10 Staples That Should Always Be In Your Bug Out Bag

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Last Updated on January 9, 2021

Natural and man-made disasters happen often without warning. Tornados, blackouts, terrorist attacks — you name it, anything could happen in a blink of an eye. In such situations, a well-prepared bug out bag with at least 72 hours worth of supplies is crucial to survival should events force you to evacuate from your home and expose you out there. And since every luggage space and weight counts, your bug out bag essentials should be lightweight, heavy-duty, and versatile. Add to or personalize this bug out bag checklist depending on your needs, but make sure you have all the bases covered. Read on to learn more about what to pack for survival.

Never Forget Water in your bug out bag

Water should be at the top of every emergency survival list as the human body can only go on for three days without hydration. Prepared For Survival says a minimum of one liter a day per person is a must, along with water filters and purification tablets to treat water for additional supply.



Photo Courtesy of Moresheth via Flickr, Creative Commons


Fuel With Food

While a person can survive longer without food than without water, you will need every ounce of energy to get you through any crisis. Opt for food stock items that are high in calories but do not require much space or preparation. Canned goods like beans, meats, and the like can be opened and eaten while on the go. Another option is preparing your own emergency food supply to which you just add water.

Photo Courtesy of The Sporkful via Flickr, Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy of The Sporkful via Flickr, Creative Commons


Survive With A Knife

And no, not a pocket knife. It may be more convenient to tote around, but you will need something more substantial for serious chopping of food, cutting of ropes, and even defending yourself when the situation calls for it. Bring one with a length between 4” and 6”, according to this Instructables knife guide.

A fixed blade sturdy survival knife is a must have in your bug out bag

Photo Courtesy of Mike Petrucci via Flickr, Creative Commons


Tools To Start A Fire With

With fire’s many important uses — cooking food, boiling water, providing warmth and comfort, and sending out a rescue signal — you better bring waterproof matches or lighters to ignite sparks. For an excellent homemade fire starter, use cotton with petroleum jelly, which, according to The Prepping Princess, can also be used to prevent wind burns, lubricate tools, and so on.

10 Staples That Should Always Be In Your Bug Out Bag - The Prepper Journal

Photo Courtesy of Percita via Flickr, Creative Commons


Heal Quick With A First Aid Kit

You can buy this at drug stores or better yet, create your own. In any case, Red Cross recommends first aid kit essentials such as medications, bandages, gauzes, and the like that should enable you to deal with illnesses, wounds, fractures, and so on while waiting for further medical assistance. Red Cross also advises that you update your stock regularly.

10 Staples That Should Always Be In Your Bug Out Bag - The Prepper Journal

Photo Courtesy of Christina Xu via Flickr, Creative Commons


A Dose Of Survival Clothes

Rich Johnson of Getting Out Alive emphasizes the importance of the right gear for staying dry, keeping warm, and protecting your vital body parts such as your head, hands, and feet. For these, he suggests that you ready your clothing made of wool or synthetic material for insulation, head cover, trail shoes or boots and socks, and leather gloves.

10 Staples That Should Always Be In Your Bug Out Bag - The Prepper Journal

Photo Courtesy of paul_houle via Flickr, Creative Commons


Makeshift Shelter To Survive Any Weather

Away from the comfort and security of your home, you need to protect yourself from the heat or the cold so you can better go about your activities or simply rest. Decide on a lightweight sleeping bag or camping tent. For more affordable options, Creek Stewart of Willow Haven Outdoor recommends packing a tarp or a poncho. Don’t forget to include a rope or parachute cord and duct tape to secure your shelter.

10 Staples That Should Always Be In Your Bug Out Bag - The Prepper Journal

Photo Courtesy of Joseph via Flickr, Creative Commons


Bring On The Lights

Aside from flashlights, consider glow sticks and LED lights, headlamps, and key chains, as Prepared For Survival suggests. Secure a supply of high-quality batteries; bringing lighting items will be in vain without those.



Photo Courtesy of robert reza via Pinterest


Communication Devices

Survival Spot says it is crucial to still be able to receive and transmit data even if the usual modes of communication fail. Choose the right phone, radio, or walkie-talkie for you that will suit your desired specifications and budget. As with lighting items, prepare a good supply of batteries.

10 Staples That Should Always Be In Your Bug Out Bag - The Prepper Journal

Photo Courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil via Flickr, Creative Commons


A Stash of Cash

Lastly, you should have cash on your person. Again, cash, not a credit card. Have it ready in smaller bills. Prepare change as well.

10 Staples That Should Always Be In Your Bug Out Bag - The Prepper Journal

Photo Courtesy of 401(K) 2012 via Flickr, Creative Commons


Once you have determined the bug out bag contents that you need, choose a portable backpack that is big enough to hold all of them. Since you would never want your bag to give up on you, invest in a backpack durable enough to withstand extreme conditions, but comfortable enough to carry for extended periods of time. Bags with plenty of compartments provide strategic ways of stuffing your survival essentials into your bug out bag.

With a clear understanding of these emergency survival staples, you will be able to customize your bug out bag essentials based on your needs and wants. So what are you waiting for? Put your bug out bag together now so you can confidently face whatever disastrous event that may occur any time in the future.

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I prefer to keep some Duct tape with me, great to have for just about everything.

Uni Sol

and some 550 parachute cord


Hi Anna! Very nice. I’ve put alot of thought into ours. Funny thing is that mine is the heaviest – even though I’ve got young, strong ones in the house and although I’ve designed mine to be something I can carry for long distances. May be time to have them increase the weight they carry to be closer to mine in many aspects, not just BOB’s! When they were in high school they used to roll their eyes and whine and complain and tell me how silly I was when I made them carry Hot Hands, cheap ponchos, gloves, hat… Read more »


Hi Anna,
Just a suggestion on water requirements: A minimum of one liter per day might be sufficient if someone is trekking in a cool climate zone (below 70F degrees), but high temperatures require much greater amounts of water for survival. Under average exertion at 68F degrees, the body will loose 2-3 liters of water per day.

Prepp or Die

Or… Keep a water purifier with you and replenish as needed. Carry too much water and you will defeat the purpose. You will become so exhausted by the weight that it wont mater how hydrated you are.
That suggested, I agree with Bolofia. One liter per day is not enough if you need to bug out any real distance.

Darrell Shawcroft

Love the photos included. I own most of the items shown. That being said, the Tiny Monster by Nitecore definitely isn’t the light to carry in your BoB. Only uses rechargeable 18650’s, and needs 4 of them to boot. Plus it is heavy. I love the Gerber LMF II, but that partial serrating right where you need a straight blade makes it a no-go for me. Can’t carve or do any delicate work with serrations right there. Also WAY too hard to sharpen.

Very well-written article, thanks again for sharing!

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