Introduction: How to Build a Proper Bug Out Bag

Picture of How to Build a Proper Bug Out Bag

Bug Out Bags are a dime a dozen; unfortunately, most of them are poorly designed. Primarily because they often aren’t designed by the user, but rather by the store. Even the ones made by the user aren’t designed, but rather thrown together with items they unconsciously associate with wilderness survival rather than their unique situation.

The most commonly overlooked characteristics of an effective Bug Out Bag (BOB) are unfortunately the most essential to the success of the BOB. Most people either find building a BOB too expensive or to daunting to take on themselves; however, if you follow this guide you can’t go wrong.

This is my first Instructable and it is inspired by the multitude of BOB Instructables, but this one in particular, Bug Out Bag by Screwits.

Step 1: Universal Guidelines

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a. While tactical packs with dozens of pockets covered in molle is highly useful, it makes you a target; instead:

i. Use a non-descript bag or,

ii. Keep a pack cover over your pack. Even a black trash bag would work. (This choice makes for slower retrieval of contents.)

Mobility (Weight/Size)

a. The lighter the better, Ounces = Pounds, Pounds = Pain

i. Even if you plan on having transportation, keep it light, you never know if you will have to hike your pack due to breakdown or gridlock

b. Smaller packs allow for better mobility

i. Overstuffed packs make retrieving contents slower

ii. Overstuffed packs don’t allow for the addition of last minute or salvaged supplies.


a. Keep a waterproof cover (black trashbag works)

i. Waterproof essential items that are especially important to keep dry

1. Dropping the pack in a puddle, sudden downpour, falling into body of water doesn’t allow time for waterproofing entire pack.

2. Put these items in waterproof bags or containers within your bag


a. Multiple compartments on or within the bag allow for better organization

i. Stuffing one large compartment with everything makes finding and using items extremely slow and nearly impossible in the dark.

b. Keep like items together in dedicated compartments whenever possible

i. Ex. keep first aid items in 1 compartment, water treatment in another, ect.

c. Making more commonly used or emergency items easiest to get to allows for quicker withdraw of items & reduces chance of leaving items behind one has to remove to access items located deeper in the pack.


a. Items with multiple uses should be chosen over single use items whenever possible

i. This allows for less weight, volume and clutter

ii. Ex. Multi-tool instead of pliars, knife, screw drivers, scissors, ect.

Procedural Checklist

a. Attaching a hard copy of a checklist of procedures can make all the difference since time is essential, especially in the opening moments of an emergency.

b. You won't be thinking clearly and since my checkout list has evolved over at least months, adding things or reordering my priorities, you cannot expect to just instantly think of these things in an emergency unless they are at your fingertips.

i. Procedures like refilling your water or grabbing more if you can

ii. Grabbing essential documents

iii. Communicating with anybody you wish to meet up with, if communications are still viable

iv. Grabbing your medications, especially ones from the fridge that you can't keep a supply of in your bag

v. Etc.

Step 2: Necessities

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a. Whatever you think is enough, double it, minimum!.

i. Water being heavy, knowing how much is necessary is essential.

1. How much is discussed in the 3rd category “personalization”

ii. In almost every circumstance, the amount of water you can/will include in your BOB won’t be enough, so a way to make water safe to drink is necessary

1. Filters and purification chemicals are always a good idea, and almost always essential.

2. Knowledge regarding how to make & find water is discussed in “Intelligence” section


a. Protection from the Elements

i. Shelter like tents often aren’t necessary; however, the “Personalization” section can help you determine if it is necessary for your situation

1. If you are going to include your own shelter keep weight and size in mind.

2. Often better off finding or creating makeshift shelter as needed

ii. Clothing

1. Key clothing items are more important than full changes of clothes

a. Items for warmth in cool climate areas like gloves, stocking cap, wool socks, ect.

b. Items for protection from the sun in hot climates like hats, scarves or the like.

iii. Other

1. Sunscreen

2. Hydration Salts

3. Chemical hand warmers, small heat stove

b. Protection from other People

i. Weapons

1. There is far too much information to cover in this article regarding weapon choice and justification. It could be and has been the subject of their own articles.

2. Firearms

a. I personally include them in my BOB

b. Consider the size and weight of the weapon and it’s ammunition in making your choice.

3. Kinetic Weapons

a. Knives, machetes, tomahawks, and the like.

b. I include these in my BOB as well, primarily because most kinetic weapons are as useful as tools as they are as weapons.

4. Early Warning Device or the Makings for One

a. Electronic Device that alerts you by noise or light if a perimeter is breached.

b. Simple device that does the same, either through cans strung together or broken glass or the like that will alert you to the approach of any one/thing, especially when you are at your most vulnerable (sleeping or cleaning weapon)


a. Navigational tools like a compass, scale and protractor are often essential items, especially the compass.

i. GPS may be inoperable and you may have to take alternate routes unknown to you.

b. Hand tools like knives, pliars, wire cutters, screw drivers, ect.

c. Binding like rope, paracord, duct tape, electrical tape, zip ties and the like.

d. In the case of extreme and long term preps bolt cutters, crow bars, hammers, shovels, ect. can be indispensible.

i. However the size and weight of these items make them a choice that must be considered carefully if you don’t have a vehicle.


a. First Aid

i. Every BOB no matter how minimal must contain first aid items, “Personalization” section will discuss the amount and type necessary for you.

1. The level of aid is the only question

ii. Common first aid items to include:

1. Foot care items like moleskin

2. Common medicines like pain/fever relievers, antihistamines and anti-diarrheal.

3. Bandages including Ace bandages

4. Sanitizer, alcohol wipes and anti-biotic ointment.

iii. Trauma Kit

1. Clotting powder or gauze & tourniquet

2. Disposable surgical stapler &/or sutures

3. Immobilization items like a splint &/or triangle bandage

4. Tweezers, hemostats, clothing scissors and scalpel

5. Pressure dressing and gauze

6. Gloves, iodine wipes, alcohol wipes

b. Comfort & Sanitizing

i. Body/Foot Powder

ii. Baby wipes for personal hygiene

iii. Sunscreen & burn treatment

iv. Hand warmers for cold environments

v. Cold packs for injury and hot environments to treat heat stroke

vi. Insect Repellent

c. Personalized Medications

i. Any regular medications you take, along with your emergency medications like inhalers and epi-pens.

ii. This is discussed at length under the “Personalization” section


a. Food

i. Minimal food is all that is necessary in all but the longest term BOB’s.

1. BOB’s are primarily intended for short term situations of 72 hrs. or less. People can survive considerably longer than that without any food.

2. However, food also serves as a comfort item that can keep your hopes up and your mind centered on survival.

3. Lack of food, especially in high stress, high energy expending situations can result in a severe lack of energy that is nearly impossible to overcome without training making some food necessary.

ii. Nutrition

1. High calorie

2. High carbohydrate

3. High protein

iii. Ideal Characteristics

1. Long shelf life

a. Your bag could go years without being needed

2. Light Weight

a. As discussed earlier, weight is the enemy.

b. While dehydrated food is the lightest, one must take care with this choice as most of it requires water to reconstitute, and what little doesn’t requires you to increase your water intake. And the amount of water you can carry is limited.

3. Small Volume

a. As discussed, volume, while not as much of a problem as weight, is still a primary consideration.

b. In my opinion, the ideal choice is often bars of some type, protein bars, survival bars, and the like.

c. If you choose MRE’s make sure to research how to “field strip” them, this is practiced in the Marine Corps, and it reduces the size of an MRE to less than ½ its original size without losing any food.

b. Supplements

i. Nutritional

1. The biggest pitfall to being without food, other than mental, is the lack of vitamins and minerals being introduced into your system.

2. For the sake of weight and volume, one can carry enough multi-vitamins equivalent to the size and weight of a single protein bar to last a month.

3. If you should run out of the food in your pack, and are unable to salvage any food from your area, take multi-vitamins to keep your energy up, and stave off many of the diseases associated with starvation.

ii. Stimulant

1. In an emergency, especially during any trek you may be making to get back home or to your bug out location, keeping your energy up is essential.

2. Keeping caffeine pills, or anything similar in your BOB can help you stave off sleep long enough to reach your destination, or at least a safe place to get some sleep.

a. There are negative side-effects associated with their use, especially their long term use, so take them only if absolutely necessary, and sparingly.


a. Maps

i. The importance of maps can’t be stressed enough in any emergency.

ii. Common commercially available maps, found at gas stations, etc.

iii. Map customized by you in advance to show planned and backup routes

1. Routes should show how to get home from places like work

2. Routes should show how to get to your bug out location

3. I have multiple vehicle and foot routes planned out on the map in my BOB

b. Useful Information

i. Survival manuals

ii. First-Aid Manuals

iii. Knot Booklet

iv. If your prepping with the apocalypse in mind, the more info you can include the better, consider doing so in a USB drive that contains anything you may need to start a new community including things like engineering, medical, alternative energy and the like.

c. Essential Documents (Thanks to texdanl who reminded me I left this section out)

i. Regardless of what your designing your bag for, other than maybe just to get you home you should put a folder together with your essential documents like:

1. Social Security Cards

2. Birth Certificates

3. Property Deeds

4. Etc.

*Even if you don't want to keep these documents in your BOB you can just keep them all in one folder in your safe or wherever you keep them anyway and just make sure to grab them on your way out, making sure they are waterproofed.

d. Communication

i. Emergency Radio provides important information regarding where one can seek aid, areas to avoid, and estimated time before restoration of government services

ii. 2 way-radio’s allow you to communicate rather than just listen, this way you can disseminate information to others, ask questions and request help

1. If you are not alone in this emergency having a 2-way radio can greatly increase your chances as communication is always essential

Step 3: Personalization

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a. How long you estimate any emergency situations you find most likely to occur to last must be a primary consideration

i. Or how long you expect to live out of the bag, i.e., how long you expect the trip home, or to your bug out location to last

ii. Obviously, building some leeway into your estimate is important, as nothing ever goes as planned anyway, much less during an emergency.

b. This estimated duration allows you to determine the quantity and type of items to include in your BOB.

i. Ex. Matching the amount of water/food you consume to the expected duration.

1. Keep in mind, the longer the duration, the less likely you will be able to carry all the water/food you need, so you will need to carry ways to purify, create and find water/food along the way.

ii. Ex. Long term BOB’s require different items than one typically includes in the average 72hr. bag.

1. The longer term BOB’s often require more survival instruments and medical items as it becomes more likely you will have to build fires, sew worn out clothing, treat pneumonia, broken bones, etc.


a. Climate

i. Colder climates make things like warm clothing and shelter a high priority

ii. Hotter climates make things like more water and sunscreen a high priority

iii. Combination climates like Colorado essentially make a big pack a priority as one can’t even just change their load out seasonally as more than once I’ve experienced snow one day, followed by 80 F the following day; making it necessary to carry for every contingency.

b. Geography

i. Fishing kits are often included in BOB’s, especially survival centered BOB’s, even when a person doesn’t live within 50 miles of a fishable body of water.

ii. Consider the type of terrain, the natural resources like bodies of water, game, ranches, all of these things should have a bearing on what you include in your BOB.

c. Population Density

i. If you are often in a rural area, and/or intend on bugging out to a rural area, survival type items like snares, fishing kits, and shelter become more necessary.

ii. If you live in a city, and intend on using your BOB to get you from wherever you are in the city, to your home in the city, then items designed for helping you live off the land like heirloom seeds, folding shovel, and saw for firewood become less important.

Emergency Type

a. Most BOB’s are built with a specific emergency type in mind, and while general/multiple emergency type designs are better in my opinion, designing one’s BOB with whatever is the most likely type of emergency in your area in mind is prudent.

b. Weather disasters like hurricanes and blizzards make items like stoves, warm clothes, and clean water priority

c. Economic and Zombie disasters make items like weapons and first aid a priority.

Health Conditions

a. If you or anybody you plan on supporting with your BOB has health conditions, those must be taken into account.

b. If you are weak and in poor shape, you had better keep your pack light.

i. Keeping a fold up wire cart next to your bag should you have to walk, could extend the distance you are capable of traveling on a daily basis and overall by more than double.

c. If you have diabetes, keeping a few days of your regular medicine in your bag can be more important than water and weapons.

d. If you have asthma and don’t include an inhaler in your bag, you might as well not even have a bag.


a. What is the specific purpose of this bag? Of course it is to help you survive in an emergency, but believe it or not, the differences in purpose can be night and day.

b. A bag containing a couple bottles of water, protein bar, flashlight, and a swiss army knife can be sufficient if it is only meant to get you home from work in case of emergency, where at worst, you may even have to walk the 3-5 miles home

c. Is the primary purpose to keep you alive if you slide into the ditch during a blizzard, where you can go days without being discovered in sub zero weather? If so, a fishing kit and machete aren’t going to be of much help. But lots of food, water, candles, warm clothes, and chemical hand warmers will be.

d. Is your bag meant to help you survive through any realistically conceivable situation for your life and your area? If so, being a little more broad in your choices rather than highly specialized is necessary. For the record, this is the way I lean, as this choice covers each of the situations described above, in addition to a dozen more that weren’t.


jwgottabass (author)2014-09-30

If you liked this, please vote for me in the upper right hand corner, I have entered this in the "remix" contest and the "wear it" contest. This is my 1st Instructable and it has been a great experience win or lose, but of course winning would be the only thing that could make it better. Thanks.

azeryth (author)jwgottabass2014-09-30

I have electronic copies as well. I also have Terabytes of textbooks and similar data all backed up with backups of backups. Along with the information to aguire back up electronics to read or access that database. The information i carry is stuff i find vital. Where to find parts, guns, local stashes, physics of firearms (particularly that of gunpowder and its use in cannons), as well as medical. People do not seem to understand, even in the information age, how important knowledge is. Yes, we have to be able to carry out what we know, but i would rather spend days finding food using tried and true hunting and trapping techniques than days figuring out how to get traps to work. So many BO.B. are a weekend napsack or a small camping bag. Most people dont see even though they claim you to, you are bugging out you wont likely return. Your life is starting over. Whether its the spy version you see on tv (passports, identification, cash) or one for survival in a world of anarchy the goal is long term survival and rebuilding or maintaining ones life. to merely pack for a few days is only preparing to stave off death a few days.

I love the fact that you included bringing a means to purify water, rather than a large supply of water. 20oz of bleach can purify water to last weeks. And its proper use is far more valueble. Most people will bug out with tons of water, gallons of bleach will be easy to find. Information on how to get, use, or make what you need is vital. I do not need to bug out with a system to create and story electrical energy i only need to know where to get, scaveng, and finally how to assemble the parts into the final design. That is certainly alot easy to carry than the system itself. If you feel you need supplies, geocache them along your planned route..
Intelligence is key. Your bag was great, and clearly its only a few that will actually survive, but nature has a way of weeding out the ill informed. We just have to wait and collect the supplies that they died with because they didnt have the intelligence to survive.

jwgottabass (author)azeryth2014-09-30

You and I are definitely on the same page, I have all that info on gunsmithing and the burn rate of powders, how to manufacture powders, really to much to mention here. But even with my thousands of hours of research I don't have anywhere near terabytes, I only have gigabytes. I wish I had more text books, I only have a dozen or so.

I am big on planning my scavenging as well, I have mapped out the best places to scavenge along my bug out routes, as well as what items are a priority at each location. Since I am perpetually short on funds, I too find it useful to know how to create wind power out of things that will be left abandoned all over the place post apocalypse. And while I haven't been able to geocache along my route, that is something I have always wanted to do. I have it as part of my procedural plan once I get my bug out HQ up and running, because no matter how well you prep, you never know when you may have to abandon that location, so having years of stuff all in one location is stupid, because one mistake or event could take it all away.

It really sounds like you and I have similar prepping priorities. If you ever want to compare and contrast and or share info and ideas message me, I would love to have someone at your level to talk to about this.

Thanks for the comment.

RookPDX (author)jwgottabass2015-03-14

just remember all that info is great but hard copy of the important stuff is worth your nuts. in a survival situation, computers may not be readily available.

bryan3141 (author)azeryth2014-10-09

Bleach for sterilizing water? How about campden tablets? Iodine? A steripen? one of the MANY MANY micron filters (survival straws like lifestraw anybody?)? Think backpack camping, not household cleaning supplies. A solar chargeable steripen will purify a transfinite amount of water, as will a properly maintained filter. Also, beware: not all bleach is created equal. Some have ingedients that shouldn't go in potable water....specifically scents and dyes.

ahauta (author)2014-09-26

I appreciated that you spoke about how to customize your own rather than say what you have in yours and expect others to be in need of similar things in theirs. Great instructable, I really enjoyed reading it!

jwgottabass (author)ahauta2014-09-27

Thank you, there are a billion lists all over the internet, not just here that list their specific BOB's contents but not too many that tell you how to make one for your needs.

Even the ones supposedly telling you how to make a BOB for you, seem to tell you how to build a BOB for their specific circumstances instead of yours.

Although, all the thought, time and effort I've put into putting my BOB together, it is hard not to want to tell everyone every item I chose and why.

Zclip (author)jwgottabass2014-09-28

I think details are good. If you wrote a book that described what you have written here in more detail, and added in some nuances/methodologies about the "gross anatomy" of the BOB and urban survival <i.e. aftermath of earthquake/tornado/etc> I would buy it and keep it in my BOB for refrence. Good instructable.

jwgottabass (author)Zclip2014-09-28

Wow thanks, part of the reason I haven't tried to write an article or in this case an Instructable on anything prepping, even BOB's because I always felt a book was really necessary. And I have only barely considered writing such a book, like most people plan on writing a novel eventually. But it feels good to know that you would appreciate such a work. I did create a book for my own bag, but that wouldn't work for other people.

But one thing I have wanted to make available to people is my apocalyptic library. It is a USB, actually, 2 USB's and saved on my computer and phone. But it is several thousand documents including entire textbooks. Basically, anything that could be useful post apocalypse. What can I say, most of my prepping started out prepping for apocalypse, but it has a ridiculous amount of information on every topic, and of course at least 100 of the documents are Instructables.

itsruthanitha (author)2016-03-13

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secretgspot (author)2015-11-22

what's the link for the belt with satchels?

jj999125 (author)2015-09-28

Where did you find the pouches and stuff for that battle belt?! I love the guide, but I must get a battle belt like what

jls99 (author)2015-09-15

Great information! So many bags I've seen are just everything stuffed in which would be almost impossible to actually use in a high stress environment.

ebugout (author)2015-09-12

Have you ever seen ? It is the only place on the internet that you can completely customize a bug out bag. Even better, it is 100% free to use, and all prices come from Amazon with NO upcharge meaning you end up with extremely competitive prices.

RookPDX (author)2015-03-14

this is incredibly well thought out, thank you for the effort. there were a handful of things on here that helped me fine tune my build. I find it is always wise to have 3 broad plans for whatever kind of situation you figure you may face, but I didn't even think to have a map (just because I know my area doesn't mean I know its outskirts) which got me thinking on a WP case for it... and glow sticks, and head lamps, and glowpaint for marking trails at night. stuff to think on if not necessarily include, and that is what your writeup is good for, making me think!

kipp14 (author)2014-10-01

When you're putting medications in to the bag remember to put the expiration date of the medications on the each bag. Expired medications can be worse than none at all. Can you use a dry bag to store something like this to keep it dry?

RookPDX (author)kipp142015-03-14

I use those little tic-tak containers and make small labels for them to keep it sorted out. I have done set aside for meds I came store in a back pack long with a black label I can full in with a sharpy; antibiotics or such. 2 meds I keep plenty of it are ibuprofen and a laxative. don't laugh, being without when you need it sucks. Sundries also seemed overlooked. TP in particular, but also tampons and nylons. wear nylons to portent blisters and tampons are also good for puncturing wounds.

jwgottabass (author)kipp142014-10-01

Excellent point. Many medications exp. date is essentially worthless, as some meds can be used well beyond their date, some just become less effective, some become worthless and as you pointed out, some practically become poison. Since we are discussing emergency situations, it is a good idea to have info on the what medications fall into what category regarding the exp. dates mentioned above, and even what veterinary meds can be used on humans and at what dosages. I have both these and find it very comforting, but that's probably because my meds take up half the space in my BOB. LOL

Zerofennec (author)2015-02-21

This is one of the most detailed BOB Instructables I have seen. I live in the snow belt of Michigan, and have often had to make several hour drives in sometimes whiteout conditions. I have been considering creating both a Bug Out/In bag. Bug In for instances where I would be stuck from car failure and needed to stay warm while help arrives, and Bug Out if the situation gets worse e.g.: ditching the vehicle after a run off. Dry clothing, chem heat, and first-aid top my list.

Thank you for your service, and this excellent BOB breakdown!

espdp2 (author)2014-10-27

Water is heavy! Drinking water is good, but rain-soaked gear is dead weight. During my Infantry days, we usually ditched the heavy rubberized "waterproof" bags in favor of disposable trash bags for lining the main rucksack compartment. The heavier ply the better, like the contractor or lawn bags. I only used one as a pack cover one time, but I didn't get it dialed in satisfactorily. An assortment of quart, gallon, and 2.5 gallon Zip-Loc bags also went along for organizing and protecting smaller items, like socks and electronics. Works like a charm, and you can see what's inside each one. I've been wanting to find my vacuum sealer buried in the basement and experiment with it some for some specific applications as well.

jwgottabass (author)espdp22014-10-27

It's been a bit since I did this, but I thought I mentioned using trash bags specifically as pack covers both for water proofing and camo. I have an olive green poncho that I can use to water proof my pack in green back drops, and white kitchen trashbags for waterproofing and camo for winter, and of course straight black trashbags as well as many different size ziplock bags.

Thanks for reading and the comment.

puggirl415 (author)2014-10-12

This is awesome! I am an city dweller who seeks to be ready for 3 days
of self-sufficiency in the case of an earthquake or other disaster
leaving me without access to my car or apartment. I have some of
everything you mentioned. However, what I take away from this is that I
need to make an outline of possibilities and then use that to make
comprehensive lists of stuff I need to get now and stuff I need to work
on getting. To me there is a lot of expense in gathering books worth of
how to information. I've spent some time learning seed saving and food prep but don't know if I'll remember it when the time comes. Also having dedicated devices and tools means
either getting in my pack regularly or having to buy items that rarely
get used because these emergencies rarely happen. The outline may help
me decide what is necessary now and what I can work on later. I also
keep a slightly different pack in my car than in my house since my car
has more dedicated room to carry and store stuff. If I'm in my car when
disaster strikes I will kind of be better prepared:) Will immediately
add the wire wheeled cart and a water filter as well as water purifier
stuff. Carrying water around seems like my biggest challenge. Weapons are another sticking point but I'm not opposed to them.

texdanl (author)2014-09-29

The important thing about a bug out bag is the thought that you put into it. If something happens that is bad and calls for fast action the forethought you put into the bag means that you will be ACTING while the unprepared are going, "Oh GOD, what am I going to do????" As you consider each item and its level of necessity you are making discussions at your leisure that will set you well ahead of the pack if you are trying to get out of Dodge in a hurry. I live on the Texas Gulf Coast and often when people wait too long they just don't make it. When the last big one hit us a lot of people ended up being told to write their social security number on their chests so their bodies would be easier to identify. They refused to evacuate then wanted rescuers to risk their lives to pull them out after the land fall was imminent.

For my situation my bug out bag also includes things like birth-certificates, marriage license, insurance papers, social security cards etc... and lots of CASH. Good ibble!!

jwgottabass (author)texdanl2014-09-29

You bring up an excellent point that doesn't apply to my needs, it does apply to what most people intend their bags for. I really should have included a section regarding important documents and such, even if it is just digital copies on a USB drive, although hard copies would be best.

Even if you don't keep the hard copies in your bag, making a step of your Bug Out Procedure grabbing your essential documents folder from your fireproof safe, putting in waterproof container and throwing it in your bag is a great idea.

In fact, that reminds me that I forgot to mention that having a hard copy of your Bug Out or Get Home Procedure should be part of your prep as not only do you not have the time to think in an Emergency, you don't usually think very clear in such situations.

Unless, you mind, I am going to edit this to reflect your opinion regarding essential documents. Thanks again for the comment, it is especially helpful.

texdanl (author)jwgottabass2014-09-30

I don't mind at all. I thought your Ibble was one of the best that I've seen on the subject. Just getting people to THINK about this subject in a serious way will save some if it is ever needed.

jwgottabass (author)texdanl2014-09-30

I totally agree, just getting people to consider this or especially take some time to think about it seriously could save some lives. That is why it sucks that even with the increase in prepping in popular culture, there is still a stigma of being paranoid or ridiculous for even thinking about such things seriously much less actually prepping. To counteract that I try to point out to those people, especially within my family, that this can be and in my case has been helpful even without emergency situations. Having such a comprehensive first-aid set up always at hand has been helpful in several non emergency situations for myself and others around me. Nobody thinks the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared" is paranoid.

Thanks again for pointing that out in your last comment.

PZ456 (author)2014-09-29

I haven't read every comment so I'm kind of stabbing in the dark here with this comment. Every season take you BOB out and inventory it. Change out items that are season specific and replace them with items for the season you are in. Also, it's good to inventory your items for expiration; especially medications, food items. Change out your water too. This helps you in a number of ways: you stay knowledgeable as to what is in your BOB, you get in to a routine, which becomes a habit which are hard to break and lastly you may find newer or lighter weight items to replace something you already have. You may also find better ways to store items for comfort and ease of transport. You BOB should be given the same amount of importance or more as anything else you own. Just having a BOB isn't going to keep you alive. But a BOB that is properly packed will. IMHO.

jwgottabass (author)PZ4562014-09-29

Your right on point, regularly updating your bag and its contents is very important, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. The most important point you make is that just having a BOB isn't going to keep you alive; but disagree that a properly packed one necessarily will, although it will increase your chances. Training in both physical ability as well as doing pertinent research will do more for you than a BOB in my opinion, although no matter what it does increase your chances. My point is for example a spec ops soldier with nothing but a bottle of water has a better chance for survival than the average couch potato with $1000.00 BOB.

Just want to point out that fitness and knowledge is best, after all your bag could be lost or taken immediately. And if you have to make it away from a city and climbing the stairs winds you, your pretty screwed.

Thanks again for the comment, you clearly know your stuff.

PZ456 (author)jwgottabass2014-09-30

You make a good point about my statement about a properly packed BOB. I see that other people have also made comments about physical abilities, etc. so I won't go into that any more. Again, a good instructable mostly because it makes people think more about their own situation than just following someone else's list.

jwgottabass (author)PZ4562014-09-30

Thanks again, its always great and helpful to hear from others who share an interest in this field, especially when they're competent on the subject as you seem to be.

jwgottabass (author)2014-09-29

I have added a few things, based on some comments below and things that I remembered in discussing those comments. Fact is, I kinda just ripped this out really quick and as such am sure to have forgotten even more.

azeryth (author)2014-09-29

One of the best Bug Out Bags i have seen. The intelligence section is a vital piece often overlooked. In the case of a true B.O.B. when the time comes and we grab it we can expect to never see our home again. My only alteration would be to put more focus on intelligence. Supplies to last a few days, iodine/bleach to last a few weeks of water is enough.
Intelligence should be expanded to include information ranging from maps to personal care. The information should be tailored to weak spots i skills. How to build shelters, a basic power system, first aid, engine repair or whatever you see or think you may need to survive.

A B.O.B. is a short term kit, but should have what you need to effectively sustain and build a new life. How to find water, food, shelter. How to catch game, build traps, clean and cook it. What plants are edible with pictures ( i use lamented pages), and what plants can be used for medicinal purposes. The resources we carry are finite, the knowledge and the means to find and pecur these resources will last and make you a valuble asset. People who stuff thier bags with only supplies just make easy targets or extra supplies for those who can effect and create the resources when its all said a done.

jwgottabass (author)azeryth2014-09-29

While it is clear you and I prep with a similar mind, that isn't for a lot of people. Believe it or not, intelligence is the part of my preps I spend the most time on. I have thousands of hours of research regarding just such topics as you mentioned and far more. I have limited info like you mentioned in hard copy, but I have multiple USB's drives in waterproof, shockproof and EMP proof housing that has thousands of files including medical text books, trauma surgery books, engineering texts, electrical engineering and much much more, more than a few of those files are Instructables from this site. I also carry more than a few different types of seeds.

The subject of this isn't about my preps or my BOB, but rather it is meant to help give people the information necessary to make the most effective BOB for them and their purposes.

Thanks for the comment, they are very important points, until I did this Instructable and got comments like these I had no idea that there were as many informed preppers as there seem to be, although this would be the site to find the most truly knowledgeable.

texdanl (author)2014-09-29

The important thing about a bug out bag is the thought that you put into it. If something happens that is bad and calls for fast action the forethought you put into the bag means that you will be ACTING while the unprepared are going, "Oh GOD, what am I going to do????" As you consider each item and its level of necessity you are making discussions at your leisure that will set you well ahead of the pack if you are trying to get out of Dodge in a hurry. I live on the Texas Gulf Coast and often when people wait too long they just don't make it. When the last big one hit us a lot of people ended up being told to write their social security number on their chests so their bodies would be easier to identify. They refused to evacuate then wanted rescuers to risk their lives to pull them out after the land fall was imminent.

For my situation my bug out bag also includes things like birth-certificates, marriage license, insurance papers, social security cards etc... and lots of CASH. Good ibble!!

throbscottle (author)2014-09-29

I've never heard the term "bug out" before. Anyways, 20-odd years ago this would have been ideal for me since I used to "rough it" quite a lot. Heigh-ho, happy days...

AHeadOfMyTime (author)2014-09-28



Will you correct that?

If that's not how it's spelled, then tell me the correct spelling. I though it looked wrong, but I can't come up with better than that.



travcoman45 (author)2014-09-28

Just a few points.

First, some good information here. Each bob should be assembled as a personal item setup for the individual and there situation, so ideas are good without being ridged. If you are going to use a pistol belt rig (I like them myself and that's what I use in Emergency Management) get the suspenders that go with it. This helps remove some of the weight from your hips and allows your shoulders to supports some of it. If your back is less then stellar, this is a good option. Also, the suspenders allow you to carry vital items close at hand.

Second, as to discretion, carry what ever type of bag or gear that works best for you. When a disaster hits, it isn't really going to matter what type of pack you have, someone is going to want to take it from you because you have more then they do. So, if a military pack is suitable, use it. The military gear will out last most civilian gear (this has been proven many times in disaster deployment). Get gear that fits your situation and your body frame. Just be prepared for the fact that someone is going to want your gear at some point.

Third, once you have everything together, take it out and carry it around in the types of terrain you may encounter. See how it travels, if it rubs something that it shouldn't. Stop and get things out you would need. Take notes of what you want to change. If you are so inclined, use the gear. Stop, make a meal, purify water. Put the equipment to use.

Fourth, a idea on water proofing. You can vacuum seal many of your items if you have the machine to do so. Great way to keep things dry. Carry zip lock bags to put things back into (clothing is a good example) and allow added space for the now expanded items. This works great for meds, extra cloths, anything you want to keep dry.

jwgottabass (author)travcoman452014-09-28

1st of all, thanks and many great points. As far as the suspenders and all that, my belt was attached to a vest, but I had just tore my whole kit apart for another re imagining when I did this instructable, and didn't intend on using pics of any of my stuff as this isn't about my stuff. But the site said I had to use my own pics, so I through it together. I also left the vest off because as diverse as the audience is on here I didn't want a weapon and ammo heavy tactical looking vest to draw attention or cause problems.

Perhaps, your best point in my opinion, is to take your set-up out and use it to work any bugs out. Furthermore, it will prepare your body to support your pack better, and you will be more likely to be able to retrieve items without thinking, and believe me, the more you can do without thinking in an emergency the better, because most won't think or won't think correctly.

I do have to disagree with the vacuum packing. Partially because I am constantly using items out of my bag and having to restock, but mostly because, unless it is a one use item or a quantity of 1 in the bag, after you open it, it isn't water proof anymore. That is why I use a lot of zip locks, and some trash bags.

Thanks again for the good comments and thoughts.

billbillt (author)2014-09-28

Seeing how ubiquitous the "bug out" culture has gotten, every other person in the world is packing up ready to "bug out"... It probably would be safer to just hunker down where you are and survive there...

jwgottabass (author)billbillt2014-09-28

In general, I would say your wrong, although I understand the sentiment. There are some situations in general where bugging in, or "hunkering down" is smarter than bugging out, but not because others are bugging out. In the most serious and longest lasting disasters, staying in population dense areas is very dangerous. But once again, I have to defer to, planning for your specific situation, you are more likely to know what is right for you than I am, as long as you have actually put the research, time and effort in.

mxsailor (author)2014-09-28

one item I keep is a Globalstar gps messenger, cost about $150 and $100 a year. Mash a button and the helicopters show up, just about anywhere in the world. Since this product came out, they're saving one person a day, on average.

jwgottabass (author)mxsailor2014-09-28

That sounds like a great item to keep on you if your prepping for personal emergencies rather than community or worldwide disasters. The type of stuff I prep for have little use for a common GPS and no use for that type of GPS. But that is why, building BOB's for your specific needs is so important.

WadCutter1 (author)2014-09-28

Bug out? From what or who and for how long or is it just better to accept what is to come next? Just me I guess. I'm real tired of fighting with the machine. wc

jwgottabass (author)WadCutter12014-09-28

As to who and what I'm bugging out from, Bug Out is a more all encompassing term than it seems on the surface. While my Bag is built primarily for bugging out, more than a few are made almost entirely to get them home in an emergency, but it doesn't count as a bug in bag technically or in common usage.

But the specific who and what I'm bugging out from is largely dependent on the specific emergency, but in general, I'm bugging out from population centers, and by extension people to my bug out location. To many people the Bug Out Location is more theoretical, but others, like me have specific place and plan they are bugging out to. Usually an area that is safer and more conducive to survival and even long term defense.

jwgottabass (author)WadCutter12014-09-28

I've been considering that point for awhile, especially in my unique situation. Medical conditions have made it so if there is an apocalyptic type scenario where survival without regular civilization for an extended period of time to include weeks-months or longer all but guarantee I cannot survive.

As such, my survival plan for such extended emergencies, is to live long enough to get my friends and family set up and trained well enough to survive on their own before I go.

But your sentiment of accepting one's fate within such emergencies, could only even vaguely be conceived if it is an apocalyptic type scenario. After all, are you really telling me, you can't suck it up and make it three days in an emergency similar to Katrina, especially if you have a well stocked and designed bug out bag and plan.

permutation-jim (author)2014-09-28

This is great work... thanks a lot!

Don't worry about being too wordy... just like carrying your BOB in a trial run, the practice of hundreds of readers works to pare the list down to size.

Also, and this may seem trivial, I carry an airline-sized bottle of gin and some vacuum-sealed sugar packets in mine. No matter what has gone wrong, I like knowing I'm just a handful of wild blackberries away from a calming beverage.

Thanks, Jim

I think I barely brushed past the part regarding comfort, I think it was in the food section, but one cannot under estimate the importance of comfort items. Whatever can bring you comfort, calming your mind. It could be coffee, chocolate, booze, photograph even a pack of cards.

Also, since my bag is geared more towards 3-5 days of survival in both city and rural, but is prepared for a significantly more lengthy time living out of my bag I have included several spices.

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Bio: I am a disabled Marine Corps vet who unfortunately often has too much time on his hands. Although it wouldn't be so unfortunate if ... More »
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