Preparing for a Quick Exit: What to Have On Hand

quick exit - what to have on hand

An SHTF scenario doesn’t have to entail the collapse of society or city-destroying tsunamis. It can be something smaller, but no less dangerous—like a compromised power plant or a sudden flood that sweeps through your area.

Regardless, it’s crucial to prepare the necessary items so you can make a quick exit.

All the things we’ll address can be just as helpful in a power outage just as much as a total economic collapse. Whether the disaster is world-ending or not, here’s how you can plan ahead of time.

Food, Water and Medicine

water emergency supplies
Water is crucial when preparing for a quick exit.

Planning a bug-out bag can be challenging because you need to bring the essentials while keeping the weight down. It’s best to start with the things you actually need. Food and water are heavy, so you’ll want to consider how to make these items compact and light.

You can find lots of good options for food in the form of emergency rations and energy bars that won’t perish.

Water isn’t so simple. You should bring enough to sustain you for a few days in a bug-out vehicle if you have one, but you’ll also need a method of purifying it. It’s recommended to have multiple.

A filtration system that uses gravity to filter water makes an excellent primary source. To complement this, have some purification tablets and a stove for boiling.

Last, but certainly not least, be sure that any medicine you and your family rely on is included in your bug-out kit. Don’t expect that you’ll be able to access your medicine cabinet and retrieve your medication in an emergency.

Request a refill of any prescription early or stock up on important over-the-counter goods and place them in the bag. A compact general first-aid kit should be included, along with more specialized medications.


quick exit - survival knife
A reliable knife is a practical element when preparing to make a quick exit.

Focus on bringing practical equipment that improves your ability to survive in a situation without functional infrastructure. Communication is critical. We suggest you have a radio, preferably a hand-crank model that won’t run out of power, as well as your phone.

You might consider a sustainable power supply like those that run on solar energy to contribute to your ability to use technology if you’re in a prolonged survival situation.

Speaking of light, a flashlight or two is essential to your kit. Consider power consumption and methods of recharging. Matches make a good fallback here. Pack waterproof, technical clothing and shoes if you have them.

Make sure your choice of footwear strikes a balance between comfort and protection and is something you can wear in a variety of situations. Leave your flip-flops behind—they won’t do you any good.

Self-defense is an important consideration, and you should have a reliable knife in your kit as a practical element. (A firearm also goes without saying.) Bring some type of solution for shelter as well, such as a tent or nylon tarp.

Other Considerations

outdoor survival tips
You never know how long you’ll be out.

Basic hygiene products like floss and toothpaste are a good idea since you don’t know how long you’ll be out. A pen and paper can help contribute to psychological health. Feel free to bring some light reading material, but be conscious of weight.

Finally, be sure you have up-to-date copies of any travel or important personal documents. In a real SHTF situation, you might have to prove who you are or that you can travel in a specific location.

Copy your materials ahead of time and have extras already in the bag so they’re there when you need them.

Be Ready for Anything

With these basic items, you should have a fairly compact but effective bug-out kit.

Do you have suggestions on preparing for a quick exit? Do you want to share a story of how your bag has worked for you in the past? Tell us in the comments below.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (11)

  1. water softener is mostly use in our homes and offices. so we use best water softener because water softener gives salt less water.

  2. Cigarette lighter, waterproof matches, flashlights, water filter bottle, mylar blankets, tourniquet, bleeding stopper (clotting agent), bandages, coast guard approved emergency food rations, fishing line, duct tape, light gloves, rope, compass, emergency signal and whistle, bug repellent, hand sanitizer, sun screen, hat, binoculars/monocular

  3. I witnessed a family of 11 (Grandma, Dogs, wife and kiddies the whole Kit and Kaboodle) roll out of their community fully equipped (75 gallons of water) and prepared to travel for 30 days a minimum of 425 miles unassisted without resupply (other than than water)..7 min after the decision was made.. If you can do that in 30min to an hour..I would imagine you are ahead of 98% of all the people in this country.. (Keep in mind one of the Population Control Techniques is to lock people in place which is irrelevant if your past their check points….)

    The way they accomplished it was to acquire a medium sized Military Trailer. where they kept 2000lbs of prepacked gear and all manner of supplies, Pioneer tools..Basic Mechanics tools etc. a duffel bag for each equipped with winter and summer clothing, Coats broke in shoes & boots etc) all aboard to include food water and fuel stocks,

    Their “Senior Trainer” was a bit odd in that they would perform a monthly “Stand To” where everything was breifly inventoried, Running gear was inspected and “mechanical devices” were exercised. Water containers emptied dried in the sun and refilled.. All machinery was run for 20 min..Communication Gear tested..Batteries inspected. About an hour of that madness (Smile) took place on the first of every month.. (Then they had Pizza or BBQd)

    Having a Multi tiered approach to personal preps makes sense. 1, Weapon, Flashlight, Knife, Simple First Aid Kit (RATS) water and a days rations. I add water because it is almost reflexive after an incident to want to drink, certainly during an extended incident.. A quart of water and a some form of concentrated rations are simply not all that bothersome and will be a great comfort. Should be with us all the time. Water really is problematic in that it takes room, goes bad..adds weight and has to be hung on one somewhere.. (Back Pack, Briefcase Bag).. There are a number of reasons I prefer a Stainless Steel Container over purchased water bottles (I use the water to make coffee let the container dry out and switch them out constantly. I consider a Military Steel Canteen Cup essential . but that is personal preference. (Oh and a small Bible along with a Pocket Constitutiton).

    Problem is at least for me long ago I was limited to 30 miles on foot in 24 hours..and that could at best be sustained only for a few days without rest. (cross country moderately mountainous terrain 0-4000 ft ..with a 120lb ruck).. for me those days are gone.. for most of our family members.. at best? Forget about it.. 5 miles would be it. There is no way the overwhelming majority of us today can accomplish that.. On top of which being alone. one is just a walking supply delivery system for groups you may run into .. The only “ultimate lone warriors” are really in the movies.. (For those that have ears to hear let them hear)

    Better planing now ,,making alliances.. friendships calmly involving your family (This issue is so important you must be low key and slide them into it.. just do not create resistance. softly softly)
    These are keys to survival preps.

    Relocate as soon as possible if your not in a good place, Always have 3 previously reconnoitered ways In and 3 ways out, 3 forms of communication with those important to you. Long distance off grid communications with others established in advance.

    Prepositioning Resupply Stocks (Caches) in Rings.. half the distance you are capable of traveling on foot in a day then in a vehicle in a day.. on road and cross country.. along all your pre-planned routes of egress.

    Caches… W-hat do you put in them?.. keeping in mind they may never be used.. some may be discovered .. and most will be lost.. (If you travel one direction the others will most likely never be accessed by you..So you really cannot afford to place too many valuables items in each..

    I hope the above snippets helps us to support the notion that to be prepared as best as one can for disaster is wise .. at the same time one should be actively involved and spend money to prevent Societal Collapse.. Committing a reasonable amount of time, money and energy to action by lawful political and social means to the Political and Social aspects of our society. That is a form of Preparedness .. efforts in advance In order to prevent that collapse..So that we may live in peace and relative comfort long and productive lives.

    Perhaps one measure of our success is to never need the emergency preparedness skills and materials one gathers and acquires..

  4. Along with the good bug out planning ideas previously listed, I would also suggest light rain gear. You become at greater risk from the elements if you can’t stay dry. A yard waste trash bag can serve as an alternative. Also, I have put together a small plastic container with some fishing line, hooks, Flies, and a couple of small fishing lures. Sunscreen and insect repellent is also a must. Just a few other light-weight items to think about.

  5. Your article is one of the few I’ve seen which addresses weight of a bug out bag at all. I’ve looked through four or five books while figuring what to put in my bug-out bag and only one addressed weight up front and one other at the end. As a former boy scout who hiked the Cascades a few summers I remember how the weight of your pack can really negatively affect how far and how fast you can walk.

    Folks with small children perhaps should seriously look at a bicycle trailer converted to be pulled or pushed to carry gear and sometimes a small child. The larger the wheels the easier to pull it over bumps and potholes.

  6. To set up for a SHTF scenario… We have no idea of how long it will last and what may happen to us or family members along the way… we have to be prepared medically as well… Normals like bandages and splint (can use available material to) …You have to take necessary meds that you may use… try to get extra prescriptions for sure… be it Heart Meds…Diabetes etc… but… aside from possible large injuries… good bottle of whiskey..drink and wash wound…stitching material, then for antibiotics… you may be able to try a farm supply store run. Meds that are used for our food chain/pet animals are checked and very close to Human Level Consumption. And you don’t need a Doctors slip for it. Just keep it in an ideal environment and check for expiration dates. Some will require injection or oral. Syringes can be had as well. It may not last the whole time you are forced to be “away’ is better than having NONE when needed.

  7. Suggest a self-contained cell-phone re-charger that can add hours to a charge and be recharged if power available, as well as food items to which one just adds water, e.g. noodle soups/cheddar cheese entrees that come in styrofoam cups and many flavors, as well as being light before watter added…add bread or Triscuits to dip for a meal.
    Copy of local FFL AND serial number list/copy of pistol license..and any other credentials LEO will need to see.
    Just saying.

  8. Hey Dylan,

    Great article, and on a subject that needs to be nearer and dearer to all our hearts. Thanks for composing it!

    A suggestion for making one’s life a bit less psychologically stressful is to add some salt, pepper, and a few packets of instant coffee (not ideal, but perhaps better than nothing) to add some flavor and a bit of the familiar when preparing or accompanying a meal. All in that might add 8oz. to your pack, if you carry just enough for 3-4 days. Getting back to real coffee might also provide extra incentive to reach one’s destination.

  9. “Easier said then done”! I’m “Wheelchair Handicapped” and require about a “Baker’s Dozen” prescriptions just to say alive. So unless my “BOB” come with a trailered 24/7/365 pharmacy in tow or”Bioreactor” (i.e. 3D Medicine Printer), the likelihood of me Bugging Out is fairly slim. But I do have a BOB of sorts, being called a “BOV” or “Bug Out Vest” (i.e. Photo Journalist Vest) with ~42-pockets of various sizes instead. And my “Tricked Out” Diesel powered Sprinter 4×4…

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