At this site (and many sites all over the web), we’ve talked a lot about What to Pack in Your Bug Out Bag. Since a BOB is all about survival, we focus on the key areas – like the items which will provide you with shelter, food, water, warmth, and personal security.
However, there is no one “best” Bug Out Bag packing list!
Everyone is going to have very different needs based on aspects like their location, their group size, their personal health and physical abilities…
I’m not saying that you should include all 25 of the items in this BOB list. Rather, the purpose of this list is to get you thinking about some of the items you might have forgotten in your Bug Out Bag which are crucial for your unique needs.
1. Spare Glasses
My wife wears glasses, so this is a must-have for us. We got her some really cool “unbreakable” glasses and keep a spare in her Bug Out Bag.
2. Extra Socks
You don’t need that much clothes in your BOB (1 change of clothes should do), but feet are important. Have an extra pair of wool or synthetic socks (they dry faster) to prevent blisters.
3. Water purification tablets
Having a water filter in your BOB is a good start, but water filters won’t remove viruses. Since you don’t always have time to boil water, make sure you bring some water purification tablets along too. Confused about water purification? Read this article on the 9 Water Purification Methods and what they treat.
4. Oral Hydration Salts
During disaster survival situations, diarrhea and vomiting are always a top ailment. It happens when people eat contaminated food, drink unpurified water, or just catch a germ due to crowded, unsanitary conditions. Dehydration can kill you! Make sure you have oral rehydration salts in your Bug Out Bag to treat dehydration. If you are interested in how they work, read this article.
5. Personal Medications
See if your doctor will prescribe you extra meds so you can keep them in your BOB. Pay attention to their expiration dates and how they need to be stored. Meds will probably go bad quickly if kept in the trunk of your car.
6. Personal Documents
In a total SHTF situation, your ID is going to be worthless. But we aren’t just prepping for complete SHTF scenarios. We prep for ALL types of disasters. So make sure you have your personal documents available. Read What to Pack in Your Bug Out Binder here.
7. Pictures of Family Members
Remember after Katrina when at least 100,000 people were separated from their families? If you get separated from your family members, you'll need their photos to help locate them.
8. Internal Dry Sack
No backpack is completely waterproof. A rain cover is good for keeping your items dry. But what if you need to quickly cross a river without taking off your pack? This is where an internal dry sack comes in handy. If you aren't familiar with them, Carryology has a good article on dry bags.
9. Trash Bags
There are dozens of reasons to pack trash bags in your BOB. For starters, they can act as a poncho, rain cover, or a ground cover so you don’t have to sit on cold, wet ground.
Normally you should never take antibiotics without consulting a doctor. But, in a SHTF situation, you’ll be happy to have antibiotics. Maybe your doctor will prescribe you extra antibiotics to keep handy. Or you can get fish antibiotics. Read this article about Fish Antibiotics for Survival here.
When you’ve got a rash on your @ss you’ll be glad you have these. When you are stinky and disgusting and want to clean yourself, again you’ll be glad.
12. Hat or Bandana
As someone who is balding and prone to sunburn in my head, I can attest to how important it is to have a hat or bandana to protect you against the sun. The bandana has more uses than a hat, so it is probably the better choice for most people.
13. Pepper Spray
A lot of preppers keep a gun in their Bug Out Bag. But I’d say it is also good to have a non-lethal form of self defense too. Pepper spray is a good option because it won’t just protect you from people, but from animals too. Plus, it is silent whereas a gun could give away your location.
14. Potassium Iodide Tablets
If you live near nuclear facility, then you will need these Potassium Iodide Tablets to protect yourself from fallout.
15. Heavy Duty Work Gloves
When bugging out through an urban area, you will likely come across a lot of rubble, broken glass, and burning items. Having rip-proof gloves can give you an edge here.
16. Face Mask
If you want a reason for why having a face mask is so important for your Bug Out Bag, look no further than September 11th. Thousands of people are still dying from the terrorist attack because of diseases like cancer that they got from inhaling toxic particulates which were released into the air. A gas mask is the safest option, but is fairly impractical and quite pricy. For most, a N95 mask is a good option. Read about N95 Masks here.
18. A Way to Get Into Locked Places
I’m not condoning theft, but in a SHTF situation you will want a lock picking set, axe, pry bar, or other tool to help you get into places. There are tons of lock-picking classes online (like this one). Just buy some locks and tools and follow along.
19. Pocket Chainsaw
20. Emergency Radio
22. Sewing Kit
I have a sewing needle in my EDC kit. Instead of sewing thread, I use dental floss. It is stronger than thread, waterproof, and also keeps your teeth clean. 🙂
23. Wilderness Survival Guide
Depending on your location and level of knowledge, you might want a guide on wild edibles, how to make animal traps, or how to make a survival shelter in your Bug Out Bag.
From wilderness survival to field guides and reference books – we've reviewed them all.
Have you ever tried to take a dump in the woods while holding a flashlight? If so, then you know why a headlamp is important! Further, a headlamp means your hands are free and will really help if you need to flee somewhere at night.
25. Something to Help You Keep Your Sanity
Mental survival is just as important as physical survival. So go ahead and pack some comfort or entertainment items which will help you stay sane through the disaster. I’ve got a deck of playing cards in my Bug Out Bag.
What else would you add to this list of commonly forgotten Bug Out Bag items? Let us know in the comments or join the discussion on our Facebook page!