Gear Guide for Your Bug Out Bag

When travelling, working from a vehicle or in a hostile environment it makes sense to keep all your important and essential equipment in a bug out bag.

When travelling, working from a vehicle or in a hostile environment it makes sense to keep all your important and essential equipment in a bug out bag. From a tactical point of view, if you are attacked, ambushed or involved in an emergency situation and have to evacuate you will want to have any confidential information, emergency and survival equipment with you.

You never want to leave your essential equipment in an unattended vehicle, hotel room or non-secure location. For example, if the vehicle is stolen you lose your kit, which could be embarrassing to say the least especially where weapons and confidential information is concerned.


What you carry in your bug out bag will vary greatly depending where you are and what you are doing. For example, what you need in an urban environment will be different from what you could need in a very rural environment. What I have listed here is just a guide to what you may need, you need to keep things real and not include gear that you will never use, remember if things go wrong and you have to run you don’t want a bag weighing 100 lbs. on your back.

What you need in an urban environment will be different from what you could need in a very rural environment.

Bug out bag equipment (Basic)

Bug out bag equipment: Potential threat environment

  • Radio scanner can be used to scan the emergency services radio frequencies; this can provide you with an early warning of potential problems or criminal/terrorist incidents in your area. In some areas, there are restrictions on the use scanners, always check.  An emergency weather radio will also be very useful as they can
    warn you of any severe weather. This emergency radio comparison will help
    you find the best one.
  • Spot light can be used at night to shine in the face and blind the drive of a threat vehicles which is following/chasing you etc.
  • Smoke discharges, military style some grenades are illegal to possess in most places. What are legal though are the smoke distress signals that are carried on yachts and maritime vessels. These can be bought at most boat shops and are not that expensive, they usually can discharge about a minuets worth of red smoke. Smoke can be used to provide cover if you are ambushed or need to evacuate on foot. In addition, it can be used to cause a distraction in say an urban environment so you can evacuate the area.
  • Weapons, in some areas you cannot carry weapons on your person but can carry them in a secure case, the case can go in your bag! Where there may be a need for a long gun such as a shotgun or assault rifle and these cannot be carried openly they can go into a car bag. Of course, you can carry spare ammunition.

Food and drink

Depending on where you are and the length of your journey you may want to carry some form of food and drink with you

  • Drink, it’s always handy to have a thermos flask of coffee or tea available for moral reasons if nothing else. With drinks and liquids, you must insure they do not spill or leak over documents and equipment. Highly caffeinated and sugary coffee or sports drinks can be included in your car bag for emergencies, these can give you an energy boost when you need it and can help you to stay awake when you’re tired.
  • Food, if you are carrying food as with liquids you need to insure they do not spill or leak over documents and equipment. If you take a sandwich or other perishable food with you make sure you do not leave them in the car bag for any extended length of time and they go bad. It is also good protocol if sharing a vehicle with others not to carry strong smelling food; it might not smell good to everyone. Emergence foods that can be carried include chocolate bars, nuts, raisins etc. These will give you energy, are compact and have a long shelf life.

Remember if you use any emergency supplies replace them. This only a guide to what you may want to carry with you. We are not going to get into wilderness survival and navigation techniques as that is another subject, which if your operating in you should have at least a basic knowledge of.

  1. Orlando, a good article overall, but I have to take exception to your use of the term “assault rifle.” The only people likely to have selective fire weapons would be military personnel and, potentially, some law enforcement (at least in the U.S.). This term is grotesquely abused by anti-gun activists and the liberal press.

    Regarding radio scanners, I assume you are referring to a handheld unit that you would keep in your Bug Out Bag. It is important that readers know whether the emergency radio services in their area are broadcast as analog or digital. Having the wrong gear is useless, and digital scanners cost about 5X as much as the analog version.

    A suggestion for non-perishable food would be emergency survival rations, such as Mainstay. These are non thirst inducing, highly nutritious, and can be eaten on the go.

  2. Might two Bug out Bags be maintained? One urban, the other rural/outback? I can make an example as a plumber I am all too aware of key type hose bibs used in urban and even road side environments. There is a 4 sized cross tool that is a key for locked hose bibs, AKA water in some situations. This might even be useful in a National or state or county park. Rest area etc.

    1. Yes. Where I live I have to have two. The Winter one is a mother but I’d die without it if I bug out now to the cottage. I have to have a stove and carry fuel and the sleep system is massive. Snow shoes attached, etc.
      Most of the year I would use the much lighter and smaller one.
      For me a bug out is going from home base to cottage or vice versa or the alternative location as fast as I can. Supplies buried at each place so no need to carry fishing kits or tools.
      I have the key – a silcock key. Bought two. Neither fit my 1940s radiators! Going to use them in the industrial park when the freezing ends (April!) to make sure they work

      1. I just think water is so over looked as an issue and there are many ways to access it and re use it and conserve it. As a plumbing pro I just wanted to help with my 2 cents. There are other ways to get water that I won’t publish here, but on a one to one level I will share.

    1. They are still around…. Gas stations, convenience stores etc. In urban areas, ask the drug dealers, they will know where they are!


  3. i agree with Bill, especially here in US. pay phones are gone by the wayside!.. we used to be required with NASAR to carry change in our packs for payphones but i never used it. I do carry a prepaid cell with prepaid credit card in my pack hese days. i also carry a silver eagle and 1/4 gold piece tucked away hidden, incase i need to barter. scanner and spotlight i personally wouldn’t carry, but each to thier own. most Ham ht’s can monitor the older 2 meter/440 freqs for police/rescue. flashlight/compass,first aid kit are all essential.. load your pack up and weight it… wear if for a day, you may find that there may be alot of stuff you dont really need in it. if you can carry it, then fine. i would suggest though in figuring out what you could easily discard if you need to lighten your load, and have those items in a easily seperate pouch that you can detach bury and/or hide if needed.

    1. Good comment about the old NASAR requirement. I’ve never heard of any of our SAR teams encountering a pay phone booth in the desert. That’s why God invented 2-way radios.

    2. A good quality (streamlight,surefire) flashlight is of course expensive but the tactical ones are essential small, light weight spotlights designed to blind attackers at night as well as being built to mil-spec (as dependable as can be). With these options the thought of a spotlight in pack is just laughable.

  4. I usually like orlando’s articles but this one is somewhat off. A bug out bag should cover the basics to ones survival in ones environment. Shelter, fire, water are the bare minimums. Some food and a means of protecting oneself, and I mean a handgun when I say protecting oneself, should be the next priorities. Carrying around change is ludicrous. I can see having some spare cash in your pocket. Along with a cell phone, which eliminates the need for change, and a camera. The camera in modern cell phones is just as good if not better than most point and click cameras on the market, barring professional cameras. Modern flashlights that also fit in ones pocket far outshine the old million candlepower spotlights. The olight warrior I have in my pocket as I type this has 950 lumens and a 305 meter throw, did I mention it’s in my pocket? A Nalgene bottle and a life straw will take care of your water needs. Unlike canteens the Nalgene bottle will allow the drinking of water with a lifestraw on the move. Scanner apps can be downloaded on smartphones to replace carrying a radio scanner around.
    I think a key fact here is to be skilled and not rely on stuff to get you through. Which is what really annoys me about the latest generation of “preppers”. Lots of people i know who call themselves preppers really should call themselves hoarders. Yes they have an assload of stuff, but don’t know what range their rifle is sighted in at, can’t climb a flight of stairs without an oxygen tank waiting for them at the top of the stairs. Couldn’t hike a mile wearing a pack, etc. absolute jokes. If you’re going to get into this lifestyle, then live it. Be someone who is useful in a shtf situation. Not just a lukewarm body who has a bunch of stuff.

    1. Good rebuttal.
      I disagree with both of you about carrying electronics. Heavy and battery dependent. EMP might wreck them. A BOB is to get you from the now unsecure base to a previously selected bug out base. Travel should be swift and preplanned. Choke points should be known in advance. No need to radio in and check in. Plan is already known so execute it. Now if you are using a car then I get it. Totally important if in a convoy. I plan on a foot bug out
      A camera? For a bug out? Going to download the video to youtube are we?
      A handgun has its place in some societies (not mine) but would not a decent knife be useful everywhere?
      The article…
      Cash? Several hundred in low denomination notes for taxi/hotel/buying food and drink if available is a must for a GHB but a BOB? Vending machines going to be working?
      You correctly address the information on hydration but I am still shocked about the author’s advice to carry a thermos flask for hot coffee. A sandwich?
      Honestly I think I am totally misreading the article or it is a clever spoof

      I’d add a lot more and delete a lot but these should be in everyone’s bags no matter the type INCH, GHB, BOB
      Trash bags for rain, wind protection and to fill with leaves for bedding.
      Cordage for shelter building
      Extra warm head gear
      One set (minimum) of decent wool socks
      Bandana or similar for smoke, wind, and filtering water before you block that life straw.
      Some purification tabs for when you scoop and go at the water source or your life straw goes all SNAFU on you
      Decent gloves for warmth and hand protection

      As JD says (paraphrasing) Just Do It. Stop reading and watching about BOB, put one together from what you have, and go and then bug out with it. Hike the 50 miles and spend the night while doing so using the BOB only. You will learn an awful lot about what’s junk and what’s really needed.

    2. Well, said. Which reminds us all to get in good physical shape, because we have a long way to go in protecting our President, and our Republic….

  5. I have been toying with all these ideas for more than 20 yrs. The biggest problem I see when it comes to equipment, is keeping the radios, cell phones, etc. charged when you need them. Most of the time, after charging, the charge only lasts several days, then go pretty low or dead.

    They have to be recharged regularly. About walkie-talkies, I was wondering if you can charge these, AND leave them on, while charging constantly until you need them. These units take about 4 hrs or more to charge. So, does anyone know if its ok to charge continuously, and leave them on, to keep the batteries always charged. Anyone know ??

    1. Who are you going to call and why? Serious question. In shtf everyone should execute the get home or bug out plan independently and ASAP. What are you going to do if the wife calls and says “there’s armed men coming towards me!” A radio is dead weight unless you are in a car or truck for the bug out or get home

  6. What parking meters am I using and why am I going to bother paying them? Pretty sure in a “Bug Out” situation there won’t be many meter maids working…

    1. You are kidding right? I have seen definite proof that the UN will come in on mass in shtf to ensure parking meters are monitored 🙂
      I keep a stack of coins in the car to raid the hospital’s vending machines in shtf. Power likely will be on there for a bit and I have a crowbar if not.I’d only hit them if the car was working as for me a BOB is get home or get out SAP and I’m carry useless weight. I’d definitely not carry coins in a BOB but I do carry $400 in low denomination notes. Might get lucky and grab a cab out or even find a food store daft enough to be open for cash on route.

    2. I know most folks wouldn’t even pay attention to half the laws, anyway. I will not waste my time putting coins into a parking meter, that’s for sure.

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