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To “bug out” literally means abandoning your home (and maybe your entire area) as a response to an emergency situation. It can be anything ranging from a storm, wildfire or any other scenario that could be nearly apocalyptic. But does that mean you should have a bug out bag ready for the moment when disaster strikes? Are bug out bags necessary?
Absolutely – a pre-packed bug out bag (BOB) will keep you alive for the next 72 hours, possibly even longer.
This bag will be your most essential tool when you have no other choice but to run out the door in order to stay alive.
Instead of wasting time on rummaging through drawers, trying to find items you may need, you will simply grab your bug out bag and immediately evacuate yourself and your family to somewhere safe.
The nature of emergencies is so unpredictable and that’s why a pre-packed backpack can save you precious seconds or even minutes.
In such a situation, when every second count, you need to have the essential supplies stored somewhere easy to reach that you can grab and go.
And here’s everything you should know about bug out basics and items that can keep you save and sound in times of trouble!
Why Should You Have a Bug Out Bag?
You should have one if you want to boost your chances of surviving in the wilderness after abandoning your home under extreme emergency situations.
Without a basic survival kit (i.e. a bug out bag), you and your beloved ones would easily become the targets of numerous dangers and threats lurking outside.
It’s thought that nearly half the population has no idea about what they might need when bugging out… ouch!
God forbid you to find yourself in a situation when you have to leave your home in a rush just to remain alive.
But you should always be ready for any catastrophe or disaster, especially in the perilous times that we live in.
In a situation where you are facing any type of threat, whether it be a natural disaster or a war, you don’t have the time to delve into the depths of making the perfect escape plan.
If you have your BOB pre-packed and ready, you will typically be able to get out of your home within one minute.
This also gives you more time to figure out the exact direction you should head towards and reassess your survival options.
If you pack your bug out bag with the right essentials, you will stay alive for the next 3 days, at the very least!
Although the exact number of days that you’ll be able to survive once disaster strikes largely depend on what kind of gear and items you have in your backpack.
Yet, how do you know which are the most important tools and materials to have near at hand?
Fear not – we got you covered in the following chapter!
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What Makes the Perfect Bug Out Bag?
Well, there is no such thing as the perfect bug out bag as every model has its pros and cons.
Just make sure that your backpack is made of durable material that can sustain harsh weather conditions and it has a decent load capacity!
But a bag out bag works best when it’s custom-packed i.e. you choose what to put in.
Try to collect and pack essential items by using some common sense and depending on the area you live in.
Sure, you can always order a pre-stocked bug out bag online and add or remove items that you think would be essential or unnecessary.
However, we will provide you with a few suggestions to help you out if you are not sure which items to prioritize!
What Should be in a 3 Day Bug Out Bag?
Most importantly – fire-starting materials, an emergency blanket/tent, a multi-tool, a flashlight, water and food.
These are the most common items people typically use as part of their survival strategies.
Down below, you will see a list of 10 extra items that can be of great help in any emergency situation where your ultimate goal is to survive.
10 Extra Items to Pack in Your Bug Out Bag
- Maps of the area
- Water bottle
- Emergency rations
- Emergency cash
- Cold weather gloves
Needless to say, you will always need a high-quality bag or backpack that can handle more weight and if possible a waterproof one.
No matter if it is summer or winter, you won’t make it in the wilderness without some sort of fire.
You need fire to boil and purify water, cook and keep yourself warm.
Starting a fire is one of the top 5 survival skills and it will always be this way.
Next, a bivy sack, tent or an emergency blanket is a must-have if you want to protect yourself from the elements.
And without a multi-tool (a flashlight, several folding knives, scissors, pliers and a cutting hook in-one), there is a chance you would end up in a messed up situation and put your life in danger.
5 Most Common Bug Out Bag Mistakes
Here are 5 incredibly common BOB mistakes that you’d want to avoid!
1. Getting the Wrong Bag
A bag too small or too big will only make things worse, trust us.
Either you won’t pack everything you might need in a bug-out scenario or you won’t be able to move as fast and efficiently as you should due to the extra weight of the bag.
Ideally, a ready-to-go bug out bag shouldn’t be heavier than 25% of your own weight.
Walking for a couple of miles with a bag that weighs 40% of your weight will make you grow weary and slow you down, making you easy prey.
However, if you are not in good physical condition, the total weight of the bag shouldn’t go over 10% of your body weight.
And if you live with your family, you can prepare 2 to 3 bags and make sure you take everything you need by spreading the total weight among several people.
Pro tip: Carry your pre-packed bug out bag around your home for a while
This way, you will figure out whether the bag can take on all of the items you need or not.
You will also get a feel of how heavy and bulky the backpack is.
Also – pay attention to the design of the bag.
Ideally, pick neutral colors such as black, gray, brown or military colors.
The thing is – you should blend into the environment, not draw attention by carrying an eye-catching, fluorescence backpack!
2. Packing Unnecessary Items
You won’t survive long if you pack your BOB with non-essential items like board games or toilet paper.
The following items would only take up a place in your bug out bag and add up extra weight, without bringing any life-saving benefits:
- Survival books
- Various toiletries
- Canned food
- Games, cards etc.
Remember that you are trying to survive a disaster, you are not going on a camping trip with your crew.
On the other hand, most people tend to overpack, especially when preparing their BOB in the nick of time.
Give this task some thought and always question the necessity of the items that you choose to include!
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3. Lacking Medical Supplies
Not packing some of the essential medical supplies and first aid items such as painkillers, bandages, antiseptic wipes and gauze pads can get you in a sticky situation rather quickly.
Although you won’t survive much time without water and food, lacking adequate first aid tools can sink your chances to walk out alive as well.
On one hand, exposing your body to the elements may make you nauseous.
And in the worst case possible, you can cut yourself or end up with a broken limb.
You should have something decent (preferably ibuprofen) to numb the pain in case of a mobility injury and several roller bandages to prevent you from bleeding to death.
4. Leaving Sharp Objects Unprotected
There’s no doubt that you are going to need something sharp in your bag, whether it be a multi-tool, simple knife, machete or a compact axe.
But carrying sharp objects means that there’s a chance you could hurt yourself on them.
That’s why you have to make sure to protect the sharp edges of your equipment before packing them in the bag.
Otherwise, you may hurt yourself or someone else and possibly even worse – end up with a torn backpack that is of much use.
5. Packing Too Little Water
You can go for days and even weeks without consuming food but without water… you will last a maximum of 3 to 4 days!
That’s why it’s always a good idea to pack some extra water, just to err on the side of caution.
Pro storage tip: Bring collapsible water bottles instead of water jugs and large containers!
If there is no water source in the area that you find yourself in or if you don’t know how to find water, chances are you will eventually collapse.
As a general rule of thumb – pack at least one gallon of water in your bug out bag.
That will be just enough to get you through the day, although you’ll have to find a source of drinkable water sooner than later.
And if you live in an extremely hot area, you should sacrifice some of the items we listed above and add some more water instead.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bug Out Bags
1. Where should I store my bug out bag?
Store it in an easily accessible place in your home.
However, it would be great to have one more bug out bag packed and ready somewhere else too.
Basically, whenever you spend a lot of time – your office or even your car.
Just make sure that you have easy access to your BOB as you should now know that every second count in emergency situations!
2. What size should my bag out bag be?
Here is how to figure out what size to go for:
- If your torso measures 20 inches or more, go for a large model
- A torso measuring between 18 to 19 ½ inches means that you will need a medium-sized backpack
- For those of you with a torso of 16 to 17 ½ inches, a small BOB would suffice
- And if your torso is only 15 ½ inches, then your best bet would be an extra-small model
An ideal fit would be a bag that sits naturally on your hips.
Or more specifically, you should be able to move freely.
If your bag is too big for your body structure, not only will you risk overpacking but you won’t be able to move as efficiently and you’ll tire yourself out much faster.
On the other hand, if the bag is too small, you will under-pack and possibly leave some essential items behind.
Now that you know the answer to the question ‘are bug out bags necessary’, have you written down which items you would pack in case of emergency?
We recommend you to pack one item from each of the following categories:
- First aid
This way you’ll make sure that you have enough gear to survive for at least 3 days.
Now, have you ever thought about what you would do if you had to leave your house within minutes?
What would you bring with you?
Leave your comments in the section below!
Simo, an outdoor specialist and avid survival enthusiast, brings over 3 years of experience in navigating and thriving in the great outdoors. With an unwavering passion for nature, Simo has honed their skills in various aspects of outdoor exploration, including camping, hiking, and wilderness survival. Their extensive knowledge and hands-on experience enable them to tackle challenges head-on while imparting valuable insights to fellow adventurers. His dedication to promoting outdoor safety and environmental stewardship make them a trusted resource for anyone seeking to embark on unforgettable outdoor experiences.