How to make a bug out bag

Hey everyone!

I know, it’s been ages. Well I haven’t been cooking all that much, I’m supporting my local economy and my inner laziness by getting far too much take out.

Today’s post is following my ever popular ”How to prepare for home quarantine”. In the prepping spirit, and following current world affairs, I present to you: How to make a bug out bag.

Now the first thing you might be wondering, is what in the world is a bug out bag.

A bug out bag is, essentially, a bag that you keep ready to go at all times in case you need to evacuate your home. In most emergencies, you’ll want to stay home as long as you can, for many reasons. First, that’s where all your stuff lives. Second, it’s most likely safer inside than outside. Third, in major emergencies, people will tend to try to get on the road as soon as possible, creating traffic jams.

Of course, there are many times where you will need to leave your home. Either for safety reasons, or by necessity. Some of those times include natural disasters, political unrest, etc.

Once you do leave, you need to leave with the understanding that you won’t be coming back. It sucks. It’s one of the hardest thing to do and think. That’s why being prepared ahead of time can save you not only time, but also heartache.

That being said, a bug out bag isn’t one size fits all. These are general guidelines, my own bag is slightly different, you need to customize the bag to your needs, and to the emergency at hand.

Now let’s get into it. First, the actual bag.


There are many things to consider when choosing a bag.

  • Comfort
    • Can you wear the bag for hours on end?
    • Are the straps stabilizing the bag properly if you run?
    • Is the bag the right size for your body? (if you are on the petite side, a too large bag will be an hindrance)
  • Durability
    • Is the material solid?
    • Is the bag waterproof?
    • Are the straps, zippers, and seams solid and easy to repair?
  • Weight
    • Is the bag light enough that you can bring more gear?
    • Is the bag distributing the weight properly on your hips, shoulders and chest?

You might have to try a few bags before you find one that suit your needs. The best places to get a bag that will meet most, if not all, of those criteria are outdoors/hiking stores, military surplus, and online stores. Now the issue with online stores is that you can’t try it on first, but if the store has a good return policy it might be worth looking into.

*** Weight ***

Regarding the weight of your bag. A good rule of thumb is that your pack should not weight more than 1/4 of your own body weight. So if you are 200 lbs (91kg) , your pack shouldn’t be more than 50 lbs (23kg). Which means, once again, that if you are on the smaller side, your pack will need to be significantly lighter.

If you have never carried a bag for any length of time before, you might want to stick to closer to 15% of your body weight. You might also want to start wearing your bag somewhat regularly (when walking the dog, talking a walk in your neighborhood, etc)

Of course, if you are an experienced hiker/camper, or if you were in the military for example, you might very well be able to carry a bag that is much heavier. Do keep in mind though, that you will probably be walking, running, climbing with that bag for a long time, or for a long distance. Ensure you take proper steps to lighten your load.

Here is a great article from Primal Survivor on how to cut down weight from your bug out bag

What to pack

Now that you have your bag, what do you put in it?

Now you have a few things to consider. First of all is where you live. I’m in Canada, so for most of the year, I probably can’t get by with just an emergency blanket and a tarp. I had to figure out a way to bring a sleeping bag. If you live in a very warm place, you might need to pack things that are different from me, so keep that in mind when going through the list.


When making your list, remember the rule of 3. An average human can survive:

  • 3 minutes without oxygen
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food

And I do mean ‘survive’, since you are likely to be non-functional before those deadlines. Just to keep in mind while packing.

As a rule, the supplies from your bug out bag should meet your needs for 72h.

Here are some common things you might want to include:

  • Water – I recommend an empty water bottle and some purification tablets and a lifestraw. People need a bare minimum of 1L per day to survive, more for hygiene purposes so it’s preferable to have ways to get clean water than to lug around so much weight
  • Shelter – a tarp can be used to make many type of shelters and is lighter than a tent
  • Sleeping bag, bivvy bag, emergency blanket – depending on your area, you can find compact sleeping bags can can go down to -40C
  • Food – avoid canned food, because it’s very heavy. Try to focus more on dried and dehydrated food such as dehydrated meals for hiking, beef jerky, nuts, etc. You want food that has the most calories in the smallest amount. *do not pack your bag with food, it’s probably the easiest thing to find, bring only the minimum amount so you won’t starve*
  • A way to make fire – prioritize waterproof matches or a fire stone. If you’re in a bind bring a lighter but remember that it’s quite limited
  • Hygiene supplies – again, bare minimum, toothbrush and toothpaste (tablets or powder are lighter than regular toothpaste), a bar of soap, menstrual pads (for obvious reasons but they also make perfect bandages), toilet paper or rag, baby wipes if you have room
  • Clothes – You don’t need more than 1 change of clothes. The idea is to wear most of what you need when you leave to have room in your bag. You’ll want to be wearing boots (hiking boots or combat boots that are non-slip and hold your ankles), wool socks, robust pants, an undershirt, a t-shirt, and some kind of waterproof jacket. that way you only have to pack one extra pair of pants, one undershirt, one shirt, and 2-3 pairs of socks. Again, fit your climate. If you need winter coat, snow pants, hat, scarf… make sure you wear or pack those
  • First Aid – You want to pack first aid stuff that you’ll be hard pressed to find, but also keep it reasonable. Of course, any life saving mediation you need has to be there (inhalers, epipen, insulin, etc.) one of the worse things that can happen is infection. You want to be sure to have alcohol wipes and antiseptic ointment. Make sure that you are properly trained to use what you bring. I suggest taking a first aid course if you haven’t already. Assuming you are properly trained, here are a few things you might want to consider bringing:
    • Alcohol wipes and antiseptic ointment
    • Medical gloves (at least 2 pairs)
    • Large gauze pads and gauze bandages
    • Triangle bandage or bandana
    • Trauma bandages (or large menstrual pads)
    • Butterfly strips and suture kit
    • Burn salve or ointment
    • Emergency blanket
    • Elastic bandage
    • Medical tape
    • A few doses of common medication (painkillers, Benadryl, anti-diarrhea meds, antibiotics if possible)
    • Hard candy or honey packets (non perishable and can help in case of low blood sugar, hypothermia and shock

** If you are a trained medical professional, you might want to bring more, but I assume you are familiar with what you would need to bring in an emergency. **

  • Survival gear – Any gear that you will need in order to survive and function properly. Most of these you can find in outdoors stores or military surplus. Amazon also has a ton of stuff available for reasonable prices. A lot of these items can and should be combined. The more use you get out of one single object, the less objects you need to bring with you. Here’s a few things to consider:
    • Multi-tool (sure, a swiss army knife can do the trick, but a multi-tool like a Gerber will also have plyers, screwdrivers, etc.)
    • Flashlight/headlamp (and batteries)
    • Radio (can be battery powered but if you can get a hand-cranked radio that’s even better)
    • N95 masks (not only for diseases but potential contaminants in the air following natural disasters)
    • Paracord
    • Duct Tape
    • Cash (try to have at least the equivalent of $100USD in your local currency)
    • Spare glasses (if you wear glasses, you know why)
    • Solar powered charging bank
    • Compass and/or map of the area
  • Essential documents – ID, copy of birth certificate, medicare card, copy of passport.
  • Self-Defense items – Now this here will depend on the emergency occurring, but also on the laws of where you live. In Canada, for example, most self-defense items are illegal to carry on your person. Things like pepper spray, knives, firearms are all prohibited by law here. So make sure that you look up the laws and regulations of where you live before packing self-defense items in your bug out bag.
  • Other items – Other things you might want to bring will range drastically depending on the situation. It can be anything ranging from a crowbar, to a lock picking kit, to Potassium Iodide (anti-radiation medicine), to teddy bears. Other common items would be a folding shovel, plastic bags, candles, sewing kit, playing cards, etc.


You have to adapt your gear based on your needs. Several factors will influence what you need to bring that is essential FOR YOU

  1. How many people are you bugging out with?
  2. Any children? Babies? Elderly people?
  3. Are you bringing any pets with you?
  4. What is the emergency?
  5. What climate are you in?
  6. Reasonably, for how many days will you need to be self-sufficient?


So there you go! I hope this will be marginally helpful to get you started on your very own bug out bag.

Remember that preparation is as physical and material as it is mental. Read up on survival skills. Try your gear. Try to stay as healthy as possible. Most of all, remember that you are getting ready just in case, try not to fall into doom and gloom as you get ready.

If you want more prepping info, I highly recommend that you check out Primal Survivor it’s a wealth of resources and information!

On that note, good luck with your preparations and until next time,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.