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10+ Essentials That Should Be in Every Bug Out Bag

The bug out bag is a survival kit (or simply emergency kit) that contains the items one would require to survive for seventy two hours on their own. It can be easy to forget these essential items when you need them the most so make sure to start packing now!

In this article, we’ll cover what should be in well-stocked bug out bags as well as how long it will last if you have those 10 essentials with you. We’ll also go over some of the other things that are important for your safety and comfort during an emergency situation.

What Should Be in Your Bug Out Bag and Why

The bug out bag is a survival kit that contains the items one would require to survive for seventy two hours on their own.

It can be easy to forget these essential items during a survival situation or disaster preparedness scenario when you need them the most so make sure to start packing now!

Bug Out Bag Essentials

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Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)

Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System, Single, Blue

Water is one of the most important items you can pack in your bug out bag. Not only is it essential for drinking and sanitation, but it’s also a valuable resource for keeping yourself hydrated. In hot weather, you can lose up to two liters of water per hour, so it’s important to have plenty of water (or shelf stable drinks like Gatorade) on hand.

A gallon per person per day should be enough to last several days. Make sure the water bottle or hydration bladder can withstand long-term storage. Additionally, you can look into portable water purification tools like the Sawyer Mini water filter or traditional purification tablets.

Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)

Mountain House Adventure Weekender Kit | Freeze Dried Camping & Backpacking Food | 12 Servings

Non-perishable food is essential for a bug out bag because it doesn’t require refrigeration and it can last for a long time. This type of food is perfect for emergency situations because you never know when you’ll be without access to food or water. It’s important to pack a variety of different non-perishable foods in your bug out bag so that you have a variety of options to choose from. Some of our favorite non-perishable foods include:

Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio

1200mAh Emergency Weather Radio, 3LED Hand Crank Solar Battery Operated Wind Up Radio Flashlight, NOAA AM FM Portable Radio Cell Phone Charger Survival Kit (Red)

A battery-powered or hand crank radio will be a valuable tool for staying informed on what’s going on during a disaster. It can also be used for emergency broadcasting and as a way of listening to important emergency alerts. A NOAA Weather Radio is also necessary because it provides detailed weather forecasts and warnings, which is essential for knowing what you’ll need to prepare for in case of an emergency (such as heavy winds).

Flashlight

Energizer TAC 1000 LED Tactical Flashlight, Heavy Duty Bright Flashlight for Emergencies and Camping Gear, Water Resistant Flashlight, Batteries Included, Pack of 1, Black

A flashlight is an essential item for your bug out bag because it can be used for a variety of purposes. It can help you see in the dark, it can be used as a signaling device, and it can even be used as a weapon if needed. Having a flashlight with you during an emergency situation can be incredibly helpful, so make sure to pack one in your bug out bag! Any flashlight is better than none. A tactical flashlight can be useful, but also note the weight and how much electricity any given model uses.

First Aid Kit

Be Smart Get Prepared 100 Piece First Aid Kit: Clean, Treat, Protect Minor Cuts, Scrapes. Home, Office, Car, School, Business, Travel, Emergency, Survival, Hunting, Outdoor, Camping & Sports

A first aid kit is an essential item for your bug out bag because it can be used as a signaling device, as well as providing relief from minor injuries. A first aid kit will also be helpful if you happen to get into an automobile accident. It’s important to pack a variety of different items that provide relief from different types of pains. This is why it’s important to include the following in your first aid kit:

  • Antihistamines for allergies
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Pain relievers
  • Aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Bandages
  • Gauze pads
  • Elastic bandages
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic wipes/powders

Extra Batteries

Duracell - CopperTop AA Alkaline Batteries - Long Lasting, All-Purpose Double A battery for Household and Business - 16 Count

Extra batteries are essential for a bug out bag because they can be used to power a variety of devices. This is important during an emergency situation when you may not have access to electricity. Some of the devices that require batteries include:

  • Flashlight
  • Radio
  • Lantern
  • Headlamp

Whistle

LuxoGear Emergency Whistles with Lanyard Safety Whistle Survival Shrill Loud Blast for Kayak Life Vest Jacket Boating Fishing Boat Camping Hiking Hunting Rescue Signaling Kids Lifeguard Plastic 2 Pack

A whistle is an essential item for a bug out bag because it can be used as a signaling device. It can also be used to attract the attention of rescue workers or other people in the area. Whistles are a great way to get someone’s attention without having to shout, which can be helpful if there’s a lot of noise or if you’re in an emergency situation and need to conserve your energy. Make sure to pack a whistle in your bug out bag!

Dust Mask

Honeywell Nuisance Disposable Dust Mask, Box of 50 (RWS-54001)

A dust mask is a must-have for any bug out bag because it can help protect you from harmful viruses or bacteria. In an emergency, there’s a chance you’ll have to evacuate quickly and your home will be filled with dust and dirt – this is when a dust mask can come in handy.

A typical dust mask will have three layers: the inner layer soaks up moisture from the air, the middle layer provides a barrier between your mouth and nose as far as where allergens are collected but doesn’t interfere with breathing, and the outer layer which helps block particles in the air that could put you at risk of allergy or disease.

Plastic sheeting & Duct Tape

Frost King P1250R Super Strength High Density Drop Cloths, 12' x 50' x 1.5 mil, Clear

Plastic sheeting and duct tape are essential for a bug out bag because they can be used for a variety of purposes.

EdenProducts Duct Tape Heavy Duty Waterproof Bulk 5 Pack, Strong Industrial Max Strength Gray Tape Multi Roll Pack, Silver 30 Yards x 2 Inches, Indoor & Outdoor Use, No Residue, Tear by Hand

Plastic sheeting can be used to create a makeshift shelter, while duct tape can be used to repair broken items or create a watertight seal. Having these items in your bug out bag can be incredibly helpful if you need to make quick repairs or build a shelter during an emergency.

Moist Towelettes, Garbage Bags & Plastic Ties

Every bug out bag should also include items like moist towelettes, plastic garbage bags, and plastic ties. These items are important for a number of reasons:

Moist towelettes can be used as an alternative to paper towels or wet wipes, which may not always be available during an emergency situation. They’re very easy to use because you can simply wipe them across your face or hands.

Fresh Nap Moist Towelette 100 Ct.

Plastic garbage bags are useful because they can be used as makeshift rain ponchos, but they can also serve as tarps so you don’t have to carry around multiple bulky tarps with you. The ties on the other hand are helpful because they give you the opportunity to tie up any loose ends that can be a distraction or an annoyance.

Amazon Basics Multipurpose Drawstring Trash Bags, 30 Gallon, 50 Count

Moist towelettes, plastic garbage bags and ties are all compact so you don’t have to worry about carrying bulky items with you. These three items can be put together in one small package which makes them very easy to pack for your bug out bag.

Cable Matters 200-Pack Indoor and Outdoor 6, 8,12-Inch Self-Locking Nylon Zip Ties Assorted Sizes (Tie Wraps, Cable Ties, Zipties) in Black and White

Wrench or Pliers (to turn off utilities)

CRAFTSMAN Adjustable Wrench, 6-Inch (CMMT81621)

A wrench or pliers will be helpful in an emergency situation and can be used to turn off utilities in your home. You may need to evacuate your home and it’s essential for you to shut off the water and gas so there’s no risk of any accidents. It’s also important to shut off the electricity so you don’t have any accidental fires in your home when you’re not there.

Manual Can Opener (for food)

KitchenAid Classic Multifunction Can Opener / Bottle Opener, 8.34-Inch, Black

A manual can opener is a must-have for any bug out bag because it can be used to open canned food. During an emergency, you may not have access to electricity or a can opener, so it’s important to have a manual can opener with you. This way, you’ll be able to eat canned food even if there’s a power outage or if you’re unable to cook anything.

Local Maps

DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer: Florida

Whether you live in Florida, Alaska, California, or Connecticut – you need to know the roads & cities around you. Local maps are also very important for any bug out bag because they can help you find your way to safety. If you’re not familiar with the area where you live, having these maps is essential because they’ll help you find safe places to seek refuge or water sources. It’s important that you always carry local maps with you during an emergency situation so you’ll know what your surroundings look like and how to get away from any danger.

It’s also a good idea to include a compass in your bug out bag because this will help lead the way when there’s limited visibility. If there’s a power outage, a compass will be able to provide direction so it’s easier for you to find safety.

Cell Phone with Chargers & Backup Battery

Anker Portable Charger, 313 Power Bank (PowerCore Slim 10K) 10000mAh Battery Pack with High-Speed PowerIQ Charging Technology and USB-C (Input Only) for iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and More

A cell phone is an important item to have in your bug out bag because it can be used to contact emergency services and to communicate with people who may also need help. It’s also a good idea to include chargers and backup batteries in your bug out bag so you’ll always have the ability to recharge your phone if it runs out of batteries.

Bonus Bug Out Essentials That Are Also Important

Now, there are the 10+ Essentials, but there are a few things, especially if you have a family or medical conditions.

Masks & Sanitation Supplies

PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel, Clean Scent, 2-Liter Pump Bottle (Pack of 1) – 9625-04

Masks and sanitation supplies are important for a bug out bag because they can help you stay safe and healthy during an emergency. Masks can protect you from harmful airborne particles, while sanitation supplies can help you cleanse your hands and surfaces to prevent the spread of germs.

Soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes are all essential items to have in your bug out bag because they can help you stay clean and free of infection. These items are ideal for any situation where there’s a risk of exposure to harmful bacteria or viruses.

Prescription (& Non-Prescription) Medications

EZY DOSE Push Button (7-Day) Pill, Medicine, Vitamin Organizer | Weekly, 2 Times a Day, AM/PM | Large Compartments | Arthritis Friendly | Clear Lids

Prescription medications are very important in any emergency situation because they can help with pain relief, aid sleep, suppress coughing and relieve gas. It’s essential to pack prescription medications in your bug out bag because you may need them in order to manage serious medical conditions like diabetes or asthma.

Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife, Red ,58mm

A knife is an essential part of any survival kit because it can be used for things like hunting food or self-defense when necessary. The blade on the knife should measure between 5-12 inches long so it can effectively handle all sorts of tasks, making this one of the most important items for your bug out bag. A survival knife model can be useful, but, like flashlights, be sure to consider weight and storage when selecting your ideal model.

Prescription Eyeglasses & Contact Lens Solution

Clear Care Plus Cleaning Solution with Lens Case, Twin Pack, Multi, 12 Oz, Pack of 2

If you wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, it’s important to include them in your bug out bag. This way, you’ll be able to see properly even if there’s a power outage or if you’re in a hazardous environment. It’s also important to pack contact lens solution in your bug out bag so you can clean and store your contact lenses while you’re away from home.

Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream

Baby Diapers Size 1, 198 Ct, Huggies Little Snugglers

In an emergency situation, it’s always best to have the basic necessities with you at all times. For families with young children, these basic necessities should include a supply of infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream. It’s important to pack these items in your bug out bag because they’ll help make sure that the babies are properly fed and clean while you’re away from home.

Pet food and extra water for your pet

PEDIGREE Choice Cuts in Gravy Adult Soft Wet Meaty Dog Food Variety Pack, (24) 3.5 Oz. Pouches

If you have a pet, it’s important to pack food and water for them in your bug out bag. This way, you’ll be able to keep them fed and hydrated during an emergency situation. Pets can become dehydrated very quickly, so it’s important to have plenty of water available for them. The food that you pack for your pet should be high in protein and provide all the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Cash

RFID Blocking Travel Wallet - Money Belt & Passport Holder, Waist Pack for Women Men - Black

Cash is an essential item for a bug out bag because it can be used to purchase essential items like food, water and clothing. In an emergency situation, it may be difficult to access banks, credit card networks or ATMs, so it’s important to have cash on hand. You never know what kind of prices merchants will be asking for essential items in an emergency, so it’s always best to have some cash on hand.

Important family documents

Fireproof File Folder Fireproof Fire and Water Resistant Money Document Bag with A4 Size 13 Pockets Zipper Closure Non-Itchy Silicone Coated Portable Filing Organizer Pouch(14.3" x 9.8")

In any emergency situation, it’s important to have access to your important family documents. This way, you’ll be able to easily access your insurance policies, identification and bank account records. If you lose these documents or they get damaged, it can be difficult to get the help you need from the authorities or financial institutions.

That’s why it’s essential to pack copies of your important family documents in your bug out bag inside their own waterproof bag. This way, you’ll always have them with you when you need them the most.

Sleeping bag or emergency blanket for each person

Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets + Bonus Gold Foil Space Blanket. Designed for NASA, Outdoors, Survival, First Aid, Army Green, 4 Pack

A sleeping bag or warm blanket is essential for a bug out bag because it can help you stay warm and comfortable in an emergency situation. If you’re forced to spend the night outdoors, a sleeping bag or warm blanket will keep you warm and help you get a good night’s sleep. In addition, a sleeping bag or warm blanket can also be used as a makeshift shelter in an emergency situation.

Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes

Amazon Basics Premium Garment Bag

A complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes is an essential for a bug-out bag because it can help you stay warm and comfortable. In addition, if you’re forced to spend the night outdoors in an emergency situation, a complete change of clothing and sturdy shoes may be used as shelter and protection against harsh weather conditions.

Matches in a waterproof container

UCO Match Case

Matches in a waterproof container is essential for a bug out bag because it can be used as an excellent fire starter. A fire can provide warmth, cooking abilities and protection from wild animals. In addition, if you’re lost or stranded, a fire can help you signal for help if you don’t have a glow stick. Waterproof matches are a bit more expensive, but will also work.

Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

Amazon Basics Feminine Hygiene Wipes, Alcohol Free, pH Balanced, Fresh Scent, 4 Packs, 42 Wipes per Pack (168 Wipes Total)

Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items are essential for a bug out bag because they can help ensure that you stay clean and healthy. Feminine hygiene products like tampons, pads, etc. should be packed in your bag to help prevent irritating rashes during an emergency. Personal hygiene products like deodorant, body wash, soap, shampoo, toothpaste etc. should also be packed in your bag to make sure that you stay fresh and clean while on the road.

Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils

UCO 6-Piece Camping Mess Kit with Bowl, Plate, Camp Cup, and Switch Spork Utensil Set

Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils are are not the highest survival essentials, but we list them for a family bug out bag because they can help you stay organized and clean. If you’re forced to spend the night outdoors in an emergency situation or evacuation, these items will help you cook food, eat and drink without making a mess. In addition, if you’re lost or stranded, these items can be used to create a makeshift shelter and kitchen.

Paper and pencil

Waterproof Shower Notepad with Pencil - Shower Notebook with Waterproof Paper

Paper and pencil is a survival priority for a bug out bag because it can be used to write down important information. If you’re lost or stranded, paper and pencil can be used to create a map of your surroundings. In addition, paper and pencil can also be used to write down important phone numbers and contact information.

Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Shotgun! - The Hilarious Family Card Game for Road Trips - by What Do You Meme? Family

Books, games, puzzles and other activities are a good way to keep your child happy while you’re on the go. This may be hard if you’re in an emergency situation. So make sure that you have some of these items with you so your child can stay entertained and not get bored.

Other Bug Out Bag Essential Tips

Here are a few bug out bag tips that we’ve picked up from ready.gov and experience with survival supplies.

  • Pack more clothes than you think you will need
  • Avoid bright or dark colors that might draw attention
  • Zip up all your belongings in travel bags for easy carrying, especially shoes and jackets that are bulky to pack
  • Make sure to have a month’s worth of any prescription medication with you just in case the situation gets worse.
  • Make sure to have enough food and water for everyone in your party
  • Don’t forget your pets! Make sure to pack a week’s worth of food and extra water
  • Keep all of your bug out bag essentials in one place so that they are easy to find immediately when you need them the most
  • Label each person’s kit with their name so that you can keep track of who’s items are whose
  • Make sure to keep your bug out bag where you can quickly grab it if need be. Keep it in a spot that is easily accessible but not too close to the front door where intruders might see it
  • Check every survival tool in your bug out bag at least once a year or more often if your kit is stored in a damp area
  • Always stay updated on the latest disaster & emergency preparedness as they can change as time goes on and as new products become available.
  • Keep up to date with the current events so that you know when to prepare for an emergency or natural disaster
  • Get your family and friends involved in preparing for natural disasters by inviting them to join you on your next trip to the store to pick up some new home bag essentials.
  • Practice bugging out at least once a year so that everyone knows what they are doing if there is ever an emergency. This could help save lives.
  • Remember that it’s extremely important to keep a positive, can-do attitude when going through disasters. Never give up and always try your best!

Bug Out Bag Checklist & Next Steps

It’s important to make sure you pack the right survival gear in your bug out bag. From water, food and emergency supplies like a flashlight or fire extinguisher, it’s easy for people to forget what they need most when an emergency situation occurs. We’ve compiled this list of 10 essentials that should be in every bug out bag so you’re prepared no matter where life takes you.

Remember, the perfect bug out bag is the one that you actually pack and maintain. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Any preparation is better than none when disaster strikes. Be sure to explore more on Ready.gov! And check out our post on a car-specific emergency kit.