How To Build Your Bug Out Bag

afrankelSurvival, Survival Gear

Perusing the online forums, you are likely to see a swath of images containing Bug Out Bags, or BOBs for short, that look like the owner is ready to go to war. You may be asking yourself, “Do I really need all this?” Yes and No – keep reading and I’ll explain.

A bug out bag can be any kind of bag containing the minimum items you need to leave your home and seek safety somewhere else, in the event of a disaster. The length of time a BOB should be able to sustain you is a subject for debate, but the most common practice is 72 hours.

Basic Items Needed:

  • 3 Days Of Food
  • Water Bottle
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Compact Shelter (Tents down to tarps. Whatever you are comfortable with)
  • 3 Disposable Lighters (also a useful prop when using the Disposable Lighter Repairman routine in disaster shelters.)
  • $20 or more in cash
    • Toiletries
    • Tooth Brush
    • Tooth Paste
    • Deodorant
    • Soap
    • Talcum Powder
    • Feminine Hygiene products, a.k.a Tampons
  • Full change of clothes that are seasonally appropriate
  • Work Gloves
  • Flash Light
  • Headlamp
  • Personal Information Packet
  • Extra Cell Phone charging cable and adapters to plug into a wall or car.
  • First Aid Kit
  • Multi-tool
  • Pen and a Sharpie
  • Small Note Pad
  • Duct Tape
  • Small Stuffed Animal
  • Condoms

And of course don’t forget your copy of Emergency, for survival tips and an entertaining way to pass the time when you’re not using the condoms.

Food is the trickiest item on the list because of its limited options. You want something edible, but also that can store for an extended period of time. Canned goods are not the greatest, but do offer on option. The contents are typically ready to eat, but if they do need to be cooked, they can be cooked right in the can with a small fire. While they do add weight from the water content, the water counts toward your intake needs. MREs (Meals Ready To Eat) are tried, true, and traditionally the most popular. They last for years and have become a lot more palatable recently. Freeze Dried foods, such as those from Mountain House, are also a good option. They have a long shelf life, are lightweight, and easy to prepare. C-rations are very light weight, very compact, and calorie dense. Buy some of each and see what you think before going bananas. Each person is different and tastes vary.

Some of the items I am suggesting may seem odd. I assure you, they all have a purpose. I’ll explain below.

Work gloves serve double duty. They can keep your hands warm, and they can protect your hands. In a disaster, whether personal or otherwise, handling debris or other potentially dangerous items can injure your hands. Hands are rather important.

Why a headlamp and a flashlight? Flashlights have their place. They can be used as a weapon, they can be used to signal, and they are typically brighter than headlamps. Headlamps allow you to keep light on something and both hands free to do tasks.

Extra cell phone charging cable and adapters are important because if you are grabbing your bag in a hurry or under stress you quite possibly may forget such an item. Cell phones have become an indispensable tool of communication, both in calling for help and making sure loved ones are safe.

Feminine Hygiene products are useful in a number of ways, in addition to their intended purpose. They can make a very good bandage for wounds and burns, they can be used as a wick in a make-shift oil lamp and they are also excellent for cleaning firearms. Keep an eye out for a later article on uses of Tampons in survival.

Talcum powder is not something I have ever seen listed. However, on many a camping trip, I have found it to be extremely useful. First, it helps you feel a little more fresh in situations where bathing is not an option. Second, if you are having to do a lot of walking, chaffing can easily become a real irritant. Several manufacturers make travel size bottles. As a Marine Corp buddy of mine once said after a long tour in Iraq, “Dog gone Monkey butt ain’t no laughing matter. I would have given darn near anything for a bottle of Gold Bond.”

Seasonally appropriate clothing is an important bullet point. Your ability to weather the elements will play a key role in your comfort level and survival. Be sure you are equipped appropriately.

In the event you have to use your bag, writing information down and leaving notes could become crucial. There is also an added benefit. On the outside cover I write, “1st RESPONDER: Emergency #s and Info Inside”. On the inside of the cover I put: Health Insurance, Primary Physician, Medical Alerts, and Driver’s License Number. On the first page I keep a list of my most important contact telephone numbers. After family, I include the highest-ranking friend from each named and unnamed law enforcement agency I know. This all works best using a waterproof marker, like a Sharpie, and a “Rite in the Rain” all-weather notebook No135.

A small stuffed animal may seem like a very strange item for a BOB. It was to me when I first heard the suggestion. However, if you have a child and they lose their favorite buddy, it could be a good backup. If you do not have a child you may just make a truly crappy situation bearable for a child you come across. If things are really bad, you may need it yourself.

There are many other survival tips I will go into at a later date, where condoms are useful. In addition to those, grabbing the birth control is easy to forget when dashing for the door. Hurricane Babes is a term often used in my neck of the woods. In disasters and times of “hunkering down”, people get bored.

Is This A Complete Bug Out Bag List?

No, this is a basic list. As the title indicated, this is BOB basics. Bug Out Bag contents are regularly debated online and off, passionately. What goes in a Bug Out Bag beyond the basics, is highly personal. I have met people that keep Kiehl’s facial moisturizer (ok that one’s mine), Game Boys, M&Ms, darn near a full tool box, gas masks, you name it in their BOBs. Put whatever you think will help YOU survive physically and mentally, into the bag. You just have to be willing to hump all that junk some day – hump as in carry, not as in using the condoms on your bag, pervert.

Yes and No

First of all, “need” is a subjective word. It makes me bananas when people throw around the word “need” like a three year old. If you decide you have a goal that can not be accomplished without something, then yes, you need it. I will stop my rant there.

Yes, in my opinion, everyone should have a BOB. They provide the most efficient, least hassle way to quickly get out of harm’s way, with all or most of the things to make the ordeal as painless as possible. This can be life saving. This can also mean you beat the herd on the evacuation route and forgo spending hours on end sitting in traffic only to run out of gas and be stuck, still in the disaster’s range.

No, it does not have to be – and probably shouldn’t be – the tacticoolest on the block. No, you will most likely never need to go flying out of the house at full speed with bag in tow, but if you needed to, you could.

Final Words

It is a good practice to go through your bag every three to six months. There are a few reasons for this.

BOBs need a balance between essential items, and weight. It is an unlikely scenario, but you could find yourself having to carry this bag over long distances on foot. The last think you want is to be dragging a lot of weight needlessly. Go through your bag, take everything out, and ask yourself what you really need and don’t. As your survival skills and knowledge progress you will find that you need less gear.

I live in a region of the country that really only has two seasons: hot and humid as hell, and kinda cold. This means twice a year I add to or deduct from the contents of my bag, and my girlfriend’s bag. Others may find that they need to cycle the contents of their bag more frequently, and have vastly different climatic issues to consider.

There are food stores, such as Mainstay Emergency Food Rations and MREs, that are compact and can be left in a bag for a very very long time. Most people will feel the need for a little more variety in their diet. Expiration dates should still be checked regardless, and packaging should be inspected for damage.

Condoms expire. Seriously.

I keep a box of my discarded BOB items. Reasons range from no longer needed to found something better. When making new bags I often pull from this box to build out a new kind of bag, rather than going out and buying more crap. My first dedicated car bag was built this way.

Know every piece of gear in your bag intimately – don’t confuse this with the use of condoms, intimately. Understand how they work before you need them. Just reading instructions isn’t enough. Actually, try everything out before putting it in your bag.