Ideally you would have several bags ready at all times – in different locations or with different supplies – but each should be able to sustain you on it's own, in case that's the only one you can reach in an emergency. Take these tips into account when you're building each bag to make sure that you truly are prepared for anything.
14 brilliant bug out bag packing tips
Before you’re ready for the list of what goes into a bug out bag, you need to consider these bug out bag packing tips. These are just a quick overview of things to keep in mind.
Don’t pack more than what you’ll need.
When you’ve made your list of what you need, go through it and start getting rid of things. A bob bag should hold essentials, not your whole life. You won’t be able to carry 80 pounds of gear very far, and even if you do, you won’t be very fast.
Make your list, then prune it. Then prune it again. This is important. Whatever you’ve packed, you’ve probably packed too much.
Leave some room.
You’re going to run across things while you’re out prepping and even once SHTF and if you don’t have room for it, you’ll have to either pass it up or dump something important. Leave some room for those items.
Survival also depends on capitalizing on opportunities. Your bug out backpack needs to fit things that you find along the way or have to replace if they break. You may need to be moving through an area and pick up tinder or kindling to take to another area because it’s not always easy to find in a survival situation. If you don’t have room in your pack, you’ll be carrying it in your hands.
This isn’t like luggage where you can hand it off to someone; you’ll have to carry it or wear it unless you have some kind of container for it that you’re wearing on your back.
Rotate your stock.
Rotate your survival and/or prepping food, vitamins, and medicine. This goes the same for what you keep at home too. Don’t pack a cellar full of food and lock it up. You should be going through it along with your fridge food.
Keep track of what you have and when you need to replace it. You don’t want to wait until SHTF to find out your food’s gone rotten or your meds are expired.
Having a set system of tracking what you have and how you eat/replace it regularly will help keep confusion at bay. Consider keeping track of how you trade out food written down somewhere that everyone can access it so wires don't ever get crossed.
Things cost more than they seem.
An important tenet to camping and survivalism is that everything has an opportunity cost associated with it. You only have so much room in your bug out bag, can only carry so much weight, and have only so much money.
Choosing one thing means you’ve lost the opportunity to choose something else. Choose wisely and learn to prioritize by making a list and a bug out plan. You can’t have it all; where would you put it?
A $4 flashlight you have in your pocket is worth more than the $600 Surefire you left at home. I have several flashlights of all different sizes, power and colors but the one I use far and beyond more than the others is the little Surefire E1L that I keep in my pocket. I’ve had it in Iraq, several countries in Africa, Thailand, and Afghanistan. It’s an awesome little light. Always bring a backup. the 7 watt, 300 lumin Cree light takes AA batteries and is freaking super bright and indestructible.
You should have some kind of shelter with you. A lot of people just bring a tarp and a hammock but ultralight tent technology has improved greatly and prices have come down. An ultralight backpacking tent may make more sense – and be a LOT more comfortable.
What you put in your bag shouldn't just be based on what it does, but how well it does its job. This is one way the Internet is your best friend – find reviews, example videos, or tutorials, and make hour decisions on brand and product type from the advice you find there.
Overlap your capabilities.
You need to have duplicates of what you put into your different bags from each category but they don’t have to be exact duplicates. You may only have time to grab one bag so make sure your bases are covered.
You don’t want to be stuck because your firestarting kit is in another bug out bag and you don’t want to have only way to do things by packing the same thing in every bag. You also don’t want your backup to be another lighter if lighters aren’t working due to weather, etc.
Choosing things that can perform more than one function can also help make sure you have overlap in capabilities without having to add equipment.
What are the most important pieces of your bug out bag? How do your different bags compare to one another?