Building Your Own Bug-Out Bag

When disaster strikes and you need to haul ass, you don’t want to be running around gathering essentials. Your solution is a bug-out bag—a kit that contains the essentials to help you survive for three days. Instead of buying a precomposed version, why not assemble your own with gear you trust? Here’s a guide to get you started.

The Bag

Obviously the first thing you’ll need is a bag. While it has to be portable, you’re going to need at least a decent size backpack. Extra pockets, straps, and an abundance of storage are key for holding all the items you need. Durability should also be taken into consideration.

  • Condor 3-Day Assault Pack – $100
  • 5.11 3-day Tactical Rush Backpack – $143
  • Dsptch Ruckpack – $220

Water

Possibly the most important thing in your bag. While a human being can go without much food for weeks, you won’t make it a few days without water. Aim for at least 3 liters. We don’t really need to give you suggestions here, but we’d say those expensive bottles of Voss aren’t necessary.

  • Source Tactical 3L Hydration Pack – $84
  • Osprey LT Reservoir 3L – $36
  • Camelbak Thermobak Mil-Spec 3L Pack – $70

Food

Clearly you don’t want anything perishable since the bag could be sitting in your closet for a long time (hopefully forever). You’ll also want to make sure to stash foods that pack protein and carbs for energy. The smaller the better since space is at a premium in your pack. One last thing to keep in mind is how you’ll prepare the food, the simpler it is to open and eat, the more advantageous it is.

  • 3600 SOS Calorie Bar – $6
  • 6-Pack or MREs – $45
  • Pemmican Organic Beef Jerky – $40
  • Planters Trail Mix – $29
  • Justin’s Nut Butter Peanut Butter – $9

Clothing

Choosing the right clothing to pack is the difference between a bag that will zipper shut and one whose seams get busted. Think the absolute essentials and keep in mind it could be any time of year when you need to grab the bag. Since your kit is designed to sustain you for 3 days, there’s no need for more than 1 or 2 outfits. Here’s a breakdown of what we’d recommend:

  • Columbia Zip-off pants – $45
  • Hiker Socks x2 – $17
  • Asics Long Sleeve Warm-up – $22
  • Hanes Beefy T-Shirt – $6
  • CK Underwear x2 – $35
  • Poncho – $1
  • Warm Lightweight Jacket – $219

Mutli-Tool

Tossing a bunch of tools in your bag is completely unnecessary and, frankly, pretty dumb. A good multi-tool with some blades and a few extras is ideal for hundreds of little tasks you might encounter away from your home. As with everything, size and weight are key, but you also don’t want to buy something cheap that will break at the sight of a stuck screw.

  • Gerber Diesel Multi-tool – $53
  • Victorinox SwissTool – $90
  • Leatherman Blast – $45

Knives

We don’t mean a little pocket knife, for your bug-out bag you’ll want something substantial. The little stuff can be take care of with the blade on your multi-tool, but for serious cutting and chopping, you need a proper outdoor knife.

  • Cold Steel Master Hunter – $160
  • Full-size USMC KA-BAR – $118
  • Pilot Survival Knife – $120

Flashlights

You don’t know why or when you’ll need your bug-out bag, but with large-scale disasters, odds are the power is going to go out. A flashlight is an absolute necessity. Make sure you toss some extra batteries in your bag to accompany it (and anything else that requires batteries).

  • Gerber Omnivour – $30
  • Streamlight ProTac HL – $60
  • TAD LenLight Mini – $159

Guns

You might not consider yourself a gun guy, but in an apocalyptic disaster or a real survival scenario, you’re going to want one. From hunting game to protecting yourself, the right firearm will be useful. The landscape you live in will also determine what type of gun you really need, and when you do decide, don’t forget the ammo.

  • Ruger 10/22 Takedown – $399
  • Glock 23 .40 – $599+
  • Taurus .32 Small Frame Revolver – $299

Bandanas

Yes, a bandana. For 30 reasons why you should add one to your backpack, just read this article. They weigh nothing, take up barely any space, and could come in handy in a first-aid situation or a variety of other scenarios.

  • Rothco Trainmen Bandana – $3
  • Rei Paisley Bandana – $4
  • Assorted Military Bandanas – $4

Necessities

With the basics covered, there are some random other items you’ll want to have stashed away in your bug-out bag. Besides the items listed below, we’d recommend some cash, a phone charger, any medications you need, and copies of your important personal documents.

  • First-Aid Kit – 108
  • Hand-Crank Radio – $46
  • Space Blanket – $17
  • Camp Stove – $130
  • Parachute Cord – $9
  • Utensil Set – $14
  • Water Purifier – $90
  • Stormproof Matches – $8
  • Mini Survival Kit – $51
By Related Items: Features, Gear, Outdoors.


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  • doggo

    It’s expensive, but a Katadyn Pocket Filter and an extra ceramic filter will give you drinking water to barter with and for your own use for the duration (your life or the disaster, whichever comes first.)

  • J-Bo

    Duct Tape . . . for a thousand different things!

  • J-Bo

    Duct Tape . . . for a thousand different things!

  • J-Bo

    Duct Tape . . . for a thousand different things!

  • chucky greenwood

    I concur. Spend the extra bucks for the good stuff. But I will add that there are many good, solid products that are also comparatively inexpensive, such as Swedish Mora knives, the Cold Steel “special forces” shovel & Sawyer Purifiers.

  • chucky greenwood

    I concur. Spend the extra bucks for the good stuff. But I will add that there are many good, solid products that are also comparatively inexpensive, such as Swedish Mora knives, the Cold Steel “special forces” shovel & Sawyer Purifiers.

  • chucky greenwood

    I concur. Spend the extra bucks for the good stuff. But I will add that there are many good, solid products that are also comparatively inexpensive, such as Swedish Mora knives, the Cold Steel “special forces” shovel & Sawyer Purifiers.

  • Tom Jefferson

    Eh?

    Ammo is everywhere these days. Even in the People’s Republik of Kalifornia!

  • Tom Jefferson

    Eh?

    Ammo is everywhere these days. Even in the People’s Republik of Kalifornia!

  • Tom Jefferson

    Eh?

    Ammo is everywhere these days. Even in the People’s Republik of Kalifornia!

  • Jon

    Taurus is a mixed bag. It all depends on the materials, design and workmanship of the specific arm. For example, look at reviews of the PT 92 and you’ll be hard pressed to find real flaws.

  • Jon

    Taurus is a mixed bag. It all depends on the materials, design and workmanship of the specific arm. For example, look at reviews of the PT 92 and you’ll be hard pressed to find real flaws.

  • Jon

    Taurus is a mixed bag. It all depends on the materials, design and workmanship of the specific arm. For example, look at reviews of the PT 92 and you’ll be hard pressed to find real flaws.

  • Maskeladden

    How would you rate Maxpeditions backpacks?

  • Maskeladden

    How would you rate Maxpeditions backpacks?

  • Maskeladden

    How would you rate Maxpeditions backpacks?

  • Goobs

    I’ll be honest, I haven’t really had any experience with them, so I won’t lend my vote either way. If you’re looking at buying a pack from them or any other company, the things to look at before you buy: construction, comfort, cargo, convenience. Is it well built (sturdy zippers, nylon/cordura isn’t thin, etc), is it comfortable to wear, does it have the room you need to fit your gear without cramming, and are the pockets and zippers and whatnot arranged in a manner that is easy for you to use in your particular application and won’t interfere with your other gear (big zipper pulls if you wear gloves, no hard-to-reach pockets, etc)

  • Goobs

    I’ll be honest, I haven’t really had any experience with them, so I won’t lend my vote either way. If you’re looking at buying a pack from them or any other company, the things to look at before you buy: construction, comfort, cargo, convenience. Is it well built (sturdy zippers, nylon/cordura isn’t thin, etc), is it comfortable to wear, does it have the room you need to fit your gear without cramming, and are the pockets and zippers and whatnot arranged in a manner that is easy for you to use in your particular application and won’t interfere with your other gear (big zipper pulls if you wear gloves, no hard-to-reach pockets, etc)

  • Goobs

    I’ll be honest, I haven’t really had any experience with them, so I won’t lend my vote either way. If you’re looking at buying a pack from them or any other company, the things to look at before you buy: construction, comfort, cargo, convenience. Is it well built (sturdy zippers, nylon/cordura isn’t thin, etc), is it comfortable to wear, does it have the room you need to fit your gear without cramming, and are the pockets and zippers and whatnot arranged in a manner that is easy for you to use in your particular application and won’t interfere with your other gear (big zipper pulls if you wear gloves, no hard-to-reach pockets, etc)

  • Goobs

    The only thing I can say is that the Source model above looks to be better-built than what we were issued. So, perhaps we just got the bottom-of-the-barrel model, as per usual, and their more upscale versions are better. But I personally have only had one CamelBak bladder burst on me, and it was after it froze. Never used one of the Osprey ones, but they look pretty slick. And an extra mouthpiece is always a good idea.

  • Goobs

    The only thing I can say is that the Source model above looks to be better-built than what we were issued. So, perhaps we just got the bottom-of-the-barrel model, as per usual, and their more upscale versions are better. But I personally have only had one CamelBak bladder burst on me, and it was after it froze. Never used one of the Osprey ones, but they look pretty slick. And an extra mouthpiece is always a good idea.

  • Goobs

    The only thing I can say is that the Source model above looks to be better-built than what we were issued. So, perhaps we just got the bottom-of-the-barrel model, as per usual, and their more upscale versions are better. But I personally have only had one CamelBak bladder burst on me, and it was after it froze. Never used one of the Osprey ones, but they look pretty slick. And an extra mouthpiece is always a good idea.

  • J Brandt

    Stay away from 5.11. They make overpriced junk. If you want a good bag at a great price, then check out LA Police gear. I’ve only had an issue with one of their bags, and they warrantied it without any issues.