Your Emergency Bug Out Bag

Your Emergency Bug Out Bag

One of the biggest parts of being a Prepper, or just being prepared in general is having an emergency kit that you can rely on in your time of need. For many people, this kit is called a Bug Out Bag or BOB for short. There’s a lot of ideas on how this particular kit is supposed to put together, but for reference, the typical though is a supply for 72 hours and weighing less than 30 pounds. It’s easy to make this MUCH heavier, and if you have skills to add to your supplies, you can make it much lighter.

There are several types of bags out there from a backpack or rucksack, down to a bail out bag or messenger bag. I prefer a pack that is simple and without a lot of dividers or complicated pockets. Something with a large main compartment, and then 1-3 smaller pockets that are good for dividing out your more urgently needed items. Your’s needs to be of high quality, water resistant, and reliable. This includes the zippers. For me, I’ve chosen to go with the Spec Ops Brand UAP backpack. A review of this pack is coming, but for now, let it be known that I’ve used this bag continuously now for over 4 years. Here’s what they look like:

The Spec Ops Brand UAP. My particular pack is black in color.

Now it’s time to fill it and since I was a Boyscout back in the day, I prefer to follow the “5 C’s of Survival“. These are listed:


For Cutting, I suggest a strong full tang blade. Full tang means that the knife is made of a single piece of steel with the handles attached to the side by either pins, epoxy, or in some other manner. Typically you can see the steel exposed. My knife is the Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie. It’s a strong blade, that has multiple uses and can be put to many tasks. At nine inches in length, it is rather large, so you may prefer something in the 4-6″ lengths. The Condor Bushcraft knife is a great example and is inexpensive.

The Ka-Bar Beck BK9 knife is made of 1095 carbon steel and has a protective coating on the blade. The handles are removable as well.

For Cordage, the choice is simple. 550 test Paracord. This stuff can be found in just about any store that sells outdoor supplies. It’s got inner stands that can be used for sewing, stitching, fishing line, or as a separate piece of cordage for building shelters. Every strand is 50# test weight. It’s inexpensive and lightweight. 20-50 feet would be a good amount to have, and that gives you 140-350 feet in possible cordage. Great uses include boot laces, zipper pulls, wrapped knife handles, woven into a belt or bracelet, and lanyards that you can throw over your head. It comes in any variety of color you could want.

Next is Container. For many people, they use Camelbak style water carriers or canteens. If you decide to use a Camelbak, be sure that you also have a way to filter boil water or cook as well. The use of a filtering device is a great piece of gear as well. I prefer to use the Sawyer Water Filter Kit. A small camping style pot that’s graduated on the side with a handle would work well. I use a Stanly that includes 2 thermos style cups and a lid that you can strain water from your food with.

This Stanley camp set is good for cooking and boiling water. It’s stainless steel and single walled construction.

When it comes to Cover, the choices can be overwhelming. Tarps, large ponchos, tents, bivy sacks, and all manner of everything in between. I prefer a lightweight ripstop silnylon tarp roughly 6’x8′ in size. That would allow you to make simple shelters, stay dry, and maintain a low weight without having to use a tent or assemble tent poles. There are some lightweight backpackers tents available, but they are expensive and take time to set up. With a tarp, you can throw if over you and your pack and use it as a poncho, or wrap up in it as a wind breaker.

comes down to the simple ability to make a fire. Fire is essential to staying warm, cooking, and boiling water. For your combustion source, I suggest at minimum a lighter. Something as simple as a Bic brand lighter or even a Zippo. What’s great about a Bic lighter is that it’s so inexpensive and small. You can throw a pack of 5 in your bag and not even notice a difference. Another great tool would be a Ferrocerium Rod. With the back of a good knife, sharp rock, or even a piece of broken glass on edge you can throw sparks that are in excess of 2,000 degrees F and is completely waterproof. You can pick a Ferro rod up from the bottom of a creek, wipe it off and strike it. Many companies make them, with “Light My Fire” brand being top quality. There’s also inexpensive options available as well.

Outside of the “5 C’s of Survival”, there are many other things to consider. Navigation would be pertinent so a good street level map of your local counties and a compass. Why not a GPS? The battery can drain and you may not have access to electricity due to power outages or being stranded with a downed vehicle. Being able to find your way home, or to shelter is important so Navigation should be on your list of priorities. If you are using maps and a compass, be sure you pick up a good quality compass. Those button compasses will only get you by for a while.

I like to use the Coleman Map Compass in my kit

Food is something you’ll have to decide on your own but I would suggest dehydrated of freeze dried foods. Try to avoid anything that already has water in it as that just adds extra weight to your kit. You will want high-calorie foods. Things like Mountain House or Wise Foods dehydrated camping food are great examples of lightweight food. I personally prefer Mountain House brand, but taste is an individual quality so I’ll leave it up to you.

An essential for you to have is a good Medical Kit. It should have all the basics, and I would also throw in a Sof-T or CAT tourniquet. I’ll be posting an article about my personal IFAK coming soon. For now, I would suggest at the bare minimum the Adventure Medical Kit’s Trauma Pak.

High value emergency medical kit.

Finally, I would add in some photos of you loved ones to show first responders if they are lost, a little bit of cash and spare change for emergency use, and a power source for your cell phone. I’d suggest placing a car charger as well as a wall charger in your kit. That will give you greater flexibility in where you can power your gear.

That’s a good simple overview of gear to have in your kit. Above you’ll find links to buy some of the gear mentioned to have it shipped straight to your house. The links are in blue. I hope this helps you get better prepared.

11 thoughts on “Your Emergency Bug Out Bag”

    • Thanks! It’s a simple kit, and there are loads of other things a person could add to it to make it better, but for beginners, this si a great way to get started with some good gear that will last.

  • This is great have been putting off assembling one so you made it easy with links and will purchase several items. I am having difficulty finding the right bag I’m 50 so I don’t want it to say I have something in it someone else will want

  • Ralph, you continue to evolve into a skilled writer and communicator. Good story and look forward to the IFAK article. And thanks for naming some of the specific items you prefer and providing links. To some it’s overwhelming to sort through all the noise and get the best value in items.

    • Thanks for your comment Terry. I am definitely trying my best. I remember how it was for me when I first started out. No idea how to get started or even where to start. I hope to fix that problem for many people.

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