Most everyone has undoubtedly heard the term “bug-out-bag,” but may not exactly understand the purpose of it or the items that comprise one should they wish to create their own. If one had to define it, a bug-out-bag would be a kit that contains everything a person needs to survive up to three days away from the creature comforts of home, while in transit to a secondary location away from the dangers that necessitated the need to "bug-out" in the first place. Here, we will go over some essentials that everyone should consider when building their kit —so you can customize from there.
1: The Bag Itself
The Tac Six Intercept Tactical Pack from Allen is handy in both hiking/hunting scenarios, as well as situations that may require a quick and speedy evacuation. On the outside of this bag is a fair amount of Molle webbing, allowing for countless options when it comes to strapping additional gear or pouches to the outside. This highly durable bag, constructed of a thick Endura fabric, also has a cool mesh back that allows for ventilation and comfort during wear. It is also able to accept a hydration pack should you wish to fill one up and toss it in before hitting the road (or trail). This pack stays solid on your body during high-impact movements such as running and jumping when you use the included sternum straps.
Your plan of action will have a pre-determined final destination, but things don't always go according to plan. Backup shelter options are a must. Depending on whether you are traveling alone or with others, your backup shelter options may include an actual tent, but a tarp and rope will also work to provide a rough shelter until more permanent accommodations can be made. A sleeping bag that can easily be compressed in a stuff sack is another great thing to have, as it will save space and will ensure warmth on a cool night.
Emergency blankets are also multipurpose space savers … not only can they provide additional warmth, but the shiny bright silver lining can also catch the sun to assist in location efforts you become lost. (By the by: Remember that tarp you packed for shelter? It can also be used as a means of rain collection should you find yourself running low on water.
3: Food & Water
A staple of my hiking pack and bug-out bag is my Optimus Terra Solo Cook Set. This stove uses the small propane canisters easily found at your local big-box store and can cook up dinner in no time. (I like it because the entire cook set, including the propane canister that fits within the pot itself, packs down in its included mesh pouch.) The overall size of this set is slightly larger than a jar of peanut butter. Another item included in my bug-out bag is my Mini-Sawyer water filtration system. This system takes up very little space in my pack, and is essential should you need clean, filtered water on the go. Canned goods and prepackaged military-style meals are heavy, so consider bringing along a selection of freeze-dried camp food. Available in a wide variety of brands and options for all three meals, these provide a quick and lightweight way to keep your caloric intake steady in your travels.
4: Communication & Navigation
It doesn’t matter where your final destination is if you cannot find your way there. Once you have established how you are going to get from point A to point B, consider different items that can aid you in this task. Power chargers for anything electronic are a plus, but don't rely on being able to make a call with your cellphone during an emergency. Radios used for communication, such as a variety of options from Baofeng, are excellent for staying in contact with those you may be traveling with or those you are attempting to reach.
Topographic maps are excellent for land navigation when paired with a compass. Lastly, consider adding a headlamp to your kit instead of a flashlight. Headlamps free up your hands for use and light your way at night.
5: First Aid
If you are already taking medication prescribed by your physician, you should be sure to include these in your bag. Daily medications may be a no-brainer, but don't forget items such as epi-pens for allergic reactions or even a few hard candies in the case of low blood sugar. Adventure Medical Kits has a wide array of pre-made kits that are geared towards specific scenarios, such as general first aid, mountaineering, hiking, trauma kits—even one made specifically for the family dog!
The kit that I chose for my bug-out bag was the Molle Bag Trauma Kit 1.0. This kit is easily strapped to the outside of my Tac Six bag and contains a plethora of items to address cuts, scrapes, stings and things a little more on the serious side. Contained in this kit are an array of bandages and dressings, trauma pads, Quick Clot gauze, EMT Shears, pre-cut moleskin, antihistamine, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, Aspirin, latex-free gloves, safety pins, antiseptic wipes and much more. Adventure Medical Kits also contains items available a la carte that you can use to personalize your kit, such as a tourniquet (which I keep in all my med kits) or additional single-use items so you can replenish as needed.
6: Assorted Tools
Now, we're not talking about a full-on toolbox, but when it comes to your bug-out bag you do want to be prepared for the unknown. Multi-tools are a great option, such as the Conquest Carabiner Multitool from LA Police Gear. The carabiner clip on the end allows for easy access when clipped to your belt loop or bag. In addition, this tool contains a variety of pliers, small wood saw, file, wire cutters, knife and screwdriver.
Other items in this category that you will find handy definitely include firestarters, which can be anything from waterproof matches to a flint-and-steel set. Blades of all shapes and sizes should be considered when developing your kit … choose wisely based on your location and suspected travels. Consider a small hatchet should your travels lead you through wooded terrain. A folding shovel may prove handy as well when creating a shelter or digging a fire pit.
You should consider my equipment suggestions (the links to them are below) as a jumping-off point; not everyone's needs and preferences are the same. However you decide to select and fill your family’s bug-out bag, just remember: The time to consider that bug-out bag is when you don’t have to worry about bugging out … say, for example, now.
My gear suggestions can be found here:
Tac Six Intercept Tactical Pack- byallen.com
Optimus Terra- katadyngroup.com
Mini-Sawyer Filtration System- sawyer.com
Baofeng Radio- baofengradio.com
LA Police Gear Conquest Carabiner Multitool- lapolicegear.com