TruePrepper Bug Out Bag Guide
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.
Bug out bags, also known as 72-hour bags or Go bags, are usually used to bug out from a location. Survival tools, food, and water are the cornerstones of these kits. 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. This follows the important guideline of resource dispersal and gives each individual a shot at survival, even if separated.
Contents (Jump to a Section)
Bug Out Bag Essentials
These are the essential items that most experts agree are needed in a bug out bag.
The Bug Out Bag:
- Backpack: TETON Sports Scout 3400 Backpack (See why this is the best and view other backpack options)
Safety BOB Essentials:
- Survival Knife: KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife
- Bushcraft Knife: Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Knife (See why this is the best bushcraft knife)
- Handgun: Your preferred CCW that you are trained on (see ours here)
- Ammunition: For your CCW, of course
Fire & Light BOB Essentials:
- 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: Klean Kanteen Stainless 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: Coghlan’s 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: Super Heavy Duty 16 mil Tarp
- Survival Bivvy: Life Bivy Sleeping Bag
- Socks: Darn Tough Light Hiker (See why these are the best survival socks)
- Long Sleeve Shirt: Carhartt Thermal Base Layer
- 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: Grabber Outdoor 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 secure 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: Nitrile Exam Gloves
Documents & Navigation BOB Essentials:
- Rainproof Pen: Matte Military Space 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: TruArc 3 Base Plate Compass
- Local Maps: Print copies of local maps. Here’s how you download them for free.
Miscellaneous BOB Essentials:
- Multitool: Leatherman Surge Multi-Tool
- 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: Staying dry is important during an emergency.
- 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: A compactable jacket will let you be warmer at a moment’s notice.
- 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 – Designed for marine emergencies, flare guns are versatile on land as well.
- 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: A great non-lethal weapon for personal protection.
- Batteries: Spare batteries for all your gear, plus common batteries like AA, AAA, and 9V.
- 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
- Garbage Bags: ToughBag Contractor Bags – Heavy 55-gallon duty blackout bags can hold a lot, and it doesn’t have to be trash.
- Super Glue: Gorilla Super Glue – For when you want something to stay and never move again.
- 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.
- Steel Pot: MalloMe Mess Kit
- Ferro Rod: Bayite 6″ Ferrocerium Rod (see why this is our favorite ferro rod)
- Tinder/Fatwood: Blackbeard Fire Starter
- 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: Pick your favorite GPS watch.
- Ranger Beads: Wardog Pace Count Beads – Teach yourself to pace count with ranger beads.
- Playing Cards: Survival Playing Cards
- 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: Smith’s PP1
- Ammo Pouch: Accessible ammo can be a priority depending on your situation.
- Machete: CRKT Halfachance Parang
- Hatchet: Schrade 11.1″ Hatchet
- 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: Tactical Shemagh
- Rainproof Shell: Waterproof Backpack Cover
- Ball Cap: Condor Tactical 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
- Bullion: Platinum, silver, gold – money that you can hold is still worthwhile even when the main currency crashes.
- 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 Kit: Hooks, lines, and sinkers in a small package.
- Snares: USGI Trip / Snare Wire – Trapping and snaring may require a license in your area. Please check locally to learn the rules and risks before you deploy snares.
- 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.
- 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: Great for low-light, visibility, signaling, and marking.
- 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 it’s 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!
- Snake Bite Kit: Sawyer Venom Extractor
- Sting Kit: Sting-Kill
- 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 PDF Checklist
If you are looking for the simplest way to print and use the checklist above, download our 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.
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.