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Survival essentials: A list of must-have items for your bug-out bag
By Zoey Sky // Jun 20, 2023

When preparing for emergency scenarios, one of the most important things you must do is to pack bug-out bags (BOBs) for yourself and your family.

If you're overwhelmed, making a list of supplies and tools for your bag can help you stay organized as you get things ready before disaster strikes. (h/t to PreppersSurvive.com)

It's best to prepare your BOBs ahead of time so you can run to where your bags are stored and grab them quickly before you evacuate when SHTF.

Don't wait until it's too late. There are accounts of tornado warning times of 13 minutes, 15 minutes for wildfires and 20 minutes for tsunamis.

This is barely enough time to gather your family in your car and drive away from an oncoming disaster. There is more warning time with hurricanes, but they can quickly turn direction and devastate nearby areas with flash floods and power outages, leaving you with little to no time to gather supplies. So make sure your BOBs are already packed and good to go before SHTF.


Your bag preference may depend on how many items you want to bring and how much weight you can carry.

  • Backpack
  • Duffle bag
  • Suitcase

Food and water

You need enough food to last for a minimum of three days. For heat resistance and durability, invest in sturdy metal cooking utensils and cookware.

The human body can go without water for at least 72 hours, but it can go without food for about three weeks. This means clean drinking water is important to have in your bug-out bag. Pack at least three liters of drinking water per person. Experts recommend having at least a minimum of one liter per day, per person.

If you're worried about running out of clean water, make sure you have at least one mini water filter in your bug-out bag for water filtration. Mini water filters are compact and lightweight and filter out 99.9 percent of bacteria and other harmful microbes from water that you could otherwise not drink without boiling or treating in other ways.

Here are some other things you need to pack:

  • Personal daily rations, enough for at least three days
  • Camping cook set, utensils and scrubbing pad
  • Collapsible water bottle, metal water bottle or water canteen
  • Water purification tablets

Light and warmth

When preparing your tools for light and fire starting, it's best to have backups. This ensures that if one method fails or if you lose your gear, you'll still have another to fall back on.

The items listed below have multiple uses, but they all serve the same purpose: help you see what you're doing or find where you're going.

  • Batteries
  • Ferro rod
  • Flares
  • Flashlight with extra batteries or solar/hand-crank light
  • Glow sticks
  • Hand or foot warmers
  • LED headlamp
  • Lighters
  • Light glowstick
  • Matchsticks
  • Mini LED keychain
  • Mini LED light
  • Sleeping bag
  • Solar lantern/charger
  • Tea candles
  • Tent
  • Tinder
  • Waterproof container for your fire starting tools

Having different fire starting tools is also important if you think you will have to bug out when SHTF. With lighters or matchsticks on hand, you can start a fire so you can cook and stay warm at night.


Choosing clothing for your BOBs will depend on each family member's body type, tolerances and level of fitness.

The items listed below can be strategically layered to maintain a healthy body temperature at all times.

Your clothes selection will also depend on your location, climate and other factors. Regularly check your BOB every season and prepare a seasonal selection of clothes that you can swap out as needed.

Bringing at least two changes of clothes ensures you always have a dry set to wear. Wearing wet clothes when bugging out isn't just uncomfortable, it can also result in hypothermia, a survival concern that must not be taken lightly.

Here are some clothing items to consider packing:

  • Belt
  • Convertible (zip-off) pants
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Lightweight long-sleeved shirt (must be made of poly fabric, not cotton)
  • Medium-weight fleece jacket
  • Merino wool hiking socks (at least three pairs)
  • Poncho
  • Rain poncho
  • Shemagh, bandana or scarf
  • Underwear
  • Working gloves


Communication is another highly debated category among preppers.

When prepping your BOB, it's better to keep things simple. If the bug-out scenario allows for their use, you will be glad to have these items with you. (Related: Bug out survival planning: How to get out of the city after SHTF.)

Use the acronym "PACE" to recall the following: primary, alternate, contingency and emergency

  • Primary – Cellphone
  • Alternate – Wi-Fi/tablet
  • Contingency – Ham radio with an operator license
  • Emergency – Hand-crank power charger with signal lights

Other items for your comms list:

  • Pen/pencil and notepad
  • Radio and a list of radio stations
  • Stamps and postcards
  • Whistle


You should also include copies of these important documents in your BOBs:

  • Birth certificate
  • Drivers license
  • Emergency contact list of family and friends
  • Marriage certificate
  • Picture of family members

First aid

When prepping a first aid kit for your BOB, it's best to pack a kit yourself instead of buying a ready-made kit because this allows you to bring items you know you'll need when SHTF.

Add items as needed, like prescription medication for existing health issues like diabetes or hypertension.

  • Allergy medicine
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bloodstop hemostatic gauze
  • Burn cream
  • Eye drops
  • Insect repellant
  • Large, medium and small bandages
  • Lip balm
  • Medication/vitamins
  • Moleskin
  • Mylar survival blanket
  • Nail clippers
  • Surgical gloves
  • Thermometer
  • Trauma kit
  • Tweezers


Use these items to maintain proper hygiene when bugging out after an emergency:

  • All-purpose camping soap
  • Brush or comb
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hair ties
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hand shovel
  • Hygiene/signal mirror
  • Lotion
  • Small bar of soap
  • Small towel
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Travel toilet paper, at least two
  • Washcloth
  • Wet napkins


If you still have space in your BOB, consider including some of these useful items with various survival uses:

  • Black garbage bags
  • Compass
  • Duct tape
  • Fishing kit
  • Inventory list of everything in your BOB
  • Map
  • Paracord
  • Pepper spray
  • Pocket knife/razor blade
  • Stress relievers for children and adults (e.g., their favorite books, games, a puzzle book or toys)

Before disaster strikes, make a list of various items for your bug-out bag and prepare one for each family member. Make sure you have enough supplies to last each person at least three days.

Visit Preparedness.news for more tips on how to prepare your bug-out bag before SHTF.

Watch the video below for other items you can include in your bug-out bag or survival kit.

This video is from the Daily Videos channel on Brighteon.com.

More related stories:

Bug out survival planning: Prepping a bug-out bag in less than an hour.

5 Survival essentials for your bug-out vehicle.

Prep With Mike: Bugging out is better than staying in an apartment during a collapse.

Sources include:




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