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Disasters are unpredictable which is why you should always be prepared. Because of this, having a survival kit can be all it takes to keep you alive until help finally arrives.

Whether you live in a disaster-prone area or not, you should always be prepared.

Join us as we discuss 101 bug out bag list essentials you should be aware of to build the ultimate bug out bag!

For a quick snapshot, you can see what an Ultimate Survival Kit looks like here.

What is a bug out bag?

The bug out bag, popularly known as BOB, 72-hour kit, grab bag, battle box, or personal relocation kit is a set of portable gear that usually contains all the essentials you may need to survive for 72 hours when evacuating from an emergency.

Still, some bug out bags are specially designed to last longer in an emergency situation. Keep in mind that bug out bags are designed for evacuation purposes as opposed to long-term survival in a specific spot.

This is how they’re a little different as a survival kit.

What should be in a 72 hour bug out bag?

A natural disaster or one that’s human caused can strike without a warning. If you aren’t properly prepared, such a survival situation will likely to leave you and your loved ones in a hard spot spot. Nobody can predict the right time when you should start preparing the bug out bag essentials you need to survive any emergency situation.

Preparedness is a key factor for survival. Yet, studies suggest that a big percentage of people from various parts of a globe don’t have the SHTF gear they need to use in case of a survival situation. This means that many people are hardly prepared to deal with disasters should they strike. Preparing the best bug out bag should be among the must-do things in a survival ready program.

Helpful reading:

Bug Out Bag Tips & Mistakes to avoid

We’ve collaborated with experts to come up with a comprehensive list of important bug out bag essentials you need to survive any type of natural disaster or emergency. The go bag contents included here, combined with your survival skills, should help you survive through an emergency with ease.

How big should a bug out bag be?

It’s important to avoid carrying too much weight. Your bug out bag total weight goal should be approximately 10% of your body weight. The maximum weight you should try to carry should be 20%.

For instance, assuming your body weight is 200lbs, 10% of 200 will be 20lbs. Should you aim at carrying the 20% maximum weight, you should be in good physical condition to ensure you don’t get tired quickly. Sticking to the above example, if your body weight is 200 lbs, 20% of 200 will be 40 lbs. It’s important to be practical when estimating your bug out bag weight goal as well as evaluate the items you can carry safely.

Avoid structuring your bag depending on particular timelines such as a few days to two weeks. Rather, you want to follow a priority basis and overlook the bail out bag versus inches debate.

Never presume that your destined bug out location and path will work according to your expectations. You should always be prepared to deal with sudden interruptions to your plans.

Avoid packing many unnecessary things. Remember, your main aim should be to survive. In this case, the only important thing you’ll need is to stay well-fed, hydrated, dry, warm, and uninjured. Even when injuries do occur, you should be in a position to attend to them immediately to avoid severe complications.

Don’t just carry your 72 hours’ worth of food. You want to avoid a survival situation where you pack less food in your go bag and assume that you’ll easily hunt for food.

Make sure to consider the environment around you and the risks that are likely to occur (do you need pepper spray and a firearm?). You want to focus on your intended terrain. Is the terrain likely to be swampy? What about the temperatures? Will they be bearable? These kinds of questions can even impact what kind of first aid kit you include. Make sure to consider whether or not you’ll be traveling through urban or rural areas. Will everyone be safe along the path you plan on taking? It also may make sense to bring a something like a fishing kit if you are going to be near water.

More helpful reading:

What’s the best bug out bag?

Be careful in choosing a bug out bag. Some companies try to maintain specifically priced bug out bags by using unscrupulous practices including: packing unreliable, cheap kits and/or the wrong combination of gear. In the end, you may need to replace lots of stuff, even first aid items, making your investment worthless. A good bug out kit, whether basic or not, shouldn’t be cheaper than $150-$200.

This is one important area where you shouldn’t compromise the quality of your survival bags.

You can see what an Ultimate Survival Kit looks like here.

Budget bug out bags

Are you working with a limited budget? If you are, go for cheaper budget picks that have been recommended by experts. Buying a bug out roll that will eventually fail you when you need it is not worth it. However, you need to make sure and be extra cautious because many of the budget items are likely to be substandard. Remember, a cheaper product will be heavier. For instance, a level 3 budget bag will likely weigh numerous pounds more than average. You can use the same budget for a level 1 or level 2 survival bug out bag depending on your preferences. We shall discuss bug out bag levels later.

Organizing & Managing Your Bug Out Bags

Here’s what you need to know about organizing and managing your bag list and bug out bag essentials.

Keep essential gear in individual bags

Don’t be tempted to think that your group will always be together and attempt to spread essential gear in different survival bags. For instance, you don’t want to have food items in one bag and water in another. Keep in mind that everyone over 10 years old should carry their bag essentials. These will come in handy to save their lives in case they get separated.

If there are children and loved ones who are below the age of 10 years in your group, they should carry their own bug out bag as well. Make sure they’re customized for comfort. This means that their bug-out bags should include all the basic pack survival items they need to survive before they can finally be rescued. Their pack should have enough items that someone else can depend on for their own survival should they run out of or lose their own stuff.

Still, it shouldn’t be a big deal if your child loses their emergency kit. Remember, it’s best that their age-appropriate survival pack should have just a few important essentials such as special medicine, a full set of clothes, and photos and documents of their home and family. It’s also a good idea to include some kid-friendly items such as sweets, books, and stuffed animals.


It’s important to be organized and avoid throwing everything in a pile inside your bug out bag. Where possible, try to have different compartments for your gear. This will help you find your bug out bag essentials with minimal hassle. It also guarantees a better distribution of the load.

The only two things included in this list that shouldn’t be kept in your bag at all times are cell-phones and shoes. This is because doing so isn’t practical. What’s more, a big percentage of people will have these items on hand when bugging out time strikes.

Important tip: never mix your bug out bag items with other gear – like hiking or camping supplies. These can hinder you, and you may end up from picking up the wrong bag when disaster finally strikes. Remember, part of the goal of having a bug out bag is being assured that it’s ready when you need it.

Bug out bag levels

We’ve divided the essential items you may need into three levels, as seen below.

Bug Out Bag Checklist: Level 1

Survival items in this level weigh around 20 pounds and cost between $400 and $1,100. They come in a well-rounded kit containing all the essentials you need to survive during an emergency. Bug out bag kits in this level are best for standard emergencies such as natural disasters where disruptions last a few days. These kits can still help you deal with severe emergencies.

Items in this level include:

  • First aid kit
  • Collapsible vessel or canteen
  • 27-32 oz potable water stored in a hard collapsible bottle
  • Water filter
  • Ready to eat meals
  • Water purification tablets x 20-40
  • Lighter x 2
  • Headlamp
  • Tinder
  • Field knife
  • Cordage x 50′
  • Multitool
  • Tarp
  • Documents (USB and paper)
  • Waterproof paper and pen
  • Cash
  • Toilet paper
  • Condensed camp soap
  • Nail clippers
  • Socks
  • Hat
  • Underwear
  • Top base layer
  • Pants
  • Duct tape
  • Pepper spray (self defense)
  • Sewing kit

Bug Out Bag Checklist: Level 2:

This level contains survival items that measure below 35 pounds. The pack costs between $800 and $2,300. These include important essential gear as seen below.

  • First aid kit
  • Stormproof matches x 20
  • Food that needs boiling water (eg. Mountain House)
  • Portable stove for boiling water
  • Spork
  • Pot / dedicated boiling vessel
  • Second flashlight / lantern
  • Sleeping pad
  • Sleeping bag/bivy
  • Sleeping mask and earplugs
  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Wet wipes
  • Chapstick
  • Goggles
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Pistol / holster / full mag
  • Belt
  • Maps
  • Solar charger
  • Compass
  • Waterproof deck of cards / small mental health item
  • Pack straps for tent lashing /pads/bags to outside
  • Headphones
  • Duct tape
  • Pepper spray (self defense)
  • Sewing kit
  • Fishing kit

Bug Out Bag Checklist: Level 3

Items in this level weigh 45 pounds and include a tent harnessed to the outside. This survival kit’s weight is the maximum weight that any person should carry. It’s the ideal way to be prepared for various emergencies.

You’ll find the following items here.

  • First aid kit
  • Extra AA/AAA/etc batteries
  • Ferro rod fire starter and striker
  • Battery charger
  • Extra full magazine
  • Tent
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Whistle
  • Signal mirror
  • Hand saw
  • Second pair of socks
  • Blade sharpener
  • Duct tape (flat travel roll)
  • Misc fasteners / carabiners / ranger bands / etc
  • Solar charger
  • Duct tape
  • Fishing kit
  • Pepper spray (self defense)
  • Sewing kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Water bottle

What to put in a bug out bag

When it comes to what should be in a bug out bag, the primary 4 groups are founded on the Survival Rule of 3’s.

These are survival gear items that are critical for your body to survive, regardless of the situation.


You can only survive for approximately 3 minutes without air


You can only survive for approximately 3 hours without shelter in a rough environment


With enough drinking water you can survive without food for three weeks.


Water is critical for human survival. You’ll only manage to survive without water for three days.

The other 8 groups include:

  • Heat /warmth
  • Clothing
  • Lighting
  • Defense
  • First aid
  • Multi-purpose tools
  • Navigation tools, and
  • Miscellaneous

It’s best to first take time to evaluate each category and establish the items that are critical for your bug out bag list. While at it, you need to be aware that the best survival pack should be portable. You may want to limit your items, which is why it’s important to only pack what’s critical for your survival. Let’s check out the must-have things that should be inside your bug out bag.


While clean water is a critical item, there are some bug out bag checklist factors you should first consider as seen below.

  • Water can be extremely heavy, especially if it’s carried a long time. Should you carry drinking water and add on to your bag’s weight? If the answer is yes, how much can you comfortably manage to carry?
  • Should you purify or filter water?
  • Is it possible to transform any water into safe drinking water?
  • Is it possible to treat water with limited gear?
  • How can you purify contaminated water?
  • How can you collect and carry water (like a water bottle)?

The amount of clean water you should store is still a topic that many experts are trying to debate. Some say that 32 oz. or 1 liter of water is enough to take you through an entire day. What’s more, it’ll only add 2 pounds of weight to your bug out bag.

It’s best to make sure and use a tough container to store your water to protect it from breaking inside your pack. The appropriate container should be multipurpose, giving you a chance to boil water with it. This can come in handy especially if you only have a level 1 pack. If you want to make sure your water is safe for drinking, consider filtering rather than purifying it.

The reason for this is because filtering is usually instant, unlike purification where the products you use can take up to four hours to treat drinking water. This water is included in level 1 because the purification tabs you need are light and small. Beware of, and avoid cross-contamination at all costs. Remember, you can’t use a container that has dirty water for drinking water until you’ve cleaned it thoroughly.

Having only one container limits the amount of water you can carry. Some filtration procedures are designed to function well with two bottles. For instance, you can have one soft bottle and use it to push dirty water via filter pores. You can also hang it and allow water to flow out through gravity. The clean filtered water can then flow inside your hard container. A soft water container is usually light and you can easily roll it up to minimize space. This explains why it’s included in the level 1 kit to give you a rigid and soft container, both of which can help you through various scenarios.  Hand sanitizer can help keep down the amount of water you may need as well.

Helpful reading: How to Store Emergency Water (Does Storage Expire Longterm?)


Do you live in extremely hot areas? Perhaps you aren’t sure that your water can take you through until you can reach a nearby source. In this case, you may want to sacrifice some of your important gear to help create room for additional weight. Coffee filters often double up as tinder and many people prefer carrying them. Often, they use them to help keep out contaminants from dirty water before treating it.

Survivalists who develop their pack of items for long term but less mobile emergencies can add the bigger gravity water bag on level 3. With these, you can easily set up permanent water treatment locations, which is important in a large disaster.

Helpful reading: Earthquake Preparedness: What to do in Case of an Earth Quake Disaster

Things you should avoid

  • Storing water in frivolous juice box design containers or pouches.
  • Hydration bladders. While they may be ideal for hiking, they’ve got numerous downsides that disqualify them from being considered for prepping. For instance, they can be punctured easily, they’re less adaptable, and monitoring your usage when using them can be a tough.


While you can easily survive for three weeks without food, make sure you have enough on your bug out bag checklist to counter hunger, maintain your energy levels, and improve your moods during an emergency. However, food comes with an expiration date, can be heavy and space inadequate, it may melt especially when stored in the car trunk during hot temperatures, and may need cooking. These characteristics disqualify it from the features of a bug out bag food kit. The best food to choose should:

  • Either be ready to eat or require minimal cooking methods such as boiling
  • Come with a prolonged expiration date, be compact to ensure it doesn’t disintegrate inside your bag, and keep in good condition even when exposed to extreme temperatures
  • Contain maximum calories and nutrients in a light albeit small package
  • Be ideal for survival as opposed to comfort and taste

Food options in level one are ready to eat. They don’t require boiling or cooking. Some of the ideal choices include peanuts, granola bars, peanut butter packets, trail mix, shelf secure fats, ration blocks, and pemmican. MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) can be tricky. While they contain everything you need complete with a cooker to facilitate cooking or heating, they’re not weight and space-efficient compared to the nutrition they offer.

In level two, you get foods that need preparation. In this case, this involves boiling water only. The best options for a bug out bag would be a standard freeze-dried camping or hiking food. This is because they’re nutritionally rich, light, and tasty. All you need is to pour boiling water in your pouch for cooking and eating. You can even consume them cold.


If you prefer carrying meals ready to eat, you can substitute them in level 2 for freeze-dried bags.

If you suffer from food allergies you can still find specially designed survival food options that meet your needs

Things you should avoid

Food items that need complex preparation methods

Salt supplements. These expose you to risks that you don’t need when dealing with an emergency. You can get sufficient salt from the different types of food inside your bug out bag.


If you need caffeine, you can get it from your medical supplies

Some people choose a dietary restriction program under normal circumstances such as going gluten or vegan free. However, make sure to understand that a survival circumstance may not be the ideal time to deny your body essential nutrients such as proteins.

Cooking and eating

In this case, cooking means either roasting something you fished or hunted or boiling water. There’s a big distinction between overall fire making and this topic.

Your level 1 kit already comprises the simple essentials. You can easily make an open flame fire using random fuel and use your hard container to boil water. If you need to boil anything, you can place your item on a stick and proceed with your roasting process. These methods will be ideal for you if you have a level 2 kit. Carrying a hobo stove, for instance, is the same as having a small campfire ring inside your bag.

About hobo stoves

These are easy to carry flat pack metal boxes that use natural fuel such as twigs. While it’s an open flame, this box safeguards your flame against wind enabling you to create an intense cooking flame that wouldn’t be the case with a pile of sticks on flat ground. Hiking stoves are small versions of gas-fueled burners that are used in many kitchens at home. You’ll require a fuel source and a burner unit that you connect to the gas can. You don’t have to carry both stoves. Choose one that best suits your needs.

Remember, sometimes you won’t be in a position to build an open fire, especially when you have limited time, don’t want to be spotted, you’re in an evacuation shelter, you can’t find suitable fuel around, or rain and wind make it hard. In this case, a fuel stove would come in handy.

One of the major downsides of fueled stoves in that they require specific fuel in a unique canister. As a survivalist, a hobo stove would be the most ideal. Still here, you’ll have a specially designed kettle or pot that you can use for boiling. While you can use your hard container to boil water, this can contaminate the metal making it unsightly and hard to clean in an emergency.

Some of the available hiking stoves come complete with a boiling pot. This means that you don’t have to create more space for your pot. If you opt for freeze-dried food bags, you’ll hardly need more than two cups or 0.5 liters of water. You can save space but ensure that your pot isn’t more than 0.8 liters. Utensils fall in level 2. Keep these on the minimum as well.


If your food needs to be cooked inside a pot or any other washable container, choose to include a small dish brush specially designed for hikers.

Make sure to choose a light, small, and durable pepper, and salt shaker that many backpackers use to save on space.

Things you should avoid:

  • Plastic especially if your gear is meant to be recyclable
  • Multiple cook kits. These are only ideal for car camping


A simple lighter is an ideal fire starter for your bug out bag checklist. Two of these will fall in a level 1 kit. You can then include matches that fall in level 2 and a Ferro rod striker which falls in level 3. This excellent mix ensures you’re fully prepared to handle a short term emergency.

You may also want to diversify your options to ensure you have different fire building methods that complement each other. For instance, a lighter can fail in the event of strong winds. Stormproof matches may work under such circumstances. If you’re stuck in an extreme emergency, then a Ferro rod can come in handy to help you build fire long after your matches and lighters have wasted away.

Still, they’re difficult to use which is why they should be the last thing you choose. Lighters are not only common, but they’re also cheap and you can easily store them in a case to prevent them from getting wet or leaking fuel accidentally. Don’t assume that with a lighter you’ll find random fuel with ease.

Expert bush crafters have mastered the art of carrying dedicated tinder which can play a major role during wet conditions or when you can hardly find random fuel. You’ll find small, lightweight, and premade, tinder products in the market. Enthusiastic survivalists have found that keeping an altoid tin or old pill bottle with cotton balls covered in petroleum jelly, dry lint, or used and dried wet wipes can help you cope during a wet season.


  • Use a Fresnel lens as a lightweight substitution or addition. However, you can only use it if you’ve ever used it before
  • You can have both plain gas-fueled lighters and a USB rechargeable one

Shelter & sleeping

Shelter can be tricky when it comes to preparing your bug out bag list. This is attributed to diverse terrain, climates, its weight, and configurations. Still, you need to safeguard yourself from various elements and maintain the right temperature for your comfort. In matters of priority, shelter comes second to water. Experts have categorized shelter into three. That is: what you sleep in, on, and under. In level one, you get the simple essentials which include: multiple layers of clothing, cordage, a tarp, fire makers and a knife.

While these items are few, they can help you make a basic shelter, get something to cover yourself, and retain some body heat. It may not be appealing but it’ll sustain your life. Tarps are versatile products that nearly every experienced pro has in their basic kit. Apart from diverse shelter types, some common tarp uses include safeguarding your supplies, collecting rain, acting as medical stretchers, enclosing a large room for heat effectiveness, enclosing an area in the event of an emergency, and acting as cover for a damaged home.

In a level 2 bug out bag list, you’ll get gear that can help you sleep comfortably regulate body temperatures such as a sleeping bag/bivy/quilt, a sleeping pad, earplugs, and an eye mask. Earplugs and a sleeping mask are must-have items for you during an emergency situation.

For instance, you could be stuck in a public school with many people who snore, talk in loud voices, or even cry. In some places, fluorescent lights remain on 24/7 and you’ll need something to block out all these distractions. This is where your earplugs and eye mask comes in. as much as you may not have a choice during a survival situation, sleeping on the ground is uncomfortable. You get in contact with a hot or cold ground depending on the season.

Anything that can protect you from the heat or cold becomes helpful. You can create a barrier between your body and the ground using random materials such as leaves. A specially designed sleeping pad for ultra-light campers can make a huge difference in terms of comfort as opposed to sleeping on the ground. Some sleeping pads come with a significant amount of insulation making them ideal for use especially during the cold season. Whether you choose a camping quilt, a sleeping bag, or a bivy depends on your preferences.

Helpful reading: How to Build a Lean To Shelter (Building Step By Step)

Invest in a sleeping bag liner

However, you should pick the lightest and most solid version that you can afford which is ideal for your climate. Think of a sleeping bag liner as a worthy and easy addition when you’re in a colder climate. Keep these inside the main bug out bag ready for use. In a level 3 bug out bag list, you’ll find an ultralight tent meant for one person.

While you can get almost the same value from your tarp, a tent would be better since it blocks away predators and bugs, it can be set up with ease and in more places, as opposed to a tarp, and can help block away the rain and wind.


  • Hammocks are some of the most discussed shelter choices. This is because they can easily get off the ground, can utilize your tarp as a general cover, and can overcome bumpy terrain. However, unless you’re a seasoned camper, you’ll need to use strong tents or bivvies.
  • Ponchos can be a hybrid alternative or popular addition for other gear. Some people prefer a rain jacket and tarp while others opt for a combination product which can execute both jobs with ease.

Things you should avoid

  • Cheap and substandard gear. Remember, sleeping bags, pads, tents, and bivvies come in different varieties and qualities. There’s always something for you regardless of your budget. More expensive gear guarantees that you’re getting robust, strong, lighter, and enhanced insulating materials.
  • Some parents opine that a bigger tent is ideal for keeping the children safely enclosed. If you have small children, chances are that you can share a one-person tent with them. Big tents are usually too bulky for the modern bug out bag. You may want to avoid it at all costs.
  • Inflatable sleeping bags come in handy to save space and weight. However, they can pop out due to a fire ember or a puncture. You need to exercise caution to keep them protected.


While clothing can be bulky, having an entire set of climate-appropriate clothing on your level 1 bug out bag list is ideal. Your main objective should be to keep the right type of clothing. Avoid cotton, khaki, and denim and instead invest in more technical clothing from reliable outdoor or sports stores.

This is because they’re specially designed to take up minimal space, are lightweight, can retain heat and wick moisture, are hand washable and can dry within a short time, and often come with durable patches on various hotspots such as the knees.

Whether you live in a hot climate area or not, you’ll need to have long sleeved tops and pants for enhanced protection. The proper gear should be adaptable. These include tops that can be rolled up to hold the sleeves and convertible pants which you can use as shorts.

Did you know that you still need to cover up even when you live in hot climate areas? Some desert areas can get overly cold especially at night. Some survivalists rotate clothes in their BOBs depending on the climate in their areas. That’s at the onset of winter and summer to ease their gear mixing process.

This method will be okay only if you’re disciplined enough to stick to it. To be on the safe side and make your process easy, you want to store cold season clothes. This is because modifying them according to the climate is easier. Good quality socks are must-have pieces if you want to protect your feet.

Further, they’re a critical part of surviving an emergency. You’ll want to keep a pair in your level 1 bug out bag list and can include more pairs, if space allows. Shoes are also critical and the best part about them is that you don’t have to store them inside your bug out bag as we’ve seen before.

All you need is to take a good quality pair close to your bag which you can wear for prolonged periods. The clothing options in a level 1 bug out bag list include one neck gaiter, shemagh, and a bandana. I like to keep one of these on hand because they are adaptable products that you can use as a mask, hat, scarf, sling, rain collector, water filter, and a signal. You can also use them to cool down through evaporation or to retain heat. A hat is also included in level 1 to protect you from the sun and keep you warm.


Sunglasses fall in level 2 because they’re often considered a luxury. However, sometimes you’ll want to make sure and keep one pair if the weather conditions make sense.


Gloves are ideal for protection and warmth. These fall in a level 2 bug out bag list because you can easily survive without them when using a level 1 kit. However, if your local area is cold, you may want to keep two sets of gloves in your bug out list, one of which should be thinner, and able to fit inside the second to keep you sufficiently warm.


A belt falls in the level 2 emergency kit because it adds weight and bulk in a level 1 list. If you only keep a level 1 kit on hand and need to keep your pants in place you can get a paracord, fastener, or even a safety pin from your bug out bag. Three main types of belts are popular in these packs. The lightest ones, those that are specially designed to hold survival gear, and those that are robust enough to be used as a gun holster platform. All of them work appropriately and you can keep whatever you want on your bug out list that best suits your needs.


  • Sink laundry kits are popular among survivalists. All you’ll need is a plastic drain cover to help you create a bowl of water inside the sink and concentrated detergent powder.

What you should avoid

  • Crocs, sandals, and such. Always use appropriate footwear specially designed for survival situations.


First, a headlamp is nearly always the perfect primary lighting choice because you can easily hang it around or on other items, hold it like a flashlight, or even wear it on your head to leave your hands free. They’re small, lightweight, and some of the modern models available today can also generate lots of light for prolonged periods on a standard AAA/AA or USB-rechargeable battery.

In your level 1 pack list, you’ll get either one or two lighters, a solar crank-powered radio, or a cell phone. A level 2 bug out list, on the other hand, contains a second powered light source. You have the option to get a lantern, take a second headlamp, or pack a handheld flashlight. Products at this level are advanced and experts like to recommend that people take a lantern since it’s small, rechargeable, and can even flood your campsite or room with more light than a headlamp flashlight would.


In the past, the candles were great. However, advanced batteries and charging technology have evolved and knocked candles out of the picture. If you still need candles, however, it’s best to get a pack that can take up minimal space but offer prolonged hours of light.

Things to avoid

  • Standalone crank-powered lights. These were ideal in the past but today there are advanced and rechargeable options I like more.
  • Glow sticks. These too were ideal in the past, but have been overtaken by advanced options.


There are many things you can do with your cell phone. For instance; you can use it to store critical information, it has contact details of your loved ones, it can even be used as a GPS gadget to help you figure out your location. It can entertain you, take pictures, and act as a flashlight. When it comes to phones, I like to have more than one inside, or within the proximity of your bug out kit. Often, many people will keep their phones within easy reach when emergencies occur.

While some people don’t see the practicality of having an extra activated phone just for emergencies, having a prepaid old phone complete with a spare SIM card can be ideal. All you need is to first make sure they can share charging cables with ease.

If they don’t, you’ll want to take different charging cables for each gadget, which can be cumbersome. You don’t need an active SIM plan to call 911 when stuck in an emergency. Still, I like having one. It’s a good idea to make sure and activate your spare SIM for use whenever the need comes up.

What happens when the grid is down?

Amateur radio can come in handy during first aid or disaster situations. I like this choice in particular because it can easily pick up local emergency services and public broadcast stations. People who are conversant with amateur radios are comfortable carrying only those. However, if you aren’t experienced in using them you can get a solar and crank-powered NOAA radio to take with you. These can come in handy to pick up one-way public broadcasts.

While they can be bulky, they’re an ideal alternative to help you stay in touch with what’s happening. The advantage of using these radios is that some of them come complete with inbuilt USB and flashlight charging ports, giving you a second, and even third backup layer of electricity and crank or solar-powered light.

Helpful reading: How to Get a HAM Radio License


Signaling can determine whether or not one can get help and survive a first aid emergency or disaster. Still, picking one universal and portable product can be an difficult task because your circumstances often determine the ideal signaling method. The ultimate choice for light, small, and versatile products is a whistle and a signal mirror. These are neither included in a level 1 bug out list nor level 2. They come in a level 3 bug out list because they only become more important than the list of items included in level 1 and 2 in rare circumstances.


  • Some seasoned preppers buy Mylar and tarps with one of the surfaces in a bright color for enhanced visibility whenever the need arises.
  • While satellite phones can be ideal, they’re quite expensive
  • Some people will always keep a GPS gadget
  • If by any chance you’ll get on water, signaling flares or dye can come in handy.

Things you should avoid

  • Some tactical bug out bag carriers often include a laser pointer in their list of items because it’s capable of signaling at a distance without revealing a person’s position.


One radio, one headlamp, and one phone are the only powered components in a level 1 pack list. Because of how battery systems operate, you’ll want to store your gear with approximately 50% charge. Evaluate and always charge your gadgets during your routine preparation reviews. While you may want to make sure to include a limited use albeit slightly heavy Li-Ion battery in a level 1 bug out pack, there are more advanced rechargeable options you can opt for.

Charging cables

Make sure and keep a USB and wall plug charging cable to complete the charging set up in level 1. You’ll first want to evaluate the comprehensiveness of your powered gear to figure out what type of USB-A, -B, or -Cables or ports you require. Having a wall plug with only a USB-A port for instance with A-to-B and A-to-C cables depending on your needs would be better.

On the other hand, including a cable and plug that your Google Pixel phone came with for instance would be too limiting because cables and plug are all USB-C albeit overly limited in the broader market.

Generating power falls in a level 2 bug out list and utilizes portable solar panels. While these add space and weight, I like to get these because of their ability to give you limitless power supply for all your bug out gear. With a solar panel alone, you can directly charge your gadgets through USB. A big percentage of battery types available come with USB plugs that are directly integrated with the battery.

A level 3 bug out kit incorporates a unique battery charger for removable batteries that don’t feature an inbuilt plug. You’ll also find an extra set of removable batteries that suit your main gear, especially if you have unique gear that you can’t directly charge using USB from a solar panel.

Things you should avoid

  • Contemporary wind, water, or crank power generators. This technology is still in its beginning stages which means it’s not good enough
  • Odd power or battery types. I like to get resources that normalize my power as much possible. This way I can make sure everything uses the same USB battery and cable types.

Other items you’ll need include

  • Navigation equipment
  • One multitool
  • One knife
  • Hygiene and medical equipment
  • Entertainment and mental health rejuvenation kit
  • Money
  • Your essential documents
  • Self-defense equipment, and
  • Miscellaneous equipment


What does bug out bag mean?

A bug out bag, also known as a BOB is a lightweight, compact, and portable kit that contains the essential items you’d need to survive for 72 hours when escaping from a disaster. However, some kits are specially designed to last for longer periods (like 3 weeks).

A bug out bag should be created under the rule of 3’s foundation. It states that you can only survive 3 hours in rough weather (hence the need for shelter), 3 minutes without air, 3 weeks without food, and 3 days without water. Your bug out gear should meet this purpose.

Where should you store your bug out bag?

I like to store a bug out bag in the areas where I spend most of my time. These could be at work, home, school, inside your car, or with a friend. You can also store it in public storage. I like to make sure I first have one at home, though, since it would likely be my main source of shelter in a first aid or disaster situation.

What size should your bug out bag be?

Get a bug out bag that fits comfortably on your hips. Choose an extra small bag if your torso measures 15 ½ inches. Go for a small bag if your torso measures between 16 and 17 ½ inches. People whose torsos measure between 18 and 19 ½ inches should opt for a medium-sized bag, while those with 20-inch torsos should choose a large bag.

How much should a bug out bag weigh?

Whatever bug out bag you get should be light enough to enable you to carry it comfortably. Still, its first purpose is to contain sufficient supplies and provisions that can last up to three days. More weight will make you uncomfortable while fewer supplies will hinder the goal of your bag. A huge bag is not only a burden, but it also hinders your movement. I like to first look at what your ideal bug out bag weight should be – which is 10% of your body weight (or, the bag you choose should be at least ⅓ of your total body weight and fitness level).


Whether your local area is disaster-prone area or not, preparing your bug out bag in advance may be all it takes to help you and your loved ones survive. These tips with the right first aid resources will come in handy to ease the process, especially for novice survivalists.

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