Bug Out Bags: Things to Know Before You Build Your Own

Allow us to dispel some misconceptions we had when we first set out to build our bug out bags.

Bug out bags require time and money, but it’s time and money well spent if it helps keep you alive.

First, the bag and its contents are intended to help keep you alive. It alone will not do this. However, it’ll surely aid in your survival if you know how to use it and its contents properly.

Bug Out Bags Are Heavy

Every ounce of weight adds up! It helps to remember that bug out bags are for survival – not comfort. Only carry the absolute necessities. Nothing else. A survivalist once said to me, “if bugging out were fun and comfortable, it would be called camping!” This is a great realization to keep in mind when building your bug out bag. Clearly define your necessities versus your wants. Your back will thank you for it.

Bug Out Bags Take Time and Money

Bug out bags require time and money, but it’s time and money well spent if it means keeping you alive.

Plan to spend several weekends and several hundred dollars up front to build a sufficient bug out bag. It might seem like a lot at first, but when it can determine the difference between life and death, it’s easier to make a priority.

Also. Depending on your geographic location, you’ll want to revisit your bug out bag every 6 months to swap out clothes for the appropriate seasons.

You will also want to periodically swap out the food in your pack to keep the supply fresh. Experts recommend brushing up on your food preparation and survival skills with the food you’ve replaced.

Bug Out Bags Don’t Guarantee Your Survival

Like I mentioned before, a bug out bag is supposed to help keep you alive. You must practice honing your skills if you want to be in the best position possible should a disaster strike.

Keep in mind that as you change over time, most likely your bug out bag will need to adjust as well. Some instances that would require revisiting your bug out bag list and the items you are carrying is if you get married, have children, or even if your physical condition or health changes considerably over time.

Your Turn to Weigh In

So there are just a few of our hard earned lessons. For those of you who already have experience building a bug out bag, what can you add to the list? What are some of the things you wish you would’ve known before you got started?

Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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  • julian says:

    Some things I have thought of: a ziplock full of dryer lint – lightweight and great for fire starting. Lighters, wooden matches and chapstick. Lightsources. Use your phone or email to set reminders for seasonal repack. Remember: two is one, and one is none. Have multiples, and multiple bags – having a bag you can’t access is no good. Home, truck, car, & work. For me, primary concerns are water (lifestraw, whatever), fire-starting, good knives, light source and weather gear (clothes and mylar blankets). Even cheapo lights can work. Protein bars make sense. Decent fist aid kit. You can go on and on, remember to keep it light…and get a decent pair of boots!

  • Bonnie Bowman says:

    I am a 144 lb,. 71 year old, healthy, active women. My BOB is WAY to heavy for me to carry, 42 lbs. without my camel being loaded with water. I bought a very sturdy, light weight, easy to pull, great wheels that move any direction quickly, wagon! I have short distance tested it and it works great. I will pull it several miles some time in the next few months. It can go over any terrain, and I have a very large bungee cord to strap my BOB and extra food into the wagon. My BOB is a military tactical pack with lots of molle so everything in modular.

    • Andrew says:

      Way to go, Bonnie! Knowing your limitations is half the battle. Let us know how your trial run goes! -Andrew

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  • chelsie woodward says:

    I have a dumb question. Should I pack more medical supplies? I save alot of stuff they try to throw away at the hospitals. Saline , gauze, everything. should I include this ?

    • Andrew says:

      Hi Chelsie! That’s not a dumb question at all! If you or someone you are with are equipped and knowledgeable to use the supplies, then it can certainly be helpful to have in case of injury. Emergency situations often involve medical emergencies of some kind. Having the right supplies at the right time can make all the difference. Just make sure the supplies are more of a help to you than a hindrance! In other words, keep it light and compact.

  • […] Bug Out Bags: Things to Know Before You Build Your Own […]

  • Steve says:

    I am planning on starting a BOB for my wife and I in January. Are there essentials that I should be starting with? It seems a little overwhelming looking at list after list of things with no idea where to begin.

    • Andrew says:

      Hey, Steve. We certainly understand where you’re coming from. Check out this post to get an idea of some of the core essentials you may want to get started with.

      That said, try not to get overwhelmed and just keep pushing forward, one foot in front of the other. You’re taking the necessary precautions to prepare and protect yourself and your wife and that’s what really matters in the end. Use this 75 essentials bug out bag list as a helpful “guide” and you’re well on your way. You might not need everything on the list, but you can easily adapt the list to your own particular needs. Hope this helps.

  • Roy says:

    Environment, environment know what ur up against I live in north TX we have hot summers and down to 25° winters. So seasonal repack is a must as far as clothing and maybe sleeping set ups. I have a get back bag and a total all out getting the F away bag. I live in DFW but my bug out Jeep and major bag is located far north in the country. I get back bag is ready for 3 days. My get out of dodge bag is massive and the Jeep has ammo, chows loaded up and several cases of water

  • Brian says:

    I personally don’t have all the skills of a Les Stroud nor the physical fitness of a 30 year old (or 40 or even 50), so I have as many useful items in my bug out bag that I can cram in there so at least I’ll have a better chance of not dying.