We've all seen the TV shows, movies, commercials, websites, etc. about the Zombie Apocalypse. Heck even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a "contingency plan" on their website. It's a PR gimmick, but they do have some good tips. Most of it is all in good fun, but preparedness for any emergency (especially zombies) is always a good idea.
Now I could talk all day about survival topics like water purification, building shelter/fire, harvesting wild food, but the reality is most residents of earth would have a hard time doing those things, it's just not a practiced skill. So instead lets discuss what gear you will need to start with to make surviving easier, because honestly, we are creatures of convenience.
Step 1: The Pack
If you are fortunate enough to take a vehicle when the stuff hits, then congrats, you can add more to what follows in this instructable. The likeliest and worst case scenario is you may have to leave home on foot and carry everything on your back, Your best option is to find a good weight to usefulness ratio on you gear. Let's start with the pack. Find a pack that the main compartment opens wide (preferably 180 degrees) so accessing things in a hurry is easy, has good sized outer pouches, and lightweight empty. Wide padded shoulder straps, padded back and waist belt should also be top priority. In my case I use a Condor Outdoor Gear Model 125 - 3 day assault pack. It fits the above criteria and carries all of the essentials, food, water, shelter, fire. It also carries a lot of extra items (tools, clothing, medical gear) that aren't necessary, but come in super handy and have multiple uses. Loaded it weighs about 30lbs. Below is a list of what is in the pack itself, this does not include the contents of the coffee cans pictured, those are in another step.
Flashlight on the left shoulder strap. Survival knife on the right shoulder strap (has fire starter, whistle, knife sharpener). Collapsible shovel (Coleman) and poncho in left side pouch. U.S. Boy Scout handbook (useful for info or starting a fire) and room for 2 - 16oz bottles in right side pouch. 3L/100oz water bladder with bite valve (stored empty) in the bladder pouch. In the main compartment: U.S. road atlas, full change of clothes in plastic bag (pants, shirt, underwear, 2 pair socks). 1-30gallon black trash bag (to cover/water proof items in this compartment). Spare eye glasses w/case, glasses lens cloth, 100ft of paracord, Lifewater GO bottle/filter with pre packaged water purification tabs inside, 4 MRE's. Coffee cans for various purpose/items. Middle compartment, flashlight hanging on tab (to light interior pouches), Motorola FRS radio w/instructions, 28 inch expandable baton (illegal in some areas), 4 pencils, Ziploc bag of documents (copies of ID/SSN cards, emergency contact list, home and pet info/pictures), pill bottle of currency (roll of quarters, 1s, 5s, 10s, 20,s 100) can of bug spray, emergency blanket, magnesium fire starter. Outer lower rear pouch Full roll of duct tape, assorted zip ties, film can with 13 gallon white trash bag, 5-30 gallon black trash bags (use for cover/shelter, water collection), 1-1 gallon Ziploc bag, expired ID cards (DL/SSN), assorted wet naps from restaurants, 2 tea candles, 1 medium candle in a tin, pill bottle of matches with striker, 2 pill bottles of fire starting material (1 sawdust, 1 dryer lint), 50 rounds of .22LR ammunition (notice no firearms in my pack, just ammo for probably the most common firearm in the U.S.). Outer upper stash pouch has a pair of brand new work gloves and binoculars.
Step 2: Pack Organization
Now to keep things organized inside the main pack, and to add some water proof storage, I utilized plastic coffee cans for sensitive things like medical equipment, electronics, toilet paper. All things that if they get wet are usually ruined and no longer useful. When in the pack the cans also provide some rigidity, keeping everything in place so you don't open the pack to a jumbled mess. Coffee cans come in several sizes and are also easily buried, hiding a cache for later use. It's also a good idea to use old prescription bottles for holding small items (matches, qtips, money, etc.), just be sure to wash them out well and do not put any edible items in them. List of coffee can contens:
MEDICAL CAN: 4x4 gauze pads, 2 rols of gauze, 2 rolls medical tape, 5 pair nitrile gloves in pill bottle, 3 pair nitrile gloves in film can, assorted band aids, 5 sanitary napkins, 5 tampons, alcohol wipres, tourniquet w/instructions, pill bottle of q-tips, pill bottle of cotton balls, (mix with petroleum jelly for fire starting), EMS shears, tweezers, spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol 91% (flammable), spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide, disposable razor, tube of petroleum jelly (use on chapped skin/lips, flammable), travel size hand sanitizer (flammable), film can of sandwich baggies and safety pins, empty pill bottle for OTC medications to add latter (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.), pouch containing hygiene items (nail clippers, tweezers, straight pins, sewing needle/thread, sewing stitch remover, knife/file tools).
GEAR CAN: Motorola FRS radio charger base with wall charger, small notepad and pencil, deck of cards (combat boredom, mark trails, burn), can opener, hobo eating utensil kit from Kabar (side note: I tested several camping utensil kits and this one came out on top), USB to micro USB cable (charging phones/tablets) pencil wrapped in half roll of toilet paper all inside a sandwich baggie, 1 qt. stainless steel camping style pot with detachable handle.
Step 3: The Contingency Pack
This supplements the main pack. Attached to the big pack is a smaller "shoulder" bag (from a Condor 134 assault bag, no longer produced) that can be detached and carried separately. The purpose of this is to have redundancy built in (fire, water, food, shelter) but on a smaller scale. This is handy if you need to trade/barter extra items or you have to ditch your main pack for some reason. This way you can still get by without losing all of your capabilities. It carries the following:
ATTACHED SLING BAG (used as rip and run bag) Motorola FRS radio, 5-30 gallon trash bags (making cover/shelter), swiss army type knife, film can with 13gal trash bag, film can of 3 pair nitrile gloves, pill bottle of matches/lighter, pill bottle of strike anywhere matches, 2 pill bottles of fire starting material (lint,sawdust) assorted zip ties, pill bottle of currency (1s, 5s, 10s, etc.) 50ft paracord, restaurant handi wipes, water purification tablets, lifestraw w/instructions, keys to the dry box (next step) magnesium fire starter, 1 MRE.
Step 4: The Box
Now that the main issues are taken care of (food, water, shelter, fire), it's time to add tertiary items in their own container. These are absolutely non-essential and can be left behind but will likely be needed in the event that things return to normal after the "stiuation". If you relocate you may have to provide proof of who you are, where you lived, etc., to receive any government assistance. There are also some useful items included just in case this is the only thing I can grab when leaving.
For storing this stuff I chose a plastic "ammo can". It is lightweight (12.2lbs loaded), water tight, has a solid carrying handle, is lockable, and fairly durable. This box can carry sensitive documents (family/pet records/pictures, insurance info, financial records, proof of residency), or it can carry some more, let's say, nefarious items you may need for personal protection.
DRY/DOCUMENTS BOX: 2 tea candles, wind up AAM/FM/weather radio, ear buds, wind up flashlight, wallet ninja tool card, flash drive with pics/docs., 13gal trash bag in film can, matches, fire starting material (lint/sawdust), notepad/pencil, 50ft paracord, 24pk AAA/24pk AA/2pk CR123 batteries, spray bottle of alcohol, flashlight, emergency blanket.
The box is only about half full, leaving room for "personal protection" items. Again, this can be left behind since you should already have everything you need to survive. If you do carry a firearm in this box (or anywhere else for that matter), keep in mind if discovered it can be taken from and used against you. Or if you come to a refugee area you may be subject to search and it may not be allowed. They are the opposite of Visa and MasterCard, not accepted everywhere. If you do choose to carry, then be cautious about who has access to it, ant train with it regularly as well. (I'm not going over legality issues here, remember this is about the gear itself, not using it, as a caveat though you should always follow the laws regarding firearms).
Step 5: Transportation
If you have transportation available to your "bugging out" situation then consider taking whats been listed and supplement it with more creature comforts. I mean who doesn't have an old tent and sleeping bag lying around? No? Scout garage sales or pick up a small tent/bag combo from a retailer and keep it under a seat or in the trunk. Expand on your medical gear. Grab the non perishable food from your cabinets (cereal, canned goods, nothing that requires heat or water to eat). Have a tool box in the garage?, take it with you, makes building a shelter a bit easier with an actual saw/hammer. I keep the following equipment in my vehicle (full size pick up truck) at all times just because:
Jumper cables, flashlight(s) w/batteries, cell phone charger, ice scraper/brush, gloves, tow chains/pull out strap, air compressor, power inverter (12VDC to 120VAC), blankets, old bath towels (clean/rolled up), foul weather gear (rain suit), tie downs/ratchet straps/bungee cords, CB radio, tools (multi tool/driver), bottle jack, lightweight jump suit (used when changing tire or performing maintenance), garden shovel and hoe, 90ft of 1/2 inch diameter rope daisy chained.
Step 6: The Power
Really want to go whole hog? Purchase or build a portable power station that is rechargeable by solar power. As with steps 3 and 4, this is not a necessity for survival, but it adds some creature comforts of home. If your family has tablets or other electronics, they can be used to keep stressed out kids occupied to calm them down. Or can be used as a reward for doing chores needed to survive. "Mom/dad/group leader, I'm done digging the latrine, can I use the power box to charge my tablet now?" It is quite possible to build your own using off the shelf parts from various home improvement stores. They can be used to run power drills, reciprocating saws, charge laptops, and even run TV's up to 32 inches for a few hours before needing recharged. Since it uses solar panels, you could have plenty of charge cycles as long as the sun rises and sets. Here is a rough estimate of parts I used to build my own portable power station:
28 inch toolbox (to hold everything), 45 watt solar panel kit with controller (purchased from a home improvement store), 2 - 35 amp hour deep cycle batteries (battery size is the same as in a garden tractor or atv), 12VDC to 120VAC 750 watt power inverter (for powering household items), 15 amp 125V duplex outlet with 2 - 3.1 amp USB ports, 12VDC 3 receptacle power box (think car cigar plugs), 1 pair of banana jacks for 12V power out, 2 - 12VDC rocker switches (for turning on and off power to inverter and batteries, 120VAC battery charger maintainer (for use when shore power is available to charge batteries)