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Bug Out Bag List Essentials

75 Bug Out Bag List Essentials

I know, I know….The last thing the World Wide Web needs is another Bug Out Bag List (well, that and pictures of adorable pets and babies), but…this is a site dedicated to bug out bags! And well, it just doesn’t seem complete without one.

So we decided to post our list for the whole world to see…and ultimately scrutinize. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just browse the survival forums).

A Bug Out Bag List is Not One Size Fits All

Quite simply, we at Bug Out Bag Academy believe an excellent bug out bag starts with a great bug out bag list.


It doesn’t necessarily mean everything you put on the list will end up going into your bag, but at least you’ve got a pretty good idea of where to start.


The last thing we want is for people like you to not start because you don’t now how. We know. We’ve been there. Especially if you’re just starting out, there is a ton of information out there, isn’t there?


Some of it’s really good. Some of it’s…how shall we say it…not so good.




Building A Bug Out Bag Does Not Have to Be Hard

As we’ve stated in previous posts, building your bug out bag doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, we believe it should be a fun and enjoyable experience. After all, having a solid bug out plan, and knowing that you’re planning well in advance should help put your mind at ease about “SHTF” scenarios.


So whether you’re new to the idea of bugging out, or you’ve been in our neck of the woods for a while now, there’s most likely something you can take away from the following.


Choosing a Bug Out Bag

The first item on your bug out bag list is the bag itself. There are several schools of thought on this topic, of which the two main ones are:

1)    You should choose the best bag for you

2)    You should only choose the bag after you have the items


We’ve written a post detailing our thoughts and what the best bug out bags are in our opinion – ones we’ve tried and tested and all that good stuff. We won’t go into that here, but if interested here it is: How to Choose the Best Bug Out Bag for You.


Just so you know, we’ll be doing in-depth reviews of all these items in the near-future, so be sure to subscribe if you want to know when we post new content.


And as a “Thank You,” you’ll also receive the Free Bug Out Bag Checklist PDF we outline below to help you build your own bug out bag!


As we’ve stated in previous posts, building your bug out bag doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, we believe it should be a fun and enjoyable experience.


Okay, with that out of the way, let’s talk Bug Out Bag Essentials!


Bug Out Bag List Essentials


Water and Hydration

Arguably the most important bug out bag essentials are related to water and hydration. The human body can go without water for only 72 hours, whereas it can go without food for about 3 weeks. Water is an absolute must have in your bug out bag. One liter minimum, per day, per person is highly recommended.


Below, you can see the items we recommend.


  • Drinking Water (3 Liters)
  • Collapsible Water Bottle
  • Hard Water Bottle
  • Metal Water Bottle / Canteen
  • Water Filters / Purification Systems
  • Water Purification Tablets (Qty 3)


Food and Food Preparation

Next up are food stuffs. In the preparedness community we see a lot of people eager to recommend various products, mostly off-the-shelf, dehydrated, store-bought items. Personally, we recommend a variety of non-perishable food items, some that might require water and some that don’t. In a real bug out situation, you don’t know how scarce your water source might be. To be safe, plan for more scarce than you think.


Most of these items are self-explanatory, but we will definitely expand upon our reasoning for selecting these items in future posts. The important thing to know now is, you’ll want enough food to last three days at least. Another recommendation we see is, people using plastic cookware. For heat-resistance and durability, we recommend metal cooking utensils and cookware.


  • Protein / Energy Bars (Qty 6)
  • MREs / Dehydrated Meals (Qty 3)
  • Spork
  • P-38 Can Opener
  • Metal Cooking Pot
  • Metal Cup
  • Pot Scrubber
  • Portable Stove
  • Stove Fuel (Qty 8 Tablets)



Choosing clothing for your bug out bag is a very personalized selection as we all have different body types, tolerances and levels of fitness. The items listed below are to be strategically layered to maintain a healthy body temperature at all times.


Your clothes selection will obviously depend on your location, climate and the other factors listed above. You should evaluate your bug out bag every six months. At these times you’ll want to have a seasonal selection of clothes that you can swap out when necessary.


At least two changes of clothes ensure you can always have a dry set to wear. The last thing you want while bugging out, and in the elements, is wet clothes. Not only are they uncomfortable, but hypothermia is a real concern not to be taken lightly.


  • Lightweight Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Convertible (Zip-Off) Pants
  • Underwear
  • Wool Hiking Socks (Qty 3 pair)
  • Medium Weight Fleece
  • Hat w/ Flex Brim
  • Working Gloves
  • Rain Poncho
  • Shemagh


Shelter and Bedding

At first glance, to the experienced survivalist, some of the items we’ve chosen for this category might seem excessive or even impractical. But if you check the individual products we recommend, you’ll see they’re all made compact and lightweight with the backpacker in mind.


Yes, you can make a shelter out of a tarp or use a trash bag filled with leaves as a makeshift ground pad, but these are all items we think are a wise choice to include for numerous reasons. Being well-rested, both mentally and physically, is extremely important when times are rough.


  • Tarp
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Ground Pad
  • Wool Blanket


Heat Source

Having several means for starting a fire is also essential when bugging out. We recommend the following basics to be included in every bug out bag. The reason being, a survivalist and firearms expert friend of ours shared this piece of wisdom which has stuck with us ever since –


“Where there are two, there’s one. Where there’s one, there’s none.”


Essentially that means, if you don’t have a back up, and your primary fails you…you’re toast.


For that reason we recommend having at least 3 different means of starting a fire on your bug out bag list of items to pack.


  • Ignition Source (Qty 3)
  • Tinder (Qty 3)
  • Waterproof Storage


First Aid

First aid is one of those areas where there are a lot of “done for you” type products out there that just aren’t well-suited for a survival kit such as a bug out bag. The topic of First Aid could easily warrant several posts, but to keep it simple for now, we have one that we do highly recommend, but of course you can always build your own too.


  • First Aid Kit
  • Insect Repellant
  • Mylar Survival Blanket



We’ve found that various aspects of personal hygiene are often overlooked when compiling a bug out bag list of essentials. But the implications of forgoing any of these for an extended period of time might lead to bacterial infections and a rapid deterioration in health. When bugging out, you need to be at the top of your game, so be sure to pack these items.


  • Wet Napkins
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • All-Purpose Camp Soap
  • Hygiene/Signal Mirror
  • Small Pack Towel
  • Travel Toilet Paper (Qty 2)
  • Travel Size Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Other Personal Hygiene Necessities



Next to weapons, this is the one category that everyone loves to go crazy over. And it’s easy to see why. Gadgets are cool, and some of these are especially sweet. But as we’ve said before, “every ounce counts.” Determine the must-haves and forget the rest. Trying to practice what we preach, we recommend the following three tools for your bug out bag.


Again, we’ll be sure to detail our reasoning later in another post, so stay tuned, but for now, these should fit the bill for most, if not all, bug out bags quite nicely.

  • Survival Knife
  • Multi-Tool
  • Machete



Illumination, like fire sources, is something we recommend having multiple instances of as well. If one fails or you lose it somehow, you have another to take its place. Each item listed below has multiple uses, but they all serve the same purpose – helping you see what you’re doing or find where you’re going. Don’t forget the extra batteries!

  • LED Headlamp
  • Mini LED Keychain
  • Light Glowstick
  • Mini LED Light
  • Candles
  • Batteries



Communications is another highly contested category in the preparedness community. We like to keep it simple though. If the bug out scenario allows for their use, you’ll be glad to have these items with you.


  • Cell Phone
  • Crank Power Charger
  • Emergency Radio with Hand Crank


Travel Aids

Depending on the situation you find yourself in, these items might prove quite useful. Don’t leave home without carefully thinking these through first.


  • $500 Minimum in Small Bills
  • Quarters (Qty 8)
  • Gold / Silver Bullion Coins
  • Local Area Map
  • Compass
  • Small Note Pad / Pencil
  • Emergency Whistle


Self Defense

Without a doubt, this is a controversial topic, and (WARNING: Blanket Statement Ahead!) it’s been our experience that the Americans among us tend to embrace this category the most. And being from the US ourselves, we definitely see why. J


Self defense is something we should all give serious consideration. Bugging out, in its severest of circumstances, is a survive or die proposition. Whether you choose a handgun, a rifle, both, or just a can of pepper spray, it’s completely up to you. But you can be sure in a bug out scenario, we’ll be well equipped to defend ourselves and hunt wild game if need be.


If you choose not to carry a weapon, or are not allowed to do so, then we highly recommend some degree of self defense training – especially If you have a family – as they’ll be depending on you for their safety.


We’ll definitely be doing more posts on this topic as time goes on, so please let us know what you would like to read more about in the comments below.


  • Pepper Spray
  • Handgun
  • Takedown rifle
  • Ammunition (Qty 25 rnds minimum)



We’re almost done! These are items that didn’t necessarily fit into any of the other categories, but they’re just as important for inclusion in your bug out bag. Chances are some of the items will have you scratching your head, but we assure you, you want these items in your bug out bag.


  • 550 Parachute Cord (50′)
  • Cotton Bandana
  • Duct Tape (25’)
  • 55 Gal. Contractor Garbage Bag (Qty 2)
  • Resealable Bags (Qty 5, Various Sizes)
  • Sunglasses
  • N95 Face Mask
  • Sewing Kit
  • Latex Tubing (3’)
  • Fishing Kit
  • Condoms (Non-lubricated)
  • Binoculars (Optional)
  • Face Paint
  • Military Surplus Survival / Snare Wire



Oh, and before we forget… We make it a practice to state this disclaimer whenever we can to avoid any confusion.


We’re not certified experts, but we make it our aim to provide you with the best educational information possible in which we’ve consulted numerous experts. Even then, we don’t know everything, and we still make mistakes just like the next person.


The bug out bag list above isn’t intended as Gospel truth. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to do your own due diligence and come to your own conclusions. Your bug out bag will not automagically keep you alive. It is, however, intended to help you survive a bug out scenario.


If you don’t learn how to use these items effectively and practice using them on a regular basis, all the bug out bags in the world probably won’t be able to help you.


Emergency preparedness is not a fad, nor a hobby. It’s a way of life. If you believe that, you’ll be all that much better off as a result.


Well, there you have it! That, ladies and gentlemen, is our version of the Bug Out Bag List. What are your thoughts? Did we forget anything? What would you add to (or take away from) the list? Please let us know in the comments below.



And if you liked the post, and would like your own printable Bug Out Bag List PDF, please be sure to subscribe for future updates. We love our subscribers and are sure to make them feel extra special. And also, if you know of anyone who would like this post, please share it with your like-minded friends. It’s our mission to help people prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.



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  • Doug says:

    don’t forget any presciption medications you might need

  • James says:

    I would personally add femine pads to your list they are great for stopping a larger bleed until you can handle it. A few pair of medical clamps, pair of emt scissors, and couple ace bandages great for sprains and for helping splint a break.

  • Quinn says:

    Jamie K is right. Rad pills are pretty important. There are nuclear power plants all over now, and a week without power turns their reactors and nuclear waste storage into Chernobyl 2.0.

  • I included fishing line and tackle

  • Dr. Carolyn Taylor says:

    I belong to a senior citizen town council concerned about how to protect seniors during or prepare for emergencies. What are you willing to do to help us? Meeting is next Wed. Please reply soon, if you can be helpful. Thanks, Dr. Taylor

  • Gabrielle says:

    I can see the uses for everything except for the “unlubricated condoms”. Unless it’s just for the obvious reason, I don’t get what else they’d be for?

    • Harrie says:

      Collecting water or making something waterproof etc

    • Jarvis says:

      Holding water 🙂

    • Rhea says:

      They can be used for lots of things. They are water proof when tied shut so you can put pretty much anything that will fit inside and tie it shut, like a cell phone, a small handgun, matches, medications, etc. Can make a slingshot too.
      Here is a short list of things you can use them for :
      Plus depending on the situation you might not have access to other forms of birth control and you might not want to get preggers in certain situations lol.

      Another thing people should think about adding is unscented tampons and maxi pads. They are great for first aid and I am sure that there are other uses like fire starting or stopping leaks.

      • Matthew E says:

        I wouldn’t recommend a tampon for hemorrhage control. It sucks up blood from the wound where as combat gauze with a hemostatic agent would greatly increase clotting. That’s what they taught in medic school.

    • Raines says:

      Emergency water container

    • Quinn says:

      Non lubricated condoms can be used for water storage, and when there not full of water they take up very little space and are practically weightless. That’s the only reason I can think of for including them.

    • Joe Black says:

      Many many uses for them. Some include keeping small items dry, carying water, burn dressing and my personal favorite taking a piss at 2am when it is -40C outside (don’t have to get out of your shelter).

    • Aaron says:

      Water carriage

    • bourgz says:

      I think it’s to store water in 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Come on, you can carry fluids in it, use as a tie off to seal things, bungee chord type stretch rope cut in strips for ties, use as a cut protector, like cut on arm and stretch it over cut, tie it off for taking bath in lake. Prevent infection. Sky’s the limit my friend.
      Remember: Hillary is trying to take our 2nd amend. From us. EVERYBODY BETTER BAND TOGETHER AND STOP HER & Obama, he is going to pull a trick out of his butt, and pronounce Martial Law last Quarter this year, take my words seriously, people.

  • Michael Y. says:

    I find it funny how everyone is downing the *non-lubricated* condoms, as if they can only be used for having sex. Jesus, I see natural selection will still be around when the shit hits the fan.

  • Michael says:

    Condoms? Are you for real? How old are you 14? Anyone thinking about sex in a bug out disaster should be shot.

  • Craig Kerns says:

    Don’t forget to add cortisone and lidocaine creams. Also read up on snake bite, don’t go slashing away. If a Family, learn together. Lights at night attract the bad guys.

  • Jamie k says:

    Also another thing I would add to the pack which I have in mine is potassium iodide pills for possible radiation events.

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