Bug Out Bag (BOB) Basics



This is a (very) basic introduction to what is known as a “Bug out bag”, or abbreviated as a BOB.

The BOB is used in emergencies, when you have to relocate to another area. It is to be assembled ahead of time, and kept constantly ready in order to facilitate evacuation.

This is a basic item that everyone should have. If not, then don’t come crying to me because you end up like the Katrina sheeple ended up, by being packed into a stadium without food, water, security, or sanitation. These people had ample warning, and they still ended up  up in a real mess. You, on the other hand, may get no such warning.

A BOB should last you a bare minimum of 3 days provisions for simple survival, not including carrying water. But always keep in mind that there is no law saying a disaster can only inconvenience you for 3 days, then all is back to “normal”. 3 days is the standard used, nothing more. If you can carry more, then great!

Build your own BOB, please do not buy the pre-made “survival kits” you find on the internet and some outdoor stores, they are overpriced crap and they will kill you just as surely as a .44 to the heart, but your death will not be as merciful as a heart shot. Is there anything sillier than water packed into little foil packets? That is what they have. If I was to sell these kits that I would trust with my life, it would cost you at least $400 for the gear, and that does not include personal items that you need. Don’t let the cost discourage you. Chances are, you have some items in a forgotten box or drawer somewhere. If you have to start from scratch, then buy a few things at a time, but START now.

In planning your BOB contents, you have to take into account as many scenarios as possible, plus your knowledge and skills, and distill this into a list of items to carry. Then, when you have your list, you pack your bug-out bag. Be organized in this task.

DO NOT just grab and stuff items into your kit. There is a tendency among newbies to pack the kitchen sink. I made that mistake just like everyone else did, when I started out. Don’t you make that mistake too. (Ammo is surprisingly heavy). My BOB was so heavy I could not even put it on, much less walk a mile while wearing it. The objective is survival, you’re not spending the weekend at some vacation resort.

Make your list and keep to it. It is real easy to see a nice, shiny (or camouflaged) piece of gear and think how cool it would be to have it, but it serves no real purpose. Don’t buy it. Save your money. ( A note about camouflaged gear: If the camo serves no purpose, don’t buy it. That nice camo style Leatherman or radio will get lost, count on it.)

The more knowledge you have, the less you need to pack.  And just because some individual items are “small” doesn’t mean that that weight doesn’t add up, because it does add up, quickly. A good rule of thumb is: If you cannot carry the BOB contents in your hands for 1 mile, it is too heavy. If you cannot even walk a mile, carrying nothing, then you are in trouble.

A much more important point is to buy quality. Do not let there be a hollow handle “Rambo survival knife” in your gear! Buy the very best you can afford, because your life may depend on that quality piece of gear.


There are numerous lists available on the internet, on what you should carry. These lists are good, to illustrate principles, but do not use them as mere checklists. Your needs are truely different than anyone elses and each BOB needs to be tailored to YOU because we all have different needs, skills, knowledge, and differing abilities to improvise.

Things you have to account for:

1) Shelter
2) water / water sterilization / water procurement
3) fire
4) first aid / prescription medication / contacts and eyeglasses / sanitation
5) clothing
6) food / cooking / procurement / foraging
7) security / weapons / ammo / cleaning supplies etc.
8) navigation and communications
9) What are you going to carry it all in?

This is where skills and knowledge are important. The more you know, the less you have to carry.

Please answer these questions honestly:
How well do you handle stress?
Can you improvise?
Can you build a fire using sparking tools? Lighters can be useless in cold weather and matches can get wet. You really need to practice this when you get the chance, because it isn’t always easy.
Can you find and properly prepare drinking water?
Can you build a basic shelter? Can you do it quickly? Like your life depended on it?
Can you hunt? fish? trap? forage? EFFICIENTLY? It isn’t easy.
Can you read the weather? Are you ready to die if you are wrong?
Do you know what plants are medicinal, when and where they are found, and how to prepare them?
Do you know what plant and animals can, and will, kill you?

Remember that the longer you are forced to live outdoors, the more likely you are to run up against something that can hurt you. Don’t be afraid, but be wary. Nature can be a bitch if she is not treated with respect. Those with outdoor experience, like hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, etc. will have an undeniable advantage. There is no substitute for experience. Buying a copy of the SAS Survival Guide might help keep the inexperienced person alive for a while, but survival books can be deceptive. Not intentionally deceptive, but reading about something, and actually doing it efficiently, are 2 different things. Too, these survival guides can have mistakes in them that can cost you dearly. For example, the SAS survival guide states that box turtles are edible. They are not. They eat poisonous mushrooms and they store the toxins in their fat. Eat one and die if that turtle has snacked on amanita mushrooms. ALWAYS double and triple check your sources, including this one.

In survival situations, water and calories expended are critical. This is why you must be efficient, and efficiency comes with experience. And the more experienced you are, and the more creative you are with improvisation, the less you need to carry. This is why some experienced people can survive with only a good knife, or even no equipment at all.

You can have all of the experience in the world and the best equipment that money can buy, but if you are prone to panic or if you lose hope, you are as good as dead. You need to keep calm so you can make good decisions.

How to carry it all

There are a few options to consider. This checklist is not all-inclusive.

1) A civilian style backpack.
As a rule, civilian packs are lighter, and come in various sizes and colors, and in both internal and external frames.
They are more comfortable to wear for long periods.
They don’t look “military”, which may help to blend in with other people without drawing too much attention to yourself.
They are not, as a rule, as sturdy as military style backpacks.
They ride high on the back, which limits visibility to the rear.
They are, as a rule, more expensive than military style packs.

2) Military style packs
Not much of a selection, compared to civilian packs.
They are sturdier
Internal and external frames.
They ride lower on the back, which aids visibility to the rear.
Better camouflage
Cheaper, as a rule. Go to your military surplus store and check them out.
Easier to add smaller pouches to the pack, to keep items often used more easily accessible.

It is recommended that a LBE gear setup be used in addition to backpacks. This enables you to ditch the pack, if that is mandatory, and retain basic survival gear on your person. Choose the LBE gear with care. (Load Bearing Equipment. A belt, holding pouches, supported by shoulder straps) You will find this gear at your local military surplus store.

Start your own research, and get some experience.
A Few Tips:

1) Keep an inventory.

2) Change items as seasons change.

3) Keep the BOB out of the way, but accessible.

4) Eat carried food ONLY when you cannot find food by foraging.

5) Seal the BOB to make sure the contents have not been tampered with.

6) Put a smaller version of the BOB in your vehicle.

7) To conserve space

a) Pack your BOB
b) remove contents
c) Vacuum seal to remove all air
d) Repack your bag, and use the compression straps to minimize bulk.
e) DO NOT just vacuum seal the contents and pack the bag. If you have to
open the sealed bags, the contents will no longer fit into the pack. This is
why it is necessary to pack the bag first, remove the items, then vacuum
seal the contents.
f) Save the empty bags, if God forbid you ever have to “bug out”. One use for them, that I just learned about, is in controlling flies.Fill them half way with water, and suspend them in an area to keep flies away. I suppose it works, I didn’t see any flies. Go figure…

8) NEVER drink untreated water, no matter how clean it looks. You have eyes, not microscopes! I hear giardia and cholera sucks…

9) Paracord will be a Godsend and has many uses. Get some.

10) Watch some of the survival shows on the Discovery Channel. I heard of
someone that used the techniques learned from these shows and survived
because of them.

11) Use a vacuum sealer to make your own MREs (Meals Ready To Eat, Or,
Meals Rejected by Ethiopians. Military rations.) It is cheaper than buying military surplus too.

12) Remove the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper, and compress it in a vacuum sealer to a thickness of 2 slices of bread. You’ll be glad you have some.

13) Buy a vacuum sealer! They are handy in other areas of the house too.

14) Leave the silver mylar “survival blankets” on the shelf, and buy a “casualty blanket” from the local military surplus store if you want a cigarette pack size blanket. The casualty blankets are thicker, sturdier, and green.

15) Throw NOTHING away, unless it really is trash, and then bury it and hide all traces of the act of burial. That piece of cardboard or plastic may have a use. And if you are being tracked, unburied or hastily buried trash leaves a trail that Stevie Wonder could follow. (Not that you are EVER going to fool a trained tracker with or without dogs. You will have to kill the tracker
and/or the dogs)

16) No matter where you bugout to, you will always find some kind of trash that can be useful. Keep your eyes open for these opportunities.

In my opinion, it is best to avoid all contact with unknown people. You simply do not know the intent of people you meet. They may not be as prepared as you are, and these desperate people will be capable of killing you for your gear. Make sure all contact is done on YOUR terms, not theirs.

Please keep in mind that not all people are as kind and loving as you are. You will find out how misbehaved desperate people, and criminals, act. You “hear” people murder others for their nice Nike shoes in the ‘hood. I remember reading a story about a brother murdering the other brother just for taking the last piece of KFC.
Just wait until law and order really breaks down and see how these vermin act. Always have a plan for killing anyone you meet, if that becomes necessary.

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One Response

  1. One thing I don’t see covered in most aricles about bugging out is a means of self-defense. I know we don’t like to think about it but if a bug out bag is needed there may also be a need to defend yourself against crime or attack here is a link to a good article addressing this:


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