A “Bug Out Bag,” or B.O.B., is a pack containing assorted items needed for surviving periods of time without modern conveniences. Once disaster hits, you won’t have time to shop or to search for supplies. However, if you've prepared and assembled a B.O.B., your chances of surviving an evacuation or home confinement are much higher.
- You may have many items in your home already. Modify the list according to your own specific needs.
- Place your supplies in an easy to carry bag or backpack. You can pick up inexpensive, quality packs from military surplus shops or higher quality packs from camping stores. Pick a bag that is both comfortable and sturdy. A pack with a waist belt offers great lower back support.
- Store your B.O.B in a convenient place known to all family members and keep another in your car.
- Rotate your stored food and water supply and batteries every six months to ensure freshness.
- Re-evaluate your B.O.B. regularly, and update clothing or supplies seasonally.
- Ask your physician about storing prescription medication as it may do more harm than good if expired.
- Have a phone tree to make sure your family and friends are accounted for in an emergency.
- Come up with contingency plans. For instance, know how and when it is necessary to shut off gas and electricity. Don’t forget about your pets!
- Have an evacuation plan with your family or team in case you become separated during an outbreak. Pick a safe meeting place that works for everyone.
- Learn skills, like First Aid and CPR, which may be useful in an emergency. Hone these skills so you’re comfortable using them in a crisis situation.
The first step in building a good Bug Out Bag is the pack itself. It doesn't matter how good the rest of your equipment is, if your bag isn't comfortable, big enough (or too big) or durable. I should also say that I'm against 2-person packs. Everyone should have their own pack. No only does it make carrying a pack easier, it also keeps a person supplied in the event of separation. Build a pack for EACH person. So let's get started.
The Regular Backpack
I recommend this to be used as your "Get Home Bag" only.
The don't hold up like other packs, so I wouldn't want to trust it to hold my precious survival goods. If you have no other choice go for it, but keep an eye out for a better pack. And the sooner, the better.
The Large A.L.I.C.E. Pack
All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment
A decent choice. It will last many years and many outings.
They can be found used starting around $20 and NEW starting at under $80.
I personally recommend the removable frame. After carrying one long distances, you're going to want that added support.
|A.L.I.C.E. Pack Frame|
Or you could get something like the Condor Assault Pack. A buddy of mine has uses one for his Bug Out Bag and loves it. He also carries it when he goes camping or hiking, which gets you used to wearing it and gives you the opportunity to rotate your supplies.
|Condor Assault Pack|
It also starts at under $80. I haven't used it personally and based on product reviews, I'd say it's a hit or miss as far durability is concerned. I can say that, just trying my buddy's pack on, it is comfortable. Even with 45# of gear and supplies in and on it. It also unzips wide and lies flat, allowing you to access most of the supplies simultaneously.
I like the look of this S.O.Tech Paladin Mission Pack, Expedition
|S.O.Tech Paladin Mission Pack, Expedition|
This pack has a larger capacity than the others.
MAIN INTERNAL COMPARTMENT DIMENSIONS: 6.00" x 5.50" x 20.00"
UPPER EXTERNAL POCKET DIMENSIONS: 3.50" x 11.50" x 7.50"
LOWER EXTERNAL POCKET DIMENSIONS: 5.00" x 13.00" x 11.00"
My favorite part is the additional, drop down pocket that can be retracted when not in use.
DROP DOWN POCKET DIMENSIONS: 9.00" x 13.50" x 10.00"
For $150, it offers a lot at a decent price.
There are 1000s of packs on market, that range in price from the low double digits to over $1000, so, in the end it really comes down to personal preference and individual requirements.
Currently I rock a n old school canvas frame pack from the 60s or 70s. $2 at a garage sale was hard to pass up. I still works great and is pretty comfortable but I do have to pull everything out to access the stuff at the bottom. I plan on upgrading this year.
|My $2 pack|
Now on to filling your pack.
- Food- Have at least a 5-day supply of non-perishable food on hand. Foods that require little to no water to prepare are best. Mainstay bars, Mountain House Dehydrated Food and MRE's are good choices.
- Potable Water- Water Filters and Tablets, are a good choice, you can just throw them in your back and call it good. I like the LifeStraw® best, you just put your straw in to any creek, pond, puddle or container and start sucking. If you live in a dry climate, 3 Gallon Rigid Water Containers might be a good addition to your Bug Out supplies. These rigid style containers are more durable than gallon water jugs, so they are less likely to leak.
- Spices- I like my food with spices, and if you have to catch your own food, you'll probably want spices. Spice Straws are a good option. Plastic Soda Bottle Lid Capsules will work well, also.
- Mess Kit- Most mess kits double as cookware but I like to keep them separate. I like this fancy little kit. Along with a frying pan and a camp knife, you'll be dining in comfort. Store your dish washing equipment and camp knife inside the frying pan to save space.
- Emergency Stove- Nice to have, especially if you live in wetter climates. I haven't added one to my pack yet, here's a simple Alcohol Stove but I'd probably just make my own. I would use this as a last resort when I couldn't start a fire otherwise. Or if I was hunkering down in a small cave, and the smoke from a fire would force me out. Denatured alcohol can be found at most home improvement stores, in the paint section. Fill a 1 liter water bottle and put it in your pack. *Food coloring added to denatured alcohol will make it easier to see when pouring it your oven. It will also stop it from being mistaken for water.*
- Can Opener- The smaller and fewer moving parts, the better. The P-38 and P-51 are great choices. The P-51 is about twice the size as the P-38 and the one I'd go with, if I had to choose.
- Flashlights- One or Two flashlights per pack. For the second flashlight, I recommend a hand-crank light. Extra flashlight batteries.
- Collapsible bucket- Doesn't take up a lot space, stands upright when filled with water and lessens the number of trips from site to water source. I recommend the 20 liter (5.28 gal) bucket. Heavy if you fill it but better to have the extra capacity when you need it.
- Glow sticks- You never know when you might need another source of light so toss some in your pack.
- Hand-crank radio- Hand crank and solar power is best, and if it has an USB port to charge your cellphone, it could help you get in touch with family or the authorities. A hand-cranked radio requires no batteries or electricity, and can provide news bulletins, weather updates, and information on evacuation routes, etc.
- Multi-tool- Don't leave home without a multi-tool!
- Knives. At a minimum, I’d recommend a folding camp knife with a serrated edge and a large, fixed-blade hunting/survival knife.
- Paracord- A must have in your survival kit for tying up food, making a shelter, and plenty of other things. I have AT LEAST 100ft in my pack at all times, probably closer to 250ft. And I have a belt made from 100+ ft that can be disassembled if I need it.
- Change of clothes- This is not vital, but if you can fit it, take along an extra set and lean towards cold weather gear. You might be surprised how much clean clothes can help you stay calm in a stressful situation. If you have a FoodSaver, seal your change of clothes in a bag.
- Anti-diarrhea medication- Diarrhea can lead to life-threatening dehydration very quickly in a survival situation.
- Canteen and canteen cup- A canteen is always good to have, and the canteen cup makes purifying water easy when used with the Canteen Cup Stove.
- Vitamins- While on a survival diet, chances are you will be lacking the required nutrients from food alone. A good multi-vitamin will help keep your immune system up.
- Emergency blankets- Mylar blankets are inexpensive, take up very little space and help hold in heat in an emergency, I would carry at least 3 in my pack.
- Bug repellent, Sun block, Hand sanitizer and Lip Balm.
- Compass- You don't need a super fancy compass, but one with phosphorescent dial will be indispensable at night.
- Maps- Maps of your surrounding area and your bug out route.
- Fire-starting materials- Butane torch lighter, water proof matches, a magnesium stick, Waterproof Dryer Lint Fire-Starter. Also, throw a magnifying glass and some Bic Lighters in your pack.
- Signal Mirror- A signal mirror is one of the best ways of attracting attention. Practice using it.
- Safety Whistle-Safety whistles can be used to communicate with family members if separated, and to attract attention from rescuers.
- Fishing line and lures- If you can get to a natural body of water, chances are there is a food source in there. Could also be used for barter.
- Camp axe. Probably the most important tool when setting up a camp. A good camp axe can help clear a camp site, split firewood, and chop down small trees for shelter.
- Machete- Not strictly required, but I wouldn't want to Bug Out without one.
- Folding Saw-Good for cutting branches to make shelters or cutting firewood. A hand chainsaw is another saw worth throwing in your pack.
- Folding shovel- There are a lot of tasks that just can't be done without a shovel.
- First aid kit with handbook- Make sure you include any specialized medication you made need.
- Survival handbook- There are a lot choices out there, if I had to choose just one, it would be the SAS Survival Handbook.
- Edible Plant Guide- Choose one that pertains to your region and a small game trapping book isn't a bad idea either.
- Roll of Gorilla Tape- Gorilla Tape makes Duct tape look like masking tape, put a roll in your pack. It has a lot of uses. Here's a few.
- Money- At least a hundred bucks in bills in a Plastic Match Holder and a roll of quarters for vending machines, etc.
- Ponchos and a Tarp- Staying dry while in the field, can really give you a morale boost and help keep you from getting sick. With a section of tarp and a little rope tied between two trees you can provide instant shelter in a survival situation.
- Morale Boosters- Deck of cards and maybe a book of card games- Games are a good way to keep boredom at bay. Candy, hard candy is best but things like Skittles and M&M's can be good, too. Food Save them in their packages, if you can. An mp3 player with headphones, if you have a means of charging.
This list is getting long and I'm sure I've forgotten some things. I will add them if I think of any more. And remember, don't go broke trying to make your pack. You can buy things one at a time to build your Bug Out Bag.
If you have any critiques, comments or suggestions, please let me know.