The bug out bag is one of the hottest topics within the preparedness community. It’s usually one of the first things that people do when it comes to getting prepared.
Bugging out as a whole is usually wildly talked about and fantasized about. There are many reasons why someone would need to evacuate/bug out from their home. It could be because of a fire, hurricane, chemical spill, localized attack or any wide variety of reasons. Bugging out usually isn’t something people want to do, but it could be something you must do if you feel your home is unsafe.
And let me be clear about something; you don’t need land in order to bug out. You can bug out to a hotel, friends or relatives house, a park; wherever. Just as long as you pre-plan where you’re going to go.
Let’s also clear up one other thing, having a bug out bag doesn’t mean you’re going to be grabbing it and running off into the woods with it.
A bug out bag is simply a contained system of supplies that you can grab and go without having to pack everything last minute.
You can throw it in your car, on the back of your bike or in a trailer; those supplies are intended to help you get through a specific amount of time (usually 72 hours).
Before thinking about building a bug out bag, I would highly suggest making an emergency disaster plan. This will keep you from scrambling around unknowing what to do in the event of a crisis. This plan will cover what you would do in case of specific emergencies and disasters that could happen to you and your family.
One last thing, I would highly suggest that a bug out bag be made for each person in the household. This also includes pets.
Now that we’ve covered all that, here’s how you can put together a bug out bag.
Start with the bag. My bag has changed only a few times over the 10 years that I’ve been prepping because I’ve chosen quality bags. Well, the first bag wasn’t quality and only lasted a few months, but I was quickly turned onto a bag by LA Police Gear that lasted me many, many years. Then I upgraded to another LA Police Gear bag recently.
When you’re first getting started, you don’t need to stress about the specific type of bag, but I would highly suggest using some sort of backpack style bag with at least a waist strap. If it doesn’t have a waist strap, that’s okay, just a backpack of any kind would be the best option. I also think a chest strap is important, but again, just any backpack at first will do the trick. This way, if you do need to carry your gear, it’ll be comfortable. It can be as big or as small as you want. My bag looks big on me, but it really doesn’t have a lot of gear in it (I’m just a petite woman) and it’s perfectly comfortable. I also train with it often.
Make a list of gear. Start putting together a list of gear that you’d like to have with you for a 72 hour period. I have a great bug out bag checklist to help get the juices flowing. Remember that the gear must cover some basics such as; food (72 hours worth of food for one person), water (whether carrying 72 hours worth of water or having water purification methods), warmth (fire, emergency blankets, propane), shelter (tarp, tent, poncho). After that it can include really anything that you want, just as long as you’re able to carry the bag. You can put the whole kitchen sink in if you can comfortably carry it.
Remember that your bug out bag is yours and yours alone. The contents are personal based on YOUR needs, YOUR skill level and YOUR budget. If you see everyone suggesting that you put a suture kit in your bag but you have no idea how to use sutures, then don’t put it in there. Gear that you have no idea how to use will be completely useless to you in an emergency or disaster.
Create a budget. Now that you have a list of gear that you’d like, create a realistic budget. Do you have $20 a month to spend on gear? Maybe $20 a week? Maybe you want to save up for something more expensive? Start researching what gear you can get each month based on your budget.
Be realistic. While getting prepared is important, you don’t need to sacrifice your mortgage/rent payment because you had to buy all this sweet gear for your bag. Look at your budget and know exactly what you can spend each month on gear. Go to your list and start placing the items in order of what you can afford and when you can get it.
Start acquiring your gear. Now you’re all set to start acquiring gear. Take it slow if you need to. There’s no rush. I know the world sometimes seems like it’s going to end tomorrow, but this is a journey, not a race. You want to make sure that you’re getting the exact gear that you want, instead of just saying ‘ah good enough’. Good enough isn’t always good enough. Get the exact gear that you want and acquire it as slowly or as quickly as your time and budget allows.
And don’t worry because as your skills, needs and knowledge grows, so too will your gear. I change out my gear at least a few times a year based on my current needs, skills and knowledge.
- Your bag should evolve as you evolve.
- The contents of your bag should be used. You should know how to use everything in your bag and by using it multiple times, you may end up realizing there’s a failure and you need to switch it out.
- You should inventory your bag at least every 6 months (place a reminder on your calendar or using a reminder app).
- Listen to suggestions from others, read/watch reviews of gear and bug out bags, but ultimately, this is your bag and you need to decide what goes in it.
- Exercise with it. While you may not be strapping your bag on and running into the woods, it’s still a good idea to know that you can comfortably carry it for long distances and during extreme situations. You never know.
Everything I’ve mentioned here is for one individual. If you have a family, some things might change. For instance, my daughter is 2 1/2 years old at the time of writing this post and while she has a bag of her own, I still carry her food and water because she’s still too small to carry most of that stuff. I also have a baby on the way and will be carrying all of her needs for a while (diapers, wipes, food, etc).
Every bag is different. And that’s okay. The whole point is to create a bag that is going to get you through an emergency or disaster.
Conquer tomorrow, by preparing today!