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Rethinking a bug-out bag

Yesterday I wrote about why I’m re-creating my bug-out bag. it needs to be renewed for a scenario I’ve never faced before.

Today I promised I’d list the “ingredients” in the bag and welcome your suggestions. You’ve already made some good ones in the comments to yesterday’s blog.

While putting together the new kit, I poked around online to refine my ideas. One thing that struck me immediately is that there is no “right” bug-out bag or grab-and-go kit. Some are geared toward hardcore outdoor survival. Others seem more geared to getting you adjusted to conditions in a shelter. Yet other recommendations focus on food, special medical needs, or car kits.

I even visited a couple of government sites where (mind-bogglingly) the only items recommended for a grab-and-go kit were … government papers secured in plastic. You might starve or die of thirst or exposure, but by golly, when somebody finally happens upon your moldering carcass, they’ll know your birthdate, your social security number, and what property you owned. (Granted, some of those sites did offer useful thoughts.)

Anyway, the bottom line is that every kit should be designed for local conditions and individual needs. Mine is for a quick escape, short distance, in wet weather, with the focus on an earthquake and locally generated tsunami. So here goes. Tell me what’s missing and where you think I’ve gone wrong. (I’m still trying to decide how much “official paperwork” I need to tote.)


By catetory:


* One gallon in an insulated container with shoulder strap
* Water purifier + extra batteries
I’m not bringing extra water for the dogs because there’s always water in the woods for them to drink, and in any case, I can’t carry more than this.


* 2 pounds raw, unsalted nuts (almonds and sunflower seeds)
* 1 pound mixed dried fruits
* 14 MRE entrees
* Utensils
* 1 box of peanut brittle
* Tea bags
* Stevia packets for sweetening tea
* Small metal pan/cup for drinking tea
* Emergency stove
The stove is only for heating water. I’m not bringing any foods that require cooking

Shelter/warmth/weather protection

* 8×10 white poly tarp (the most waterproof I could find)
* 50-feet of nylon cord (for rigging tarp into a tent and misc. purposes)
* Ground pad
* Sleeping bag (though after reading some comments I may swap this for a wool blanket)
* Reflective mylar emergency blanket
* Plastic rain poncho
* Four large plastic bags
* 3 18-hour handwarmers

* Hooded waterproof rain jacket
* Mittens
* Earmuffs
* Sweat pants
* Turtleneck
* Tee shirt
* Underwear
* Long underwear
* Baseball cap
* 2 pairs of wool sox
* 1 pair of spandex sox (to wear under wool for reflecting warmth)

Dog items

* Several days worth of regular dog food for the younger dogs
* Several days worth of “mature” dog food for my oldest
* Leashes


* LED headlamp
* 2 cellphones (these are actually in my everyday fannypack, which I’ll also grab)
* Cellphone charger
* Super-duper floating emergency radio/light/flasher/siren with multiple radio bands and multiple power options
* Extra batteries for radio
* 2 “snaplight” light sticks

Comfort items

* Paper towels
* Toilet paper
* Baby wipes
* Small bottle of alcohol hand sanitizer
* Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
* Bag of airline-sized toiletries
* Spare eyeglasses

First aid

* Band-aids
* Gauze and tape
* Triple antibiotic ointment
* Insect repellant
* Anti-itch cream
* Pain meds
* Muscle relaxants
* Anti-diarrhea med
* Pink bismuth
* Tissues


*USB flash drive with 1) data backup, 2) scans of vital documents
I’ll take my computer if I think I can, but in a “head for hills on foot” scenario, it might be too much.

Misc. items

* Whistle with lanyard
* Compass
* Map
* Matches in waterproof case
* Firestarters
* Rubber gloves
* Work gloves
* Three-bladed survival knife
* Multi-bladed pocket knife
* Firearm
* Extra ammo
* $20

And that’s it so far for my kit. I’m not done yet. A few of the above items must still be gathered or purchased. And I seem to get a new idea for something to add several times a day.

Oh yeah, and although I realize that most people like to pack their kits into backpacks (though some prefer large plastic tubs for the going-to-the-shelter scenario), mine is all going into — or being strapped onto — a large wheeled suitcase with a handle. My rationale for this is 1) the only backpacks I own are too small, 2) I don’t expect to go too far, and 3) the suitcase holds a lot and can be wheeled, dragged through the woods, or carried, as need be. Not ideal perhaps — but then neither would it be ideal to invest serious money in a backpack that would end up being too large and heavy for me.

Here’s more on BOBs and general preparedness courtesy of EN and courtesy of DrillSgtK.


  1. DrillSgtK
    DrillSgtK March 22, 2011 4:12 am

    Personally I would increase the cash. More like $100. Mostly because anything that has you using your BOB means the ATM’s are not going to be working for a few days at the least.

    Using your likely situation, you won’t be going back home for a few days if a wall of water rolls over your town. They will most likely provide transport to other places – RC shelters or places for family to pick you up. With no ATM/Debit card access for a few days cash will be very useful and $20 is not likely to be enough.

  2. Pat
    Pat March 22, 2011 4:59 am

    Depending on how far I planned to travel, when (or if) I’m able to return home, or what my future plans were, I might be tempted to “lose” some of the paperwork. A natural emergency is a good time to shift gears if one wanted to go underground, move to another State, or take on another identity.

    Am still mulling over the contents of your bug-out bag. I do agree that more money should be taken.

  3. Woody
    Woody March 22, 2011 5:11 am

    I would consider a GPS unit to complement the compass. Following a severe natural disaster the topography may be drastically altered. Having waypoints set for significant locations may be a big help while escaping and afterward.

    Also, have you tried dragging your suitcase through the woods you expect to move through? It would be nearly impossible to do that in the woods where I live.

    In my first aid kit I prefer Vet Wrap over gauze and tape. As it serves the purpose of both. A couple of military trauma dressings are also good to have. My first aid kit, clothing, blanket and other items that I’d like to remain dry are vacuum packed in food storage bags, using my kitchen vacuum packer. This keeps them dry and also compresses them to save space.

  4. Mike
    Mike March 22, 2011 6:10 am

    Hey Claire,

    A little thing that you could add to the kit that would help a lot is a used, good condition, golf pull cart. With the wide track and handle it is designed to go over various terrain. The cradle makes it easy to strap on a large duffel bag that will carry more than your wheeled luggage.

    Good luck and I really hope you never need this stuff.


  5. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty March 22, 2011 6:51 am

    I can’t imagine trying to carry all that across the room, let alone up hill… but then I’m old and not in good shape. I’d carry the water container empty, with some purification chemicals since there should be lots of water available in your area.

    You might rethink a lot of it after you carry it up that hill a few times during practice sessions. 🙂 I’d have trouble carrying just the jug of water uphill.

    I use a thumb drive for computer files backup… and struggle to remember to use it often enough to make it worth while. If it were in the “bug out bag,” I doubt I’d ever think of doing it. Might want to have two of them and switch them out periodically so one is always on the desk to update.

    Ditto on the money. A small supply of junk silver coins might be extremely valuable as well.

  6. Mac the Knife
    Mac the Knife March 22, 2011 7:14 am

    Just starting to put my BOB together and I recommend a Red Cross emergency radio that works on solar, hand crank, or batteries. There are three different models that range from $30 to $80 dollars. At least I think that low price is right. Check for prices. I have the $80 model that includes short wave bands.

  7. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal March 22, 2011 7:30 am

    I admit to being bewildered over the combination of “Water purifier + extra batteries”. Is your water purifier battery powered? I carry 6 bottles of store-bought water in my BOB. My thought was that if I lose one I’ll have spares rather than all my water in one canteen. The bottles can then be saved and refilled (and purified) on the go, if necessary. That way I won’t need to contaminate my whole water supply if I find more water to bottle.

    I keep silver and FRNs in my BOB. The FRN amount varies depending on my general financial condition.

    I have a couple of knives, but as I always carry 3 or so on my body (along with sharpening tools), the knives and sharpening steel in the BOB are just spares.

    I have a small expendable gun in the bag, along with ammo for it and spare ammo for my carry guns.

    I never considered saving computer data. I’m still not sure if I’d bother. Some things I email to myself so I will be able to get to it anytime I can get to a computer. But I can’t imagine anything on the computer being important enough that life would depend on saving a copy. I’ll think on that some more.

    I don’t have any real “official paperwork” in mine, but I can speculate about the benefits of salting the BOB with misleading items just in case someone wants ID, but you don’t want to be IDed.

    Anyway, lots of good info here for me to think about and adjust my BOB with if I decide to incorporate new stuff.

  8. Matt
    Matt March 22, 2011 8:05 am

    Not a bad BOB. I’d second the recommendation of a cart or dolly instead of a large suitcase. You could probably find a used golf tote at a yard sale for purchas or barter. I am going to build a trailer for my pack to pull along behind me. I would strap my pack to it. It will probably be made from a small used bike wheel and PVC.

    Consider teaching the younger dogs to carry a pannier style pack (or pull your BOB cart) to haul their own food. You would want to do your initial escape without taking the time to load them, but if you had a longer trek to a retreat or habitable area it might be worthwhile.

    Consider dropping the paper towels and toilet paper and use just baby wipes for those needs. Saves space and a little weight. Get biodegradeable wipes.

    Consider adding a Shemagh or scarf of some type to your kit. It can be used in place of a towel and can keep you neck warm, used as extra padding, head wrap in case of sandstorm etc.

    What do you have planned to keep feet and legs dry and warm? Wet cold feet can be a real danger in an emergency situation.

  9. Kentucky Kid
    Kentucky Kid March 22, 2011 8:10 am

    Double repeat consideration for trying to drag your LOADED wheeled suitcase thru your expected escape route . . . and even moreso thru your “Plan B” or OH SHITE route. The large-wheeled golf-bag cart would likely have the advantage there because of larger wheels, but dragging ANYTHING thru raw wilderness, uphill, in the rain, in the dark, seems like a recipe for disaster. BTDT.

    IMHO your BOB needs to be something you can carry on your person in whatever conditions might exist. Yes, this will limit the contents. That’s just a thing you’ll have to wrestle with as you plan.

    Nobody said this was gonna be easy.

  10. Pat
    Pat March 22, 2011 8:17 am

    ——You might look around for a water hole (stream, river, small pond) in the hills while planning your prep route. Just in case.
    ——Add some jerky to your food supply (and even a bag of M&M’s). You’ll need the energy, as well as the variety.
    ——Handi-wipes save space (instead of paper towels) and can be rinsed out and re-used.
    ——The baby wipes can be used in place of alcohol sanitizer; most wipes contain benzalkonium chloride (Zephiran brand) which is an antiseptic, and not as drying as alcohol.
    ——And a folding or one-piece walking stick might be helpful, if you have room to carry it. You can beat back bushes, animals, or whatever with it, and it definitely improves the uphill/downhill maneuvering. It can even be cut up and used for a splint (God forbid that you’d need it.)

  11. EN
    EN March 22, 2011 9:32 am

    It looks good to me and everyone’s covered my small reservations. You need a pack, more money and a scarf. I use a light polar tech one. Other than keeping your feet warm there’s nothing more important. I’d add more socks. And with all those dogs you don’t need to bring that many MREs.

  12. EN
    EN March 22, 2011 10:27 am

    OK, checking yours against mine has brought up something that is very big to me. You don’t have enough lights. Add some long-lasting candles and at least one more small flashlight, although I’d add two. Headlamps are great, I carry one in my BOBs, but if you lose them in the dark they don’t work so well. And everything gets lost in the dark.

    This is just my way of looking at things, the dreaded point of view, based on a lifetime of hard-won experience. I have an assumption that many find absurd when they’re fevered dreams click in. The world is not going to end. Civilization will still be around. In Iraq they’re can be 30 plus people killed in a bombing on one block and the next block over there’s a wedding and the associated feast. I’ve completely thrown out the notion of living off the land. Your contention that everyone’s preparing for different things is correct, but this helps me to keep it within the bounds of reality to discount the notion that I’m now living alone in the wilderness with no wine or music.

    Dark: There’s going to be a lot more than you’re used to and living out of a ruck makes for tough organization. There’s nothing worse than trying to get something out of a ruck and then having that mess spread around you in the dark.

    Wet: It’s going to be wet. It’s the way of the world. It’s my contention that God has a sense of humor and drinks. If there’s a disaster, man-made or otherwise, it will rain at least. Work on staying dry or minimizing the effects of wet by good equipment and clothing choices.

    Cold: It’s going to be cold. Living in our controlled environments has left us with a deep misunderstanding of what a 20 degree drop in temps at night does to the body. Even if it’s near 100F during the day when it gets to 75F at night you’re going to be cold. Plan for it.

  13. Woody
    Woody March 22, 2011 10:32 am

    One thing I forgot to mention…Be sure your dogs have identification on them, especially since they will be off leash. Chances are good that one or all of them may get separated in the chaos and chances of being reunited are much better if they have your name and phone number on their collars.

    For many years when I was younger, my wife and I made wilderness canoe trips. Immediately on returning from a trip we had a ritual we followed. All of our gear got separated into 3 piles. Pile 1 was the stuff that we used everyday. Pile 2 was stuff we used once or twice. Pile three was the stuff we didn’t use. On the next trip into the woods we left piles 2 and 3 at home. After 3 or 4 iterations we had condensed our gear down to only the necessities. Our trips were much more enjoyable after that . Everything we needed for a week in the woods fit in one medium and one small pack and the dog carried her own food in her pack.
    If you plan on having your dog(s) carry a pack the dog should be absolutely reliable and should be accustomed to wearing it. Otherwise the pack will disrupt your dog’s balance and cause her/him to get caught on things due to the extra width and could be the cause of her/him not making it through the chaos.

    The moral of this story is….You don’t need a lot of stuff to get by very nicely and the extra stuff will be a hindrance. If you can’t carry it on your back or in your pockets you should really give some serious thought to leaving it out of your emergency supplies.

  14. winston
    winston March 22, 2011 10:36 am

    * Sleeping bag (though after reading some comments I may swap this for a wool blanket

    I use a wool blanket…but for my kit I’m probably gonna swap it for a synthetic sleeping bag the second I can. Wool blankets are warm (espeically paired with a poncho liner which is available anywhere and weighs nothing), and the italian one I got only costs about $30…you should get one, they’re great to have for alot of things. Just keep in mind that it weighs 5 pounds, doesn’t compress and unless it’s not that cold out a single wool blanket might not cut it.

  15. Standard Mischief
    Standard Mischief March 22, 2011 11:12 am

    To expand on something Woody said, How are your dogs with doggy packs? One of my hiking buddies uses one on his dog. The dog manages to carry his own weight and still practically drag him up the hills on the AT. I’d be willing to bet it could take on 8 more pounds (~ 1 gal h2o). You need to train the dogs to the pack, there’s a usenet faq out there.

    In my first-aid kit, I use 3M Vetrap instead of more pricey Coban gauze. The Vetrap is cheaper and you get more in a roll, although it’s a tad thinner. Just wrap it around one more time. It’s meant for horses, so it come in every color except “flesh”. I usually pack black and blue solely for the humor angle, but for the Katrina kit it’s “tactical green”.

    I’m a guy, but I pack 2 generic sanitary pads. They’re clean (not sterile though), and designed to absorb blood. I can keep them on a wound with the Vetrap.

    I use my, (now banned, thanks DEA), “polar pure” as ersatz iodine wound scrub.

  16. EN
    EN March 22, 2011 11:29 am

    SM make me think of something else. I carry 6 Tampons. They fit well in holes made by anything, but are perfect for bullets. I few years ago I saw a man hit himself in the leg with an axe. It was a long and nasty gash. His wife stuffed a Tampon in the wound and it stopped bleeding almost immediately. I’ve used them ever since.

  17. parabarbarian
    parabarbarian March 22, 2011 12:16 pm

    First, Polar Pure is not banned. It is avaialble from several places including Amazon. It is good stuff to have and the bottles will keep just about forever in a BOB waiting until the day you need it.. I live in the Mojave borderlands so I appeciate the value of water. I carry Polar Pure, and a Katadyn filter (the kind with the replaceble cartridges). Paper coffee filters are useful for several things including pre-filtering of cloudly water.

    Generic kotex and an Ace bandage can be used to make a pretty good tramuma bandage but please use them over a sterile pad if you can. Consider a Quikclot sponge or equivalent, too.

  18. angie
    angie March 22, 2011 2:34 pm

    well seeing as how this is a wooded area BOB, I believe I would include a small hatchet and some fishing line and hooks.. you never know how long you will be there and you may find fresh fish a nice meal when hungry. Worms and bugs are easily found for bait and a stick for a pole. I would worry less with the portable stove and more on survival by chopping your own wood for heat and cooking. Might add some string to that too for making animal snares and tying things up.

  19. Claire
    Claire March 22, 2011 2:47 pm

    Too much to keep up with here! Many great suggestions which will be available for others to mine for years to come, I hope.

    Just time for a couple brief responses.

    LIGHTS: Aside from the headlamp and the very bright, multiple LED light on the “super-duper all-purpose radio,” I carry a small but bright flashlight on my everyday fanny pack. You’re right; can never carry too many flashlights.

    WATER PURIFICATION: Yes, my purifier of choice is battery operated. It’s a SteriPen. And I’ve included it because it’s the one I trust the most. But the battery operation is definitely a drawback for a BOB. I’ll probably replace it either with my filter straw or my steel water-filter sports bottle and return the SteriPen to the bug-in supplies.

    BACKPACKS: Lots of you agree that a backpack is essential. And I see your point — attaches securely to body, leaves hands free, puts weight where it’s most easily borne, etc. BUT … will those who consider a backpack to be an absolute requirement please tell me which kit items I should eliminate to reduce the weight and bulk by 1/3 or more? I agree on the virtues of a backpack, but I’m not a 21-year-old Marine. When I lived in Cabin Sweet Cabin I went 15 months without a vehicle and regularly hauled groceries, library books, and other goods up that gawdawful hill on my back. I know what I can carry — and were I to opt for a backpack, I’d have to have a very “minimalist” kit. So if you were me, what would you leave behind?

    BTW, my wheeled suitcase also can function as a backpack. All I have to do is unzip the back and straps pop out. I had forgotten that until you guys insisted on backpacks, and it would definitely not be the most comfortable backpack ever made. Besides that, the suitcase has a largish attached daypack that can also be zipped off. So it’s not quite as bad a piece of equipment as you might think. But fully loaded, I doubt very much I could carry it far.

    If I do have to drag it, those of you who suggested bigger wheels have a good point.

  20. Beth
    Beth March 22, 2011 2:53 pm

    I was wondering about the battery-operated water filter too.

    Ditto on upping the cash stash. I’d do $200 or more. Just in case.

    Good on you for remembering the ground pad…heh.

  21. Woody
    Woody March 22, 2011 3:37 pm

    Since this is a BOB for a natural disaster and not for TEOTWAWKI the required items should fit in a pack that you can carry. I would replace the nuts, peanut brittle and dried fruits with freeze dried backpacking meals, and just enough for 2 or 3 days. Your tarp should be ripstop or some similar very light weight material. Once you have gotten out of the immediate danger area your clothing should all be on your body except for extra socks and skivies which should be vacuum packed. Make sure you can walk a long distance in your footwear of choice without getting blistered feet. I would leave the radio home and replace it with a GPS. Paper towels are probably better left home since baby wipes will suffice. If you survive the initial chaos you should able to get to a relatively safe place in a day or two. If you expect to be on your own for longer than that perhaps you should cache some supplies somewhere out of the danger area that you can get to in a day or so. Mobility should be your greatest asset in a rapidly unfolding emergency. If your stuff slows you down to the point you don’t escape the problem, it isn’t much good to you.

  22. Claire
    Claire March 22, 2011 4:34 pm

    Sorry, but I must disagree on the GPS. It’s an expensive item that I don’t already own and I can’t envision a need for it since I plan to go no farther than the woods at the edge of my own neighborhood. Even if I get out of sight of houses and get turned around, a compass would be more than sufficient to point me toward either the highway or my neighborhood.

    As to swapping the radio for a GPS unit — the radio also contains LED lights, emergency flashers, and a siren (among other things) and it can deliver both weather and emergency-condition reports that could be invaluable to a person wondering “what next?” Even if a GPS were useful for other purposes, it wouldn’t be worth giving up all that.

    As to caching supplies in the woods in advance — a big amen. It’s something I used to do when I lived in Cabin Sweet Cabin. For earthquake/tsunami preparedness, I’d have to find a location that would likely remain unchanged. That could be interesting. Previously, one of my most important caches became almost inaccessible after a big storm. An earthquake could do worse. But the idea is excellent, especially as an aide to avoiding having to carry excess weight on my back (or any other way).

  23. Claire
    Claire March 22, 2011 4:35 pm

    Beth, I hear you (and others) on the cash.

    As to the ground pad, I’m guessing you know really well why I recalled it as a vital item. 🙂

  24. EN
    EN March 22, 2011 5:45 pm

    I would never give up a radio for a GPS. Not worth it if you can read a map and compass and don’t intend to flee to the Alaskan interior where it would shortly run out of batteries and be worthless anyways. The chances of all radio stations going aways is the stuff of the Zombie Apocalypse, but not really all that likely for a long period of time. It will be a great way to now what’s going on.

  25. Pat
    Pat March 22, 2011 5:56 pm

    Claire said: “BUT … will those who consider a backpack to be an absolute requirement please tell me which kit items I should eliminate to reduce the weight and bulk by 1/3 or more?”

    Have you weighed what you’ve put together — or will you weigh it when you finish gathering the kit? Once you do, you’ll know better how to move it.

  26. winston
    winston March 22, 2011 6:16 pm

    BACKPACKS: Lots of you agree that a backpack is essential. And I see your point — attaches securely to body, leaves hands free, puts weight where it’s most easily borne, etc. BUT … will those who consider a backpack to be an absolute requirement please tell me which kit items I should eliminate to reduce the weight and bulk by 1/3 or more? I agree on the virtues of a backpack, but I’m not a 21-year-old Marine. When I lived in Cabin Sweet Cabin I went 15 months without a vehicle and regularly hauled groceries, library books, and other goods up that gawdawful hill on my back. I know what I can carry — and were I to opt for a backpack, I’d have to have a very “minimalist” kit. So if you were me, what would you leave behind?

    Do your dogs have the ability to wear dog packs? That right there would take at least all the dog food and leashes out. Other than that I dunno…it sounds like a pretty normal load to me so I don’t know what you’d wanna get rid of other than the possibility of carrying less food.

  27. bumperwack
    bumperwack March 22, 2011 7:09 pm

    suggest: poncho liner, magnesium fire starter, water filter(mandatory), suture kit, extra ammo…mandatory!

  28. Claire
    Claire March 22, 2011 8:06 pm

    “Do your dogs have the ability to wear dog packs? That right there would take at least all the dog food and leashes out. Other than that I dunno…it sounds like a pretty normal load to me so I don’t know what you’d wanna get rid of other than the possibility of carrying less food.”

    The dog pack question is interesting. Mine have never carried packs, but I’ve definitely considered the idea. However, under “run for the hills” conditions, I don’t think the idea is workable. Well, it might be, if I trained one dog to pack and kept that dog with me on leash while I just let the others run. Otherwise — well, it wouldn’t be safe to take the time to strap three dogs into their packs and I can’t turn the dogs loose with packs on (both because they might not stay with me and because if they ran and got the packs snagged on something, they could die). Similarly, I would hate to try to manage three disturbed dogs on leash at the same time. But one dog carrying a pack and kept on leash is a possibility.

    As to the “pretty normal load” — you’re a lot closer to being a 21-year-old Marine than I am. 🙂

    Pat, I haven’t weighed the pack. Will do that when I’m more settled on its contents. One reason I mentioned both weight and bulk is that the suitcase I’m packing things into is fairly large. The biggest backpack I have is much, much smaller. A bigger backpack would be an expensive purchase (I’ve checked) and I might not be capable of carrying a bigger backpack, fully loaded, in any case. That’s why both volume and weight matter.

    I’m trying to do as much as possible with what I already have. I’m definitely open to buying some new items, but I’ve got limits on what I can do.

  29. Ellendra
    Ellendra March 22, 2011 9:15 pm

    I was going to suggest attaching straps to the bag in case you run into terrain you can roll over, but it looks like those are already on.

    Peanut m&ms serve double duty, as both a protein and a sugar. Triple duty if you include the comfort factor.

    Make sure the deed to your house is included in your papers. The house might get destroyed, but the land will still have value, and when it’s time to go back you may find you need to prove it’s yours. If there’s someone you trust who lives in another state, they may be willing to keep copies of your important documents on file in case of fire or disaster. It’s unlikely that every part of the country would have a major, widespread disaster at the same time.

    There are designs for coffee-can stoves that use wood for fuel, that may be an option. You may simply want the warmth without the risk of adding a forest fire to your list of woes.

    Never let anyone make you feel weak for not being able to carry as much as them 😉

    And, in the aftermath, remember that there will be those of us hoping and praying for your safety and well-being the entire time!

  30. rustynail
    rustynail March 22, 2011 10:23 pm

    Claire, Consider carrying several butane lighters instead of waterproof matches. These are more reliable. A good source for fireastarters is FireSteel: Take a look at their videos … very impressive! For your first aid kit, consider the SAM Splint: Pretty impressive. They also have a SAM VetSplint, which should work for dogs and humans. As a plus, they’re in Wilsonville, OR. Look at their other trauma products on their website. Don’t know $$ yet, and their brochure suggests the splints are offered in case lots (32 to 60 units per case). I’ll pass on pricing and ordering information when I find out if I can afford them.

  31. naturegirl
    naturegirl March 23, 2011 12:14 am

    I don’t remember if it was Office Max or Staples (or one of those types of stores), but they have collapsible file/box carriers. The wheels are larger/sturdier than what is found on regular suitcases, yet not so huge that they add any extra weight, and it has straps on it that a suitcase/backpack (and even a blanket or sleeping bag roll) could be strapped onto the carrier. It’s not wide, or tall, or heavy & it works perfectly in treks thru wooded areas.

    There’s a ton of great ideas here….however, the weight factor is very, very important when you are planning to hike over rugged terrain (especially if in a hurry)…..also, if there’s been an earthquake it’s possible that terrain isn’t the same as it use to be, either, expect to maybe have to take an alternate route (suddenly) any where along the way…having your hands free may help you keep your balance and lets you grab onto anything to help you up and over things ~ if there’s a dog leashed, that should be hooked to your pack or onto a belt loop, just in case…..

    As a woman, I’d trade in the mittens for heavy duty work type gloves…..layers of the real thin gloves with fingers or even socks can always be used to keep hands warm; but if you tear hands to pieces on your way – you are off to a rough start of bugging out…..

    I’m a big fans of plastic bags, heavy-thicker big ones, small ones like the ziplock kinds…..not only can they be an extra poncho, impromptu bedding, or slipped on your feet to keep them warm/dry ~ they are light weight……I’m also a fan of wire, some of your beading wire isn’t a bad idea to drag along just in case, same goes for a larger (upholstery type) needle…..

    In general, be aware that your bug out area may be turn out to have other people there, too…..bring protection you are familiar with using, and be cautious about what documents you have with you, and hide any money or silver in unexpected places (with you at all times)…..

    Pack the Zantac pills, even if you’ve never taken them before, they will come in handy in a crisis….Be aware that your normal sleep pattern won’t exist anymore, and that will be one of your biggest obstacles to face…’s hard to make rational decisions when you have sleep-deprived-hallucinations….

    Above all, anyone who has to bug out of their comfort zone: accept that you will be miserable, uncomfortable, and will undoubtedly forget to bring something very important…as soon as you decide not to whine, then have a good cry-scared as hell session & get all that over with, the determination and survival (and sometimes even finding humor) modes can kick in…..The main thing everyone needs in their bug out bag is the right attitude (and knowledge)…..

  32. EN
    EN March 23, 2011 7:52 am

    Much thanks to Claire for posting this and everyone who commented. At 0200 this morning every light in the house was on and I’d managed to destroy whatever passes for order in this abode with the contents of three small backpacks spread out from here to kingdom come. A few changes were made and more importantly “stuff” that had been removed at different times was put back into it’s rightful place. I’ve got a list with 18 items to be purchased and an inventory on the top pocket of all bags. I’ve been at this a long time, over 3 decades, and my biggest problem is keeping up with my preps. It seems like everything must be rechecked every few months or it degrades by magic. The other problem is money. I used to have some and now I don’t. If things don’t fall apart soon I may have to get a job.

  33. NotoriousRoscoe
    NotoriousRoscoe March 23, 2011 12:02 pm

    As usual, the “expert” leaves out the ONE thing that might actually save her life: a mirror.

    The concept of survival implies the necessity for rescue, and for a rescue to succeed, the rescuers have to locate the survivor. The mirror is the best of all position-locating signaling devices. It’s compact, it requires no power source, it can be obtained as easily as ripping one out of a car, and can be seen as far as 50 miles away, even over the horizon. Nothing is as easy to spot for an airborne searcher — and I say that as a former military aviator.

    She shouldn’t feel bad about forgetting it. It’s so simple, nobody else remembers it either.

  34. Claire
    Claire March 23, 2011 1:56 pm

    Ah, but NotoriousRoscoe — I keep a mirror in my everyday fannypack, which will be with me. Also, the radio I have (which has a flasher and a siren) can be operated by a hand crank so it doesn’t rely on batteries. And I have a whistle. So I have several options for calling attention to myself if I need rescue. Not to mention I’ll probably be in the company of three barking dogs.

    I’ve carried a mirror as part of my walking-in-the-woods equipment for years. But in this gloomy climate, I’m not sure how much good it would do in a pinch.

    And I am not an “expert.” Not any sort of expert. I’ve never claimed to be one. I’m an ordinary person who happens to write. And one thing I’ve written about — over and over and over — is that it’s not smart to trust “experts.”

  35. EN
    EN March 23, 2011 2:49 pm

    I have signal mirrors all over the place. Helicopters can see them from miles aways and I learned to use them in the military. The thing is, i’ve never used them. I might if something goes wrong, so I carry them, but I’ve not used them since 1971. That’s a long time to carry something without using it. I wonder how many helicotpers will be searching for anyone in a Bug Out situation and more importantly, they don’t work very well in cloudy conditions or night time. I also carry a strobe btw.

  36. Adam Selene
    Adam Selene March 23, 2011 5:41 pm

    For those of you who advocate for backpacks, can you suggest any actual brands and models?

  37. Standard Mischief
    Standard Mischief March 24, 2011 5:55 am

    >parabarbarian Says: First, Polar Pure is not banned. It is avaialble from several places including Amazon.

    Maybe so, but you can no longer stroll into REI and pay cash. I assume you had to get on a gov list, like when buying Sudafed.

    Using one bottle of polar pure, I can make enough water safe for at least a dozen people, and can keep purifying enough water for weeks on end. That sounds like the ideal thing to put into a government suggested “” prepare-for-terror kit.

    Too bad, because the you could use the solid iodine inside the kit to make meth. The government had to ban it to save ourselves.

  38. rustynail
    rustynail March 24, 2011 1:50 pm

    In my earlier post (03/22/11, 22:23) I suggested the SAM Splint and VetSplint and gave a linke to SamMedical’s website. I have found that individual SAM Splints, and VetSplints are available from Rescue Essentials ( at $10.95 each. Rescue Essentials is in Salida, CO, so figure on shipping charges. Rescue Essentials also offers a SamMedical self-training package, including guide, manual and DVD for a very reasonable $3.99.

    BTW, a DVD makes a pretty good emergency mirror. Try to practice with it before you need it.

  39. the hud
    the hud March 24, 2011 2:45 pm

    hi claire-a couple of comments based upon personal experience: 1) the bigger the bag/backpack/luggage/etc, the more crap you’re gonna try to shove in it, increasing the weight to the point of being unmanageable; and 2) as far as vacuum packing stuff, sure you make things smaller, but not lighter-refer back to comment number one. and once you “pop the seal” your nice compact item(s) are once again back to full size and you’ll never get them all shoved back into your bag.

    knowledge and attitude are your two most important things to “pack”.

  40. Gypsie
    Gypsie March 26, 2011 9:09 am

    Nylon line is great but it is big and takes up space. I would recommend parachute or 550 cord. It’s very small and very strong and takes up very little space and has as many uses as you a person has imagination.

  41. edible plants in tn
    edible plants in tn April 15, 2011 10:58 am

    Nice site, i’ll be passing it on to my survival friends right away

  42. wrestling training programs
    wrestling training programs June 22, 2011 3:29 pm

    Sounds great. Very detailed too. I think everyone should have a bug out bag in case of emergency to have peace of mind!

  43. The Bug Out Bag Resource List – Covering the Best Sources Online — Survival Tips and Tricks
    The Bug Out Bag Resource List – Covering the Best Sources Online — Survival Tips and Tricks October 20, 2011 12:26 pm

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  44. Claire
    Claire October 20, 2011 7:37 pm

    Thank YOU, John. And yes, this blog tends to have one of the best groups of commentors I’ve ever seen.

    I’m off to visit your site now.

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