Bug Out Bag Checklist (Part 3)

5 May

In the last part of this ongoing saga post about bug out bags, we added the ten backpacking essentials to our bug out bag. You’re now very well prepared to survive for three days. You have adequate clothing, shelter, food, water, and a few key supplies.

Every bug out bag has a small repair kit. Simple things like a couple of needles and thread for repairing clothing. A tiny bit of wire. Maybe some repair tape. These things are light and can fix faulty equipment.

Your equipment should be in top notch condition. If the shoestring on your boots is old and frayed, it’s more likely to break. A spare shoestring could repair it in the field, but why not take care of problems now? This applies to your bug out vehicle. The better maintained, the less likely it’ll give you trouble during a real bug out.

Anything that’s really light weight and absolutely essential should have a backup. Some preppers like the saying “one is zero, two is one.” The idea being that if you have one of something and it fails you don’t have it. You’re down to zero.

Many essentials can’t be carried in the twos. Heavy sleeping bag, tent, rifle. No way. Too heavy. If you wear glasses, have an extra pair. I always carry two compasses and a second small knife and two flashlights.

If you travel with a group, you can mooch your backup off your buddy. If you drop your knife in a gully, he still has his. Your group isn’t totally knifeless.

Having a second applies to vehicles in extremely harsh environments. If you drive across the Sahara Desert, don’t take one truck. Take two. No matter how great a mechanic you are and how well stocked your repair items, something unfixable on the road can fail. In a lawless world, expect an immobilized and abandoned vehicle will be stripped of anything of value.

The same applies to snowmobiles driven far from others. Two people can ride on one, but two is better and safer. Some outdoorsman say you should never travel in the far north or other wilderness alone for the same reason. If something happens to one person, there’s another person who can help. I won’t go this far because too many guys like hiking, hunting, or fishing alone. A second person adds safety, but that’s a personal call.

Here are some items to consider:

a) A small radio. This is for getting local news. If an disaster is widespread there should be some news coverage. My current radio is a small Eton Mini 300PE. It’s not particularly rugged or good, but it gives you a chance to receive news. It has AM/FM/Some Shortwave.

In the book in the BOV chapter, one item I recommend for those traveling in remote areas is a PLB or a personal locator beacon. In a bug out, I’m assuming you’re fleeing the situation and aren’t expecting to be rescued. The assumption: You’re on your own. The radio above is for reception only.

b) A water purification device. I’m a big fan of Katadyn water filters. They’re expensive, but pretty much the standard used by relief organizations worldwide. If you can stomach it, resublimated iodine crystals work.

There are other options:

-Katadyn Micropur tablets.

-Chlor Floc. We can’t really use my favorite PUR product because it’s designed for use with larger containers, but as any prepper who’s read my book or past blog posts knows, I’m a huge, huge fan of the particle binder purification devices. If you have crap like DDT, heavy metals, etc, in your water this is the way to go.

– I don’t fully trust UV treatment of water, but some hikers swear by their Steripen UV lights. I don’t like relying on a battery operated device for water purification either.

-Survival filter straws. Some preppers like them.

– You have a metal cup so you can always boil water to kill bacteria.

– Coffee filters to prefilter your water. Kept in a ziplock bag.

I want to re-emphasize something from the first post. Water is absolutely essential to life and by five days without it, only the most advanced medical treatment in the world can save you. Three days without it is considered critical. Carrying two liters a day x 3 days is very heavy and bulky. But in a disaster you might not want to restrict your route to where water can be procured. You can’t sit around waiting for rain. Good news: With each passing day of hiking, you’ll have less water to carry. Bad news: Without a source of resupply, you’re getting closer to death.


Bug Out Bag weight is something that should be addressed. I watched a video where a guy said the weight of a bug out bag doesn’t matter. Toss in what you need. That’s OK if you’re super fit or if your bag sits in a vehicle. Most of us will need to balance what we carry with our ability to carry it.

If you’ve ever fallen down a hill with a heavy backpack, you’ll know the weight of the pack is directly related to your likely injuries. It’s bad enough to sprain an ankle when carrying no weight. But if you have a 60 pound pack, the injury will likely be greater. Carrying too much weight isn’t only exhausting and slowing. It puts you at more risk in rugged terrain.

The most serious backpackers today are going “ultralight” and will brag for hours how they reduced the weight of their cook kit by 2 oz. Ultralight equipment isn’t as durable as heavier stuff. Put a GI military surplus rain poncho next to a commercial “survival” poncho and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Some preppers accept light duty equipment for a three-day survival kit. I like robust gear.

Each prepper needs to decide how much weight is acceptable in his own pack. My advice: Go hiking with your BOB. Can you comfortably trek 10 miles? Can you climb a hill? How far do you plan to travel?

Another tip: After your outdoor adventures do you have stuff in your pack you never needed? I’m not talking about a first aid kit, but about tools and equipment that you previously thought were essential.

Little Light Weight Stuff That’s Difficult To Fabricate

Years ago I was big into fishing. Not only go fishing, but I’d read books on fishing. Through The Fish’s Eye, Fishing Top To Bottom, Secrets of A Muskie Guide. That sort of book. I haven’t fished in years and gave away most of my tackle. That was dumb.

In the wild, fishing can provide protein. There are many ways to catch fish but most common is the good old hook and line. Modern fishing line and metal hooks are light weight and far better than anything you’ll fabricate in the wild. You can keep a few hooks, sinkers, bobbers and line in your pack and not notice the weight.

A fishing kit isn’t absolutely essential for a three day bag. It’s more of an outdoor survival item. You can carry the same concept to other items. If you want to fabricate a bow in the wild, carry a bow string and some arrowheads. The plastic nocks are handy. Add a little fletching and epoxy. By no means do you have a bow ready, but if you needed to make one you’d have some of the most valuable parts which are really difficult to make.

To be continued…

Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door

6 Responses to “Bug Out Bag Checklist (Part 3)”

  1. thoughtfullyprepping May 6, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    I do love your lists only in this case I’m a bit twitchy about Iodine crystals and other iodine products..

    A LOT of people are allergic to iodine and only find out the hard way (the worse being full on Anaphylaxis shock).

    Older women, pregnant, the very young, those with thyroid complaints, and some experts say those who suffer from seafood reactions shouldn’t use iodine.

    Consider too I’ve read on websites (but have no absolute proof it’s right) that taking Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets for “anti radiation” and using iodine to purify water at the same time can cause an overload to the bodies system.

    So If I could gently nudge your readers to get checked out by a medical professional to see they are OK to “go purple” (i.e. iodine tolerant) BEFORE the main event they may sleep a little easier especially if a family is involved.

    • preppernextdoor May 7, 2014 at 12:14 am #

      I knew long term use of resublimated iodine crystal products isn’t recommended and I know some people just can’t drink water treated with this stuff. I wasn’t aware so many people could be so badly and immediately affected by iodine products. Thanks for the important correction.

  2. equippedcat May 6, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    Water is indeed critical, short term or long. In addition to purification tablets and/or filters, have containers to collect water and other containers (to prevent recontamination) to hold the purified results. The most compact and lightweight option is heavy duty bags which can be sealed. Whatever containers are carried should be some multiple of the size which your purification methodology will handle.

    In addition to some basic fishing supplies, some snares or parts to make them might be a small, light, cheap addition. “Some snare wire” is probably not optimal. One of the more commonly suggested options, 24ga brass wire, is too light weight for much more than squirrels. Stainless steel usually has much greater tensile strength for its size.

    Your snares or snare kits should include swivels so the animal can’t damage the snare by thrashing around, and “locks” (which are illegal many places) to reduce the chance of a catch escaping. You want “a lot” of snares, since the odds of each snare being successful are annoyingly low, particularly if you don’t have a lot of practice with snaring. Snares can add small animals and even birds to your longer term food supply.

    • preppernextdoor May 7, 2014 at 12:05 am #

      Excellent additions. In the book in the water chapter I do mention the important point you make about separate containers for gathering water and holding purified water and keeping them separate. I forgot to add that to the list. I carry a metal and plastic cup for scooping up water. If it’s a metal cup and boiled less of an issue, but for chemicals I’ve seen this where water on the sides of cup isn’t treated. Ah, you shouldn’t do that… and somebody drinks it thinking what harm can come from it… Thanks for the important observation. It’s details like this that separate preppers with experience from those just tossing things in a bug out bag and hoping they’ll survive in the wild.

      I agree with you 100% about the traps. For small game trapping is much more efficient than hunting.

      • equippedcat May 7, 2014 at 3:58 am #

        There is a bit of difference between “traps” and “snares”. A snare is based on a “noose” of wire or cord and generally uses the environment as part of the mechanism (bent over tree, a “squirrel pole”, branches holding the noose in position). Although they are more difficult to set up, they are a good choice for the bug-out bag due to their small size, weight and relatively lower cost.

        A trap is most any other way of capturing an animal. Often self-contained, they can be spring driven or based on a container. Think “mouse trap” or “bear trap” or even “live animal trap”. Not that this is a bad thing; they tend to be quite effective, and a few rat traps with grain glued to them is a pretty good portable way of catching small animals and birds. But most pre-made traps tend to be too bulky for a bug-out bag.

        Of course, if you have the materials (most important is often rope) in your bag, you can construct some pretty decent traps in the wild using gravity (pits or suspended weights).

      • preppernextdoor May 7, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

        I’ve always considered a snare to be a form of a trap. A trap is anything that keeps something from leaving despite its desire to do so: A deadfall trap, a foothold trap, a snare, a bad marriage.

        Quoting Bradford Angier quoting the Hudson Bay Company “The size of the snare depends on the size of the animal you are trapping.” Snares trap and are therefore traps.

        I agree snare wire is light and that a bug out bag can’t contain heavier traps.

        When younger I had a good assortment of foothold traps but never wanted to see another animal suffering in one so I crushed them in a vice and cut the metal springs. From a TEOTWAWKI survival perspective, I maybe should have kept them.

        Will I trap for food in a survival situation? Absolutely. Will I run a trap line for sport or hobby? No. That’s just my personal feeling.

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