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 health, and their physical abilities.
I’m not saying you should include all 25 items in this article. Instead, its purpose is to get you thinking about some things you might have forgotten in your Bug Out Bag, which are crucial for your unique needs.
BUG OUT BAG CHECKLIST
Get organized fast with our completely free checklist.
1. Spare Glasses
My wife wears glasses, so this is a must-have for us. We got some cool “unbreakable” (Amazon link) glasses and keep a spare in her Bug Out Bag.
2. Extra Socks
You don’t need that many clothes in your BOB (1 change of clothes should do), but feet are essential. Have an extra pair of wool or synthetic socks (they dry faster) to prevent blisters. More on survival socks.
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, bring some water purification tablets (Amazon link) 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 common ailments. People eat contaminated food, drink unpurified water, or catch a germ due to crowded, unsanitary conditions. Dehydration can kill you! Make sure you have oral rehydration salts (Amazon link) 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 documents available. Read What to Pack in Your Emergency 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 entirely 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 (Amazon link) comes in handy.
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 ground cover, so you don’t have to sit on cold, wet ground.
Usually, 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. Perhaps you can research some natural antibiotics. Or you can get fish antibiotics.
You’ll be glad you have these when you’ve got a rash on your @ss. 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 (Amazon link) 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 weapon in their Bug Out Bag. But I’d say it is also good to have a non-lethal form of self-defense. Pepper spray (Amazon link) is a good option because it won’t just protect you from people but animals too. Plus, it is silent, whereas a gun could give away your location.
Recommended Reading: Best Pepper Spray For Self Defense
14. Potassium Iodide Tablets
If you live near a nuclear facility, you need these Potassium Iodide Tablets (Amazon link) to protect yourself from fallout.
15. Heavy Duty Work Gloves
When bugging out through an urban area, you will likely encounter a lot of rubble, broken glass, and burning items. Having cut-resistant gloves (Amazon link) can give you an edge here.
Recommended Reading: Best Survival Gloves
16. Face Mask
If you want a reason why having a face mask is so important for your Bug Out Bag, look no further than September 11th. Thousands of people still die from the terrorist attack because they inhaled toxic particulates. A gas mask is the safest option, but it is pretty impractical and quite pricy. For most, an N95 mask is a good option.
A blister can really slow you down! Have moleskin (Amazon link) in your Bug Out Bag first aid kit to treat them.
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 another tool to help you get into places. There are tons of lock-picking classes online (like this one).
19. Pocket Chainsaw
This pocket chainsaw (Amazon link) is a great EDC tool that takes up very little space but can be used for cutting through branches, such as if you need to make a shelter.
20. Emergency Radio
Without an emergency radio (Amazon link), how will you know what is happening in the world? Here’s How to Choose an Emergency Radio.
If you are bugging out by car, pack a siphon (Amazon link), so you can get more gasoline. Learn how to siphon gas.
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.
Have you ever tried to take a dump in the woods while holding a flashlight? If so, you know why a headlamp (Amazon link) is essential! Further, a headlamp means your hands are free and will help if you must flee somewhere at night.
Read more about rechargeable headlamps.
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 that 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.
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My needlepoint; I have small ones and threads to stitch with. Will be getting some more.
purchased waxed thread from a fly fishing shop. It increases the tensile strength.
Vaseline and cotton balls for fire starter works great
Black Pepper. It is very lightweight , the granularity does not matter. Not only is it a good way to stop bleeding but helps mask the scent of blood from any predators in the area. It is a quick way to not only seal a cut effectively with the minimal use of bandages which will be more scarce as you go but also provides a protective scab to help prevent infection. It is also important to clean the cut first and should not be used on any cuts that would require more than 2 or 3 stitches. The scar is minimal and believe it or not it is painless , and can cause some numbness to the effected area. Not only is it cheap today but the canisters can be reused later for keeping things dry for the most part.
Wow! I’ve never heard of this pepper trick. Maybe mix it with sugar for antibiotic properties??? Thanks 🙂
The problem with ’21. Siphon’ is that most cars built since the mid-1990s have an anti-rollover valve on all the openings into a gas tank… this acts as an anti-siphoning technology… you can’t just put a hose down the into a gas tank and get gasoline flowing.
But with the proper tools, you can ransack every car you come across for its fuel: an awl or screwdriver, a hammer, a plastic container (like an oil changing pan), and a long-neck funnel are all you need. Oh, and it’ll take TWO people to accomplish this task. Three if you want someone there for security purposes.
Make a hole in the gas tank as far UP as you can get it to act as an air hole, then put the plastic container under the gas tank and make a hole in the LOWEST portion of the gas tank. Be prepared to stopper the low hole with a vinyl-gloved finger when the plastic container gets pretty full… empty the gas into a gas can using the long-necked funnel and put the plastic container back under the low hole in the gas tank to catch the remaining fuel. Repeat until the tank is empty or your gas containers are full or the zombie horde shows up. 😉
Awesome stuff TX. Thanks for sharing.
You could also make a siphon hole near the top past the anti-siphon stuff. Be easier to collect I think.
Knee pads nail clippers,and socks not just a few All of them, Wool blanket , rethink your assessment and reviewing your gear rips and TLC ,,Gator chin cover awesome boots and all purpose same as gloves & EYE protection neck warmer and Hoodies 2is 1 &1 is None,a 45$ Value F.A.K.first aid kit be familiar with items you got Knowledge will Thrive you over Skills come After
I agree with you Stephane,
I would also add a fire starter, vitamins (in case your diet isn’t at its best), sunscreen, and cordage. Pack for the appropriate season. If it’s Winter, add some of those nifty hand warmer packets that you can often find at farm stores, outdoor equipment or sporting goods stores. Even if you needed to bug out, you can still have some small comforts from home. Bring some tea bags, a nice cup of tea will chase away that Winter chill.
I bought a stainless steel cup with lid for my BOB. Inside the cup I pack instant coffee packs, tea bags, sugar and sweet n low packs, hot chocolate packs, lipton cup of soup pack, oatmeal packs, and Bouillion cubes. The cup is small but holds quite a bit if you use packets. When I am in a fast food restaurant I will look for the misc. things that will pack well. My favorite find was honey packs. My baseball coach always preached… It is the little things that will win the game!
Corsage, definitely cordage.
A compact mirror comes in handy for signaling or fire starting.
I would bring in addition to the vitamins when food gets too low, is a diet pill. For the reason it gives you energy and at the same time you don’t feel hungry.
I’m not sure if this is already in the comments, but I like to keep various sources of light- battery powered, friction powered, & solar powered. Also, I recommend duct tape, ziplock baggies, foil, vaseline, GPS locator and/or whistle or foghorn, all-weather-proof writing materials and/or sleeve for writing materials & maps, sturdy rope, tree tags or torn bright fabric for marking your way, spare fire starters, & several rock climbing tools (most of which can be used for various tasks). I have a longer list, but most I figure people already know .