Some call it paranoia, I call it being prepared.
Ideal Bug-Out Bags should be sturdy, easy to carry, and filled with items to last at least 3 days. Better to be safe than sorry.
- Water – if you can, it’s great to also have a water purification system. They sell them at camping stores like REI.
- Non-perishable food – Once in awhile when I’m at the grocery store, I’ll get an extra can of food to throw in the bag. Freeze-dried food (such as Ramen) is a good option, too, and lighter to carry.
- Knife – A good multi-tool, like a Swiss Army knife, is ideal. The knife should be sharp and it’s great if there is also a can opener option, for any canned goods.
- Pet food/Supplies – If you have an animal, don’t forget supplies for your companion! My dog usually eats dry food, but we put some canned food in our bag because it lasts longer. If you have cats, prepare a cat carrier or kitty-leash.
- Emergency Blanket – Also called Space Blankets. These are lightweight blankets that keep you warm. You can buy them at most camping stores or on Amazon. You sometimes see marathon runners wrapped in them post-race.
- Spare clothing – It’s a good idea to pack an extra set of clothing and some rain gear. I think cotton shirts are ideal because in an extreme scenario they can be cut up and used for other purposes. Keep a set of sturdy shoes, like sneakers or boots in there too. I have an old pair of sneakers tied to the outside of my backpack.
- First Aid Kit – At the bare minimum, have something to stop bleeding, some Band-Aids, and basic painkillers. Also, remember to have an extra set of any medication you take regularly.
- Duct Tape – Duct tape is incredibly useful in any situation. It’s waterproof and very sticky. A great way to carry a supply of duct tape, if you don’t keep the entire roll, is wrap it around the outside of a water bottle. It doesn’t lose adhesiveness!
- Flashlight & Batteries – Obviously.
- Lighter – For those of you like me who never was at Scout camp and don’t know how to start a fire, it’s helpful to have a lighter or two on hand.
- Garbage Bags – Can be used as a tarp for shelter. Get the big, black kind.
I listed items I think are essential. Depending on the size of your bag and your area to store gear, you can add a slew of additional emergency items, ranging from proper tents to satellite phones. Just make sure you can carry it all.
By Nora Resnick