12 Essential Items for Your Bug Out Bag

BOB = Bug Out Bag. The grab and go, advanced preparedness kit for when all hell breaks loose. A well-planned bug-out bag presents you with a chance at survival when everything seems lost.

What you choose to include in your BOB can be the difference between life and death. Regardless of what you are preparing it for, there are certain things that you should absolutely make sure are in your bag. Let’s look at the top 10 bug-out bag essentials.

bug out bag essential
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1. Water

Water is one of the keys to survival. For your BOB, it is suggested that you have a minimum of 1 Liter per day for each person that will be with you. You should have at least a three day supply. Of course, this will take up a good bit of valuable space, so it is suggested that you place your bottled water in a plastic bag and strap it to the outside of your BOB.

You can place collapsible water containers in the bag to break out later when they are needed. Keep a small store of gallons of fresh water, so that you can transfer them directly to the collapsible container when the time to move arises.

2. Water Filtration System

The bottled water you are carrying will not last long, so it is imperative that you have a way to collect water, as well as a way to filter it. You may opt for water filtration tablets, a straw filter, or a complete portable water filtration unit.

Personally, I like to rely on the hand pump systems with self-contained filters. The filters can pump many 100’s of gallons before needing to be cleaned. The cleaning is simply scrubbing the surface of the filter core to remove debris.

3. Food and Cooking Utensils

While space is at a premium, you can still pack up enough food for at least a week. You are in need of foods with a long shelf life that have some nutritional value, as well as an ample number of calories. Energy and protein bars, MREs, meal replacement shakes and powder, nuts, and freeze dried fruit are all good options

Only bring the bare minimum in the case of cooking utensils. Essentially, all you need is a large cup or small pot that can be used to boil water for drinking and freeze dried meals, as well as a spoon/ fork. I prefer a multi-functional utensil that can cut, stir, scoop, and stab all in one sturdy utensil.

4. Shelter

Some form of protection from the elements is critical for your survival. You need a ground tarp and some sort of tarp or tent (preferably one that is lightweight and all-season) and a way to set it up. In addition, a sleeping bag (if room is available) or a few blankets should be included in your BOB.

5. Appropriate Clothing

You will need clothes that are suitable for the weather you will likely be facing. Make certain to include a good pair of hiking boots, some sort of jacket or poncho that can provide protection from the rain and wind, pants that are comfortable and have plenty of pockets, wool socks, and a bandana. When choosing what clothing to take, also pack up a few toiletries you may need.

6. Ways to Start a Fire

You will need matches, preferably some that are waterproof. It is best to store them in several spots, including at least one that is easily accessible. It is also a good idea to include several lighters, including one that is windproof and waterproof, as well as Butane refill fluid. You will also benefit from a fire steel and scraper. Even if it is wet, it will still start a fire. It’s a good idea to carry some type of accelerant, such as cotton balls covered in Vaseline, for emergencies.

7. First Aid Kit

A good first aid kit that is equipped to treat a variety of medical conditions should be readily accessible in your bag. You may want to purchase a ready-made kit or create your own. Regardless, it should include bandages, antibiotic ointment, an OTC pain medication (Tylenol, Motrin, Excedrin etc.), medication to treat an upset stomach, ice pack, and any medications you or anyone traveling with you may need.

8. Light Source

You should have at least two flashlights, preferably one of which is a big spotlight. LED flashlights are the best option. Not only do you get a brighter and more powerful light source, but they draw far less power than incandescent bulbs, and rarely burn out. Be sure to pack some extra batteries just in case.

9. Weapons

This is largely a personal choice, but it is necessary. At the very least, you need a knife. Your best option is to carry two, a large survival knife for cutting wood, clearing a campsite, etc. and one with a medium blade for hunting, cleaning game and fish, opening packages, etc.

Many people suggest having a .22 caliber rifle, both for protection and to hunt for food. The .22 is a reliable weapon with decent range, making it a versatile choice. However, you should also consider your location and what you may come up against, such as bears, deer, and hostile people if the situation is really bad.

10. Binoculars

A quality pair of binoculars will be highly useful for hunting and scouting.  First, you can use them to scout for potential hunting areas.  A good par of 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars will dramatically improve your ability to find small game, as well as see new areas to forage without having to walk for miles.  Second, if the survival situation is dangerous, the binoculars can help you locate and avoid potential danger before you stumble into it.

11. Portable Radio

You will need some way of keeping up with what is going on in the world. The best way to do this is to include a battery operated or windup radio with shortwave receiving capabilities.

12. E-Reader

This is a bonus item, and one you may not have expected. Notice I didn’t say tablet or smart phone. The battery power on those will die long before you end up need them. An e-reader can last for days and weeks on a single charge.

Fill up your e-reader with as much information as you can. Grab how to guides, mechanic guides, and anything else you can think of that can give you the knowledge you need when things get difficult.