No one hopes to be in a situation where they have to drop everything and leave in an emergency but given the increasing concerns in today’s modern world many intelligent people are choosing to prepare themselves in the event of the unforeseen.
The majority of these people (myself included) are not fear-mongering paranoids but everyday citizens who have taken a rational look at the world around them and undertaken simple, basic steps to protect themselves by building a Bug Out Bag for themselves and their families.
Sometimes individuals do it for fear of a big, dramatic event initiating an end of civilization cataclysm but there are a great many more common events that happen all the time that would make a well prepared person gratified to have prepared a Bug Out Bag:
- Mass Shooting
- Home fire
- Home Invasion
- … or just seeking peace of mind
What makes a good Bug Out Bag?
This can be answered many ways. There are a wide selection of off the shelf Bug Out Bags that are sold online and if you are not interested in individually picking out your Bug Out Bag essentials, they can be a good option. However because they are mass produced and sold to the general public they often do not account for variables that may make the difference for your locality. For example, you would not have the same Bug Out Bag essentials if you lived in a desert region versus living on the coast. The same goes for if you are packing a Bug Out Bag for yourself or a family.
Regardless of these variables there are a few simple rules that should be observed when deciding your Bug Out Bag contents:
- Make sure you can carry your Bug Out Bag comfortably – you may have to walk for a long distance to safety. If your bag is ill fitted or too heavy you might as well have taken your chances sheltering in place.
- Keep it SIMPLE – you are not trying to build a mobile home that you will carry around. Many sites list dozens and dozens of items to buy and bring, adding cost and weight. Remember that electronics need power and are prone to breaking. Pack simple, reliable things to cover basic needs.
- Pack things that make you self sufficient – If you are thinking about an item that you will need to pair with something that you are going to need to source on the way, forget it. If you are moving to safety the last thing you want to do is worry about scavenging. Pack complementary items that can be used both individually and together to save space.
- Plan your bag with a defined time period in mind. 72 hours is a good place to begin as this is approximately how long a person can live without water. Once you start planning for weeks out you will have added too many complications to your list of Bug Out Bag essentials.
- Remember the goal here is survival, not luxury. If you do not need it to survive, leave it behind.
OK, I’m ready to start, what are some Bug Out Bag Essentials?
I am not going to list everything here but here are some essential items that should be included in any Bug Out Bag list:
- Map and Compass – how you will know where to bug out to
- Multitool – infinite uses
- Tarp or Emergency Shelter – can be used for shelter and signaling
- Paracord – can be used to build shelter and about a million other things
- Magnesium firestarter – this is better than matches as it will work when wet and you don’t have to worry about a gust blowing out your last match
- Spare socks – taking care of your feet is one of the most important things you can do when bugging out. Dry socks will keep your feet blister free and you moving for longer. Wool socks or synthetic blend socks are superior to cotton.
- Survival Blanket – lighter and smaller than a sleeping bag
- LED flashlight – LEDs use less power than old fashioned light bulbs
- Hand cranked radio – to get information on the situation as it develops
- Water and high energy/low weight food such as energy bars
This is a very basic list of Bug Out Bag essentials, it would need to be tailored to suit an individual’s circumstances based on geography, duration, and number of people expected to be traveling with. Your personal Bug Out Bag contents may vary from your neighbor’s based on what you see as essential but this makes a good start for anyone with enough foresight to plan for the unforeseen.
Will I ever really need a Bug Out Bag?
Hopefully no one will be faced with a situation where they are forced to flee their home but as you can see with some basic planning you can take steps to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones.