What Should I Put in My Bug Out Bag?

The short answer to this question is to put every bare necessity that you and your family will need to survive away from home during an emergency into your bug out bag. While food and water are certainly your most important necessities, remember that you may also need health supplies and basic tools, too. Whether you already have your bag packed or are just beginning to build your supply list, we’ve got you covered. By the end of this post you’ll have a firm grasp on exactly what you need to make sure that you are packed and ready to bug out (i.e. evacuate) in an emergency situation.

What Is a Bug Out Bag?

For those of you who are unfamiliar, let us first introduce you to the concept of a bug out bag. Simply, it is a bag packed with all of the essentials (such as food, clothing, medical supplies, etc.), which you will need to have in one accessible location in case of an emergency. For sure, your bug out bag should include a basic emergency and first-aid kit, but it should also enable you to completely bug out– as in flee looting, violence and the general chaos that is likely to occur after those around you are forced to endure more than a few days without electricity, clean water or public safety services. Just as you do with home security, it is important to think about you and your family’s survival and safety in every situation whether at home or on the road. Thus, every member of your family should have their own bug out bag packed and ready at all times.

Bug Out Bag Basics

Just like the contents of everyone’s closet, refrigerator and medicine cabinet are different from the next, so will the precise contents of each person’s bug out bag. At the very least, however, your bug out bag should contain the following essentials:

  • Non-perishable foods (such as pre-cooked canned meats, jerky, boxed juices, coffee, etc.)
  • Water (at least week’s supply for each family member’s drinking and hygiene)
  • An extra supply of prescription medications (don’t forget pet medications)
  • First aid supplies
  • Pet food
  • Durable, warm clothing (don’t forget closed-toe shoes or boots)
  • Outdoor cooking and eating utensils
  • Items to protect you from the elements (sleeping bag, tent, water-resistant clothing, etc.)
  • Personal security items
  • Cash (small bills are recommended)

A Good Emergency Kit

To help you gather most of the essentials you’ll need, we suggest investing in a good emergency kit like the Mayday Deluxe Emergency Honey Bucket Kit. We also recommend investing in additional water purification tablets or an emergency water filter. Remember that you will not only need drinking water in an emergency situation, but you may also need water for cooking and for your personal hygiene. Make sure that you have enough of each of your essentials since you and your family may need to rely on these items for several days or more.

 Heat, Lighting and Energy

 Without heating and electricity, you’ll have to supply your own. These items will help:

  • A reliable fire starter or waterproof matches
  • Emergency flares
  • A solar-powered or battery operated lantern
  • A heavy-duty flashlight
  • Tinder (to start a cooking fire and to heat water useful for first aid and bathing)
  • Batteries

Health and Hygiene

As needed, make sure each family member and pet has an additional supply of prescription medications stored in a bug out bag ahead of time. Such is not something you want to risk leaving home without. In addition to necessary medications, the following health items should also be included in your bug out bag:

  • Sunblock
  • Insect repellent
  • Vitamins
  • Toilet paper
  • Personal care items (soap, toothpaste, lotion, razors, deodorant, tampons, etc.)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Bleach
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Condensed towels


 In the event of a widespread disaster, emergency crews will have their hands full. You may need to clear debris or build a temporary shelter on your own. While there’s no way to know exactly what you’ll need in such a situation, you’ll do well to at least have the following tools on hand:

  • Electrical tape
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Wire cutter
  • Binoculars
  • Shovel
  • Hammer
  • Sturdy rope

Personal Safety Items

 Becoming lost or trapped during an emergency can present a life or death danger. Also, dwindling food, water and other resources tend to bring out the worst in people. Frightened, hungry or wild animals can also prove to be a serious threat during chaotic times. At the very least, make sure that you have the following items on hand to increase you and your family’s security and safety:

  • Pepper spray
  • A loud whistle
  • GPS Tracking device
  • Extra items for barter

Bartering Items

Depending upon the extent of your emergency, you may find that cash on hand isn’t nearly as valuable as survival items that you can use to trade with others. Just about any of the items in your bug out bag can be used for bartering with others. You may need these items to trade for necessities or they may even be useful in negotiating your safety if confronted by desperate people. Some of the items you may want to consider packing extra of are:

  • Food items
  • Water
  • Water purification tablets
  • First aid items
  • Batteries


  • A solar-powered, hand-cranked or battery-operated emergency radio (One that receives AM/FM, as well as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) broadcasts. NOTE: Some emergency radios also offer a cellphone charging feature.)
  • A fully charged cellphone

Storing Your Bug Out Bag

For sure all of these items should be stored in a portable bag, such as a high visibility backpack or a military-style duffle bag. An additional waterproof box or chest is good for storing larger tools that will not fit into your primary bag. All of these items should be stored in your car’s trunk thus enabling you to flee at a moment’s notice if necessary.

Be Prepared For ‘Just In Case’

Think for a moment about the number of news reports you’ve recently heard about earthquakes, flooding, power outages and similar circumstances leaving people without regular access to food and water. In many of these instances, public services were stretched far too thinly for police, fire or emergency crews to do much good for the masses who were in dire need. Now, think about what you would do in such a situation? Are you prepared to live without electricity, food, water and heat for at least a week if you needed too? Your bug out bag is, therefore, your ‘just in case’ all-in-one survival kit.

Tell Us What’s In Your Bug Out Bag

Do you have a bug out bag? What’s in it? We look forward to you sharing your bug out bag list in the comments section below.

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