Bug Out Bags are far more common than you may think. If you’ve ever had a pregnancy in your house, you know that when it starts getting close to the baby being born momma usually keeps an overnight bag next to the front door so it’s easy to grab and run.
This is, technically, a bug out bag. Taking this idea and making it more about survival than comfort after a pregnancy, bug out bags are crucial when talking about emergencies, both big and small. The idea that you can grab one bag and survive for 48 hours or more is not only important, it’s downright necessary.
Knowing you need a bug out bag and actually making one are two very different things. Getting started with a bug out bag can be somewhat daunting, as you want to be as prepared as possible but don’t want to make your bag 100 pounds in the process. Making a bug out bag is a personal process, so we won’t try to tell you exactly what to have in yours, but we will suggest some essentials that might get overlooked otherwise. Start with these and you’ll be off to building the perfect bug out bag for you.
No matter why you’re building your bug out bag, having at least one fire starting tool is vital. A flint and steel is a perfect choice here, but having a lighter too definitely won’t hurt. If your emergency takes you into nature, the need to start a fire is very real. From cooking to keeping warm to simple security, fire is a key piece to the survival puzzle, so make sure you have what you need to start one.
2. First Aid Kit
Depending on your exposure to survivalist techniques, you may not think to keep a first aid kit in your bug out bag, but trust us, it’s worth its weight in gold. In an emergency situation even the simplest of wounds can turn dangerous quickly. You don’t need to build your own kit, there are many for sale that will do the job nicely and simply.
Never underestimate the importance of a good flashlight. Carrying one in your Every Day Carry (EDC) is important, but keeping a strong yet light flashlight in your bag is important, too. Having a flashlight with you in an emergency means you can use that first aid kit you packed when it's dark, you can safely find wood for a fire, and safely travel in the dark without risk of injury. We’re used to the ambient light of civilization, but in the woods or in a massive power failure, dark is dark and without a light you won’t see a thing.
4. Good Knife
You should always carry a knife with you as a part of your EDC, but above and beyond this, you really need to keep a solid survival knife in your bug out bag, too. A proper survival knife can shave wood for kindling, cut branches for a shelter, prepare meat and other food items, and even be used for defense. Choosing the right knife for survival is important, but whatever you choose, make sure it lives in your bug out bag.
5. High Energy Food
Surviving is difficult work. There’s a lot of walking, possibly even some running, you’re carrying your bug out bag, and doing a lot of things you’re not used to. In short, you’re burning a lot of energy. Pack a few days worth of high energy foods like power bars, energy gels, and other high calorie and carb foodstuffs to keep you going. This way, you can focus on other important tasks without worrying about finding food.
A tarp is an invaluable piece of survival equipment. Sure, they’re not the smallest of things, but they can make a world of difference if you’re stuck outdoors for a few days. You don’t need a party tent-sized tarp, just something big enough for you to lie on and tie above you in a partially-open shelter. This way, you’re off the ground and dry from the bottom and protected from rain above. This simple shelter can keep you dry and keep you from getting sick or run down when you’re trying to survive.
In a perfect situation, most people need around one gallon of water every day to stay healthy. In a survival situation this can be lowered slightly but not by much. Dehydration is serious business and can kill you in days, not weeks. Think of it this way: your last bad hangover was caused mostly by dehydration. That’s how you feel after being dehydrated for a few hours; imagine what you’d feel like after a day or two. Pack at least 64 ounces of water in your bag, and ideally a full gallon if weight and space allows. Do this in a few smaller bottles in case one leaks or is lost. You can also keep water purification tablets or a small water purification device, but with these you should still keep at least 1–2 bottles of unopened bottled water, too.