Bug out Bag List

Why Do I Need a Bug out Bag List?

bug out bag list

bug out bag list


A bug out bag list is an essential precaution in this day and age. It’s no secret that day by day the world around us seems to be becoming a more violent and dangerous place. The tenuous ties between nations are becoming strained, and with more nations getting nuclear technology everyday the danger is only getting worse.


It won’t take a weapon of mass destruction to take out western society however. We as a society are increasingly addicted to technology and how easy it makes our lives. The largest mistake you can make is to think in an emergency “I’ll just google it”. What happens to you when the search engine is gone? What happens when the electric grid fails, and you’re left in the dark?


In the uneasy times we face preparedness and a little knowledge means the difference between you and your family surviving a catastrophe or not. Whether it’s a world war, civil unrest, the total breakdown of society or the ever popular zombie apocalypse the first few hours and how you respond to them will be the most crucial. This is why it is very important to pay special attention to your bug out bag list of contents.


Survivalists put heavy thought into the best bug out bag and more specifically it’s contents.  The bug out bag is to contain enough supplies for you to survive 72 hours, the average amount of time for help to arrive after a disaster. Even so, a quality bug out bag list is capable of making sure your pack contains the items needed for you to survive in the short and long term.


Starting Your Bug out Bag List


Generally speaking the ultimate bug out bag is designed to keep you safe and prepared for the first 72 hours of an emergency. Your bug out bag list should not include any luxury items, the name of the game is survival not comfort. In fact that comfort leads to what’s known as the “passive outlook” which is your own worst enemy and will put you and those around you in serious danger.


Your needs, and what your bug out bag list should contain, can mostly be broken down into the following categories:


  • Fire
  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Medicine
  • Tools


If an item fits into one of those categories you can be sure it is one of the bug out bag essentials. A word of caution on the last one though we are not talking about adding a mechanics tool set to your bug out bag contents. We are speaking about tools to build temporary and possibly even long term shelter, procuring food and water, and fire starting. Note that the tools we are talking about directly impact four of the other requirements of our bug out bag list.


Use caution as making a quality bug out bag list is a game of give and take. Yes you can take a foresters axe, a rifle, a fishing poll, a tomahawk, two or three knives for different uses, extra clothing… the list can go on. However, the problem is all of that is very cumbersome and difficult to carry, you will tire quickly and burn more calories taking all of that.


Instead think hyper-light and multiple function. Find things that can be used for a variety of uses. One example is paracord it’s uses are nearly endless, it can be used for structure, medical emergencies, lanyards, fire starter and much more! Be sure to check out our full write up on paracord and other often overlooked but always needed items you should be sure to get here.


Getting The Essentials


This section focuses on what is almost mandatory for any bug out bag list. It focuses on those items which can be considered the pillars of a bug out bag packing list.


ultimate bug out bag

ultimate bug out bag

A Good Bag

First of all, which can often be overlooked, is the necessity for a quality bag. A bug out bag can be a grocery store plastic bag. Although it pays to invest in a qualitypack so that you can be more mobile (and less noisy) than carrying a plastic bag. When looking at a pack you can go a few different ways, you can find a good back pack, or the best option is a quality internal frame hiking pack. A good internal frame pack has many advantages over a standard back pack. For all the goods see our full write up and choosing the best bag for your bug out bag list.

 If you need a bag then the Condor Assault Pack is the one to buy. Pick it up HERE.

A Survival Knife

best survival knife

best survival knife


Secondly, a good knife. Be it in a city or the back country you will find thousands of uses for a knife and the last thing you want to do is buy a cheap blade made of poor quality materials. When looking at knives you should inevitably come a crossed the SOG Seal Team Elite. This knife is a full tang, meaning the metal of the blade metal extends all the way through the handle in one solid piece. The metal is of the highest quality with SOG’s own cryogenic tempering method adding unbelievable strength and edge retention to the  blade. If somehow that doesn’t convince you it is also the blade chosen by the Navy Seals, for use in covert ops missions a crossed the world. If one of if not the most elite military unit in the United States armed forces chose this blade you can certainly trust it in your bug out bag list.


To buy the SOG Seal Team Knife (and I seriously recommend you do) you can buy it right here: SOG Seal Team Knife


Fire starting

If your caught outside in an emergency a fire is a must have. For cooking, water sterilization and warmth come from fire as well as warding off predators. A fire can also help with morale, high spirits and a positive attitude help you be more productive and think clearer. For starting a fire there are quite a few options each with a few pros and cons. For more information see our Fire Starters Review post.


Cutting/Procuring Fire Wood

A good hatchet is also a necessity when bugging out.  You will need to collect firewood, also in very grave emergencies it is your better choice to brake windows when scavenging for useful materials and food.  As well as building shelter.


First Aid

A first aid kit is without question one of those items you need to put the most time in and hope that you will never have to use.  However, the fact that someone might get injured is a fact we all have to realize and prepare for.  Covering a wound with super glue can prevent infection and save a persons life. See more on our Military First Aid Kit post.

Water and Food

Water and food are what keep us going.  In an emergency it is easy to consume more than we normally would.  A rule of thumb is one and a half times what you normally eat.

About 2500 calories a day for a man and 2000 a day for a female is the ball park for someone NOT in heavy physical stress.  For water, the bare minimum is 1 liter per day with pacing yourself properly.  If you followed our advice the camelback in you hiking pack can hold 3 liters, which off the bat gives you a bare minimum amount for three days.  Even though you can actually get almost 3 days out of 3 liters if you’re sure to pace yourself you shouldn’t count on it when building your bug out bag list. Your first goal should be to find a source of water that you can disinfect to replenish your pack.

Secondly bring items with you to both cook and procure more food and water. You should put a pot in your bug out bag list to boil water to disinfect it to replenish your supply if you should need more. As well that pot can be used to cook any fish or small game you may catch.  To gather food a small fishing kit can be no bigger than an Altoids can and it incredibly effective for fishing in streams and rivers.  As well we will bring it up again later too, but paracord for snares to catch small game.



best bug out bag

best bug out bag


The key to a good shelter is strength. You need one that can stand up to rain, sleet, hail and high winds. With that in mind a good tent can hold up to almost all of that with ease.  A tent is the smallest most compact form of shelter you can have, but a tent can also be large and heavy.  For that reason it’s good to try and by the smallest tent possible. Generally speaking a the smaller the shelter you have to carry with you the better.  Smaller is lighter and takes up less space, and you will find out quickly that it doesn’t take much to fill up you bug out bag list. Backpacking tents are best, as they are made of lighter weight materials, you will find that most things that are good for a bug out bag list are originally intended for hikers and backpackers.



This one depends on your area. A person up north will likely try to pack warmer waterproof clothing. Someone more towards the south would want a hat and other lightweight clothing to protect their skin from the sun. Someone in another climate may want to have bug netting to protect themselves more permanently from mosquito’s. Think of your area, what do you need in your bug out bag list? One universal requirement is warm clothes and rain gear. No matter where you are it will rain and it will get colder at night, its not a bad idea to put something warm and waterproof in your bag.


Cordagebug out bag list of contents

Here is where we get to 550 paracord. Cordage has millions of different uses including but not limited to: building traps,a sling for an injured body part, shelter building, a net for fishing and repairs on other equipment.  Also in this category is duct tape, we have all heard that if duct tape can’t fix it, it isn’t broken. For that reason duct tape and paracord are both in my pack.

THIS is the best paracord to buy.

Navigationbug out bag packing list

A compass and a GPS are not a bad idea, now a lot of people will shy away from a GPS because they are electronics and there is a grave fear of being overly reliant on them. For that reason you should be well versed with a map and compass, and how to get to where your going with them. Nevertheless with the right planning you can have the convenience of a electronic GPS which segways us to our next item.


Emergency Radio

best emergency radio

best emergency radio

The emergency radio I have and recommend to everyone is a wind up and solar powered model that you can charge USB devices from. This is how we are able to take our electronic GPS units with us to navigate with. You will need to get rechargeable AA batteries and charger too.  The other benefit with the emergency radio I chose is that it also has a flashlight built into it, as well as a bottle opener. See our bug out bag list reviews section to learn more.

If you’re in the market GRAB THIS RADIO, it has the longest charge and most features.



This is the section where I will list all other items that don’t really need explanation.

  1. Personal Hygiene Items
  2. A roll of quarters among other cash (quarters for pay phones)
  3. A whistle and a mirror for signaling for rescueFlashlight (also with rechargeable batteries)
  4. Comfortable (broken in!) foot wear
  5. Personal Identification


Now that we have the basics lets go to the advanced section. This is where we put the items that will set your bag apart from all the others. Also be sure to get a hold of our bug out bag list pdf.