Bug Out Bag Checklist (Part 1)

1 May

This post is for new preppers. Ah, the good old bug out bag. This is a topic that’s been beaten to death. I wrote about it in my book. It’s covered on nearly every survivalist/prepper blog. You can search “Bug out bag” on youtube and get several excellent presentations. There’s even entire books devoted to the topic.

Here are my thoughts on bug out bags. Put these things on your bug out bag list.

1) Cash. In one review of a popular book about bug out bags, a guy gave the book one star because the author recommended carrying cash. The reviewer said cash would be useless. In some situations that could be true. In many other situations, cash will have great value. If you’re fleeing a gas leak in your neighborhood and forced to evacuate, cash will let you get a hotel room. Buy your wife dinner.

In the deep woods cash has no value. On many journeys, it’s priceless.

2) Good, rugged, survival clothing. I’ve written other posts about extreme cold weather gear. The scenario is again you’re forced to flee your home. You wait outside in freezing or rainy weather. You aren’t going to build a fire with your metal match. You aren’t going to construct a tarp shelter. You’ll mull around like everybody else getting rained or snowed on.

In the harshest physical environments on earth, building a fire isn’t always possible. Clothing keeps people warm in the Arctic. The rule of three says you can only survive three hours without proper shelter or clothing in the harshest environments. Your clothing will meet this need.

What you need depends on your environment. Here are some suggestions:

a) Warm Windproof Jacket. If necessary, a Parka

b) Rain Poncho

c) Warm Hat and/or Facemask

d) Windproof Pants, Insulated Pants

e) Two Extra Pair Warm Socks

f) Neck Gator

g) Long Underwear

h) Gloves. In cold weather, Bear Paw Mittens

i) Hiking Boots. Rubber Overboots

j) Sunglasses. Snow goggles if needed.

The shirt and pants you wear should be rugged. The best way to find your ideal bug out wardrobe is to go camping or backpacking. Go in all seasons. You’ll learn to appreciate great clothing.

3) Water. For whatever reason, you can’t go home. For whatever reason, your cash is useless. Your clothing keeps you relatively warm and dry. You have good footwear. You can travel. You can easily survive three hours without building a shelter or starting a fire.

Bug out bags are called 72 hour bags because they should allow us to survive three days. You can’t go three days without water. Water is heavy. Why not just purify or filter water you find? Lots of reasons. Most importantly, you don’t want to be forced into taking a particular route by a river or lake. For whatever reason, tap water isn’t running.

With adequate water and warm clothing, you should be able to survive for three days. Unless….

4) Defensive handgun. If you’re fleeing most disasters, you won’t need any weapons. What if the disaster is extreme and there is a breakdown of law and order? Gangs attack people. General lawlessness. A firearm gives you a measure of protection. Some preppers would take a shotgun. Others their AR-15. Others a 22 LR rifle like their Ruger 10/22.

Whatever weapon you choose, you should know how to use it well.

Add in the accessories necessary to carry and use your weapon effectively. A good holster for your handgun. A few extra magazines for an autoloading pistol. A sling for a rifle or shotgun. Something to protect your long gun from the elements.

5) Sleeping bag and pad. A backpacker’s tent or a tarp. Maybe a sleeping bag bivvy instead of a tent. Your clothing is adequate. You could sleep in them. You have adequate hydration, at least for now. A few shots scared away the gang that went off in search of an easier target.

You feel strung out. You’ve been walking for hours. You’ve been awake for over 24 hours. You’re hungry. You can’t eat because we haven’t added food to our list yet! No matter. You know you could go several days without food.

You need rest. Without adequate sleep you won’t function well. You’ll make bad decisions and be at a higher risk of injury. Your sleeping bag and pad will give you a chance to recover. In a survival situation, the importance of sleep can’t be overemphasized. The greatest survivors will be able to catch some zzz’s. Under stress, that’s not easy to do. You’ll be exhausted and unable to sleep at the same time.

Some old-school campers like down for a sleeping bag fill material. Wet down is useless. I’d go with Polarguard. To keep your sleeping bag dry, get a dry stuff sack. Some backpackers use contractor garbage bags. If you’re in a canoe and it tips, a contractor bag isn’t as good as a proper dry sack.

If you don’t have a good tent or a bag bivvy, a section of plastic to protect your sleeping bag from the ground is good to have.

Think of your tent as your home and your sleeping bag as your bed. Two of the greatest things ever invented.

6) Food. You’ve earned a good meal! Most of us can’t function well without food. You have lots of options: MREs, freeze dried foods, raisons and nuts, granola bars. Some foods don’t take any preparation. Those are handy. Warm foods provide more comfort. Have both options.

7) You’ll need several things to prepare your warm meals. At a minimum you need a way to boil water. One option is a metal canteen cup that fits over your canteen. You can find these cups for both military style canteens and for other water bottles.

a) Metal Canteen Cup
b) Spoon

There are many other cooking options you could add. Go outside and make your warm meals. You’ll see what need to get by. A small cooking grate, fork, and a small cookset is nice to have if you prepare more outdoor meals besides just reconstituting freeze dried foods or heating up MREs. You can find or make little stands to hold your canteen cup above a small fire.

8) Fire Starting Kit. This is the first thing many preppers add to their bug out bag. Fires can help keep you warm, dry you out, boil water to kill germs, cook food. Smoky fires can be used to signal aircraft if you’re lost in the woods. If not careful fires can alert marauders to your position.

In the old days, backpackers talked of the ten essentials you should carry with you in the wilderness. People now think in terms of kits or collections of things. What things should you have to start a fire?

a) Wooden Matches. You can purchase rainproof, windproof matches capable of being submerged in water. They come out of the water burning. Pretty neat. You can purchase boxes of kitchen matches and store them in a couple of ziplock bags. You can purchase little round containers in metal or plastic which keep a few matches waterproof. Keep a fresh striker for lighting them.

Some will tell you how to waterproof your own matches using wax or nail polish. If you try this test your matches to be sure they work.

b) Bic lighter. For three days, matches should be all you need to get a fire started. Other options can make lighting a fire easier. A small lighter is really handy and weighs little.

c) Metal match. These are used to create a spark to start a fire. These are most useful if you plan on remaining in the wilderness for an extended time. When your lighter and matches are exhausted, this is your go-to option.

d) Tinder material. With a small flame or spark, you must now transfer that to a pile of combustible wood. Tinder is used to grow a spark or small flame into a larger flame capable of igniting wood.

Cotton balls, dryer lint, tinder in a tube products are options. Steel wool holds sparks. In extreme conditions, I like to carry a small can of Sterno. Toss a match in it and use it as your tinder.

9) Basic survival tools.

We’ll continue with basic survival tools in the next post.

Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door

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2 Responses to “Bug Out Bag Checklist (Part 1)”

  1. thoughtfullyprepping May 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    Ahhh, socks.
    Every grunt in the world knows the value of a decent pair of SOCKS!
    Look after your feet world, they keep your ankles from fraying!

  2. equippedcat May 2, 2014 at 5:27 am #

    Cash is useful in some circumstances but I’d throw in a roll or 2 of silver dimes as well for cases when there are things to purchase, but cash is not accepted..

    I hope there will be a discussion on how to carry all this. It is beginning to sound like a fairly large load (food, water, tent and sleeping bag in particular).

    Don’t forget the ammunition 🙂

    Clothing is covered well. Will PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) be discussed later (hard hat, ear muffs or plugs, anti-viral/dust mask, knee/elbow pads, rubber gloves)?

    Carrying some water is very good. Carrying a lot of water is challenging. It would be wise to extend your water supply with some purification tablets and/or a small filter.

    Food is important to minimize the stress of an emergency situation, but it is not a matter of life and death for quite some time. Carrying some is wise, but I would tend to avoid those which require adding water and/or cooking, as this may be a problem in a short term situation. Be aware of shelf life and the effects of extreme storage conditions.

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