bob essentials

136 Bug Out Bag Essentials List

Lightweight, durable, water-resistant, and ready to fulfill all your survival needs. That’s what your bug out bag should be like. However, we all know packing a BOB is a balancing act: there are items that are crucial and there are others that are less important, depending on your location, climate, age, your medical condition, and so on.

I initially wanted to write an article that covered just the essentials, but I quickly changed my mind. We’re all in different situations, prepping for different disaster scenarios, so it’s more than worth it to have a survival checklist that you can print out and tick off.

So what I’m going to do is give you a full bug out bag list of all the things you can or should include, leaving it up to you to decide which ones make the cut and which ones don’t.

Here’s your first tip: stay away from pre-packed BOBs! They are too expensive and miss important items, such as medication, pet care items, and so on. You’ll also end up with a backpack that won’t fit you comfortably (buy your backpack separately).

Not everything on the List is Mandatory…

Some of the items are just alternatives or back-ups for other items. Pick the bug out bag essentials you think you’ll need the most for your unique climate, objectives and requirement. Work to make sure you keep your BOB below 35 pounds. Keep in mind your fitness level, age, sex, and how far you’ll have to travel by foot, either as a primary or alternate method of travel.

Some preppers prefer more gear, others prefer a minimalist approach. What you could choose to do is have a second, smaller bag, filled with non-essentials, or use pre-packed “modules” of various items and choose to leave or take them as the situation dictates.

When disaster strikes, you’ll perhaps have time to figure out whether you can take everything you want with you or not. Even if you realize at some point that you won’t be able to carry that much weight, you can just disregard the smaller bag, maybe even cache it somewhere where you can return to at some point.

Below we’ll assess the items you should consider in categories essential to survival. Let’s begin!

sawyer mini black

Water and Hydration

#1. Water – Pay attention to how much you choose to carry on your pack. Water is very heavy, and resupply should be an integral part of your plans.

#2. Water Bottle, stainless steel – No paint or coatings. Get a quality one; this will allow you to cook or boil water for sanitization.

#3. Water Filter – The LifeStraw is good but the Sawyer Mini filters 300-400 times more water, is half the size and comes with a bunch of accessories. Whatever option you choose, go for one that is compact and able to draw water from a shallow supply, like a stream or puddle.

#4. Water Purification Tablets – A backup method to the above item, works even on the move or in conjunction with water filter to treat highly suspect sources. Very small and lightweight, bring plenty.

#5. Cups, stainless steelBring two nested ones, preferably ones that will nest around your bottle or canteen. Used for supplementary cooking, gathering water from multiple drip sources and sharing.

#6. Water Bladder with tubeExcellent for drinking on the move, and holding more water conveniently compared to bottles or canteens. Keeping these clean and sanitary over time is challenging, but benefits outweigh the drawbacks for mobility.

camp stove

Food and Cooking

#7. Bread – Lightweight and carb dense, which you’ll need if you are being very active. Certain kinds of dense, harder breads are easier to pack and last longer than your typical Wonderbread out of the bag.

#8. Jerky – In bar or traditional form. Nothing beats animal protein for sustaining energy levels and muscle mass during periods of exertion. Choose your favorite, but don’t go overboard: the dry, salty nature of jerky will crank up thirst.

#9. Freeze-dried Food – Lightweight but needs boiling water to cook properly. Good for a more substantial meal or preparing for a group. Mountain House has good, available offerings.

#10. Hard Candy – Preferred by some to get quick energy on the go. Pick something that won’t melt or get pulverized into dust inside your pack or pouches.

#11. Energy Bars – Similar to above, useful for a pick-me-up or recharge on a break. Another option is energy gel shots, which are processed faster by the body and require less water.

#12. Canned Tuna – A classic mainstay. Heavy, but calorie and nutrient dense. Goes great with your other food items like crackers and such. The leftover can be used in dire straits as a vessel for a candle, to make arrowheads or all kinds of other tasks.

#13. Backpacking StoveKeep it light, and take into account the weight and availability of fuel. Plenty of good models to choose from, pick one that will boil water the quickest for the least consumption of fuel. Great when you are worn out and need a hot meal or coffee quickly.

#14. Pot Scrubber – Used to keep your metal cookery and cups clean. Helps to get any burned residue off with no fuss.

#15. Vitamins – A small supply of multivitamins packed down into a baggie. You likely won’t need a whole bottle (hopefully!). these are a simple hedge against malnutrition.

#16. Protein Powder – May be carried as an alternate to multivitamins for nutritional supplement. Most are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Make sure you can stand it mixed with just water; you aren’t going to be carrying milk.

#17. Spices and Seasonings – A packet of various seasonings or bouillon cubes to enhance the flavor your meals. Great for boosting morale, or as a trade item. Do go nuts here: a small container or flat packs are ideal.

Food and Cooking – What to avoid:

MREs – Expensive, crazy-high sodium, can cause constipation if eaten regularly. They do benefit from sturdy packaging and excellent preservation. Best used broken down to supplement other rations.

Mason-Jarred Food – Too heavy and fragile. I don’t care how tasty your rhubarb preserves are, leave them in the pantry!

Pop Tarts – Too little nutritional value, and impossible to keep intact outside of hard container. Can take the place of candy, but usually not worth the trouble.

tent

Shelter, Clothing, and Warmth

#18. Hiking BootsKept with or attached to your BOB. Assuming you aren’t wearing them when you light out, you’ll change into them as the situation dictates. Ensure they are trail-tested and broken in before you need them!

#19. Poncho – Used for keeping rain off of your body on the go or as a small shelter. Choose a good one with excellent rain and tear resistance. Make sure it has a generous hood.

#20. TentA lightweight, simple tent setup to serve your group, if applicable. It is easy to go overboard here: tents can get heavy and gobble up a lot of room.

#21. Tarp – A high-quality tarp with sturdy grommets can serve a variety of purposes, taking the place of a tent, acting as a ground cover, privacy screen and more. A reversible type with camo on one side and a high-vis color for signaling is a good idea and will improve versatility even more.

#22. Sleeping Bag with pad – Chosen according to climate and weather endemic to your locale. Go for as light and compact as possible. Carriage will necessarily be strapped to the outside of your BOB, so work out the details before hand to ensure you will not be overly unbalanced.

#23. Pants – Modern materials are best here. Avoid heavy mainstays like denim or canvas that are slow to dry. Go for a technical garment that is light, flexible and quick drying. Extremely cold climates will require something different.

#24. Shorts – In very warm climates, shorts make sense. Choose material according to climate.

#25. Socks – Bring several pairs. Thick, genuine wool plus thinner ones. You can layer them based on insulation and padding needs, and rotate them regularly. Take care of your feet!

#26. Thermal Underwear – In very cold climates, long johns are invaluable and add almost no bulk or weight. Don’t forget an extra set of bottoms if you aren’t wearing skivvies underneath.

#27. Blanket – A small, packable camping blanket. Used for additional insulation on quick stops as well as sleeping. Sturdy blends can be used as a ground cover.

#28.Emergency Blanket – The silver, space type. Used for warmth as designed, and can also reflect a ton of heat off of a fire to maximize warmth in a shelter. Ultra-light and takes up next to no room, but take care that it does not get punctured.

#29. Gloves – Mandatory for protecting your hands from all sorts of mishaps and sharp or rough surfaces. Select gloves based on requirements: a heavy leather pair offers unparalleled protection, but makes delicate tasks or running guns very difficult. Light, technical gloves are good for dexterity, but offer less protection. You may consider a pair of each, nested inside one another to cover your bases.

#30. Footwear (in addition to hikers) – If you can spare the weight, a backup pair of hiking shoes or boots will ensure you stay mobile while waiting on a pair to dry out, or furnish a replacement if your primaries get damaged.

#31. T-shirts – A couple of fresh shirts will help you stay clean and avoid rashes and other ailments from soiled clothing. Don’t underestimate the value of a fresh set of clothing.

#32. Bandannas – Useful for keeping sun off your head, face and neck, mopping sweat, as impromptu dressings and countless other mundane tasks. Can also pull duty for signaling, or being tied into a small sack or bindle.

#33. Sunglasses –Take care of your peepers! Glare will seriously degrade your vision over time. Quality specialist tints also allow you better contrast in shady or bright light conditions. You can get more protection out of your shades by choosing lenses that are ANSI or Mil-Std. rated against impact and shattering.

#34. Jacket or Coat – Nighttime temps almost anywhere in the world can fall low enough to make hypothermia from exposure, especially when wet, a real threat. If there is any chance you’ll be outside anywhere but the hottest climates bring an insulating outerwear top.

#35. Extra prescription or reading glasses/ contacts – If you cannot get by without them, you can’t get by without them. Bring what you must have to prosper. Two is one, one is none.

Shelter, Clothing and Warmth – What to avoid:

Pajamas – This isn’t a slumber party. You’ll be sleeping in your traveling clothes, any redundant articles of clothing must be spares, not niceties.

Umbrella – Serves only one purpose, and can only do that well in wide open spaces. Leave it at home and use your poncho.

Too Much Clothing – You aren’t travelling for pleasure. Clothes eat up space that comes at a great cost. Face it: you are going to get dirty, smelly and not be washing your clothes too often. Take only what you need to take care of your body and survive.

starting a fire

Fire-Starting

#36. Matches, waterproof – Accept no substitutes. Too small and light to not have a small bundle. You can keep them stashed anywhere, and so long as their protective coating is in place they will be ready to light in wet weather.

#37. Lighters –At least 2. The other fire-starting items we have on the list are great and you should be proficient with them, but for convenience and efficacy, nothing beats a lighter. The classic Bic is a fine choice, and will work in anything except truly freezing conditions. Think carefully before choosing a classic Zippo or similar: they constantly lose fuel, which means you have to carry more for long excursions, and their adaptability to various improvised fuel sources does not outweigh the reliability of modern lighters most of the time.

#38. Ferro Rod – Used with steel tool or striker to create a shower of screaming hot sparks. Small and light, good to have as a backup fire starting method. Does not run out of fuel, so to speak, and can be used in the coldest temperatures with ease.

#39. Magnesium Fire StarterBought as a kit with a Ferro rod or separately, magnesium flakes when ignited burn furiously, and make starting a fire with tinder easy. A tiny bar with attached scraper is typical configuration. May be used in conjunction with other methods.

#40. Tinder – Keep char cloth, Vaseline-soaked cotton, dryer lint, dry shavings, or anything else in a well-sealed container or bag. Tinder is important to ensure you can start a fire using larger fuel wood effectively.

#41. Aluminum Foil – For cooking and fire starting. You can carefully foil into a cigar-sized tube, taking care to leave one end open, and then fill it with slow burning fuel. Once done and lit, it can burn down into a coal that you can safely preserve and move using the foil tube.

#42. Fresnel LensA compact lens designed to focus the sun’s rays into a tiny spot with the intent of starting a fire. Obviously only viable on sunny days, but is small, and can be used as a magnifying glass.

Fire-Starting – What to Avoid:

Standard Matches – Flimsy barbecue or matchbook matches are useless when wet and fragile. One errant spill or dunk into water and their useless. Don’t bring these unless you have no other choice.

flashlight

Light

#43. HeadlampTerrific when on the move or when you need to go hands free and don’t want to hold a flashlight in your teeth. You don’t need extreme high output for this; focus on comfort and long run time. Additional color LEDs or modes may be beneficial.

#44. Flashlight, battery powered – Humans are no good in the dark thanks to our pitiful night vision. Select a model with high output and solid runtime. Don’t forget the weight of batteries. Will be used for illumination indoors and out, signaling, and identification of possible threats.

#45. Flashlight, crank poweredFor backup and long-duration events. As long as you have muscles you can keep the lights on. Efficiency and durability varies greatly with quality. Do your homework before purchasing. Some are little more than novelties.

#46. Solar Charger – Thanks to advances in design and manufacturing, these gadgets are more affordable than ever. Can charge anything that they are rated for, typically via USB outlet. A must have if you are dependent on any electronics like smartphones, GPS, tablets and such.

#47. Chemlights – An often overlooked source of heatless, flameless, safe light. Work well for marking, signaling and general illumination. Beware of cheap party-favor lights. Stick to the mil-spec kind. Note that different colors vary in their lifespan.

#48. Candles – Proper survival candles are surprisingly compact and burn for a very long time. Used obviously for light, but can be used for heating if employed with caution.

Lighting – What to Avoid:

Lantern – Whether battery or liquid fueled, these are too big and bulky for what they offer. Keep them in the vehicle or your INCH bag instead.

map and compass

Communications, Electronics and Navigation

#49. Notebook and Pen/Pencil – For taking notes, leaving messages, sketching, and last ditch tinder. Get a type of paper that is waterproof and pair it with an indelible ink pen to ensure the elements won’t affect your writing.

#50. Emergency AM/FM Radio, hand crankedInvaluable to keep up to date on developing disasters or crisis situations. You won’t be leaving this on all the time, so the hand-crank power supply means you’ll save weight and space on batteries besides not running out of juice till you do! Some nicer models even have a charging port built in for USB’s or 12v adapters.

#51. Cell phone or smartphoneUse with a prepaid calling card. If you have signal and the networks are still functional, nothing beats a cell phone for convenience and speed of communication. Be sure to harden it with a specialty case or keep it in a heavy-duty plastic baggie.

#52. Spare phone battery – Phones gobble batteries, especially smartphones. If you make it a point to keep a charged spare with it, you can drastically extend the time you can make use of either calling or apps between recharges.

#53. Ham Radio – If you know how to use it, the capability of a portable radio is invaluable for both communications and info gathering. Note that they are not plug-and-play: a certain level of skill is required, and they are power hungry. If you are willing to invest the time to utilize them, consider it. If not look at a…

#54. Walkie-Talky – Great for maintaining communications with another member of your party, or another group within short distances. Quality and performance varies wildly with price. Don’t cheap out. Take time to ascertain limitations before committing to carrying one.

#55. GPS – Absolutely lifesaving, if they have signal and power. Makes pathfinding and navigation trivial with a little practice. Another power-hungry tool. Ensure you have spare batteries or charging solution.

#56. Ear buds – Useful to keep noise to a minimum when on the phone or listening to prompts from one of the above devices. Try to choose a decent pair with good reviews for ruggedness and heavy duty cables. Ear-pieces should fit snugly, else they will constantly be coming loose from movement and sweat.

#57. Whistle – Another time honored emergency signaling tool, a whistle can also be used for rudimentary communication using Morse code or pre-arranged signals with another member of your group. Be sure to pick a model that is very loud, and reasonably durable.

#58. Signaling Mirror – Enables you to use the sun in a different way by directing a brightly conspicuous flash over a long distance. Most have a rudimentary hole or notch to be used as a sight. These take some practice to use well, but do work. Also handy for shaving.

#59. Compass – Whether a button or field compass, make sure it is a quality model and calibrated for the hemisphere of the world you are in. Aside from the most basic direction finding, this will do you little good without the knowledge of land navigation and a suitable map to go with it.

#60. Topographic Maps – Specific to the area you are in. Make sure they are up to date and waterproof. The old-fashioned silk survival maps are becoming available again, and are durable.

Hygiene and Sanitation

#61. Toilet Paper – For when nature calls. Keep it in a water proof container. If it gets wet ahead of nature’s call, it will be nearly useless.

#62. Hand Sanitizer – Used after cooking, cleaning, nature’s call or exposure to other biohazards. The variety of communicable diseases and germs you’ll be exposed to during a long-term SHTF incident will be horrifying. Use this to keep from catching or spreading them.

#63. Wet Wipes – For basic hygiene and cleanliness. They don’t replace bathing, but will extend the time you can go between baths greatly.

#64. Toothbrush – Break off the handle to save space. Keeping your teeth in good condition is paramount. Tooth decay, aside from being extremely painful, can lead to life-threatening infections. Take care of your chompers!

#65. Toothpaste – Used obviously with above. Most paste varieties also make a decent metal polish.

#66. Floss – Aside from oral care, most flosses make for fine, strong cordage, suitable for fishing, lashing, sewing and numerous other tasks. A small roll weighs almost nothing, and can be removed from its plastic carton to save even more space.

#67. Comb – Combing your hair helps it stay healthy, and helps you feel your best. The tiny tines of a comb can also be broken off to form “gorge hooks” for fishing.

#68. Shampoo – If you have time and opportunity, shampoo will do the trick for your hair and body when bathing. Also makes for good trade fodder.

#69. Nail Clippers – Another basic element of hygiene. Sure, you can tear or bite your nails short, but aside from being nasty, it makes your nails weaker. Use clippers to keep them short, clean and strong.

#70. Feminine Hygiene Products – Only if required.

#71. Bar Soap – Used for bathing. If left to dry for a short time can be packed away again with no risk of nasty spill inside your pack.

Tools

#72. Knife, fixed blade – A good bushcraft knife is essential for any survival scenario: processing wood, cutting cordage, defense, the list is endless. A beefy fixed is desired for durability and resistance to abuse, especially for batoning of wood.

#73. Backup Knife – Similar to above. In the event of loss or breakage this will save the day. You may choose a duplicate of your above knife or a smaller, but still capable model.

#74. Multi-Tool – A multi-tool will allow you to have the most commonly used tools in a small package. While not the strongest or most efficient, the space savings are considerable. Like everything else on this list, buy quality. Leatherman, Gerber, SOG and Victorinox all make good models.

#75. Pocket Knife – A small pocket knife is great for detail work where your large bush knife would be too imprecise. Also serves as a backup knife in the event your main blade is lost or broken.

#76. Pry Bar – A solid pry bar, while heavy, can help you move or shift heavy objects, access locked or barricaded containers and doors, and also serve as a bludgeon. This will have the most utility for urban dwellers vs. rural preppers.

#77. Hatchet or Camp Axe – The hands-down best tool for felling small trees or saplings and processing them. Not as versatile as a knife, but if you are living in a heavily forested area you should consider carrying one. Also makes for a potent close-quarters weapon.

#78. Wire Saw – This manual “chainsaw” takes up far less room and weight than a hatchet or axe, but can be used to saw through limbs and smaller trees in good order. Not useful for splitting.

#79. Small Hammer and Nails –For quickly assembling wood into something resembling a dwelling, nailing is ideal. Lashing with cordage is fine, but can be time consuming. A small carpenter’s hammer will work best, but you could also use your hatchet if it has a hammer poll.

#80. E-Tool / Folding ShovelThe classic military entrenching tool, whatever guise it comes in, is strong and compact enough to get consideration for any BOB. Sometimes you need to dig, be it for fire, concealment, shelter, sanitation or extrication, and when the time comes a shovel will make short work of it. You can ad-hoc it with another tool, but you risk damaging it and yourself.

Self-Defense, Hunting and Fishing

#81. Gun and Ammo – Pistol, rifle or shotgun, a firearm will serve as your best means of defenses from two- and four-legged critters, as well as your primary game-getter. Make sure it is reliable, clean, oiled and you know how to use it. Shotguns offer the most versatility, but their ammo is by far the bulkiest and heaviest.

#82. Gun Cleaning Kit – Depending on the length of your anticipated excursion, this could be a multi-section rod with a few patches and bottle of oil or a more complete gun care kit with spare parts. Having a reserve of quality gun oil is most important, as many guns will chug along happily dirty so long as they stay oiled.

#83. Body Armor – Depending on your personal scenario, this may be on your body before you set out. Selection requires careful analysis of anticipation and likelihood of threats: armor is heavy, hot and cumbersome, especially hard armor that will defeat rifle rounds. If in a rural or remote location, mobility and concealment are probably better defenses.

#84. Pepper Spray – Pepper spray will serve as your intermediate force option against both animals and people. Essential for urban dwellers or anyone who may be moving to or through unknown concentrations of people. While not 100% effective (what is?) it will give any would-be assailant strong incentive to desist, or severely degrade their vision if they don’t. Buy a quality, police-grade brand.

#85. Bug Repellant – Mandatory for any coastal or heavily wooded areas, and generally a good idea for all. Mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and more all hunger for your blood, and aside from being profoundly irritating their bites may transmit debilitating diseases. Have it on you, and reapply at manufacturers recommended intervals.

#86. SlingshotAn ancient but effective weapon, a modern slingshot loaded with ball bearing ammunition is no toy. Able to take small game easily with a good shot, it might serve you well as a nearly silent hunting tool. Note that like all weapons this will require considerable practice to use effectively. Practice before the SHTF.

#87. Machete – For moving through the densest foliage, machetes are used in cultures around the world. A good machete will let you do the same, as well as serving you as a brutal slashing weapon. Machetes will be of heavier or lighter build depending on the intended technique, and heavier ones may handle tasks like splitting and batoning more similarly to a bush knife or axe.

#88. Fishing/Hunting Vest – A cargo vest of some type will let you keep all your often-used equipment close at hand and easily accessible without having to don and doff your pack every time you need something. This can range from the larger “photog” vest to a minimalist chest rig. Whichever you choose, don’t treat the added room as a license to pack on even more equipment: Ounces make pounds, and pounds make pain.

#89. Bow and Arrows – For those that have the skills to use it a bow makes a fine hunting weapon, being nearly silent, capable of using a variety of heads for different tasks and being adaptable to primitive, homemade ammunition. This is another item that will do you no good if you do not already have the know-how: if you aren’t practiced, leave it at home.

#90. Fishing Rod and Hooks – If you will be traveling through an area with bodies of water well populated by fish, a proper, if spartan, fishing rig is a great choice to provide a steady supply of high quality protein. A little know-how goes a long way, so pack your lures and things according to your anticipated species you’ll try to catch.

first aid case

Medical / First Aid

#91. First-Aid Kit, basic – This kit should be small and contain all of the things needed to treat lesser ailments and injuries, think bumps, scrapes, small cuts and minor burns. Included should be band-aids, antiseptic swabs, ointments, burn relief product and doses of meds for things like headache, allergy, etc.

#92. Suturing Kit – If you sustain a bad laceration in a remote place, or one where there is no medical assistance coming, you’ll need to suture it. A suturing kit uses specialized needles, thread and forceps to close up wounds strongly, promoting healing and keeping foreign material out. Learn how to use it before you take it, but there is something to be said for having it handy in case you run into someone else that can make use of it.

#93. CPR Mask – Gives you a safe, repeatable, no-contact seal with a victim undergoing CPR. Bulky, but an important part of any well-stocked medical kit.

#94. Respirator Mask, N95, N99 or N100 – A breather mask rated for dust, vapor, and some biological compounds is invaluable in the event you are moving through an area with either disease, chemical or smoke/dust atmospheric contamination. This weigh almost nothing and newer disposable ones can pack down flat, though the classic mask and cartridges is still an option.

#95. Painkillers – High-test painkillers for grievous injuries. Sometimes the worst happens to you or someone else, and these will be needed both to calm them down and make them pliable enough for proper treatment. Know what you are doing before stocking or administering these.

#96. Styptic Powder – This powder reacts with blood to staunch bleeding. Typically painful, but useful to stop weeping injuries that do not warrant suturing, or ones to very vascular areas like the head, face or hands.

#97. Arm Sling – Not for long gun, the kind that immobilizes a broken or badly sprained arm. Sure, you can fashion one from whatever cravat, cloth, or neckerchief is handy, but you’ll save a lot of pain and grief from having the purpose-made solution handy. No pun intended…

#98. Thermometer – The onset of a bad fever is no time for folksy measurement or analysis. Having an accurate thermometer can let you track the progress of the fever, helping you determine both when to administer medicines and their effectiveness as well as when to seek serious medical aid.

#99. Antibiotic Ointment – In a survival situation, any cut or scrape can be a vector for infection, and must be treated accordingly. A simple band-aid and antibiotic ointment will serve as the vanguard against infection. Keep a tube in your basic first-aid kit.

#100. Hand and Body Warmers – Aside from their obvious morale boosting benefits, strategically placed warmers along with good attire may very well save your life if you are caught without adequate shelter. Hand warmers alone in pockets or a pouch will keep your blood warm and fingers dexterous in bitingly cold conditions.

#101. Baby Powder – Very helpful in controlling moisture, especially in humid climates. Dampness against your body when combined with lack of air flow and heat will turn into a breeding ground for fungus, bacteria and more. Think under the arms, crotch, feet etc. Powder combined with rotation of clothing will go a long way to keeping you rash and rot free!

#102. Laxative – An odd diet, consisting of novel proteins or one of predominately processed food and stress can lead to pretty severe constipation. While not a problem in the very short term, it can cause issues if not corrected. A few doses of laxatives in your first-aid kit can prevent this often underestimated ailment.

#103. Gauze Pads – Necessary for the packing penetrating wounds as well as treating shallow lacerations. Take a variety of sizes to suit the task or just a roll of thick gauze.

#104. Tourniquet – Tourniquets stop bleeding in the extremities, one of the most common and most preventable forms of ex-sanguinations. There are a variety of types on the market. Not all of them are good. Know what’s what, and learn how to apply it to yourself and others. Bring a couple.

#105. Knee Brace – If your knees are weak, be it from age, old injury or whatever, a knee brace may not be a bad idea to include in your kit. You must assume you will have to walk at some point to save your skin, and if your knee starts a countdown to giving out on you it may spell disaster. A knee brace in such a scenario will both extend your range and minimize pain and damage.

#106. Aspirin – Aspirin is no longer the wonder drug it once was, but is still a valuable addition to your medi-kit, being able to ease pain and even help with heart attacks. Bring high and low doses.

#107.Medical Tape – Mandatory for securing bandages, dressings and more. A roll takes up little space and weighs almost nothing.

#108. EMT/Trauma Shears – If you need to cut off clothing, webbing or footwear to access an injury these are your best bet. There are some situations where swelling or other considerations make simple removal of clothing impossible.

#109. Benadryl – For treating simple allergies and serious allergic reactions. A strong dose can punch out a reaction before it takes hold, but beware: it will make you very drowsy.

#110. Medical Gloves – High quality latex or nitrile gloves will let you perform injury care without exposing yourself to blood-borne pathogens. Also handy for any other task where your hands could be contaminated with oily or noxious substances.

#111. Scissors – Simple, sharp scissors have a variety of uses, and will be handy where the beefy trauma shears are too imprecise. Be sure you have a method to carry them safely, as they will typically lack the blunt tips of the shears.

#112. Antibiotics – You’ll need to get these from an understanding doctor; inform them of what you are anticipating doing, and let them guide you in selection and quantity. When infection sets in, these may well spell the difference between life and death.

#113. Aspercrèam – Sometimes you have a stitch or other muscle ache that is persistent. Aspercream and similar ointments can help you cope with the pain and aid recovery.

#114. Abdominal Pads – For treatment of large wounds or wounds that excrete fluid heavily, abdominal, or ABD, pads are he go-to. These are designed to absorb and wick fluid away from the wound site.

#115. Potassium Iodide – In the event of a radiological threat, be it a power plant meltdown, nuclear strike or dirty bomb, fallout will present a major hazard. Potassium iodide will protect you against ingestion by blocking their uptake in the thyroid gland.

#116. Tylenol – A time honored, safe and reliable pain reliever. Have some on hand in large and small doses.

#117. Tweezers – Most valuable for the extraction of splinter, metal fragments and other tiny but painful shrapnel. Get a good pair made of quality steel that will allow sterilization.

#118. Band-aids – All shapes and sizes. As mentioned above, even a small cut could be deadly if it becomes infected. The chances that you will be exposed to novel germs in a SHTF scenario are very high. Take no chances.

Other and Miscellaneous

#119. Duct Tape – Come on, you knew you weren’t going to make it out of here without seeing this, didn’t you? Duct tapes uses are limited only by your imagination, and has had whole books written about it. It can be used to repair, bind, seal, attach and more. You can include the giant roll if you want, but you can also wrap it around a small stick or something similar to make it easier to transport.

#120. Paracord – Every prepper’s best friend (besides duct tape). Paracord is immensely strong for its size, and can be used for everything from shelter to trapping and more.

#121. ID’s and Documents –Make copies of all your important ID’s and other documents, either paper or on a flash drive, and take them with you. If on a flash drive, ensure they are encrypted and key protected. Think things like mortgages, wills, banking info, deeds, etc.

#122. Sunscreen – Sunburns can be merely annoying to outright debilitating. Clothing will go a long way toward protecting you, but unless you are wrapped up like a mummy there will always be parts of your body exposed. Sunscreen will protect your exposed skin, even if it just your neck, face and hands.

#123. Paper Clips – Sturdy paperclips can be fashioned into lockpicks, trap triggers, fishing hooks and more. Throw a few in with your small tools.

#124. Elastic Bands – Useful for rigging straps, poles and the like, but also work for trap construction. Make sure they are sturdy enough to withstand the elements and repeated applications.

#125. Trash Bags – Numerous uses, from sanitation, solar stills, water storage to containing wet or dirty clothes, boots, etc. Make sure they have quality seams and won’t leak.

#126. Ziploc Bags – Same as above, only smaller. Ziploc brand bags have excellent closures and work well for holding water, waste or merely compartmentalizing your supplies in your pack.

#127. Extra Keys – For home or vehicle. For when you lose your primary pair, or need to hand off a set to a family member.

#128. Mosquito Netting – Stopping or sleeping in an area infested with mosquitoes without one of these will teach you what aggravation is. Make sure you have one with extremely fine mesh, as other jerk biting insects like no-see-ums and other tiny flies can get through the average mosquito net.

#129. Compressed Sponge – A sponge can be a useful item for wicking up water from surfaces that are unexploitable any other way. Keep it dry and tightly bound and it takes up almost no weight or space.

Controversial Items

We all have our own ideas on what a bug-out bag should contain and sometimes it’s best to agree to disagree. That’s why I decided to make a separate list of the non-essential items, the ones that may be important for some but not for others.

#130. E-Reader or Tablet – An E-reader is a unique addition to your BOB packing list for several reasons. It uses very little energy and can hold literally thousands of survival texts and manuals. You can turn off WiFi to prevent tracking as well as save battery life. You should be worried about is the fact that a little water or an EMP event can render it useless. To protect against water you can install it into a special water-tight case. For an EMP, you could put it in a Faraday cage. Faraday cages are themselves contentious because while everyone seems to know how to make one, no one knows if they will actually work.

#131. Compact Digital Camera – There are a couple of things you can do with a digital camera. First, you can take photos every mile or so to find your way back if you get lost. Second, you can use the zoom function to take a better look at things/people. Of course, you can also use binoculars or a monocular for that.

Comfort Items and Foods

There are always those few things that some folks just will not be happy without. Some people will want them, others won’t. It’s up to you whether you want to carry them.

#132. Bottle of Liquor – More than just for relaxation, liquors make great trading goods and serve as icebreakers and social lubricants. Powerful assets when you are an unknown around new people.

#133. Cigarettes/Tobacco – Same as above. Can help you relax or make friends.

#134. Chocolate – A luxury item until very recently in human history. More importantly it is beloved by children the world over and makes for good bait for all manner of rodents. Keeping it intact and unmelted is often an exercise in frustration, however.

#135. Coffee or Tea – Some people just cannot give up their morning or evening cup. A great pick me up, and easy to carry. Also has strong bonding connotations.

#136. Condoms – It may seem odd to have these in one’s BOB, but consider their many uses. You can use them to carry water, keep your long gun’s muzzle from filling with water or dirt, and more.

Final Word

Is there anything not on this bug out bag checklist that you think is missing? Maybe something you yourself have packed to cope with your unique situation, whether it’s a medical issue or something else. Let us know in a comment below.

updated by CHad Nabors 04/24/2018

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About Dan F. Sullivan

My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don't like taking orders. I'm taking matters into my own hands so I'm not just preparing, I'm going to a friggin' war to provide you the best of the best survival and preparedness content out there.

33 comments

  1. Seyed Reza Ahlesaadat

    Hey, can you make a list of the more essential stuff? Because I don’t think anyone can carry all that around. Thanks!

  2. Useful information. Working on putting this together for 3 people.

  3. Help, my BOB is 65 lbs. I keep reading then adding to my BOB. More of my backpacking gear is moving into my BOB. What are the strategies (criteria) for BOB, 72 hour Bag, vehicle Bag?

    More stuff can’t be every answer.

    • Dan F. Sullivan

      Hey Jay,

      You could:

      – remove things that are heavy (extra water, canned food, books)
      – replace some of your gear with lighter alternatives
      – put the rest in your car’s trunk
      – or have a second BOB with the non-essential stuff

      I hope this helps.

    • I had the same problem and still a work in progress. First thing I would recommend is looking at ultra light camping gear that should help a lot, second thing would be have test run and see what you used and start getting rid of non essential items that you thought you needed, and my third suggestion would be invest in learning some bush craft skills and you can probably lighten up your bag some! Hope that helps you and would love to hear how you.are making out Good Luck!

  4. 1) binoculars or monocular
    2) Wet-stone or oil-stone or sharpening tool to keep “alive” your knives and cutting tools.

  5. Try to get all of you critical electronics (radios, lights) using common batteries (AA). Also, lithium batteries are considerably lighter than their alkaline counterparts.

    Make sure that your stainless steel water bottle is SINGLE walled. A double walled (thermos) style could rupture or explode if placed in a fire when trying to boil water or cook.

    Collapsible bowl (rubber or silicon).
    Alcohol or mini wood-gas stove. (Small thermal signature while cooking. A campfire draws a lot of attention).
    ANSI rated safety glasses or goggles.
    Combat gauze. (Kaolin)

    If you plan on carrying any important documents, print them out on Write-in-the-Rain paper. (You may need a laser printer to print on Write-in-the-Rain paper)

    Good article…keep getting the word out…

    • How would a double walled stainless cup or thermos explode? Its a vacuum in between the walls not a gas so what’s there to expand?

      • I don’t know if it would explode, but it certainly is defeating the purpose to try and heat water in the vacuum insulated bottle. The point of the bottle is to insulate the inner contents from the temperature outside. You definitely want a stainless steel (inside and out) non insulated bottle. Kleen Kanteen has some in a variety of sizes. The Backpacker stove referenced in this article requires bottled
        fuel that may not be available in an emergency situation – check out the Firebox stove at http://www.Fireboxstove.com. The stove can be used with a little alcohol burner (lots of DIY projects for these), a backpacking stove that uses gas or with wood . The 5″ Firebox has a “boiler ring” that fits nicely around a 40 oz Klean Kanteen. The titanium G2 3″ Nano version only weighs 6 oz and folds down to 1/4 inch thick.

  6. A hat, with brim, wool, one each, with wool scarf, usable in cold and heat. Other clothing as appropriate

  7. What hand crank chainsaw are you referring to? The smallest chainsaw I know of is what is called a climbing saw used to cut small limbs while climbing a tree with spurs to cut it down. Just seems impractical for a bug out bag.

  8. I’d add 6′ of 1/2″ or 3/4″ hose to use for syphoning gas

  9. Hey Jay, I found the same problem. I had a back surgery in my twenties and now in my sixties it take a lot to tote around a 70 lb. pack. I live in Maine and some of the cold winter weather with wind can make life unpleasant. I work 35 miles from home so my answer to winter is a great heavy duty sled that fits in the trunk that carries several bags of gear. I have pulled it several times with over 100 lbs. of gear. My bags are water proof and the sled has a cover and I use a body safety strap so I can be hands free. For the summer I use a take down deer recovery cart. It has rubber wheels and rated for 250 lbs. It also comes apart and fits in the trunk and can connect to the body harness.

    • Like you I’m in my 60’s with several back surgeries. Seems to me I could do a lot more(skills) with a lot less (gadgets). I agree 1 is none & two is one. A 35 lb pack & a handgun, rifle and ammunition puts me near 50. I tell folks take your pack on a 5 mile 3 day hike in inclement weather. At the end you will know what you can hump & what you NEED. Love your idea, adding a sled for winter!

      • Walk fit orthitic insoles @ walkfit.com.
        Absolutely the best $20 I ever spent in my life ever.
        It takes a painful few days for your feet to get used to the prospect of walking without straining your muscles but after that they just roll… and you can say goodbye to any back, knee of foot pains.

  10. How about cordage?

  11. I have had several heart attacks and surgeries so I can not carry anything heavy. So I allways use a personal shopping cart with good wheels to carry my things when I travel instead of a backpack. It is handy and takes a lot of goodies, even my folding reclining chair for the old man.
    Congratulations for your list it is the best one I have read.
    All the best.

  12. Cute list, but who would take canned tuna over packaged if you are saving space and weight… only complaint!

  13. Here’s a good one… a Buff.
    https://youtu.be/ewVEK-AElDY

  14. It’s a comprehensive list, I figure if 80% of my needs are met I’m doing pretty good. To get anywhere from where I live I would have to cross a desert, so a lot more water is what I would add. But if I left my rural home people from the city would be here in short order.

  15. I would disagree (slightly) on avoiding MREs…they are heavier than freeze-dried, but can be eaten as is or heated (most now contain heaters), don’t need water (except for a very small amount to activate the heater) and if combined with dried fruits (raisins, etc) the constipation problem can be avoided, plus they have become better of late.

  16. This list is way to much so I’m giving it a 2 star rating. You want to keep things simple and use the less is more concept.

    1. Something for shelter if needed. This could be as simple as a rain poncho or light wool blanket.
    2. Something to purify water. Water is everywhere. Carrying it is way to heavy. But making it drinkable is crucial. A pocket purifier is what I suggest.
    3. A way to make fire. This could be as simple as a lighter or as complex as a flint and steel. The only requirement is that it works for you.
    4. A good knife. This will be the most used tool you can carry. Make sure it’s full tang and big enough you can baton with it.
    5. Cordage. As simple as a paracord bracelet or a spool of bank line will be good .

    This is really all you need and should be the basis of any kit. Of course environment matters. In urban areas shelter will be abundant but a good wool blanket will still come in handy. Water will be plentiful but you would still want to purify it. In an urban environment I would substitute a a water bottle with built in filter over the pocket purifier. In a city you might want a more concealable knife but would have to be aware of the laws surrounding its carry.

    The point is to keep it simple. To much will just be a waste.

  17. Where is the absolute essentials list? This is WAAAAAY too much for most people.

  18. Toilet paper Vs Flushable Wipes – Army for 28 Years (Abn/Ranger Infantry/Aviation -160th) Scouting for 15+ – Drop the Toilet Paper (TP) and go with Flushable Wipes. 30- 40 flushable wipes fit in a snack zip lock bag and in your pocket – a few more bags in your backpack or go bag, and a few more in the car. Always accessible. Even in a bag – once wet – TP is useless forever. The worst that can happen to flushable wipes is that they dry out – an ounce of water in the bag (even if the bag has a hole) will re-hydrate them for immediate use. Finally, wipes just do a better job than (even dry/soft) TP.

  19. Where can I
    get a Buff ? Very practical…..

  20. Two suggestions: (1) Compact religious book such as Bible, Quran, etc for emotional comfort and a place to find prayers should, God forbid, you have to bury someone and (2) hand, foot, and body warmers in late fall and winter. A ground pad helps a lot on top of tent floor or tarp but depending on your physical condition and age.

  21. Wilson E. Stevens

    I am not a knife authority or expert by any criteria. I have carried and used knives for over 65 years now, and own several hundred from all the major brands, and a dozen bench made or private made knives, including some by Jimmy Lile. I have some opinions about knives I would like to pass along. First, almost all name brand knives, Buck, Gerber, Case, Kershaw, Schrade, Swiss Army, etc. are good workable knives. My personal choice is the Schrade brand for quality at a very reasonable cost.

    Pocket Knives:
    I have carried and used the Schrade Old Timer 8OT Senior Stockman for over 50 years as my knife of choice. It is currently selling for $17.81 on Amazon. Remember 50 years ago Tactical knives didn’t exist. I also like and carry if needed the Swiss Army Tinker knife.

    Fixed Blade Knives:
    I have and use a Schrade Uncle Henry Bowie knife as my large camp knife. It lists for around $42.00 but is on sale for $26.00 often. For hunting and dressing field game I have a Schrade Old Timer 15OT Deerslayer with a Sure Grip Handle and Leather Sheath. I purchased this sometime in the 1960’s, and still use it when required. I like my KA-BAR Leather Handled Hunters knife but would replace it with a Micarta handle knife for a survival situation. If I were to be limited to only one fixed blade knife I would select a knife similar to the ONRAT7: RAT-7 Survival Knife by the Ontario Knife Company or the KA-BAR 1282 D2 Extreme Fighting Knife 7″ Combo Blade, Kraton G Handle, Kydex Sheath

    Tactical Knives:
    My tactical knife of choice is a Spyderco Military Folding Knife. I have two that I use interchangeably, one with a stainless steel handle, which makes it hard to handle with bloody hands. The other is a fancy handle made from turquoise, and abalone shell and my name engraved on it. Another Spyderco knife has a Micarta handle and 4-inch lock-back blade. I don’t remember the model or number of the knife. I have and use two different Schrade Tactical knives, one with a drop point, and the other with a Tanto point. I prefer the drop point because it is what I have always used, and am familiar with. The drop point knife also has a thicker blade, better lock, and handle, making it the heaviest and thickest of my tactical knives.

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