Bug Out Bag (BOB) Guide, Gear List, and Checklist
This is a dynamic bug out bag guide curated by all of our authors for preppers both new and experienced. It is constantly being updated with up-to-date and accurate information, so please check back frequently for updates.
When you need to evacuate your home you won’t have much time. Hopefully, you’ve planned for this exact situation and have a bug out bag for each family member to grab and go.
If not, you’ve found the right place. We’ve cultivated the most comprehensive bug out bag guide on the web to get you ready to survive whatever is thrown your way. With gear suggestions fitting any budget, in-depth reviews and comparisons for all survival gear we suggest, and downloadable or printable checklists- we have your bug out bag covered.
Contents (Jump to a Section)
What is a Bug Out Bag?
Bug out bags, also known as 72-hour bags or Go bags, are used to bug out (relocate) from your home. Survival tools, food, and water are the cornerstones of these kits that are designed to sustain you as you execute your emergency plan.
They are individual kits, meaning that even in a family, you spread food and water storage across each person’s bug out bag rather than storing it all in one or two large kits. There are many varieties and variations of bug out bags – but they all are built with survival on the go in mind.
Bug Out Bag Essentials
These are the essential items that most experts agree are needed in a bug out bag. Further down in this guide we list out what we suggest but do not consider essential. Those items are good for specific situations, but the following gear is needed as a bare minimum:
The Bug Out Bag:
The bag itself needs to hold all of the essential gear and any other survival gear you deem necessary. Weight and volume can become an issue with smaller bags, plus you will want to pack your bag like a professional backpacker.
- Backpack: TETON Sports Scout 3400 Backpack (See why this is the best and view other backpack options)
Safety BOB Essentials:
Self-defense is always a high priority, and that priority is easily supported as crime historically increases drastically during widespread disasters. Even during non-emergencies, security, and self-protection consistently shows up as the top focus of most risk analysis.
- Survival Knife: ESEE Izula Fixed Blade Knife (See why this is the best survival knife)
- Bushcraft Knife: Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Knife (See why this is the best bushcraft knife)
- Handgun: The preferred CCW that you are trained on (see ours here)
- CCW Holster: Alien Gear Concealed Carry Holsters – Get a holster in the profile you want from the best brand.
- Ammunition: PSA Ammo Deals – Get ammo for your CCW at huge discounts.
Fire & Light BOB Essentials:
As you don’t want to be rendered useless for half of the day while it is dark, having light sources available and the ability to create fire are both important. Besides seeing, you’ll need fire sources to stay warm, cook food, and purify water.
- Flashlight: GearLight S1000 LED Flashlight (See why this is our favorite flashlight)
- Headlamp: Vont Spark LED Headlamp (See why this is our favorite headlamp)
- Lighter: Ronson Jetlite (See why this is our favorite lighter)
- Waterproof Matches: UCO Stormproof Match Kit (See why these matches are the best)
Water BOB Essentials:
- Steel Water Bottle: Nalgene Stainless 38oz (See why this is the best survival water bottle)
- Purification Tablets: Potable Aqua (See why this is our favorite tablet)
- Water Filter: Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System (See why this is our highest reviewed survival water filter)
Food BOB Essentials:
- Ration Bars: Millennium Bars (See why this is the best survival food bar)
- Meals, Ready to Eat (MRE): US Military MRE
Communication BOB Essentials:
- Emergency Radio/Light/Charger: NOAA Solar Crank Radio (See why this is the best emergency radio)
- Survival Mirror: Survival Signal Mirror (See why this is the best signal mirror)
- Spare Cell Phone Charger: Make sure it works with your main cell phone
Shelter & Clothing BOB Essentials:
- Work Gloves: Mechanix Wear Covert Gloves (See why these are the highest reviewed survival gloves)
- Waterproof Tarp: AquaQuest Defender Tarp – Tarps are essential for making impromptu shelters quickly (see why this is the best bug out bag tarp)
- Survival Bivy: Life Bivy Sleeping Bag – Camping sleeping bags are more comfortable, but a survival bivvy will always get the job done. (See why this is the best-reviewed bivy)
- Socks: Darn Tough Light Hiker (See why these are the best survival socks)
- Long Sleeve Shirt: Carhartt Midweight Crew (See why this is the best survival shirt)
- Underwear: Some clean ones. Roll these up with the socks and shirt into a skivvy roll to compress and organize.
- Pants: TRU-SPEC Tactical Pants (See why these are our best budget pants)
- Survival Blanket: Arcturus Survival Blanket (See why this is the best survival blanket)
Hygiene & First Aid BOB Essentials:
- Basic First Aid Kit: 299 Pc First Aid Kit
- Prescription Medication: Don’t get caught without your meds! Pack them securely in an airtight, watertight container.
- Toothbrush: Travel Toothbrush
- Toothpaste: Colgate Travel Toothpaste
- Soap: Campsuds
- Feminine Supplies: Feminine hygiene supplies may make sense to store in your BOB, even if you are a male.
- N-95 Masks: 3M N-95 Masks (mask shortages are over, so get the real deal)
- Nitrile Gloves: Venom Steel Nitrile Gloves – protect your hands from contamination with the most durable nitrile gloves we’ve reviewed.
Documents & Navigation BOB Essentials:
- Rainproof Pen: Rite in the Rain EDC Pen – take notes in any conditions (see why this is the best survival pen)
- Rainproof Notebook: Rite in the Rain Notebook
- Copy of ID: Quickly prove your identity
- Emergency Plan: Print a copy of your TruePrepper Basic Emergency Plan
- Compass: Brunton TruArc Compass – navigate and plot your maps. (See why this is the best survival compass)
- Local Maps: Print copies of local maps. Here’s how you download them for free.
Miscellaneous BOB Essentials:
- Multitool: Leatherman Signal – Designed for survival, it is no wonder it topped the competition in our multitool review roundup.
- Paracord: TOUGH-GRID Paracord (See why this is our preferred paracord)
- Duct Tape: Gorilla Tape 35 Yard Roll (See why this is the best duct tape for survival)
- Cash Stash: Stash some money in your bug out bag.
Suggested Additions for Your Bug Out Bag
This gear may not be essential by definition, but adding any of these to your bug out bag will improve your bag’s versatility for even more situations.
- Bandana: Colter Co. Reflective Bandana (See why this is the best survival bandana)
- Poncho: Arcturus Rain Poncho – Staying dry is important during an emergency. (See why this is the best survival poncho)
- Tent: Pick a size big enough for your family but not too big to carry.
- Boonie Hat: Rothco Boonie Hat (See why this is the best boonie hat for survival)
- Jacket: Helikon-Tex Pilgrim Anorak – A super durable shell for a wide range of conditions (See why we recommend this in our survival jacket review).
- Boots/Shoes: Sturdy hiking shoes or boots.
- Power Bank: Portable battery packs have come way down in cost and are very versatile.
- Signal Flares: Orion Safety Flare Gun – Individual flares are relatively light and pack a punch when you need to signal. (This is our top pick from our emergency flare review)
- Whistle: SOL Slim Rescue Howler – Whistles make getting attention easy (See why this whistle is the best in a close race).
- Canteen with Cup: Rothco Canteen
- Water: If you have weight to spare, fill water containers or bring bagged water.
- Pepper Spray: Sabre 3-in-1 Pepper Spray – A great non-lethal weapon for personal protection. (See how this tested as the best pepper spray)
- Batteries: Tenergy Premium Pro Rechargeable Batteries – Stocking up on standard batteries is smart, but rechargeables are clutch for emergencies and survival. (See why these ones tested as the best rechargeable batteries for disasters and survival)
- Sewing Kit: Singer Survival Sew Kit – Repairing textiles and other gear can extend their useful life. (See why this is our favorite survival sewing kit)
- Folding Saw: Bahco Laplander – cut away debris or make a wilderness shelter (See why this is the best survival saw)
- Garbage Bags: Glad FlexForcePlus– Use them for trash, or plenty of other survival uses with these unique double-walled flexible bags. (See why these are the best trash bags)
- Super Glue: Gorilla Super Glue Gel – For when you want something to stay and never move again. (See why this is the best super glue)
- Zip Ties: Gardner Bender HD Zip Ties (See how these tested as the best survival zip ties)
- Military Can Opener: P-51 Shelby Opener (See why this is the best portable can opener)
- Camp Stove: MSR PocketRocket 2 – A trusty camp stove will give you yet another option to quickly prepare meals. (See why this is the best survival stove)
- Steel Pot: MalloMe Mess Kit
- Ferro Rod: Bayite 6″ Ferrocerium Rod (see why this is our favorite ferro rod)
- Tinder/Fatwood: TinderQuik – start fires easier (check out the other best tinder and fatwood we tested)
- Tea Candles: Stonebriar Tea Candles (see why these are the best emergency candles)– At 7 cents each, a few of these in the bug out bag don’t hurt.
- Copy of Birth Certificate: An important document.
- Copy of Passport: This can be more important with border access.
- GPS Watch: Garmin Instinct 2– pick your favorite GPS watch (see why this is our best-reviewed survival watch).
- Ranger Beads: Matte Ranger Beads – Teach yourself to pace count with ranger beads. (See why these beat the other ranger beads)
- Playing Cards: Wilderness Survival Cards – Don’t forget the importance of entertainment and games. These cards are our favorite from our survival card review.
- Sun Screen: Your favorite brand with high SPF.
- Bug Spray: Repel 100 (see why science says this is the best repellent)
- Hand Sanitizer: During a pandemic, this is an essential EDC item.
- Portable Bidet: Brondell Travel Bidet
- Anti-diarrheal Tabs: Imodium Loperamide Hydrochloride
Extra Supplies for a Bug Out Bag
Essentials and suggested additions have been covered, so this is the area will you will find everything else that could be useful for your bug out bag. These extra supplies will help you in very specific situations, are less versatile, and may take up a lot of space. Even still, they could be the difference makers in an emergency- so it could pay off to consider adding these.
- HAM Radio: Baofeng UV-5R5
- CB Radio: Uniden PRO401HH – HAM may get all the attention, but CB can be an alternative choice that doesn’t require a license.
- Takedown Rifle: A 10/22 is an excellent choice for a collapsible, versatile rifle.
- Gun Cleaning Kit: Universal Gun Cleaning Kit – take care of your weapons.
- Pocket Sharpener: Fallkniven DC3 – Small but effective diamond sharpener (check out our other option in our sharpener roundup)
- Ammo Pouch: Accessible ammo can be a priority depending on your situation.
- Machete: CRKT Halfachance Parang
- Axe/Hatchet: Estwing Camper’s Axe These will help you get firewood and get through walls, in extreme cases. (see why this is the best survival axe)
- Quick Dry Cloth: Swedish Sponge Cloth
- Long Underwear: Carhartt Thermal Pant
- Sunglasses: Whether driving or just outside, sunglasses come in handy.
- Sleeping Mat/Ground Pad: Mountaineering Foam Mat
- Scarf/Shemaugh: Free Soldier Shemagh – Stay covered in any environment (here are the best-reviewed shemaghs)
- Rainproof Shell: Waterproof Backpack Cover
- Ball Cap: Condor Tactical Cap (see why this is the best-reviewed tactical ball cap)
- Compressed Towels: Lightload Towels (see why these are the best EDC towels)
- Handwarmers: HotHands
- Tent Stakes: 7″ Aluminum Stakes
- Electrolyte Mix: Liquid IV Hydration Powder – Stress and hard work getting through a disaster can quickly dehydrate anyone. Combat this with an electrolyte mix.
- Bleach: Use for hygiene, sanitization, water treatment, and other sterilization uses.
- Coffee: The little routines in an emergency can help, especially if we have a developed dependency on them! The caffeine in coffee can be helpful if you need to stay awake for any reason.
- Prybar: Spec Ops D10CLAW
- Binoculars: Bushnell Waterproof/Fogproof 10X Binoculars
- Gold: Gold CombiBar – money that you can hold is still worthwhile even when the main currency crashes. (see why this is the best gold for preppers)
- Silver: Silver CombiBar – smaller denominations for better payment/barter flexibility (see why this is the best silver for preppers)
- Hacksaw: Lennox Mini Hacksaw
- Zip Lock Bags: Lightweight storage is never a bad idea.
- Waterproof Bag: Earth Pak Dry Bag
- Pliers: Adjustable wrench pliers
- Dish Soap: A little bit of dish soap in a small water-tight container.
- Rope: There are plenty of other cordage options besides paracord.
- Fishing Supplies: Best Glide Survival Fishing Kit – tackle and kit will help you stay prepared if you live relatively close to a body of water. (see why we like this survival fishing kit and other options)
- Snares: USGI Trip Wire – Trapping and snaring may require a license in your area. Please check locally to learn the rules and risks before you deploy snares. (See why this is our best-reviewed snare wire)
- Conibear Traps: Bridger Conibear Traps – Again, check locally for rules and risks before deploying a conibear. (See why Bridger is the best conibear trap).
- Beef Jerky: Pick your favorite brand and flavor.
- Condiments: Make anything edible (like an MRE!) by dousing it in your favorite condiment. Check out our suggested condiment stockpile list.
- Multi-Vitamins: Make sure your diet completes all of your body’s nutrient requirements.
- Stove Fuel: Extra camp stove fuel.
- Keychain Flashlight: Olight L3T Flashlight (see why this is the best-reviewed EDC flashlight)
- Steel Wool: So versatile and lightweight.
- Glow Sticks: Cyalume SnapLight – Great for low-light, visibility, signaling, and marking. (See why this is the best glow stick for survival)
- Magnifying Glass: SE 5X Magnifier (see why this is our favorite magnifying glass)
- Fire Extinguisher: Cold Fire Tactical Extinguisher – A portable fire extinguisher can come in handy (see why this one tops the review charts)
- USB Drive: Load a USB drive with your favorite survival manuals and maps of the area.
- Insurance Documents: With many regional disasters, it can be a race to file insurance. Being prepared with your documents can make sure you’re at the front of the line.
- Bug Out Bag Checklist: TruePrepper Full Bug Out Bag Checklist – We’ve done all the hard work. Print the checklist. Fill it out. Keep it up to date.
- Edible Plants Guide: Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
- First Aid Guide: Survival Medicine Guide
- Fishing/Hunting License: It’s not a bad idea to keep licenses around.
- Bible: Or whatever spiritual guide you follow. A bug out bag is for your body and mind, but it doesn’t hurt to look after your soul too.
- Iodide Tablets: iOSAT Potassium Iodide Tablets – Usually found in our specialized kit for those with radiation risk, this one makes sense in a general preparedness kit with its low cost and small package. Protect your thyroid from absorbing radiation during the most terrible emergencies. (See why iOSAT is our preferred iodine tablet)
- Shaving Supplies: A straight razor will last longer than disposable packs.
- Foot Powder: Gold Bond Medicated Foot Powder – Keep your feet dry when you’re on the move!
- Toilet Paper: Coghlan’s Tissue On The Go
- Floss: Floss is versatile and surprisingly strong!
- Sting Kit: Sting-Kill – Take the bite out of a sting quickly (See why this is the best sting remedy)
- Extra OTC Medication: Over-the-counter meds should be a part of your first aid kit, but stashing extras is a good idea.
- Trauma Kit: Trauma IFAK – Use only if trained.
The Full Bug Out Bag Checklist
A perfect bug out bag doesn’t exist- what is right for you depends on your situation and risk tolerance. That said, we have as close to perfect of a starting point for you: our comprehensive checklist.
Our checklist is available as both a pdf download and as a Google Sheet/Excel file where you can check off items yourself, and even add and subtract items from the checklist.
Bug Out Bag Printable PDF Checklist
If you are looking for the simplest way to print and use the checklist above, download our printable PDF version. It is two pages long on 8.5″ x 11″ paper and makes creating a bug out bag extremely easy. Once you open the bug out bag PDF checklist in your browser, you can either print it directly or save it through your browser.
Bug Out Bag Checklist Excel / Google Sheet
If you are looking for a comprehensive way to track your bug out bag contents, open our Excel / Google Sheet version. The sheet is sharable, and you just need to copy it to your own Google Sheet account or download it to excel to edit it. We also keep the best-reviewed item for each category linked to simplify shopping for any equipment you may find yourself missing.
Bug Out Bag Variations
There are a few variations of bug out bags designed for different functions:
- Get Home Bag (GHB) – kit designed to get you home to your supplies rather than away to a bug out location.
- (INCH) I’m Never Coming Home Bag – kit designed to support survival indefinitely.
- (SCARE) Social Chaos and Response Emergency Bag – kit designed for the biggest wildcard in emergencies: other people.
There are also variations that focus on individuals and pets:
- Kids’ Bug Out Bag | Gear List with Pro Tips
- The Dog Bug Out Bag – A Survival Kit for Man’s Best Friend
The main point is that you can make a bug out bag for anyone, any situation, and for any length of time. Bug out plans are meant to bring you versatility, and the wide variety of kits you can build using the plan reflects this.
The Next Step
Now that you have completed a bug out bag and are ready to be prepared on the go, you can take it up one notch further.
You won’t always have the luxury of being nearby your survival kit or even your bug out bag. That is where Every Day Carry comes into play. Just a few extra items combined with some situational awareness can allow you to be prepared for many situations at any given time. Follow our EDC guide here: Every Day Carry.
Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
You’ve Been Missing OutJoin the 2+ million preppers that rely on our prepping advice by subscribing to TruePrepper.
- Practical guides and tips
- Useful survival giveaways
- Free, forever
- < 0.4% of people unsubscribe