Whatever you call them – Bug Out Bag (BOB), Go Bag or 72 Hour Bag – they all need to address specific needs for your survival. Water, shelter, and food, respectively, are your primary concerns but in cases of “toughing it out”, a little bit of extra gear can make a huge difference in your quality of life.
As you’ve probably noticed, there are tons of internet listings for what to put in a BOB, and some of them have been compiled after months or years of tweaking. It can be hard to know where to start after reading so much about it. The good news is, if you cover all the basics, your chances of surviving are still better than 99% of those without a plan, or a bug out bag.
We’ve compiled a short list of items you can get from Amazon to fill your Bug Out Bag with the basics, but the items listed are subject to your approval. Chances are, you have a few of the items listed already, but you’ll still need to round out your rough ‘n ready with the essentials.
Total cost for all items listed, not including your personal 1st Aid Kit: $347.25
Click on item name to go to your local amazon store.
Your target duration for creating your BOB should be three days or more. The 72-hour rule only applies to your food and water on hand, not your ability to procure more on your own. Essentially, without collecting any food or water, you need to be set for three days, minimum. The rest of the gear in your bug out bag is how you’ll continue surviving beyond the 72-hour threshold.
The most essential component of survival is drinking (potable) water. Without water, the rest of your survival gear is a moot point beyond a couple days. On average, you’ll only last three days without water.
1 Liter/day per person is the absolute bare minimum. Your BOB should have at least 3 liters of water in it, with the ability to safely get more. Store bought 1L water bottles are great. You can easily swap out the old for the new once a year, but you’ll want more durable ways to contain drinking water safely, for longer.
Nalgene – $6 – 1quart, BPA free
Collapsible water bottle – $14 set of 2 – 20oz
Water Filter $19.88 – 400 gallons
Purification Pills $6.95 50 tablets – 25 quarts’ water
Make water collection easier with a Backpacking Bucket.
Use Coffee Filters or at least a bandana to extend the life of your water filtration system.
For your 3 Day Bug Out Bag, easy to source backpack meals and energy/protein bars are often sufficient. They have a long storage life and tolerate temperature variations (the trunk of your car) well. To heighten your quality of survival life, freeze dried backpack meals are great. Just add boiling-hot water and you can have a welcome hot meal instead of gnawing on beef jerky for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
3 Day Supply $52.96 – 70 servings
Camp Stove $19.99
Protection from the elements and comfort. Those are your two primary concerns when it comes to selecting what clothing items you place in your Go Bag. Whether you want to stand out like a roadside construction sign and cover yourself in safety-orange or you want be a bit subtler and use earth-tones to help with concealment, that’s up to you.
Your clothing items should all be synthetic or wool to help wick moisture, keeping you warm and dry. (Dry being the operative word.). That being said, the only cotton item in your Bug Out Bag should be your bandana. Cotton kills.
Overall, your BOB’s clothes should be exactly what you’d pack on an overnight hiking trip.
Sturdy Boots or Shoes – Your feet are your primary mode of transportation, treat them kindly. If you don’t already wear sturdy footwear on a daily basis, keep a pair of lightweight hiking boots or trail runners in your BOB. Your local outfitter can help you choose a pair that fits your needs. At a bare minimum, keep at least durable sandals or water socks in your bag to keep your feet from getting ravaged by the terrain.
Water Shoes $4.79
Socks – (never cotton) We can’t emphasize enough how important your feet are to your chances of surviving. Good footwear goes a long way, but the socks you’re wearing can make or break you. For this, only wool or so called smart-wool will do. Socks need to be thick at the sole and heel and they also need to wick moisture extremely well. Good socks will make your water shoe experience that much more comfortable. Have at least 2 pair in your Bug Out Bag.
Shirts – (not cotton) Some people say to have one short sleeve and one long in Go Bags. I say long sleeve are the only way to go. Too hot for a long sleeve, one cut will solve that, plus you’ll have extra material to be used for something else. Synthetics are perfect as they are lightweight, don’t absorb water easily but are still warm when wet.
Long Pants (not blue jeans) – Keep at least one pair of pants in your Bug Out Bag. Blues jeans are out. Made out of cotton, once they get wet, they will stay wet, which can lead to hypothermia. At the very minimum, keep a pair of convertible shorts/pants in your BOB. You can use them as shorts when it’s hot and put the legs on when it cools down. Make sure they fit properly and allow a full range of movement. Synthetic but durable of course.
Long Underwear – You’ll want to be able to layer up when the temperature drops at night. Mid-weight underwear can be your key to staying warm and comfy.
Upper and Lower $11.50
Jacket – You’ll need more than base layers to stay warm and dry. A simple, lightweight raincoat can make all the difference in the world when it rains, gusts or snows.
Hat – Keep the sun and rain off your head at all times. A good hat will help your body regulate its temperature better. Trust us on this one – hats save lives.
Beanie – Stay warmer and more comfortable in cooler temperature with a synthetic or wool beanie, especially when you’re crawling into your sleeping bag on a chilly night.
If you are going to survive for 3 days, let alone 1 day, you’ll need protection from the elements, and a nice, warm, dry place to close your eyes. You need at least:
Tarp – Although we recommend both a tarp and a tent, you can by in a pinch with just a tarp. A tarp can be used to protect you from the wet earth, and a wet sky. Even if you have a tent, a tarp will add extra environmental protection no matter what. We chose a survival tarp with hunter orange on the outside and reflective (thermal) material on the inside.
Survival Tarp $19.65
Tent – Nothing fancy going on here other than the ability to get out of the elements. Reflective material on the inside and bright orange on the outside. Use the tarp as a footprint or as added protection overhead from the rain.
Survival Tent $19.93
Ground Pad – It doesn’t make any difference how much insulation you’re wearing if you’re laying directly on the ground. Your body heat will get suck right out of you. A ground pad is essential to staving off hypothermia and getting a decent night’s rest.
Ground Pad $9.89
Sleeping Bag – You can spend hundred of dollars on a lightweight backpacking sleeping placed in a compression sack, or you can use a sleeping bag designed with the same technology as space blankets. The only down side here is possible condensation inside the survival bag from getting too hot.
Sleeping Bag $8.53
Attempting to cover everything you’d possibly need in a first aid kit for your Bug Out Bag is fodder for another article. We won’t even try to cover 1st Aid Kits except to say they need to cover the basics – CPR, Control Bleeding, and Wound Care.
First Aid Kit $29.95
2Basic Survival Gear
Aside from the basics such as water, food, clothing, and shelter, your BOB needs to have a couple more items to make your experience a little more comfortable.
Fire – Have a minimum of 3 ways to start a fire. Of course, you can always put several disposable lighters in your go bag, but even they can fail when you need them the most. You absolutely need to be able to make a fire to boil water, cook food and stay warm. More than fire though, you need to be able to tend it with larger pieces without expending too much energy.
Magnesium bars with a flint strip can be a lifesaver in just about any survival situation. Simply scrape off a pile of magnesium onto your kindling and strike the flint bar to ignite. The magnesium burns quick and hot so have all your kindling ready beforehand.
Magnesium Fuel Bar $4.97
Lighters are a great resource for creating fuego, but they can run out fuel or get wet, so always keep an alternative fire source handy like a magnesium bar.
Survival Lighter $10.92
Before you even think about starting a fire you’ll need to collect firewood. Your survival knife can be handy in chopping wood, but a survival chainsaw can make short work of long or thick branches.
Chainsaw Firestarter Kit $18.97
Light – At least 2 dependable light sources with backup batteries. The all in one radio/flashlight can be very handy but might be a little clumsy at times. Always keep a hands-free headlamp in your BOB so you have both hands to work with at all times.
Binding – Undoubtedly, you’ll need to tie or tape something together for you or your shelter. Noting fits the bill in a survival situation more than duct tape and para cord. You can use the para cord to build your camp or shelter, make a hammock, etc.; and there are endless uses for duct tape.
Para Cord $7.47
Duct Tape $6.52 2”x60 yards
Survival Knife – That’s not a knife, that’s a tool! You’ll need a strong, durable knife to get things done around camp. A good knife can be used for chopping wood, making pointy objects to help with cooking, and even as a weapon if necessary. Make sure your knife has a full tang and a straight edge that can be easily sharpened.
Survival Knife $12.76
Whatever you choose to put in your Bug Out Bag, remember to cover all your bases:
Water – and a way to get enough drinking water for the foreseeable future.
Food – enough to last you 3 days and ways to get more.
Shelter – durable enough to last a week or more.
Footwear – durable and can keep your feet dry(er).
Clothing – keep your body dry and provide relief from the sun.
No bugout kit would be complete without a big, strong bag to store your equipment. We recommend this one for around $20. Remember you not only need a decent size bag but it should obviously be waterproof and have lots of diferent easy to access compartments.BUY NOW
There are too many considerations to cover in this list of Bug Out Bag essentials. Use this as a roadmap to what you should have, not what you’ll eventually have. The weather in your area may require you to reconsider some of the essentials, so please plan accordingly. Your survival is your responsibility so be sure to plan for worst and hope for the best.