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.

12 thoughts on “What Should I Put in My Bug Out Bag?

  1. michael

    In your bug bag for security : you need muchetty / hatchet / pet food / finger nail clippers / knifes / and guns / especily shot guns , rifels , and hand guns.

    For food : caned fruit / water / caned vegetables / mre’s / jerky / ect.

    matirals : sleeping bag / twine / boxed wine bags for water / sowing matirls / batterys / flash light / water proof matches / and fire starters.

  2. Tonjy

    A good slingshot and a suply of ball bearings 1/4 to 5/16 inch diameter will get you small game very quietly. Practice often

  3. CatherineG

    A bow and plenty of arrows is another great thing to have, because it is silent and you can reuse the arrows. Bad thing is, they’re not very portable, but you can get a crossbow or small compound bow. Guns are good too, but when the bullets run out, it could be very hard to get more (depending on the situation)

  4. Joshua

    Food: You’ll want foods that are high in protein but low in fat. Mind the sodium.
    Peanut butter, energy bars, jerky, and canned vegetables do nicely, as do MRE’s.
    Weapons: In addition to a fixed blade (hunting knife, utility machete, etc), you’ll want several pocket knives, preferably with a sawblade. These are tools, for the most part. Next, go out and buy yourself a killing knife. Bowie knives, Arkansas toothpicks, and combat knives do nicely. The criteria for a killing knife is that it should have a fixed blade with 6-12 inches of length, must be thick and durable, and must fit on your belt. You will be carrying this expressly to kill men and vicious animals. Next, look to firearms. You’ll want a gun that has all-around abilities. My criteria is that it must be able to kill anything from a squirrel to an elk. My weapon of choice is the 12 gauge shotgun, as it can take down the smallest red squirrel and the largest buck. You can carry loads 6-8 for small game and buckshot for men and large game. Another favorite is the .22, as one can carry hundreds of rounds with little weight. It can also kill many things with a well-placed shot. Next, get yourself some bear spray for your S.O.L moments. Look to slingshots, hatchets, tomahawks, and machetes, as well.
    Tools: You’ll need your basic tools such as a small hammer, Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, and perhaps a crescent wrench. You’ll also need a bit of rope and some carabiners, as well as twine. You’ll want a fire-starting tool and plenty of spare tinder. Bring along some nails and other small building necessities. Bring whatever other tools you’d like.
    Other: You’ll need medications, first-aid supplies, basic medicines, blankets, warm clothing, bullets, needles, thread, cookware, sharpening stones, WATER, salt, soap, and any other luxury products.
    I’m no survivalist, but I’m an overly-avid hunter.
    Also, a book for identifying plants might help.

  5. flipper

    i like to put two tarps together tie the gromets and duck tape the edges leaving one side open lay out flat and pile leaves and debis on top with my sleeping bag inside. its fast and easy to set up and so camoflaged a person mite walk right by u and never know ur there and at night deer and raccoons will approach and can be take with a light. use over a warm fire pit covered with dirt in cold weather survival and use 2 tarps big enuf for ur group. also dont carry ur guns if law enforcment may approach but hide nearby and u wont get em confiscated

  6. Peace

    A note on bartering. Things like tobacco and rolling papers would seem like a valuable commodity in certain situations. So would the tiny bottles of alcohol. They don’t take much space and people will WANT them!

  7. Average Joe

    There are some rookies in here looking at some of the comments. It’s a “bag”, not a chest or the trunk of a car. You need the bare essentials in it, which will get you to a safe location. A lot of what was mentioned will weigh you down and make you susceptible to attack. There were some good ideas, though, but people need to think light and minimal.

    A J

  8. olivia

    I agree with average joe. Another great thing would be to invest in the filter straws. Dont waste your money on the ones that only filter 20 gallons. They seem to be a waste if you have to survive out of your bug out bag for more than 3 days. The better ones filter over 200 gallons and only cost a few dollars more.

  9. Jay

    Pack light. Your essential needs are obviously food/water, shelter, and protection. So, everything in your bag should be one of those basics, or an item that helps you obtain one of those basics.

    One item Tonjy mentioned that could be very valuable is the sling shot. It can be used quietly for personal protection as well as small game hunting…and, it is virtually impossible to run out of ammo for it. Also takes up very little room.

    As far as food goes, be prepared to hunt/fish/forage for food. Its hard to pack enough food to last any length of time. I suggest a good fixed blade survival knife that has a hollow handle. Good for skinning/filleting, and will hold fishing line/hooks etc inside the handle.

    Oh yeah…don’t forget a small portable shovel (small enough to attach to a backpack). It has many uses while surviving outdoors for long or even short periods of time. For example, burying waste, digging for water, leveling a sleeping area, etc.


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