When disaster strikes, it's important to be prepared for anything. There is no better way to ensure your safety or survival than a bug-out bag. But what exactly is a bug-out bag? What goes in it? Read on to learn about exactly it is, as well as what you need in your bug-out bag.

What Is A Bug-Out Bag?

survival tools

A bug-out bag is a go bag that has items one would need to survive for at least 72 hours when evacuating from a disaster. The 72-hour timeframe came from the notion that it can take organizations and rescue units that much time to be able to help people in an area affected by a disaster. The items in bug-out bags should be assembled beforehand so that you can quickly evacuate in the event that catastrophe strikes. The contents of a bug-out bag vary greatly, but there are some items that are absolutely essential to ensure your safety.

What To Look For In a Bug-Out Bag

When you're first planning to put together your survival kit, you want to think about these important aspects of survival -- water and hydration, food, shelter, first-aid, personal hygiene, fire supplies, lighting, communication, and general tools. While this may seem like a large amount of equipment, worry not! Everything we've gathered on this list can be found in small, compact, and lightweight forms. Of course, it's worth noting that your bug-out bag must be customized to your needs and your strengths -- if you don't feel you can lug around a bag filled with everything, then carefully go through and choose which items to pass on. However, it is recommended to have most, if not all, of the things listed here, as you never know what conditions you'll find yourself in should disaster strike. Check out what exactly you need for your 72-hour kit.

Bug-Out Bag Essentials List

Preparation is key, and in the unlikely event of a catastrophe, you'll want the gear to survive without fear. Here are some absolutely necessary items you'll need in your go bag.

The Bag Itself

man with survival backpack

Of course, you'll want a bag that can actually hold all of your essential goods! Survival backpacks are the way to go in this case, as they provide plenty of storage room and their weight distribution make them a relatively easy carry for your back, so you won't strain yourself. Start by grabbing a high-quality waterproof survival backpack, and then you can begin assembling your gear.

Water And Hydration

a steel water bottle

You'll need several tools for holding and purifying water for your bug-out bag. Essential hydration tools include:

  • A stainless steel water bottle, as it allows you to boil water in the bottle itself to purify and kill bacteria.
  • Water purification tablets, which can be stored easily and can purify water much more quickly than boiling.
  • Portable water filter, which can remove dirt and bacteria to leave you with relatively clean drinking water.

Food Preparation

army ration

Food goes with hydration when it comes to surviving, and you'll want both the right choice of foods as well as the tools to prepare them. You'll need enough food to last for at least three days, so think of square meals as well as little snacks to keep you energized throughout the day. Essential food to get include:

  • Vitamin supplements
  • Protein bars
  • Dehydrated food, which is prepared simply by boiling water
  • MREs (Meal Ready To Eat), which are full meals that can be eaten straight from the packaging and require no additional preparation.
  • Canned goods such as beans, vegetables, and soups.

It's also important to bring certain tools so that you can prepare food safely, such as:

  • A portable stove with fuel for more efficient water boiling, as well as preparing canned goods and dehydrated foods.
  • A can opener
  • Utensils
  • A small metal cooking pot
  • A small metal bowl


a camping tent

You'll need the proper gear to set up a place to sleep, so be sure to invest in a high-quality tent, as well as a sleeping bag that can keep you warm. A wool blanket is also a good addition if you're in colder conditions. It's crucial to get the tools needed for you to have as good a sleep as possible, as proper rest is necessary to function in these dire circumstances.


first aid kit

From minor cuts to major injuries, you'll want to have your bases covered by getting the proper care packages. When putting together a survival kit, be sure to look at these items:

  • First-Aid kit, containing at least bandages, gauze rolls with surgical tape, hydrogen peroxide and any personal medications.
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Pain killers
  • Vaseline

Personal Hygiene

a bar of soap

If you're out for over 72 hours straight, you'll no doubt want to have the equipment to keep yourself somewhat clean. Make room in your bug-out bag for these basic hygiene items:

  • Travel-size toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Shower wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Medium-sized towels
  • Soap for bathing
  • Any other personalized hygiene products.

Fire Supplies

a set of match sticks

From cooking food to purifying water to just keeping you warm during the chilly nights, having the right tools to be able to start a fire is absolutely essential for your bug-out bag. You'll want to keep these tools in a small waterproof bag or pouch so that in the event of rain, they don't get damaged. To start a fire, you'll need:

  • A lighter
  • Matches
  • Tinder/Kindling (while the wilderness will provide branches and foliage for you to use, damp materials won't do much in helping you start a fire. Cotton balls are a good choice for helping to get a fire going in the event natural resources are a little scarce.)

It's also worth noting that the Vaseline you packed can help ignite the tinder when it's lit on fire, so adding a touch of that will help the process.

Lighting Tools


When night time comes, a stationary fire won't do you much if you need to some searching or investigating. Make sure you have these lighting tools to be able to maneuver in the night without fear. It's worth noting that you should find LED-based products for all these tools, as LED consumes less energy than regular lights, giving them a longer lifespan -- an absolute necessity to make it for at least 72 hours. You'll want:

  • A headlamp
  • Flashlight
  • Light glow sticks
  • Rechargeable batteries


man with walkie talkie

In times of panic, communication is key -- as such, you'll want equipment that will allow you to keep in contact with those around you, as well as staying informed about the situation at large. Have these gadgets at the ready so you're not in the blue during a crisis:

  • Waterproof-cased cell phone with a portable charger
  • Hand crank radio
  • 2-4 walkie-talkies for anyone you're traveling within a short distance.
  • A whistle

Tools And Miscellaneous Essentials

a survival knife carving a stick

When you think of surviving in the wilderness after a catastrophe, your mind will be going through the myriad of gadgets and tools you'll need to make it out there. While there are many gizmos that can do cool, unique tricks, being efficient is the name of the game. Here are a few things you should have at the ready when it comes to survival:

  • Sunglasses
  • Survival knife
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Pliers
  • Compass
  • Duct tape
  • Resealable/freezer bags
  • Fishing kit (fishing pole, line, bait, hooks)
  • Binoculars

While you might not necessarily think you'll want every item on this list, it's recommended to find a bag that can fit most, if not all of these items -- when disaster strikes, you won't know what circumstances you'll be in or what you'll need to survive. As such, it's best to go above and beyond and ensure all your bases are covered rather than be caught off guard in dire situations. Do some research to find small, compact and affordable versions of each of these items and form a bug-out bag that fits your needs.

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