The Basics of a Bug-Out Bag—Your Key to Survival!

Jan 25, 2024

Bug-out bags are one of the most useful concepts ever invented. Why? Because you never know when you are going to find yourself in trouble! Having an escape plan, rather than wasting time packing, can be the difference between life and death.

As humans, when we are faced with a disaster or life-threatening instance, we only have one thought in our mind: Survival. This does not mean that bug-out bags can only be used when you are in trouble. There are so many more uses!

Picture yourself getting home one day and you find out there has been a gas leak in your house and you must leave your house immediately. Instead of needing to first think about packing, you have your exit strategy easily accessible with all you need.

Maybe your city is prone to hurricanes and other natural disasters. When evacuation sirens are heard, the last thing you want to do is still hunt for items in your house and have frenzied thoughts on what you need to pack. Simply grab your bug-out bag and evacuate.

Perhaps your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. There is no cellphone signal and you have to spend the night in the woods. Having your bug-out bag, with enough resources for 72 hours, will make a world of difference.

You see, bug-out bags are more than just a bag filled with everyday stuff. It is your survival kit. It is what will make your emergency situation that much easier to handle. It is a must-have and this is how you can make your own!

The Basics of a Bug-Out Bag—Your Key to Survival!

It is important to know that there are different types of bug-out bags. Some are based on weight, and others are based on the type of excursion or emergency you are planning for.

For example, you won’t pack a one-day bug-out bag if you are preparing for a house evacuation. The reverse is also true. You won’t pack enough items for seven days if you are going on a road trip for one day. Finding the best fit is all about planning!

To give you a bit of insight as to what different types of bug-out bags there are, we are going to break them down into levels based on weight, the size of bag all the items will fit into, and the cost of these bags. They are as follows:

  • Level 1: These bug-out bags are less than 20 pounds in weight, fit into a bag size of no more than 25 liters, and only cost between $400 and $1,100. These bags are usually for standard emergencies such as natural disasters.

  • Level 2: Typically under 35 pounds in weight, your equipment will fit in a 44-liter bag, and will most likely have the sleeping pad and bag attached to the outside. Going for between $800 and $2,300, it is the sleeping gear that makes all the difference!

  • Level 3: These 49-liter bags usually weigh under 45 pounds with a sleeping pad and tent strapped to the outside. Ranging from $1,050 to $2,750, these bug-out bags will keep you safe, healthy, and warm in just about any situation.

If you enjoy planning every detail of your adventures (which we highly recommend), you will be able to choose the most appropriate bug-out bag. If you have absolutely no idea, then we recommend the level 3 bag. You can never be too prepared.

The Basics

Shelter will be one of the most important items in your bug-out bag. Being exposed to nature’s elements with no way of protecting yourself, especially at night, will only result in discomfort, irrational thought patterns, and even the possibility of disease.

A compressible sleeping bag or tarp is usually the way to go as these can either be included inside the bag or strapped on the outside. You don’t need a pillow, you can always use your jackets and jerseys for that!

Making sure you have enough food rations will ensure you remain alive—literally! We recommend a few cans of ‘ready-to-eat’ food, and for those longer journeys, food that needs to be boiled. Just make sure you have everything to make a fire.

Your next big concern should be water. Luckily, water purification tablets are readily available and work like a charm! This should be one of your first items you think of, because without it, drinking water in nature may cause severe illness and diarrhea.

You also want to make sure that you can venture with enough water to sustain yourself should you not find another water source in close proximity. Always make sure you have a one-liter flask available to regularly replenish your hydration levels.

Lighting will be a great concern as soon as the sun sets. Thus, by ensuring you have adequate tinder, a lighter, and a headlamp, you will be prepared to see through the darkest of nights. If you can, bring a mini solar-powered lantern with you.

Finally, Make sure you have a first-aid kit ready and easily accessible. It is easy to trip, fall, and twist your ankle. You need to be prepared with bandages, pain medication, a tourniquet (for severe emergencies), and some antiseptic cream.

The Extras

There are some items that aren’t completely necessary, but definitely do help! Some of the most underrated items you can pack in your bag are wet wipes and items to help keep your sanity. 

Wet wipes are gifts from heaven—they are perfect for washing yourself when access to clean water is non-existent. Not only do they clean, but you smell rather good afterwards too!

When out in the open, or in a bunker, sleep is also of paramount importance. You cannot think rationally if you are tired. This is why we recommend always having a pair of earplugs, a sleeping mask, and a small mental health item (e.g teddy bear) with you.

Sourcing all of these items may require you to go to different stores, so you may opt to purchase a ready-made bug-out bag from an outdoor shop retailer—most should carry them. However, rather tailor your bug-out bag to your personal needs. You’ll thank us afterwards!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Q: Should I always carry a bug-out bag with me?

A: Depending on how prepared you want to be, we would always recommend it! You could even have different bags for different situations. Whether it be in the case of a violent storm, or for a hike up the mountain, you can never be too prepared!

If you plan on always having one at the ready, we recommend making sure that all of the foodstuffs are safe to consume and that the equipment is working well. Regular checking of expiry dates and equipment functioning is not negotiable.

Q: How much of each item do I take?

A: Just enough to sustain you for the period of your journey. For example, if you are doing a three-day hike, make sure you have enough ‘ready-to-eat’ meals for that period. The last thing you want to do is starve in the middle of nowhere.

Q: What happens if I run out of utilities?

A: Being thoughtful with your packing will ensure this doesn’t happen. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this item?” If you don’t, pack less of that, and more useful items like clothes and food. You aren’t there to live a life of luxury, you are there to survive!

Q: Does the bag size really matter?

A: Of course! Imagine lugging a 50-pound bag with you on a one-day adventure. Not only would this be extremely uncomfortable, but the likelihood of you needing all those items in the presence of an emergency remains miniscule at best.

We recommend looking at the type of survival plan you might need, the basic equipment list discussed above, along with resources you find online, to create a personalized bug-out bag—there is no such thing as a  ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to this.

In Summary 

Bug-out bags are useful tools that ensure your survival. Having one readily available when tragedy strikes can help you make it out alive. Remember, your main goal is to survive and a bug-out bag will make this possible.

Our final thoughts? Make sure that you always have something that can purify water, that your food is enough to last your journey, and that your first-aid kits are always stocked up. Doing this will increase your chances of survival when it matters most!