What Are Bug Out Bags?

A Bug Out Bag, sometimes referred to as a 72-hour kit, is a heavy-duty bag or backpack that contains enough essentials to survive for at least three days. In our day and age, with natural disasters and other calamities becoming more common due to the overpopulation and mass urbanization of the Earth, a Bug Out Bag will ensure that you’re prepared to survive the first few days of a disaster, regardless of where you end up.

Unlike a home emergency kit, a Bug Out Bag assumes that you may need to evacuate your home quickly. In areas where hurricanes are common, many families create a 72-hour kit for each family member to take in case they become separated. The guidelines below can help you begin compiling your Bug Out Bag.

Choosing a Bag

To begin with, you’ll need a heavy-duty backpack or easily carried bag, made from a durable, weather-resistant material. The last thing you want is for your wares and stores to be ruined by inclement weather. Backpacks that feature multiple storage compartments for stashing items you may need to access quickly, such as multi tools or an LED headlamp, are ideal.

Shop around at various outdoor equipment stores or online and look for highly rated backpacking and survival gear baggage. You’ll want plenty of space, but don’t get a bag that’s so large it will be difficult to carry when fully loaded.

Food and Water

The first items to go into your Bug Out Bag should be enough food and water to live on for three days. At bare minimum, you should include three liters of water, although a gallon per day is better. Choose non-perishable foods that are high in calories, require no water or cooking, and are packaged in lightweight, non-breakable containers. Be sure to include both carbs and protein; avoid salty foods, as these will require you to drink more water.

Warmth and Light

Contrary to popular belief, staying warm and dry is more important than eating, as you can die from hypothermia much more quickly than from starvation. Pack a full change of warm winter clothes, including socks and shoes, as well as a hat, gloves and waterproof outerwear. If possible, add a lightweight sleeping bag, bedroll or survival blanket. And don’t forget to include matches in a waterproof container for starting a fire.

You’ll also need a light source, such as an LED headlamp. In a disaster, electricity is often one of the first things to do, and the last thing you need is to lose your way or injure yourself stumbling around in the dark because you don’t have an LED headlamp or flashlight. An LED headlamp is especially useful in an emergency, as it leaves your hands free to build a shelter, start a fire, forage for food or perform any number of critical tasks.

Tools and First Aid

In addition to a sturdy LED headlamp, you’ll want to bring along a multi tool or some other knife for general utility. A multi tool is an ideal choice because it can include not only a knife blade but pliers, screwdrivers, saw blades, wire cutters and other handy devices. A multi tool is also compact and easy to carry in a pocket or small pouch of your backpack. Look for a well-built multi tool that can withstand some abuse.

Finally, you should include a basic first aid kit as well as any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’ll need during a disaster. Include a roll of toilet paper and hand wipes or sanitizer for proper sanitation.

Bug-out-bags make things easy by keeping all of your basic survival necessities in one convenient, ready-to-go bag. Plan ahead: Spend an afternoon shopping around for the right tools and equipment, then organize your pack accordingly.

[ photo by: Jose C Silva ]

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