What to Put Into a Bug Out Bag

what to put into a bug out bag

Recently I wrote a blog post about how to put together a bug out bag which talked about the process we should go through when creating a bug out bag.

Now it’s time to talk about what all should go into the bag!

No two bug out bags are ever the same. It’s a lot of fun to outfit a bug out bag. By making your own bag, you’ll have picked out every single item to fit your exact needs and skill level.

And you’ll constantly be changing it, which makes it even more fun!

Click here to download my bug out bag checklist for free that goes into a bunch of gear ideas.

Now let’s finally get to the point: what actually goes into a bug out bag?

  1. Food – You will most often hear people state that you will need at least 72 hours worth of food in your bag. But how the heck are you supposed to do that? For the majority of us, we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes snacks. That’s a lot of meals to go into one bag. Look into freeze dried foods which weigh less. Also look into ready to eat foods that won’t require any heating or using any other resources. You could also look into ration bars. You could also look into simple meals like ovaeasy eggs for breakfast, ramen with spam for lunch and instant rice with tuna for dinner. Get some options together and test it out.
  2. Water – Again, just like with food, people will tell you that you should have 72 hours worth of water. I made a video and a blog post about how to carry water in your bug out bag. Basically, you’d be carrying maybe a days worth of water in a water bladder or in some water bottles and after that you’d have items to help acquire water. Such as a water filtration straw, water purification bottle water purification pump or water purification tablets. You may want to include some collapsible canteens to carry and purify the water in.
  3. Tools – Tools include: fixed blade knife, folding saw, axe, hatchet, multitool, backpacking hammer, sillcock key and so on. The type of tools will depend on your skill level, the reasoning behind the tool (what will it be used for and how often), etc. Really examine how the tool will be used before adding it.
  4. Shelter – Shelter could be: a lightweight tent, survival blankets, poncho, tarp(s). Don’t forget any stakes you might need. They have great lightweight stakes these days.
  5. Cordage – 550 Paracord is the most popular type of cordage to have. It’s lightweight, durable and strong. I’d suggest having at least 100 feet, if not much more. Keep it organized by using a spool.
  6. Fire – Even in places with a burn ban, or even if fire isn’t ideal for security reasons, I’d still carry ways to make a fire. A simple fire kit would include matches, lighter(s) and lots of tinder. The more experienced you are with making fire, you could add in a ferro rod or flint and steel.
  7. Cooking – A good cook set is important. I love the Bear Bowl as it folds down and you can bowl water in it AND cook in it! You could also get something like the Stanley cook set that also comes with two cups. Or maybe something like the Jetboil. Don’t forget a stove and butane.
  8. Maintenance – Maintenance items would include: sewing kit, gorilla tape (duct tape will also work), super glue, gloves, etc.
  9. Clothes – I always say that clothes are optional, but it’s not a bad idea to have at least one pair of extra clothes. Extra underwear, extra socks (I’d actually have a few extra pairs of socks and make sure they’re comfortable socks), extra pair of pants and an extra shirt. Make sure the clothes are appropriate for the given season, meaning you’ll have to switch out the clothes as the seasons change.
  10. Navigation – I have a navigation kit that has a compass, map, notepad, pencil, small vibrant duct tape, chalk and ranger beads. Having all of your navigation gear all in one place will be extremely useful. Make sure to learn how to navigate by compass and map.
  11. Light – Flashlights, extra batteries, glow sticks, popup lanterns, solar lights; any kind of light source will be beneficial.
  12. First aid – Having a first aid kit is vital. If you’re just getting started with first aid, I’d recommend buying a quality kit. There are a ton of great first aid kits that are packed with useful gear. You can also make your own.
  13. Hygiene – Hygiene shouldn’t be overlooked. Baby wipes, toothbrush, floss, toilet paper, microfiber towel, bar soap, nail clippers, q-tips, etc.
  14. Misc – If you wear glasses, be sure to include an extra pair of glasses. You may want to consider an external battery charger with appropriate cables. Morale boosters such as gum, hard candy, books, bible, journal and pen, pictures, etc.

This sounds like a lot of stuff, right?

You don’t have to include every single item. You just need to include the items that you find will be most useful for your specific circumstances, skill level and so on.

Make a list of all the gear that you’d like to add. Then try to narrow it down to all the gear that you need to have. It’s okay to have some wants in with your needs, we all start out with huge bags and narrow it down as our skill levels change.

Good luck!

Conquer tomorrow, by preparing today!

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Morgan is the founder of Rogue Preparedness. She has been a prepper for over a decade. She's a wife, mother of two daughters and is homesteading off grid. She teaches people how to be prepared for emergencies and disasters.

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  1. Hi,

    Thank you for all the things you publish. Quick question; what knife do you prefer to use/carry in your bushcraft space.

    1. I use a fixed blade by TOPS called Firestrike. I love almost anything by TOPS.

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