List Of 99 Essentials To Have In Your Bug Out Bag

bug out bag list, bug out bag checklist, bug out bag essentials

For those unaware or simply in need of a refreshed memory; a Bug-out-bag is a mobile kit that typically consists of required items for at least seventy-two (72) hour survival period. You’d find a bug-out bag more suitable for quick evacuation rather than long-term survival dependency. So have one ready just in case you need to hit the exit quickly!

It goes without saying that the contents of your bug-out bag should be complete with gear that would be absolutely vital in keeping you, and/or anyone else alive or providing convenience in a situation that puts you way outside your comfort zone.

Let’s take a look at a number of items that do just that:

Table Of Contents

1. Water / Hydration

Water Hydration

Can you imagine being in a survival situation, even for at least seventy-two hours, without water? I can’t either. This is understandably one of, if not the most important bug-out bag essential. Items relating to water and hydration will definitely come a long way when you’re ready to make use of your bug-out bag contents.

It’s importance even outweighs that of food, seeing as the human body can go a few weeks without a bite to eat but roughly only three days without water!

So do yourself (and possibly others) a favour by ensuring that your bug-out bag contains at least a few of these items:

Drinking Water

Not too much that you don’t have space for anything else, but definitely not too little to stretch through 72 hours. At least 3 litres should make a difference.

​Water Filters

Just in case your on-hand supply runs out, or you need more clean water for various reasons. You’ll find this extremely useful in a wilderness setting and will be glad to have it.

Collapsible Water Bottle(s)

You can’t go wrong with having this handy. It’s reusable as well as flexible, which makes it quite the convenience for a quick move. Keep a few of these close.

Hard Water Bottle

Although it’s not flexible, it’s far from a bad idea to have one in your bug out bag. Having a water bottle can really help you ration your water supply.

Metal Water Bottle

Durable like none other. A metal water bottle would make an excellent addition to your bug out bag. Some are designed to keep the liquid inside unaffected by outside temperatures!

Water Purification Tablets

A favourable alternative method of water purification if boiling may be too time-consuming. Make sure your water is clean, and stay mobile while doing so! They don’t weigh much so there’s no hassle involved.

Powdered Juice Mix

If you’re a juice lover like myself, you might just want to add one or two packets of a powdered drink mix of your choosing. Might as well enjoy some flavour!

2. Clothing / Warmth Items

Clothing and Warmth Items

I highly doubt you’d be happy about the clothes on your back being your only set should you need to evacuate quickly with you bug out bag. With that being said, a selection of clothing included in your bag would make for a very beneficial situation in the event that those you’re wearing were to get soaked.

Not only would it make you uncomfortable, it would put you at the risk of serious illness as well. Don’t pack your entire closet! Just a select few (at least two changes) garments that best suit you and the climate you’d be exposed to.

​Long Sleeve Shirts

It would be best if it was of a lightweight nature. A long-sleeve shirt is beneficial for obvious reasons; it will aid in keeping you warm, as well as protect your arms from bothersome insects.

Convertible Pants​

These would definitely be preferred over regular shorts, or regular pants. Having the option of converting these pants to suit your environment makes them an ideal addition. You’ll also save some space by packing less pants.


Who can really forget those when packing clothes? Be sure to include at least two pairs and you’ll thank yourself later. It’d be best if they were of a quick-drying material.

Fresh Socks​

I’d say these are too important to forget. Getting blisters or trench foot during a bug out is bound to leave the toughest guy sulking. Pack a pair of SmartWool socks for foot comfort.

Working Gloves​

A total relief if it’s cold out. Not only will a pair of working gloves keep your hands warm, they will be excellent for assisting with your grip when handling certain tools.

Rain Poncho​s

As previously mentioned, having to manoeuvre in drenched clothes can be the ultimate drag. Pack a durable poncho (preferably one with a hood) to keep yourself dry if the clouds release.

Stocking Cap​

You can’t go wrong with keeping your head warm in cold weather. A stocking cap is extremely light and can easily fit in the smallest of spaces in your bag.

Sewing Kit​

As you’ll most likely have an extremely limited amount of clothing, a sewing kit, or at least a needle and a thread, will come in handy should you need to mend a rip or tear.

Ear Muffs​

Might as well keep your ears warm too, right? Prevent frostbite on your ears if it’s really cold out by keeping a pair of these handy. That is, if you’ve got the space.

Hat With Curved Brim​

Another fitting addition in regards to head warmth/protection. A hat with a curved brim is also excellent for sunny weather as it will do a prime job keeping the sunlight out of your eyes.


Apart from a slightly trendy look, this accessory will be quite useful in more than one situation. In cases of extreme heat, it will protect against sunburn. In the cold, it’ll help keep you warm.

​3. Shelter And Bedding

Shelter and Bedding

Choosing shelter gear may all depend on your personal preference. Perhaps gear that isn’t too bulky would be ideal? It’s all up to you, though. Some may be comforted knowing that they’ve got an entire tent set-up with them regardless of the load, while others may lean towards simpler, and much lighter shelter.

Either way, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve got some sort of shelter or bedding along with you, because who really wants to sleep on the bare forest floor? Here are a few suggestions; heavy and light. Like I said-your choice will likely depend on your preference!


A traditional tent is always a sure way to keep you sheltered in an outdoor setting. However, it may prove to be a bit of a heavy load to carry.

Tarp Shelter​

A durable tarp combined with a bit of common sense and some skill can make for a decent enough shelter. Please be sure it’s stable enough to resist strong winds!

Sleeping Bag​

Extra handy as it can be combined with shelter gear to make your outdoor sleeping a whole lot more tolerable. Even without shelter, I’m pretty sure it beats the cold ground.


As efficient in the woods as it is in your balcony at home. Using some paracord, you can securely tie your hammock to some trees after you find yourself a shady spot.

Sleeping Pad​

Personally, it’s the least favourable option. It’s better than having your body’s energy and warmth extracted by the cold ground, however. It does its job and will definitely prove useful.

4. Fire Starting Tools​

Fire Starting Tools

Ever since human beings grasped the control of fire, it’s been a crucial element in our everyday lives. We use it to cook food, light cigarettes, illuminate a dark spot, amongst many other things. During a bug out, it’s definitely as important outdoors as much as it is on a regular day.

You’re going to need a heat source to keep you warm eventually, and most likely to do some sort of quick cooking. Do yourself a solid and make sure that you’ve packed sufficient items to get your fire started. If you feel like you need inspiration, imagine being in the woods with no light at night!

Wind-Proof / Water - Proof Lighter​

Don’t waste your time packing a regular old BIC. You can rely on a well-filled, classic Zippo lighter or a Rechargeable Coil Lighter to hold a steady flame when you need one.

Small Magnifying Glass​

You can’t tell me you haven’t tried this as a kid. You can magnify the light from the sun to focus its energy and harness a fire. Pretty neat trick!


Some pre-packed tinder slabs will play to your advantage as they can be ignited to obtain a larger and longer lasting heat source.

Small Waterproof Container​

Pack all your fire-starting material (the ones able to fit) in one of these to ensure its safety should you fall in a stream or get soaked in unfriendly rainfall.

Waterproof Survival Matches​

We all know the reliability of regular matches outside is significantly lower than preferred. They’d be useless if they got wet. You’re far better off with some tough-as-nails waterproof matches.


Surely a suitable addition-conveniently flammable and can be added onto tinder slabs to help ignite them quicker. A small container won’t take up much space and weighs next to nothing.

Cotton Balls​

Can be used to hold a flame long enough to ignite another substance. Needless to say, they won’t add any extra weight onto your bug out bag.

FireSteel Fire Starter​

A durable device that works great when used properly. You’ll have an easier time using it if you’ve got fine, dry tinder to help the sparks ignite. A nifty addition.

5. First Aid And Medical Supplies​

First Aid and Medical Supplies

If you had to evacuate into the wilderness, it’d best if you kept Murphy’s Law in mind. That being said, it’s better that you’re prepared for a situation that requires medical attention. I’m not saying to make sure you’ve got a doctor with you, but a first aid kit with some medical supplies is a splendid idea.

In an outdoor setting, especially in the wild, there’s an increased chance injury as you’re more exposed to the elements. Minor cuts and bruises can lead to something serious if not treated. Prevent infections and treat other issues by bringing these items along:

​Personal Medications

If there’s one time you really wouldn’t want to forget your medication, it’s during a bug out. Keep your prescribed medication close after stocking up to avoid a health tragedy.


A go-to solution for small cuts. Band-Aids will protect a small open wound and help keep it clean. It’s also effective at preventing infections. A box or two shouldn’t take up much space.

Gauze Roll​

In case you need effective dressing for more serious cuts, bruises or severe burns. It’s another lightweight material you wouldn’t notice you’re carrying, and will help you out in a tight spot.

Pain Killers​

I normally don’t like relying on these for relief, but under the circumstances of a bug out, could never regret packing them. Alleviate minor aches and pains to stretch your endurance.

Surgical Tape​

Specifically for holding bandages, pads, or gauze in place without restricting movement.It goes hand-in-hand with those items and is worth remembering to pack.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Stings much less than alcohol and is an effective open wound cleanser. Fighting bacteria and preventing infections.

Super Glue

Believe it or not; you can use a little super glue to seal small cuts. Apart from that, comes in handy in more than a few other instances. A small tube will go a long way!

Insect Repellant​

I’d probably pack this before anything else. Seriously though, I’d want to make sure those blood-sucking nuisances called mosquitos couldn’t bother me. Mosquitos also carry diseases, so don’t waste time using your repellent!

Sun Screen​

For situations where you’re totally exposed to harsh sunlight. Pack a small bottle and be sure to use what you’ve got in wise proportions. A bottle with an SPF30 should be suitable.

Cotton Swabs / Q-Tips​

Don’t allow the build-up of excess ear wax just because you’re not at home. It’s important that your sense of hearing is as clear as possible, you can’t afford a lack of awareness.

Tweezers / Nail Clippers​

A sharp set of tweezers are sure to come in handy when you need to get rid of an annoying sliver. Bring along a nail clipper as well. Shot fingernails will improve your grip.

Alcohol Wipes​

An effective wound cleanser that might come with a sting, but does its job quite well. Just like hydrogen peroxide, these will clean out an open wound and prevent infections.


To be even further prepared in case things go south, you can pack some survival antibiotics. Get yourself a few bird or fish antibiotics to quickly combat and cure infections.


Helps prevent infections and provides pain relief. Applying this cream topically to any small cut or laceration should give you peace of mind as being wounded outdoors can be a cause for concern.

Moleskin Pads​

These are better suited for blisters, calluses, corns, and tender spots. Moleskin pads will provide all-day relief. Unlike Band-Aids, they will helpfully stay in place on your feet while walking.

6. Personal Hygiene Items​

Personal Hygiene

Cleanliness is next to Godliness! Your quick evacuation shouldn’t be an excuse to neglect personal hygiene. Obviously, in terms of survival, there won’t be the luxury of long, hot showers and bubble baths. All you’ll need is basic sanitation to keep you from feeling like a part of the wild.

As with the other bug out bag essentials, you may not want to go overboard with these. Make sure that whatever you pack is mostly lightweight and practical. Leave the shampoos and face washes behind, and leave space for stuff that will actually make a difference out in the wilderness.

Moist Towelettes​

These are a great on-the-go shower substitutes. Although not nearly as refreshing, it’s definitely a lot better than sticky armpits! Lightweight and effective, it surely makes for a reliable option.

Dental Floss​

It’s a lightweight carry with very crucial uses. Please don’t let your gums suffer just because you’vebugged out. Flossing your teeth may even be more important than brushing them!

Mini Toothbrushes​

You can pack one or more of these seeing as they’re very light and take up next to no space at all. Prevent tooth-decay, because I doubt you’ll run into a dentist in the wild!

Mini Toothpaste Tubes​

To go along with your mini-toothbrushes. These should be rationed out to the extreme as you may not know how long you’ll have to go before you can get more.

Sportsman Soap​

You’d be glad you brought this along should you discover a river, or lake where you can take that bath you’ve been longing for. Another item you should ration out.

Hand Sanitizer​

We’re no strangers to the benefits of hand sanitizer. Carry a small bottle with you to clean your hands before and after eating. You’ll want to get rid of all those germs.

Small Pack Towel​

Unless you’re a fan of airing out as opposed to towel drying, I’d suggest packing a small towel. I’ve found it to be quite handy in other scenarios as well.

Travel Toilet Paper​

Would you rather use a big leaf? You know what I mean, ha-ha. Apart from the obvious, toilet paper can serve plenty other purposes. Bring at least two rolls along.


Perhaps a more convenient option for female survivalists who may be experiencing their monthly cycle around the time they’re bugging out. Apart from that, tampons also have a few survival uses.

7. Food / Food Preparations​

Food and Food Preparations

By now I bet you’re wondering whether I was ever going to mention food! Given that the human body can go way longer than three days without food, it’s not too high on the priority list. It is, however, a big deal. No one wants that discomfort of their stomach growling. Especially if you’re out in the wilderness.

Your best bet would be to pack a variety of non-perishable foods. You’d better do so with the expectations of an extremely scarce supply of water. Pack just enough to last you at least three days. Any more would be an excess, not to mention a heavier load.

​Protein / Energy Bars

These will provide you with the energy you’ll need on your journey. They’re easily edible on the go and you can pack a lot since they’re extremely light and won’t add much weight.

Meals Ready To Eat (MREs)​

Meals Ready-to-eat, or MRE’s, are self-contained, individual field ration in lightweight packaging. If soldiers are getting by on this stuff, then who’s to say you can’t? Look into packing one or two.

Eating Utensils​

I know you wouldn’t plan on eating with just your fingers. When picking your utensils, lean towards those of metal or titanium as they tend to be more durable than the plastics.

Small Collapsible Bowl​

A light and practical solution to keeping your prepared food contained for eating. It’s better than carrying a ceramic plate, which is heavier, and it will do the same job.

Portable Lightweight Stove​

This one all boils down to your personal choice. If you don’t mind the load, a portable stove is great for boiling water quickly and cooking food without giving away your location.

Stove Fuel​

A must-have if you decide to bring along a portable stove. Bring a few containers with you and try to use the fuel as sparingly as you can to extend its availability.


As with most other skills, all it takes is a bit of practice to really get this one under your belt. Once you do, it’ll be quite useful when hunting.

Yo-yo Fishing Reels​

Talk about a time-saver! With these wonderful innovations, you can simply set several of them out, leave them, then return to monitor your catches. You can fish and handle other tasks simultaneously.

Fishing Pole​

Preferably one of a small, collapsing, or pocket-size nature. This way, you can easily fit it in your bag and be well prepared to catch some dinner, lunch, or breakfast!

Freeze Dried Meals​

Another light food source on our bug out bag checklist. If you’ve got that portable stove with you, it will make the preparation of these meals much easier and faster.

Snare Wires​

A lighter option than traps, these may help you catch a rabbit or a two. Snaring is a skill one must possess before-hand, though. Snare wires won’t be of much use to you otherwise.

8. Self Defence Tools​

Self Defence Tools

A bug out is one of those situations where you’d probably feel a lot safer if you were armed with a tool, or tools, that would protect your life. Out in the wild, there’s a low level of reasoning amongst animals and it’s usually a choice between kill or be killed.

There are a few tools that can be considered crucial to your defence in the wilderness. You’ll want to ensure that your space is sufficient, and you’re ready to carry the extra weight. I say this because amongst those items could include survival firearms. Ensure that you have all necessary legal documents required before you proceed.

​Survival Firearm

Personally, any firearm has the potential to make a big difference in terms of defending yourself. However, the right firearm for the situation is debatable.

Firearm Ammunition

It would be best if you had enough ammo to avoid having to ration it out. You’ll probably have to take into account the amount of available space in your bag when packing, though.


It shouldn’t be shocking news that this gadget would come in handy should you have to defend yourself. It will surely disarm a threat long enough to get yourself clear.

Pepper Spray​

Get yourself some police strength pepper spray and you’re all set. Potent pepper spray is extremely effective against wild animals and threatening humans. One good spray, and you’ll be better off.

Survival Bow​ (and Arrows)

Archery is a skill you’ll need to master before-hand. A survival bow is an excellent defence tool. Arrows are reusable which fortunately means that you won’t have to pack many.

9. Miscellaneous Survival Tools​

Misc Survival Tools

There are plenty other tools that may play a part in your bug out survival. Most of which probably can’t be placed into the previous categories, and are better described as miscellaneous items. They will make manoeuvring simpler and more convenient. Trust me, during a bug out, you’ll want and need stuff which serve these exact purposes.

Give yourself as much of an upper hand as you can. You can do so while being mindful of the amount of space you have available and the amount of weight you’re willing to carry along. Here are some more items you may want to pack:


For blocking those harmful rays from the sun when you need to. A pair of sunglasses can really make a difference in your comfort level while walking. Make sure it’s a proper fit.

Roll Of Duct Tape​

The number of duct tape uses are way too numerous to mention. At some point or another, you may find yourself in a sticky situation where you may need some.

Face Paint​

For those concerned with stealth in the wild, be sure to pack some face paint to help keep yourself hidden. If you’ve watched a lot of television and/or movies, you’ll know how it’s done.

Mosquito Head Net​

Just in case your repellent isn’t enough to keep those nuisances away. If you’re bugging out in an area swarmed with buzzing mosquitos, you may really need this extra relief.

Topographical Map​

It will pay off keeping a map of the area where you’ll be bugging out. I mean, what can be worse than being lost in the woods? “Nothing!” I’d say.

Condoms (Non-lubricated)​

Condoms have a few useful attributes other than the most obvious. Who knows? Maybe you just might find yourself in need of one (or more). Better safe than sorry, right?

Paracord Cord​

Commonly referred to as simply “paracord”, this material has an extremely long list of uses. From pitching your tent to improvising a belt, you’d be pleasantly surprised by what it can do.

Cotton Bandana​

Another simple material that may be useful in plenty instances. You can tie one around your forehead to prevent sweat from dripping down your face while hiking. It’s light and easy to pack.


Not a necessity or something that makes much of a difference, really. It could come in handy, however, should you need to look ahead to determine your course of action.


Clip those onto your bag to hang gear from the outside. These are awesome if you’ve got some extra gear you’d like to bring along and can save you some space.

10. Core Survival Tools​

Core Survival Tools

Your traditional survival tools. Without them, can you really say that your bug out bag is complete without them? You’ll need to add a few of them to your bug out bag checklist as they’re bound to make a positive difference when the time comes.

Make some space for them, because they’ll definitely be worth the carry and will help you out more than you know. Like I’ve said, you’re better off giving yourself as much of an upper hand as possible because the wilderness is no joke! Take a look at these items and decide which ones you’ll bring along:


A high quality one, at that. A high quality compass is a very crucial tool to possess in a wilderness setting. During your bug out, you’ll want to know exactly where you are.

Survival Knife​

After lots of practice, you should be able enough to handle one of these with precision. The right survival knife can serve many purposes, including marking trees to guide yourself through the woods.

Survival Hatchet​

One of these will significantly help you with tasks which may be too tedious to carry out with your survival knife. If you don’t believe me, try chopping down a tree with a survival knife!

Multi Tools​

Although your survival knife can do pretty much anything the rest of the tools in this gadget can, it’s no plyers. It’s small and can be easily carried, so why not?

Compact Folding Shovel​

There are all sorts of uses for a shovel during a bug out. You may want to bury a survival cache, or perhaps a carcass that’s too close to your campsite.

Portable Solar Charger​

In case you pack any items that rely on electricity or batteries to function-which is very likely in today’s world. Attach it to the outside of your bug out bag.

Wire Chainsaw​

A suitable substitute should you decide to leave your hatchet behind. A wire chainsaw will rip through anything, from thin branches to large tree trunks. It’s bound to give you a workout too!

11. Illumination Tools​

Illumination Tools

You’ll have a better chance at survival if your vision isn’t totally impaired by the darkness of night. Just try to picture yourself trying to find your way through the woods at night if you had to. Not a very comforting image, is it?

You’d be putting yourself at an extreme advantage by bringing along tools that will aid in your night time vision. Preferably, your movements should be limited at night, anyway, but you’re far better off being prepared. Again, be mindful of your available space and the weight you’re willing to carry-when deciding which of these items to pack:

​LED Tactical Flashlight

A light and compact LED flashlight will guide you through your darkest hour(s). Most of these flashlights are made to be strong and durable-just the qualities you’ll surely need outdoors.

LED Headlamps​

A brilliant gadget that will really have you “using your head” in dark times. This hands-free illuminator will allow you to complete tasks in the dark without the hassle of positioning a flashlight.


Probably best if you prop those up in a space where the wind can’t extinguish its flames. Although not the most reliable option, candles will do what they’re supposed to.

Glow Sticks​

They’ll work as well on a campsite as they do inside a club. Glow sticks are light, durable, and water-proof. A sure, and not to mention aesthetic way to light up your tent.

Small LED Keychain​

A neat attachment to your bug out bag. Will make travelling with another person, or other people, a bit easier when nightfall arrives. Easily identify your companion(s) by their keychains.

12. Communication Tools​

Communication Tools

A debatable category on our bug out checklist. Depending on the particular time of your bug out, you’ll make the decision as to what type of information exchange is vital to your survival. I’d suggest, however, that you don’t go overboard when packing these tools. I wouldn’t label them a priority.

Nevertheless, there are advantages to be gained from gathering and sharing information. For example; listening for information regarding weather forecasts can significantly help you with planning ahead and making arrangements. Check out these items and have your pick at which of them is most suitable for the bug out.

Hand Crank AM / FM Digital Radio​

Stay plugged in with a hand crank radio. The awesome thing about these radios is that they don’t require any batteries, and don’t need to be recharged in any way.

Smart Phone​

Regardless of the huge difference these gadgets have made over the past decade, they’re far from reliable in a survival situation. However, having one that’s well protected can save your skin.

Walkie Talkies​

Perfect for communication amongst small bug out groups. In case you get separated from the pack or the group gets split up for whatever reason. Not too handy for a sole traveller.

Small Mirrors​

To be used for signalling. You can strategically use a small mirror to reflect varying bursts of light. Even better if you know Morse code. It can easily fit in a small pocket.

Notepad And Pencils​

You maymake sure you’ve got an extra pencil, and/or a pencil sharpener. An old-school way of recording information and/or sending it. Leave notes and send mail the reliable way.

A Whistle​

Apparently they’re not just for kids and coaches. A survivalist can include one of these in their bug out bags in the event that they have to communicate over long distances.


I bet you didn’t imagine there would be this many stuff considered to be essential when packing a bug out bag. Well, as human beings, we have the exceptional ability to advantageously make use of a great deal of things. Especially when we’re backed into a corner and have no choice but to!

Hopefully after reading this article you have a better sense of just what you need to pack your bug out bag with. Use your discretion, and don’t pack more than you can bear to carry!

How ironic would it be if you were defeated by your own load as opposed to being out in the wilderness?

About the author


Colin is a freelance writer and editor. A fan of The Walking Dead. It led him to think what if SHTF and what does it takes to survive. Colin hobbies includes gears, tech gadgets and rehearsing different "End Of The World" situations in his head.

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