Bug Out Bag Checklist

| by trevor | filed in: Survival Gear

63 Items that need to be in your bug out bag

Whether this is your first time assembling a bug out bag or you are seasoned expert on survival gear, having a bug out bag checklist on hand will make keeping track of all your equipment easy. Below you will find a detailed list of items you should consider including in your bug out bag. To make checking your items off more simple, all the gear and supplies you will need are sorted in to groups. Moreover, a short description follows each item so that you can customize your content according to your needs. If there is a review available for the specific item, it is shown in the third column.

It is important to keep in mind that this bug out bag packing list will help you survive in a typical 72 hours long emergency. It will support you in staying alive until you are rescued or can safely return to your home, but it will not help you survive in the wild indefinitely. You can also check out this article if you are worried about just the essentials.


One of the most important things you need to do to be successful in your quest for survival is to find enough safe drinking water very early on. You can survive for three days without water, but your body will start feeling dehydration much earlier than that. In fact, being weak from dehydration can cause other problems and it can even make you lose consciousness, which is one of the worst things you can do in a volatile environment or situation. So be ready for finding water with different options.

Water purification tablets – This is often used as a backup for the filters, and pumps listed below. Use in case they fail, break, or can no longer filter water. Reviews of the Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets, and the Aquamira Water Treatment Drops are coming soon.
Straw with built-in filter – A straw is good for when you are close to a water source and have only a small collapsible bottle, like what is listed below. For multiple people, or for larger containers a pump is better. A review of the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is coming soon.
Pump with filter – Pumps are great if you have a larger container to fill, or if you are with multiple people. A review of the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter is coming soon.
Collapsible bottle – These can become really small and light so that they are easy to carry when empty. Consider carrying multiple in your bug out bag. A review of the Platypus Platy Bottles coming soon.


You need to make sure to pack weather and climate appropriate clothing for your region. Also keep in mind extreme conditions as for instance the difference between night and day temperatures. Always plan on wearing layers and your clothing should be made of moisture wicking materials. The following are the absolute minimum you will need to pack or wear.

Under garments – You might come to a situation when you will need to change the layers of clothing closest to your skin. For instance, you can fall into a freezing river or sweat through all your layers. Especially in freezing conditions, you will be unable to stay in your soaked through under garments without risking hypothermia.
Rain and Wind Proofing – Assuming you already have a layer of lightweight clothing providing you with warmth; you should also have an outer shell that is water and wind proof.
Hats – Headgear can protect you from many different dangers from sunburn to freezing. Always have at least one in your pack.
Gloves – Even if you are at a warm climate, pack a sturdy pair of work gloves, If you are expecting cold weather, opt for the insulated variety.
Shoes – Choose your footwear according to your terrain and climate. Keep in mind uneven surfaces and try to find the right balance between sturdiness and durability. Chances are you will even sleep in your shoes in an emergency.
Extra Socks – Who likes wet socks? Have an extra pair on hand so you can avoid blisters, which are the last things you want to have when you are constantly on the move.


This is perhaps the most versatile category of items you will need to consider, and there is plenty of room for personalization. If you prepare to bug out in the tropics, you can safely leave out the hand warmers. If you are packing an emergency bag to use in regions north of the 63˚ latitude in the winter, a solar charger will not be much of a help. That being said, there are many items you will need to include in your pack regardless of your actual location.

Fire starter rod and tinder – Plan to pack a small fire starter rod and tinder that works in both wet and dry conditions. It might take some practice to use them, but they are much more reliable than a lighter that depends on fuel.
Multi tool – Your multi tool should be functional and geared to your needs. If you can find a model that has all the basic tools such as screwdriver heads, wire cutters and files in addition to some extra features, even better.
Rope – Always have 50 feet of medium weight multi-strand nylon rope in your bag. It can help you secure your shelter, tow supplies and gear, or tie up bulky items. Having the multi-strand variety will allow you to peal the strands apart and use them individually such as for fishing or making snares.
Zip ties – Even the best quality items break once in a while. A handful of zip ties in different sizes take up little space, weigh almost nothing and can be just the thing you need in emergency repair.
Duct tape – Flexible, versatile, strong – need we say anything else? Opt for the silver reflective variety and stay away from the camouflage version. For compact storage, wind a piece of the tape around a pencil.
Container to heat water in e.g. metal bowl – In a pinch almost anything will work, but remember prolonged cooking and heating in unlined aluminum pots and pans may lead to Alzheimer’s.
Crank and solar flashlight with built in radio – Having a strong flashlight in your bag is non-optional, and preferably, you would have a small radio as well. With new technology, you can select a flashlight radio combination that gives you the option to charge it by cracking or solar power. This way, you can forget about hauling around bulky batteries and you do not need to worry about running out of charge either.
Emergency candle – If you are stuck in a car or a small space, you should slightly open a window for ventilation and start your emergency candle for keeping warm. You will still feel cold, but you will not freeze to death.
Water proof matches – Keep these in a matching waterproof container and in a separate part of your bag from your fire starter rod. They are good to have on hand when you venture off from your base camp.
Zip lock bags – Tuck a few of these bags into different pockets preferably in a variety of sizes. In a pinch, you can use them to store drinking water, seal food items, or keep water away from unwanted areas such as wounds.
Space/thermal blanket – These blankets are must haves for every bug out bag. They are light weight, and you can use them to reflect heat off of different sources.
Collapsible shovel – If you have the room, consider including a light weight collapsible shovel that can help you dig yourself out of dangerous situations. Otherwise, you can also use your metal bowl but with a reduced efficiency.
Heavy duty trash bags – These plastic bags can keep your gear dry even in heavy rain and they also come handy when you need to cross a shallow creek. Simply pull them over your boots and secure them around your thighs with your rope.
Hand warmers – In a cold climate, you will need some help to quickly restore the circulation and dexterity in your hands so that you can keep continuing with your tasks even without your gloves on.
Solar charger for small electronics – If you have a cell phone, a tablet, an electronic reader or other small rechargeable items, consider investing in a solar charger. Most models take up the same amount of room as your smartphone, and they can significantly increase the chances of survival by helping you keep in touch with the world.


If you have to stay outdoors for 72 hours, you will need to come up with a viable plan for shelter. Having a light tent in your pack would be ideal, but sometimes it is not an option. Even at two to three pounds, ultralight tents can be too heavy for your backpack when you take all your other gear into account. If this is the case, you should consider including at least a small tube tent or adequate pieces of tarp in your emergency gear. You can use your rope to tie the tarp down as a stand-alone wind and rain shelter or a roof for a dug-out shelter.

Lightweight Tent – In selecting a tent you will need to balance weight with sturdiness as well as price. In most cases, they fold up to the size of a softball to save room in your bag. The lightest options will be sufficient only for a single person, so if you are packing for a large group, other shelter solutions might be better for your situation.
Small Tarp – Opt for a thick material with grommets and vivid colors, which might aid your rescuers in finding you.
Tyvek – An eight by ten feet piece works great for a tube type tent and it is water proof, wind proof, and extremely light weight.


Emergencies are not the right situations for trying out new weapons or learning how to use them. Ideally, you will have some sort of protection against animals that might attack whether it is a gun or a pepper spray. Having a reliable knife is a must, not only for protection but also as one of the most versatile tools you will need in an emergency.

Knife – Have a good all-around knife on hand. Make sure it is either the folding variety or has a secure sheath. Also, do not choose a knife that is too long or heavy. You need to be able to comfortably carry it around on your belt. If you can afford one good quality item only, your knife should be it.
Hatchet – Choose a light weight hatchet with a study handle that can cut through brambles, branches, and small logs for firewood and building.
Gun – Opt for a .22 lr handgun or compact rifle. This caliber can handle most of the dangerous situations you will get into during an emergency as well as help you get small game.
Ammo – Make sure to pack enough high quality ammunition for the gun you selected with the minimum of 100 rounds.
Pepper spray – Select one with a strong formula that gives you a stand-by option.


In a three days long evacuation it is better to have some foods ready than to plan on sourcing your nutrition from your environment. Unless you are intimately familiar with your location and you are an experienced hunter, you should plan on taking some food supplies with you. Depending on your tastes and situation, you can select to take a few MREs that are ready to eat and come with their own heating source. You can also have some snack items on hand as well for those times when you are unable to stop and eat. Finally, it is always wise to have a small amount of instant coffee or a few tea bags on hand in case you need some caffeine to stay awake.

Some MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) – Opt for ones that include everything you need for a nutritious meal.
Snacks – Some of the high energy foods you can eat on the go will always have a long shelf life such as peanut butter, nuts, or beef jerky. Remember to replace them once every two years.
Tea or coffee – These are great for keeping you warm and alert when you start to feel drowsy. Keep in mind two things: First, if you, like many of us drink caffinated beverages regularly, suddenly stopping could cause headaches. Second, coffee is a diaretic, so keep that in mind if you are short of water, you may want to hold off on the coffee.


Ideally, you will invest in a comprehensive first aid kit that includes most of the basics you will need during a 72 hour emergency. After you have a solid medical pack, you can proceed to round it out with your own medications. Even if you normally wear contacts, make sure to pack a good pair of your prescription glasses to avoid contracting eye infection and to reduce the amount of gear you need to haul around. If possible, include a few different types of painkillers in increasing strength and efficiency. Electrolyte tablets are usually not included in first aid kits, but they will help you fend off dehydration and stay alert even under extreme conditions. While it is not possible to have everything you need ready at your fingertips when it comes to field medicine, you should have the basics that can get you through major injuries and ailments until you can get to a place with sufficient medical attention. The following list is largely self-explanatory and you can adjust it to fit your needs.

Wound care solution
Antibiotic ointment
Antihistamine lotion
Fever reducers
Antihistamine pills
A pair of scissors dedicated only to this kit
Hand wipes or sanitizer
Compression bandage
Medical tape
Eye care solution
Toothache gel
Aloe Vera lotion
Antacid pills
Gastrointestinal medication
Electrolyte tablets
Emergency care booklet
Prescription meds
Extra pair of glasses

Navigation and Rescue

If you are a trained guide or have emergency response and rescue experience, you know that the most important step in getting to safety is staying calm. Assuming a survival mentality will be more valuable than any of the gear you can have on hand. Of course, if you do have the option to pack some items that will help you get home safe, consider the following:

Signal flares – Flares are true multi-taskers. They can attract your rescuers’ attention and you can use them to start a fire or to keep animals away.
Signal mirror – One of the simplest and most effective equipment you can have in your bag.
Whistle – A high pitch whistle on a lanyard will allow you to signal to others in your group and help you communicating your location. Select one that does not freeze or break when submerged in water.
GPS or compass – If you can invest in a GPS dedicated for use in emergencies, you will find it is extremely useful. If this is not an option for you, consider investing in a good quality compass and learning how to use it in conjunction with your map.
Maps – Always have a small map of the area you are evacuating to on hand, preferably encased in a waterproof.

Other Sources

You can check out the recommended packing list from Ready.gov – Ready.gov is a website built as a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – here: http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit

One response to “Bug Out Bag Checklist

  1. There are a number of people in our group and communicating is a problem. We presently use radios on the family band. Many people dont like them because they are short range devises. I like them because they limit the ability of others hearing your business. The other thing we carry is a scanner(portable). We carry two. One for backup. You really need to know whats going on around you.Here in Ca. the police use a 10 code. The CHP use an 11 code.Get copies off the internet so you can decipher their communications

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