A Checklist for Bug Out Bag Making? I am a firm believer that, if you are ready, you never need it! So, we are talking about getting ready! Bug Out Bags and How to Make Them is a simple thing you can engage the kids into so they have the illusion of control for any possible situation. It is good to get the entire family on board with this concept!
Bug Out Bags and How to Make Them
First, we talked about a basic water supply, just in case you all of a sudden can’t use your faucets. (think tornadoes, etc).
Today, we talk about Bug Out Bags (BOBs).
If you watched that 10 Minute Notice video I just shared, you might have to leave your home FAST.
This is where a Bug Out Bag comes in handy
Bug Out Definition
Think of the national emergencies that took them a LOOOOOONG time to respond to Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast Oil Spill, etc. Having enough basic supplies to help your family get from place A to place B safely and comfortably is the goal.
This makes it fast and easy for you to “bug out” if you have a very short time to leave your home.
When you hear the term “bugging out,” most people immediately picture getting out of the area in their vehicle so that they can get to their prearranged meet-up site.
But bugging out isn’t something that can encapsulate every single situation in a crisis moment. If a SHTF moment happens, you might have no choice but to get out – but you’ll have to do it on foot.
These are times that can occur that might allow you to stay local and you’ll be able to get back home once the crisis is over. Bugging out doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to have to spend months out in the woods in a survival situation.
There can be disasters when it’s a short-term time frame. But the key to success for short-term survival that’s temporary and local in the outdoors is to plan ahead. Since you won’t know the difference until it actually happens, you plan for the worst so that you’re prepared in the short term.
You’ll have the gear and supplies that you need to survive temporarily in any location because you will have already planned for a long-term stay. A temporary bug out could mean something like you have to go for a few days and stay in a tent at a location you’ve already scouted ahead of time.
In this plan, you need to plan to have enough supplies for at least 72 hours for everyone in your group. When it’s going to be a temporary situation, then you can travel lighter, but only do that if you know for sure that you’ll be able to come back home soon.
To survive in a short-term situation, a temporary bug out means you have to be prepared by having your bag, good hiking boots, knowledge of the way out, and the ability to get yourself to an area out of the chaos so that you can survive.
A long-term plan can easily be adapted into a short-term one. You’ll still need the same stuff to start with – and you’ll still follow the same protocol – but just or a bit longer.
By being prepared, you’re in control rather than conceding control to whoever is in charge of the situation – if there is anyone to take charge at all. If a truly awful SHTF situation has happened and you have to bug out and you know it’s going to be long-term, you follow your plan.
Get your bag and get out of there. Take your vehicle if possible – but if that’s not an option, then rely on your immediate bug out plan and your maps to get you to the location that you’ve scouted in advance and head out on foot.
For others, it’s a bug out cabin or other structure such as a container home that’s well hidden and able to protect you during the event. Wherever it is, this is the place where you begin to set up your life again.
A Survival Backpack for Every Member of Your Family
You need to have your gear already contained and ready to go for two main reasons. First, in the event of an emergency, everyone already knows where to go to get their hands on several days’ worth of necessary supplies.
Secondly, in the event of an emergency, if your home becomes unfit for habitation and you need to leave in a hurry, all you have to do is grab your backpack and go. You want a good quality bag with double stitching that has plenty of compartments to keep everything organized.
Bug Out Bags
Every member of the family should have a backpack of their own with his or her name clearly labeled on the outside because you can’t carry enough for every member of the family in one or two bug out bags.
You should even have bug out bags for babies and toddlers in the family. While they can’t carry the bag themselves, it’s wise to have all their stuff together so you can get to their needs quickly.
Children and teenagers, however, can carry their own backpacks and it will make them feel safer knowing that they have their own provisions. The sizes and weights of these backpacks vary.
Bug Out Bag Options
They can be purchased so that they’re the right fit for children up to adults. You want to look for backpacks that say they’re height-adjustable since obviously, all children aren’t the same height. Check the back-to-school sales in the fall, garage sales over the summer, or even thrift stores.
Also for children, you’re going to want sturdy, yet lightweight material. You’ll want backpacks that are waterproof for them. For teenagers, you can get the backpacks with the frames but you might not want to do this for younger children because of the added weight of the frame. These backpacks can have internal or external frames.
The children’s survival backpacks are a smaller version of the adult-sized ones and some of these have pockets that you can access without having to stop and take the bag off. Many people find this added convenience helpful.
These backpacks also have padded straps for the shoulders and are made of water-resistant nylon. These also come with multiple pockets and hooks for storing gear. Most of them come with expandable straps and some come with a hydration pocket. Look for ones that are hydration compatible if you want that feature.
You can get some backpacks that are made of wicking fabric. This is a fabric that will help keep the contents dry and they’re usually thickly padded backpacks, too so they’re comfortable to carry if you have to travel any distance. You want to look for backpacks that are expandable so that they’ll hold everything you need them to hold.
Checklist for Bug Out Bag Essentials
If you’re new to survivalist training, you might not know what bug out bags are. This is just gear that you can grab and go on your way in the event of a disaster. You can put your gear into a backpack or other sturdy nylon bag.
Bug Out Bag Food
You’ll need food that’s lightweight. Something like freeze-dried foods or MREs. Make sure you pack enough that can last everyone with you for at least three days.
Water is a must-have. Power/granola bars, peanut butter, salt-free crackers, nuts, canned beans/veggies, just-add-water noodle dinners, fruit snacks, beef sticks, juice boxes/bags.
We aren’t talking gourmet meals here, we are talking things that could sit in your bag for 1-2 years, be light to carry, and fill your family’s belly until you either have help arrive or get to a safe location. Try to avoid things that will make you thirsty.
You’ll also need three days’ worth of water for everyone. But you’ll want to take along something to collect water in for the days ahead. Pack water purifying tablets. Bleach can do in a pinch but is harder to pack.
Bug Out Bag Gear
Aside from food and water, you need a way to cook the food and boil the water. To cook the food, you’ll need a basic cooking set, which would be lightweight pots that can be used over campfires or on a portable camp stove.
You’ll want to pack clothes for two days. We will talk more about that in a minute… but rain gear like a poncho can be used as shelter in a pinch. Bring a hat along to keep the rain and the sun off your head. Take sunglasses to protect your eyes in case you’re out in the sun for long periods. A bandana should be packed because it can have a multitude of uses.
Shelter materials should also go in your backpack. Take a tent or a tarp along with cording in the event you need to tie something to trees. Carry a sleeping back or a sleeping pad along to protect you from having to sleep directly on the ground. Make sure there are enough emergency blankets for everyone.
Personal hygiene materials need to go in your bug out bags and don’t forget your first aid kit. Firestarters are necessary as are waterproof matches. Take a flashlight that uses solar power rather than batteries.
You’ll also want fishing gear, a knife, and a multi-tool. An emergency radio and a way to charge your cell phone using solar power should be included in your bug out bag. Have sturdy gloves and a small ax that can be used to make a clearing or to get debris out of your way.
You’ll want to have a folding shovel and duct tape along, too. Bring your important papers and pack entertainment. Finally, make sure that you bring a weapon such as a gun in order to protect yourself and your family.
Each of the bug out bags should have a change of clothes, few pairs of undies (face it – we can wear an outfit more than one day if we have to but would love clean undies with it!), toothbrushes, personalized necessary medicine (insulin, asthma, allergy, etc).
Now – for other things to add!
For the kids – you need things to entertain them – small, that travel easy. Think card games, small puzzles, coloring books, and crayons. Also some snacks. They can carry the lighter things like fruit snacks, granola bars, etc. Don’t forget diapers or infant formula if you need them!
Don’t forget your pets!
Pet food and extra water for your pet are important too.
What Kind of Survival Clothing Should You Pack?
You already know that you should have basic items like food, water, and first aid. When it comes to clothing, it can be a little confusing knowing exactly what or how much to pack.
A good rule of thumb to follow would be to pack as if you’re going to be gone for three days. You’ll also want to consider exactly where you’re going when choosing what clothing to pack because the area you’re going to may have different weather than where you’re currently living.
If you’re heading to a rainier area, then you’d want to make sure you had rain gear – and if you’re going to an area where the weather is colder, you’ll want warmer clothing. Since room can be limited in a backpack, you want every piece of clothing to serve a purpose.
Pack two pairs of pants to wear. Since you’ll be wearing a pair, that counts as your third-day pair. You’ll want to take long pants rather than shorts since you might be hiking through rough terrain. Plus, having long pants can help protect your legs against insect bites.
Take two shirts along for the journey. You’ll need one that’s fit for warmer weather – such as a short sleeve t-shirt. But you’ll also want a long sleeve shirt for cooler temperatures. Remember that temperatures always drop in the evening hours. By having both a short sleeve and a long sleeve shirt, you can double these up for warmth if needed.
For undergarments, you’ll need to take two pairs of socks and two pairs of underwear – but you’ll also want to pack a pair of thermal underwear. You can wear these under your clothing in the event of cold weather.
You’ll want to take along a hat to protect your head from the sun’s rays as well as to keep your head warm if it’s cold. A hat can also be useful to keep the rain out of your eyes.
A jacket is a must-have clothing item, but you want one that can serve two purposes. You want one that helps you keep you warm but can also protect you from inclement weather like rain.
Many jackets have a waterproof shell and are lined with warm material on the inside. You can find some that are lightweight so that fitting them in your backpack won’t be an issue.
Don’t forget to pack footwear. When you first start out, it’s best to wear your waterproof boots and pack a pair of athletic shoes. Break them in ahead of time to prevent blisters if you have to hike around a lot.
You could add sleeping bags and a tent to this collection of bags, or plan to sleep in your car until you get where ever you are going. I have our Bug Out Bags on a shelf above our tents/bags so they are all together.
This is SIMPLE stuff to do that even FEMA suggests.
How Heavy Should Your Bug Out Bags Be, Realistically?
One important thing to know before you bug out is how much your bug out bags should weigh. Most people lean toward the “more is better” type of thinking when it comes to supplies, but in this case, it could mean you get slowed down and put in danger.
Bug out bags that are loaded to the hilt with everything but the kitchen sink will get you killed. The heavier it is, the more strain it puts on your body and it will slow you down as you’re walking or running to safety.
Not only that but if a bag is too heavy, it will act as a gravitational pull that could cause you to fall backward. There are different mindsets when it comes to the right weight. Some people say a ballpark estimate is less than 50 pounds – while others think along a much lighter amount of about 15.
The truth is that your bug out bags should be packed with survival necessities and should weigh around ten percent of your body weight. While that might seem like an impossible goal, you have to remember that bug out bags aren’t a catch-all solution.
Its intended purpose is to help you survive for 72 hours – not weeks or months – but some people pack it intending it to last for weeks or months. If you fill it up like that, you’re going to end up with a bag that’s too heavy for you to safely bug out with.
If your bag is too heavy, not only is it going to prevent you from bugging out with speed, but it can wear you out and even end up causing shoulder or bag strain, which could impact your safety in an ambush or animal attack.
Your bag should only be loaded with 3 liters of water and purification methods for obtaining water after that if needed. You’ll need 3 days’ worth of food. Though it can be tempting to pack more, that would be a mistake and weigh your pack down.
You need to follow the same 3-day rule when it comes to clothing. Carry a means of shelter with you if you don’t have the survival skills to build something in the woods. Take a first aid kit, flashlights, fire starter method, and a camping pot.
Carry any knives you brought along in the bug out bags, but keep your gun on you so that you can get to it quicker. Some preppers think of packing a bug out bag the same way that they pack groceries.
They put whatever is bulkiest and heavier on the bottom of the bag then load the lighter stuff on top. This is backward for a bug out bag. You want the bulk of the weight at your shoulders to avoid strain on your lower back.
You’ll want any shelter items like a tent or a tarp on the bottom – because these items fill out the bottom of the bag and help support other items that you pack on top of them. When packing a bag with outside pockets or Molle straps, make sure that you have items of equal or close weight on either side so that you don’t end up with an off-balance weight.
See Which Items You Can Combine to Save Space
The supplies in your bug out bag are what you’ll need to stay alive in a situation where you have to get out of dodge. But most people make the mistake of packing two or more items when one of them can serve multiple purposes.
If you cut down on all the items you pack, you save weight in your bag and you save your strength because you’ll be carrying a lighter bag when you go. Instead of packing a heavy tent for a shelter, pack a tarp.
Not only can it be used in place of a tent, but it can also be used as a hammock, a windbreaker, and a water collector. Instead of packing eating utensils, pack sporks. You can use them as both a spoon and a fork.
Tools are usually where a lot of preppers waste valuable space in their bug out bag. People will pack dozens of different items like screwdrivers, saws, or pliers when you can find a multi-tool that can do the job of several different items.
You can get a multi-tool that can be used as a screwdriver, as a wood saw, like a knife, a wrench, pliers, hard-wire cutters, a crimper, and even as a hammer. Gadgets are another way that people fill up their bug out bag.
I really like this toolset. This is professional emergency survival equipment, equipped with a large-capacity waterproof box, used to store 22 pieces of emergency survival equipment and emergency supplies, designed for camping, hiking, hunting, and mountain biking adventure trips, to meet any medical or emergency needs.
The lightweight waterproof case holds: Tactical flashlight, tactical pen, bracelet, compass, tactical knife, fishing equipment set, etc., are made of high-quality material, providing excellent safety and durability, meeting emergency and medical needs, making your camping, wilderness survival, or hiking trips easier and more convenient, without worrying about getting lost.
Most of these gadgets really are necessary – such as a radio, a communication device, flashlights, and more. But instead of packing items that serve only one purpose, make as many items as you can do two jobs at least.
Instead of carrying a separate flashlight and radio in your bug out bag, get one instead that’s both a flashlight as well as a radio and charging device for your smartphone. One item that can do the job of several other things is dental floss.
This can be used to secure shelter to a tree instead of a rope. It can be used to fix tears in clothing or to create a warning system against possible intruders. Floss can be used to sew up wounds or as a fishing line.
In a pinch, it can be used as a tinder or to slice through something if you don’t have a knife. You might think of salt as a flavoring for food and nothing more – but this can be used as an antibacterial treatment and it can be used to disinfect items.
You can pack small salt packets in your bag instead of bulky containers of antibacterial treatment that only serve one purpose. Bodywash can take the place of soap as well as shampoo and can even be used to wash clothing.
Vaseline can be used as an antibiotic treatment and as a fire starter. Trash bags can be used as rain gear, waterproofing, or as a water reservoir. Look through your bug out bag and see what items can be combined to save space and allow you to pack something you may have had to leave behind instead.
Knowing When It’s Time to Bug Out
Those who are prepared for survival situations know that a bug out may come. A bug out is exactly how it sounds. It means it’s time to get out of dodge. Bugging out may mean you’ll have to get where you’re going by walking.
If this is the case, then you need to make sure that you have sturdy shoes or boots – and the means to have food and shelter if it’s going to be a long trek. Being prepared for this scenario means having a bug out bag where you can get to it when the time comes for you to go.
Bug Out Car
Bugging out by vehicle means that you’re leaving in a vehicle that’s already prepared ahead of time for a bug out. Your vehicle is gassed up and ready to go within seconds.
It’s time to bug out when the place you’re at is no longer safe – or could be compromised – and survival may become an issue. This means you need to be prepared to bug out in the event of a weather emergency, a terrorist attack, a flash mob, or a riot.
Bug Out Situations
You also need to leave fast if there’s a contaminate set loose in your area – such as a train derailment and the train was carrying some nasty hazardous materials that escaped into the air. City-wide blackouts are a criminal’s favorite time to come out and wreak havoc. Your possessions aren’t worth losing your life over – so leave.
If there’s been a city-wide breakdown of communication resources like if the 911 system crashes, get out. These systems are all computer run – and when the computer crashes, you’re on your own. When a city goes down, law and order go out the window and chaos ensues.
If some nasty weather is headed in your direction and it’s not looking good, get out before the government officials tell you to get out. Why? Because there will always be thousands who wait until the last possible minute to leave – and you may end up trapped in your vehicle sitting still on an interstate while a harrowing storm bears down on you.
Bug Out Plan
Plan ahead of time to take an alternate evacuation route, since the main roads will be overrun by people trying to leave. Print out your escape routes and have them where you can get to them easily.
Know where you’re going. Don’t just hop into your vehicle and take off. Plan ahead for every possible emergency. Have your kit or bag ready to take with you when you go. Inside the bag, you should have water, food, first aid, a way to take care of shelter – like a sleeping bag or poncho, flashlights, and personal safety tools like Mace or weapons.
Make sure you pack a battery-operated or hand-crank radio so that you can listen for emergency broadcasts. Have a way to start a fire and make sure you have a change of clothes.
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