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Picking & Packing a Bug Out Backpack

Bug Out Bag

What Should be Inside Your Bug Out Backpack

A bug out backpack or bag should be part of your overall survival plans for you and your family. Packing it shouldn’t be a hassle. You probably already have many of the items that you need at home. Gloves, bandages, a flashlight, and extra batteries, just to name a few. Packing the best bug out backpack should start with the essentials that you need to survive… food, water, and shelter.


Choose the food that is light to carry but gives you a lot of energy. When choosing the food you need to pack, the taste is only one factor. Many people assume that canned goods are the best option when prepping for a bug out bag, but this can make your bag too heavy. Think light and calorie-dense… small packs of peanut butter, Tillamook beef jerky, MREs, or freeze-dried meals.

If you have kids with you, remember to bring their favorite foods and snacks. You don’t want to be dealing with bug out issues while your kid is throwing a tantrum. Kids can be picky with food and you can stuff this food inside their bags. This way, you wouldn’t be carrying the weight of their snacks, and children can be given responsibilities during tough times.

Remember to constantly check for the expiration of your food. Even if it is not expired, there could be some kind of leakage. If there is a need for you to change the food, then you can immediately do so.


The average water intake needed for adults is between 1.5 to 2 gallons per day. The challenge with packing this much water is that it can be extremely heavy. Who knows how long the crisis that you’re in will last, so it’s easy to see how you could run out of water that you try to carry with you. Always prepare long-term. The challenge is that you can only put a limited amount of water into bug out backpacks. Remember that there are ways to turn rainwater or water from a creek into drinkable water. This is an important skill you need to learn to survive. This can be as simple as carrying a LifeStraw with you, purification tablets, or having the means to boil water. Try to have two metal canteens or containers, one to gather water and the other to boil it in to purify it.

Shelter and Sleeping

The shelter is one of the most important things in surviving especially if you are in extreme conditions and you have kids with you. Having a tent and sleeping bag would help you survive the most extreme temperatures and weather conditions that you’ll encounter.

When choosing the tent, aside from being lightweight, consider how many people would be inside. Also, consider the climate of the area you are in.┬áSome people are good at making a shelter in the wild, but if you are in the middle of the city, make sure you have something to protect you against the elements. Even in the middle of an emergency, you have to have sleep. While you might be given the chance to sleep, this doesn’t mean you will have a comfortable area. Packing a sleeping bag can help. You might even consider a 2 person sleeping bag.

Something to think about when you have kids, you can bring their favorite stuffed animal to help them sleep. It can be hard to cope in unfamiliar surroundings for us all, but having their favorite toy with them could ease their fear. You can also bring an inflatable pillow since it doesn’t add too much weight. Kids can have their inflatable pillows in their own bags since this would not be too heavy for them to carry.

First Aid Kit

When packing your bug out backpack, this kit should be a priority. Every bag should have one. You are trying to survive, and in most cases, there are always injuries. For adults make sure you have the full first aid kit. While it is the first thing you consider when packing the bag, always put it on top of everything, in a pocket where you can easily reach it, or a molle first aid kit.

Kits should also contain basic medicine for headaches, allergies, and any other medicine that you store at home for emergency purposes. If you or any of the members of your family need certain medications, make sure it is included. There should be short notes on how first aid should be administered. You can also practice administering first aid with your family members or friends. If you have children, make sure you have kid-friendly kits. Some band-aids with cute graphics on them and small child-size reusable ice packs could help them to not be afraid.


Building a fire can sometimes be troublesome. Not everyone has the patience or skill to build one. Preparing a fire starter kit could be very useful in case of an emergency. You can pack a lighter, some matches, and small kindling, like fatwood fire starter, in a small waterproof container. Also consider packing a Ferro rod fire starter and a few cotton balls with vaseline, or even DIY dryer lint fire starter, to help you get a fire started.

Fire starting is an easy skill to practice and one that is vital. You can practice using a Ferro rod while your supplies of lighters and matches last and before an emergency strikes. Fire is essential in survival so if you need to keep moving after an emergency, make sure you always have your fire starters with you.


Pack at least one set of clothing. Depending on the climate you are in, choose the clothing carefully. Do not pack extra shoes. Prepare the most comfortable shoes you have and leave them beside the bag so, in case of an emergency, you can wear them and carry the bag with you. Remember to bring the clothing gear necessary for the climate. If you are in a tropical area and you are evacuating during the rainy season, pack a poncho raincoat with you. Always make sure to have an extra pair of socks. You must keep your feet clean and dry, so always prepare for them. Be sure to check your bag supplies at least every six months and change out your clothing to suit your climate.


During an emergency, there may not be power. Make sure to be prepared with flashlights and a headlamp. If you are able to have both, you have a light option when you need to have both hands free. Also, pack extra batteries for both as you can. A small lantern is another option for when you settle down for the night.


Maps are important. For an emergency, Google Maps might not be working, or the internet is not up and running at all. Having a physical map of the city you are residing in would help you navigate the area during an emergency.


Have a photocopy of all your important documents and put it inside a sealed, waterproof bag. Kids and adults alike should have a copy of these documents in their bags. Make sure your children have some sort of identification and your information as well in case you get separated.

Other tools

If your bag still has extra space, you can add a few items that might be helpful in your survival. One would be a mini sewing kit. You might need to fix that hole in your clothes or sew the seam of your pants. Make sure to pack different sizes of needles and basic colors of threads, as well as a few buttons. A large knife or saw and a rope or paracord might come in handy so you could add them to your bag. Of course, we all know how important duct tape is as well!

Things to consider when packing a bug out backpack


The weight of the bag

How heavy the bag is matters. As important as the specific supplies are that you carry inside your bag, the weight is a big factor. Your survival depends on this bag. You must be able to flee as quickly as you can when it’s necessary, so you can’t be weighed down by a heavy backpack or wasting precious time deciding on what you can take out of it.

The durability of the backpack

A durable bag or backpack is necessary. You don’t know how long you would have to carry it. You need to have a bag that would last you long enough to carry your documents and other necessary things you need to survive. Although most bug out backpacks are prepared only to survive the next 72 hours after a disaster, it is still better to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Make sure you have a bug out backpack that can weather the storm.

Who will be carrying the bag

You should prepare an individualized bag for every family member. Depending on who the bag is for, then you have to decide on the weight, what it needs to contain, and the tags or identification you should be putting on it. How much weight can they carry? What are their diet and medication needs?

Budget for the content of the backpack

Prepping is a challenge for a lot of people because of budget constraints. Prepping is not about getting all the gear and food you want to put in your bag all at once. You can slowly stock up on what you will need for each bag or backpack that you are packing. Keep an inventory of what you need and what you already have so that you are better able to take advantage of any deals or sales you see.

As hard as it is to take everything into account that everyone needs for their best bugout backpack, we hope this article has helped you to be more prepared. We will continue to help in any way that we can to make sure that you and your family are as prepared as you can be for anything that lies ahead.