4 Real-Life Bug Out Bags: List, Contents and Essentials

The contents of your Bug Out Bag are one of the most important things you need for disaster preparedness. We’ve talked about this a lot before at Primal Survivor.

But, as we’ve said many times, each person has different needs. A BOB for a fit young man, for example, will look a lot different than those of a family.

To give you an idea of how different Bug Out Bags can be, check out these 4 examples of Bug Out Bag essentials.

Not all of these Bug Out Bag contents are perfect, but looking at what they include and don’t include should help you decide what to put in your pack.


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Example 1: The Military Bug Out Bag

military bug out bag contents

A female military veteran created this Bug Out Bag. She’s done a good job choosing her BOB items, including a few things you don’t often see – like the collapsible washbowl.

She’s chosen a great survival knife (a khukuri), which would be much more useful in the wilderness than your standard folding knife. The basha pole (see here for more types of fighting stick) is excellent, but I wouldn’t recommend it to preppers unless you know how to use it in combat.

It was also really smart for her to add waterproof pants to her BOB in addition to the standard waterproof jacket/poncho. If you’ve ever gone backpacking in the rain, you know what I am talking about!

Bug Out Bag Contents

*Not pictured:

Example 2: Backdoor Survival Bug Out Bag

backdoor survival bug out bag contents

This Bug Out Bag was made by the good people over at Backdoor Survival. I want to point out that this is the only Bug Out Bag here that includes COPIES OF IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS.

As I talk about in this post about emergency binders, you must have copies of documents like your ID, passport, health insurance, etc., in case rescue workers need them. Not every disaster will bring about TEOTWAWKI, so you’ll want these for semi-SHTF scenarios!

They also included some other really practical items – like TOILET PAPER. It isn’t necessary and does take up a lot of space, but you’ll probably be happy to have some TP around when SHTF. See toilet paper alternatives and toilet paper tablets.

Note that Bug Out Bags are supposed to be the minimum supplies you need for survival immediately after disaster strikes. So, a knife sharpener isn’t strictly necessary. It is small and lightweight, though, so why not bring it along?

I would have included a more durable flashlight, preferably a winding one, in case the batteries go out.

Bug Out Bag Contents 

Example 3: The Budget Bug Out Bag

budget bug out bag contents

This is an excellent example of building a Bug Out Bag on a budget. There are some higher-quality items in this BOB (like the knives), but they are older and passed down. While this Bug Out Bag is a pretty good start (more than the average person has!), there are quite a few flaws here.

Instead of including 4 knives in the kit (yes, there are 4 knives here!), I would have opted for one really good quality survival knife with a fixed blade. Fixed blades are much stronger than folding knives, and a quality blade will allow you to do things like cutting wood. Or, he could have packed 1 fixed blade and 1 folding knife. Read how to select a good survival knife.

I would have also opted for a wind-up flashlight instead of carrying all those spare batteries.

And there should be some sort of tarp or tent in this Bug Out Bag. A wool blanket isn’t much good when you don’t have a roof over your head!

Bug Out Bag Contents

Example 4: Secondary Bug Out Bag

secondary bug out bag contents

This is a SECONDARY Bug Out Bag – meaning it contains the gear which isn’t used as often, so the main Bug Out Bag can be free.

There are some nice additional items here – like the zinc oxide tape and mini fishing kit.

The addition of gloves is nice, too, especially for urban survival situations where you might have a lot of broken glass or rubble.

Bug Out Bag Contents 

  • Northface jacket
  • Towel
  • Hat, thermal top, socks, underwear
  • Large ziplock bag
  • Drybag
  • Coleman gas burner with cartridge
  • Katadyn water filter
  • Spoon, pot, and lid
  • Lighter and matches
  • LED light and 2 12-hour chemical lights
  • Gloves
  • Mini fishing kit
  • Latex gloves and zinc oxide tape
  • Bandage, safety pins, and scalpel in tin
  • Gerber survival knife
  • Ration pack meals – find out how to buy cheap MREs online
  • Sleeping bag

How does your Bug Out Bag compare to these?

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  1. Consider getting skilled using a “Sling Bow.” Silent, easily packed and I would not want to be in front of either when released within 50 feet. I’ve seen sling bows bring down a buffalo and ball shot explode cans of water. So, one of those and an assortment of steel balls would work for hunting smaller game and with the correct arrows, deer or larger. Remember the first Americans. They had what they could make from what they could find wherever they were in order to do the job and were extremely successful survivors for centuries.

  2. She is providing cursory lists and “food for thought.” I’m not a survivalist by a longshot nor do I claim to be, but I am a “get ‘er done” type.

    Look around you, see what you MUST have and think and pack accordingly. You won’t need a kitchen sink although there is a rucksack by goes that name and will work if you’re a weightlifter.

    Emergency planning is an ongoing process that waiting until the last minute will result in a lot of “Oh, $hytt I need but forgot to pack that.”

    And remember to not only pack what you’ll need but consider your physical abilities and what you are able to possible carry for several miles or more. Think 72 hours best case to 7-days as a worst-case scenario.

    So, unless you’re young, a trained and properly provisioned former Army Ranger, Special Forces or Navy Seal, there’s no way for you to “never go home again.” Disappearing require such skills and may be overly idealistic. The rest of us will just have to do as best we can with what we have so looking for the ideal list tailored for you doesn’t exist.

  3. Don’t forget to have a diesel 4×4 pickup. Preferably the Ford or Dodge with the twin alternators. Also have a 3k and 4k inverter for each battery. Add to that a 55 gallon drum or two of diesel fuel. It will keep for 8 to 10 months. Both the Ford and Dodge 6.7L will burn 5 to 6.5 gallons per hour idling with the inverter running at full load. The GMC Duramax will take 7 to 8 gallons.

    The truck also has a ham radio and CB radio. I also have a sat phone available in the backseat door.

    As far as a gun in the bug-out bag? I want magazines and ammo. I will have my gunbelt on with the 10mm and the carbine handy.

  4. We live in the desert. Most bug out bags are not designed to meet the particular requirements of a 40 degree difference in daytime and nighttime temps, with daytime temps 100 degrees (F) or greater. There’s also a distinct lack of trees, fishing opportunities, and most common foragable (is that a word?) foods. I’ve taken a shot at it, but know I’ve missed something. Any good references you can suggest?

    • You’d definitely need more gear and food. But, in this case, you really need to learn some desert survival skills. Also, the best solution to any SHTF situation is to get out early. The earlier you are out, the less likely you are to have issues with fleeing that would get you stuck in the desert. Have a good bug out plan in place in addition to your bag.

  5. All very well thought of items. Ive found rolling up garbage bags n foil is on my list. Pepper spray n i will purchase wasp spray. Im not thinking of moving from home but still you never know. I found buying special clips to hang on the bags allow extra items included.no guns here in Aust its illegal without a permit

  6. Again, a Great article!

    The one (Glaring) thing I noticeably saw Missing from All these BOB’s was a Firearm!
    Especially the first one….it’s called a “Military Bug Out Bag” (with no firearm)?

    In my opinion, some sort of firearm is absolutely necessary in a BOB.

    At least a pistol! And if not that, a folding .22 rifle like the Henry .22 Survival Rifle that fits easily into even a small BOB.


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