wrap a wound. You have a bottle of water to drink, wash, cook and clean. Obviously there are more uses for all of these items, this is just to give an example.

In a survival situation, regardless of whether it be in a wilderness or urban setting, the most important tool you have is your mind. Tools can be fashioned, food and water can be procured, shelter can be found. You must keep your witts about you and STOP!

Happy Survival

146 Vitor March 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Hey !
I would add two things to yours list …
a sun blocker ( Hey brazilian sun is hot )
and a GPS … they are cheaper today .. and small as a cellphone

147 Brian March 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I would add that ESD (electro static discharge) baggies for electronic survival equipment storage. I have my GPS, night vison, hand held radios, scanner, shortwave radio, and flashlights double wrapped in ESD baggies.

148 ryan March 14, 2011 at 7:53 pm

what the fuck is the small bible for? if you need fire starting materail i would recommend newspaper or just gathering dry grasses

149 Bill March 14, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Cheap shots at the author for suggesting carrying a Bible are unwarranted. Those who do not have any faith in the scriptures are not qualified to judge those who do. You do not know what we get from its reading. Likely you never will. That’s not our problem.

You can see from the photos what the author is willing to carry. A small Bible is just a trivial part of that loaded bag … and weighs far less than that .357 revolver and 50 rounds of ammunition that nobody objected to.

Unless he is facing 6 or fewer assailants from very close range AND makes every shot a kill shot, he may never get to reload that gun … which makes the gun and the ammo, both, excess weight.

Nobody mentioned that, possibly because carrying a gun is supposedly such a macho thing to do.

When the game is ‘survival’, the best way to survive is to avoid the conflict altogether. Better to act as if you ARE unarmed and make evasion a top priority. Let those who are long on ammunition, but short on brains, draw the danger away from you (and yours) and, through their heroic deaths, buy you time to escape.

On another topic:
Where this chatter comes from about making certain that all the water in the vessel is the same temperature baffles me. Have you never observed boiling water? Starting before it even simmers, It stirs itself. Try it sometime with a few drops of food coloring in a pan of water.

Bring it to a beginning boil, take the water pot off and fuggit about it. Then use the rest of the fuel for something else … like drying your socks.

150 ryan March 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm

i see you Rob Berra but Skraeling has it figured out. Lived-through-it: sounds like you wasted time while you could have been accomplishing very important tasks necessary for your survival

151 ryan March 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Bill, If someone is going to attack you i’m pretty sure a gun is going to be more likely to stop them than a bible. If a situation arises were it’s every man for himself you can guarantee that human instincts will kick in, and when you have the water that another man needs to survive and a bible to defend yourself he’s going to choose you over the man defending with a gun.
And who said we were shooting other people? you could use a gun to hunt game for food of the gun powder to start a fire. not sure how you’re going to accomplish that with a bible. i suppose you could throw it at some small game, or use it for fuel for a fire. the author has some good stuff, but the bible garbage has got to go, in a time of crisis it’s survival time, not story time.

152 Brian March 14, 2011 at 8:57 pm

To many people, the Bible is not “story time”. People will also need what it takes to keep them encouraged, and for a lot of people, that is a Bible. Take your anti-Christian bigotry some place else.

153 Brett McKay March 14, 2011 at 9:22 pm

This is like a 3,000 word article and all people can talk about is whether or not to include a Bible? That’s one man’s personal packing list. If it’s not what you would pack, who cares? Anymore future comments about the Bible will be deleted. It’s tiresome.

154 Bill G. March 14, 2011 at 9:56 pm

THANK YOU BRETT ! I guess some people need to be reminded that one aspect of being a man is tolerance, as well as an understanding and respect for other people’s beliefs and opinions. There is no one “universal” bug out bag – each one needs to be designed around “who” you are and “where” you are. Gun or no gun? I say carry one and do everything you can NOT to use it. However, in extreme circumstances when you have no choice – I would rather go to jail for carrying a firearm than watch my wife and daughter get raped or killed. One last note: I’m glad some people mentioned the use of camouflage. Camo in simple terms is meant to make you blend in with your surroundings. Dressing in all military camo or an all black ninja/Rambo outfit in an urban setting makes you stand out as a “survivalist” and likely to have supplies – in other words a good target. My advice: look like “just another unprepared refugee” and you will be left alone.

155 lauren March 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm

chlorine tablets to sanitize water would also be a good one to have

156 Amelia March 15, 2011 at 7:28 am

Good post! I’m from the UK, so no guns for me (unless I break the law, and personally I don’t know where I’d get one from even if I was willing to do that, so let’s just say that’s impossible!)… I kind of question the need of a Bug out Bag here in the UK – we don’t really get natural disasters, and although the possibility of a terrorist attack is always a threat, I feel very safe in my rural settings. However, as you state, in some places (such as the recent and saddening events in Japan) means that these are necessary.

This is a very entertaining and informative article. I just wish they weren’t needed by anyone, that would make the world a safer place.

157 Christopher March 15, 2011 at 7:48 am

A decent article, but I would encourage Art of Manliness and the author to remember that this website is international, and many of the readers don’t have the option of taking a gun or even knives with a blade longer than 10cm (5″) are hard to get hold of in western Europe. Just remember!

C.

158 Bill March 15, 2011 at 8:48 am

Christopher- The message is to have a means of self defense. Even a club will work. I had a friend that was somewhat of a hobo or transient. He walked across country for a few years working on construction sites for a few days, or a week to make a few bucks to get to the next town. He carried a 24 oz framing hammer with him. It brough him money, and was a means of defending himself. The most dangerous weapon is the mind.

159 PM Nelson March 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Great article and a great springboard for further thought and discussion! I am thinking that if I saw someone walking down the road with a full backpack packed tight with supplies and all I have is a torn mylar space blanket I’m going to figure that he has stuff I need. If I hit him from behind it will not matter if he has a gun, knife, hammer, sword, bazooka, or small thermonuclear device. (By the way, as a cop with 30 years of experience, a hammer is the scariest and most deadly weapon in a fight. It clubs, hooks, tears, and penetrates bone. Best of all, they are legal everywhere and not considered to be burglary tools, like screwdrivers. Suggestion: drill a small hole in the end opposite the head and tie on a small wrist lanyard.)

Obviously, heightened awareness of your surroundings is critical. But how would one disguise a BOB? Shopping carts and cardboard boxes on a wagon aside, what are some low-key ways of carrying supplies?

Another avenue of discussion is getting home to bug out. Assuming one survives the collapse of their office building the roads will probably be impossible to drive through. Any thoughts on something like a “getting home bag” that can fit in the bottom of an office file drawer?

160 Caitlin March 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Love this! Zombie Apocalypse here we come! ;)

But, really, this is great for those preparing for the worst or even people who are avid out-doors-persons. As someone who loves to ‘get lost’ in the wilderness a couple weeks out of every summer, it never fails to boggle my mind to hear about how many campers / hunters are completely unprepared for the possible (and likely, in some environments) event that leaves them stranded in the woods. Every year we hear about this camper or that hunter who parishes in the back country because they didn’t prepare for accidents / got turned around. Packs like this, and simpler ones, should be kept in ones car in case of emergency as well. Especially if you live in places that often seen vast amounts of snow (I grew up in Minnesota). People laugh about being ‘over prepared’, but what they don’t seem to understand is that people still die in cars that have broken down because they’re caught in a blizzard without anything warmer than the clothes on their back.

But yeah. Anyway! Great post!

161 Jan Hills March 15, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Do we really need self-defense if we can talk our way out.

162 Dave March 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm

If guns and knives are not an option, there are an endless number of improvised weapons that look non-threatening but can save your life. D-cell Mag Lite, ball peen hammer, even a padlock attached to a chain or bandana. Anything that works

163 Syd March 15, 2011 at 4:08 pm

May I suggest that the money selected for the BOB include smaller denominations seperated by paper clips and stored in seperate areas? One might need to barter, and nothing can ruin a transaction faster than “Showing the cards” too early. Let alone the risk of attracting unwanted attention.

164 Mike March 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm

If it fits your capabilities and limitations I would say a pump shotgun is an excellent choice for protection. It has such an unmistakable sound when pumped, you’ll probably not need to use it.

Also make sure you have a few well thought out plans of where to go.

165 Jay March 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Nice work Creek, cracking article. I agree with every

166 21csm March 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Thanks for the great article. The question I have is how frequently you should review and refresh/replace items in your bug-out bag?

167 21csm March 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Thanks for the great article! I’m curious what is the reasonable period of time to review and replace some of the items in your bug-out bag?

168 Donald March 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Here’s something to keep in mind about cell phones. Before Katrina my family and I evacuated to Arkansas where by in-laws have friends. After Katrina, even though we were in Arkansas getting in touch with others who evacuated was still pretty hard. It seems as if since the area code was 504 and most of 504 was under water routing the calls was difficult. Text messages did eventually reach their destination.

169 Tim Ralston March 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm

When making plans for emergency or potential survival situations, it is important to pack tools in your bug out kits that could save your bacon. The problem is, many of us plan for a multitude of emergencies that may occur. We end up stuffing our packs to the breaking point with a payload that would buckle the knees of even the best pack mule. Lessons learned. The key to preparedness or even survival is to be armed with the right tools and the right knowledge.
To accomplish a lighter pack load, most experts recommend packing multi-task tools so you can hump it to your destination with less weight. The new Crovel, a core mix between a shovel and crowbar, is the ultimate multi task tool. At first glance it looks familiar; like an e-tool, but the Crovel boasts the function of 13 additional tools. It also differentiates itself by its sheer strength. Made of 10-gauge hard steel, the Crovel crushes its fellow competitors who offer flimsy stamped steel shovel heads with wooden handles. When put through a rigid test, these competing shovels always bend and break.
The heavy duty structure of the Crovel includes a shovel head that flaunts a razor edge connected to a solid crowbar. Not only does it hold an edge, it can take the place of an ax. The handle is a harden 18inch gooseneck crow bar with a 1 inch hammer head. This makes for a formidable entry, prying or fastening tool, not to mention a fear-inducing weapon against a determined foe.
This tool will not fail, even if you do.
To check out the Crovel shovel, click: http://www.survivaloutdoorgear.com/product_info.php?products_id=54176372

170 Christopher March 15, 2011 at 6:40 pm

A respectable answer Bill, but perhaps this should have been in the article itself?

C.

171 adam March 16, 2011 at 12:20 am

Note: water is safe to drink as soon as is reaches its boiling point. Otherwise a plesent read.

172 spicious March 16, 2011 at 5:04 am

uh, condoms? Better rap that shit up if you’re going into some dangerous territory, my friend^^

173 John D. Shea March 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Great article, Brett! Always good to be prepared.

174 John D. Shea March 16, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Oops, this article wasn’t by Brett… *facepalm* Many thanks to Creek Stewart :)

175 Adam March 16, 2011 at 7:57 pm

The small Gideon style Bible is beyond judgement, in an emergency situation a man will need his faith, whatever it may be.

I’m not sure I like the revolver over automatic idea though, many revolvers actually have more moving parts than modern automatic. Give me a Glock over any revolver any day of the week.

Also Keltec makes one of the best BOB rifles around IMO. The SU-16 uses standard STANAG magazines (M-16). It is very reliable and decently accurate with mostly polymer construction for weight. It comes with a built in bipod for stability, and the stock folds for ease of transport. Plus being a rifle you have greater range, stopping power, and firepower than just carrying a revolver, and it will be more useful for hunting if you end up out there for longer than 72 hours.

176 M.A. White March 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Hi,
Great information. Thanks. But, I would suggest sun block as many are not used to many hours in the sun, and the pain from sunburn does not need to be added to what is probably an already stressful situation.

177 Phil March 16, 2011 at 11:52 pm

I always carry a lightweight Gore-Tex Paclite shell when I’m hiking/camping as a rain jacket or for a windy peak and I think it would fit in pretty well with your Bug Out Bag. Relatively cheap compared to a Gore-Tex Pro Shell and it packs up really small, ultra lightweight (mine is 16oz), keeps you dry, and protects you from the wind.

This is the one I just got:
http://marmot.com/products/minimalist_jacket

I also second the mention of the MSR Pocket Rocket stove, those things are unreal!

178 Kazzerax March 17, 2011 at 8:05 am

Great to see a survival article on AoM. I’ve been following the blog for about 2 years now and I’d love to see more like this. The people in this community seem to be of a higher class than most, so do everyone a favor and pass that on, by surviving..

179 Bill March 17, 2011 at 10:03 am

I was thinking about this thread the other night and wanted to post this comment regarding the need to bug out.

Some suppose that the notion is that as soon as a tragedy occurs the guy is grabbing his bug out bag and heading for high ground. In most cases, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. All of the possible scenarios can’t be related since there are a million variables, but generally I would suppose there is a great likelihood that an event occurs while we are at work (we are at work longer than any other activity aside from sleeping- 1/3 of the day, 5 days a week). In that case, we would need to get home and/or collect our loved ones. So in that case, something else is needed- referred to a EE bag. short for escape/evasion bag from military influence. The EE bag consists of bare essentials, and lightweight is the key- a few pounds. That’s a whole different topic, but what purpose it serves is that you don’t carry your BOB with you everywhere. The BOB is essentially “cached” at your home. You would EE to you home and wait for intel on the severity of the situation, evaulate whether it is likely to escalate or diminish. If it is to escalate, you decide whether you can wait it out at home. The point comes when you might need to bug out, and that’s when the BOB comes in to play. Personally, I’ve never considered the BOB to be in support of a three day occasion, but simply short term subsistence gear until you can establish a long term solution to the event. It’s more that the three day pack is about the largest small pack, or the smalled large pack to carry enough gear to support your needs.

Just my opinion.

Oh yeah, you need to prepare BOB’s for your kids and your spouse. Introduce them to the concept in a pleasany way- it doesn’t need to poject fear, but don’t underesitimate your wife. Mine is glad to have a pack, and there is no way you can carry enough for more than two people. My son has taken to outfitting his own, and just yesterday, showed me the fishing kit he assembled. He’s thirteen.

Someone questioned how often they should revise there kit. You have to use it to know that. In the summer at 90 degrees, you’re not going to need a 0 degree sleeping bag, and in the winter a mosquito net is uneccessary weight.

180 Max March 17, 2011 at 10:22 am

Great article. where I live (on a hill in Colorado Springs), the two likely scenarios are a blizzard (stay home) or NORAD getting bombed (hosed anyway). That being said, i keep supplies at home and my backpack stays packed with my gear. I personally focus more on mobile shelter (warm clothes) than sleeping gear since i can sleep in my clothes but i cant walk in a mummy bag, but still have tarps and such. My truck has 2 gas tanks so i always keep one filled and rotate to keep fresh gas in the tank.

A couple of notes about redundancy: always have extra. You can ditch it if you don’t need it. For backpacking through a foreign country the general wisdom is to take half the stuff you need and twice the money. For bugging out, I would pack the redundant stuff in another bag in case you drive or have a friend with you but can leave it at home if you are walking. Take twice the cash, three times the ammo, and about five times the fire starters that you think you need. If the first two run out or you lose the last one, you are in a world of hurt. And if you are going to carry a gun concealed, get the training and permit/license required. be ready for anything, but don’t use a disaster as an excuse for irresponsible and lawless behavior.

lived through a week-long ice storm in MO when i was in college. People acted crazy stole stuff. Compared it to Katrina. My brother and I treated it like a camping trip. Keep your wits about you. If having a book or some music or a small game will help you do this, it is more worth the weight than anything else in your pack. The biggest thing in any survival situation is mental: 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, 3 minutes without oxygen, and 3 seconds without thinking.

I would like to see an article dealing with being prepared for a family. have a baby now and that is a whole different mess.

181 Katie March 17, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Also remember your medication! If you take a prescription or over-the-counter medication, especially if it’s for something like asthma that’s going to be aggravated by hiking and air contamination and things, keep a stash in or near your bag. At the very least, always make sure you have a good supply of a medication and pin a bright orange note saying “GRAB MEDS” to your bag, or something.

I guess you also have to weigh how important your pets are in a situation like this. A big dog can haul its own pack (food, water, blanket, etc.), but if you really think you can’t give up your cat or bunny or fluff-dog, you need to have a plan for carrying them and their supplies, too. Unfortunately, I think when it comes right down to survival, you’re going to have to abandon most pets, but you should be prepared for different options–what if a car evacuation is possible, etc. And a well-trained dog of the working or hunting variety could be an asset rather than a liability in a survival situation.

182 Hyphen March 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Another good reason to take pets with you: in dire circumstances, they may be used as food.

183 Mike March 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Don’t forget a few large zip top freezer bags. That’s something I have in almost every bag I will carry. They have thousands of uses. You can use them to put your smaller items and stuff you want to keep dry (socks) as you pack, so they’ll do double duty. I also always have a few folded up paper towels in my jackets, good multi-taskers. Along with your meds, don’t forget your glasses.

If you have some advance notice, gas up the vehicle, contact your destination (if you have one), eat, and drink a lot of water, heck if you can grab a shower, do that too. If you’re able to get out by car/truck you may want carry two bottles of liquor. Vodka can have a bunch of legitimate uses and a bottle of Jack can be a great persuader.

If your pack isn’t too heavy, and you don’t have to move too fast, you may want to consider a ditch bag that can carry a few items that can be tossed if things get tough. These are things you can toss in a grocery bag on your way out the door). Things to include are a large bottle of water and some semi perishable food items (leftovers anyone?) that you will eat within the first hours. If things get hairy, just drop it, drink what you can of the water first though.

Also, add a pair of foam earplugs. If you get stuck in an emergency shelter with a large bunch of people, you’ll thank me.

184 Mike March 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I almost forgot, if traveling by vehicle, try to have some means of siphoning fuel.

185 fd March 18, 2011 at 1:20 am

Good Post Suspicious! Condoms can second as water carriers. Spin the top after filling them, double it, loop, on itself and tie with a double over draw string or cord. Place them in as soft fabric (t-shirt) for support and protection and you’re off. These condoms can be reused as long as they are kept damp and out of the sun. A twelve pack will go a long way. If she doesn’t demand a fresh one, you won’t want to take her home to meet Mom!

186 Kathleen Oyler March 18, 2011 at 10:30 am

Good article

187 Kitt March 18, 2011 at 9:34 pm

I would like to 2nd the request for additional advice on BOB’s when a family’s involved. I have a 3-year old, but it also seems to me that even though extra supplies are needed for three, some of the equipment like tools, tents, blankets, (you can use one for all 3 of you in a pinch) can get spread out over at least 2 packs. Is this naive?

It also occurred to me that under the heading of “subtle”, it might make sense to dye-down/breakdown any hiking packs you might be using. Most these days are pretty loud and slick-looking, and if you don’t want to use a military pack, it might help to make any hiking gear look more ninja.

188 Paulo March 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Brett, if you sell the kit here we all going to buy it! :)

189 Gunner Mavrick March 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm

This man is simply trying to write an informative, and helpful article. The fact it everyone’s “BOB” bag is gonna be different. Use common sense and think for your self. If someone is carrying a bag that is to heavy that is their problem, if there are not enough supplies in it, that is also their problem. Worry about yourself, and what’s best for you!
The problem with this kind of topic, is that guys can not resist the urge to pull it out and measure it, to try and prove how awesome, and “manly” they are. The fact is a real man accepts advise and opinions from others, thinks about his family, and does what is ultimately right for them.
These comments on here make me want to grab my bug out bag right now, and get the out of here.

190 Bruegel March 20, 2011 at 4:54 pm

This is one bad ass machete… Where did you get it from?

191 Todd March 20, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Great story, I am an avid reader of the AOM. As an emergency manager in CA, I think that having a go-bag and a plan will save lives. I teach this in all of my CERT classes and community out reach programs.
Remember that all kits need to fit you and your family needs. Do not forget the pets too.

192 Charlie March 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Does anyone know where I can get my hands on a nice survival pack? I’m big on hunting fishing and camping and wanna find a nice pack that I can live out of for about 72 hours. An ideal pack would be like the one pictured above in the article. All help appreciated!

193 Dobert March 23, 2011 at 3:46 am

“Another good reason to take pets with you: in dire circumstances, they may be used as food.”

aargh! I can’t even think about eating my dog :/

anyway great article! One thing that concerns me – there is a lot of stuff inside with expiration date (food, first aid kit) so this BOB needs to be reviewed from time to time. As far as I know life any situation when BOB might come useful will happen a month after most of the food expiration date passed :/

194 McNutt March 23, 2011 at 10:22 am

Usually I just pack some rice, a blanket and a knife. I’ve been in the weeds, and have no need for light or books or maps. I’m just trying to live. I’ll make it farther than any of you because I’ll be faster and more limber.

195 Gabba March 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm

@McNutt: Nice try Dwight Schrute! :-p

196 Chris Partida March 24, 2011 at 5:36 am

Love this article – I’ve been working on my BOB for the last two months, and it’s coming together nicely.

A good note, don’t have just one – have one per person, that way you can spread out heavier items, and more food/water.

197 El Chango March 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Trying to explain the purpose of taking along your Bible to the detractors here is the finest example of casting your pearls before swine; a waste of time.

A good article would be a comparison of available water filtration systems available out there: taste, speed, cost etc… I have used a military type pump on a hike in Anza Borrego, where we had to dig for it, a life saver!

Coffee (little Starbucks Via baggies of microground ), whiskey, alprazolam (to hand out to non believers!), many multiple mags of 45ACP, strappy shotgun, …when are we goin?!!

Great article, you’re making people think. What are my neighbours like, rural vs urban bug out situation. I’ve been in some hairy fire situations and every time, the people make all the difference. I love Americans, they are on the whole fantastic people.

198 TImoch March 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Great Article. I’d like to see more like it. I have lots more to say about it, but I need to start packing.

199 Travis March 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I’ve been meaning to make one of these! How convenient that they put a list together for me.

200 the Duke March 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I usually add a couple water treatment tabs, iodine drops and the drops for water taste.
clothing-wise, i do the less is more thing because Texas is HOT. Lightweight pants, cotton gear all around.

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