Bug Out Bag-How to Build One

A bug out bag (BOB) is a cute name for a very serious piece of survival equipment. Many people don’t put enough serious thought into deciding which brand, what type of material,what size, etc. their bag should be. Just like there are no two people who are identical, the makeup of BOB’s won’t be identical. Let’s examine some issues.

Let’s begin with an easy question. Do you select a bag which is large enough to carry all the supplies you feel you need, or a bag that fits your body style and strength, leaving some supplies out? The easy answer … it Depends.

Doesn’t matter if you are addressing a real life crisis situation, or a weekend overnight hike, your intent is to be on the move. Therefore, the first requirement is the bag must allow you to carry it, fully loaded, comfortably for long periods of time. That doesn’t mean requiring help to put the bag on and only being able to walk a mile before you have to stop because you’re exhausted or the straps have dug so deeply into your shoulders you can’t take the pain.

Sounds like an easy remedy, buy a smaller, comfortable bag and adjust your supplies to the space available. You’ll be surprised if packed correctly, how much you can get into a small area. This is an answer, but not the only one. Anyone with military experience is probably snickering right now. The military decided for you what was required and you just had to adapt to make it work. Too heavy to lift and put on? Sit and attach it. Too heavy to get up off the ground after securing it? Get help from another grunt. Straps hurt? Get used to it.


Many survivalists will agree with this strategy and they have some valid points. Supposedly, you have thoroughly researched your needs and decided such & such items are required for your survival. Based on that logic, if you start unloading vital supplies because of the weight factor, you are reducing your chances of survival with each eliminated item.

As usual, although sometimes hard to attain, a down the middle answer is the best. Attempt to buy a bag, that when fully loaded, is comfortable as far as straps, etc are not painful to endure, but the weight will tax your strength limit. You will become stronger as your body adjusts to the extra weight it is now carrying, although you’ll be sore the next day if you haven’t hiked in a while, plus as you use items the weight will reduce.

Deciding What to Pack

This research can drive you absolutely nuts. There are so many survivalist suggestions for the absolutely bare necessities you must include, from what I’ve found they are all excellent depending on the situation, but it’ll make your head spin and wallet shrink. If this is too much of a hassle to handle, or you just don’t know what you’ll need, you can buy prep-packaged bags ready to go. However, keep in mind no two bags are the same and they are constructed with a specific area and anticipated needs. In other words, a bag designed for usage in American Southwest (Arizona) would do little good in the Canadian Rockies. To have a bag that fulfills your every anticipated need, build it yourself.

Customizing Your Kit

Let’s begin with general categories of survival supplies:

Shelter/safety Protection …. tent, sleeping bag, etc

Water … sterilizing methods, metal cup, etc.

Fire … Methods to start a fire, matches, lighter, flint & steel, fire-stick, etc,

First Aid … small first aid kit is best

Hygiene … soap, tooth brush, etc.

Food …

Tools … fold-up spade, etc

The types of items you choose for each of these categories will depend directly on your personal knowledge. The more you know how to use various items, the more useful and efficient the items in your pack will be in an emergency situation and the less you will have to pack. It must be noted here, the bug out bag will be packed differently than a bag used for hiking, as it is designed to include items which will save your life in an emergency, not add to your enjoyment, like music playing devises. Although content will differ, packing strategy remains essentially the same as a properly packed bag will be easier to carry and will hold more.

General Packing order: Heavy items at the bottom of the bag … lighter at top.

Gear: Unless you’re going snorkeling, then it doesn’t matter, it’s important to keep your gear dry. There are professional grade plastic bags available, but I have found Ziploc bags work just as well. Lining you bag with a commercial grade trash bag will help keep moisture out and gives you an extra way of carrying things should the need arise.

Test Your Gear: Always test your equipment, and the best way to test your kit is to actually go and try it out. Spending time using your bag under non-disaster conditions will not only help you determine what is essential and what may be missing, but also allows you to test out your equipment and become more proficient with its use. Waiting until you’re lost before trying your handy GPS, which doesn’t work, is not wise. That’s all I’ll say on that subject.

Let’s Check Out More Tips:

Make your list of what you want your bag to hold. Double check it to make sure you haven’t overlooked something. Satisfied you have everything? Great. Now … start scratching items off the list. The bag is for essentials, not comfort, it can’t hold your entire life. Put it to the test. Think you need everything you have packed? Strap on the bag and walk around the neighborhood for an hour or so, then head out and take on some hills. Chances are you’ll be more than willing to discard items when you return home.

Once you have finished your trial and error procedure and have your bag packed, perform an inspection, at least semi-annually, to insure no food has spoiled or medicines or vitamins have expired. Rotate your stock. Such as a vitamin may be good for 3 years, but a particular food for 1 year and it’s already 6 months old. Replace.

Being new to the survival way of thinking there’s a tendency to buy everything available, just like a kid in the candy store. Gotta have it all. If money is no problem, then I’m not so sure you’re the type for a bug-out, but anyway, monetary expenses are not the only factor to consider. There’s a term known as opportunity cost, which simply means there’s only so much room in the bag, so much money to purchase things, so much weight that can be carried. If you are maxed out and an opportunity to acquire something more valuable or useful presents itself, you must either not obtain that item or obtain it and leave something behind in order to make room. That’s why it’s important to choose carefully what you pack.

Ever hear of Murphy’s law? If something can go wrong it will is essentially the meaning. Keep spares of items that are essential. Remember you are going to have to survive on what you brought with you. Two super compact yet powerful flashlights, like a Surefire E1L, pocket sized, is better than a super duper high intensity, it’ll light up a football field, that you have to discard because it’s too heavy to carry.

Plans and rules are made to be broken, but they serve a purpose. Have a plan in place and pack your bag in accordance to that plan. If you anticipate hiding near a lake, fishing gear is essential, hiding in a cave, flashlights and fire starting equipment is a must. You get the idea.

Learning skills will allow you to adapt, be more creative and require packing less equipment that you can substitute natural materials with, a limb line instead of a fishing pole, plus skills can be used as barter should the need arise. I strongly suggest packing a softback survival manual, nobody can know it all, but the book may contain it.

We will look at other factors in other posts, such as having multiple bug out bags, creating hidden caches and overlapping functions, but for now this is enough to digest.








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