A “Bug Out Bag” is a term borrowed from the US military that describes a bag that contains essential items that will keep a person comfortable for a couple of days. It stays packed with essential items, and can be grabbed to go, anytime, and will sustain someone for around 72 hours.
A Bug Out Bag might be stored in a car trunk or a closet. The only rule is to not pilfer the bag for items here and there. Always have it packed and have any items, like batteries, that might expire or go bad, get checked regularly, and know that they are in working order.
Here are a few ideas about what kind of things might go into a proper Bug Out Bag.
If you are going to be roughing it, you will need a tarp (or a couple of tarps), some heavy-duty trash bags, a length of braided nylon rope, and at least one wool blanket. The tarp and rope can be made into shelter, the plastic bags can be used to gather water or to keep water off of you.
A reflective metallic blanket takes up almost no room to pack. Another option is always to have a proper tent and sleeping bag, depending on how much gear you want to lug in your Bug Out Bag.
72 hours worth of water is on top of the list of needs. A gallon of water per adult per day is a rule of thumb; this amount includes some water for preparing food, and to brush teeth, etc.
If space is a huge issue, or if the 72 hour kit might be spent in a natural environment, a water filtration straw or other water filters can help cut down on some space by providing drinking water that is taken from the environment.
Adding 2 drops of Tincture of Iodine added to a quart of clear water will help kill most disease/illness-causing bacteria or organisms. If the water is cloudy, add 10 drops. In either case, let the water sit for 30 minutes before drinking. Be aware that this will alter the taste, and the color, of the water.
Some MREs (freeze-dried food) can easily be prepared with a pre-packed heating element and some nice items that usually come in the MRE package, like seasonings, coffee crystals, and toilet paper. (Don’t forget the toilet paper!)
Bring at least three ways to start a fire easily, to cook on, provide light, and keep you warm. Options are a good lighter, a magnifying glass, wind and waterproof matches, or flint or ferro that sparks when struck with the blunt side of a knife.
Having some tinder that is especially flammable is good advice – flammable tinder can be cotton balls soaked in vaseline, dryer lint dipped in wax, or even dry, greasy snack foods like chips or nuts.
It’s a good idea to bring some extra candles. A good lamp with spare batteries, or a good flashlight is both advisable to have.
A dry change of warm clothes, dry boots, and an insulated raincoat or snow coat is a good start as far as clothing. Thick, wool socks, winter gloves, and a winter hat and scarf will keep you warm.
A high-quality trauma kit or medical/first aid kit should be in every serious Bug Out Bag. A first aid kit contains basic items like bandages, tape, ointment for cuts, bug spray, sunscreen, a thermometer, and lastly a small selection of OTC medications for pain, fever, allergic reaction, nausea, and diarrhea.
A trauma kit gets a little more serious, with contents to prevent hemorrhage and a subsequent case of shock, like items to be used for a tourniquet, sterile suture, compression bandages, slings, and splints.
A high-quality hunting or camping knife will be your best friend, helping with cooking, survival, crafting items, and more. A multi-purpose tool with another, smaller knife and a variety of other tools is recommended.
Bring a quality, recent map of the area if you cannot rely upon GPS. Also grab a working compass, for this reason. A flare gun can be a lifesaver if you happen to ever become lost in a thickly wooded area. Bring colored tape to mark off trees, for the same purpose in a situation that you need to alert any passersby that you need assistance.