This is the ultimate guide on bug-out bags. Ahh… preparing your first bug-out bag. What a ritualistic activity.
Building your bug-out bag for the first time is similar to a young man going through the rite of passage to become a gladiator. It’s a huge stepping stone of progress. The end of the beginning and the beginning of the rest.
After completing your set up and gazing upon at the military-style rucksack that looks like it could stand alone amongst an army of demons, at the moment if when you’re officially a prepper. And you never forget it.
Okay, weeping boy scouts story is over. Let’s get down to business.. or bugging-out I should say. Let’s define exactly what a bug-out bag is and why you need one if you don’t already do.
What is a Bug-Out Bag?
A Bug-Out Bag aka BOB is a life-saving kit that is meant to house the necessary items required to survive for 72 hours.
Why the 72 hours? Well, based on human biology, you can only survive 72 hours without water before death. You would need one of these kits during a disaster or emergency to use during evacuation. It is best to keep this kit or bag in a place that is readily and easily accessible.
The B.O.B goes by many other names that all mean basically the same thing, such as an “outdoor bug-out bag”.
An outdoor B.O.B. for the outdoors would likely consist of things that would help in the event you need to be rescued. You would need to have copies of all the important documents for those who rescue you. A fire starter is necessary in these types of kits in order for you to find warmth, stay dry, boil water, or cook food. Storm whistles help with rescuers being able to find you while energy bars keep you alive long enough to be rescued. The energy bars can also provide the energy needed to reach a place to be extracted.
Bug-Out Bag Definition: A bug-out bag (also known as the acronym B.O.B.) is a large backpack that’s designed to hold 72 hours of food and supplies for the person bugging-out with it. Typically they travel to a bug-out location, the 72-hour supply is designed to allow them enough time and supplies to survive the trip.
Used in a sentence: A massive hurricane is headed our way and fast. So I went home, grabbed my bug-out bag, and immediately left to travel to my cabin off the grid where I’ll stay for a couple of weeks until the storm blows over.
Bug-Out Bag Basics
If you’re a beginner to prepping, you might be asking what a bug-out bag is.
We have the full bug-out bag definition post that’s a part of the survival glossary you can go to, but to give you the shorter version of that here.
Also known as a B.O.B., a bug-out bag is a collection of gear and supplies that are’s packed tightly and securely in a bag. A BOB is designed specifically for you to grab when an emergency or disaster happens. Typically the bag itself is a well-made backpack or duffle bag.
A bug-out bag is a bag that’s designed to provide you with enough gear and supplies to survive for 72 hours or three days.
Why three days?
The idea is to get to your bug-out location where more supplies, food, and shelter are located and more suitable for long-term survival.
A bug-out bag is a short-term solution for when SHTF and bugging-out are critical.
Importance of Building a B.O.B.
Your bug-out bag is arguably the most essential item you can have for survival.
If you grabbed nothing else but you’re B.O.B. you would feel confident knowing that you have everything you need to survive.
There are different kinds of bug-out bags. Nearly all of them are good enough for a proper BOB. There is no perfect BOB for every single kind of emergency or disaster.
As long as you have the essentials for survival, it’s a good BOB.
If you’ve never packed a bug-out bag, nows the time. The entire point of having a packed BOB is so you can grab it when SHTF without having the think about it.
Do I have the right supplies?
Do I have enough of these?
None of those questions should enter your mind because your BOB should be prepped and ready to go in an emergency.
Prep first. Have it ready to go at any day and time.
So let’s go over the core essentials for your BOB that will serve you well in any disaster or emergency.
Building The Ultimate Bug-Out Bag
One of the common questions I see if “what is the best bug-out bag?”
There is no perfect BOB for every single kind of emergency or disaster. As long as you have the essentials for survival, a useful and efficient bug-out bag is a good bug-out bag.
For the complete guide on the best survival and bug out bags and packs. Go here.
What Makes a Good B.O.B.
This question is the focus here. What will get the job done, keep you safe and will just plain work when you need its supplies. There are different kinds of bug-out bags.
Nearly all of them are good enough for a proper BOB. However, preparing your B.O.B. for emergencies that are more prone to occur to you because of your location or other circumstances would be ideal.
The key functions that a BOB should provide in order to be effective are:
- Double Straps – Opt for two shoulder straps instead of one. It needs the added durability.
- Durable Construction – Walmart step aside, you won’t do.
- Multiple Compartments – We want to have many pockets, zippers, and compartments to pack different items of different shapes and sizes in them.
- Size – The size of your bag shouldn’t weigh more than about 25% of your personal bodyweight. Any more than that becomes either not necessary or not efficient. Not necessary meaning you want it but you don’t need it and not efficient meaning packing items that don’t serve as much purpose as other items. Trim the extra fat off the meat to leave nothing but efficiency and what really matters.
Bug-Out Bag Essentials
You don’t need to pack every survival item under the sun in your BOB to make for a proper BOB.
The key is to pack the essentials and the other items that are the most effective at providing what you need for at least 72 hours.
The primary areas of gear you need to have covered are:
Bug-Out Bag Essentials Checklist
- Fire starter
- First Aid
These are the essentials that your bug-out bag should have that are universally agreed to be the most important items that should be in every bag. Having them on a checklist would be a good idea.
Some of these items are a part of the survival rule of threes. Shelter is one of them.
Something like a tent or a tarp. The priority is to cover at least your head for protection and weather.
The food should have a long shelf life, so nothing that needs to be cooked. Try to pack high caloric foods as well. Peanut butter is always a popular choice. Protein bars work well too.
Yes, you can make a fire by yourself with sticks in the wild, but having a fire starter is more ideal since they are so small and easy to carry. Plus, you never know what kind of emergency you’ll be in.
Even spending a few minutes finding the right sticks to make fire with could be too long. Fire starters are inexpensive, small, and lightweight. Grab one or two and pack it.
Basic first-aid like gauze and alcohol to clean and protect any potential gashes or cuts.
Sooner or later, you will need cash for something. And you never know when it will come in handy. If you have to pay someone for transportation, or even for help. Having some good ole cash can aid you in many situations.
Paracord. Tight, strong, reliable rope can be used in dozens of helpful ways. It’s also small and light to carry. Carrying a paracord bracelet is ideal since you can wear it around your wrist and has plenty of paracord to use.
Now water is heavy and can take up a lot of space in your bug-out bag. But it’s essential. We can’t survive without water for long.
Nearly nothing is more important to your survival than water. So you want to have some packed. A canteen is ideal. A strong, sturdy canteen that won’t break or get destroyed easily. A water filter is also recommended. That way you can purify any water you need to and refill your canteen so you have clean water to drink on an ongoing basis if you need to.
Last but certainly not least. A strong and reliable tactical knife. Or multiple knives. I always have my folder with me, and a fixed blade survival knife for heavy-duty brute force type of work. Your knife is the most important tool you can have for survival.
There are dozens of uses for your survival knife. You can hunt, kill, build, and protect yourself with it. So have a quality knife in your BOB.
EDITORS NOTE: You can kill 2 birds with 1 stone and get a Survival Bracelet. You’ll have your fire starter and paracord rope around your wrist.
Those are the bare minimum essentials you want to have packed in your bug-out bag. Now you want to keep your BOB packed and ready to go. Store it in a secure place that easily accessible to you. You never know when you’ll need to quickly grab it and bug out.
Tip: Don’t forget about the less common and unusual items to pack, like a book for some entertainment.
There are dozens of different items that you could consider. These are the basic essentials that we all need for everyday survival.
Take it a step further than the average bear and be prepared ahead of time for when SHTF. Have these essentials prepped and ready to go in a bug-out bag.
Do you have any questions about your B.O.B. that we missed in this post? Let us know below and we’ll make sure we add it.
Remember, most results come with the essential things. Getting the important stuff right it 80% of it.
Let’s review our criteria for a bag.
- Two Shoulder Straps
- Durable Construction
- Multiple Compartments
We have a guide on the best survival backpacks you can visit.
There are lots of options out there for bags. Including:
- Military Backpacks
- Single sling backpacks
- Duffel bags
And like most things.
You want to ignore most of them.
Most choose a backpack.
The BOB needs to be a large heavy-duty backpack with two straps. It doesn’t have to be your only bag with survival supplies in it. Have as many bags as you wish. But for the 72-hour bug-out bag, go with a rugged and rough around the edges type bag.
After looking at different options and reading reviews, choose is the one that makes sense for you personally. As long as it meets the minimum requirements we layout below for you, then it will be a good choice.
Just make sure to get what you need.
The Pillars For Survival Gear
The process of building the perfect bug-out bag is a never-ending process. It takes trial and error. It takes refinement. And it takes time. Combine all that with never-ending innovations and improvements in gear and technology… there is always room for improvement.
In the ultimate survival kit list, we listed about 19 different categories for gear with over 180 items total. You can go here to see the ultimate Bug-Out Bag List.
There are primarily only 5 or 6 different categories of survival that you want to have gear for, as each category is essential.
Here is the list of the different categories listed in the ultimate survival kit guide.
- First Aid
- Physical Preparedness
- Shelter & Bedding
- Miscellaneous Supplies
- Mental Preparedness
- Food and Food Preparation
- Water & Hydration
- BOB Maintenance
- BOB Organization
- Protection & Self Defense
It’s official. When SHTF and it’s time to bug-out. You’re prepared now. You’re the one your friends will turn do when crisis strikes.
You have a plan.
You have the skills.
You have the gear.
You have the vehicle
You have the location.
You have the supplies to survive until the crisis is over.
Here’s what to do next, now that you have your bug-out bag prepped and ready, you need to finish the rest of your bug-out plan for when you need to bug-out.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does B.O.B. Stand For?
B.O.B. is an acronym in the survivalist and prepper community. It stands for “bug-out bag”. For more information, see the full list of survival terms.
What should a bug-out bag contain?
Military B.O.B: A military Bug-Out Bag might include things such as a survival knife, rations, a basha, and some pegs. Items like these are useful for survival to retrieve food, find shelter, or even physically defend yourself as the basha pole can be used to defend one’s self. A pot, gas, and gas stove is a good idea as you will have rations to heat. Bungee and paracord are convenient in providing security from animalistic invaders by keeping your items or even yourself suspended.
When should the Bug-Out Bag be ready or packed?
A Bug-Out Bag should be completely packed and ready-to-go at all times. These are meant for emergency situations and are needed immediately. To maximize the effectiveness of B.O.Bs, it is good practice to exchange food and water products that might have perished. If clothes are involved, keep them season appropriate to avoid injury from extreme temperatures and conditions.
Do you know something we don’t? Let us know and we’ll add it to this guide.