Throwback Thursday—The Essential Preppers Guide to Packing a Bug-Out Bag

By Suzanne Wiley published on in Camping & Survival

September is National Preparedness Month. Be ready! Have a plan and make an emergency kit. The Shooter’s Log has all the information you need to prepare for disasters.

It’s not if, it’s when.

Bug-out bag, bail-out bag, BOB, 72-hour kit, or go-bag. Whatever you want to call it, the bug-out bag is a survival kit, usually packed in an easily transportable container like a backpack that holds all the tools you need to survive the first 72 hours of a disaster. The mentality behind building a BOB is for you, your family and loved ones to be fully prepared to get out of Dodge quickly if the need arises. In your go-bag is everything you feel you need to survive a 72-hour evacuation from your home. The most popular items you find in bug-out bags are food, water—or a way to procure it—a fire starter, multi-tool, essential medicines, first-aid kit, flashlight, rain gear, an emergency blanket or shelter, a knife, cordage of some sort, and cash.

Remember the Rule of Threes. You can live:

  • Three hours without shelter
  • Three days without water
  • Three weeks without food

What you decide to put in your bug-out bag can be highly personal, depending on you and your family’s specific needs. No two bug-out bags are going to look exactly alike. However, there is no denying the three essentials to survival: food, water and shelter. Some may keep all three in a large backpack while others choose to throw small items in their pocket daily that they feel will help them procure the three essentials. A bug-out bag, whether small or large, is useless without storing the means to keep you alive.

It’s not only those who call themselves preppers who keep bug-out bags ready to go at home as well as in their vehicles as an emergency vehicle kit or get-home bag for weather emergencies, rolling blackouts, riots and civil unrest, camping, hiking or hunting, or any other imaginable, or unimaginable disaster.

These 10 articles will guide you through assembling and packing your bug-out bag.

What is in your bug-out bag? Tell us in the comment section.

SLRule

Introduced to shooting at young age by her older brother, Suzanne Wiley took to the shooting sports and developed a deep love for it over the years. Today, she enjoys plinking with her S&W M&P 15-22, loves revolvers, the 1911, short-barreled AR-15s, and shooting full auto when she gets the chance. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter, and the modern-day prepper. Suzanne is a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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Comments (74)

  • Archangel

    |

    Another thing I found with alcohol.
    If you have some cotton cloth, wrap it around the end of a stick to make a thick bundle, secure it with a piece of wire, soak it in alcohol, and depending on how thick it is, the torch could burn for an hour or more before it even shows signs of charing.
    If needed for longer, smother it, re-soak, and relight.
    Great for a fire-starter or winter camp light/heater, just be sure to have a way of smothering it (slightly damp cloth) if you need to put it out.
    A gallon size zip-lock bag (assuming the torch is small enough to fit) will keep the alcohol from evaporating for multiple uses.

    Reply

  • Bill

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    The most important thing about a BOB is to have one and to have selected its contents yourself. You need to know what is in the kit and why and you need to know its limitations, as well.

    To my way of thinking, a BOB should leave your hands free for balance as you walk / assist others over obstacles and to defend yourself.

    The folks at FEMA say that, optimistically speaking, they can get to you in three days. Be a pessimist and pack that BOB for not less than 5 days. Keep the events of Hurricane Katina in mind.

    You cannot carry an armory in the bag, so choose your defensive tools well.

    You cannot carry a weeks worth of water, so carry a little and have a way of making more. In fact, have several ways of making more. A medication bottle with a dropper in the lid will hold enough chlorine for several gallons. The same pan you plan to cook dinner in can bring water to a boil. Pretty much any lightweight (but sturdy) commercial water filter will process enough on a single filter cartridge for a small family for at least a month. Three people for thirty days comes to just a little under 100 gallons. Any commercial filter worthy of the name can do that standing on their head.

    Have multiple ways of starting a fire — a lighter, ferro-cerium rod and a Fresnel lens would be a good start. Don’t get complicated … just reliable. If you carry a small can of fuel for a Zippo type lighter, you can also treat reluctant tinder to a shot of naphtha. Make sure you are carrying seasonally appropriate shelter and clothing for any locale within, say, one tank of fuel from home. If you aren’t confident that you can always find dry tinder and fuel in the wild, carry something that will burn with you. (Used paperback books are 5 cents @ Salvation Army and will serve as tinder for a lot of fires.)

    Have the tools to care for any medical situation you also have the knowledge to cope with. If you can’t use it, don’t carry it.

    Learn how to forage / trap. It’s not that hard to learn a little bit … but as you add seasons and locales you will never master it.

    Learn how to read a map using a compass and have PAPER maps for a large radius around your point of origin. If you are going to have GPS backup, make sure that it uses multiple systems, such as GLONASS and not just the US military system, which can be turned off at whim.

    What you have in your bag is only useful if it matches up with what you have between your ears.

    Reply

    • Archangel

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      Bill, your ideas seem real sound and realistic.
      5 days minimum for food, a “Lifestraw” style water filter along with a 2 liter bottle and a collapsible 1 gallon jug to start with.
      The chlorine in a dropper bottle is a real nice idea and the last time I was at the container store, i saw a nice selection of them.
      A few different methods for making fire like a few cheap lighters and one long term magnesium fire striker.
      Also, .45 cal 1911 with 4 magazines and an extra 100 rounds in a zipper pouch all easily fits in a zippered leather business portfolio the size of a national Geographic magazine.
      I also have a 16oz soda bottle with denatured alcohol for wound cleaning and if needed, fire starting.
      I also carry a palm sized magnifying glass as it doubles as a fire starter, map reader, and for finding splinters.
      I used a tuna can and some old cotton shirts to make char cloth and also have wax soaked sawdust cast in a paper egg carton to make a very resilient tinder.
      And as far as clothing, in the winter (we do long distance (400 mile max) courier and expedited delivery) so I carry in the vehicle a folded up snowmobile suit (purchased more than large enough for my backpack to fit inside when it rained) that I used for winter motorcycle riding (in northern CA) and with my Bass-Pro hunting boots and a bunch of those boot and hand warmers I can survive the worst snowstorm we have ever had here without the need for either shelter or fire.

      A lot of what I carry in my daily back pack I would toss in the threat of a real SHTF to make room for more of the long term survival essentials.

      Reply

    • Uncle Jack

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      Easy and lightweight tinder can be made from a small amount of Vaseline rubbed into a small piece of cotton. A $1 tube of Vaseline and the cotton out of the top of med bottles is always in my outdoor pack.

      Reply

    • Mikial

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      Another method is to cut regular old corrugated cardboard into one inch squares and then immerse them individually or maybe two at a time in melted wax with a pair of tongs. Just melt old candles or paraffin blocks in an old pot and put the squares in until they are saturated with melted wax. Then put them out on wax paper to dry. You will have fire starter cubes that will light in the wettest weather.

      Reply

    • 1 ab urbe condita

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      @ Bill.

      The problem with FEMA right now is, that there were 800 Emergency Camps spread across the United States. NOW there only 390, because Congress got into their Collective Heads, to Stop Funding of the other 410. THEY Count, YOU Don’t…

      Reply

    • Mikial

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      @Bill

      None of us should depend on FEMA anyway, unless we are simply out of options. The FEMA camps will be filled with miserable people that in normal times you would cross the street to avoid.

      Reply

  • Archangel

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    The one and only thing that should be on the top of the list is a hand gun.
    Everything else you have with you can be taken away including your wife, child or even your life.
    When things go wrong, bad people take advantage of the opportunity to do as they please no matter what is legal, or right.

    Reply

    • Mikial

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      @Archangel

      I agree that a handgun is critical, although i think there are other things you might need as well.

      I would also suggest that you carry a compact pistol caliber carbine that uses the same mags. We have a Sub2000 that uses the same 9mm mags as my wife’s Beretta. It can be folded and easily carried. I also have an M4 pattern .45 that uses the same mags as my Glock. It simplifies things in terms of mags and ammo.

      Reply

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