What is a Bug Out Bag?

What is a Bug Out Bag?


You may have heard of a Bug Out Bag, or seen some one use the acronym B.O.B., but did not know what that was.  Bug out bags have a few other names also;  Go Bags, Get Home Bag,  48 or 72 or 96 hour bag, GOOD Bag (Get Out Of Dodge bag), PERK Bag (Personal Emergency Relocation Kit bag), On The Move Bag, or INCH Bag (I’m Never Coming Home bag).  There are more names than that, but you get the idea.


The Why?

The whole idea of a B.O.B. is nothing more than a collection of items that can be used to get you from one place to another during a bad situation easier that is already packed and ready for use.  You may be wondering why you would be in a bad situation.  Most people think of manmade reasons like a foreign invasion, martial law, economic or political collapse, terror event, EMP attach,  ect and ect.  Natural events are also a time that a B.O.B. will be helpful; floods, fire, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, ect and ect.

A B.O.B. is only useful if you can get to it.  It should be stored in an easily accessible place in your home or vehicle. If an even happens that makes you need the supplies, you don’t want a struggle to get your B.O.B. and get away from the situation.  It should only take seconds to grab your B.O.B. and be able to move on foot, or in a vehicle.  A recommended place in your home to store your B.O.B. would be next to a main door, in a vehicle it is any place that you can easily access.

In the event of a blizzard you may not be using a B.O.B. to get away because it would be safer to stay in your home than out in the blizzard conditions.  You can use the items in your B.O.B. to keep you alive until help can get you out of your snow bound home.

In the event of a fire DO NOT go back into the building to get your B.O.B.. If it survived the fire then use it, if it was destroyed you can get another one.

If your B.O.B. was destroyed by something like a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake you might find parts of it laying around that you can pick up.  The idea is to get your B.O.B. and get away before the tornado or hurricane destroys the building.

There are endless reasons as to why you should have a B.O.B., a B.O.B. is a backup plan.  You have to think of a B.O.B. like insurance, it will cost money to buy, or make, but you hope you never need to use it.

What is in a B.O.B.?

This is the topic of 1000’s of articles, and many websites are devoted to just this one topic.  This is the hardest part of a B.O.B..  This is because there are so many variables.  Where are you located? Where do you plan to go if you bug out? How much weight can you carry? What are your skills with the items in your B.O.B.?  What do you know you need in one?  How do you know if you are missing items?  Where do I get items for my B.O.B.?

With so many variables you may be wondering “where do I start?”  Where you start is up to you, but my suggestion is to start with research.  Starting reading books and articles from professional survivalist, I would favor those that have had military survival training.  I am not a trained survivalist; I am more of a weekend camper.  There are so many things that I do not know and I will not pretend that I do.  The information that I state is what I have collected over years of research, things are always changing and new tools and techniques are always in development.  There are an endless list of items that you can have in your B.O.B., one thing to be aware of is over packing your B.O.B..  If you have to many items in your B.O.B. it will weigh you down and may be more of a hindrance than a help.

Each of the following categories has several options of items that could be in your B.O.B., it will be up to you what you have in your B.O.B. from each category.  The categories are not in an order of importance, they are each equally important.

There are 6 main categories that you will find in most survival materials. It is not necessary to have every item possible in each category, but you should have plans for what you are going to do about your needs in each category.

Water           emergency water

It is recommended to carry some emergency water packets or bottles, but not too much because water is heavy.  It is up to you how much is enough.  You should also have a way to purify water.  This can be with tablets you add to questionable water, filters such as LifeStraw, or a container to boil in.  Be sure to know the expiration dates on all your items.  Water will become “stale” after long term storage, and some active ingredients in water purification filters and tablets will break down and lose their effectiveness.

Food    emergency food

It is recommended to have some emergency  food in your B.O.B., but again it is up to you how much to have because food can be heavy and everyone’s taste are different.  There are prepackaged emergency food bars, or you can pack what you want as long as you eat it before it becomes bad.  My personal recommendation is to replace your emergency food every 6 months.  When I replace mine I eat what I took out, this way I know if I like what I am storing for an emergency.

Fire        zippo lighter

This may seem like an easy category right, just put some lighters in.  Yes, you should have at least 1 lighter in your B.O.B. but you should not depend on only that 1 lighter.  You should also have other ways of starting a fire, and maybe also some tinder to help you get the fire going in case there is none around or everything is wet.  Personally I don’t have just a lighter in my B.O.B.; I have a Zippo lighter that is not filled because the fluid will dry out over time, a sealed can of Zippo fluid that can fill the lighter several times, extra Zippo flints, and extra Zippo wicks.  Fire can be the difference between life and death, so I am doing my best to have the most reliable source of fire by using what I believe is the best brand of lighter and replacement parts.  Along with a lighter I also have Wetfire fire starters, magnifying glass, magnesium bar sparker, and a few cheap Bic lighters.  Its up to you how many items to have in your B.O.B., just be sure you know how to use them.

Shelter        emergency tent

The easy answer for this category is to have a tent, but tents can be bulky and heavy.  Before you buy anything for a shelter do your research as to what kind of shelter you can make and use.  There are other things that can be used as a temporary shelter such as a simple tarp.  A tarp is cheaper than a tent, but it may not keep you as dry or protected from insects as a tent. Do your research and practice at building shelters. There are also some sleeping bags that may be able to double as a shelter.

Protection        slingshot

You need more than weapons for protection in your B.O.B., you need skills.  You can have all the firearms and bladed weapons you can carry in your B.O.B. but you need to know how to use them.  It never hurts anyone to gain skills to protect themselves.  Self-defense or martial arts training are always a benefit to have, and if you lose your B.O.B. you don’t lose your skills.  There are other things that can also be used as protection.  Pepper spray is a popular choice for many, or even a slingshot.  Whatever way you choose to protect yourself and those around you, you need to be comfortable to use your skills or items.

First Aid       emergency first aid

Any first aid kit is better than none.  There are so many options for first aid kits, from a box of band aids to a trauma kit.  This is another area that you need to have skills in.  If you do not know how to use medical tools then please don’t try to until you have been trained.  Improper usage of tools or procedures can hurt someone more than they could help. The minimum that I think you should have in your B.O.B. is a basic first aid kit that has instruction inside it, even if it is just a pocket sized kit.  First aid skills are one of those skills that is always good to have.  This is another area that your knowledge of this skill cannot be taken away if you lose your B.O.B..  I believe that everyone should take a first aid class and CPR class.


Other Things

I have given you some information about the 6 main categories that are most talked about, but there are other things that you should also have in your B.O.B..  This is a short list of “other things” that you may need or want to have, this is by no means everything you may choose to put in your B.O.B..

  • Medications. If you can’t live without them then you should have a supply in your B.O.B..
  • Clothing. Rain gear, cold weather gear, hot weather gear, ect.  You need to dress appropriate for where you are, or where you want to go.
  • Documents. Birth certificates, passports, or other documents you may need if you’re on the move.
  • Money. A small amount of cash, or even small bullion bars.  If the grid is down credit and debt cards will not work.
  • Tools. Tools to get you into or out of a building or car.  Knife, multi-tool, shovel, hatchet, ect.
  • Fishing gear. Fishing gear. A small fishing kit or net is much easier to use then trying to stab a fish with a sharp stick.
  • Toiletries. A role of toilet paper, tooth brush and paste, bar of soap, ect. You need to stay clean and health. You don’t really want to wipe yourself with leaves do you?
  • Lights. Get a good all weather flashlight and/or headlight.  Don’t forget extra batteries, or get a ones with a crank charger on it. Glow sticks also help, or even a lantern.
  • Communications. Any form of radio can help, but getting a radio that can transmit on many frequencies would be best.
  • Bindings.  Anything you can bind things together with.  Paracord, electrical tape, duct tape, ect.
  • Entertainment. Deck of cards, harmonica, or anything that can relieve some of the stress of bugging out.
  • Books. I recommend a good pocket reference, you can not know everything  so have something you can reference. My preferred book is the SAS Survival Guide Pocket Size.
  • Directionals. Maps, compasses, GPS, anything that helps you find out where you are and where you should go.
  • Comfort.  Sleeping bag, blankets, towels, anything that will make your stay more comfortable when bugging out.


What is in your B.O.B. is up to you.  You will have to decide what you really need, and balance that against the amount of weight you can carry.   If you want a quick start then buy a premade B.O.B..  Personally I believe that everyone needs to build their own B.O.B. as they learn how to use items.  You need to do your research, and then do some more research, and more research.  You also need to practice what you are learning.  It is hard to learn to do something at the time the skill is needed.  There is no “one perfect B.O.B.”. Everyone is different, everyone has different needs, and lives in different areas.


I have heard many people say “don’t tell anyone that you have any prepps”.  I agree that you should not be broad casting what you have, but I believe that you need to find people around you that have the same beliefs.  If there is an emergency and you need to bug out, it is easier if you have a group to bug out with that is supportive of each other.


The best place to start getting items to build a B.O.B. is a camping section.  Before you buy anything do your research on what the best brands of items are to buy.  If you know someone with an item you are interested in buying, ask them if you can test theirs out first.   Just remember, your life may depend on what is in your B.O.B..  Be sure you can trust the items you have in your B.O.B., and you know how to use them.

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