A bug out bag, for those that don’t know, is your lifeline should you ever be faced with having to leave your home in an instant. It is a bag that contains tools and gear which, assuming you know how to use them, will help you survive in an off grid or wilderness situation. If you consider yourself a prepper, you must have one.

The challenge with the bug out bag is knowing what to pack in it and being able to use everything you have in it. Remember, you will be carrying this bag around, so weight is an important consideration. Don’t pack a bag that weighs 60 pounds if you know that you can’t possibly hike around with 60 pounds on your back for hours at a time.

My Bug Out Bag Gear

My bug out bag gear

When considering what gear to include, I like to make sure that I have things that fit in the following categories: lighting, fire making, shelter, cordage, water, food, tools, first aid & hygiene, and security.

Below is my list of gear for each of these areas.  This is not “the” list for bug out bag gear.  This is what I choose to carry based on my unique situation.  Yours will most certainly differ from mine.  I listed this here to both help you get some ideas on what you might need.  I also wanted to list mine to get other comments on what I might be missing.

1. Lighting

I mean anything that will help you see in the dark. Items I have included in my BOB are a small flashlight and glow sticks. It is my belief, under non-emergency circumstances, I won’t need to do too much at night so being able to see isn’t that important. However, should the need arise, I want to have something to help see in the dark.

2. Fire making

Since fire can truly make the difference between life and death in the wilderness, I want to make sure I have several options available to me to get one going. At this time, I have a torch lighter, a magnesium fire block, and wind & water proof matches. One glaring item missing is prepackaged tinder.

A great idea for prepackaged tinder is stuffing a few empty toilet paper rolls with dryer lint (kept in a ziploc bag) as a means of creating a tinder ball. This way, if the resources available to you in the wild don’t include material to make a natural tinder ball, you can still get your fire started.

Make sure that you practice getting fires started when you aren’t in dire need. This will go a long way in getting one going in the wild. Learn how to use the fire making methods you carry with you. It’s also a very good idea to learn how to make primitive fire, just in case you happen to lose your BOB.

3. Shelter

In the survival rule of threes, you can only survive three hours without shelter, especially in areas where hypothermia is a real threat. You must be able to protect yourself from wind, water, cold and in some cases, the sun. For shelter purposes, I have an 8×10 foot tarp, an emergency poncho, two emergency foil blankets and a large, two person survival blanket. I don’t carry a tent because I have confidence in my ability to make a natural shelter wherever I wind up.

4. Cordage

Cordage is also a great tool to help with shelter building. I have probably gone a bit overboard with the cordage that I have in my pack, but what I have doesn’t take up too much space or weight. I have included a spool of mason line, a spool of 100 pound fishing line, a spool of pliable wire, a long length of rope and two rope cinch kits, a couple of miscellaneous pieces of rope (these were thrown in here for lack of a better place for them), a 25’ plastic clothes line, and some canvas buckled straps.

5. Water

Dehydration is always a real threat in any off grid or wilderness survival situation. You need to be able to find, carry and purify water. in order to survive. Three days is the maximum amount of time you can go without water. Keep in mind, dehydration shows its effects much sooner though. These include headache, listlessness, dizziness, and an inability to think or concentrate. While not immediately life threatening, all of these can kill you because you need to be mentally sharp during any survival situation.

My bags have a camelback system, so I can always carry water. I also have water purification tablets and a couple of life straws. My cooking pot will also serve as a means of carrying water and purifying it by boiling it over a fire. I also have a metal water bottle and about 15 feet of plastic tubing. I carry this because I live near a lot of salt water and brackish water. This gives me a means of desalinating this water.

6. Food

I have a small backpack stove with solid fuel tabs, a mess kit, and a fishing kit. I also have a bit of food to eat if I am unable to hunt or gather anything else.  This is one area where I’m counting on my skills to reduce the amount I have to carry.  I can hunt and fish and will rely on these skills to feed me in an off grid survival situation.

7. Tools

I have a small hatchet, two large knives, two folding knives, a folding shovel, binoculars, a Leatherman multi-tool and a small pair of scissors. The shovel might not be a necessity, however, it can serve many purposes such as digging a latrine, digging a cook pit, fire pit, or a pit needed to purify/desalinate water. I have an emergency whistle with compass as well. I believe that these are all must have tools for any survival situation.

8. First aid and hygiene

I carry two first aid kits (large and small), hand sanitizer, a small hygiene kit (toothbrush and past, soap, dental floss) and a roll of toilet paper. The ability to brush my teeth and wipe my ass will go a long way for my mental health as well as my physical health.  Figure out those things that you need to help you stay clean and healthy.

9.  Security

I have a Taurus 9mm pistol and extra ammo for hunting as well as security.  This is a personal choice for everyone based on what you are comfortable with, what you know how to use, what you can afford, etc.  I do recommend that you have something, even if it is just pepper spray.

I know that my BOB is probably different from most everyone else out there, however, I believe that we all have gear that fits into the important categories of lighting, fire making, shelter, cordage, water, food, tools, and first aid & hygiene.

Let’s hear your thoughts. What do you include in your bug out bag? What do you think is missing in mine?

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