7 Easy Essentials Your Bug Out Bag Has To Include To Survive

bug out bag essentials
As an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Over the past few decades, there has been a lot of talk about bugging out, with many of the survival blogs containing one or more posts about creating a bug out bag and the ultimate bug out bag packing list. The subject of bugging out is a popular one and understandably so.

Natural disasters like flash floods, tornados, earthquakes, and hurricanes can force survivalists to run in search of safer grounds. We constantly faced with a multitude of potential disasters, either human-made or natural.

Long-term disasters like an over oppressive government, pandemic, plague, war, agricultural disaster, economic collapse, ecological collapse and more are also a common threat and can force people to seek out safer hiding grounds.

Bug out bags are essential if you don’t have a bunker or retreat

Bug out bags are a temporary survival plan that any good survivalist should have. It is a backup plan that allows you to survive if you are forced to leave your home. It’s, however, important to understand that a bug out bag can only keep you safe for a few days. As such, you may want to consider a pre-set up retreat that’s fully stocked to ensure your survival in the event of a long-term disaster.

It would be great if you had a stockpile of food, medicine, water and other gear at your retreat. What’s left after you’ve done that is to hope that you get past carjackers, blocked roads, checkpoints or any other hazards on your way there unscathed. Better yet, pray that you don’t find other people already settled in your retreat and if you do, pray that they don’t outnumber you or aren’t armed. If possible, learn how to raise small livestock, grow your own food and know your neighbors before disaster strikes.

Putting your bug out bag together

The bug out bag is, for many preppers, an escape and evasion bag or a grab and go bag that can be used to escape to the hills to hide from danger. Living away from civilization scrounging for shelter and food in the forest for a significant length of time is achievable, but not by everybody.

The struggle to stay alive in such an environment would be severe, and as such, many would not survive for very long. But when your only option is to bug out and survive a few days in hiding, it’s worth being prepared. Having a stocked bug out bag will offer a better chance of surviving the dangerous times ahead. Having a hidden cache that’s full of survival gear is a prospect that everyone should consider.

Personally, I keep a few bug out bags around my home. But I will only leave my home if that’s the only option I have. It’s important that you have a disaster buddy who can take you in if a disaster hits your area. If you can make it to a government shelter, then good for you. These shelters aren’t for me as I am one of those people who like to trust their skills and wits rather than the government to survive. (As you may have gathered from my other posts around living off grid)

​Recommended reading:

What should you put in your bug out bag?

Truth be told, the answer to this question depends a lot on your personal preferences. There are several factors to consider, including where you want to go, time of the year, your skills and more that should be considered when putting together a bug out bag. This explains why every bug out list is unique and why there isn’t one that fits all individuals and needs. Looking at the bug out lists put together by different people can, however, give you a good idea of what your bug out bag should contain.

Knowing where to get started when putting together a bug out bag is hard for many new survivalists. The good news is that as long as you cover all the basics, you have a 99% chance of survival compared to other people. The items that should be packed in a bug out bag are generally classified into seven types including water, food, clothing, shelter, first aid kit, self-defense, and essential gear.

Water and hydration

The most essentials that every survivalist should have in their bug out bag is some water. It is an absolute must have in your bug out bag. According to Livescience, the human body can survive for up to three weeks without food but only 72 hours without water or hydration. Consider packing a minimum of one liter per person per day. Some of the items I recommend include water purification tablets (at least 3), water filtrations systems, metal water bottle/canteen, hard water bottle and a minimum of three liters of water.

When it comes to packing water, there are two primary considerations that you should make i.e. containers and filtration.

There are many ways to filter water including porous membrane filters, coagulants, chemicals and UV lights. I highly recommend one or more Lifestraw for water filtration. It is a compact, lightweight lifesaver that can help filter up to 99.9% of harmful microbes and bacteria from water that cannot be drunk without some form of treatment like boiling.

Containers, such as the aforementioned water bottles, offer a comfortable way of carrying water and quickly accessing it without throwing things out. They are also space friendly and lightweight. Canteens can also be used for this purpose. Don’t forget to fill at least one container with water before you head out in case you don’t come across any to filter or gather for a while.

Food and food preparation

This is obviously important as no one knows for how long you may be forced to be in a hideout. Many people in the preparedness community are often eager to recommend off-the-shelf, dehydrated store bought items. I think that packing non-perishable foods, with some that require water, is best. It’s, however, important to note that there’s no assurance to how much water scarcity you may experience. As such, you should plan for more scarcity than what you have in mind.

You should at least three days worth of supplies in your bug out bag. Some people tend to use plastic cookware but for durability and heat resistance, consider metal cookware and cooking utensils.

The biggest danger you face when it comes to lack of food is that the brain requires calories to function properly and when starving, you can’t think straight. To avert such a risk, consider the following in your bug out bag – carried food, equipment used for trapping, fishing and hunting. Keep in mind that nets and hooks can be improvised from items you find in the wild so packing a knife is essential as it can double as a procurement item.

batoning wood with a survival knife

Ensure that you have little weight, yet high-calorie foods in your bug out bag. The larger the kit, the more, tastier food you can carry. Consider packing a bottle of olive oil as each teaspoon contains 120 calories and it can double as fuel for fire. For hunting purposes, a knife, blowgun, slingshots, gun, and bola can prove to be useful supplies.

Not many bug out bags can accommodate a lot of cooking supplies and cookware, so consider a bigger bag if you want to bring along a compact camping stove.


The next thing you should worry about when putting your bug out bag together is shelter and bedding. You definitely want to pack a backpacking tent in your bug out bag. However, if your bag isn’t big enough to accommodate this, consider a space blanket, keeping in mind that it can only be used once.

Space blankets should be utilized as a last resort as they aren’t very durable and tend to tear easily. A survival tarp is best if you have a medium sized tarp, which can be used as a rain sheltered area outside of your packed tent or to make a field-expedient tent. The tarp also acts as a rain collection device.

An ultralight 2-person backpacking tent is probably the best way to ensure you stay dry and warm. The technology used to make these tents has improved significantly over the past decade, and it’s quite easy to get an actual tent for the same weight as a tarp or bivy.

Lack of proper insulation can lead to loss of body heat to the ground. A sleeping mat, although pricey and take up more room, can make your rest more comfortable one. A mosquito net, depending on the climate, may be required if you don’t have a tent. A sleeping bag can make things so much easier and your night warmer when you sleep outside. Consider an emergency bivy if you are carrying a smaller bag as a sleeping may not fit.


Choosing clothing for your bug out bag is a personalized selection as everyone has different body types. What you choose to pack will ultimately depend on the climate of your location. Choose items that can be layered to maintain a healthy body temperature at all times.

It’s also important that you evaluate the clothing in your bug out bag every six months and at such times, you’ll want to ensure that your clothes are seasonal and can be swapped out when the need arises. Always have two sets of clothes so that you always have a dry set available.

After all, the last thing you want in bug out situations is wet clothing. It is uncomfortable and presents a real risk of hypothermia. A lightweight long sleeve shirt, shemagh, rain poncho, working gloves, hat with flex brim, medium weight fleece, 3 pairs of wool hiking socks, underwear and convertible pants are some of the clothing I keep in my bug out bag.

Heat source

There are many ways to start a fire outdoors. However, without the right tools, the task can prove a lot harder. For instance, it’s harder to start a fire by rubbing two sticks as compared to what you see on TV.

Survival knife

Fire is an essential that you need to have access when forced to bug out, and as such, it’s always a good idea to have a heat source with you. The two most important considerations you will need to make in a survival situation regarding fire are fuel and ignition.

I will not go through all the methods of lighting a fire outdoors because I can never exhaust them but here are a few ideas that may prove useful.


It won’t hurt to pack a small magnifying glass in your bug out bag. It can easily fit into a pouch. However, refrain from packing one that’s too small as its effectiveness will reduce considerably. You can also shape ice into the form of a lens or use the bottom end of a soda bottle can be used in the place of a magnifying glass.


Opt for double duty as it ensures you have what you need while keeping the weight of your bug out bag down. Water bottles often contain potassium permanganate, and can also fit comfortably into your bug out backpack. If combined with some form of glycerin such as brake fluid, transmission fluid or gel tablets, potassium permanganate burns hot and doesn’t need to be lit. It is a great option if you are in a wet environment.

Steel wool and batteries

Rubbing steel wool, which in reality is just a bunch of wires, against a 9v battery completes the circuit, and a current large enough to burn out the wires is produced. Keep in mind that you should pack several batteries as standard ones are only 1.5v, and as such, you will need to connect at least six of them in a series to produce enough current.

Ferrocerium rod

This is a favorite among many outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists as it can create sparks more than 3000 degrees Fahrenheit when scraped with a sharp edge or rough surface.You can also consider packing cotton balls that you’ve soaked in petroleum jelly or fire pistons in your bag. A steel and flint combination can also be used to start a fire when you’re forced into a survival situation. Whatever you decide to pack as your heat source, ensure that you keep it in waterproof storage. It’s also important that you have at least two heat sources in your bag.

First Aid Kit

This is one of the most important essentials you need to have in your backpack. You want to ensure that in case you are injured or become sick in the woods, you have a way of treating yourself or at least ensuring that you slow down an infection. Several things should go into your first aid kit including bandages, antibacterial gels and alcohol wipes. If you have a larger bug out bag, you can pack more medical items. Here are a few essentials I keep in my first aid kit, and although you won’t find them in everyone’s grab and go bag, they can prove useful.

First Aid Kit


This will come in handy if you get blisters, which will most likely happen in a disaster scenario where you will be forced to do a lot more walking than you are usually used to.


It is a foot fungus gel that serves as effective anti-fungal as well as anti-bacterial treatment. It is a must have in your survival kit.

Sunscreen and Bug Repellant

Do I need to explain the importance of having sunscreen in your inventory?


Gotta have several chap sticks packed. They can prove useful not just for your lips, but also for use with lint or cotton balls to help start a fire.

Weapons and self-defence

The topic of arms and self-defence is a highly controversial one that is covered in many ways with various points of view. The important thing you should know is that your bug out bag should have something that can help you defend yourself. I keep a pistol, and spare ammo in mine just in case things go south. I think a minimum of 25 rounds of ammo is best. A cleaning kit is also essential.

best compound bow

A fishing line and bell can also prove useful because if tied together, they can alert you when someone else or a wild animal wanders into your camp at night.

best fishing lures

A Kevlar fabric vest is important in case you ever find yourself in a war zone – but maybe we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves. If carrying a weapon is not authorized in your area, pepper spray won’t be enough to defend yourself. Consider signing up for defence classes to learn the basics. This is particularly important if you have family that depends on you for their safety.

There are more essentials that you will need to pack in your bug out bag including:


Many preppers make the mistake of overlooking the importance of personal hygiene when putting their bug out bags together. However, not using items like hand towels, hand sanitizer, travel size toothbrush and toothpaste, all-purpose camp soap, wet napkins, travel toilet paper and other personal hygiene items for an extended period can lead to bacterial infections as well as rapid deterioration of health.


Like heat sources, it’s important that you pack several illumination sources. Some options you should consider for lighting include batteries, candles, mini LED light, a light glowstick, mini LED keychain and LED headlamp.


Items like an emergency radio with a hand crank, crank power charger, and a cell phone will prove useful when in a bug out situation.

Travel aids

The last thing you need in a survival situation is to get lost. As such, it’s important that you pack your compass and local area map. Other travel aids you should have in your bug out bag include a minimum of $500 in small bills, gold/silver bullion coins, emergency whistle and small notepad and pencil.

Putting together a bug out bag is a very personalized task. There are many things you need to think about because you never know what circumstances befall you.

How will you feed? What about the water supply? What if a hurricane or war hits your city? What are you willing to do to survive?

As long as you know your priority, which in this case is staying alive, packing our bug out bug should be easy.

Lastly I’ll leave you with this character:

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *