The Will to Act: Your Ultimate Bug-out Kit by R.B.

Section One

The Bug-Out Bag is an icon of the preparedness movement. The principle is well known and agreed upon: we may indeed have to pack-up and take flight to a more orderly, less hostile environment, intelligently. This would be either in anticipation of a great upheaval of social order or in its aftermath. How we will face the situation and deal with it is our part to play. Bug-out is an emergency measure, supplying us with a three-day margin for action: decisive action, evasive action, survivalist action or other salutary maneuvering. You must make an informed plan for your exodus. Considering that this would be enacted on foot, there will be an urgent need to map-out a route, determine an objective, establish foreseeable safe resting places along your intended escape-and-evasion route that include points of re-supply or hidden caches. Make back up plans.  Now, try out everything in a realistic rehearsal, pack up your Bug-Out Bag and start using it. There is no better time than now. If you plan on using military gear, you might practice with more discreet colored civilian camping gear so as to avoid curiosity. Try bugging-out in increments, start with good weather and light loads. Work towards nighttime and inclement weather scenarios. Add weight as your personal physical condition improves. The goal is to gradually rule out most potential surprises and unknowns. Whether solo or with like-minded comrades, practice equals preparedness.  If you are the leader of a family or group, members of your troop must train as abilities of age and state allow. It will be harder, and more practice will be necessary.
This proverbial “Three day” limit is not realistic for most situations we are likely to face. “72 hours” is a military standard. Soldiers are re-supplied, but who will come and re-supply you after 72 hours? There is an urgent need to rise above this imaginary status quo. Common sense tells us to select and pack items that can be used not only for the hypothetical three-day scenario, but rather indefinitely. In light of this, a solid and foolproof modus operandi must be established: the B.O.B. must serve our resolve to remain pro-active and prevent us from falling victim to circumstances of the unexpected. It is a tall order. Contents lists, ideas and examples abound on the Web. Most of it is show-and-tell. Some of it is abstract theorizing. Consult, sift through the media, but you will soon agree that people are not understanding the seriousness of the situation. Either they underestimate the critical nature of bug-out, likening it to a picnic outing, or they get sidetracked in the materialism of gear gadgetry. The bug-out market has caught the eye of commercial capitalists. Survival kits in sardine cans…?  So beware. Shun the disposable, wasteful, throw-away mentality. Cheaply made and cheaply purchased items are indeed disposable, not like your hard-earned money you handed over in vain. When the worst is upon us, no one will be replacing any so-called “unconditional lifetime guarantee” items for you.
Beyond the tedium and disagreement caused by excessively detailed lists, here are fundamental, building block elements that will form the backbone of your kit. Here is what works. Sorry if there are no sparkling gadgets to make you think bugging-out will be fun and games. If something happens that will truly require a bug-out scenario, it will be catastrophic. People will face death. “Pray that your flight be not in winter or on the Sabbath…”  In real world bug-out, the first thing necessary will be to remain rational, and keep the Faith. Keep your bearings. Keep to the proven principles. Important choices have been made here, and this principle of discernment is a key factor in assembling your personal kit.  The definitive checklist is strictly your business. Your ultimate choice of gear should be the things that serve your purpose to remain in control, and to rise above the situation at hand. Consider what is being put forth, it is foundational and proven. Source references are for suggestion only.
The Bug-out Bag: get a backpack and get the best you can afford: it may very well be your lifesaver. But it has to perform, full. It cannot fail in rigorous or sudden use: It should be able to withstand dropping, dragging and hastened concealment. It should also withstand whatever you might do: like falling, crawling, swimming or accidental situations. Imagine being pursued, being a possible target, hunting, defending a perimeter: you should be able to run, sit, duck, lie prone or take a moment of rest with your pack on, in reasonable comfort.

Whether with or without a traditional frame, here is the definition of the ideal: A medium-size pack 2.500-3.500 cubic inches more or less, with a padded hip belt that puts the weight on your legs: the legs having the most powerful muscles in the body, with shoulder straps being only for load control. This is better and safer than slogging with an unpredictable, overloaded small pack that will cause suffering. An overloaded large “moving-van” pack will be even worse, maybe fatal. Medium-size is where the balance of moderation is.  It is a good spiritual and mental factor as well.
Your pack should be either camo to match your local woods or civilian colored for discretion. Camouflage means to blend in with your immediate surroundings. Urban scenarios might fare better with civilian gear. Not everyone will be able to have recourse to the back of beyond. Think about where you will go, then blend in accordingly. Civilian gear does look a little less threatening. Solid colors in earth tones would be a good balance: Coyote tan and O.D. green are better than black. Nothing in nature’s background is truly black, though your protection and concealment will be in darker shades of most colors. Avoid loud colors. If you want the visibility option, use a pack cover or a separate piece of material in the color you want to be seen. Put it away and save it for when the time comes.
The pack should be top loading. Few or no zippers that will break or fail at the wrong time. If there must be a zipper, make sure there are back-up straps and buckles to remove weight and stress from the inherently weak zipper closure. No Velcro, which is noisy and prone to clogging and failure in inclement conditions. In essence, a pack is just a vertical sack. Cutting openings and compartments will only reduce the structural integrity. A strongly constructed single space bag is the original and still the best. Inside, pack items in small dry bags by category. Mark them with permanent marking pens or colors for rapid recognition. You should never have to be digging around inside your pack for some loose item. There is a forcible and rational order of things that go in and come out of a bug-out bag. Establish a priority of items by use: primary use, secondary use, etc, so that when arriving at your destination, especially if it is a temporary bivouac, necessaries will come out of the pack quickly and efficiently according to purpose. Articles abound on this subject, study, learn and practice how to efficiently set-up and pack-up any scenario that involves the use of your kit.
There is a need to approach your initial B.O.B. purchase with clarity.
Judge the ruggedness of your potential pack by putting weight in it and grabbing and pulling on all straps. If the seams start to give out, the sewing is probably low-quality throughout. Try it on with a load. Politely and reasonably abuse it while still in the store. Features should be truly useful and not frivolous. What looks good in the store might fail in the field. Now make your judgment, take notes and move on to another pack if you have your doubts. Remember, what is best for you, and you alone, is what matters. It has to fit your size and your natural dimensions. That means it must not extend above your head or be wider than your shoulders, it should not hang much below your waist.  It should fit your torso perfectly. If you are presently fighting the battle of the bulge, then choose a waist belt that fits both now and when you will be in better shape.
Military and non-military packs are legion. But no one makes a pack like Americans do. Watch out for imports. The ones coming down the tracks, loaded in those ominous shipping containers, are getting less and less cheap only because of corrupt marketing strategies. Prices are being deviously re-calculated and raised because it is a known fact that cheap junk is cheap. If it costs more, it must be better … Beware of this and other big lies. European imports are inflated because of the manipulated exchange rates. There is indeed a price for buying local, but isn’t this part of the present battle?  Domestic shops are still in business, call them and communicate. Support them. Thank them for staying home to make their products. There are small companies that make camping and tactical gear, proving that yankee ingenuity is still the best. You can also search for outdoor gear at www. Still made in the U.S.A. com. You will find your kindred spirits there. You will also find items that should outlast the coming ordeal, within the range of your budget. Avoid supply purchases at the mega-store globalist marketeers who film you while you shop, beg you to spend less money by joining their club, and ask for your phone number or zip code at checkout. It goes without saying how you should handle this affront.  Common sense is in the balance. Most small hunting or military surplus shops are still ma-and-pa operations. Support them first. Some e-Bay “stores” are actually gifted artisans trying to make a living without being able to afford a brick-and-mortar storefront. Look up the contact info and deal directly. You will know right away if they are legitimate. These micro-industries are to be supported. Their proprietors are often geniuses, and honest. 
External frame packs: The ubiquitous ALICE pack is still in use today by respected military. The original version is the medium-size. It is a marvel of simplicity and solid engineering, very easily obtained at a reasonable price. You can get OD or camo versions. The frame is the Achilles heel: drill out all rivets that will likely fail. Replace them with fine thread 8/32 stainless steel bolts, with round heads that have an Allen or Philips slotted head, depending upon what your multi-tool can do in the field. Use stainless steel locknuts. The medium ALICE can remain minimalist or it can be built up with add-on modular components. It can be used without its frame if it fails. Upgrade the shoulder straps and waist belt if you want more padding. The MOLLE II waist belt is an inexpensive and effective upgrade. Replace the steel buckles with quick-attach Fastex buckles if you want the added convenience.,, are just a few of the military-class producers of improved accessories. Backpacks that resemble the medium ALICE are made by and others, with a modern polymer frame and other upgrades. They keep strictly to the original principles of the ALICE wherein the dimensions do not surpass the average natural dimensions of the wearer. This is important in bug-out when speed and maneuverability are expected. Most packs are intentionally not 100% waterproof. If you have to move through water or soaking rain, you will quickly understand why. The pack should be able to drain. With your BOB contents packed in dry-bags, water is no longer a threat. And if necessary, your pack will now float in extreme water-crossing scenarios. Practice before you take the big plunge.
Internal frame packs: some frame designs are effective while others fail before their weight capacity is reached. Some kind of frame is needed for average loads of 35 lbs. or greater. If the internal frame is too minimalist, it will flex and compress, your spinal column will do the same. Wearing an internal frame pack loosely will reduce the critical nature of potential problems, but the problems are not completely eliminated since internal frame or frameless packs are not designed to be worn too loosely. Beware of overheating from direct contact with your back. Lungs and parts of organs, muscles extend rearwards in your torso, when they overheat, you, too, will overheat. Plan on your back being soaked from shoulders to waist when wearing an internal frame pack. In winter this will increase the danger of chills. Variations of the internal frame theme are as numerous as brand names. Some are practical and minimalist while others are cerebral and scientific. Top-of-the-food-chain medium-size internal frame packs are listed in order of size: Eagle Becker Patrol, Kifaru Zulu, Mystery Ranch SATL. They have PALS webbing for add-ons. Even if they are above your means, they are the best example of what other comparable packs should be. The military has tried many internal frame packs in the larger-size category, like the CFP-90, the SPEAR, the ILBE but the external frame pack is the current choice. The USMC, having tried these packs, is also going back to a contoured external frame.
There is also a possible third category of pack, a hybrid fusion design, where the best of both worlds has been attempted. High-end military level makers such as Kifaru and Mystery Ranch are among the designers of this type of pack. It comes under the larger-size category. They have made a quasi-external frame that functions with the close-hugging benefits of an internal frame. The problems with internal frame packs are thus resolved, except for the overheating part.  Their efforts at inventing a cooling system for the back are a failure. Only a true external frame will give the necessary air space to keep cool and dry.  They are also quite expensive and disproportionately heavy for the most part. They are works of art but you must be truly committed to this design if you want one, after ruling out every other possibility. They have elaborate web sites and customer forums where feedback is published.
For backpacks in general, the military is a good rule of thumb since soldiers are load-carriers by profession. The military also established the bug-out concept. You will not be disappointed with a military level bug-out bag. It is made to withstand the abuse you will need to personally undergo in bugging-out. The newest versions of military packs are a far cry from the old instruments of torture used in the John Wayne movies.
Repeat: what matters in choosing a pack is what is best for you only. Size and shape matter a lot when moving quickly. You are the one doing the moving. The medium-size category is where we want to be in the bug-out context. But if this range is truly insufficient for you, consider the newer military packs from Specialty Defense Systems that still use an external frame such as the MOLLE II Rifleman Pack, the main ruck is 3,000 cu. in. The attached sleep system carrier is a failure, replace it with something else, or rotate it downward so it does not project out from the frame like a tail. Military users of this system have colorful words for this bobbing sleep system compartment… You will also need to upgrade to the Down East 1603 Generation IV frame, which replaces the original 1602, quite breakable frame. This new frame has fallen out of helicopters and hit the ground, nothing broke. If you envisage a “big-B” bug-out, needing a house-on-your-back rucksack, the 10th Mountain Ruck is the current U.S. Army issue, 6000 cu. in. MOLLE pack. It is basically the previous generation two-component Rifleman pack in a one-piece configuration. This pack represents the current military philosophy in load bearing. You can find it in woodland camo, coyote tan or multi-cam. The current, ineffective ACU camo will be phased out.  The large-size ALICE is currently getting more attention as well. Some speculate that bigger is better because you will have extra load capacity.  A completely full, large-size ALICE, as well its upgraded improved versions, such as the BDS Mountain Ruck, the HighSpeedGear Trash Bag, or the Tactical Tailor Malice, can be dangerously unwieldy when full. These formidable moving vans, when fully loaded, will severely limit your speed and agility. Though this level of pack may have a place in the extreme bug-out scenario, its wearer will be constrained to pack mule velocity. Even trained soldiers collapse beneath big rucks. They complain when having to double-time with these prime movers. If you are bugging-out with bulky but lightweight insulated cold weather gear, the larger size pack will not be unbearably heavy. Bug-out is not the same across the board, in all climates or foreseeable conditions. It is time to experiment according to your personal plan, which will be carried out in your bug-out theatre of operations. It is better to make a medium-size pack bigger with removable add-ons than to make a large pack smaller by carrying it half empty, where the load will be off-balance. Civilian frame packs have extension bars behind the head, such as the classic Kelty. If you need to duck, the frame won’t. In contrast, most military packs stop at shoulder height, allowing the user to move through low-clearance situations more intuitively, the pack will move with you.

How much is to be spent on your BOB? Surplus military gear is an excellent value for the budget. There is a certain mystique about military gear, with which the common man has been made into a warrior… Tactical suppliers who upgrade soldiers or outfit various law enforcement groups abound on the web. But they need to hear you ask if it is made in the U.S.A. Excellent civilian gear is abundant as well. You can also rent quality name brand equipment from a backpacking outfitter. Try both kinds of packs, external or internal frame. Start deciding right now what works best for you by manual and physical trial and error. Tempus fugit.
Add-ons should include a chest pack, suspended from the backpack frame and not from shoulder straps or sternum straps, so it can be flung rearward, up and over the head, if necessary. Put quick-release Fastex buckles so it can be adjusted and disconnected. Ingenious, multi-compartment organizers, also known as E.D.C. essentials bag, medic’s bag, in every shape and configuration, are readily available from tactical gear suppliers. Kifaru, Maxpedition and others make these. They can be military or civilian in appearance. The G.I. Field Training Pouch makes an effective chest pack. Just like the ideal bug-out pack, it is top loading, single compartment, with a drawstring inner closure. The chest pack principle is to keep small, first-line usage items within immediate reach, accessing them without having to stop and remove your main pack, wasting precious time and exposing yourself.  The chest-pack keeps your overall load better balanced, with the weight of your most essential gear forward. Keep an empty dry-bag packed inside your chest pack so it can be quickly put to use in the event of a water crossing.  Your chest pack is the container of critical equipment. It must be kept dry. Being up front, it will always be under your watchful and vigilant gaze.

Extra pockets, removable waist packs and a compartment for a sleeping bag or more gear can be attached to the medium ALICE.   If you need more food provisions, put them in drop-leg pouches that hang from your waist belt.  Your leg muscles can handle the extra weight more easily than back muscles. Make sure you can swing your arms without hitting these drop-leg additions. Some individuals like to wear a MOLLE LBE vest rig beneath their backpack. Just make sure you can crawl or lie prone with all this gear on. What about trekking poles? Try them and decide if they are a help or a hindrance. In most cases, four legs are better than two. Carrying a load downhill puts stress on the knee joints. The poles minimize this undesirable effect. Trekking poles can multi-task. They can be used to quietly ward off pests instead of firing a shot, which will attract unnecessary attention. They can prop up your shelter; they collapse for quick storage. If you are humping serious weight for yourself or for others, 25-30% of your bodyweight, consider spandex compression knee braces. GI kneepads help as well.

The bug-out bag is meant to equip you, to support your will to act and to prevail, and to keep peace of mind.
Section Two
In the bug-out moment of truth, you will have to depend on certain basic things to help you survive. They must not break or fail. They are tools, but remember, you are the one doing the surviving. Material failure is one thing, but if you are the one who fails, it will be tragic. So choose the tried and true: simple, well-made designs, favoring heavy-duty and versatile things. Learn their manifold uses. Do not go out testing your kit in a bug-out-ops scenario until you first learn the limits of your gear at home, in a controlled environment.
Bug-out pack contents: the four classic elements of survival are what you are GIg to carry. 1 – Shelter, 2 – Fire, 3 – Food and 4 – Water.
Shelter: definition: protection from the elements while moving or resting. Tents are out. This is not recreation. This is survival, adding the word “reasonable.” Combine poncho and tarp, GI types will usually mate, check the snap configuration. Two ponchos can mate as well. This will give you room to expand your comfort zone or your safe zone, depending on circumstances. Prevent grommet failure by attaching 1/8” shock cord loops to your tarp and pre-tie lengths of 550 paracord so you can set-up faster. Your shelter is worth more than cheap plastic sheeting or woven plastic, both of which are highly disposable. Get a well-made nylon tarp that will serve you for the duration. Above and beyond the GI issue standard fare, are the Wiggy’s Hootch, Jacks’R’Better hex tarp, and Equinox Egret among others .

Enduring the elements can be critical if you have not yet found a safe site for shelter.  Foul weather gear should be kept in the quick access parts of your pack, such as inside the lid compartment or in an outside pouch accessible by simply reaching and without having to remove the pack.  Beyond the classic poncho, if you are a consummate jacket wearer, Gore-Tex type rain gear, both tops and bottoms, are easy to find. The GI issue versions come in all shades of camo, they are still some of the best. Be they military or civilian, Gore-Tex products are an investment. The poncho has its virtues and vices, but when stealth shelter is needed fast, the rain jacket will not be enough. Shoot your poncho or other waterproof gear (not the Gore-tex) with Camp Dry spray. Gaiters: keep a pair with your rain gear. Besides their obvious use for snow and rain, try them once while hiking through wet brush or just wet grass. You will be a believer.
Tents: if insects or reptiles are really a problem in your area, or you get violent storms with high winds, a lightweight tent can offer the desired sanity-factor protection. Stephenson Warmlite, and others make the ones that fit this category. Eureka!com sells their military tents to the public; they are heavier than backpacking tents but also heavier duty. The price of tents at this quality level, from any source, will remind you that they are an investment. If you have a family or group to house, separate into two’s or three’s so as to keep to the smaller, stealthy tents. Distribute tent parts to keep loads lightweight. Always try out your shelter in the backyard before you take it on bug-out ops. Shelter is a priority concept, whatever configuration you choose, it should come out easily and quickly from your pack upon establishing a safe and secure campsite.
Sleeping bag and bivouac bag. The military modular sleep system: a lightweight warm weather bag, a medium cold weather bag plus a Gore-Tex bivy bag make the modular parts of the system. Combine all three for extreme conditions. For the space-critical bug-out bag scenario they compress surprisingly well. Wiggy’ makes an improved but somewhat bulkier sleep system. Synthetic fill holds up to the elements better than down. You can add some kind of sleeping pad as well. Self-inflators draw in ambient air, scorching hot or ice cold are the risk. Beware of the ultra high-tech, which is prone to failure. The standard GI foam pad or its civilian equivalent is plenty good. The basic sleeping pad can be used for many things besides sleeping. Think sled. Think flotation. Kneel on it when working in camp. If you want to survive the long-term, a sleeping system will be necessary. The bottom line: rest is necessary for survival.
Hammocks are not for everyone. Try one and decide if you are pro or con. makes one that compacts to a softball size and weighs mere ounces. Jacks’R’ makes the ingenious lay-flat hammock as well as a camo tarp to cover everything. Clark makes the stealth, camo Jungle Hammock. Brace yourself for sticker-shock.
Use a poncho liner or a wool blanket if the sleeping system is beyond your bug-out eventualities. Put on loose-fitting clothing, covering all cold-sensitive points such as feet, ankles, neck, wrists, head, with clean, dry and preferably wool clothing. Then add the poncho if condensation will not be an issue. One trick is to breath outside of the poncho so as to minimize condensation. But your body will naturally release humidity. Wet weather and condensation are problematic when living inside nylon. Ponchos, bivy bags and tents need adequate ventilation: waterproof is a double-edged sword.
The uniform: little or no synthetic clothing. If you are wearing a military uniform, consider the golf-suit: mismatched camo. Your legs should match tree trunks or ground covering while your torso should match branches and foliage. Older military clothing, which can still be found new or barely used, is made better, and the fabric blends contain a higher percentage of natural fibers. By far, aside from the military uniform, wool is still the best for every clothing item. Do not think of wool as exclusively winter clothing or as something that keeps you warm even when soaking wet, as testified in the Filson catalogues. It is indeed every bit of that. But wool is also for warm weather. Lightweight wool t-shirts are made by and Fine wool is expensive, but you buy it “once”–to last. Other natural, God-made materials would be a second choice. Linen, cotton, raw silk, canvas. Wool does cost more than synthetic clothing, which really is just a plastic imitation of the natural fibers. We are no longer accustomed to buying long-life clothing items, so take care of these as in all investments. [JWR Adds: See the many warnings that have been posted to SurvivalBlog about cotton clothing. Search on the phrase: “Cotton Kills”.] Somewhat loose-fitting is best.  Pack a small squeeze bottle of Woolite or one of those all-purpose biodegradable detergents such as Mrs.Meyer’s. Natural fabrics wash and dry out rapidly if there is sunlight, they can be dried near a fire without melting. “If your feet are cold, cover your head:” Boonie hats that obscure the human form, wool watch caps and helmet liners will keep your head warm in three very different ways. Headgear should allow for the ears to be uncovered. Unobstructed hearing is essential in bug-out survival. Cover your ears only when you really need the extra warmth. Keep a bandana around your neck; keep it wet in hot weather. It will keep the spirits cool, core temperature also. A wet bandanna is best for wiping salty sweat from the face before it burns your eyes. The G.I. wool tube scarf is for cold winds and winter. Carry two and you have makeshift wool long johns. Cut one in half, wear it like pullover collar. No more flying in the breeze.
Boots: Forget style and fashion, or the latest glossy magazine fad. You are the Infantry; your feet are your transportation. Treat them with care. Boots should give ankle support as well as total foot protection. Include removable insoles that can be washed and disinfected.  Judge sufficient support requirements only when standing with a full load on your back. Shoemakers are beginning to understand. Lightweight boots with a stiff ankle section are becoming available. High-tops do not always mean better support. Avoid side zip. Put the boots on, put on a load, now stand on ramp: uphill then downhill, your toes should never touch the front. Now stand sideways on the same ramp, try to roll your ankle, simulating a sprain. It should be next to impossible with the right boots. The boots should also be able to withstand total water immersion without dissolving. As they dry out, they should still fit. Use 550 paracord instead of shoelaces. This will give you two spare lengths when needed. Three sets of thin and thick socks are standard. Blister-provoking friction should dissipate between the layers. Wool is still the best. Add silk liners for the ideal set.
Fire: it warms both flesh and spirit. But in the bug-out strategy, the romantic, dream-inducing campfire will be rare. Have three ways to make the flame. Sparking steel, waterproof matches, refillable all-metal lighters are three that tie for first place. Trick birthday candles ? Do not pre-make petroleum soaked cotton balls. Keep cotton balls dry and sterile for more uses before you commit them to a last ditch fire-starting scenario. When inclement conditions call for a fire starter, far superior to Vaseline, and maybe providing a moment of comic relief, is a tube of Preparation H, containing petrolatum, beeswax and paraffin… Cotton balls, gauze or tissue with this petroleum ointment added will burn with a steady candle-like flame. Some facts about fire: where there is smoke there is fire, and where there is fire there is smoke … If you are evading, a smoky fire might as well be a flare signaling your position. Firewood itself can also be an issue. When scavenging for campfire fuel, avoid deadwood from poisonous or questionable bushes and trees whose smoke can kill. Some wood is toxic. In 1809 Napoleon lost seven soldiers not to the British army, but to meat rations cooked on Oleander spits. See Fine Woodworking Magazine issue 114, “When Wood Fights Back.” See also “Toxic Wood” from the same.
In bug-out, the small fire, made only for cooking or boiling water, is what you want. A stove is better. Use a very basic commercially produced or self-engineered wood-burning Ranger stove. “Ranger” usually denotes a product of self-engineered genius. People are now selling commercially made versions of these simple stoves. Some, like, are made of stainless steel as well. You have heard this “stainless steel” nomenclature elsewhere. Aluminum is lighter. Does it really cause Alzheimer’s disease? Is “cast” aluminum safer than “spun” aluminum? Regardless of the answers, one fact still stands: Aluminum is an unstable alloy. Steel is real. The weight vs. utility co-efficient should be the keep or reject rule for every item in your kit. If bug-out is indeed evasion from the confusion of chaos, it is also a focus on surviving the long-term. The extra ounces in steel products remind you that you have long-lasting, durable tools for one thing: to outlive the ordeal.

Fuel canister-type stoves will eventually run-out and become pitifully useless. You can carry a lot of fuel, but the weight will be disproportionate to the convenience factor. Or you can bring a minimal amount of fuel for the emergency.  But bug-out is already an emergency. One which, in all probability, will last longer than we anticipated. Multi-fuel stoves are better.  Circumstances may allow for siphoning of fuel from abandoned vehicles, fuel can be cached along your evasion route, if you are able to follow it. Alcohol is a proven system, so is solid fuel, which is a lightweight and compact back-up strategy. Be careful not to breathe the fumes. Surplus stores have a lot of solid fuel choices because the military dropped many of them for safety reasons.
The Ranger stove is for the unknown and unforeseen duration. This wood-burning type stove can be as simple as a section of snap-together stovepipe, ranging from 8 to 12 inches in length, 5 or 6 inches in diameter. Commercial versions are variations on a steel tube that looks like a muzzle brake for a bazooka. Less is more with these stoves. The principle is to produce contained, intense and protected fire. Use discarded paper products, dry grass, twigs, pinecones, anything that burns. Rows of holes at the bottom and top of the tube allow for a full airflow. The fire rests on an elevated perforated plate or a piece of steel mesh, and roars in seconds. The tube utilizes the chimney effect, creating an upward draft. With a little hand-pressure to reshape the top opening of the tube, you can make your G.I. canteen fit right into it. There is your one-quart teakettle. Transfer hot water into your canteen cup and continue boiling more water. Cook your own recipe-concoction directly in your stainless steel canteen cup, or in the components of the G.I. mess kit, the only cooking set needed. Grab hot items with leather and canvas work gloves. Winterize your leather gloves with G.I. wool liners. Synthetic hunting or shooter’s gloves are a hazard around fires. They will melt with your hand inside and cause severe burns. Neither leather nor wool will ever be a problem. Your multi-tool works best for gripping hot steel. This bug-out micro mess hall makes cooking pots and pans totally unnecessary. The mess kit can work like an oven. Place coals on top and beneath for a Dutch oven effect. Pour boiling water over grains, clamp the mess kit airtight, and you will have steamed food. Who says survival means being constantly miserable? If you are a staunch “cooking-pot” chef, having mouths to feed, take a look at the heavy-gauge stainless steel vertical shaped pots from The vertical shape better utilizes the heat rising upwards. It also fits into a pack more easily than a wide diameter pot. Avoid Teflon or coated cookware. The toxic coating wears off and you ingest it. Titanium is available, at a price. 
See or also offering the Caldera wood-optional stove. Initiation in working with fire includes a tube of Calendula burn ointment in your First Aid kit.
Enclose the G.I. stainless steel spoon & fork, squeeze-bottle of natural detergent, Scotch-Brite combo sponge or stainless steel scrubber and anything else you can fit inside your mess kit. Tall squeeze bottles will fit into the depressions of the mess kit lid. Put in a natural sponge as you close it up. This will compress and keep the contents quiet and secure. The natural sponge is a thing of beauty and holds many times its weight in water. For collecting water from dripping cracks and small springs a natural sponge is unbeatable. The sponge bath gives instant relief from the stress of survival and restores you to an acceptable state of hygiene. A medium-size sponge will practically soak up a canteen full of water. It weighs virtually nothing.

So far the kit has been minimalist and broad spectrum in its philosophy. Those two terms really do go together in bug-out.

Section Three
The bug-out bag should contain much more than carefully chosen gear. It should include strategy dynamics, and other peace of mind intangibles. If we are sufficiently equipped for the duration, if our modest bug-out kit of tools will aid us in prevailing, we will not be so desperate as to fall below our human dignity. The next part deals with food and water. We are more spirit than flesh. Be willing to share.
Food: Health is more than not being sick.  Remember that we are emulating trained combatants and athletes when we are bugging out. The need to keep mind and body alert is critical. The effort to keep energy at peak level is not optional. Pack basic food elements for situations where you might have more time to prepare your meals, you will be thankful to eat a traditional meal that not only looks and tastes like a real food, but has the salutary effects of balanced nutrition.  Avoid pre-packaged, ready to eat junk foods that are full of preservatives and additives that cause health side effects. The appearance of convenience is an illusion.  Select and pack your food separately by food groups from bulk quantities. Use various sized re-usable vitamin bottles, or other screw cap plastic bottles that have been pre-tested for being leak-proof. Food storage should not allow light penetration. GNC makes colored bottles. canisters are modular. Take care of your food. Vacuum wrap or stretch wrap is less re-usable, but a moderate quantity of heavy-gauge foil is essential. Those fuel-stove foil shrouds are very versatile.  Be sure to include a P-38 or bigger “P-51” G.I. can opener in your tool kit.
Phase-1 bug-out is usually intense and evasive. Use your ration packaged athletic food and drink mixes for this initial phase only.  Phase-2 bug-out is when you have achieved a reasonable measure of safety and security, even if it is temporary. Build-up your health as conditions allow in these moments when a stove can be used. Freeze-dried food or MREs are practical but better fare is not difficult to achieve. Phase-3 bug-out is when you have attained your projected destination or objective. Food re-supply takes place then, usually upon the arrival at a retreat or outpost. Nutritional overhaul takes place now. What you choose to carry or store will be for maintaining the balance in your strength and performance. It is unacceptable to think that taking toxic doses of vitamin B or other shock-energy drinks will be enough, you will be in for a few surprises. You should be training in the present moment, and your strength and endurance levels should be on the rise. Solid nutrition, not chemicals or instant-ized pseudo-foods, will keep you stable in this state.
On a 33-day 500-mile course, few of us came back the same. Many of us dropped dangerous amounts of weight. The high-tech sports food had no more effect after the first week. It has its place, to be sure, and its limits. It doesn’t rebuild or restore for the duration. Classic nutrition saved everyone. Learn now which foods support you, discard what doesn’t without apology, even if it fills full-page ads in the magazines. You will not find bug-out nutrition outlined anywhere. Forget calorie-nutrition-exertion co-efficient tables. Bug-out is off the charts. It falls under the extreme exertion category because it is both mental and physical, more akin to sustained warfare than survival. Bug-out is the will to overcome, to remain in control because of the foresight of preparedness. Load your B.O.B. with the most concentrated forms of only the best foods. The term “lightweight food” is an oxymoron. Watch weight, but better food means better performance, the scales tip in favor of nutritional value. There is no room for convenience-packaged junk. Intelligent food rationale is an essential part of bug-out.
The principle in stressful conditions such as the bug-out scenario: high fat content is necessary. Eating a steady diet of wild game, such as venison, long after your freeze-dried backpack food and MREs have run out, can cause sickness and even death, if that missing element: fat, is not added to the extra lean game meat. What is fat content? If your food has any flavor, it is probably the fat. The old-timers talk about this important fact of living off the land. Refer to the classics in survival reading. “How to Stay Alive in the Woods” is just one of Bradford Angier’s many excellent readings, or grab the works of Colonel Townsend Whelen. Their books are among the old hardbound classic treasures if you find them used. These are luminaries among the real men.  
For the extended bug-out context, pack highly concentrated foods, such as dried meats and fruits, pemmican, food bars, dark chocolate, (Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt is 5 star) various dry grains and legumes for boiling or for sprouting, raw cane sugar, sea salt, powdered milk, potato flakes, grain flour. Most trail mix is anything but quick energy, the nuts are slow digesters. Seeds are more quickly assimilated. Canned meats and fish, and various cheeses and butters are highest in total fat content. Load nut butters, honey or non-clogging fruit jams into refillable squeeze tubes. Soup based dishes re-hydrate us and make food easier to digest. Carry a small squeeze bottle of olive oil. It is both medicine and condiment. Study, learn to recognize local wild edibles as well. Get a published guidebook for your region. Attend classes on plant recognition and use.
First Aid: Band-Aids are the least important. Gauze, cloth medical tape and cotton balls can multi-task outside the parameters of First-Aid. Hydrogen peroxide is still the old favorite for cleaning wounds and other uses, keep it in the brown bottle. Essential oils and herbal poultices are also traditional.  Insect bites and stings, poisonous plant irritation, intestinal imbalance, any health condition that worsens by nature, needs immediate attention. Thermotabs prevent muscle cramps and dehydration without provoking the dry-heaves, keep them in your chest-pack. Chafing is a problem in hot weather marches. Foot powder should double-task for this. Tools: Foldable sewing scissors, tweezers and dental floss, suture kit, needles and alcohol wipes for blisters, tongue depressors. Examine the military Blow-Out Kit online, see if it pertains to your Bug-out curriculum. Avoid individually foil-wrapped travel-size pharmaceuticals that waste space and only placate most problems. First-Aid kit contents should focus on basic, broad-spectrum elements of healing and immune system defense.
Keep an eye on problems and stop them in their beginning stages. Besides the need to patch up cuts and scrapes, which become more easily infected in the out-of-doors, your immune system may need some first-aid as well. Include whole food multi-vitamins and compressed green super-food tablets. They are not cheap, but they will keep up your health. Most airborne sickness begins in the mouth. Add three drops of Super Strength Oregano Oil from North American Herb and Spice at to your gargle water to kill everything. This variety of oregano is actually akin to hyssop, the biblical bitter herb. Timeless, natural remedies handed down from the ancients, as well as proven home remedies are the subjects of other articles published on this blog. Learn to react at the first sign of declining health.
In the Bug-out context of events, there will have been a massive upheaval of social order, making our departure the only rational solution. Catastrophic events, whether they be acts of God or engineered through human malice, imply the potential outbreak of disease. Your First-Aid kit should include de-contamination: radiation, toxic chemical or vapor leaks, bacteria, viruses, etc. The best remedy is usually physical distance from the stricken area. You can walk 15-20 miles in a day. Running with a backpack, maybe 5-10 miles more. Is this far enough away? There is a category of items, “better to have and not need than to not have and need.” A gas mask that works, medicines and antidotes for pandemic viruses, penicillin, surgical mask and gloves, anti-bacterial liquid soap. Keep an old-fashioned thermometer in your kit. Learn to count your pulse rate with your watch, memorize the fever zones and danger zones. There are also herbs and traditional remedies that help keep you calm and focused in the stress of bug-out. Remember the charming story of Thieves oil, fact or fiction, it represents the savoir-faire which is the foundation of any First-Aid kit.
Water: Learn how to find water. Look downward into gullies, look for green, only water can do that. If there is a choice, it should be flowing rather than still. If you find it before you need it, collect it anyway. Anticipate the need for water. Keep a collapsible canteen or bladder in your kit for this purpose. Purification: boiling is still the easiest and most economical way to purify water. The old method for purifying water consists of two steps: filtering the water through a cloth such as a dedicated clean bandana, then putting it to boil 3-5 minutes, adding 1 minute per 1,000 feet in altitude. Water purifiers are also available in countless shapes, sizes and prices. Some even work. Articles on this subject, field-testing reports abound on the subject of water purifiers. Most ceramic and synthetic filters are imitations of two natural water purifiers: charcoal and cinnamon, both are effective bactericides, cinnamon being from biblical origins. Cinnamon in capsule form or drops, has proven more effective than Imodium, it can be used daily as a condiment while in reality, it is being taken as a preventive measure. Being around water in the wild, cinnamon would be better in your stomach instead of stowed away somewhere in your kit. Read and study this important question of water purification. Everyone seems to have a preferred “best” method. Foil-wrapped or bottled tablets are also available, some are better than others. Water filter pumps: the extra-rugged Katadyn Pocket Filter is the golden standard.  Its mere weight tells you it is all business. The MSR Mini-Works squeeze pump screws directly to a standard bladder to eliminate contamination. Sterilize your water filtering gear and keep inlet and outlet hoses apart to avoid cross-contamination. This seems extreme but deadly bacteria are microscopic. Water is life. It can also be death. Treat water with respect, then do not forget: water is more important than food. Thus the critical survival rule: do not eat unless you can also drink. Under duress, we need more hydration than nourishment. Stress and anxiety are dehydrators. So are diuretic drinks such as coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages, certain soft drinks and commercial fruit juices: these “refreshments” cause fluid evacuation.  Compliment them with twice the amount of water to curb dehydration. Never wait until you are parched with thirst to begin drinking. One military unit urges pre-hydration: the day that precedes operations is spent drinking larger than usual amounts of water, though without exaggeration.  
Your bug-out water container must be able to multi-task. The legendary kidney-shaped G.I. stainless steel 1-quart canteen, or an unpainted stainless steel water bottle can be placed directly in a fire or a stove for the absolute fastest boiling of water. Loosen or completely remove the cap. For purifying water or cooking, time is always critical: 10 minutes to bring a quart of water to boil is too long.  And you might have to add the extra time for purifying. Survival is stressful enough; let alone fooling around with fire and water boiling. Think of the teakettle. The top is domed. A cooking pot with a flimsy flat lid is the worst way to boil water. A steel canteen is always ready to serve the cause. Along with the G.I. canteen is yet another marvel of engineering: the nesting steel canteen cup. has raised this lowly military artifact to an objet de art. It holds a generous 24 ounces. That equals more than enough water or food for one person. Add the G.I. canvas canteen cover, which is felt-lined.  Soak it in water to keep canteen contents cool or leave it dry for insulation in cold weather.  The 1-quart nylon MOLLE canteen covers are not insulated. The 2-quart covers are fake-fur lined. They also melt. But they are still very good additions to your kit, just be aware of their quirks. Carry several quarts of water. Several meaning many… as many as you can. A gallon per day of drinking water, that means four quarts, is considered the average personal intake for moderate exertion. One gallon is eight pounds. If you like to drink on the move, use the hydration bladder, but get the kind that open all the way at the top so you can put your hand inside for cleaning. makes them. Whatever vessel you choose to carry your H2O, the puncture resistant, fire-compatible steel canteen should be the foundation of your hydration system.
Miscellaneous: As far as other practical gear, here are some personal notes.
No flashlights. Two headlamps are better, one heavy-use and one spare. [JWR Adds: I concur with this wisdom. A headlamp can also be used as a hand-held light, but not vice versa.] A single “white-light” beam is better than the blue light produced by inferior LEDs, which is not true light, and causes depth perception failure in rapid evasion. Single-beam lights cost more but their purpose is to move you at night without incident. Petzl, SureFire, PrincetonTec and a few others make the single beam lights favored by military and night riding mountain bikers. They are essential for night ops. For all other purposes, the inexpensive LED lights are sufficient. Study the question of colored light, red, green or blue, decide if this feature is an advantage for your circumstances. Petzl Taktikka XP and PrincetonTec Eos Tactical are two that include colored filters.

If you absolutely must have a handheld light, or make the real ones. Knock-offs have poor contacts and inferior materials. They will leave you in the dark. Hand crank dynamo lights: squeeze-type military Daco-lites are now collector’s items. They are very noisy, and the dynamo must be constantly going. Freeplay makes the wind-up Jonta, probably the only light of its kind that is not a toy, it also tips the scales at 15 oz. but unfortunately “Made in China”   Chemical light sticks have their place. A thousand uses ? Maybe not. Military surplus stores sell the special holders that control light output. Medics use these.
Batteries: Standardize your battery type and size. Only one size for everything is the ideal. Keep rechargeable batteries only if you have a solar-powered charger. Batteries are fuel. Carry a sufficient supply of battery sets: for example, if your headlamp uses three AAA batteries, your supply should be in multiples of three. Some lights and electronics require specialized batteries, this means keeping an appropriate inventory of spares. If you are not in evasion mode, and not needing bright light, a windproof candle lantern is better than wasting precious batteries for night lighting.
Battery problems: How long will your batteries last? Being parsimonious with battery power may be counter-productive in bug-out. Extreme conditions imply extreme use. Batteries may wear out faster, headlamps constantly used on full-brightness will quickly go dead. There will be no warning with 123a Lithium batteries that go dead without going dim. Other battery issues: can you change a watch battery in the dark or in the midst of confusion, and be able to reset the correct time? Can you change the battery of your rifle scope in the field while your target waits for you? Same for a rangefinder. The more electronics used, the more types of batteries will be needed. Electronics are also fragile. Ask yourself that question of all questions in assembling the bug-out kit: “Can I do without?” Consider non-powered, manual, mechanical equivalents for all but the most essential electronics.
Repair tape. Duct-tape: 100 m.p.h. tape doesn’t need to be 100 miles long. Compress a small roll flat. All adhesive tape will eventually dry out and become ineffective. Protect your tape in a canister or in the humble Zip-lock bag. Get some black or green zip-ties, long ones can be trimmed when the point of no return has been decided. Can you repair or sharpen every item in your bug-out bag? There’s your repair kit list, but keep it micro. Add a Rite-in-the Rain notebook and a pencil or a space-pen. Write and keep notes, record landmarks, physical and spiritual…
Hunting: Constant thinking ahead about food source possibilities should be a permanent state of mind in bug-out. Do not let opportunity pass by, it may never return. Small game is quickly dealt with. Its finality: one meal or two. Big game will consume your time unless you have an established plan for processing this quantity of meat.
Weaponry is highly subjective.  Survival hunting: one rifle is all you can carry. One sidearm. What is the effective range of your firearm? Memorize windage and elevation compensation. For close range, use the sidearm. For noise discipline, shoot an arrow. Try a slingshot. Trapping is silent, snare wire can multi-task as well. Binoculars or a simple monocular: hunting or not, always glass before you go. Is fishing possible where you are? Put together a minimalist kit, and be content with small catches.  Collapsible fishing rods collapse at the wrong time. Make a primitive pole or use a sectional knock down rod if you are casting and spinning.
Knives: k.i.s.s.= keep it simple and sharp. Razor-sharp is normal. No combo-blades:  where the sweet spot once was there is now serration, an unwanted challenge to re-sharpen. Bug-out might include Search and Rescue. Multi-tools have full-length serrated blades and specialty cutters. A razor-sharp plain edge has been used until now for breakout scenarios. It still works. Knives: Rule #1: cannot have too many. Rule #2: a dull knife is a dangerous knife. Get a stone set from Dan’s His family still sells the increasingly scarce natural Arkansas stones in miniature singles or combo’s, get a piece of the rock. Keep your stones in hard cases or padded pouches to prevent accidental breakage. Double-task your micro-bottle of Hoppe’s or Rem-Oil for lubrication. Stones or diamonds, keep your sharpening system simple. Do not bring what has not already been pre-tested.  Keep your blades scary sharp.  Pre-sharpen every cutting tool you plan on using, each one should be the extension of your hand. Your primary use knife should be non-reflective. Set aside a dedicated stainless knife for skinning and food prep. Maintain your edges frequently, even unused, they still degrade from humidity in the air.
Becker, KA-BAR, Benchmade, Ontario, are among the myriad makers of good knives. They are exceptional American made medium-size knives for the mid-range budget. They still offer plain and simple, well-made knives that get right to work. They all offer non-reflective blades. Buy the best you can afford. Some brands offer a low-end import line of knives. Absolutely avoid these objects designed-in-America but made in… bleep. Boycott such products which offend our nation’s deep sense of honor until they are dead and gone. 
Select a few knives, close your eyes and handle them with various hand moves. Imagine both dry hands and wet slippery hands. Buy the one that stays balanced and feels secure in the grip throughout all of your hand movements.  If the hand says its right, it is right. What is a good measure for medium blade length? Lay your hand on the blade, it should be as long as your hand is wide, or thereabouts. Make sure one of your choices has a lanyard slot in the pommel. Attach this medium-size, primary use, “first line of defense” fixed blade knife to your B.O.B, inverted carry, to the shoulder strap opposite of the hand you use. Put a lanyard on it. The best lanyard combines a short piece of 1/8” diameter shock cord added to 550 paracord. Attach the sheath to your shoulder strap with the similar shock cord so it can give and move when falling or crawling. Lanyards: Attach essential items in your chest and waist area with these umbilical cords. Example: the ever-indispensable Cammenga lensatic military compass should be attached so as not to lose it, make sure the lanyard is as long as your reach. Attach all primary-use items the same way, make the lanyard as long as your reach will require. The items you grab for rapid use need to be attached because things get dropped. We fumble under stress. Attach a mini-biner for quick release of your lanyard system. Sidearms should also have lanyards similar in theory to what offers, for obvious reasons. Don’t wait until you drop your pride-and-joy sidearm to see the light.
Chopping tools like machetes are lighter than axes. The military had a special short machete made by Ontario Knife, the LC-12. They are still simple and good, you will use this size more often. Heavy “survival knives” try to fill the gap in between a traditional combat knife and a full-size machete. Is there really a gap? The 12” machete is lighter than a survival knife and you will reach for it more often. It is not a thing of beauty. It is strictly business. Its thinner, softer steel blade sharpens faster and when it gets nicked, it is more quickly restored. In bug-out you are not needing a large machete, which will leave damaged vegetation in its wake, signs that say, “follow me.” The short machete is a shelter-building tool. If you still insist on the merits of the big blade survival knife, before you weigh-in your heavy contender, the often imitated, best-of-both-worlds Becker Machax is soon to be made available again through Ka-Bar.  Knife patriarch Ethan Becker at sheds light on this and all things edged.
Wrap “Ranger bands,” i.e. bicycle inner tube slices, around knife sheathes. These rubber “pockets” can contain small items such as fishhooks, etc. Include both fish and game skinning tools in your collection of blades. Skeletal neck knives like the Becker Necker or Remora from Ka-Bar can be sterilized by dropping in boiling water [suspended by their lanyards]. Keep a variety of knives in different places. A spare fixed blade can go in the chest pack, folders in your pocket. Always have a back-up knife and assign it a place which will never change.

If you really need an E-tool for digging, you can sit on the folding ones like a milking stool. The surplus wooden handle classics weigh about the same as the current G.I. issue tri-folder. The rivets on the classics are three times bigger than the modern version. Both have a folding business end. If you need a shovel for latrine duty only, a small, one-handed gardener is all you need.
Your watch: no quartz, battery types. Manual wind or automatic, heavy-duty types are better for bug-out. Luminous hands. Features such as chronographs, stopwatches, alarms, can and will fail. Accurate time is why you have a watch.  Make sure it can get wet. 
Your eyes: if you plan on fleeing into the woods, which is the ideal, plan on getting slapped in the face by branches. A poke in the eye might be next. Clear goggles will give you a measure of confidence needed for night movement in dense vegetation. Shaded lenses can be swapped out quickly for reduced eye stress in bright daylight. G.I. goggles come with both lenses, they will protect the noblest of the five senses.
If your B.O.B. is going to battle, if it is to include the transport of weapons and ammo in the face of organized military-level aggression, you will need to bug out in stages. Your remote arsenal should be pre-supplied and located in strategic position. Minuteman deployment represents the paradigm of bug-out. This level of the will to act is the most noble of all, but it requires the most experience and training. Bug-out gear will ideally be worn over an LBE vest carrying first line items. Multiple bug-out bags are to be sized for rapid transfer, they must withstand being dropped, dragged and concealed. They must be reasonably lightweight so as not to stall the multiple repeats of re-positioning movement.  Here is where zippered daypacks get ripped open and precious contents get scattered.  Remember, top-loading, no zippers, no velcro …
A note on bug-out vs. bug-in: Defending your castle while standing in your front doorway with your shotgun in hand may remain an unfulfilled dream. The “knock at the door” will probably never come to pass. So don’t wait for it. If you are a known “threat” — a member of an organized militia, a patriot, a gun collector, a political or religious conservative, then you are probably a target. It is better to establish a communication network in your area, warn each other of the location of the enemy and act accordingly, by anticipation, calculating miles into hours so as to move your loved ones well out of harm’s way in time. You and your property will be observed through the rangefinders of mortar teams or tank crews. The exchange of small arms fire will probably never occur, unless you are the target of a sniper. Modern sniper range is more and more frequently around the one-mile mark. What was once the achievement of the elite few is becoming the standard. Can you see one mile in every direction ? Are you a sitting duck ? Hindsight is 20/20. What has always been the unanimous regret in every case of disaster or conflict, has been the misjudged or lost opportunity for movement. Your B.O.B. is the ready and willing servant of golden opportunity. It will move each family member to reasonable safety, it will carry supplies to an outpost, it will re-position you for recon, counter sniping or underground resistance strategies. Bug-out is salutary movement.

Books and articles wherein theories of what could happen, what might happen, what was going to happen: ranging from the probable to the preposterous, these theories are developed ad nauseam. There is tension in the air. We are all sniffing the wind. The philosophy of bug-out is simple. It is visceral. It corresponds to the gut-level. Taking flight will lead you to more strategic positions of observation and intelligence, where informed decisions can be made by the light of sound reason. Bugging-out is never an act of cowardice.
Put on your B.O.B. and practice agility moves with a full load. Ascend and descend stairs. Jump off the first step, then the second, then the third … Dive onto your bed. Go outside and navigate across a stream, jump across a gully, rise up from a prone position, run bent-over, etc. Be careful with load shifting. Pack heavy items low and close to your center of gravity, which is your lower back: from the base of your shoulder blades to your waist. Forget the way vacationing backpackers are told to load their packs, with weight high and forward. This is bug-out. A complete pack with food, water and gear should be tried-out on a weekend, every item in your kit must face real use. Know what you have on hand and start accumulating the inestimable knowledge of practical experience. Be ready for some surprises. Time is of the essence and now is the time to make harmless mistakes. Later, everything will count. Amend and modify your kit as you train. However, keep in mind that a fully loaded pack used for the first time is never perfectly comfortable. Give it a few tries before you decide to change packs.
Improve your health.  90% of military basic training is comprised of mind and body conditioning. In that order. We fight and we survive first with the spirit. Weapons and equipment come later. Work towards the established average height and weight ratios. Consume low fat in training but consume high fat in survival situations. The finest in bug-out gear will not help someone in poor physical condition. Keep yourself looking respectable and trustworthy; learn to shave with a straight razor that can be re-sharpened. God-fearing individuals should appear as such.
Your true base of operations is within. Improve your soul: learn prayer.
Ask any survivor of combat: God helps him that asks.
There is only one Master of life and of death. Learn how to speak to the Almighty.
A pocket-size New Testament and Psalms weighs mere ounces. It may very well be the most valuable part of your bug-out kit.
Learn to quote the Word of Life by heart, the words spoken by the Divine Master. Be a Good Samaritan and give these words of consolation to a victim of bug-out breakdown, and keep an extra supply of this “oil and wine” in memory. 
We are our brother’s keeper.
Whatever is coming, whatever may happen, it might be beyond bullets. So pray hard.