The Best Bug Out Bags: Top 72 Hour Bug Out Bags to Prepare for Anything

In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best bug out bags you can put together for different budgets, with kits designed for every eventuality, situation and price range. Start here to build the best bug out bag to see you through anything.


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How to Create the Ultimate Bug Out Bag

When it comes to preparing for the unexpected, planning and assembling a comprehensive Bug Out Bag, Grab Bag or Go Bag is one of the very best ways to make sure you’re always ready to react quickly to adverse events, whatever the eventuality.

From unexpected emergencies to natural disasters, economic turmoil or civil unrest, there are countless instances when being able to move in a hurry can make all the difference.

Putting together the best bug out bag for your personal situation will ensure you have everything you need to hand should you need to get out of dodge fast if things start deteriorating.

A bug out bag – also known as a Personal Emergency Relocation Kit (PERK), Go-Bag, Get out of Dodge (GOOD) bag or Battle Box – is effectively a pre-prepared kit of the essential items required for survival and continuity should you need to leave your home or office (or anywhere else for that matter!) at the drop of a hat.

When putting together the best bug out bag, the size of the bag and its contents will ultimately depend on a whole range of factors and will need to consider practical issues such as weight and durability as well planning related issues like where the bag will be kept, the context in which it will be used (purpose, local geographical considerations, climate etc) and who it needs to cater for (one person, a couple or a family).

Generally speaking, the best practice is to ensure that whatever the situation, your bug out bag contains enough supplies to last you for a minimum of 72 hours (3 days).

That said, while three days is considered the ideal standard for preparing a general purpose bag, a grab bag can also be put together to cover shorter or longer periods of time ranging from one-day kits to packs that will see you through for up to a week and even beyond this length of time.

While it may be obvious, the larger your budget, the more comprehensive and higher quality your bug out bag and the gear inside will be.

However, even with a modest budget, you can still put together a kit that will see you right when things go wrong and can prepare the best bug out bag to keep close at hand in case needed.

When it comes to assembling the best bug out bag for any eventuality, preparation is key and planning your kit today is quite simply one of the best investments/insurance policies to help you hedge against the uncertainties of the future.

Pre-Made Bug Out Bags

Don’t Want to Waste Time? START HERE.Best Bug Out Bag Guide 5-11 Tactical Rush72 Bug Out Backpack
Below we’ve listed the best bug out bags of 2019 and equipment for every budget as well as the lowdown on the individual items in each kit, why they should make the cut when it comes to packing your bag, and how they’ll help you when SHTF.

Read on if you want to build the best bug out bag based upon your personal budget.

If you’re looking to get the best bug out bag assembled with minimal fuss, and want to get right into assembling your kit, we’ve put together six pre-made packing lists that will save you from hours of deliberation and will let you build the best bug out bag for your specific needs.

The bug out bags in this section have been assembled around the best core components for every bug out bag and cover the essential areas you need to consider in a ‘get up and go’ scenario. From hydration and nutrition, to shelter, illumination, fire-starting, and first aid, the kits recommended here will allow you to put together the best bug out bag within your budget.

There are, of course, endless ways to personalize and customize your bug out bag and its contents, and we actively recommend that you do, so you can ensure the ‘perfect fit’ for your needs. You may for example have a personal preference over a particular tent or emergency meal kit brand and want to swap it out. Similarly, you may have specific health or location based considerations that mean your bug out bag needs to be modified. In both of these instances, we encourage you to do what works best for you. These pre-made kits have been designed as the ‘best practice’ baseline for building your bag.

Think of these lists as the essential ‘recipe’ to follow in building the best bug out bag for your requirements. Adhering to the recipe will result in a bug out bag that will serve you well when the time comes. Amending and personalizing the recipe where needed will help you tailor the bag make it truly yours.

In order to be considered the best bug out bag for you, you may decide that you want to use these kit lists as a starting point with the goal of growing and personalizing along the way.

These kit lists are updated with the top equipment and supplies at the best prices on a regular basis. So, if you’re looking at these bags you can be sure they’ll give you maximum performance and reliability for the budget you’ve set.

Note: While these bug out bags have been put together with ‘the average person’ in mind, it should be noted that unfortunately, no such generic measurement exists! With this in mind, tweaking the contents (adding or substituting elements) to fit your personal preferences will help you build the very best bug out bag for you as an individual and that will serve you best in an emergency.


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$100 Bug Out Bag

When it comes to preparing the best bug out bag for use in an emergency situation, never forget that one mantra holds true throughout:

Anything is better than nothing.

The range and flexibility offered by a bug out bag within this entry-level budget make it more suited as a supplementary kit than the main bug out bag as the contents and equipment could prove restrictive when conditions are particularly adverse.

That said, if you’re working on a tight budget, putting together a BOB that fits the bill can still be accomplished for as little as $100 and there are ways to streamline the essentials of your kit for a lean and mean solution which will still serve you well as the first line of defence if things start to go south.

Creating a bug out bag within this price range can also represent a good foundation on which to build a more comprehensive kit further down the line, acting as a solid set of supplies to develop and build on over time – when the storm clouds start to gather, you’ll still have a baseline bag to grab and go.

Alternatively, assembling a smaller bag containing the essentials for evacuation and continuity is also an excellent way of keeping a separate, supplementary tactical kit on hand whenever you’re someplace where your main bag isn’t, like in the car, at the office or in another predetermined location that you can get to.

Packing the fundamental elements of a budget go bag will allow you to rapidly react to developments if a situation starts to deteriorate and will provide you with enough kit to get you to your main pack or to implement the next stage of your bug out plan. One of the best things about this bag is it can be put together for around $100.

Equipment List for $100 Bug Out Bag

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(Prices fluctuate, check here for current pricing.)


Why You Need This Bug Out Bag

Putting together a basic bug out bag is one of the best ways to make sure that you’re always prepared for the unexpected, allowing you to keep your head even when others around you are not.

The ability to allow you to react quickly to changes on the ground is the primary goal of every bug out bag and this primary objective holds true here with the essential foundation of this kit which sacrifices some of the equipment and supplies of more comprehensive packs while still offering the items you need to allow you to move in a hurry.

The general rule of thumb is that the more complete your bag is, the longer you’ll be able to remain self-sufficient between the start of an emergency and the implementation of your long-term plan.

With this in mind, consider that a bag within this range will serve you well in a pinch, while expanding your supplies (and upgrading to a larger backpack) will ultimately allow you to put together a great solution for creating the best bug out bag for a wider range of eventualities and a greater length of time.

This entry level kit works well as a starter to assembling a more comprehensive bag or as one of your additional tactical grab bags kept at strategic locations.



$250 Bug Out Bag

A budget of $250 allows you to assemble a grab bag that offers a greater deal of flexibility and the ability to keep going for longer when you find yourself needing to hit the road or trail fast.

Putting together a bug out bag within this price range allows you to start thinking about some of the longer term considerations of evacuating an area for longer than a day.

Within this price bracket, a bug out bag can contain the essential survival equipment suited to urban survival while providing enough adaptability to start moving further away from civilization if required.

Due to this, a $250 bag is a good option as a natural disaster contingency where the priority is simply to evacuate and survive, but with less of a requirement for escaping the urban environment or populated areas altogether.

As well as representing an excellent bug out bag for events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires and similar situations where the priority is rapid egress, this kit is also highly customizable for other eventualities if required.

If you’re looking to put together the best bug out bag for natural disasters or a more generic entry level kit but are constrained by price, the $250 bag makes a great entry-level option and represents an excellent foundation set for building on with more equipment at a later date.

Equipment List for $250 Bug Out Bag

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(Prices fluctuate, check here for current pricing.)



Why You Need This Bug Out Bag

Built around the Exos Bravo tactical backpack, this bug out bag brings together the core components of a kit built for urban survival over a three day period.

The addition of cook-in-pouch meals, a portable stove and purified water packs provide a level of flexibility outside of the $100 bag that allows for a more complete level of self-sufficiency for up to 72 hours.

Similarly, the inclusion of a more comprehensive first aid kit, a wider range of essential survival multi-tools such as the Pocket Survival Kit by Holtzman and additional batteries for power offers the flexibility to get off the road if the situation deteriorates.

This bag is the ideal solution for an entry level 72 hour kit for urban survival situations such as a natural disaster, longer term power outages or as an element of your bug out strategy when you need to get out and keep going for up to three days.



$350 Bug Out Bag

For those of you looking to assemble a bug out bag that gives the flexibility to start moving further afield during a crisis, a budget of $350 allows you to build a bag that allows you to react to a wider variety of situations than some of the lower value bags previously mentioned.

A bug out bag in the $350 range begins to provide the essential equipment for continuity both within and outside of the urban environment.

If you need to grab a bag and run because the world is caving in around you, then you’re going need a pack that contains everything needed for short-term survival, wherever you end up and whatever the emergency.

The $350 bug out bag incorporates the core component of a comprehensive survival kit, providing the equipment, tools, and supplies for escaping civilization for up to 72 hours should the need arise.

If you’re looking to assemble a grab bag for a wider range of both natural and man-made emergencies, read on to see what you need to succeed.

Equipment List for $350 Bug Out Bag

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(Prices fluctuate, check here for current pricing.)



Why You Need This Bug Out Bag

At the core of this kit is the awesome Tactical Backpack from Monkey Paks which comes with a 2.5L hydration bladder (the ideal capacity for a day’s worth of drinking water) and 3 Molle Bags for additional storage.

More space means more kit, and with that, comes the ability to sustain and maintain for a longer period of time if you find yourself needing to bug out when things start to look bad.

In addition to the basic equipment in the bug out bags listed above, a greater focus on wilderness survival is built into the $350 bug out bag.

The essential considerations of outdoor survival can begin to be addressed within this price range including the ability to purify water directly from source using the excellent LifeStraw portable water filter as well as also including the core supplies needed for sanitation and fire starting.

On top of this, the $350 bug out bag includes an emergency hand crank/solar radio for keeping on top of developing events, writing equipment for use in all conditions, and a survival guide to provide the essential information for surviving outdoors.

If you’re looking for the best bug out bag that will get you out of trouble and offers the flexibility to adapt to a wider range of urban and wilderness survival situations, then this bag is a great place to start.



$500 Bug Out Bag

With a budget of $500 or more, your bug out bag can begin to incorporate the supplies needed for more serious emergency situations or more prolonged periods away from home.

The best bug out bag needs to be adaptable and flexible.

Whether you need to leave populated areas altogether or need to consider bugging out for longer than 3 days (or both!), a $500 bug out bag allows you to cover the essentials demanded by this kind of scenario.

From the inclusion of more substantial shelter to a higher capacity bag and additional nutritional supplies, a $500 bug out bag provides significant benefits over longer periods of time.

If you want to put together a go bag that will provide the flexibility to adapt to a wider range of emergency situations from anywhere between 3-5 days, the $500 price range is an excellent starting point.

Equipment List for $500 Bug Out Bag

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(Prices fluctuate, check here for current pricing.)



Why You Need This Bug Out Bag

The 5.11 Rush72 is the foundation of this bug out bag and as a dedicated 72 hour bag, it’s perfect as a high capacity bug out bag that doesn’t sacrifice form for function. One of the best things about the 5.11 Rush that makes it so well suited as an all round grab bag is the way it blends all the features you’d expect of a tactical military pack alongside a good looking (but unassuming) exterior – just what you want if you’re not looking to draw unwelcome attention during an emergency situation.

A larger bug out bag like the 5.11 Rush72 provides ample storage space for all of the essentials of the packs listed earlier as well as offering the extra room for more sophisticated shelter and supplies for heading off-road when required.

Because of this, in addition to the basic equipment outlined in the bags listed above, the $500 bug out bag also contains provisions for more sustained operation outside of the urban environment and for greater time periods. If time and the developing situation allow, the $500 bug out bag and those following make an excellent addition to a bug out vehicle setup.

A basic 2 man tent provides added protection from the elements if you find yourself needing to pitch up en-route, while a dedicated water bottle with built-in filter will allow you to bug out for longer if required.

If you’re looking to make the move into a heavier duty bug out bag kit which can be utilized for a wider range of applications, the $500 mark allows you to build one of the very best bug out bag solutions for the job and provides a level of self sufficiency above lower priced kits.



$750 Bug Out Bag

If you’re looking to build a grab bag or bug out bag that incorporates supplies and equipment for a more sustained evacuation plan or provision for more than one person, then a budget of $750 is the way to go.

A $750 bug out bag provides the capability for bugging out for longer than 72 hours if going solo while offering enough supplies for a couple over a 3 day period.

With additional supplies for sufficiency outside of the urban area, this price range is also an excellent place to start if you’re looking to build the best bug out bag to help you get through a severe breakdown of society where the need to leave populated areas becomes a priority for survival.

This price bracket opens up shelter options with the capacity and feature set to deal with the strains of a rapidly developing emergency situation. Similarly, a focus on nutrition and wilderness adaptability make the supplies in this bug out bag a great option for heading off-road if this is likely to form part of your strategy.

If you want to put together a comprehensive bug out bag that offers the flexibility for advanced survival in a ton of scenarios, while allowing you to adapt to rapidly changing situations, the $750 set is a great choice. Consider this price range if you’re likely to be moving away from population centers or if moving for more than 3 days.

Equipment List for $750 Bug Out Bag

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(Prices fluctuate, check here for current pricing.)



Why You Need This Bug Out Bag

Built around the 5.11 Rush tactical backpack with it’s excellent storage capacity and durable build quality, this kit provides the capability to bug out for longer than 72 hours and strike out off the beaten path if required.

Bug out bags in this price range are well equipped to allow you to rapidly break off from high population areas when required while the supplies within the bag are also ideally suited for more than person if you’re bugging out with someone else.

The inclusion of a two-person, 3-4 season tent means you can pitch up if you find yourself in the wilderness no matter the conditions, while a supply and equipment list built around urban/rural hybrid survival considerations means you’re covered for every eventuality.

At $750, you can build a bug out bag designed to cope however the emergency develops and with whatever the situation throws at you (and it!)



$1000 Bug Out Bag

When a serious situation develops or seems imminent, the criteria and requirements for survival can become fluid, rapidly changing and will almost certainly be entirely unpredictable.

In this kind of scenario, the quality, quantity, and capability of the kit you pack in your bug out bag can make all of the difference to ensuring survival and continuity no matter what unfolds.

Putting together a bug out bag in this price bracket provides a level of certainty and security that simply isn’t there otherwise.

As far as pre-prepared grab bags go, this is undoubtedly one of the best bug out bag load-outs for the money.

The supplies, tools and equipment available within this budget are an excellent choice if conditions and climate are likely to be adverse when you evacuate as well as also providing a good level of coverage to allow more than one person to bug out – particularly if split between two separate backpacks or as part of a bug out vehicle load out.

With a particular focus on functionality, features, and build quality, the survival equipment and supplies within this bug out bag are focused heavily on offering maximum security and self-sufficiency for surviving over 72 hours in a host of environments and situations.

From water provision and survival nutrition to high-quality shelter and personal protection, this bug out bag comprises an essential selection of some of the best survival equipment out there.

If you’re preparing for the big one, are bugging out as a couple, or simply want to make sure that you’ve covered all the bases, this comprehensive bug out bag will ensure that you’re ready for almost anything.

Equipment List for $1000 Bug Out Bag

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(Prices fluctuate, check here for current pricing.)



Why You Need This Bug Out Bag

The excellent 5.11 Rush72 tactical backpack forms the base of this kit and is supplemented with an attachable molle pack to provide additional storage capacity on the outside of your bag. This added extra allows you quick and easy access to the most crucial elements of your gear whenever you need to get at it while providing an always welcome boost of available space to an already spacious tactical bug out backpack.

With a particular focus on equipment and tools for surviving more demanding conditions, the contents of this bug out bag are designed to help you get through whatever is thrown your way in even the most adverse situations.

Shelter comes in the form of the excellent MSR HubbaHubba tent which is both lightweight and spacious while bringing the trademark quality of the brand’s tent making prowess to your bag.

This budget is perfect for allowing you to put together one of the very best bug out bag solutions that’s built to adapt and designed to survive every eventuality you may find yourself facing.



How to Use This Guide

Best Bug Out Bag Guide Outdoors
If you’re looking for a comprehensive resource on the very best bug out bags and the components, supplies and equipment that go into making them the ultimate ally in a disaster situation, then start here.

With so much equipment out there, there are a ton of options to choose between when it comes to building the best bug out bag or survival kit for your needs and as a result of this, this guide is pretty long.

To make things easier, we’ve included a table of contents at the top of this post to help you navigate to the specific areas you’re interested in and get you straight into picking out the best components for your bug out bag!

Bug Out Bag Basics

You may have heard the term bugging out multiple times in the past, but what exactly does it mean?

If you ever find yourself needing to evacuate your home quickly, having and implementing a pre-prepared plan and kit to help you get it done immediately and without a second thought is known as bugging out.

There are numerous situations that can occur in an instant that could warrant needing to get out of your home area immediately, from natural emergencies such as storms, earthquakes, and wildfires, to man-made events such as terrorism, acts of war, civil unrest and rapid changes in the socio-economic landscape.

Also, there are those events which can fall between the two, such as a pandemic or biological outbreak.

Whether it’s due to a natural disaster or a man-made emergency situation, there will always be the possibility that you may need to abandon your home at a moment’s notice.

Unscripted emergencies happen just as much as those that you may have come to expect in the area where you live, and it’s for both of these kinds of situation that having a comprehensive evacuation plan and a pre-prepared bug out bag can make all the difference to the ultimate outcome.

With this in mind, this guide will help you assemble the best bug out bag for your individual situation and takes into account the most common types of disaster that you may encounter (such as flooding, wildfires and major storms), as well as steadily increasing threats such as changes to climate, terrorist incidents, or the possibility of a nuclear attack forcing an evacuation scenario upon you.

When putting together the best bug out bag, we’re looking to cover every element that goes into building an effective 72 hour, portable survival kit that’s uniquely tailored to your specific situation and the environment in which you’ll need to use it.

The best bug out bag needs to be the ultimate bug out bag for every eventuality.

By building the best bug out bag (or bags) for the needs of you and your family, you can sleep easy knowing that if the worst case scenario is just around the corner, you’ll be ready to grab your gear and get out without a moment’s hesitation.

Key Considerations When Preparing the Best Bug Out Bag

Putting together the best bug out bag serves one simple purpose – to allow you to guarantee all of your basic survival needs are met if you need to leave your home during an emergency.

The best bug out bag strategy will cover a number of days away from home (a minimum of 3 days/72 hours is a good baseline) to ensure that however serious an  emergency or disaster, you’re able to get up and go without needing to look back.

In practice of course, what this means is ensuring that the supplies and equipment you bring with you in your bug out bag not only meet these criteria, but can also be practically packed and carried comfortably and will stand up to the unique demands of a survival situation in challenging conditions.

As with everything in preparedness, you’ll get out of your bug out bag whatever you put in (both figuratively and literally).

When thinking about disaster and emergency preparedness, it’s crucial to consider any commitment (either time or money) as both an investment and an insurance policy.

By building the best bug out bag for coping with the adversity of an unexpected emergency situation, you’re really hedging against the potentially deadly alternative of having nothing at all in the event of a life-altering disaster.

With this in mind, while it’s totally possible to put together a variety of survival equipment for a few bucks, you’ll always get what you pay for if and when you eventually need to call on it.

Spending money on quality and adequate quantity will always pay dividends when you need to call on your supplies so don’t scrimp if you can avoid it when putting together your bug out bag.

By building yourself the best bug out bag for your budget or situation, you’re ultimately looking to prepare a consolidated set of the essential supplies and tools for surviving should adversity or disaster strike out of the blue.

No matter where you are, you should always be thinking about how prepared you are for the unexpected and look to have certain survival essentials at hand when you need to grab and go.

The bug out bag you eventually end up with is obviously highly tailored to the individual and while there’s no such thing as a “universal bug out bag”, every bag is ultimately built from a set of core components needed for survival and to make continuity as seamless as possible.

With an understanding of the key components that make up the very best bug out bags and survival grab bags, you can quickly assemble the perfect kit for almost every situation.

Why You Should Build a Customized Bug Out Bag

One of, if not the most important considerations when assembling the best bug out bag for your needs is the fact that your kit is designed uniquely for you and your situation.

Because of this, everything from the style and form of the bag itself down to the contents within it need to be designed to meet the specific requirements and needs of the user.

There are instances when picking a pre-made and pre-filled bug out bag off the shelf can be useful, but even in these cases, what you get in the pack should only ever serve as the starting point for customizing your kit and often simply won’t contain enough supplies and equipment to keep you comfortable during a ‘live fire’ emergency situation or disaster.

Start by considering your personal needs including priority items like medication requirements, followed by physical considerations such as level of fitness, height, weight etc – these will form the basis for nutrition requirements as well as helping determine limitations and weight limits when packing your bug out bag.

The next most important set of considerations related to your home climate – do you live in an area that is typically temperate, arid, hot or cold?

These factors are crucial elements to ensuring that your bug out bag and its contents are suitable for the environment you’re most likely to find yourself in when a situation deteriorates.

If your local area is prone to heavy rainfall, waterproofing your gear and packing a poncho will become key ingredients for ensuring you have the best bug out bag for the job, if you live in an arid environment, adequate protection from the sun and ample water provision become priority items.

Your Bug Out Bag Budget

When it comes to preparing and building your own bug out bag, there are a lot of things to consider and one of the biggest is undoubtedly how much you plan to spend on putting your kit together.

The budget for your bag will ultimately come down to the size of the bug out bag you’re looking to assemble as well as the quality of the equipment and supplies you want at hand.

The old saying “buy cheap, buy twice” is a good one to remember when it comes to investing in quality tools and holds true when it comes to building the best bug out bag or go bag for your circumstances.

While some equipment varies little by price, in other areas such as lightweight survival tents, sleeping equipment, and tools, an upfront investment now can pay dividends in the long run and ensure your kit is fighting fit for years to come.

Getting to Grips with Your Bug Out Gear

As with any other tool or piece of equipment, the kit you put together when building your bug out bag is only going to be as effective as you are when it comes down to using it.

Understanding how to use the contents of your bug out bag is paramount to ensuring that when the time comes, you’re able to get straight down to it, whether that’s starting a fire, pitching a tent or sharpening a knife.

In order to make it through whatever an emergency situation or disaster throws at you, it’s important that you’re totally confident in how and when to use your bug out gear effectively and this ultimately comes down to practice and experience.

Get to grips with your gear before you need it in a real-life scenario and you’ll thank yourself later.

The great thing here is that for things like backpacking tents and outdoor gear in general, this can mean simply taking your bug out bag and associated kit with you on weekend camping trips or hiking to start getting comfortable with how to use it in the field.

How to Store Your Bug Out Bag

When it comes to the question of where best to keep your bug out bag when it’s not in use, while the answer ultimately depends on individual circumstances. there are a couple of golden rules and key considerations to keep in mind when storing your bug out supplies and gear.

Keep it Close
While it may seem obvious, the most important consideration of all when storing your bug out bag is to keep it somewhere close at hand.

If SHTF and you need to bail out fast, you’re going to want your bug out bag to be where you are rather than a hundred miles away at a friend or relative’s place!

If you spend most of your time in your home, keep your bug out bag in an easily accessible and secure location there, if you’re likely to be bugging out in your car then think about keeping your kit in the trunk (climate depending – see below).

For most people, disasters have that annoying habit of striking at the most inconvenient times like when you’re in the office, out at the store or picking up the kids. For these situations, the best thing you can do is to keep a smaller kit close at hand while you get back to your main bug out bag.

Similarly, if you haven’t done already, consider putting together a collection of the absolute essentials for storing in your pocket or purse at all times (like you would with your keys and wallet) to call on when you need to. Usually consisting of kit like a pocket flashlight, tactical pen, knife or multi-tool (check local regulations regarding carrying laws), this everyday carry kit becomes your ‘break in case of emergency’ equipment cache that’s always on hand, even if your bug out bag and supplies aren’t.

Ultimately, your bug out bag needs to be packed and ready for deployment at the drop of a hat as your ability to react and evacuate at an instant is crucial.

Keep it Discrete
Choosing the best bug out bag backpack that fits the bill has a lot to do with finding the right option for your situation and covers areas such as comfort, capacity, build quality etc. With that being said, one of the areas that’s often overlooked by people building a bug out bag from scratch is the need for the bag to blend in and not draw attention to the wearer during an unfolding emergency situation.

Nothing draws unwanted attention during a bug out scenario or disaster quite like a bright bag or one that looks like it was lifted straight from a combat zone.

Avoid loud camouflage if at all possible when choosing a the best bag out bag as this can signal to two groups in an emergency that you will likely want to avoid; military personnel who may view this with increased suspicion, and the unprepared who may see it as a sign that you’re much better prepared for the situation (which of course you will be) and will see you as a target in a potentially desperate situation.

The ultimate goal is to choose a bug out bag that is subtle enough to allow you to blend in unnoticed when chaos is all around you while offering the fullest functionality and utility of the best military, outdoor and tactical backpacks.

All of the bug out backpacks we recommend in this guide fulfill these criteria, with many borrowing heavily from combat grade tactical bags and survival backpacks while maintaining a neutral outward appearance to allow you to evacuate an area quickly and quietly.

A similar consideration should be made when deciding where to store your bug out bag in your home or preferred location.

The goal, in this case, is to keep your bug out bag at hand and accessible for grabbing at a moment’s notice (as mentioned above), while not advertising its whereabouts to the outside world.

If you have a location by an entryway to your home that is concealed, yet easy to reach in an instant, then this may represent a good spot for storing your bag.

Keep it Cool, Dark and Dry
If you’re putting together a grab bag with perishable supplies like food and water, however long the shelf life, it’s preferable that your kit is kept out of direct sunlight, heat, and cold temperatures, as well as in a dry area at all times.

Again, a shaded area is ideal here and if you can find a suitable storage spot that combines this with accessibility and easy concealment, then you’re definitely onto a winner.

Treat your bug out bag and supplies like the valuable pieces of equipment they are and when it comes to using them, you can be sure they won’t let you down!

Best Bags for Bugging Out

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If you’re planning to build the best bug out bag for you or your family, the main priority for carrying your kit is always going to be the suitability of the bag itself.

Among the main considerations when choosing the best bag for the job are aspects such as the bag’s capacity, storage options, weight (both empty and fully loaded), the number of additional features and construction materials.

Of course, backpacks, bags, and holdalls are a dime a dozen, and with a ton of choices out there, choosing the best bag for the job can feel like a daunting task if you don’t know where to start.

When choosing a bag, those with military applications (think army surplus or military issue bags) often meet many of the durability and capacity requirements to carry plenty of supplies in all conditions – after all, this is the exact job they were intended to do!

On the other hand however, while it can be tempting to go down this route when choosing a bag, another consideration is the fact that if society begins to break down and you find yourself bugging out, an ex-service issue bag can stand out from more modest packs and could potentially draw unwanted attention from those less prepared than you or with an interest in your actions.

Therefore, the ideal solution is something in the middle – modest enough to blend in (no loud camo if you can help it) but with the features and functionality of a bag typically used by professionals.

Finding the best bug out bag that meets these criteria will ensure you give yourself the best chance of covering every base and will mean that you have ample space for all of your gear, without sacrificing on functionality and comfort when wearing for prolonged periods.

Check out our guide to the Best Bug Out Backpacks for more information on the best carrying options

What Type of Bug Out Bag Should I Choose?

When it comes to bags and finding the best bug out bag backpack for emergency use, one thing you won’t be short of is options.

Among the most common types of bag for bugging out, most people will opt for either a survival backpack or duffel bag, depending on their personal situation and bug out plan.

In our opinion (and if you’re still undecided), going for a survival backpack will represent the best course of action if you’re building your bug out bag from scratch – here are some of the reasons why:

  • A backpack keeps your hands free which is an absolutely essential consideration during an emergency situation, whether it’s for self-defense, holding a flashlight or moving debris.
  • Backpacks distribute weight meaning you can pack a lot of kit and can carry for longer periods of time without getting tired.
  • Unlike other types of bag, a backpack is effectively ‘attached’ to you making it harder for someone to steal your gear should they have a plan to do so.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for a more traditional holdall or duffel bag, however.

Both of these types of bag can often carry significantly more gear and if you’re planning to bug out by vehicle, where carrying the load yourself is less of an issue, the benefits of backpacks listed above can largely be ignored.

Analyze your personal situation and proposed bug out plan and decide which type of bag will suit your needs for packing the best bug out bag for your needs.

What to look for in a Bug Out Bag

Choosing the best bug out bag or backpack to get you out of danger means finding one that’s able to perform under pressure and that won’t fail when put through some of the most rigorous and challenging scenarios.

We’ve outlined some of the main considerations you need to think about when finding the best bug out bag for getting you and your gear out of harm’s way.

Build Quality and ConstructionBest-Bug-Out-Bags-What-to-Look-For-RUSH-72
It probably goes without saying that in an emergency situation or disaster, most bug out bags are likely to take some serious abuse.

With this in mind, when choosing a bug out bag for getting you through adverse conditions, look for a pack that has strengthened materials and features such as double stitching and reinforced seams.

Build quality should also be obvious around components that will see some of the most action (zippers, handles, buckles, latching points etc) so be on the lookout for these key areas when assessing how durable the bag will be when it’s being put through its paces.

Separation and Compartments
You’ll soon discover when packing (and unpacking!) your bug out bag, that clearly defined and well thought out compartments and pockets are a godsend when it comes to laying hands on your equipment and supplies quickly.

As you’ve probably experienced in the past, single compartment bags have both positive and negative points to them, and while it can feel like there’s simply more room to cram it all in with this arrangement, it can be both incredibly frustrating and inefficient if you’re trying to find for example, your spare flashlight or storm-proof lighter to get a fire going quickly.

In terms of finding the best bug out bag for your specific situation, you’re going to want to think about what you’re likely to be packing and in what order you’re likely to need to access things when you’re on the road or trail. A general rule of thumb is to keep those items with the highest priority requirement (self defense, first aid, fire starting) in the most easily accessible part of your bag such as the top or a front pocket. Multiple allocated compartments allow a much greater degree of flexibility here.

When time is of the absolute essence and when you’re operating in a highly stressful situation, the ability to have everything organized and locatable quickly and efficiently provides a critical advantage so this becomes a core consideration when finding the best bug out bag for future use.

Adequate Support
This is a core factor when choosing a bug out bag that will go the distance with you. If you need to evacuate quickly and don’t know how long you’ll be on the road, the ability to distribute the weight of your gear and carry it comfortably is essential.

Wherever possible, ALWAYS choose a bag with padded shoulder straps to prevent injury and rubbing when wearing for long periods to ensure you’re able to continue without pain and discomfort.

Many packs in the mid-large size category will also include a hip belt which will help redistribute some of the load from your upper body by centering the weight of the pack. If you’re likely to be covering any kind of distance or will be out with the bag on your back for an extended period of time, this feature really becomes important.

Weatherproof and Water Resistant
The chances are that when you need to bug out with your bag, you’re going to come into contact with either serious weather conditions or water in some form.

Being able to protect your gear from the elements and keeping everything within your bag dry at all times should be high on the list of priorities when planning your bug out bag.

There are a couple of approaches to ensuring a waterproof bug out bag –  going for a dedicated waterproof backpack or adding a level of waterproofing yourself (either by applying a water resistant treatment or utilizing a physical cover).

Some of the best bug out bags will be treated with some form of water-resistant coating or offer a degree waterproofing as standard, while others may include a detachable rain cover. If this isn’t the case, you can easily remedy the situation by picking up a removable rain cover and even better, investing in some drybags to protect the most valuable items inside your pack from the worst of the weather.

Usability and Comfort

When it comes to bugging out, the chances are that the conditions are going to be far from favorable when you need to get out of the house in a hurry. With that being said, there are definitely ways to manage the situation in a way that minimizes the impact on you and your family by taking control of the variables that you can influence when times are good.

If circumstances allow it, then bugging out by vehicle will represent your best course of action, provided that you are able to get out early enough and can put enough distance between you and ground zero before the roads become impassable. In this case, preparing your bug out vehicle in parallel with your bug out bag should form a key part of your evacuation strategy. It’s important to remember, however, that when things get real, there’s every chance that bugging out by vehicle may simply not be an option due to a combination of one (or all) of the following:

  • Gridlock and severe traffic
  • Impassable roads or road closures by authorities
  • Limited access to fuel or completely dry pumps

In this situation, the only viable course of action may be to bug out on foot and in this case, ensuring your load-out is both easily accessible and as comfortable as possible can make all of the difference.

To ensure this, creating the best bug out bag for the job means your bag needs to be the right fit for your build and the weight when fully packed needs to be within a range that you can carry with comfort, bearing in mind that you may need to carry it for extended periods.

Best Bug Out Bag Water and Hydration Options

Without a doubt, the most important consideration during any emergency survival situation is the availability of clean drinking water. Because of this, the provision of water becomes the priority requirement in any bug out bag and is, therefore, the first thing to allocate space for when planning and packing your kit.

The very best bug out bag is one that contains multiple levels of contingency and layers of redundancies if a primary system or solution fails. Nowhere is this concept highlighted more clearly than in the provision of clean drinking water in your bag.

Water provides everything the body needs to replace fluids lost through breathing, metabolism, sweating and waste removal making it the most vital element to the success of your bug out strategy.

During a disaster or emergency, the chances are that the security, availability, and quality of water could well become questionable at best, and it’s due to this that packing enough means of accessing clean drinking water is crucial to any bug out prep.

The first line of defense in your hydration packing plan should be to prepare a provision of clean drinking water in the form of a traditional water bottle, canteen or hydration bladder. Whichever of these you opt for, keep them clean, empty and easily accessible near the top of your bag and make filling them up your first job when evacuation is imminent.

Whenever possible, your primary hydration medium (bottle, bladder, canteen) should be refilled from a safe source, however, if this is not an option, your next redundancy should be to pack sealed and purified water pouches into your kit. These often have an excellent shelf life, are easy to pack and are safe to drink when other water may not be.

Ideally, you want to divide your water supply among different containers or bottles to ensure that you maintain a viable access to drinking water with redundancies in place, no matter what happens to your primary source.

If all else fails, it’s a great idea to include a final level of water security in the form of a physical water filter as well as a chemical purification solution as a second-line backup should your access to a reliable water source become compromised.

The amount of clean drinking water you ultimately need will vary based on factors such as the climate and your level of exertion (as well as by age and size), but as with everything in an emergency situation, more is always better.

While opinion on the recommended minimum daily intake varies, the general consensus from bodies such as the CDC and DHS is that you should aim to have access to at least 2 – 3 liters (70-100oz) of drinking water per person per day.

An essential for almost any survival situation, the LifeStraw system is one of the very best compact water filtration systems out there and is worth its weight in gold as part of your bug out bag. Filtering out 99.9% of bacteria and microbes from otherwise undrinkable water means that packing one of these wonders in your kit will mean you’ll always have access to treated water when all other sources run dry.

About Water Purification

With the importance of maintaining adequate supplies of drinking water to prevent dehydration, comes the next most crucial consideration, guaranteeing that the supply you have (or are able to access) is clean and drinkable.

There are multiple ways to purify water in an emergency, and as with all things preparedness related, there are orders of preference for each. Wherever possible, you should look to build redundancy into your options and ensuring access to clean drinking water is no exception.

Primary purification options you should implement in your bug out bag will ideally consist of at least a couple of low-impact purification methods such as a filtration system and/or chemical purifiers, backed with the ability to boil water when needed.

Integrated Filters

If you’re looking for a filtration system that doubles up as one of your primary water containers, choosing a bottle that integrates a filter into the cap is an effective way of combining the two objectives and reducing the space requirement for separate units in your bag.

Utilizing an inbuilt filter (and sometimes an integrated chemical treatment system), units with this provision allow you to basically fill your bottle from a questionable water source and drink directly from the mouthpiece with filtration occurring as you drink.

Straw Filters

The brilliance of straw filter systems is the fact that they are lightweight, easy to pack and effective at doing the job they were designed for – filtering water straight from the source.

As you’d expect from the name, what you’re really getting here is a means of sucking water straight through the filter, purifying the water as you do.

Straw filters are an excellent addition to any bug out bag given the size, affordability, and performance and make a great fallback solution should your primary drinking water solutions fail.

A couple of points to consider with survival straws include knowing the stated filtration limit of the model you’re considering as well as what won’t be removed from the water using this method (for example, most of the best straw filters will remove the majority of waterborne bacteria but won’t remove viruses).

Pump Filters

Hand pump water filters are an incredibly effective and durable method for purifying water and are compact and robust enough to make them the perfect solution for packing in a bug out bag for use during an emergency situation.

This method of filtration is great for delivering high volumes of water at a fast rate when in use, meaning if you need water in a hurry, this kind of system can be a good way to go.

Chemical Treatment

Water purification tablets vary in the time they take to completely treat water and generally range anywhere between 30 minutes and 4-5 hours.

A major benefit of this kind of purification is that the small footprint of the container and the often long storage life, make them an excellent backup solution to slip in your pocket or a spare space in your grab bag.

It’s important to remember that with water treatment tablets, you’re going to have to wait the full length of time as given in the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure purification and will need to be looking to purify clear water, rather than water which is dirty, cloudy or otherwise full of visible particulates.


The original purification method tried and tested over hundreds if not thousands of years, bringing water to a continual boil is completely effective at killing any harmful waterborne bacteria and viruses.

Of course, with this method, the major disadvantage is that you require heat (and therefore fuel and time) to get going. Whether this comes in the form of a stove or a traditional fire, you’re much more likely to draw attention with this method and unless you’ve set up camp for the night, this may be far from impractical when you’re on the move.

Best Bug Out Bags - Water Purification - Boiling

Ultimately, when it comes to preparing adequate water provision for your bug out bag, you really want to build in several layers of redundancy whenever possible, remembering the age-old preparedness mantra “two is one, one is none”.

With this in mind, be sure to include ‘layers’ of hydration provision in your bug out bag to ensure you’ll always have adequate access to clean drinking water when you’re out.

Similarly, if you live in a particularly arid area, include maps or plans of natural waterways along your proposed bug out route and if possible, learn these ahead of time.

The Best Bug Out Bag Hydration Bladders and Water Bottles

[table id=14 /] When you build your own 72-hour kit, be sure to start with water as you won’t get far without it! In this part of our guide to building the best bug out bag, we’re looking at the very best water bottles and hydration bladders for your grab bag.

The Best Bug Out Bag Water Filters

[table id=15 /] If your access to clean water becomes uncertain, you have a couple of options for purifying the water you can get hold of. By far the best option is to ensure that you include at least one (ideally two) redundancy options for filtering water if water quality is questionable. Here are some of the best options for your bug out bag to keep you drinking safely at all times.

Food and Nutrition

While it doesn’t top the priority list when it comes to packing your bug out bag, the importance of maintaining energy levels during an emergency situation should never be overlooked and is crucial to your ability to sustain optimal alertness, cognitive abilities and overall physical and mental functioning.

As with all elements of preparing your bug out bag, space and weight are a key factor when it comes to packing food. Luckily, however, there are a number of compact options available for carrying enough to see you through 72 hours and even beyond if required.

Once space issues are taken into account, without a doubt, the key consideration when packing the best food for your grab bag is maximizing the energy and nutrition out of every single bite – there’s a tradeoff between energy gained and expended when it comes to weight in your bag so the food you pack needs to do the job.

When choosing the best meals and food for your bug out bag or go bag, the core factors to think about are nutritional content, shelf life and ease of preparation (can the meal be eaten hot or cold? Can it be prepared in the pouch or does it require additional equipment to cook?).

Building the best bug out bag for every situation and eventuality will differ greatly from person to person, however, an important rule of thumb when considering pre-prepared food provision (the rule ultimately applies to many other supplies and equipment as well) is that you’re really looking at provision for one person at a time here. If for example, a meal kit states that it covers a 72 hour or three day period, unless otherwise explicitly mentioned, always assume this is for one person over a three-day period and pack your kit accordingly. If there are two or more of you bugging out together, ensure you have adequate supplies packed.

The Best Bug Out Bag Food Options

[table id=16 /]

While it doesn’t top the priority list when it comes to packing your bag, the importance of maintaining energy levels during an emergency situation should never be overlooked and is crucial to your ability to sustain optimal alertness, cognitive abilities and overall physical and mental functioning.

As with all elements of preparing your bug out bag, space and weight are a key factor when it comes to packing food. Luckily, however, there are a number of compact options available for carrying enough to see you through 72 hours and even beyond if required.

Once space issues are taken into account, without a doubt, the key consideration when packing the best food for your grab bag is maximizing the energy and nutrition out of every single bite – there’s a tradeoff between energy gained and expended when it comes to weight in your bag so the food you pack needs to do the job.

When choosing the best meals and food for your go bag, the core factors to think about are nutritional content, shelf life and ease of preparation (can the meal be eaten hot or cold? Can it be prepared in the bag or does it require additional equipment to cook?).

Building the best bug out bag for every situation and eventuality will differ greatly from person to person, however, an important rule of thumb when considering pre-prepared food provision (the rule ultimately applies to many other supplies and equipment as well) is that you’re really looking at provision for one person at a time here.

If for example, a meal kit states that it covers a 72 hour or three day period, unless otherwise explicitly mentioned, always assume this is for one person over a three-day period and pack your kit accordingly. If there are two or more of you bugging out together, ensure you have adequate supplies packed.

Main Considerations

When you find yourself grabbing your bug out bag and heading for the door, the last thing you want to be thinking about is where your next meal will be coming from.

Luckily, there are a few simple rules that will ensure you pick and pack the perfect food in your bug out bag.

To ensure you have access to nutrition that’s perfectly suited for whatever scenario you find yourself in, look to meet the following criteria when packing up.

Low Maintenance
In a bug out situation, the need for low effort when it comes to nutrition is an essential thing to consider when choosing a suitable food solution.

As you just don’t know what kind of circumstances you may find yourself in during an emergency or disaster, your food needs to be as easy to prepare, and ultimately, to eat as possible.

With this in mind, some of the best bug out food comes in the form of open and eat meal pouches which take minimal (if any) preparation before you’re actually eating.

Packing the best bug out bag that allows you to get out quick if things turn bad, means packing light wherever possible.

As with all of the other equipment in your bug out bag, the food you bring needs to be easy to pack and lightweight for carrying on foot.

Remember, if you can’t carry it, you can’t eat it, so ensure all of the food you pack is as light and compact as it can be and that weight takes priority over taste. Unless you’re intending to bug out by vehicle, this consideration will often mean that heavy canned foods are also out of the question.

Energy and Nutritional Value
Whatever your eating habits look like in a normal situation, the only things that matter in the food you eat in an emergency situation are the caloric and nutritional value they offer.

When choosing the best food for your bug out bag, the preference should be for solutions that are carbohydrate-rich and high in calories.

The human body needs energy which it gets in multiple ways when we eat food, With this in mind, remember that calories are a measure of the amount of energy provided and that carbohydrates (like grains, pasta, rice etc) are converted to sugars for the body to burn as fuel.

While the human body can go without for many days, vital functions will be affected if adequate nutrition isn’t maintained so try and pack food that will allow you to remain in optimal physical and mental shape during adverse conditions.

Long Storage Life
If disaster strikes, your bug out bag and all contents need to be ready to go in an instant. Remembering that an emergency situation could strike tomorrow, next month, or in two years time, ensuring that the food you pack has a long shelf life is a priority consideration.

When it comes to preparing the best bug out bag ahead of time, the primary concern regarding food is that it’s in-date and safe to eat when you need it most, therefore choosing food that can be stored for a prolonged period is a must.

Many of the best survival meal kits are designed with this consideration in mind and offer a shelf life of between 10 and 20 years, making them ideal for long-term storage in a bag or as part of a home emergency pantry. However if you don’t go down this route for the nutrition in your pack, make sure that you monitor all expiry dates of your food and swap out with new stock when required – basically, don’t be caught short when you actually need to call on your gear.

Nutrition Options for Your Bug Out Bag

When it comes to selecting the best food for your bug out bag or go bag, the principles of preparedness remain the same in that you’re looking to strike a balance between value for money, shelf life, reliability (or nutritional value in this case) and ease of use.

There are a lot of ways to go when it comes to packing adequate nutrition in your bag and the best solution for you will depend on your individual circumstances, preferences, budget, and constraints.

The general rule of thumb with any consumable remains true with bug out nutrition – buy in bulk to save money on the individual unit cost. Whether it’s emergency meal pouches or energy bars, this holds true, meaning not only will you benefit from an economy of scale, but you’ll also know you have enough supplies on hand should you need to bug out (or bug in for that matter).

Dehydrated Meals and Meal Pouches

If your budget and timeline allow it, acquiring camping or survival style meal pouches is an excellent way to pack a low-profile meal solution in your grab bag that’s both nutritionally well-rounded and that actually tastes really good.

What makes dehydrated meals such a good option where possible is that they meet all of the criteria you should be looking for when choosing food for your bug out bag in that they’re lightweight, nutritionally balanced and usually have an excellent shelf life for storing.

Most dehydrated meal pouches will typically contain a single entrée for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a desert, so don’t expect to get all-in-one as you would with other solutions such as an MRE (more on these below).

These kinds of meals are simple to prepare and easy to get hold of as they’re widely available both online and in outdoor stores (although expect to pay a much higher price in the latter).

If you can, undoubtedly the best way to go when stocking up in advance is to buy a multi-pack meal kit which contains enough pouches to see you through a pre-determined period of time. These can then be kept on hand in your bug out bag or stored in your home until needed.

As most meal pouches are usually dehydrated, it’s worth remembering that you’ll need to add water in order to get them ready for eating and similarly, you’re going to need to factor in some kind of heat source such as a fire or camp stove to heat them.

Meals Ready to Eat (MRE)

The MRE is the classic food source for armed forces around the world and takes the form of a self-contained ration pack, effectively providing a full meal for use in the field.

One of the great things about MREs is that they usually contain everything you need in a meal from an entrée and dessert, through to condiments and even a chemically activated heat source.

Due to the rigorous requirements of military use, MREs are also extremely calorie dense making them both practical and nutritionally beneficial in an emergency situation.

While it can be difficult to get hold of actual military MRE kits, there are a number of good civilian alternatives – often produced by the same manufacturers as the military versions – which offer near identical benefits if this is the route you’re considering for your bug out bag food supply.

Energy and Granola Bars

Bars are a great way of packing a ready to eat, grab and go nutrition and energy source in your bug out bag.

With that being said, unless you’re really on a tight budget or time is at an absolute premium, you should view any energy bars or granola bars you pack as a supplementary solution to any other primary food source in your bag.

While if this all you have, it would certainly be better than nothing at all over a 72 hour period, look to build energy bars into your bug out load-out almost as an ‘added extra’, carrying a few in a jacket pocket or in any easy to access areas or pockets of the bag itself for when you need to eat on the move.

Similarly, if you’re building a bug out bag for a shorter period (say 1-2 days), or are putting together a ‘Get Home Bag’, energy and granola bars may represent an excellent solution as they’re loaded with both carbs and sugars making them perfect as a source of emergency energy.

Other Foods to Consider

With the priorities for bug out bag food focusing on packed weight/footprint, ease of prep, nutritional value and shelf life, there are some excellent additions that can be made to the supplementary food provision within a higher capacity bug out bag.

Things like packed nuts (avoid salted if at all possible), trail mix, packs of jerky and oatmeal sachets are all a worthy addition to your menu if you can spare the room after packing your gear.

As with energy bars, these kinds of food provide a good portable and ready-to-eat ‘boost’ on top of your primary supplies and fit well into those extra gaps or pockets in your bug out bag.

Food Storage Considerations

Frequent checks of the equipment and supplies that make up your bug out bag is always a good habit to get into, but perhaps more than any of the other items that make up the load out of your bag, the thing you need to check the most regularly is the nutrition provision.

Really here, we’re talking about expiry dates and ensuring that everything you intend to bring still has ample shelf life and isn’t likely to expire anytime soon.

When you carry out this exercise, establishing a regular date for review is highly recommended, allowing you to frequently check the expiry dates of every consumable in your bag.

We’re looking for safety above all else as well as reliability when you need to call on your supplies in an emergency, so ultimately, the longer life still left on a food product, the better.

Even with the best bug out bag load-out when it comes to packing efficiency, grab bags are often limited by space, so with these considerations in mind, your nutrition provision needs to be long-lasting, nutritious and compact.

A good idea is to maintain a minimum of at least 2-3 months of shelf life on a product, swapping them out for replacements when you reach this point. Think of this a bit like rotation of any supplies you keep in your home pantry, only this time, for your bug out bag.

Similarly, how you pack the food in your bug out bag and where you store it are also crucial elements for ensuring maximum efficiency and minimal stress when you actually need to access your supplies in the future.

As we discussed earlier, keeping your bag in a discrete, yet easily accessible location is a primary objective once it’s packed. Making sure that this location is cool, dark and dry should be considered of equal importance so as to protect any consumables and food supplies you’ve packed inside.

With this in mind, remember CCC DDD to ensure that your bug out bag and its contents are always fighting fit and ready to go at a moment’s notice:

  • Considered (well packed and manageable)
  • Close (at hand)
  • Cool
  • Dark
  • Dry
  • Discrete

The food that you include in your bug out bag should be treated no differently to the food you store in your home so look after it in the same way and you won’t be let down when you need it!

Cooking and Preparation

While some foods are basically ready to eat the moment they leave your bag or require little to no prep, having some additional tools and equipment related to preparation and cooking can be a worthwhile addition to your inventory if you can spare the room in your pack.

Primarily, items like a portable camp stove or burner provide the means to heat meals and boil water as well as also allowing you to sterilize tools if required.

Similarly, some form of cooking container like a mess tin, cooking cup or portable pot will provide both the means to cook food, as well as something to eat it from.

Mess Tins and Cooking Pots

When it comes to the seemingly simplest of tasks (like boiling water or heating up food), unfortunately, nothing really gets the job done in the same way as a metal container or pot.

Although there’s definite weight and space consideration here, these issues can be minimized by opting for a pan or cup with a foldable handle, or even better, a mess tin or stackable solution that has a significantly reduced footprint in your bag.

If your bug out bag features external latching points, these can also serve as a good place to store a lightweight cooking utensil or pot if needed.

The Best Bug Out Bag Shelter and Sleeping Options

In a situation where you find yourself bugging out from your home, there’s a very good chance that you’ll be away for anything between 2-7 days and sometimes, even longer.

A key priority for survival during any prolonged disaster or emergency situation is shelter and protection from the elements and the best bug out bag packing lists will address this as one of the primary considerations of essential equipment.

Failure to provide adequate shelter can rapidly lead to conditions associated with prolonged exposure to adverse weather conditions and can encourage the onset of more severe issues such as hypothermia if not planned against, prepared for and addressed at the outset.

Shelter can take several forms from simple tarp coverings to basic through advanced tents designed for 4 season use. As with everything when it comes to emergency preparedness, something is always better than nothing, but investing in high quality up front can reap huge benefits when disaster strikes.

Adequate sleep is of course equally crucial to ensuring you function at your optimal level and this becomes particularly relevant during an emergency situation or disaster scenario where the effects of severe stress will likely exacerbate the symptoms of fatigue when you need to be at your sharpest.

Once hydration, nutrition, shelter, and warmth (more on this topic below) are covered, the priority becomes to build in sufficient time for rest as part of your strategy in putting together the best bug out bag for covering the widest range of outcomes.

While this may seem an unlikely priority (and the situation may not always make this easy), the importance of sleep is critical to long-term survival prospects, and packing your bag with appropriate supplies and equipment to enable this can make all the difference when you’re in the field.

Best Bug Out Bag Tents

[table id=17 /] Choosing a suitable tent for your grab bag or bug out bag is based on a similar set of requirements to many of the other major supplies you pack and will ultimately vary depending on your personal situation, budget, and locale.

As with all the equipment in your bag though, there are a core set of factors that will influence all choices when it comes to picking the best tent for your bug out bag – the packed weight, capacity, durability and feature set (season rating, ventilation etc).

Learn more about the perfect shelter for your bug out bag in our guide to the Best Survival Tents.

Best Bug Out Bag Sleeping Mats

[table id=18 /] While not an essential addition to your bug out bag if space and weight are not at a premium, a modern sleeping mat is one of those things that can have an enormous impact on the quality of sleep you achieve once you set up camp and try to get some shut-eye.

Providing both comfort and thermal efficiency benefits in the field, the best high-quality sleeping mats are lightweight, durable and compact for carrying with the rest of your gear, making them ideal for use wherever you find yourself during a bug out scenario.

 The Best Bug Out Bag Flashlight and Illumination Options

Disaster can strike at any time of the day or night and if you find yourself needing to bug out quickly in an emergency, the likelihood that you’ll be on the move for longer than 12 hours is high.

In both instances, having the ability to generate reliable light when needed is essential to ensure the smooth continuity of your evacuation strategy.

The inclusion of a source of light such as a tactical flashlight is a critical consideration when planning your bug out bag and should be high on your list of things to pack with redundancies (preferably carried on your person) in place as a backup.

Many tactical flashlights also offer the dual purpose of providing a defensive capability as well as generating light which again, is reason enough to ensure you secure a place for a high quality and reliable light in your kit.

Best Bug Out Bag Tactical Flashlights

[table id=19 /] A tactical flashlight is built for survival situations with the primary goal of extreme durability alongside a powerful, high quality and most importantly, reliable source of light.

Forming  a key component to the best bug out bag packing strategy, the considerations for picking the best tactical flashlight for your kit will revolve around the light output and brightness, battery life, size, and weight.

When choosing a flashlight for your grab bag or bug out bag, one of the primary considerations is the brightness or amount of visible light output by the LED or bulb (measured in lumens).

Generally speaking, the higher the lumen rating, the better (and brighter) the light will be.

There are other metrics regarding the brightness and effectiveness of a flashlight’s beam such as candela and beam distance, but the lumen rating offers a good metric for generalized output from the light.

When choosing the best tactical flashlight for the job, it’s important remember that there’s always going to be a trade-off between output and battery life in the form of reduced battery life from the flashlight to power the added performance, so consider the balance when settling on the best flashlight for your bug out bag.

Another thing to think about when looking at the best tactical flashlight for your kit is the durability of the unit as a whole, particularly along the lines of things like construction materials of the light, waterproofing and impact resistance.

Most of the best tactical flashlights will feature a body made of either aircraft-grade anodized aluminum or some form of highly durable plastic or metal alloy. In all of these cases, the shared characteristic is that the light will be both hard wearing and extremely light, both of which are positive features when packing your bug out bag.

Tactical flashlights are of course more durable than your everyday run of the mill household flashlight or torch but a good metric for their ability to stand up to the rigors of an extreme outdoor survival situation can be gained from any level of impact resistance stated by the manufacturer as well as water resistance or waterproofing rating.

Look to keep your flashlight in an easy to reach location within your bug out bag and if you can, it’s always a good idea to invest in a couple of smaller redundancy lights that can be stored in side pockets or clipped onto a carabiner on the outside of your bag.

Find out more about the essential things to look for in this guide to the best tactical flashlights.

Bug Out Bag Self Defense

Personal self-defense is one of those topics that’s easily overlooked when planning for a bug out situation, but it’s an area that should never be ignored or underestimated in importance.

The fact of the matter is this, in an emergency or disaster situation where things are bad enough that you have to evacuate your home in search of safety elsewhere, times are almost certainly not good for others either.

Whenever this kind of serious adversity strikes societies one of the first casualties is often the ability to call on help from emergency responders who will likely be tied up elsewhere.

Whether widespread looting, rioting or an outright breakdown of civil order, ensuring the physical safety of you and your family is paramount when bugging out.

There will likely be situations, particularly if bugging out in urban areas, where those less prepared than you or those looking to prey on others may represent a very real threat to your safety and ultimately, your life.

Survival comes in many forms and ensuring that all of your essential human needs are met includes defending yourself and your family from harm by others.

Even with the best bug out bag packed and ready to go, this is a serious consideration.

It’s with these realities in mind that self-defense preparedness becomes a critical consideration when planning a bug out strategy and preparing your bag.

Adopting a Self-Defense State of Mind

When it comes to self-defense, everything comes down to knowing your rights and the legislation where you live, as ultimately, these will tell you your rights within a particular situation regarding things from carrying a weapon for defensive purposes through to when to use it if faced with an absolute threat.

Before a disaster situation, thoroughly research, understand and know your rights and the laws that apply to you where you live in regards to self-defense and carrying a weapon in your bag or on your person. If it helps, print any applicable laws and legislation out and keep them in your bag should you need them later.

Evasion and escape should be your primary tactic in any emergency situation before you ever need to consider resorting to force as a last ditch self-defense effort.

Be inconspicuous wherever and whenever possible. If you see something that could represent a threat to you or your group such as looting or a group of questionable characters in the distance, avoid at all costs.

Prevention is always better than dealing with the problem head-on.

The rule of thumb (always subject to national and local laws of course) is that lethal force is employable only when you or your family are under threat from an imminent and unavoidable act of intended injury or death from someone else and of course, the same rules apply in reverse.

Remember, one of your most valuable assets is your survival instinct. If something, someone or someplace doesn’t feel quite right, the chances are that it isn’t.


Guns can be a difficult topic when it comes to survival preparedness and as with other deadly weapons, need to be handled correctly and used with extreme care if you’re thinking of carrying or packing as part of your bug out bag strategy.

There is inherently a major responsibility with firearm ownership and the use of a gun in a survival situation is a serious consideration to make based upon your individual circumstances and the legislation in your area.

If firearm ownership and carrying is legal where you live, you may consider including a weapon of this kind in your bug out bag inventory. In this case, one of the very best things you can do in advance of an emergency situation is build a proficiency handling, using and maintaining your gun.

A firearm is only as good as the hand that wields it, so ensure you’re knowledgeable with using it and look to build in as much training as possible.

The type of firearm you choose to take with you needs to be appropriate to the situation you’re likely to be facing and with considerations of space and weight in mind. If you’re building a bug out bag, you’ll probably opt for a handgun given the minimal space it will take up in your pack or on your person.

In an emergency situation, concealment is key so as not to stand out as a potential target in the ensuing chaos, again making a pistol the ideal candidate for practical purposes.

As with any kind of weapon work, make sure you’re fully aware of your rights and any relevant laws surrounding owning, carrying, concealing and using a firearm before you make this addition to your bug out inventory. The main questions you should look to cover in detail outside of those mentioned already are:

  • What are the laws around traveling with a gun?
  • Do I need a permit to travel with a firearm?
  • What are the specific laws around concealment and concealed carry?
  • What kind of gun (if any) can I travel with?

Again, with this knowledge in hand, learn it and if required, print a copy and keep in your bag.

Even in a potentially societal-shifting disaster or emergency situation, you always want to remain on the right side of the law, so know your rights and protect yourself in every way possible when planning the contents of your bug out bag.

Best Bug Out Bag Survival Knives

[table id=20 /] A good quality survival knife is one of those things that can make all the difference when you find yourself in a difficult situation, and as with everything in your kit, there are a number of factors to think about in order to ensure you end up with a knife offering maximum benefit for the space it will take up in your bug out bag.

One of the best allies you can hope for in your bug out bag when times turn bad is a high-quality survival knife and knowing the difference between the different types and options out there is worthwhile in deciding on what to pack.

The two main options when it comes to finding a blade for your go bag are those which are built around a fixed blade design and folding knives.

Fixed blade survival knives offer a level of durability and strength that make them perfectly suited to rigorous use or in situations where you need the reliability of a tool that can stand up to continual punishment and the exacting demands of use in the wilderness.

The major drawback with fixed blade knives is the size and weight which can become an issue of space in your bug out bag is at a premium.

With this consideration in mind, the alternative of a folding survival knife offers a way of including a blade in your kit with a reduced packing footprint. If you do decide to opt for a folding knife, the main issue comes in the form of increased weakness over the fixed alternative, notably at the joint where the blade folds into the handle.

When you’re deciding on the best survival knife for your bug out bag, consider the primary use case for the blade – why and how you think you’re likely to use it – and make your decision with these points in mind.

Learn more about some of the best survival knives for every requirement in our definitive guide here


Non-Lethal Options

There are a couple of good options available when it comes to carrying non-lethal self-defense equipment and one of the best is pepper spray which can be employed as a proportionate response if you or your family are being assaulted by an unarmed assailant.

As with every application of force in a self-defense scenario, the goal is to stop your attacker and then escape the situation as quickly and safely as possible.

When it comes to purchasing a pepper spray, begin by checking the laws in where you live.

Once this base is covered, go for a spray that sprays a focused stream of solution rather than a ‘mist’ as this will provide the furthest projection distance and will keep your attacker at a distance.

If you need to utilize your spray in a self-defense situation the mantra should be “spray and run”. In a scenario such as this, the shock may make you do a double-take and not make your escape. Avoid this reaction at all costs – the goal is to neutralize the threat and then exit the danger as soon as possible.

Again, pepper spray can be easily stored in spare areas of your bug out bag (such as side pockets) and should be kept close to hand.

Tools and Miscellaneous Equipment for Your Bug Out Bag

As with the overall make-up of your pack, the additional equipment you pack into your bug out bag will vary greatly depending on your individual situation, geographical location and preparation constraints.

If you’re likely to be bugging out in a predominantly urban environment, for example, the tools that will suit you best here will vary from those want to access in a wilderness situation. Similarly, the climate (based on the time of year and/or local geography) can play a huge part in deciding what will be the most helpful additional equipment to bring in your bag.

With the survival essentials of water, food, shelter, and heat taken care of, the space and weight within your bug out bag will always be at a premium, so a careful analysis of the most beneficial tools can be a tricky thing to do but is vitally important nonetheless to ensure you give yourself the best possible chance to deal whatever happens.

Here we’ve taken a look at some of the best tools to consider for your bug out bag as well as the supplementary equipment that can make an invaluable addition to your kit if time, space and weight allow.

Survival Multitools

Whether we’re talking about a classic ‘Swiss Army’ style tool or a more contemporary alternative, a well-specified survival multitool is an undeniably useful piece of equipment, combining everything from essential tools for outdoor survival through to providing improvised self-defense if it’s the nearest thing to hand.

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages provided by a survival multitool is the size-benefit ratio it offers, effectively giving you an entire complement of practical survival tools in a footprint that can easily fit into spare space in your bag, pocket, or even be hung from a belt.

When it comes to choosing the best multitool for your bug out bag, go for one that offers a wide variety of features for minimal weight and look to pick one from a well-established brand that has a reputation for consistently delivering quality tools over the years.

Super compact and with a hard wearing design, most multitools or swiss army knives lend themselves well to a low packing profile within a bug out backpack and should be kept somewhere that’s easy to get to quickly.

Entrenching Tools and Prybars

When it comes down to whether or not to pack heavier tools in your bug out bag, the main question is always going to be one of weight.

If you’ve assembled your kit and have the room or weight capacity to spare, the addition of some form of folding shovel (in a wilderness environment) or a prybar (in an urban situation) are just the kind of tools that can prove seriously useful when things head south.

While the addition of either of these two tools should be a given if you’re packing a bug out vehicle where weight is no issue, the delicate balance of cost-benefit when packing a bag for bugging out on foot cannot be overlooked and the ultimate decision will come down to whether you can afford to carry larger, heavier pieces of equipment based on the composition of your bag and the size of your bug out group (more people will allow a distribution of ‘non-essential’ items).

In an uncertain and changing world, one of the very best things you can do today is to prepare and plan for the unexpected events of tomorrow.

Remember, by the time people start talking about the problem, it may already be too late to act.

Whether you’re just starting out or building on an existing kit, assembling your own bug out bag for use in an emergency situation is time exceptionally well spent and represents an unparalleled investment when you find yourself calling on your kit when disaster strikes.

Following the tips and advice in this guide when building the best bug out bag for you and yours will ensure that when the time comes, you won’t be caught off guard.

Still looking for more information to help you get started preparing your bug out bag? Check out our essential bug out bag checklist to start planning your grab bag now.

The Last Word

When it comes to preparedness, we reference as many expert sources and real-world user reviews as possible when looking to provide the most relevant and educational information in our guides.

Creating the best bug out bag for yourself or your loved ones is a highly personal activity with individual needs and preferences sometimes varying considerably between people, locations, and uses.

With these considerations in mind, this guide looks to provide advice on our own top configurations of bug out bags and building the best bug out bag for your needs however, it’s always important to carry out your own due diligence to find the best solution for you and yours when putting together the best bug out bag kit list for your individual situation.

Prepare . Survive . Thrive


Information found on this website is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained herein. Survivalist Prep may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. 

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