5 Strategies to Keep Your Bug Out Bag from Getting Stolen

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One of, if not THE most important thing you can do to prepare for catastrophe is to pack a Bug Out Bag. Also known as a 72-hour bag, your Bug Out Bag needs to contain everything you need to survive 3 days. Most of us imagine using the BOB in situations such as after an EMP blast, major earthquake, hurricane, or terrorist attack when you’ve got to get out of dodge fast.

Here at Primal Survivor, we’ve talked a lot about Bug Out Bags and have a great 3-Day Bug Out Bag Checklist. But one topic is constantly being overlooked in the discussion about Bug Out Bags:

What if your Bug Out Bag gets stolen?

In fact, your BOB could make you a target and put your life at risk! Imagine the chaos which will ensue after major disaster. When the starving, thirsty, desperate masses see you fleeing with a big pack of supplies on your back, they are going to come after you. In this situation, you’re probably better off not having packed a Bug Out Bag than making yourself a target.

looting SHTF
Looting in New Orleans after Katrina

I want to point out that none of us knows what will happen when SHTF. We can only make educated guesses based on human nature and studies of past disasters. I’ve thought a lot about this and here are some of the strategies I will employ to make sure my Bug Out Bag doesn’t get stolen when SHTF.

1. Flee Early

In most disaster situations, you are probably a lot better off hunkering down at home than fleeing. This is because we are safer on familiar territory. Also, if you were really smart and organized, you get your neighbors on board with your prepping plans so you can rally together for safety in numbers.

If you are going to flee, then do not wait to get the hell out of dodge! The longer you wait, the hungrier and more desperate the masses will be. If you go right after the disaster, then people will still be in too much shock to even look at the cache of supplies on your back.

Of course, if you are going to flee early, you better have a Bug Out Location scouted out. Here is an article about how to choose a BOL.

2. Leave Bug Out Bags at Critical Locations

One BOB simply isn’t going to cut it. Why? Because your BOB could get stolen. Or maybe you simply can’t get to your BOB – such as if the roads to your home are blocked.

You should have a Bug Out Bag at all of the locations you go to frequently. You will also need a Bug Out Bag in your vehicle. And finally you will need one at your Bug Out Location.

Here are some places where you might want to keep Bug Out Bags:

  • Home
  • Work
  • Your vehicle
  • School
  • Your Bug Out Location

3. Pack a Smaller Bug Out Bag

I get a good laugh at some of the Bug Out Bags I’ve seen. While I applaud the forethought and effort that went into packing them, having an 80lb giant BOB is NOT going to help you in a survival situation. All that extra weight is going to put a serious strain on how far and fast you will be able to travel.

As a general rule, your Bug Out Bag should not weigh more than 25% of your body weight. For example, my wife is just 120 pounds so her BOB should not be more than 30lbs. I aim to keep the Bug Out Bag even lighter than this. All of our packs are under 30lbs (including water weight). You really don’t need more than this, even if you have kids.   Remember, the goal of the BOB is to keep you alive, not to keep you comfortable. So leave those comfort items at home!

4. Blend In With the Masses

What’s the secret to urban survival? BLEND IN! A lot has been written on this topic, and I recommend that you start by reading this great article about the art of blending in. It gives some great advice about how your demeanor and appearance can give you away in survival situations and cause you to be targeted. So leave the camo pants and gas mask off – at least until you get out of the city and into the wild.

As far as your Bug Out Bag goes, you can blend it by choosing a smaller, less-conspicuous BOB. This creates a bit of a dilemma because the best Bug Out Bags – the ones which are waterproof and really tough – are often pretty conspicuous.   Use your best judgment when choosing the BOB. If you must, consider concealing the BOB until you get away from people, such as by putting it into a plastic shopping bag so you look like the rest of the terrified masses who just threw some belongings into a bag and ran.

5. Embrace EDC

It is amazing how much you can do with some small Everyday Carry (EDC) items which will fit in your pockets. Some of them can even be worn, like a survival belt or paracord bracelet. I love EDC items because I really get a lot of use out of some of them, even in non-survival situations. I also love the peace of mind knowing that, regardless of where I am when SHTF, I will have these basic items with me even if I can’t get to my BOB.

Again, none of us are psychics and can’t predict what will happen when SHTF. But I’m guessing that it is more likely that someone will try to steal the cache of supplies in my conspicuous BOB than try to steal my paracord bracelet.

Here are some of my favorite EDC items:

  • Paracord bracelet
  • Tactical flashlight
  • Pocket multi-tool
  • Folding knife
  • Fire starter (this is actually in my paracord bracelet)

What’s your backup plan if your Bug Out Bag gets stolen? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook.

+ Image credits: “The ”Looting” in New Orleans: Not Insane” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by  publik15
Project-X Haren 7” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by  npmeijer 


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Leave a comment

  1. This is good advice, but I ran into this page searching for advice on keeping my bug out bag from getting stolen BEFORE a disaster hits. Keeping all my medication, important documents and emergency cash in one easy to grab bag is convenient for me in an emergency, but it’s also convenient for a burglar.

    My current plan is to use a boring looking bag, keep it in a kitchen utility closet (there is other extra stuff in there, it won’t look super out of place), and hope any potential burglar doesn’t have enough time to really poke around. But if you have suggestions, I’m all ears. An extra copy of documents in a safe (or the bank) might be smart too, again, for use if my original is stolen during an average emergency-free day. (I don’t have an office or a car, or I would keep stuff there too.)

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