What is a Bug Out Bag?
The Bug Out Bag is also known as the 72 Hour Kit. It is designed to support an individual for a minimum period of 3 days as far as basic comfort, sanitation and consumption needs.
Why You Should Have A Bug Out Bag.
Things happen! Nobody wants to leave their home and it should be a last resort, but the reality is when you need to flee your home quickly a bug out bag can make things much better for you. Not only will it enable you to get out immediately, it will also insure that you didn’t forget anything that will make your situation easier or perhaps even save your life.
FEMA offers a great database on likely disasters in your area that you might want to prepare for . Many of these disasters can drive you away from your home in very short notice. Disasters like fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, etc. can cause you and your family to flee for your lives.
There are also other things that can make it very difficult and dangerous for you to stay at your home such as: Pandemics, riots, hazardous material accidents, terrorist activity, long term blackouts, etc. Nobody thinks these things could happen to them until it does and if you’re not prepared it could be too late.
What Kind Of Bag Should You Have?
Some of the things I look for in a good bag for this purpose are:
It must be rugged. Your bag should be well made with a material and stitching that can withstand some abuse and hold up well.
Hands free carry. Although this isn’t absolutely necessary it will make fleeing on foot much easier if you need to. A backpack style bag will enable you to carry more weight comfortably and free up your hands.
Lots of pockets and compartments. We call this a modular bag, one that has separate compartments and pockets to keep things organized and easily accessible. Again this isn’t an absolute necessity but will make things much easier when you need to retrieve something from your bag quickly.
Can hold everything you need. You will need a large bag, one that you can put all of your 72 hour kit in and not exceed the carrying capacity. However you do need to be realistic about how much weight you can actually carry, There are very large bags out there that may hold more than you are able to lug around for very long. Remember this bag will be containing absolute necessities not providing you with all your luxuries.
What Goes In The Bag?
There may be slight adjustments to this list depending on where you live or your situation but these would be the basics of what you might want to put in your bag.
3 days of clothing. This will be practical wear for your situation not clothing for a vacation.
Water. As much as you can fit in the bag after everything else. You will not be able to carry the water you will need for 72 hours.
Food. Take something you like to eat and that will provide you with the nutrition and calories you will need but you will also want to consider the size and weight of what you are taking. MRE’s (meals ready to eat) are a good option but you may want things like beef jerky, foil pack tuna or maybe even peanut butter for your bag.
Wet wipes. These can be useful to maintain staying reasonably clean and sanitary.
A way To purify water. A filter for water purification will be a nice addition to the bag but nothing beats building a fire and boiling water to insure it is safe to drink.
Cutting tools. Having these items can do a lot for you, they can cut wood for a fire, cut rope or even build you a shelter. Having 3 types of cutting tools it necessary for my bag. A hatchet, a large hunting knife and a swiss army knife are what I carry.
A way to start a fire. You may need to boil water, cook food, keep warm or create a signal so having the ability to make a fire is a must have for your bag and you may want more than one way. Waterproof matches, lighter, ferro rod and striker are all excellent additions to the bag and they don’t take up a lot of space.
Cordage. With a cutting tool and cordage you can make shelter, set traps, catch fish, make nets, make just about anything. You can carry 100 feet of cordage with almost no weight if you select the right kinds.
Container. You are looking for light weight but metal containers. You must be able to boil water and cook in at least one container that you carry.
A way to make a cover. A small durable tent is fine but also take up quite a bit space in your bag. A canvas tarp may be a more practical option and can be used for other things.
Rain gear. You should probably pack a good rain suit in your bag, hiking for miles when you’re soaked to the bone can be exhausting and in some situations dangerous.
A good flashlight. Preferably a metal body tactical light that is durable and trustworthy with a long battery life. Maglites are a great option but there are other quality flashlights as well.
Radio. This is an important item to have to stay up to date on the situation and many of the emergency radios out today have the ability to charge by solar or hand crank and usually have a usb port to charge cell phones. The one I have is the Kaito KA500RED 5-Way Powered Emergency AM/FM/SW Weather Alert Radio and I really like it.
Medical Kit. Unfortunately these can get heavy and bulky quick so consider just taking a small kit with the basics in case of a medical emergency.
A method of self defense. Of course you need to decide what you want this to be but I prefer non lethal self defense in my bag. A canister of high quality pepper spray could save your life in an a bad situation.
A compact sleeping bag. If you live in an area that has year round warm nights than this actually may not be necessary but instead perhaps a sleeping pad may be more useful. For most areas a good sleeping will probably be necessary to survival.
Documentation. Have important information on paper in your bag. Most people today don’t worry about things like phone numbers and addresses because we keep that information in our phones, but what if you lose or break your phone?
There are many other things you could consider adding to your bag if you can find room. Fishing Kit, Snare Wire, Small Tool Kit, Hammock, Pens, Paper Pads, GPS, etc. at this this point it is all about size and weight. What will your pack hold and how much can you comfortably carry, being over exhausted from carrying to much can really slow you down and could be dangerous.
Bags Packed! Now What?
Keep your bag in a place that is easily and quickly accessible. What good is having a pack that is ready to go if you can’t get to it in a moments notice.
Know how to use everything in your pack. Make sure you know how to set up your tent or make a shelter. Practice building fires even if it is wet outside.
Have a plan. Know exactly when it’s time to make use of your bug out bag. Waiting to long could be a fatal error so know ahead of time what the situation has to be and don’t hesitate when and if the time comes.
Have an escape route. Well more than one that is. You need to have options for where to bug out to.
Stay in hiking shape. I’ve seen many “preppers” that think they are prepared for anything, including bugging out that can’t walk up a flight of stairs without breathing heavily. You may have to walk many miles over brutal terrain so make sure your body can handle it if the time comes.