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Essential Items for a Bug Out Bag: A Checklist of Necessities

Essential Items for a Bug Out Bag: A Checklist of Necessities

Tailoring Your Bug Out Bag: Understanding the Personalized Approach

At Mountain Ready, we firmly believe in the principle that a truly effective bug out bag isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Crafting a remarkable bug out bag commences with a well-crafted and comprehensive Bug Out Bag List.

The beauty of this list lies in its adaptability. Not every item listed will necessarily find its way into your bag, but what it does offer is a solid foundation to kickstart your preparations.

We're acutely aware of the apprehension that can accompany starting this journey. The prospect of not knowing where to begin can be daunting, and we've certainly experienced that uncertainty ourselves. Especially if you're venturing into this realm for the first time, you've probably encountered a deluge of information, haven't you?

Quality abounds in some of these resources, offering invaluable insights. However, it's also true that the quality isn't consistent across the board—let's just say, some advice might be less than stellar.

To facilitate your navigation through this comprehensive guide, we've thoughtfully included a Table of Contents below. Whether you're inclined to peruse the article from start to finish or prefer to hone in on specific areas that intrigue you or demand more clarity, this resource accommodates your needs.

Prepare yourself for an in-depth exploration as we've meticulously packed this article with a wealth of enlightening content. Consider setting aside dedicated time to fully immerse yourself in the knowledge it offers, and don't forget to bookmark it for convenient future reference.

And now, without further ado, let the journey commence…

Crafting a Bug Out Bag made easy

Contrary to any preconceived notions, the task of assembling your bug out bag need not be a daunting endeavor. Quite the contrary, we firmly believe that this process should be imbued with a sense of excitement and satisfaction. After all, the act of constructing a well-thought-out bug out bag, coupled with a comprehensive evacuation strategy, can provide a profound sense of assurance when contemplating the prospect of challenging scenarios.

Whether you're just embarking on the journey of preparing for emergency situations or have long been entrenched in this realm of readiness, there's undoubtedly valuable insight to be gleaned from the following discourse. Join us as we delve into the art of crafting the perfect bug out bag, an endeavor that promises both practicality and peace of mind.

Selecting the right Bug Out Bag

The pivotal starting point when embarking on your bug out bag journey revolves around none other than the bag itself. Delving into this matter, there exist two prevailing schools of thought:

1. Prioritize Bag Selection: Some advocate for the approach of first zeroing in on the ideal bag that harmonizes with your preferences and needs.

2. Item-Driven Bag Selection: On the flip side, others vouch for procuring the bag subsequent to finalizing the items that will inhabit it.

As we've underscored in earlier discussions, the intricate process of curating your bug out bag shouldn't present itself as an arduous ordeal. Quite the opposite, in fact. We firmly hold the belief that it ought to be a gratifying and exciting endeavor.

Having established this crucial foundation, let's delve into the crux of the matter: the indispensable components that constitute Bug Out Bag Essentials!

Essentials for your Bug Out Bag: Staying Hydrated

When it comes to bug out bag essentials, few things are as critical as ensuring you have proper water and hydration provisions. In the realm of survival priorities, water takes the lead, considering the human body's limited endurance without it—roughly 72 hours, compared to approximately 3 weeks without sustenance. Hence, prioritizing water in your bug out bag is a non-negotiable imperative. The golden rule here is a minimum of one liter of water per person, per day.

Let's delve into the indispensable items that should find their place in your bug out bag:

1. Ample Drinking Water (3 Liters):This forms the cornerstone of your hydration strategy. Three liters of potable water provide a sound foundation to sustain you during those critical hours.

2. Collapsible Water Bottle: A space-efficient and lightweight option, a collapsible water bottle can easily adapt to the available room in your bug out bag as its contents deplete.

3. Sturdy Hard Water Bottle: For those situations where durability is paramount, a hard water bottle is your trusty companion. Its robust construction ensures your water remains secure.

4. Metal Water Bottle / Canteen: Metal containers not only store water effectively but can also be used to heat water if needed. Their versatility makes them a valuable asset.

5. Water Filters / Purification Systems: Investing in a reliable water filtration system enhances your chances of accessing safe drinking water from various sources. Consider these as a long-term solution.

6. Water Purification Tablets (Qty 3): These compact tablets are like insurance for your water supply. They effectively neutralize harmful contaminants, adding an extra layer of protection.

Of the options mentioned above, we strongly advocate for incorporating at least one Sawyer water filter, or even two, into your bug out bag. These compact, lightweight marvels stand as your line of defense against waterborne threats. With an impressive filtration rate of 99.9%, Sawyers effectively eliminate bacteria and other potentially hazardous microorganisms. The result? Clean, drinkable water that you'd otherwise have to boil or treat using alternative methods.

In the realm of bug out bag essentials, the ones focusing on water and hydration are paramount. By thoughtfully selecting and including the items mentioned above, you're not just preparing for survival—you're empowering yourself to thrive in challenging circumstances.

Food and Food Preparation

Moving on to the sustenance aspect, let's delve into the realm of food supplies. In the preparedness community, there's a noticeable trend of recommending a range of off-the-shelf dehydrated products. However, our approach differs slightly. We suggest a mix of non-perishable food items, some requiring water and others not. This is due to the uncertainty of water availability during a bug out situation. It's prudent to plan for water scarcity beyond your initial expectations.

While most of these items are straightforward, we'll provide detailed explanations for our choices in upcoming posts. For now, remember that you should have enough food to cover at least three days. Another common recommendation is the use of plastic cooking utensils. We recommend opting for metal cooking tools due to their heat resistance and durability.

Here's a rundown of the essentials, and we'll explain the reasoning behind each later:

Remember, practicality and durability are key when assembling your bug out bag's food and cooking items.

Building Your Bug Out Bag Wardrobe: Practical Clothing Tips

Selecting the right clothing for your bug out bag is a highly individualized task, taking into account differences in body types, tolerances, and fitness levels. The items provided below should be layered thoughtfully to help regulate your body temperature effectively in various conditions.

Your clothing choices will naturally depend on your location, climate, and the factors mentioned earlier. It's recommended to assess your bug out bag's contents periodically, especially with changing seasons. This way, you can rotate your clothing options to suit the weather.

Having at least two changes of clothes is a practical strategy. This ensures you always have a dry set of clothes available. Wet clothes can be extremely uncomfortable and can even lead to hypothermia, a serious concern when you're on the move and exposed to the elements.

Essential Clothing Items for Your Bug Out Bag:

1. Lightweight Long Sleeve Shirt (poly fabric, not cotton): This shirt is a versatile base layer designed to manage moisture and retain warmth effectively.

2. Convertible (Zip-Off) Pants: These pants provide adaptability, allowing you to modify your attire as conditions change while preventing overheating - Columbia Convertible Pants.

3. Underwear: Often underestimated, proper underwear contributes to personal hygiene and overall comfort.

4. Merino Wool Hiking Socks (Quantity: 3 pairs): Unlike traditional wool, these socks are soft and comfortable, offering support and insulation for your feet. Our favorite from Darn Tough - Marino Wool Padded Hiking Socks.

5. Medium Weight Fleece: This layer adds warmth and insulation, helping you maintain a comfortable body temperature in various situations.

6. Hat with Flexible Brim: A functional accessory offering protection from the elements, including sun and rain.

7. Work Gloves: These gloves strike a balance between safeguarding your hands and allowing you to perform tasks with ease. Our favorite gloves from Mechanix Wear - Tactical Work Gloves

8. Rain Poncho: A reliable shield against rain, this item helps keep you dry during wet conditions. Our go-to Poncho from Arcturus.

9. Shemagh: With its various uses, the shemagh provides protection from wind, sun, and light warmth when needed. Our favorite shemagh from Free Soldier.

By assembling your clothing assortment thoughtfully, you'll be well-prepared to navigate diverse environments with a practical edge. Remember, each clothing piece serves a purpose in enhancing your survival journey.

Shelter and Bedding

Upon initial consideration, those well-versed in survival tactics might perceive some of the selections within this category as excessive or seemingly impractical. However, a closer examination of the individual products we have curated reveals their deliberate design - compact and lightweight, tailored to cater to the needs of backpackers and those navigating challenging terrains.

While it's true that fashioning a shelter from a tarp or using a trash bag brimming with leaves as an improvised ground pad are feasible options, we firmly advocate for the inclusion of the following items, and for good reason. The rationale stems from the multifaceted advantages they offer. In demanding situations, such as those requiring survival skills, maintaining optimal mental and physical well-being is of paramount importance, and this is closely intertwined with obtaining adequate rest.

Our carefully chosen selection encompasses:

1. Tarp: A versatile shield against the elements, offering protection from rain, wind, and the sun's rays. Editors top pick - The Wise Owl Outfitters Wisefly Lite Rain Tarp.

2. Tent (Optional): For those seeking enhanced privacy and more structured shelter, a tent can be a valuable addition. Best for backpacks - the Nemo Dragonfly

3. Sleeping Bag: An indispensable ally in preserving body heat during cold nights, promoting restful sleep. Our pick - The lightweight compact by MalloMe.

4. Ground Pad: A shield against discomfort from rough or damp ground, contributing to better quality sleep and overall comfort. Our choice - The ultralight backpacking mat by Tame Lands.

5. Wool Blanket: A timeless choice for warmth, even in challenging conditions, providing both physical comfort and a psychological boost. Editors Pick - Military Wool Blankets from Arcturus.

In essence, while certain makeshift solutions exist, our comprehensive list serves as a practical guideline to optimize your preparedness for various scenarios, underscoring the significance of maintaining a positive morale amidst adversity.

Heat Source

When it comes to bugging out, ensuring you have multiple methods for igniting a fire becomes a paramount consideration. Our expert advice underscores the significance of incorporating the following fundamental components into every bug out bag. This counsel originates from a survivalist and firearms specialist we are acquainted with, and its practicality has remained indelibly etched in our minds:

"Where there are two, there's one. Where there's one, there's none."

In essence, this adage imparts the wisdom of redundancy. Should your primary ignition method falter without a backup at hand, your predicament could escalate.

Hence, it's highly advisable to include a minimum of three distinct fire-starting mechanisms in your comprehensive bug out bag inventory.

1. Lighter: A reliable and accessible tool for generating a flame.

2. Ferrocerium Rod: A dependable and lasting resource, providing sparks even in adverse conditions.

3. Tinder (Quantity 3): These highly combustible materials can make the difference between kindling a fire and a futile attempt.

4. Waterproof Storage: Safeguard your fire-starting resources from the elements by storing them in a waterproof container, ensuring their functionality when you need them the most.

Exploring First Aid Essentials

In the realm of bug-out bags, first aid provisions are crucial components that require careful consideration. Many pre-packaged products on the market might not align perfectly with the needs of a survival kit, making a tailored approach essential. While the subject of first aid is broad and detailed, this overview aims to provide clarity without sacrificing depth. There's a particular recommendation we hold in high regard, but naturally, the option to construct a personalized kit remains open.

1. First Aid Kit: A comprehensive first aid kit serves as the cornerstone of your bug-out bag's medical supplies. Ensure it encompasses a wide range of bandages, sterile dressings, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, tweezers, and scissors. Gauze pads, disposable gloves, and pain relievers are equally vital. Customizing it to address personal medical needs is advised.

In the context of first aid kits, the brand we confidently advocate is My Medic. Within this landscape, the My Medic kits stand unparalleled as the prime choice. These kits diverge from mere commonplace assortments of adhesive strips and sterile gauze; instead, they encompass a range of life-preserving supplies. Their efficacy resides in their capacity to genuinely safeguard lives, transcending the limitations of basic wound care materials. While our endorsement rests with My Medic, it's important to acknowledge the potential to curate your own kit according to specific needs and preferences.

Shop our wide selection of My Medic Standard and Pro First Aid Kits.

2. Trauma Kit: Acknowledging the potential for more severe injuries, a trauma kit is indispensable. This supplementary kit should include items like tourniquets, hemostatic agents, Israeli bandages, and chest seals. These elements can be crucial in managing serious wounds that might arise during emergencies. The My Medic TFAK - Micro Trauma Kit

3. Insect Repellant: Insects, beyond being nuisances, can pose health risks. Including insect repellent safeguards you against insect-borne diseases that could complicate survival scenarios. Choose a repellent with an effective concentration of active ingredients like DEET or picaridin to repel various pests. Deep Woods Insect Wipes

4. Mylar Survival Blanket: Staying warm and maintaining body temperature is pivotal in survival situations. Mylar survival blankets are lightweight, compact, and designed to retain body heat by reflecting it back. Their reflective nature makes them suitable for signaling as well. Keep a couple of these in your kit to ensure protection against the elements.

By thoughtfully considering these first aid essentials, you're taking significant strides towards fortifying your bug-out bag. While our recommended choice stands as a reliable option, the opportunity to curate your own selection allows for a tailored and robust medical response to the uncertainties of survival scenarios.

By thoughtfully considering these first aid essentials, you're taking significant strides towards fortifying your bug-out bag. While our recommended choice stands as a reliable option, the opportunity to curate your own selection allows for a tailored and robust medical response to the uncertainties of survival scenarios.

Hygiene Considerations

In the process of assembling a comprehensive list of essential items for your bug out bag, it's crucial not to underestimate the significance of personal hygiene. Often overshadowed by more overt necessities, neglecting these aspects could expose you to the risk of bacterial infections and a swift decline in overall well-being. Maintaining your health and vitality during a bug out situation is paramount. Therefore, make certain to include the following items in your preparedness kit.

1. Wet Napkins: In the absence of running water, these moist towelettes offer a convenient solution for cleansing your hands and body. Keeping yourself free from dirt and germs becomes more manageable, aiding in the prevention of potential infections. Our top pick - Extra thick and biodegradable wipes by Combat Wipes.

2. Hand Sanitizer: An indispensable tool for maintaining hand hygiene. Hand sanitizer effectively eliminates germs without the need for water, serving as an important defense against the spread of illnesses. Top Seller - Travel size hand sanitizer by Purell.

3. All-Purpose Camp Soap: Versatile and compact, all-purpose camp soap facilitates various cleaning tasks, from washing dishes to personal cleansing. Its multi-functionality ensures you can maintain a basic level of cleanliness even in challenging circumstances. Editors choice - Campsuds environmentally conscious outdoor camping soap from Sierra Dawn.

4. Hygiene/Signal Mirror: Beyond personal grooming, a hygiene/signal mirror can serve a dual purpose. It not only helps you attend to personal appearance but can also be used to signal for help in emergency situations, enhancing your chances of rescue.

5. Small Pack Towel: A small pack towel might seem unassuming, but its utility in drying off after cleaning, wiping surfaces, or even providing a makeshift barrier cannot be overstated. Its quick-drying nature makes it an ideal companion for your bug out journey. Editors choice - Microfiber Camping Towels by Rainleaf.

6. Travel Toilet Paper (Quantity 2): Recognizing the essential nature of toilet paper is imperative. In situations where facilities are unavailable, having travel-sized toilet paper can significantly contribute to your comfort and sanitation. Use Coghlan's Packable Camp Toilet Tissue, or just use Wipes.

7. Travel Size Toothbrush & Toothpaste: Maintaining oral hygiene is often underestimated during emergencies. A travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste ensure that you can uphold dental care standards, preventing potential oral health issues down the line.

Our favorite is the Reach Ultraclean Travel Kit which includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a reusable waterproof bag.

Incorporating these items into your bug out bag underscores your commitment to a comprehensive preparedness strategy. Beyond the listed essentials, remember to consider any other personal hygiene necessities that align with your individual requirements. Your holistic approach to preparedness will greatly enhance your ability to weather unforeseen challenges with resilience and well-being intact.


When it comes to the gear that falls into the tools category, there's an undeniable fascination that arises. The allure of gadgets and gizmos is universal, and it's not hard to understand why. The appeal of these ingenious devices is captivating, with some standing out as particularly impressive. Yet, it's essential to keep in mind a guiding principle: "Every ounce counts." Balancing functionality with weight is crucial, so it's wise to discern the absolute essentials and leave behind the excess. In alignment with this practical approach, we present three indispensable tools that merit inclusion in your bug out bag.

As we delve into the rationale behind our choices in a forthcoming post, we encourage you to stay engaged. For now, however, let's focus on these recommendations, which align seamlessly with the requirements of most, if not all, bug out bags.

1. Survival Knife: This versatile tool serves as an embodiment of preparedness. Its sharp edge offers utility in various scenarios, from cutting materials to aiding in food preparation. The survival knife's multifunctional nature underscores its significance in a bug out situation.

2. Multi-Tool: Aptly named, the multi-tool consolidates a range of functions into one compact device. With capabilities like cutting, screwing, and prying, it's a compact powerhouse of practicality. Its inclusion minimizes the need for multiple individual tools, optimizing space and efficiency in your bug out bag.

3. Axe: Opting for an axe over a machete carries several advantages, particularly in terms of safety and versatility. Beyond its primary function of chopping wood, an axe's rear end can double as an improvised hammer. This dual-purpose aspect showcases the thoughtful selection of items that serve multiple roles, maximizing the value of each item within the bag.

In a subsequent post, we'll delve into the nuanced reasoning that underscores these selections. For now, consider these tool choices as prime candidates for enhancing the readiness of your bug out bag.


When it comes to illumination, it's highly advisable to have a variety of options at your disposal, just like with fire sources. Having multiple instances of lighting tools ensures that you're well-prepared in case one fails or gets misplaced. The items mentioned below are all versatile in their applications, but their common goal is to assist you in improving visibility and finding your way. And of course, don't overlook the importance of extra batteries to keep these devices operational.

1. LED Headlamp: A hands-free lighting solution that straps onto your head, allowing you to focus the beam on your tasks while keeping both hands available. Useful for tasks that require precision or when navigating in the dark. Our Overall Best pick for best headlamp is the Black Diamond 400-R.

2. Mini LED Keychain: A compact and portable light source that easily attaches to your keychain. It's handy for quickly locating items in your bag or illuminating locks in low-light conditions.

3. Light Glowstick: A reliable, low-maintenance light source that emits a steady glow. It's particularly useful for marking locations, creating a makeshift light source, or signaling in emergencies. Buy these for reliable industrial grade and long lasting (12 hour) glow sticks - Glow Mind Emergency Sticks.

4. Mini LED Light: Small yet efficient, these lights can be attached to various surfaces or objects. They're excellent for providing focused illumination in tight spaces or for reading. Our pick for Best Budget flashlights are our very own Mountain Ready LM1000 PRO flashlights.

5. Tea Candles: A traditional yet effective lighting option. Tea candles can provide a soft and ambient glow, helping create a calming atmosphere or providing basic lighting in a confined area.

6. Solar Lantern / Charger: A multi-purpose tool that harnesses solar energy to both illuminate your surroundings and charge small devices. Ideal for longer stays or situations where recharging is a necessity. Our Top Choice has to be the Goal Zero Crush Light.

7. Batteries: An absolute must-have to keep your electronic lighting devices functioning. Make sure to pack extra batteries of various sizes to accommodate different tools in your kit - Shop Batteries.

In summary, having a diverse range of lighting tools ensures that you're equipped to handle various scenarios. Whether you're working on tasks, moving through darkness, or seeking a sense of security, these lighting options cater to different needs while serving the overarching purpose of providing illumination. Remember, redundancy and preparedness are key, so include extra batteries to extend the lifespan of your lighting equipment.

Communications (P.A.C.E)

Addressing the topic of communications within the preparedness community sparks ongoing debates. However, a straightforward approach is favored here. When the situation necessitates a bug out, the value of possessing these communication essentials becomes evident.

A mnemonic to remember these items is "P.A.C.E." which stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency. These categories encompass the following:

Primary – Cell Phone:

In the modern world, a cell phone stands as a crucial tool for communication. It facilitates connection with loved ones, authorities, and emergency services. Make sure it's fully charged and loaded with important contacts.