Everyone has some idea of what they want in their bug out bag, but there are a few things that should be included in most everyone’s bag. Your bag can be customized with extras all you want but cast away one of these basic 8 at your peril.
1. Basic Shelter
Most people who die in the wilderness succumb to exposure. This means you want to have shelter readily available in your bag.
Shelter can be as simple as a few heavy-duty garbage bags, a rain poncho, on up to a nice tarp to keep the weather off and your body heat at a normal level.
Your clothing is part of your shelter so feel free to add extras that you have room for. (leather gloves are a nice addition)
Fire will keep you warm, cook your food, boil water and keep away unwelcome critters.
Don’t get arrogant with your fire starting. You may be able to start a friction fire in the middle of a hurricane, but can you do it with a broken arm as well? Always include simple and easy fire starters like butane lighters and waterproof matches, along with things like strikers and ferro rods.
By all means use and practice your skills just in case, but it would be foolish to cast away a mostly sure thing when your life depends on it.
3. Water Purification
With your fire you can boil water. Make sure you include a metal container (a mess kit or canteen cup works well) so you don’t have to use a rusty tin can you found somewhere.
A pocket water filter is an excellent investment. They start with a simple straw type filter up too much larger filters. One that fits in your pack is something you shouldn’t leave behind.
If you are actually using your pack in an emergency the last thing you want is to be drinking bad water that has the ability to incapacitate you.
One of my favorite woods pastimes is sitting by the fire twisting up cordage, but in a bug out situation I am not going to have time to find proper plants, let alone sit around making cordage.
550 cord is a very useful item. It has an outer sheath covering 7 cords inside that can be taken apart to give you much more length than you would expect. Each of the 7 cords can also be untwisted further to give you even finer cords if you need them.
5. First Aid
There is a myriad of first aid kits on the market. Shop around and find one that you feel is better than just a box of band aids. You can always find a basic one and add extras like tape, gauze, and extra sterile pads.
If you are willing to learn how to use it a triangle bandage is very useful for many things from slings, tying up a sprained ankle, and tying splints in place.
Be sure to include any prescriptions you and your family are required to take. Make sure each person has medication for every person in your group so that if you lose a pack there will be medicine still available.
You can spend several hundred dollars on your field knife. On the other hand, man survived a lot of years using a flake of stone as their only knife. But like fire don’t get arrogant thinking you can flake out a perfectly good knife when you need it.
There are many rugged perfectly good knives for under $100 (even under $50). Pick one that fits your hand nicely and then learn to use it properly. You don’t want to cut yourself and bleed out from poor technique.
7. Important Papers
One item many people don’t think of is copies of your important papers. Unless you are experiencing Armageddon, you will probably be re-joining society at some point after your bug out. If you have a copy of your driver’s license, birth certificate, social security card, and passport you will be ahead of the game compared to those who have lost everything.
Just a note it is illegal to color copy official documents, B&W copies will be fine.
A bug out bag is something everyone should have on hand to go at a moment’s notice. It is not an into the wilderness bag, or a camping pack. It is something to grab and go that will keep you alive for a short time in an emergency. Again, feel free to add anything beyond the basics that you are willing to carry.