75 Bug Out Bag List Essentials [2022 Update]
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.
Below you’ll find a helpful Table of Contents outlining the rest of the article. Feel free to read it straight through or skip ahead to the area that interests you most or that which you need the most help with.
This is a lengthy article with tons of helpful information, so I encourage you to set aside some time to dive in, bookmark it for future reference, and also be sure to pick up your own free PDF copy of these Bug Out Bag Essentials List here.
Let’s get started…
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 two schools of thought on this:
1) Choose the best bag for you first
2) 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” for being awesome, 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, now that we have that important aspect covered, 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 approximately 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)
Of everything above, we highly recommend having at least one Sawyer or two in your bug out bag for water filtration. These compact, lightweight lifesavers filter out 99.9% of bacteria and other harmful microbes from water that you could otherwise not drink without boiling or treating in some other fashion.
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 it being 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 for a minimum of three days. 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)
- P-38 Can Opener
- Metal Cooking Pot
- Metal Cup
- Pot Scrubber
- Portable Stove
- Stove Fuel (Qty 10)
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 season. 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 (made of poly fabric, not cotton)
- Convertible (Zip-Off) Pants
- Merino Wool Hiking Socks (Qty 3 pair) – Not itchy like old school wool!
- Medium Weight Fleece
- Hat w/ Flex Brim
- Working Gloves
- Rain Poncho
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 for morale when times are rough.
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.
- Ferrocerium Rod
- Tinder (Qty 3)
- Waterproof Storage
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.
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.
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
- Tea Candles
- Solar Lantern / Charger
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.
A good way to recall the following is “P.A.C.E.” — Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency. They are as follows:
- Primary – Cell Phone
- Alternate – Wifi/Tablet
- Contingency – Ham Radio w/ License
- Emergency – Crank Power Charger with Signal Lights
Depending on the situation you find yourself in, these items might prove quite useful. Don’t leave home without carefully thinking these through first. Some question the effective use of quarters and precious metals in a modern bug out scenario. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it is worth the few extra ounces to carry just in case.
- $500 Minimum in Small Bills
- Quarters (Qty 8)
- Gold / Silver Bullion Coins
- Local Area Map
- Small Note Pad / Pencil
- Emergency Whistle
- Cotton Bandana (Orange)
Here is a solid Pre-Built Signalling and Navigation Kit that I carry in my bug out bag.
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
- Takedown rifle
- Ammunition (Qty 100 rnds min. for each firearm)
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′)
- Duct Tape (25’)
- 55 Gal. Clear Contractor Trash Bag (Qty 2)
- Resealable Bags (Qty 5, Various Sizes)
- N95 Face Mask
- Sewing Kit
- Latex Tubing (3’)
- Survival Axe
- 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.