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Bug Out Bag Essentials 2017 Mega Guide 5/5 (2)

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(Last Updated On: November 15, 2017)

With all that’s been happening of late in the world, you have to wonder if you are prepared enough for a disaster. One that might strike too close to your home and have you scrambling to leave in a hurry. One of the best things you can have lying around during such times is a bug out bag or B.O.B.

A bug out bag is a light, durable and waterproof backpack that contains survival essentials meant to last for at least 72 hours.

Figure Out If A Bug Out Bag Is Necessary For You

The truth is, depending on where you live, you might not use a bug out bag for years. And that is how it should be. But, putting together a survival bag is similar to purchasing car insurance. You hope you’ll never have to use your bug out bag, but it still gives you tremendous peace of mind just to have it. Because you know that a B.O.B. might just save your skin during an emergency.

You should try to put together your bug out bag using durable, long-lived items. If you can consume or use those items for activities such as camping, hiking or even regular use, it’s a win-win situation.

 

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Choose A Type Of Bug Out Bag

There are a few different types of B.O.B. The best way to classify bug out bags is by the purpose they serve and what they are meant to protect you against. These are types of bug out bags as a whole survival kit (vs different types of backpacks that can hold your bug out supplies):

  • individual 72 hour bug out bag
  • bug out bag for family
  • bug out bag for baby
  • bug out bag for pets
  • bug out bag for earthquake
  • bug out bag for floods & tornados
  • bug out bag for wildfires
  • tactical bug out bag

It is important for you to decide what kind of a bug out bag you want to put together. For example, a bug out bag for floods and tornados needs to be waterproof for long periods and also needs to contain specialized survival gear that will protect you during such disasters. You can also put together a more general type of B.O.B. or combine 2 or more types.

Consider Bug Out Bag Weight

Weight is one of the most important factors that you need to consider when making a bug out bag (sorry marketing guys, it’s only what they can comfortably fit inside the bag). There are few resources and no studies that examine how much weight a regular person can carry for extended periods of time. A rule of thumb is that a fully loaded bug out bag should be no more than 25-33% of your body weight. But, I expect that the ideal B.O.B. weight will vary based on your physical condition, weather conditions, terrain and period of time that you need to carry it for.

The most accurate research there is out there on the subject of bug out bag weight was made by a physics professor at the Kansas State University, Michael O’Shea. The study smartly points out that lower-weight adults might be able to carry more weight than their heavier counterparts. This actually makes sense – a heavier weight person also has to carry their excess weight on top of the bag weight.

Your bug out bag should not weigh more than 50 pounds. Add 10-15% if you are sure you will not do a lot of walking/running or bring it down if you expect to carry it for very long distances. My recommended survival essentials weigh around 39 lbs altogether (based on seller disclosed weight, includes backpack weight and 3 liters of water). That leaves you with plenty of additional weight to add for your clothes, additional medical supplies, documents, electronics, etc.

Always Have A 72 Hour Bug Out Bag Handy

There are couple of reasons why you should put together a B.O.B that will have essential survival supplies for at least 72 hours:

  • there are much lighter than other bug out bugs such as an i.n.c.h. bag (I’m never coming home bag).
  • chances are that rescuers or other people will find you within that time frame.

Such a light 72 hour B.O.B. also has downsides:

  • there may be more than 72 hours before someone finds you.
  • you may not have all the necessary gear to survive the wilderness for a longer period.
Bug Out Bag Starter Kit
4.7 SR Rating
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4.7 SR Rating
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4.5 SR Rating
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However, federal campaigns such as ready.gov advise people to pack up at least 72 hours worth of emergency supplies for a good reason. Even if it takes a little longer for you to be found by rescuers, you can ration your supplies to cover your survival needs for a longer time.

You should always have a 72 hour bug out bag handy. If you need more stuff during an emergency AND you have a minute or two to spare, you can add anything that will increase your comfort and safety. Chances are that you will already know what you are facing and are better able to decide what to add without sacrificing more than a couple of minutes. Your mindset is your most important survival skill, so keep calm and you’ll do fine.

 

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Start With The Bug Out Bag Essentials

Let’s take a look at our interpretation of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs:
basic human needs

I’ll put together a bug out bag list based on your basic survival needs as displayed above. But, first, you need a place where to put all of this – the backpack itself.

Get A Sturdy Survival Backpack

Here are some essential features you should look for when shopping for a bug out backpack:

  • waterproof
  • lightweight
  • allows freedom of movement
  • roomy enough for your survival equipment and supplies
  • has a hydration system, reservoir or compartment (fits 2-3 liters of water)
  • sleeping bag compartment
  • preferably (but not absolutely necessary) has MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, similar to that used by British and US armed forces) pouches, webbing and attachments
  • two other features that experienced backpackers would not do without are hip belts and load lifters
That means you are looking for a 30-80 liter waterproof backpack, with a good suspension system that distributes 80% or more of the bug out bag weight to the hips. The backpack is the one thing that you should invest in without hesitating. A low-quality backpack will make you hurt just after a few minutes, will easily rip and might get your stuff wet. Even worse, if it completely breaks, you won’t have a way to carry all your survival gear.

Best Bug Out Pack

4.7 / 5 SR Rating
Pros
  1. lightweight - for a backpack with an aircraft aluminum internal frame
  2. bow, rifle & pistol compatible
  3. 2 liter water reservoir compatible
  4. Lifetime warranty, fix it for free no matter what happens
Cons
  1. weighs 5 lbs 15 oz
  2. you have to purchase the water reservoir separately
Summary
The Badlands 2200 is used by professional hunters and it has an advanced camo design that will conceal your movement in an outdoor setting. The price is a little bit high, but if you want a backpack that you can use 15-20 years from now and is covered by a lifetime no-questions asked warranty, the Badlands 2200 is your best bet.
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Make Air (More) Breathable

Air is your most important survival need.

To enhance the air you breathe, just add a cotton scarf to your bug out bag that you can use for:

  • covering your mouth to prevent heat loss during extreme cold
  • filtering out some of the smoke (dampen it first)
  • filtering out dust

A survival scarf has a lot of other uses such as a sling, bandage, towel, water filter, protecting from the sun during summer, keeping warm in the winter so you can’t really go wrong with one. You can also get a dust and pollen mask but it’s not going to filter out heavy smoke.

Purify Drinking Water

You can survive for about 3 days without water, but that will probably leave you weakened and unable to face whatever is threatening your safety.

There are a few different ways how you can find and purify water in the wild. But, given the available, cheap gear, why risk not finding any? As I mentioned before, your bug out backpack should have a water compartment or reservoir. But, you want to be on the safe side and still keep hydrated if you somehow puncture that reservoir or you have to wait longer for rescue. For that purpose, you can consider buying a survival water filter.

You can also purify water in other ways (by boiling, by using bleach, water purification tablets, etc), but you risk not removing chemicals if any are present. Also, these other water purification methods take a little bit more time than just using a water filter.

Even if you own a water filter, it is still a good idea to boil your water, if you have the chance. You should also consider getting some water purification tablets. They only remove bacteria and viruses (no sediments, other particles or contaminants). They are still a lifesaver during an emergency, especially if you decide to buy a plastic filter and it breaks.
Best Survival Water Filters
4 SR Rating
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Best Bug Out Water Filter

4.5 / 5 SR Rating
Pros
  1. filters 99.9% of bacteria and viruses
  2. filters contaminants such as lead
  3. comes with a sport bottle
Cons
  1. weighs 3 lbs empty
Summary
The Go Berkey kit comes with a BPA free sport bottle and a nylon carrying case. The filter has a one quart water storage capacity and produces up to 1 gallon of purified water per hour. This is one of the best water filters out there for the budget conscious prepper.
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Stock Up On Emergency Food & Cooking Gear

Food is very important during an emergency. Although you can survive around 3 weeks without having anything to eat, you will feel sluggish and you will not have any energy to spare.

Cooking gear can be used for preparing food and boiling water.

Depending on the type of emergency you might be facing you should choose one of the two types of cooking stove:

  • wood burning cooking stove
  • gas or fuel cell burning cooking stove

My favorite is a wood burning cooking stove that I can also use for camping. Gas or cell burning emergency cooking stoves might be better to use if you are in a flooded area. Unless you know how to build a fire with wet wood or have some quality all weather firestarters.

Best Bug Out Cooking Kits
4.7 SR Rating
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4.2 SR Rating
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Best Bug Out Cooking Kit

4.7 / 5 SR Rating
Pros
  1. lightweight - weighs 3 lbs
  2. boils water in 4-6 minutes
  3. produces very little smoke
Cons
  1. may be hard to use in a flooded area
Summary
The Solo Stove Titan & Pot 1800 kit is a survivalist favorite and it is recommended by the Backpacker Magazine. The 'hobo' stove uses twigs, pinecones and small pieces of wood, making it very easy for you to start a fire. It contains one of the most efficient camping stoves out there and a lightweight 61 fl oz pot that will take very little space in your bug out bag.
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“Food will win the war “was one the slogans used during World War 1. Your survival food cache should fulfill one or more of the requirements below:

  • have a long shelf life
  • be lightweight and not bulky
  • easy to rotate whenever it comes close to the expiration date (tasty enough to eat as a regular meal)

Ideally, all your food should be cooked, warm and delicious, but you may not have the time or resources to do that. Some of the foods listed below can be eaten as they are (Meals Ready to Eat) and some require light cooking. You should have a mix of these two types of food in your bug out bag.

Bug Out Bag Meals Ready To Eat (MRE)
4.2 SR Rating
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Best Bug Out Ready To Eat Meal

4.2 / 5 SR Rating
Pros
  1. 5 years shelf life
  2. non thirst provoking
  3. Kosher, enriched with vitamins
Cons
  1. some people didn't like the lemony taste
  2. some people had issues with punctured packaging
Summary
Grizzly Gear emergency food rations are meant to provide a person with 3600 calories for up to 3 days. While it's not exactly food from a 5 star Michelin restaurant, some people actually order these for snacking. But they are very affordable, weigh only 1.4 lbs and will keep you fed during an emergency.
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You can also add your own ready to eat food items, such as your favorite energy bars or even sealed trail mix as long as you pay attention to their expiration dates and rotate them accordingly.

Best Bug Out Freeze Dried Food

4.8 / 5 SR Rating
Pros
  1. Mountain House offers an incredible 30 years taste and shelf life guarantee for it's freeze dried food
  2. Tasty servings
Cons
  1. allergy information - contains soy, milk, wheat, eggs (no real cons to list)
Summary
The Mountain House 3 Day Emergency Food Supply is one of the best freeze dried food you can put in your B.O.B. This survival food kit contains 20 servings that will provide you with 1650 tasty calories per day. Weighing only 2.9 lbs it tastes so good that a lot of people use it for camping. Just add water (15.75 cups of water needed to reconstitute the 3 day supply of food).
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Yummy!

Safety Gear

There are a lot of options (maybe too many) when it comes to B.O.B. safety gear. I’ll walk you through the best ones, sorted by importance.

Delta Provision First Aid Kit

4.7 / 5 SR Rating
Pros
  1. wound dressing
  2. roll up foam splint
  3. pouch with room to spare
Cons
  1. you'll need to add stuff to make it complete
Summary
While it's not quite a trauma kit, it weighs 10 times less (1.5 lbs + what you add to it) and is a lot more affordable. Here are some things I would add to this first aid kit (it has room to spare):
  • pain reliever/fever reducer for adults
  • pain reliever/fever reducer for children (if you have children)
  • small hand sanitizer
  • sunscreen (varies with your skin type), insect repellent or both - check this out
  • antibiotic cream
  • pain relieving gel
  • any prescription medicine taken on a regular basis
  • allergy medicine
  • feminine hygiene products
  • other first aid and hygiene products for children & the elderly
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    Bug Out Plan, Personal Documents & Money

    A well-designed bug out plan should include:

    • local maps with possible shelters
    • escape routes
    • steps to take – things to do before and after you leave, people to take with you, people to contact
    • best way to get back to civilization when it is safe to do so. Ways to contact rescuers, the authorities, etc
    • anything you need to know about the local animals and plants

    I addition to a bug out plan, you should have copies of important documents and some cash. Put them all in a waterproof pouch or in a ziplock bag.

    Bug Out Bag Starter Kit
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    4.7 SR Rating
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    4.5 SR Rating
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    Ok, I’ll admit, I’m like a kid in a candy shop when I write about survival gear (or so my wife likes to tell me every now and then). The following is my favorite (ooh, shiny) part of the article.

    Gerber Bear Grylls Multi Tool

    4.5 / 5 SR Rating
    Pros
    1. spring loaded pliers
    2. military grade 12-in-1 0.5 lbs multi tool
    3. includes Bear Grylls survival guide
    Cons
    1. pouch could be better
    Summary
    This Bear Grylls Gerber multitool is one of the best choices for your B.O.B. The lifetime warranty it comes with shows that the folks at Gerber are pretty confident it will do its job. You should consider getting at least two multi tools:
    • in case that one breaks or you lose it
    • keep one in your B.O.B. at one in its holster, attached to your belt
    You can opt for a second Bear Grylls Gerber Tool or if you can go for the fancy Leatherman - Wave Multitool (costs more).
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    Schrade SCAXE2 Survival Hatchet

    4.5 / 5 SR Rating
    Pros
    1. Titanium coated with hammer pommel
    2. in-handle firestarter
    3. belt sheath
    Cons
    1. some people complain it is hard to take it out of the sheath
    Summary
    The Schrade SCAXE2 Survival Hatchet will be a nice addition to your survival bag. The hammer pommel could also very useful in a wide variety of emergencies. The hatchet itself can be used for self-defense, chopping wood, breaking out of a building, building yourself a shelter, etc. It weighs 1.37 lbs.
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    RAVPower Power Bank

    4.8 / 5 SR Rating
    Pros
    1. 22000 mAh
    2. 8 iPhone 7 charges or 3 iPad mini charges
    3. lifetime warranty (you need to register for it)
    4. comes with pouch and 2 microusb charging cables
    Cons
    1. some people complain they received defective units, lifetime warranty should take care of that
    2. weighs 0.9 lbs
    Summary
    The RavPower 22000 mAh power bank will help you keep your devices connected after you bug out. You can also use this regularly and, if you are anything like my wife and forget to charge your phone, you'll be very glad to have it. Keep it charged!!! Why should you use one? Because even if your charged phone doesn't have reception, you can keep maps on it, bug out plans, survival guides, use it as a flashlight, take notes and more.
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    An alternative for a power bank is a hand crank or solar charger. The Maxoak 7800 mAh has both a hand crank and a solar charger, but usually, the solar charger takes a long time to charge (think 1-2 days or more). The hand crank is a little bit more efficient, but you’ll still want to use it exclusively for making emergency calls.

    1Tac 1200 Tactical Flashlight

    4.7 / 5 SR Rating
    Pros
    1. 1200 lumens USA made Cree LED emitter
    2. aircraft grade aluminum alloy that keeps the flashlight working in boiling or freezing water
    3. 25x brighter than regular flashlights
    4. 30 day money back guarantee
    Cons
    1. warranty period could be longer
    Summary
    The military grade 1Tac 1200 is a lightweight flashlight that will take a lot of punishment and still work. What makes it different from other tactical flashlights is that it is US made, it will still work if it is dunked in freezing or boiling water and it is water resistant to IP65 standards (its construction protects it from water jets from any angle and makes it dust resistant). The 1Tac 1200 flashlight weighs 5.6 oz (by itself) or about 7oz with 3 AAA batteries. 1Tac usually offers good deals if you buy 2 or more flashlights. If you do buy more, put one in your bug out bag and one in your car. Keep one on your person at all times when camping or in an outdoor setting.
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    Gerber StrongArm Survival Knife

    4.8 / 5 SR Rating
    Pros
    1. tough blade built for emergency applications
    2. solid grip
    3. multi use modular sheath
    4. striking pommel
    Cons
    1. some people complain about receiving it with a dull blade and having to sharpen it right out of the box; blade is high quality otherwise
    Summary
    The Gerber StrongArm knife is designed in Portland, Oregon for survival and military applications. The modular sheath allows for multiple types of carry:
    • vertically on MOLLE
    • on your backpack's hip belt
    • on your leg
    The knife weighs 7.2 oz and has a striking pommel that can be used for self defense or for breaking through hard surfaces.
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    Bring Your Own Shelter & Sleep Like A Baby

    Finding a quality 4 season tent for your bug out bag is hard. Mainly because the ones that do their job AND are also lightweight cost as much as a small kingdom (such as this RAB Latok Summit 2 person tent. A very good skill that will come handy over and over again is learning how to attach a sleeping bag and tent to your bug out bag.

    Alps Mountaineering 5255605

    4.8 / 5 SR Rating
    Pros
    1. full coverage fly with two vestibules
    2. lifetime warranty
    3. 4 season protection
    Cons
    1. 7 lbs 7oz weight
    Summary
    The ALPS Mountaineering 5255605 4 season tent is backed by a lifetime warranty and has been field tested by a few people in cold conditions. This tent will be your home away from home in times of need or when you go camping.
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    Winner Outfitters Mummy Sleeping Bag

    4.7 / 5 SR Rating
    Pros
    1. lightweight 2.8 lbs sleeping bag
    2. SBS quality zipper
    3. temperature rating up to 20 F
    4. soft lining
    Cons
    1. some buyers have complained about the stuff sack but customer service seems to be receptive and they replace faulty ones
    Summary
    The Winner Outfitters Mummy Sleeping Bag is a very good match for your B.O.B. It has a hard to find combination of light weight and low temperature rating and it has a no questions asked refund policy.
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    Choose Your Clothes Like The Pros

    While the myth that you lose the most heat through your head has been debunked, it is still very important to dress properly for the weather outside. In a survival situation, your outfit will vary with the weather outside and the emergency you are faced with.

    There are two types of clothing articles that will serve you well no matter what your facing – shoes and gloves.

    It is hard to make a recommendation when it comes to survival shoes because there are so many different sizes, for men, for women, etc. However, what you should be looking for is a pair of all season waterproof running shoes. It is important to get a quality pair of bug out shoes for the following reasons:

    • they will last more than cheaper shoes (sometimes by years, varies depending on care and use)
    • they will not hurt your feet and help you maintain a rapid pace
    • they will keep your feet warm and dry
    • your feet are the part of your body that has the most contact with the ground when you’re running away from something. Protecting them is a very good idea

    Youngstown Waterproof Gloves

    4.5 / 5 SR Rating
    Pros
    1. waterproof
    2. windproof and cold weather resistant
    3. weighs 5.6 oz
    Cons
    1. a lot of people say that these gloves are water resistant. As opposed to waterproof, water resistant means they are able to resist water penetration to some degree. For example, when submerged in water they might keep it away only for a limited time.
    2. just like shoes, the perfect pair of gloves will vary from person to person
    Summary
    The Youngstown Waterproof gloves will make a great addition to your B.O.B.:
    • they will protect your hands against the cold
    • they will protect your hands when working. For example, when you are building a shelter, chopping wood, pushing away debris, etc
    • they will keep your hands dry (results vary with use)
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    Some other clothing articles you should pack in your bug out bag are:

    • 2 x trekking pants and long-sleeve bug tops (tick resistant)
    • 3-4 pairs of socks and 2-3 pairs of underwear
    • rain poncho
    • waterproof beanie
    • insulated jacket
    • insulated thermal pants and insulated thermal top
    • fleece top

     

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    Conclusion

    While it’s easy to buy stuff for your bug out bag, it is very hard to buy the right stuff, keep the weight in check and pack it accordingly. I hoped you enjoyed this guide. Please bookmark it as we are getting ready to update it with the 2018 best bug out bag products.
    Don’t forget to say hello and drop your own B.O.B. tips in the comments section.
    Summary
    The Perfect Bug Out Bag 2017
    Article Name
    The Perfect Bug Out Bag 2017
    Description
    Why you should have a bug out bag. The perfect bug out bag list, how to put a B.O.B. together and general bug out survival ideas.
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    Publisher Name
    Survival Report
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