Bug Out Bag Basics

If you've done any research into what a bug out bag is...

... I'm sure at times you've seen entirely too much information to process. I know I have. Everyone says "This is what you need in your survival kit if you want to live." Half the time, it's just not true.

If you already have a bug out kit or are just starting one I'm going to go over some basics to get you started. From that point on, you can accessorize and add what ever cool gear you think will contribute to your survival.

What is a bug out bag?

Bug out bag

This is the most fundamental question you need to ask yourself. For starters, there are variations of this term, go bag, g.o.o.d. bag, survival bag, get home bag, etc. They are all the same thing.

Typically, the purpose of this bag is to either get you from point A to point B and sustain you for around three days. This of course depends on what you put into your bag but that will come later.

The four basic essentials

There are four basic essentials. They are shelter, water, fire and food and yes, they are in that order. You need to ensure that your bag contains these four essentials.

Shelter - I use a hammock tent for my primary shelter. However, depending on the season or other details I do have the ability to replace it with something else.

==> Learn more about shelter here


Water - My bag has a 100 ounce water bladder inside. I also carry a hand pump water filter to make sure that the water I replace is clean.

==> Learn more about water here

Fire - I like to make it easy for myself so I carry a storm proof lighter with me. I also carry a reliable flashlight as well as body warmers in the event I can't start a fire.

==> Learn more about fire here

Food - I carry three days worth of freeze dried food with me. It's lighter than most other options and there is a better variety. I also carry a small portable grill in the event I need to cook something over a fire.

==> Learn more about food here

You don't need to over think this. start with the things you have and/or like. This is just the basics. start easy with the fundamentals and then you can eventually progress into better gear.

Two is One, One is None

This is an important saying to remember. It basically means have a backup for your gear. I just listed my primary go to items in my bag. I also carry backups to those gear in the event I can't use them (i.e. lost, stolen, damaged, etc.).

I carry a small mylar emergency tent as a backup my hammock tent. It's not the most luxurious item but it will definitely get the job done.

In addition to my water bladder, I also carry a nalgene bottle or canteen in the event I can't get to an immediate water source.


I also carry a lifestraw and even water purification tablets as backups to my main filter.

I carry matches, and magnesium fire starters as backups to my lighter.

I even learned to use a bow to start a fire in the event those other options are no good.

For a light replacement I carry an emergency candle and/or headlamp or small camp lantern. I also carry thermal underwear in the event I run out of body warmers.

For food I like to carry snares, a fishing kit, or even a blow gun for small game hunting if my food runs out. I also through a package or two of beef jerky in an empty pocket.

Backups are important. So be sure to complete this vital next step. (I know weapons were not mentioned. That is due to this being purely about the basics. That topic will be discussed in the follow up article.)

Now Put it all together

Now that you have your essentials picked out and you've also got back ups for those, let's pack our bags.

survival kit

WEIGHT - This is important especially if you've never travelled long distances with weight on your back.

When you're selecting items for your bag remember to think about weight. If you can't carry it... don't put it in the bag.

BALANCE - Different items weigh differently. It's important to pack your bag with weight distribution in mind.

Don't put lots of heavy items all on one side. This will create difficulties walking and can give you serious pain later.

TRAINING - Just because you've got a completed bag doesn't mean you're out of the woods. Take your bag on hikes so you have an idea of things you can improve on. Also, practice using your gear so you'll know how it works.

CYCLE - Some gear has a shelf life. Make sure you go through your gear once a month and replace anything that may have expired or is about to expire. The good part about cycling your food is you get to eat whatever you are cycling out so there's no waste.


If you've done all of these thing you've completed a basic bug out bag! Make sure everyone in your household has a bag as well. including your pets.

You never know when disaster will strike. Don't get caught off guard and be left with nothing. Do the right thing and build a basic bug out bag for you and your family members. It just might save your life.