Buggin’ out? Don’t use that term lightly. You don’t “bug out” when you have a final exam in twelve hours that you haven’t studied for.
You bug out when something serious happens. A natural disaster. A war. Something that uproots your entire life to the point where you need to survive on your own with just a backpack.
Having a complete bug out bag is essential for these situations. If you’re missing even one component, then you might find yourself in a survival situation without the necessary tools to… well… survive.
Pack your bag with the following ingredients. All of them combined will ensure that you can survive for a reasonable amount of time.
The first necessity: water
You can go for a while without food — up to three weeks. Lots of people fast intentionally for days at a time for the health benefits.
You can’t go without water, though. The human body is around 90% water. If you go without water for a day, then you’ll start to feel sluggish and a headache will begin to form. Three days without water and you’re dead.
How much do you need?
The common recommendation is 64 oz of water a day. While that’s optimal, in survival, you sometimes need to conserve your water. Most humans can live off of just one liter (or 33 oz of water) per day.
Always load your bug out bag with a bare minimum of one gallon of water per person. This will, in theory, allow you to live for four days without
any problems. More is preferred, but water is heavy, so it’s up to you on how you want to divvy out the weight for your bag.
How to get more water?
It’s impossible to carry enough water to last you for weeks, so the first thing to do in a bug-out situation is find a source of water. Most sources of water — especially still water — aren’t safe for consumption, though. You need to sterilize it.
The obvious way to sterilize water is to boil it. That’s not always an option, though. What if you don’t have a heat source?
Enter the SteriPen. This thing is nothing short of magic. Here’s how it works:
1. You fill a container with .5 liters of dirty water
2. You insert the SteriPen for 48 seconds. (Yep, just 48 seconds.)
3. The water is now safe to drink.
It lasts for up to 8,000 cycles, which is 4,000 liters of water. That’s 11 years of clean drinking water if you’re drinking a liter per day. The SteriPen is lightweight, and it’s pretty durable. Just don’t go smashing it against a rock or anything. It’s $50 — $100, depending on which model you get.
Check out this video of the SteriPen in action below:
Make sure to grab a couple of refillable water bottles so you can have water in reserve from your SteriPen.
The second necessity: food
Three weeks before death might seem like a while compared to water, but it’s not that simple. After even a day of no food, the body begins to operate well below optimal functionality. Headaches, fatigue, and memory loss are all symptoms of hunger.
Where to start?
Canned foods are a good start. You can get almost anything canned. Beans, meat, and peanut butter are all fantastic. They’re all high in calories, and they supply the essential micronutrients that you need to function.
Get them at any grocery store, or even online at a place like Walmart.
We’d also recommend some food that can be made by just boiling water, such as rice and pasta.
With a backpack full of meat, beans, peanut butter, and some sort of grain, then you will be able to get all of the necessary macronutrients — carbohydrates, fats, and protein. The human body needs all three to function — even if you get plenty of two of them, you still need a little bit of the third.
How to keep going
Just like water, food eventually runs out. Ration it. Don’t gorge on your supplies even if you’re hungry — the human body can adapt to small amounts of food very quickly. (Think about cavemen — did they always have food available 24/7?)
If this is a minor bug-out situation, then you’ll be able to last for a couple of weeks with ample canned food. Past that, you’ll need to hunt and forage, just like our ancestors. Don’t worry — further down this list, we’ll be including supplies that will allow you to do just that.
The third necessity: shelter
Think you’ll be sleeping on the ground in a bug-out situation? Think again.
Bugs. Predators. The elements. Without shelter, humans are pretty vulnerable. While we’re at the top of the food chain in our society, in the wild, we’re certainly not. An animal like a bear can sleep on the floor of a cave and rest pretty easy — if we do that, we’re sitting ducks.
A foldable tent is the easiest solution. It folds up (duh) so it’s easy to move, but it also provides some protection.
We’d also recommend getting a tarp, too. Tarps are pretty much bulletproof in regards to wild animals. Tents, on the other hand, are pretty flimsy.
If something happens to your tent, you want to have a backup.
Tarps can fail too, though. It’s always a good idea to have some knowledge on how to build shelters so you can improvise.
Weapons to hunt & stay alive
Take a look at your hands. Do you see claws? Take a look at your teeth. Do you see fangs?
Humans are good at some things — like running for long distances — but in terms of hand-to-hand combat, we’re atrocious. We don’t really have anything to match the sharp beaks, talons, claws, and fangs of other animals.
We do have our smarts, though. Humans have come up with a staggering number of weapons that can take out even the most vicious predators with a single swipe or shot.
What to get?
Knives: Knives can hold off attackers, but they’re also useful for pretty much everything else in survival. Hell, you can even sharpen a stick to make another weapon for a group member if you have a survival knife.
You can get a knife at any sporting store, or you can shop online for them.
Guns: Guns can kill anything. The laws vary by state, but you can get a basic pistol + a couple rounds of ammo for just a couple hundred bucks no matter where you live. (This serves a double purpose — it can protect you from other humans who are attacking you with regular weapons, too.)
Clothing to resist the elements
How hard is it to sleep when your feet are cold? How about when it’s too hot, and you’re drenched in sweat rolling back and forth in your bed?
Take these annoyances and amplify them tenfold. That’s how difficult it will be to sleep if you’re not prepared for the temperature.
Oh, and in the wild, you just can’t afford to get sick. If you catch the flu at home, you can take a few days off of work, make some hot chocolate, and watch a couple seasons of your favorite TV show on Netflix.
In the wild, something like the flu is a death wish. You won’t be able to gather food, and getting over a sickness like that without the proper amenities is very difficult.
You can always take layers off, but you can’t make more out of thin air. Even if the temperature during the day is warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt, it likely won’t be at 3 AM at night.
Get blankets, jackets, sweatshirts, gloves, and plenty of socks. It’s vital that you protect your internal organs (around your chest) to not get sick, but having cold extremities (hands and feet) can make you plain uncomfortable.
Light & fire
Some people claim they can “see in the dark”. It’s true — at night, our vision adjusts to the darkness.
But not enough.
If you’re stumbling and bumbling over sticks, rocks, and fallen branches, the risk of hurting yourself is increased exponentially. If you break a bone, well… good luck.
Get four things:
1. An awesome flashlight with a long battery life
2. Backup batteries for the flashlight (the above comes with backup batteries)
3. A fire starter that’s not reliant on batteries or fluid
4. A bunch of Bic lighters to start a fire easily (can be bought at any convenience store)
With these four tools, you’ll easily be able to see in the darkness and start a fire without any difficulty. The beautiful thing about Bic lighters is that they can get wet, dry off, and still work. Matches? Not the case.
Starting fires is essential for warmth, water, and food. There’s a lot of food that needs boiling water to cook. Boiling water is the easiest way to sterilize it. And everyone knows that sitting around a fire will warm you up, even on the coldest of nights.
Bandages & general first aid
A scrape or cut in regular society isn’t a big deal. Even if you don’t put a bandage on it, there’s still a miniscule chance of it getting infected, because our daily lives (in general) don’t expose us to too much dirt and grime.
Not only that, but we wash our hands, we shower, etc. There are a lot of opportunities to clean our wounds even if we don’t tend to them directly.
In survival mode? Not so much. When you couple a cut with daily dirt and grime, the chances of it becoming infected increases by quite a wide margin.
Once something is infected, you’re SOL. It’s not like you can go to the hospital and get some antibiotics.
The solution is to take care of any cuts or scrapes right when you get them by sterilizing and then bandaging them.
A first aid kit will give you everything you need. It’s lightweight and water-resistant, too.
Navigation (no, not a GPS…)
This one is especially pertinent if you live in a rural area. During a survival situation, you may have to push yourself out of your previous living area to find food and shelter. If you don’t have navigation — namely, a compass and a map — then you very well may aimlessly wander until your passing.
This isn’t fear-mongering, it’s just the truth. While some people have a good sense of direction during an activity like driving, unknown areas with no landmarks are much different.
Get yourself a comprehensive map of your area and a good compass. Both of these materials are cheap — don’t skimp on them.
List of important places
Having a bug-out bag is a good start, but what if something serious happens? What if something happens to the point where civilization isn’t restored for months… or even years?
Surviving off of nothing besides your bug-out bag will become difficult. It’s good to stock up on the supplies that you’ll need — namely food, water, and weapons — and stockpile them somewhere safe.
Make a list of the locations of key points. These points might include supermarkets, clothing stores, hardware stores, etc. You’ll want to be there when it’s a dire situation. And you’ll be able to get there with your navigation devices covered a few paragraphs up.
Finally, make sure you have a couple of tokens to remember the things you love. For example, a picture of your family.
You never know when disaster will strike. Surviving all by yourself can get very lonely. Always make sure that you have something to remember what you’re surviving for.
The Full Bug Out Bag List
- Water + some sort of water purification system
- Food that covers all of the necessary macronutrients (fats, carbs, and proteins)
- Shelter to protect you from the elements and predators
- Weapons to hunt and fend off attackers (either human or animal)
- Adequate clothing to be comfortable and not get sick
- Fire sources & light sources
- First aid equipment to prevent infection
- Navigation tools to get around and a list of key points that you’ll want to visit when disaster strikes
- Mementos to keep you motivated to survive
That’s about all you need. It won’t last you a lifetime, but it will last you for a couple days, weeks, or months, depending on your circumstances.
Don’t skimp on a bug-out bag. It’s a one-time cost that can, literally, save your life.