Not Just Another Bug Out Bag




About: When I was a boy, I was amazed how my grandfather could make flotsam and jetsam into useful things. I am proud that I have inherited some of his skill.

Survival kits, bug-out-bags, and the like abound on Instructables and various other websites, so what makes this one different? Well, in the first place, I am a Search and Rescue Technician, so it was based on that purpose originally.

Secondly, although I live in a fairly rural area, I am intimately familiar with it, and the chance of me having to catch fish or snare small game to survive is very slim. Enough food, and in particular, enough water to comfortably last a day or two, basic first aid supplies, and extra protection from the elements will most probably be all I need, especially when coupled with pioneer and mechanic tools carried in my 4WD truck. 

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Step 1: Carry What You Need in a Waist Belt...

I based my kit on a turkey hunter's waist belt, having sufficient storage to carry what I need. I added red suspenders for load carrying capacity, as well as increased visibility in the woods. I would recommend either red or blaze orange, instead of camo. 

Step 2: Beginning at the Left End...

The first pouch contains a bug jacket and hood  - an indispensable article in the marshlands making up about 40 percent of my county. The same pouch also contains a diagram of the belt, showing which pocket holds what. This is a simple thing, but so helpful.

Next to that is an aluminum water flask, which can be used to boil water for sterilization, if necessary. (With the lid off!)

Step 3: Next...

The next pouch contains fifty feet of paracord. I chose white; it's easier to see in the dark and against a background such as found in a woods than black or green.

I also included three light sticks; they are fantastic for signalling, lighting a campsite, and keeping people together in the dark. These are the eight-hour, green variety, which are quite bright. Other versions, including different colors, longer lasting, or brighter ones are available..

Step 4: Right End...

The pouch on the right end contains a baseplate compass and a pull-on, pull-off flashlight. (Less likely to turn on accidentally) On the zipper hangs a set of Ranger beads, used  for estimating distance covered. On the left side is a survival whistle, which is vastly superior to shouting for communications or signaling purposes.

Step 5: Next Pouch...

One part of the next pouch contains an emergency poncho (orange or red, so that it can also be used as a signalling flag), survival blanket, poison ivy wash and itch stopping cream, button compass, waterproof pill container (with important meds), cap light, notebook and pencil, felt tipped pen, and plastic baggie.

Step 6: First Aid...

The second part of that pouch contains a basic first aid kit and signalling mirror. 

Step 7: Necessary Tools...

The far right end of the belt holds a knife (it's a boot knife, which is not really the best thing, but it's what I happened to have) and utility tool with all the usual blades.

Step 8: The Big Pouch...

The front pouches in the center of the belt (worn in mid-back) contains about twenty waterproof survival matches and something often forgotten in SAR and survival kits: a roll of florescent tape. Uses for this are myriad, including marking trails, indicating searched areas, and creating visible paths to latrines. (Easier to find in the dark.)

Step 9: Commo...

The next pockets contain bug spray and a couple of handheld FRS radios. Radios are no good without batteries (nor are flashlights) so be sure to carry spares. I also place a sliver of thin plastic cut from a blister pack between the batteries and metal connector in each radio. It keeps you from accidentally leaving the radio turned on, and it keeps the batteries from running down due to a minimal current drain that might be part of the radio circuitry. Just pull it out (and save it) when you need to use the radios.

Step 10: Food...

The big compartment in the center pouch holds a MRE perfectly. Technically, it's only one meal, but there are a lot of calories and will keep one person going fairly well for a day. I also have a couple more light sticks in this pocket, housed in protective plastic sleeves. They are smaller and don't last as long as the larger ones, but they can still be useful.

Step 11: Here Is What Makes It Different...

The whole works fits into a five gallon bucket. With the lid on it, the whole kit can be stored in your truck, garage, or anywhere you want, and it will stay clean and vermin-free. When things begin to go wrong, take the kit out and fill the bucket with drinking water. I also have a two quart water bladder that I pack, and which would come in very handy for long walks or extended periods of isolation.

Step 12: There Isn't Such a Thing As a Perfect Kit...

but in my opinion, this one has most everything I would need to maintain a reasonably comfortable existence for a few days or respond to a search for a lost person.

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    17 Discussions


    Any chance you could let me know what the NASAR certifications provide? Are there jobs you can get with them? I am interested, please email me at or


    5 years ago

    Oh oops I see the flask to boil water


    5 years ago

    Great kit! I really like how you included a diagram of your kit; I'm going to make one of mine ASAP. I could be wrong, but I didn't see any methods of catching food of purifying water to hold you over until you arrive at you bug out location. Good job!

    I'm so happy to run across a waist belt based system! I have some back problems so my BOB is not a backpack. It's a Molle battle belt with pouches, pockets and drop leg pouches and organizers. I'll have to do an instructable for it when I get all of the peices. I see SO many back pack based BOBs everywhere! This is refreshing! Especially coming from a professional. Peace

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 3

    Just commenting on the 'biner you have, I assume to hold the paracord together. Personally I would keep the paracord as it can be really useful but replace the 'biner with a proper screw-gate one designed for climbing/rappelling and carry a 30 metre (about 90 feet) static roper for climbing/abseiling in butterfly coil 'backpack'. Just my opinion.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 3

    I agree with you, and I hadn't really thought of it. Of course, as the land here is flat as a pancake, and being rural, there are no tall buildings, I wouldn't be using it for the rappelling purpose. But it could come in handy for stream crossing, etc.



    Reply 6 years ago on Step 3

    Absolutely. Obviously terrain varies a lot in different places (where I live is nowhere near flat!). You should design you BOB to suit your environment and I admire your doing so in comparison to others (including myself previously) who seem to believe that a BOB must carry everything one might need for every possible scenario. On the point of stream crossings, though I might use the above 'biner in a pinch, I'd prefer a load rated, non-locking 'biner so that I would feel safe that it would hold me, but that I could get off the rope quickly if necessary. :D


    6 years ago on Step 8

    What I find refreshing & far less chicken-poop about this kit, as opposed to all the ones you find on Youtube & the like is the absence of a freakin' handgun. Cats with these kinds of kits seem like they're just dying to plug fools as their survival strategy.
    Well played, my man.


    7 years ago on Step 12

    Excellent pack. I am going to use this as a part of my overall compliment for my pack which of course I have to customize for the geographic area where I reside. Mostly desert. Thank you for sharing.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you. You bring up a very important point; as you reside in the desert and I am very close to thousands of acres of tidal marsh and myriad rivers, our packs will be very, very different. Most people never consider that.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Most of the survival kits you see on instructables are built around a small tin that are usually a nice start for a REAL survival kit. Of course each kit needs to be built with the end users skills and possible area of use in mind, after all what are the chances that a suburban teen will find themselves in the klondike or deep in the amazon? My "survival kit" for a day at the flea market or art show is a lot different from the one I pack when going fishing, which also changes depending on if I'm fishing from the river bank or going offshore. My truck has enough tools and safety equipment for a trip across town but for an extended trip it would need a number of additional things.
    I like your choice of carrier and the supplies are well thought out for your purposes and would work equally well for a hunter or off road enthusiast. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and knowledge


    7 years ago on Introduction

    hello sir
    like know some this information you on this help thank you this hunting or camping and back park to tell frind and family us in survival to ok? write hear at my e-mail thank this information !
    Ed vannatta