If there is anything scarier than facing a disaster it must be facing a disaster unprepared. That’s why I am going to discuss bug out bag essentials…the gear you need in case you have to “bug out” quickly. With a little bit of planning you will be much better prepared for whatever disaster life throws at you.
You might be wondering how someone can prepare for a disaster. Well what you can do is prepare for your needs in the aftermath of the disaster by stockpiling food, water, and survival gear. The crisis is still there, you are just better prepared for the discomfort.
It might occur to you that the government will be right there to help you…but think again. Hurricane Katrina taught us that the government’s response time can be seriously lacking.
Katrina is probably why the United States government now encourages you to be prepared and have an emergency supply kit . I agree with them; every man woman and child should have an emergency kit ready. You don’t want to be scrambling around looking for your bug out bag essentials at the last minute.
To better your chances of survival you need to have your essential emergency supplies ready in a bag. The bag makes it easy to just grab and go. This bag is now more commonly known as the “bug out bag”.
What is a bug out bag?
Bug out bag, bail out bag, survival pack, emergency preparedness kits; no matter what it is called it is basically the same thing.
It is a bag that you have packed in advance that has all of the survival gear and other essential items that you will need to survive for three days. It should travel easily, so a backpack like the Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger pictured above or a duffel bag is a good choice. It should have an ownership tag on it with information such as: name, allergies, and contact numbers. Ideally you should keep one in your home, in your car, even in your office! You never know where you are going to be when disaster strikes.
What should you put in the bag?
Shelter, water, and food are the most important items.
Shelter is important because you don’t want to get ill or die from exposure to the elements. A good poncho or tarp should be adequate. A small hiking tent would be nice. Add a poncho liner for some additional warmth. Also, a good length of rope or 550 Paracord can be very helpful when constructing a shelter.
Water is a priority. Try to have at least 3 litters in your pack. A liter a day is the absolute minimum you need to live, but you could need up to a gallon a day. Get a good survival water bottle to make non-potable water safe. Some coffee filters can help extend the life of you water filter bottle by removing the biggest contaminates first. Water purification tablets and a pot to boil water in would also be good choices to add.
Food is a must have. You can live without food for weeks but it is always a good idea to add it to your bag; there is little comfort in the world like food in the belly. Survival food such as power bars, sardines in oil, peanut butter, jerky, and dehydrated foods like the Mountain House 72-Hour Emergency Meal Kit are all good choices. Try to have 6000 calories or more of food in your bag. You could also learn about the edible plants in your area. For instance, two cups of chopped dandelion will provide only about 50 calories but that is a lot better than having an empty stomach.
You should also include these bug out bag essentials:
- A good sturdy change of clothes, socks, and hiking boots/shoes.
- A hand crank, a solar powered, or a compact battery operated flashlight. If you don’t get the solar or hand crank type remember to get extra batteries. My personal favorite flashlight is the versatile Fenix PD31.
- Fire starting materials. A butane lighter, some waterproof matches, a magnesium fire starter and WetFire Tinder Cubes. The cubes are excellent and will start a fire even when everything is wet.
- Extra glasses or contact lens and solution. Get a hard case for the glasses so they don’t get crushed.
- A good Multi tool such as the Leatherman 830160 Surge Pocket Multitool with Leather Sheath.
- Work gloves.
- Ziploc bags to waterproof small items and to store food.
- A hand chainsaw such as the Ultimate Survival Technologies SaberCut Saw.
- Knives. A good survival knife is a must. I suggest a fixed blade knife such as the Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion. A good pocket knife wouldn’t hurt either.
- A basic first aid kit. Get one with a soft case like the First Aid Only Outdoor First Aid Kit, Soft Case, 205-Piece Kit so that it can be stored easier.
- Three days’ worth of your medications.
- A map of your area.
- Duct tape.
- Personal hygiene stuff.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Copies of your important papers and I D cards.
- A can opener such as the Large P-51.(have you ever tried opening a can with a rock?).
- Heavy duty plastic bags.
- At least $200 Cash. If there is a blackout you won’t be able to use your credit or debit card. You might not need it but you will be glad you have it if you do.
- A hand crank or solar powered Emergency Radio. Many of these also have a flashlight attached and some even have a cell phone/mp3/USB charger!
- A deck of cards to fight boredom.
- A mess kit. It is nice to eat in a civilized manner when you can.
- A lightweight stove such as the Jetboil Personal Cooking System would be very nice to have, especially if you are eating dehydrated foods.
Don’t think that you can follow this bug out bag checklist and that will be all you need to do. Everyone has unique needs. That means that every bug out bag should be personalized to the needs of the owner; don’t be afraid to add stuff that you think you will need. Try to keep it as light as possible though. You need to be able to pick it up in a moment’s notice and bug out of there!