11 Critical Items for Your Bug Out Bag

One of the many privileges we have here at Bug Out Bag Academy is being able to watch the latest trends, examine and review the latest products, and then recommend only the best quality bug out bag essentials to you.


Thanks to you, as one of the leading websites in emergency preparedness and survival education, we’re introduced to new and exciting innovations in survival and emergency preparedness on a weekly, if not daily basis.

But as you probably know by now, we don’t really get caught up in all the hype of such gadgets unless it’s truly warranted. Sometimes, a “wheel is just a wheel,” so to speak, and there isn’t much need for improvement.

And because of this, we always tell it like it is so that you don’t get caught up in all the hype either. Like previous years, we promise this coming year will be no different. We’ll continue to comb through various products and items, both new and old, and recommend only the best bug out bag items that you should consider including in your emergency kit as well.


To get started we’ll discuss some of the best bags in quality, functionality and durability that exist on the market and then we’ll explore some “must have” items for every bug out bag to fit most situations.

Here are the three bags we recommend for their versatility, durability, and overall design and functionality.



Bug Out Bag Academy - Condor

Condor Outdoor has been creating quality outdoor gear for 20 years and is recognized throughout the military and law enforcement community for their innovative outdoor and tactical gear. Condor is known for combining the most modern designs with battle tested durability and the Mission pack is no exception. The Condor Mission pack offers a generous main compartment for storing larger items including a built-in bladder pocket. The multiple interior mesh pockets offer ideal carry for all sorts of items while allowing for quick visibility, which means no more searching inside your pack. Condor Outdoor is one of the, if not the, best choice at this price point for those looking for reliability without sacrificing quality.


Main compartment
Built-In hydration compatible pocket and large mesh pocket
Center compartment with four zipper mesh pockets
Outer organizer compartment with multiple sleeve and pockets
Zipper closure concealment pockets with hook & loop panel
Compression straps on top and side
Detachable/adjustable waist strap
Padded shoulder strap with sternum strap
Padded back panel with mesh reinforcement to maximize air flow
Grommet for drainageNOTE: Hydration bladder NOT included
Volume: 1820″ cubic inches (30L)
Size: 13″W x 20″H x 7″D in.
Color: Black, Tan, OD (green)


5.11 RUSH 24 PACK

Bug Out Bag Academy - 5.11 Tactical

5.11 Tactical is yet another leading and proven provider of tactical gear and accessories. The 5.11 RUSH 24 pack is one of their most popular choices for an ideal bug out bag. The spacious main compartment offers three interior mesh pockets to keep small accessories organized, a padded hydration pocket and a fleece-lined pocket keeps your eyewear within easy reach. Dual side storage compartments offer double-zip access, a large stuff-it pocket with an integrated draw cord provides expandable storage when you need it. The RUSH 24 combines superior enhanced storage with customizable functionality.


Roomy main storage area
Dual zipping side pockets
Hydration pocket
Stuff-it pocket with integrated draw cord
Wrap-around MOLLE/SlickStick web platform
Three mesh admin compartmentsZippered fleece-lined eyewear pocket
Hook and loop nametape and flag patches
Durable 1050D nylon
Water-repellant coating
20″ H x 12.5″ L x 8″ D main compartment
2070 cubic inch capacity
Twin drainage grommets
Self-repairing YKK® zippers
Glove-friendly pull tabs
Colors: Black, Sandstone, Multicam



Bug Out Bag Academy - Maxpedition

Since founded in the early 2000’s, Maxpedition has quickly gained a name for itself as a reliable and quality brand. The Vulture-II™ 3-Day Backpack is designed for hauling lots of gear. 2800 cubic inches of carry capacity, 3 generous compartments, and a wide bottom design; this is the backpack to hold it all.The Vulture II holds true to the Maxpedition ergonomic standard and comes equipped with comfortable back padding, curvaceous backpack straps, and concealable chest & waist straps. Yes, it a costs a little bit more than other bags on the market, but in our opinion, you get what you pay for with this bag.


Large pockets for lots of gear
Accommodates up to a100oz/3L hydration reservoir
Bi-directional tube port (not included)
Multiple exterior PALS webbing for attaching pouches and accessories
2810 cubic inches
20.5″ x 16″ x 7.5″
Weight: 3 lbs, 8 oz
Material: 1000-Denier Coated Nylon
Linear Inches: 44″


Now that you’ve seen the three bug out bag packs we recommend, let’s begin filling it up with a few of the particular items you might find yourself needing in an emergency situation.



Bug Out Bag Academy - Essential Gear


In our opinion, one Lifestraw or Sawyer Mini (or more) in your bug out bag is a “must-have.” This compact and lightweight device is excellent for emergency water filtration and is ideal for hiking, backpacking, camping, travel, and emergency preparedness scenarios. As one of the most affordable and reliable emergency water filters on the market, this will filtrate up to 1,000 liters of water and remove 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria.Excellent portable water filter
Filters up to 1000 liters
Removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria
Light weight
Most affordable on the market
Receives high ratings from Amazon buyers
View Product



This lightweight, yet very durable, heat resistant Spork Eating Utensil is a great meal companion for any bug out bag. Serves as a spoon, knife and fork in one convenient heavy duty plastic utensil. Don’t leave home without it unless you like eating with your fingers or makeshift forks.

Made by Light My Fire
Lightweight heavy gauge plastic
Spoon, Knife, Fork
View Product



This convenient little tool was first issued for use by the US Armed Forces during WWII. Not much larger than a quarter, you’ll be glad you have at least one of these in your BOB when the need arises. Easily fits on a keyring or backpack zipper for easy retrieval. The P-38 Can Opener can also double as a pry tool or screwdriver in a pinch.

Small compact can opening device
Fits on key ring or backpack zipper
Extremely affordable
Doubles as pry tool or screwdriver
View Product



Another “must-have” is the SOL Emergency Blanket. Known for their solid reputation in the emergency preparedness industry, this compact emergency blanket will be there for you when you need it. Vacuum-metalized polyethylene reflects 90% of your body heat. It opens easily and will not shred if nicked or punctured. The blanket’s high-visibility orange exterior makes it easy for rescuers to find you. Sized to fit one person. Compacts for easy storage in your BOB, car, or place of business. At only 2.9 oz, this waterproof/windproof emergency blanket can also serve as an emergency shelter, tarp, and gear cover.

Made by SOL (Survive Outdoors Longer)
Reputable name in the emergency preparedness industry
Compact for easy storage in car, BOB or office
Cost effect price point
Weighs 2.9 oz.
Windproof / waterproof
Double as an emergency shelter
Double as ground tarp
Double as gear cover
View Product



The Starflash Signal Mirror is made by UST (Ultimate Survival Technologies), another reputable industry brand. Weighing less than one ounce, this durable and compact tool can be used to signal your location, ignite a fire, and help maintain personal hygiene.

Made by UST (Ultimate Survival Technologies)
Weighs less than 1 oz.
Use to signal your location
Use to ignite a fire
Durable construction
Can be attached to key ring or BOB
View Product



Every bug out bag needs a Swedish FireSteel. This one, made by Light My Fire, is good for up to 1,500 strikes and serves as an excellent redundant/backup fire/tinder resource.

Made by Light My Fire
Good for up to 1,500 strikes
Excellent backup fire starter
View Product



Wetfire Tinder is also made by UST and has become well known as an excellent compact fire starting material. Each package comes with 5 individually wrapped cubes. Long burning and lightweight, these non-toxic fire tinders will burn wet or dry.

Made by UST
Excellent compact fire starting material
5 individually wrapped cubes
Long burning
Light weight
Burns wet or dry
View Product



No bug out bag is complete without Stormproof Matches. Made by Industrial Revolutions, these wind/water/storm proof matches light easily and stay lit – even underwater. Stormproof matches come in 2 boxes of 50 and burn for 15 seconds apiece. Great for use while cooking, sanitizing, for added protection, and just for plain peace of mind.

Made by Industrial Revolutions
Windproof, waterproof, stormproof
Easy to light and stay lit, even under water
Comes in 2 boxes of 50
15 second burn time
Endless possibilities with fire
Peace of Mind
View Product



The compact nature of Lightweight Paracord and its applications in a bug out scenario make it an obvious choice for every emergency preparedness kit. Originally designed and known as parachute cord, this nylon kemmantle rope is made to withstand a minimum of 550 lbs of weight and can be used for a multitude of purposes.

Made by NiteIze
High strength utility cord
50 ft length
Unlimited uses
Line for shelter
Securing gear
Marking Paths
Hoisting / lifting
Individual internal strands for sewing
Fishing line
View Product



The Ultimate Survival Technologies SaberCut Para Fixed 4.0 Knife is a full-tang blade with a meaty 4mm thick 440 steel blade for rugged multi-purpose use, and the titanium coating keeps the steel free of rust and corrosion. Plus, the paracord handle can be unwound and used as rope in a survival situation.



The Ultimate Survival Sparkie™ is the newest fire starter from Ultimate Survival Technologies, featuring one-handed operation in a lightweight, compact design. It has a reconfigured striker tab enclosure and spark bar. The compact body of the Sparkie Fire Starter has a rubberized grip wrap giving you maximum control and comfort during use. The Ultimate Survival Sparkie Fire Starter is a must-carry for anyone who wants to be prepared in the outdoors.

Specifications: Compact, All Weather, One handed operation, Weight: .85 oz (24g), Length closed: 2.3″, Width: 1.2″, Thickness: 0.7″
View Product



As you can see, this is a great assortment of well-known and proven outdoor emergency supplies and gear.

It is important for us to note that the bags and gear described above serve as a good starting point for building out your new bug out bag or refining your existing one. Not everything is included in the combo pack that you would need in most emergency scenarios, but it is a great place to begin if you are new to the idea of emergency preparedness or are looking to improve the emergency kit you already have.

So if you’re looking to get your feet wet (or rather, keep them dry!) and start building your own bug out bag, hop on over to our store and check out the great deals we have exclusively for you and our fellow subscribers.

Please take a look and let us know if you have any questions.

So what do you think? Did we leave anything off the list? What has been your experience with these products? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Fernando says:

    Great information and tips

  • Binadaoc says:

    Perhaps a few items missing?

    Flashlight or candle
    First Aid Pouch

    You added matches, why the 2nd Ferro Rod?

  • […] be very overwhelming when looking at various sites and recommendations online. In these cases, our list of bug out bag essentials should serve as a good starting […]

  • Jo says:

    Thank you very much. Immensely helpful to newcomer.

  • […] you’ll be in your home, you’ll be able to gather more materials than a basic bug out bag would call […]

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  • rocky says:

    Though I make my own Blades (a little mention in the winter 2016 Survivor’s Edge Magazine – Bug Out Blades) I have several of the UST4.0sabercut para’s. It is well designed and rugged. I have one in each of my bags along side one of mine.
    The price is right and you can’t go wrong with this Blade in your kit.

    • Team BOBA says:

      Rocky, thanks for dropping by. We’re fans of your work and have been watching your accomplishments from afar! Get in touch with us and let’s chat. – Andrew (bugoutbagacademy [at] gmail dot com).