America faces many geopolitical and internal threats to social stability. The recent country-wide rioting and looting in the wake of protests further escalate the situation, causing unrest. If things start to take a turn for the worse, and you live in a city or suburb that’s under threat – you better have a bug out plan.
A bug out plan means that you have a location somewhere, far away from cities and suburbs, where you can go when SHTF. This location acts as your new home, equipped with supplies and weapons, ready to defend your property.
However, when things go wrong, you need to get to your bug out from your home in the city or suburbs. If you live in New York City and want to reach your bug out in Vermont or Upstate New York, it will take some time.
If you have a car, that’s great – but what if you’re on foot? If there is an EMP attack on American soil, your vehicle won’t work, thanks to the electronics. You’ll have to walk out, and you need supplies to help you make it through to your bug out location.
A bug out bag contains everything you need to make it to your bug out location. In this review, we’ll unpack the best bug out bags available. We’ll also provide tips on how to pack your bag, what to carry, and what to look for in a bug out model.
Our Top Picks
- 1 Our Top Picks
- 2 Bug Out Bags Reviews
- 2.1 Condor 3-Day Assault Pack – The Best Overall Bug Out Bag
- 2.2 MT US Military Molle II Rucksack – The Best Premium Bug Out Bag
- 2.3 ReeBow Gear Military Tactical Assault Pack – The Best Budget Bug Out Bag
- 2.4 Maxpedition Vulture-II Backpack
- 2.5 Spec Ops THE Pack Tactical Backpack
- 2.6 MT US Military Surplus Rucksack
- 2.7 VooDoo Tactical Mojo Load-Out Bag
- 2.8 CRAZY ANTS Military Tactical Backpack
- 2.9 Seibertron Falcon Backpack
- 3 Other Best Selling Options
- 4 Bug Out Bags Buyer’s Guide
- 5 What Do You Pack in a Bug Out Bag?
- 5.1 Bug Out Bag – Air Essentials
- 5.2 Bug Out Bag Essentials – Shelter
- 5.3 Bug Out Bag Essentials – Water
- 5.4 Bug Out Bag Essentials – Food
- 5.5 Bug Out Essentials – Clothing
- 5.6 Bug Out Bag Essentials – Fire and Warmth
- 5.7 Bug Out Bag Essentials – Light
- 5.8 Bug Out Bag Essentials – Medical Kit
- 5.9 Bug Out Bag Essentials – Navigation Tools
- 5.10 Bug Out Bag Essentials – Tools
- 5.11 Bug Out Bag Essentials – Defensive Items
- 5.12 Bug Out Bag Essentials – Everything Else
- 6 Bug Out Bags FAQ
- 7 Bug Out Bags Reviews – The Verdict
If you don’t have time to spare and want to order your bag right away, consider our top picks. We offer you the choice of our best overall model, as well as premium and budget options. Choose the pack that meets your needs and your budget.
Best Pick: Condor 3-Day Assault Pack
- Large load cargo capacity compartment
- Designed for easy access and organization (7 pockets)
- Hydration-pack compatible (2L or 3L bladder
- Body contour shoulder straps with D-Ring for equipment attachment, sternum strap and removeable waist belt
- Individual foam pad back panel for extra comfort and maximum airflow
This model is the best overall bug out bag in the review. The Condor 3-day assault pack comes in a coyote-brown color for concealment and camouflage, with 7-pockets for easy organization and a hydration pack. The contoured shoulder straps are comfortable, and you get a hip band to help evenly distribute the weight on long walks.
Premium Pick: MT US Military Molle II Rucksack
- The MT MOLLE II Large Rucksack Set System consists of one Military Main Rucksack, two Sustainment Pouches, one Tactical Waist Pouch, one durable polymer gen-iv Exclusive Frame , one molded Hip Belt, one enhanced Frame Shoulder Straps, one Load Lifter Attachment Strap, and Male Shoulder Buckle. It is 4,000 cubic inch capacity. Sustainment Pouches (included) add 500 cubic inches. Waist Pouch (included) add 400 cubic inches.
- MT Army Tactical MOLLE Rucksack has Modular PALS System and the MOLLE webbing to attach any MOLLE type gears. It is Made of water repellent 1000D Oxford Fabric in Multicam Camouflage Color which offers abrasion protection. The Rifleman Main Rucksack load weight can holds up to 100 lb. It is widely adapted and mate with army combat uniform(ACU).
- MT Army Rucksack Side Sustainment Pouch. The two detachable side Sustainment Pouches provide an additional 500 cubic inches each and attach to the side of the large field pack. The Military Waist Pack can be used in multiple ways combined with Tactical Hip Belt and Sustainment Pouch.
- MT MOLLE Large Rucksack Made with YKK Zipper and UTX Buckle. YKK zipper has PULL-TAB and Covered Zippers. They are Disassemble. You can remove the cover zipper and the rope, leaving only the zipper Pull tab. Meanwhile there is a quick-release buckle on the shoulder strap. When you pull on this rope, you can quickly drop the MOLLE backpack down and effortlessly.
- The MT Giant Army Rucksack can be easily and quickly donned and doffed. When in use, the entire system or individual components will not impede proper head rotation of the user while standing or in prone position, or carrying and shouldering of equipment in all position. Adjustable dual density closed-cell Foam mesh shoulder straps. Cinching waist strap can distribute the weight to your hips and keep your rucksack pack secure and comfortable. Perfect comfort on shoulders and weight distribution.
If you’re looking for a professional-grade rucksack as your bug out bag, check out this premium model. The MY military backpack features MOLLE connection systems, two sustainment pouches on either side and a lightweight polymer frame. You get a molded hip belt, enhanced shoulder frame strap, and a load lifter strap included with this model.
Budget Pick: ReeBow Gear Military Tactical Assault Pack
- Tactical assualt backpack Capacity: 34L. Size approx.:11"*18"*12" / 28*45.5*30CM (W*H*D), it's not big backpack; Military backpack is made of high density fabric--durable and water-resistant
- The assault pack with double-stitched, Heavy duty zippers and utility-style cord pulls, Side and front load compression system, Comfortable padding back area, Ventilated mesh padding shoulder strap.
- Military backpack has hydration compatible that works great for a 2.5L hydration bladder (backpack didn't include hydration bladder) as hydration backpack or outdoor camping hiking backpack.
- This tactical assault pack backpack can be used as 3 day assault pack, bug bag backpack, combat backpack, range bag, hunting backpack, survival backpack, rucksack military army backpack or trekking backpack.
- The molle tactical backpack has molle system, MOLLE is a little different as most tactical bacpkacks and is not to spec. Spacing between of molle is less than 1/2"
If you’re looking for the best budget model in this review, we recommend the ReeBow assault pack. This pack is excellent value for money, with 34L storage space, and water-resistant, high-density fabric. You get a MOLLE system on the sides and rear of the pack, with plenty of tie-down straps to decompress the bag to a smaller size. This pack is spacious, with four dedicated pouches and a 2.5L hydration pack.
Bug Out Bags Reviews
Now that you have an idea of our top models let’s unpack them in further detail. We’ll also look at some other top models we think are contenders for the best bug out bags.
Condor 3-Day Assault Pack – The Best Overall Bug Out BagThe Condor 3-day assault pack wins our top honors for the best overall bug out bag in this review. We like the coyote brown color, giving this pack less of a tactical look, which is ideal for your bug out bag.
You get plenty of storage space, with six compartments. There’s a sleeve for a hydration bladder, and tactical pockets on the back of the bag for essential items like sunglasses, ID, and cash.
We contoured design of the padded shoulder straps makes this bag exceptionally comfortable to carry, and there’s a hip strap for distributing the weight evenly.
You get a comfortable back pad and a drag handle on the top. There’s plenty of room in this pack for a three-day hike to your bug out spot.
- 34L capacity for two to three-day trips
- Six storage compartments
- High-density, waterproof fabric
- MOLLE system on back and sides
- Hydration bladder compartment
- Drag handle on the top of the bag
- Contoured shoulder straps and hip belt
- You’ll need a bigger bag for longer trips
- Hydration bladder not included
MT US Military Molle II Rucksack – The Best Premium Bug Out BagThis MT model is the top premium choice in this review. If you have a long-distance journey to your bug out location, you’ll need a large pack to hold everything you need. The MT MOLLE II Rucksack is a top choice used by military operators.
This bug out bag comes with a spacious main compartment with a drawstring instead of zips. There’s MOLLE webbing on the back and sides of the pack, allowing you to attach the two side sustainment pouches.
Since you’re carrying a heavier load, you’ll benefit from the lightweight polymer frame, comfortable shoulder straps, and hip belt. The waist pouch is the ideal storage option for your medical kit and tourniquet.
- Large bag suits travel lasting longer than 5-days
- MOLLE system on the back flap
- Camouflaged design
- Durable, waterproof materials
- Military surplus issue
- Polymer frame for support when carrying
- Removable side sustainment pouches and waist pouch
- Drawcord closure and quick release buckles included
- Too big for two to three-day trips
ReeBow Gear Military Tactical Assault Pack – The Best Budget Bug Out Bag
If you’re looking for the best budget buy in this review, let’s introduce you to the ReeBow assault pack. This model has a 34L capacity, making it ideal for trips up to 3-days. The ReeBow has a MOLLE system on the back and sides of the pack, with comfortable, contoured shoulder pads.
This pack features a sleeve for a 2.5L hydration bladder and four storage compartments for your gear. The top of the bag has a drag handle for pulling the bag when trying to get through a narrow gap.
The YKK zippers are robust and durable, and come with large loops, allowing you to hang extra gear off the sides of the pack, such as wet clothes.
- Excellent value for money
- Military-grade waterproof fabric
- MOLLE system on the rear and sides of the bag
- Side tie-downs to compress the pack
- Four storage compartments
- 2.5L hydration bladder compartment
- Hydration pack not included
- Might be too small for trips over 3-days
Maxpedition Vulture-II BackpackThis pack is a little expensive, but the premium quality materials and design make up for the high price tag. With this pack, you get two main storage compartments and MOLLE webbing on the back and sides of the bag.
It’s available in three colors, with 1000-Denier material offering waterproof protection for your gear. The padded hip and shoulder straps are comfortable, and you get a drag handle on the top of the Maxpedition Vulture-II.
- MOLLE system on the back and sides of the bag
- 46L capacity
- Two large compartments with pocket organizers
- Available in three colors
- Hip strap to distribute weight
- No hydration bladder included
- Not suitable for trips over 3-days
Spec Ops THE Pack Tactical BackpackThis Spec Ops model looks like a real military backpack. With three storage compartments, comfortable padding on the straps, you can walk with this pack for days. The sleeve for your hydration bladder ensures you stay hydrated on your trip.
This model features MOLLE webbing on the back and sides, and it’s a fantastic choice for your bug out bag. You get a comfortable harness system with a chest clip to prevent the bag from moving around on your back.
- Designed and constructed with durable 1000D Codura nylon
- MOLLE system on sides and back of the pack
- Quick-release clips for compressing the pack
- Three spacious pockets
- Contoured and comfortable shoulder straps
- Camouflage design for stealth
- No hydration bladder included
- Not suitable for trips over 3-days
MT US Military Surplus RucksackThis pack is another contender for the best premium model in this review. The MT medium rucksack features a design with real military operators in mind. You get all the advantages of a genuine military pack for your bug out bag.
This model includes side sustainment bags that weave into the MOLLE webbing on the sides of the rucksack. You get a bunch of extra accessories with this pack, including a water bottle holder, ID window, and extra D-clamps.
The back pad is comfortable, with contoured, padded shoulder straps and a chest clip for stability.
- Military surplus
- Removable side sustainment pouches
- 1000D, Waterproof, durable materials
- Suitable for carrying up to 60-lbs of gear
- Quick-release straps
- Comfortable shoulder and hip straps
- MOLLE system on the back and sides of the pack
- Comes with a bottle case and mobile case
- No hydration bladder included
- A bit big for shorter trips
VooDoo Tactical Mojo Load-Out Bag
If you have plenty of gear to carry, the VooDoo model is your best option. Unlike other bags, this bug out model features a tactical load-out style with a single shoulder strap. However, the back of the bag features MOLLE webbing, which connects to a backpack harness included with your purchase.
This bag has plenty of storage space, with 11-compartments. The removable shoulder strap makes this bag the ideal choice if you’re traveling with your family and need the extra room in the bag.
- Spacious, with 11 storage compartments
- MOLLE system allows for attachment of backpack straps
- Dual-compression straps on either end
- Clear ID window
- Wrap around handle
- Adjustable, removable shoulder strap
- Lifetime warranty
- A large bag, not suitable for short trips
- No hydration system
CRAZY ANTS Military Tactical BackpackThis Crazy Ants model is an excellent choice for your bug out bag. The black design makes it look less like a tactical pack, and it comes with 37L of storage in the four pockets and two sustenance pouches on the sides.
You get MOLLE webbing on the back and sides of the bag, padded, contoured shoulder pads and chest clip. There’s a hip band, and drag handle included, with tie-down straps to reduce the bag’s size.
The Crazy Ants model has a sleek design, featuring 900Dwaterproof material. You also get a sle3eve for a 2L hydration bladder.
- Four storage compartments
- Two side sustainment pouches
- Contoured shoulder and hip straps for comfort
- MOLLE system on the back and sides of the bag
- Tie-down system and drag handle
- Constructed with durable 900D material
- No hydration bladder included
- Suitable for 3-day trips
Seibertron Falcon BackpackThe Seibertron Falcon is the sleeper in this review. With an affordable price tag and excellent build quality, this bag is ideal for your bug out. You get MOLLE webbing on the back and sides of the bag, and four compartments to stow your gear.
The pack comes with padded, contoured shoulder pads and an adjustable hip strap. There’s a sleeve for your hydration bladder and a total of 37L of storage space with this model. Choose from a few different colors, including black and tan.
- Comes with MOLLE webbing on the back and sides
- Compatible with sustainment pouches
- 2.5L sleeve for a hydration bladder
- Design and construction with 900D waterproof material
- Drag handle and quick-release straps
- 37L storage space
- Contoured shoulder straps for user comfort
- Hydration bladder sold separately
- Seibertron luggage strap sold separately
Other Best Selling Options
- Military Tactical backpack size approx.:13"*20"*11" / 33*50.5*28CM (W*H*D),Capacity: 40L; Military backpack is made of high density fabric--durable and water-resistant
- Molle tactical backpack has molle system, Molle webbing throughout for attaching additional tactical pouches or gear as 3 day assault pack backpack combat molle backpack.
- Assault pack backpack with double-stitched, Heavy duty zippers and utility-style cord pulls, Side and front load compression system, Ventilated mesh padded back area & shoulder strap,breathable and comfortable.
- Military backpack has hydration compatible that works great for a hydration bladder (backpack didn't include hydration bladder) as hydration backpack or outdoor camping hiking backpack.
- Tactical assault pack backpack can be used as 3 day assault pack, range bag, hunting backpack, survival backpack, army backpack, trekking backpack or day pack for daily use
- Water repellent backpack great for daily commute, travel, and hiking; modular design with large main compartment, front zippered pocket, and more
- Carries comfortably on your shoulders with yoke-style adjustable, padded straps and adjustable sternum slider; contoured foam back with multiple air channels
- Tactical features include MOLLE webbing for attaching a variety of optional accessories; tubing port for accessing hydration bladder pocket (reservoir sold separately)
- Hook-and-loop are on front of pack for attaching a flag patch; stretchy side pouch fits most water bottles
- ✅【42L Large Capacity Backpack】EMDMAK Tactical Backpack Size Approx. 15.36"x 19.69"x 11.81" (W*H*D), Capacity: 42L. Large capacity assault pack, allowing you to carry all your tactical gears. It can be used as small 3 day assault pack, emergency backpack, bug out bag backpack, combat backpack, range bag, survival backpack, army backpack, molle emt backpack, EDC outdoors backpack, hunting backpack, hiking backpack, camping backpack, travel backpack or day pack for daily Use.
- ✅【Versatile With Multi-Compartment】Our Military Backpack has 2 Main large compartments, 2 Small compartments in front, and 1 back compartment. The large compartment has an elastic strap to hold laptops or anything you don't want to move around. Each compartments has mesh pocket or zipper pocket to help with organization. Y-Strap on the top allows you to hold more items, like sleeping pad or sweatshirt. And it’s much more convenient to put your gadgets into the bottom side pockets.
- ✅【Durable & Comfortable】 With dual zippered closure and made of high density double-stitched 900D Oxford & Nylon fabric, this pack is durable water-resistant.The back area & shoulder straps with adjustable chest strap are ventilated mesh padded design, breathable comfortable. Sides and bottom load compression straps system, to adjust and tighten the backpack. The thick mesh padding back area and shoulder straps will not pinch you under heavy duty.
- ✅【Military MOLLE System】The molle webbing system of tactical backpack is designed for convenient for attaching additional Molle tactical pouches or more gears, 3 Rows of molle velcro areas in front of the backpack, The front & both sides & bottom & shoulder straps come with molle attachment straps, the shoulder straps with two D-rings to hang somethings, and the straps at the bottom can be used to hold a tent & sleeping pad or other outdoor gear.
- ✅【Free Gift Kits & Customer Service】Come with 8pcs Free Gifts Accessories -- 1 x Tactical MOLLE 500ml Water Bottle Pouch, 2 x USA Flag Patches, 1 x1.18'' Paracord Lanyard Keychain(total length19.68''), 4 x Multipurpose D-Rings Grimlock Locking. If there is any question with your EMDMAK backpack, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Service, we will do our best to help.
- Military Tactical Backpack Size: 11.6 x 5.7 x 18.7 inch. Strong storage capacity of 42L. This army backpack is made of durable and water-resistant 600D fabric. Assault backpack with double sewing and heavy duty zippers.
- This tactical assault pack backpack has 2 main compartments, one of the large compartment can fully open all the way down to the bottom. The other main compartment with an elastic strap to hold a laptop. 2 small compartments in front for extra storage areas. 1 back compartment for a hydration bladder. (Hydration bladder not included). 1 molle bag works great for some small items.
- Thick mesh padding, ergonomic back area, adjustable shoulder straps, both sides and bottom load compression straps to adjust and tighten the backpack, adjustable and removable waist strap. These special designs will reduce your body stress during a 3-Day adventure.
- Molle tactical backpack has molle system: The front, both sides, bottom and shoulder straps come with molle attachment straps for attaching additional tactical bags. The straps at the bottom can be used to hold a tent, sleeping pad or other outdoor equipment.
- Come with 6pcs Free Gifts Accessories: 1 x USA flag mark, 4 x D-rings, 1 x Molle pouch. Can be also used as 3-day assault pack, tactical range bag, hunting backpack, army backpack, hiking backpack or daily use backpack.
- Fits laptop up to 17"
- External USB port with built in charging cable
- Anti-theft back pocket
- Ventilated mesh padded back and shoulder straps
- Trolley strap allows to slide over luggage handles
Bug Out Bags Buyer’s Guide
When the SHTF, you need a bug out bag ready to go. Strap on the pack, and start heading to your location, away from the city’s chaos. Many of us living in cities and suburbs across the United States have no plan to prepare for a disaster.
Whether it’s social unrest, civil war, natural disasters, or an attack on American soil by geopolitical adversaries, you need to have a plan to get out quickly. A bug out location serves as your oasis away from the panic of the city.
Most preppers have a cabin in the woods or on land far away from civilization, where the closest town only has one general store, and there are few people around. However, you’ve got to get there before you can breathe a sigh of relief.
To get to your bug out, you need supplies, equipment, and provisions. You’ll need to plan your bag to suit the journey. Always account for taking the trip on foot, and pack for this occurrence. You’re going to need a bug out bag to carry your gear and get you to safety.
What is a Bug Out Bag?
When the SHTF, and it’s time to flee your city or neighborhood, you need supplies to get you there. A “Bug Out Bag” is an essential piece of kit for preppers. If rioting and looting break out in your area, or there’s some other natural disaster, you need to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice.
You’re not going to have the time to plan your gear and pack, that could take 30-minutes or more, and that’s valuable time. When an SHTF event occurs, such as social unrest and rioting, the first 24 to 48-hours after the SHTF event gives you a window of opportunity to escape to your bug out.
Your bag needs to be ready to go. Store it in your closet or your car for easy access. When SHTF, you either get in your car and go or grab the bag and head out on foot.
What Size Bag Do I Need?
When selecting your bag, choose a model that fits the requirements for your trip. You want a bag with the space to carry what you need on foot to your bug out location.
If you’re only a few hours away from your destination on foot, you can survive with a small pack with around 30L of storage capacity. If you’re going to have to hike for a few days, then choose a larger bag with a polymer frame for support when carrying your gear.
What Do I Look for In the Best Bug Out Bag?
When searching for your bug out bag, there are functions and features of the pack you need to consider.
The first thing you need to look for on your pack is the comfort features. Choose a bag with shoulder straps and a hip band for distributing the pack’s weight across your body. The straps need plenty of padding, and contoured design is preferable to prevent the bag from moving around while walking and improve the feel of the pack on your shoulders.
If you’re walking, comfort is essential, and thin shoulder straps will eat into your shoulders, making them painful and stiff. One the second day of walking, you might find you’re too sore from carrying the pack. As a result, you slow down your journey and risk running out of food or water on your journey.
Look for models with a back pad. The pad keeps you comfortable while walking, reducing pressure on your spine and shoulder blades.
Organizing Pockets and Storage
Your bug out bag should have plenty of pockets to keep your gear accessible at a moment’s notice. Look for models that offer pouches for electronics and documents, a pouch for a hydration bladder, and a MOLLE strap system on the bag’s exterior.
High-Quality Design and Materials
When selecting your bag, look for models that have a minimum Denier-count of 900. This count refers to the durability of the material used in the bag. A 900-count or more offers you waterproof protection for your pack. You want a pack with tear-resistant materials and rugged stitching.
What Do You Pack in a Bug Out Bag?
Bug Out Bag – Air Essentials
- N95 Filter Mask – This mask blocks 95% of airborne particles. It’s an essential item for use during a pandemic to prevent you from catching a pathogenic infection. Some masks come with replaceable filters, make sure you stock up.
Bug Out Bag Essentials – Shelter
Finding shelter is the top concern for anyone that’s traveling for more than one day. Here are the shelter essentials to pack in your bug out bag.
- Collapsible Backpack Tent – Shelter is a critical resource when you’re walking for more than one day. A pop-up tent or collapsible tent is an excellent choice to fit in your pack. Go for a lightweight model.
- Tarp – If you don’t have the money for a tent, then a tarp will cost you a few dollars from Costco. The tarp is easy to set up as a makeshift shelter – check out some YouTube videos on how to set it up.
- Space Thermoblanket – If you find yourself fleeing in the middle of a cold front, you’ll need to stay warm when you stop on your journey. A space thermoblanket can also work as a makeshift shelter.
- Sleeping Bag – If you have room for a sleeping bag, make sure you match it to your weather conditions. If you live in a mountainous area, make sure you get the correct rating on your sleeping bag to match the weather conditions.
Bug Out Bag Essentials – Water
You can survive for a few weeks without food, but only a few days without water. Make sure you pack comes with the following hydration options.
- Water Filters and Purifiers – A steri-pen and iodine tablets can help you turn creek water into drinking water.
- Hydration Bladders and Flasks – A hydration bladder is a top choice. You keep it in the pack, and there’s a release tube that weaves through the MOLLE on the shoulder strap of the backpack. You can carry a flask of water and weave it into the MOLLE to save on space in your bag.
Bug Out Bag Essentials – Food
When you head out on the road, your adrenaline will be pumping, and your senses heightened. That adds to your body burning plenty of calories to keep your awake, alert, and on the move. If you’re walking, then you’re going to be consuming plenty of calories.
The average 200-lb man would need around 3600-calories per day, as a minimum to survive during your hike to your bug out location. Here are our top recommendations for food to pack for your journey.
- Military Rations – You can pick these ration kits up online. The military packs them into calorie-dense bars for convenience. Datrex emergency rations are another calorie-dense option, providing you with enough energy to finish your trip.
- Dehydrated Food – If you can’t find military rations, then look for high-calorie dehydrated foods and snack bars to take with you. Protein bars and carbohydrate drink powders are high in calories and take up little space in your pack.
- Fishing Equipment – If you’re on a long hike to your bug out spot and pass a lake, take along a basic fishing kit.
Bug Out Essentials – Clothing
If you’re walking for more than a day, you’ll need to take extra clothing. If you get soaked in the rain, it can cost you your life if you catch pneumonia. We recommend packing the following clothing in your bug out bag.
Wool socks – Wool is warm and won’t leave blisters on your feet. Stow two or three pairs of socks in your pack.
- Light fleece – A light fleece will keep you warm when the temperature drops at night.
- Gloves – You’ll need gloves for warmth and grip onto fences, trees, and rocks. We recommend going with a pair of tactical gloves that offer you excellent grip and warmth.
- Buff – A buff goes over your neck, and you can pull it over your face when winds get high.
- Waterproof Poncho – If you live a region of the United States where annual rainfall id high, you’ll need to pack a rain poncho to keep you dry.
- Headwear – A hat keeps the sun off your face and out of your eyes, preventing you from catching a sunburn. Beanies are an excellent choice for colder environments.
Bug Out Bag Essentials – Fire and Warmth
During the first 48-hours after an SHTF event, you can get away with traveling by day if you get an early start.
However, after 48-hours, it’s better to switch to traveling at night to avoid attracting attention. In the first few days, it’s safe to start a fire for warmth at night. On the third day, we recommend avoiding building a fire. Walk at night and sleep during the day until you reach your bug out destination.
- Firesteel or Lighter – A firesteel ensures that you always have a fire. However, if you have a few spare Bic lighters in your pockets and pack, it’s a more convenient method.
Bug Out Bag Essentials – Light
Light is essential, especially when traveling at night. During the first 48-hours, you won’t have any problems using a flashlight or fire. However, on the third day, you want to limit your use of torches and walk under the moonlight.
Some of the lighting options we like to pack in a bug out bag include the following.
- Chemical lighting – These sticks create light when you crack the casing. It mixes two chemicals producing light. Some sticks can provide you with light for up to 12-hours. They’re a great low-light option to prevent your campsite drawing attention.
- Tactical flashlight – Tactical flashlights come with glass-breakers, assault bezels, and bright lights, as well as functions like strobes to confuse attackers.
- Headlamp – For hands-free lighting around the campsite or while walking through off-road locations at night.
Bug Out Bag Essentials – Medical Kit
When things go wrong, and you experience an injury on the road or get sick, you need medical supplies. We recommend you keep a small medical kit in your pack and look to include the following items.
- Anti-Bacterial Cream and Wipes – Keep wounds clean and free from infection.
- Painkiller Medication and Anti-Inflammatories – Aspirin and ibuprofen are essentials.
- Gauze – Keep some dressing handy to treat wounds.
- Sunblock – Prevent sunburn, use an SPF factor of 50 or more.
- Latex Examination Gloves – A few sets of these gloves help you keep other people’s blood off your hands.
- Basic Medical Instruments Kit – A good medical kit contains forceps, scissors, medical tape, and safety pins.
- Band-Aids and Bandages – Seal and protect wounds to prevent infection.
- Arm Sling – If you have an accident and break your arm, a sling is indispensable.
- Burn Ointment – Soothe burns and protect the skin.
- Antiseptic Liquid or Cream – Keep wounds clean.
- Tourniquet – Every medical kit needs a tourniquet. If you’re carrying a knife or firearm, keep the tourniquet easy to reach on your belt or the outside of your pack.
You need to know where you’re going. In an SHTF event, you might have to travel off the beaten path. That means you’ll need navigation equipment to get you to your bug out location. Carry these essentials in your bag.
- Map of the Local Region – If there’s an EMP strike, the GPS and maps function on your phone won’t work. You need to learn how to read a manual map and use a compass.
- Compass – A compass keeps you on track. Make sure you practice with it before the SHTF event.
- GPS – If the power grid is still operational after the SHTF event, a GPS is an essential tool to get you to your bug out location.
Bug Out Bag Essentials – Tools
The tools you carry with you could end up saving your life. We recommend packing the following items in your bug out bag.
- Foldable Shovel – A folding shovel is handy for digging a fire pit, getting your vehicle out of the mud, and digging around a campsite.
- Camping Hatchet or Axe – Chop wood on longer walks, chop your way through bush off-road and use it as a self-defense weapon.
- Comprehensive Multitool – A Leatherman multitool or something similar can come in handy for a range of tasks on your journey. Look for models with saws, pliers, screwdrivers, and scissors.
- Paracord – Buy paracord bracelet and tie it to your pack. Paracord has several useful survival functions. Use it to support your tarp, or as a makeshift fishing line – or create a snare trap for rabbits.
- Duct-Tape – There are so many uses for duct tape. From sealing wounds to taping up tears, take a roll with you in your bag.
- Crowbar – A crowbar helps you get access to abandoned houses when SHTF. If you run out of supplies on your trip, a crowbar can come in handy. It’s heavy, and also doubles as a self-defense weapon.
Bug Out Bag Essentials – Defensive Items
When the SHTF, there’s going to be plenty of desperate people out there. During the first 24-hours, you shouldn’t have too many issues with people. However, after the first day, people will start to riot and loot stores.
Eventually, people turn desperate or decide to throw caution to the wind. As a result, people will do acts they wouldn’t otherwise consider when there is no threat of law enforcement. We recommend carrying the following defensive items in your pack to protect your life.
- Fixed-Blade Knife – Choose a model with full-tang construction for superior stability and toughness when cutting. You can use a fixed blade knife around the campsite, or as a defensive weapon.
- Folding Knife – A fixed blade knife is a popular choice, but folding knives are an option if you don’t want to carry an open blade. Foldable knives slip into your bag without taking up much space.
- Firearms – If you own a pistol or rifle, some bags come with holsters to secure your weapon. Smaller guns with a compact takedown, like the Sig Sauer MPX, are a great choice for a backpack weapon.
- Pepper Spray – Less lethal options are always the preferred choice unless you’re okay with killing someone in self-defense. Pepper spray or less-lethal pepper spray or pistol rounds can provide a decent level of protection for you and your family.
Bug Out Bag Essentials – Everything Else
- Phone Chargers
- Emergency Whistle
- Sewing Kit
- ID and Passport
- Contracts and Titles to Assets
- Address Book
- Cash for Emergencies
- Prescription Medication
Bug Out Bags FAQ
What do “TEOTWAWKI” and “SHTF” stand for?
SHTF stands for when the s**t hits the fan. It’s a popular term in prepping circles used to describe an event that changes the social and economic structure of a nation. ‘TEOTWAWKI’ stands for “The end of the world as we know it” and describes dramatic events that cause societal collapse, civil war, and the end of civilization.
When was the first bug out bag invented?
The bug out bag has its origins in the aviation bags pilots packed before going out on a mission. Pilots called these bags, “bail-out bags,” holding survival essentials if they crashed during the flight. The bag would help them survive until help arrives.
When do I need to pack my bug out bag?
You need to pack your bag as soon as you receive it. In an SHTF situation, every minute counts. The first 24-hours give you a window of opportunity to start your journey before rioting or looting breaks out in your city or town. Spending valuable time packing your bag could end up costing you your life. Pack your bag, and keep it in the trunk of your car, ready to go.
Where do I keep my bug out bag?
As mentioned, you can keep your bug out bag in the trunk of your car. However, some people may prefer to carry a “get-home” bag in the car, and their bug out bag at home in the closet.
What’s the purpose of a bug out bag?
A bug out bag is not suitable for sustainable living and traveling. The bag serves one purpose – to get you to your bug out. After arriving at the location, you should have everything stocked up and ready for your arrival. You’ll need to repack your bug out bag with your essentials and store it somewhere handy in case the mobs find your location.
Bug Out Bags Reviews – The Verdict
By now, you should have a good idea of the right bug out bag to meet your requirements. Remember to focus on a bag that provides you with what you need. If your bug out is only a few hours from your home walking on foot, you only need a small pack. However, if you’re going to be hiking for days, you need a bigger bag.
There are plenty of options in this review, in various sizes and designs to suit any bug out plan. However, if you’re struggling to settle on a model that’s right for you, why not rely on our top picks?
The Condor 3-Day Assault Pack is an excellent choice for bugging out to local areas where you only have two or three days of walking. This pack comes with plenty of storage space, contoured straps for comfort, and a hip strap to distribute weight evenly. It’s the ideal pack for shorter trips and comes with MOLLE webbing to add sustainment pouches to expand your carry.
If you’re looking for something with more room, then the MT US Military Molle II Rucksack is a top choice and the winner of the best premium rucksack in this review. The pack comes with sturdy design and construction, featuring 1000D waterproof materials and a polymer frame for additional support. This pack stores enough gear for 5 to 7-day trips, and it has plenty of functionality and user comfort.
For those preppers looking for the best budget bug out bag, we have the ReeBow Gear Military Tactical Assault Pack. This pack has everything you need for a short two or three-day trip. You get 34L of storage space, MOLLE webbing systems, four spacious pouches, and padded shoulder straps for user comfort.