HJL Adds: TK4, age 13, wrote this as a homeschool project.
In this article I am going to teach readers how to prepare a bug-out bag. This 13 year-old has had a bug-out bag for two years, and every year it grows better and better. I have put this article together with five main steps that are essential to any bug-out bag. I have listed the items that I have put into my bag and put them in order of necessity.
Here I am going to list the things that I deem are essential in my bag. However, I first want to talk about the bag. You, like many others may ask “Where do I start first?” Well, start with the bug-out bag. The bag really should be a quality backpack. You should pick which size bag you need according to what size you are, how much weight you can carry, and what you are going to include in it. I prefer the camouflage color over neon colors. Camouflage is good if you are bugging out because usually you don’t want to be found; if you are wearing neon you will be found. In my experience military packs work well and so do hiking backpacks. It’s really your choice because everybody is different and need different size backpacks. The price can range from twenty dollars to two hundred dollars. How much you spend really depends on what your budget is. Have fun picking out your bag; just make sure it is durable and fairly easy to carry. Essential items to go inside your bag include:
- Clothing. Everybody has to have clothes. Without proper clothing you will freeze in cold temperatures and over heat in hot temperatures. In my bag I have three day’s worth of clothes, including one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, one jacket, one t-shirt, one long-sleeved shirt, and three pairs of undergarments. Tailor the clothes that you pack to what climate you live in.
- A first-aid kit. In every bug-out bag there must be a first-aid kit. First-aid kits are very useful when out in the field because when you get hurt, (and don’t think you won’t!) you are going to need antiseptics and bandages. My kit is simple and includes bandages of assorted sizes, alcohol prep pads, and Silver Solution by Curad. Silver Solution is a great thing to have in your bug-out bag because it is very effective against MRSA along with just plain old scratches and scrapes. It is light weight and fairly inexpensive to buy.
- A quality folding knife. In my pack I include a small folding knife. I recommend the Bear Grylls knives by Gerber. They are quality knives that are light weight and easy to handle. A knife is essential to your bug-out bag because a knife can be used for many things, such as cutting rope for snares and killing animals for food. Make sure you buy a knife according to your price range because the only purpose of the knife will be for bugging out. All optimistic people hope never to have to do that, so don’t go off and buy the most expensive knife out there when there really is no need.
- A 100% water proof poncho. As the old saying goes “when it rains, it pours.” When it pours people don’t want to get soaked. A poncho is useful when it rains or when it doesn’t rain. Ponchos can be used for purposes other than as a rain coat. A poncho can be used as a small tent, a rain water collection system, a sack to hold supplies, and more. Make sure you buy a quality poncho because a lot of ponchos on the market are cheap, plastic bags that do not keep water out. My poncho is by the Ozark Trail Company. You can find those at your local Walmart.
- An Emergency blanket. An emergency blanket is a great item to include in your bug-out bag. They are light weight and serve many purposes when in the wilderness. While they can obviously be used as a blanket, they can also serve as a make shift shelter or for a rescue signal. Whatever the case, I think an emergency blanket is essential to a successful bug-out bag.
- A Fishing Kit. When surviving in the wilderness, you need food. Why not find it the easy way? A fishing kit is an easy little addition to your bug-out bag that might make the difference between life and death. My fishing kit includes two different kinds of fishing line, assorted lures, assorted hooks, and a couple of weights. Small bobbers are a good thing to include too. I made my fishing kit out of an Altoid mint tin. Those are the perfect size and are easy to find when shopping at the store.
- A sewing kit. During your bugging out, your clothes are susceptible to rips, tears, and lost buttons. An acceptable place where sewing kits can usually be found is the Dollar Tree store. I bought a sewing kit from there that includes a set of assorted needles, five different threads, a thimble, a paper measuring tape, a needle threader, assorted safety pins, and a couple of buttons. I added a few extra buttons because it didn’t come with many. I really recommend adding a sewing kit to your bug-out bag.
- An LED flashlight and glow stick. Let’s face it, you need a flashlight in your bug-out bag. When it gets dark you need light to help you see your way and to possibly scare off predators. You can also use the batteries to start a fire. A glow stick can be used to signal rescue during the night. My glow stick has a small flashlight on it as well as a signal whistle. Those are valuable items when it comes to bugging out.
- One hundred feet of 550 paracord. Paracord is absolutely essential to a bug-out bag. It is light weight and can hold up to 550 pounds of weight. It can be used for shoe laces, animal snares, fishing line, a clothes lines, tooth floss, tying equipment to your pack, and much more.
- A spare pair of eyeglasses. I wear prescription eyeglasses like a lot of people do. I keep an extra pair in my pack because if you fall and break your glasses you are going to be in a heap of trouble. Not being able to see is almost like not being able to walk; you can’t go very far safely. Keeping an extra pair of glasses with you is always an important thing to do because without them you are venerable to falling, getting attacked by wild animals, and just plain not being able to see. Zenni Optical Eyeglass Company is an excellent source of quality eyeglasses for your bug-out bag.
- An emergency whistle. An emergency whistle is essential to a bug-out bag because when you are trying to be found and your voice just isn’t loud enough, an emergency whistle will work great. You just put the whistle in your mouth, plug your ears, and blow. Emergency whistles can be used as zipper pulls as well.
- An all-weather notebook. I have an all-weather notebook along with a pen because when I bug-out I want to record what happens. It won’t hurt to record what happens each day out in the wild. I encourage you to have one too.
In this category I am going to explain what I include in my pack that will be useful to create heat.
- Trioxane solid fuel tablets. Trioxane is a military type fire starter that is a quick, reliable fire starter. You can usually find it at military surplus stores or on the Internet.
- Strike on box matches. I have matches in my kit because you always need matches to start a fire. Without matches you can start fire but not very easily. Having a good size supply is recommended because you do not want to run out. I have one of the little 32 match packs in my bug-out bag.
Bringing a sleeping bag in your bug-out bag will keep your body warm when the temperature drops and ensure you a good night’s sleep. You should buy your sleeping bag according to the climate that you live in. If you live in Florida then you won’t need a heavy sleeping bag, However, if you live in Wisconsin, then you would need to buy a heavy sleeping bag with a certain temperature protection barrier so as not to get frostbite. You can take your poncho and use 550 paracord to make a tent when you need shelter. A Sleeping bag is an excellent thing to put in your bug-out bag so make sure you include that valuable part of your preps.
Food and Water
Here is what I carry in my bug-out bag to ensure I have security with food and water:
- Food rations. I have three days worth of food in my bug-out bag. Each day’s worth includes: one pack of chicken Ramen, one small chicken salad and crackers, one packet of instant oatmeal, two energy bars, a couple of peppermints, a few packets of sugar, and a few assorted drink mix packets. Packing enough food to feed yourself for how many days you choose your pack to sustain you for is very important. If you do not pack enough food you will struggle and not be as healthy and alert as you would if you had the proper amount of food. You should inspect your food supply about every four months because you want food that is not expired in your bug-out bag. You should tailor the amount of food that you bring to how much food you need a day. Since I am 13 years old, I do not need to bring as much as my dad brings. Food is essential to survival!
- A spork. I bring a spork in my bug-out bag because everybody uses utensils while eating. Without the right utensils you will may resort to using your hands, which could result in you digesting harmful bacteria and getting sick. Pack a spork!
- A canteen and canteen cup. I include a canteen and cup in my pack because a canteen is a great resource for carrying water. The canteen cup is a metal cup or pot that fits snugly around the canteen. The cup may be used for boiling water to purify it of any harmful bacteria, cooking your Ramen rations, and other things. You can find canteens and canteen cups at military surplus stores.
- Water bottle. I have a water bottle in my kit along with the canteen because bringing enough water can be the difference between life and death. I bought my water bottle at Walmart and it is a pretty high quality for what I paid for it. Bringing a water bottle is also useful if you have another person with you who does not have proper water carrying supplies.
- A Camelback water bladder. I have a Camelback water bladder along with my canteen and water bottle in my bug-out bag because, again, you should have a large supply of water for survival. Hydration is everything when it comes to survival.
- Water Purification tablets. I possess water purification tablets in my bug-out bag because, when searching for water in the wild, it is almost impossible to find clean, parasite-free water. They are effective in eliminating Giardia and Lamblia when used properly. So, when you find water that is rather clean looking you can pop one of the tablets in and your water is germ and parasite free. It’s an awesome thing to have in your bug-out bag because it insures you won’t become sick with parasites from unpurified water.
In this category I am going to relay what I keep in my bug-out bag that is necessary for proper hygiene.
- Hygiene items. May kit includes soap, shampoo, deodorant, and hand sanitizer. Those are important things in your bug-out bag if you want to stay healthy. Not having the proper hygiene items can lead to sickness and disease. Nobody wants that. The hand sanitizer can be used as a fire starter as well. Just add some to your wood shavings or kindling, and it helps the fire start.
- Travel size tooth brush kit. I have a tooth brush kit it my pack because I believe in brushing my teeth regularly. The kit I have includes a tooth brush, toothpaste, and a tooth brush cover. A tooth brush kit has an important role in a bug-out bag because if you don’t brush your teeth you will develop cavities, and nobody wants those! Brushing your teeth also boosts your moral because it makes you feel a lot better than if you had not packed the kit.
- Paper tissue. I bring two little packs of tissues in my bug-out bag because I, like most people, prefer not to use leaves when using the facilities. So bringing some tissues is never a bad thing in a bug-out bag.
- Lip balm. Inside my pack I include lip balm because when out in the wild your lips are likely to get chapped. If you do not have anything to soothe them they will grow uncomfortable, soon crack, and possibly contract an infection, which is not a good thing at all. I bring the Carmex brand lip balm in my pack because that is the brand I prefer. Lip balm can also be used as a fire starter by rubbing it on a paper product and lighting it. Lip balm is light weight and easy to slip into your bug-out bag without a problem.
I hope this list of supplies has helped you prepare to make your bug-out bag without a problem. Remember, tailor your pack to your needs and do not pack more than you need. Hopefully, you will never have to bug-out, but if you do at least you will have the peace of mind that you are prepared. Being prepared is what matters in the case of life or death. Enjoy putting your bug-out bag together. I enjoyed it and I am very proud of the finished product,. I am sure you will be as well. Have fun!!!
I would like to thank my parents for the help they gave me in the making of this article. It is because of my parents that this article was made possible, because all of the knowledge that I possess, I learned from them. I am very grateful to have parents who care for me and want me to know how to be prepared.