Bug Out Bag CheckList: The Ultimate Take-It-With-You Survival Resource

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Person on phone with bag (caption: Bug Out Bag List: The Ultimate Bag For Survival)Whether it’s a natural disaster, a war, zombie apocalypse, or some other dangerous situation, bug out gear can be essential for survival. We’ve come up with 12 key categories you’ll want to consider to make sure you have all the bug out bag essentials. That way you also know what to put into your bug out bag.

Article Overview

Choose A Bug Out Bag

You can choose your bag before or after you’ve purchased your survival gear. It’s up to you but there are some things you’ll want to consider when choosing a survival bag.

  • Choose a bag that is made of sturdy material (a plastic bag won’t work for this).
  • A bag with many pockets can be handy because you can have quick access to smaller items.
  • A bag with two straps you can put over your back makes it easiest to carry around instead of a duffel bag (but it’s completely up to you what your preference is).
  • If you know what is going into your bag, it may help you choose the best bag to fit your items.

All In One Bug Out Bag

You are going to learn all you need to know about bug out bags below, but if you don’t have time to put this bag together yourself, you can buy an all-in-one solution like the Emergency Zone Stealth Tactical Bug-Out Bag.

Bug Out Bag List: 12 Must-Haves

Start with the items listed in this article and build on to customize it for your needs. Remember, the best bug out bags are filled with the necessities. So keep in mind that every items counts towards the weight you will carry but also may determine your survival.

Here’s a bug out back checklist to make your own and ensure you have all the basics to survive.

1. Water & Containers For Water

A person can’t go longer than 3 days without water making it essential for your bug out backpack.

MINI Water Filtration SystemWe suggest no less than 1 liter of water per person per day. You may also consider drink mixes like tea or Gatorade to provide you with additional energy. Be cautious though, some teas have caffeine which may dehydrate you. Below are some items we recommend for your hydration needs.

2. Food & Utensils

Petforu Camp StoveA person can go more than 3 weeks without food, making it not as necessary as water but that doesn’t mean you want to go 3 weeks without food. We suggest planning your survival food with the idea in mind that you’ll have no resources to prepare it (meaning water).

That’s why we aren’t recommending any dehydrated food that needs water in this section, although you can include it if you’d like. We also recommend choosing foods that last long, aka no fresh produce, meats, etc. You want to choose your emergency food supply so that you don’t have to be replacing it every week in your bug out bag.

  • Metal Pot
  • Metal Cup
  • Spork
  • Protein Bars
  • Can Opener
  • Portable Stove
  • Stove Fuel
  • Canned Foods
  • Dried Fruit
  • GORP (Good Old Raisins & Peanuts) aka Trail Mix
  • Peanut Butter
  • Fishing Kit

3. Fire Essentials

bayite 4 Inch Survival Ferrocerium Drilled FlintThe ability to start a fire is extremely important. Not only does it help with sterilizing water but it also helps keep you warm. We suggest having multiple forms of starting a fire. You never know when one might fail.

  • Lighter
  • Flint & Steel (practice with this ahead of time — it can be tricky)
  • Matches
  • Tinder
  • Waterproof Storage (to hold these supplies)

4. First Aid

Pac-Kit First Aid KitYou can buy pre-made first-aid kits or you can create your own. For our survival bag, we have a pre-made first aid kit which includes things like gauze, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, mylar survival blanket, and more. Below are some other things you’ll want to include.

  • Insect Repellent
  • Anti-Diarrhea Medicine
  • Prescriptions
  • Bandana

5. Clothes

Rothco ShemaghDepending on your location and the climate you may need different clothes. We suggest re-evaluating your bug out bag every season to make sure it’s filled with the proper clothing. Consider having a group of clothing for each season set aside for you to easily replace in your bag.

We also recommend having 2 sets of clothing in case one gets wet you’ll have another that is dry. (Hypothermia is the last thing you want!)

When choosing your clothing, we suggest going with pieces that will blend into the environment so you do not stand out, camouflage is always a good option.

  • Underwear
  • Zip-Off Pants
  • Long Sleeve Shirt (Lightweight)
  • Wool Hiking Socks
  • Fleece (Medium Weight)
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Rain Coat/Poncho
  • Sunglasses
  • Shemagh (like the Survivor Buff)
  • Sewing Kit

6. Bedding

Don't Die In The Woods World's Toughest Ultralight Survival TentWhen choosing the items listed in this category you want them to be more compact. So things aimed towards backpackers are good because they’re typically more lightweight and can be compacted down.

7. Hygiene

Sierra Dawn Campsuds All Purpose CleanerYou may think that hygiene isn’t necessary when you’re in a life-threatening situation but bacterial infections can be lethal. Be sure to include these items in your bug out bag.

  • Hand Sanitizer
  • All-Purpose Soap
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Small Towel
  • Wet Napkins
  • Mirror (Not only for hygiene but to use for signaling someone as well.)
  • Condoms

8. Tools

LeathermanSurvival tools are a fun area to cover but remember that every ounce counts. So try not to overdo it here. We recommend these few tools.

9. Lighting Source

GearLight LED HeadlampBeing able to see in the dark is important no matter what type of survival situation you are in.

10. Communication

RunningSnail Emergency Hand CrankIf the scenario calls for these items you’ll find them to be critical.

11. Navigation

X-Plore Gear Emergency Bracelet & CompassThese are some items you’ll want to carry you whenever you travel or for more dangerous scenarios.

12. Protection Equipment

SABRE RED Pepper Spray KeychainDifferent bug out situations can mean different levels of safety. You may need to defend yourselves against other people or animals or you may need equipment for hunting. Weapons are a category many people are passionate about. Be sure to choose your self-defense equipment wisely. Only choose items that you are comfortable with handling.

Bug Out Bag Checklist (Infographic)

We’ve created a survival gear list for you to print off and shop online or take to the store so you make sure to purchase all of the necessary survival equipment and get them stored in your pack for a quick getaway.

Bug Out Bag Checklist

How To Survive Zombie Apocalypse

Are you planning your bug out bag for a zombie apocalypse? There are other things you should consider besides the contents of your bag. Ever heard of the quote by Jim Butcher?

You don’t have to run faster than the bear zombie to get away. You just have to run faster than the guy next to you.

Ok, so this quote is in regards to bears, but it fits perfectly for zombies too. During a zombie apocalypse you’ll probably find yourself in a race. So get your running shoes on and do your cardio!

Other Items Suggested

We suggest planning your bug out bag contents for three days. Within three days, we hope that you can find other sources of water, food, shelter, and other necessities to keep you alive. Keep in mind that everything listed in this article may not fit into your bug out bag. That’s why it’s important to only pack what you think is necessary.

Other ideas are to get clips and straps to tie or attach things to the outside of your bag but remember, every extra item adds weight. If you’re looking for a bag that can hold all of this, we suggest looking at backpacking bags. They make for some of the best bug out bag backpacks.

Are You Prepared?

Want to make sure you’re extra prepared? Be sure to check out our emergency kit recommendations and survival food kit options.

Are there any other items you suggest including to create the best bug out bag?

About The Author:

Kimberly is our home security expert and has been writing about security and safety since 2013, covering everything from security systems and home automation to identity theft protection, home warranties, medical alert systems, and more. She has personally tested hundreds of system components and interfaced with dozens of home security companies to find out what’s happening behind the scenes. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post.

In 2018, she had her first child, which opened up a whole new avenue of security experience with baby gear. She wanted to purchase the safest items for her family.

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing, and personally testing products and services.

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