Forums / Strategies, Tactics & Training / My take on Bugout Bags

6 years 47 weeks ago, 4:36 PM


runawaygun762's picture

Vice President
Join Date:
Nov 2008
Richland, MO, United States
My take on Bugout Bags

Bugout Bags, or BoBs (Not to be confused with Battery Operated Boyfriends), are getting a lot of discussion recently on many of the forums I frequent. The number one question is, of course, “What should go in them”?

This question is as broad and useless as “What kind of gun should I get for self defense”? Rather than trying to come up with an answer that sorta fits everyone, I think it’s a good idea to try and help illustrate some of the purposes for having a BoB. This approach will allow people from different areas of the country and with different ideas of what constitutes an emergency to better tailor their bag’s contents to their own needs.

The original thought behind the bugout bag was to have a small bag containing basic items that would allow someone to exit a vehicle or dwelling and have enough spare ammo, signaling equipment, and first aid gear to fight his or her way to a friendly location. Bugout bags weren’t intended to be survival kits, medic bags, or rucksacks full of zombie-killing firepower and protein bars. Instead of thinking “rucksack”, think “diaper bag”, and you have an idea of the size of a real bugout bag.

Like any other tactical (or tacticool) equipment, the bugout bag has evolved based on the need of the end user so size, contents, storage location, and purpose has changed. It all depends on what your vision of the next local emergency leads you to build.

If your primary concern is having survival items in the vehicle in case you go off the side of the road on the way to or from elk camp in the mountains, then having a bag containing a couple space blankets or a wool blanket, fire making materials, signaling equipment, hand cranked storm radio, battery powered two way radio, a few bottles of water, and high-calorie snack bars makes much more sense than having a bunch of spare mags, camo face paint, and a machete

If you are more worried about being ready when the 9th Mongolian Zombie Horde comes charging down I-44, then your bag should be stuffed full of mags, frags, and tourniquets, because there will be plenty to eat and drink when all the Hostess and Anhauser-Busch trucks get abandoned.

Personally, my bugout bag focuses more on medical treatment for myself, my family, and those around me. I don’t even call it a bugout bag, I just call it my aid bag. I, however, have more than one “emergency kit” in my vehicle when I’m traveling. I have my aid bag, which also contains a small survival kit; in addition to that bag, I have one bandoleer containing three spare mags for the M4 within reach of the rifle itself, and in the trunk I have three level 3A (Old NIJ standards) vests and a Blackhawk chest rig holding another 12 M4 mags, one spare Glock mag, a can of OC spray, and two Cobra civilian radios.

As you can see, I am well prepared for many issues, but as you can also imagine, trying to cram all of this stuff into one bugout bag would result in a bugout duffel bag. When I’m traveling around town, the aid bag comes along, but the chest rig and vests usually stay home. The vast majority of emergencies I can envision result in mass-casualty events, whether it be an active shooter event at a public place or a multi-car accident on the interstate. I’m not nearly as worried about having emergency rations or water on hand as I am worried about being able to treat a “sucking” chest wound in two or more people.

My suggestion for anyone thinking about putting together a bugout bag is to think realistically about what kind of environment they live in, what the primary uses will be, then what they can reasonably afford to stock it with. I know we all want to be ready for anything that may come our way, but certain tradeoffs and compromises must be made, certain equipment must be purchased with the intent of performing multiple roles, because if not, we will end up with bugout connexes instead of bugout bags.

I will begin making a list of various medical items I have in my aid bag that I have used or seen used in real-world environments that I recommend. I’ll also do the same with various “survival kit” items that I have used camping and will give the reason behind adding or omitting them from my personal kit.

"I have always been a soldier. I have known no other life. The calling of arms, I have followed from boyhood. I have never sought another." From The Virtues of War, by Steven Pressfield.
6 years 47 weeks ago, 8:37 PM


luckybychoice's picture

Secretary of the Treasury
Join Date:
May 2009
United States

i have been putting together a BOB,I have a Maxpedition Condor 3 day pack,about 1950 cubic inchs with a camelback.its versatile enough with additional pouches i can attach to the Molle web if i want to increase capacity too.Right now i have in it
my Vietnam era flashlight
S&W fixed blade knife
Leatherman Wave multi-tool

FAK-purchased from REI for hikers,1-4 person size which deals mostly cuts,scrapes,sprains.i added more Ibuprofin,gauze,tape,large and med.size bandages.Thats something i will probably add Quikclot to as well but any recomendations would be appreciated too,i'm not to worried about me but if i come upon someone else i'd help out with medical attention if needed.

50ft.of 550 paracord stuffed into a plastic jar so it doesn't tangle all to hell.

Magnesium fire starter-tested it works good.
waterproof matchs
Bic lighter-always heard you should have at least 3 methods for starting a fire
I have a plastic jar full of petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls to aide in starting a fire.That works really well too.I have tried it on wet wood and dry.

an emergency space blanket

compass on my backpack strap in a pouch with a spare compass in my FAK

I have my CC permit so i carry and keep a spare mag on me,but i threw an extra mag in the pack too.My BOB purpose is really just to make it from work to home anyway so i would not be looking for a confrontation,instead concentrating on getting home.I believe that there is a scenario i have played out in my head where everybody mobs the guy with the backpack,as that would be a value to the mob rule if the SHTF so i have a poncho and poncho liner tied up under my pack,i would put on the poncho to camoflague the fact i had a backpack mostly too.But believe me if it got that far out of hand i would be kicking it up a couple notches in my aggressiveness too.

What i need:

2 way comms,Cobra radios i have looked at reach out to 36 miles and they are pretty inexpensive.
water filtration system- like a Katydin(?) one i have seen is good for 500 gallons on one filter and its 90 bucks.Again in the land of 10,000 lakes i don't have worry about where the water is,just making it safe to drink,and i could always boil some.Any way thats my start for a BOB.

i tried being reasonable,i didn't like it, NRA LIFE MEMBER,USMC VETERAN
6 years 46 weeks ago, 10:14 AM


Reaper308's picture

Secretary of Defense
Join Date:
Jun 2008
Airstrip One, Oceania
LBC's bag

is pretty similar to mine...

300 ft. 550 paracord
100 ft. 100MPH duct tape
Fire kit w/ flint & Steel, steel wool, waterproof matches, lighters, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly and other fire accelerants
various extra batteries(AAA,AA,123,D)
LED Surefire Flashlight and 2 LED headlamps
M1A, AR, and Glock mags w/ extra ammo for .22LR and 12GA
small first aid kit
High calorie energy bars (2000 calories)
2 100 oz water bladders (obviously empty)
electrolyte powder for water
bottle of mulit vitamins
water purification (filter and tabs)
4 Mylar emergency space blankets
4 ponchos
survival knife
multi tool
small mirror (for signaling)
2 way radios

I'm probably forgetting some stuff. I always throw extra stuff in there from time to time.

That is all in the bag ready to go. Assuming I had 5 extra minutes to gather other things, I would grab cold weather gear, tent, sleeping bags, more food, water, ammo, whisky, my dogs, tarps, gas etc…

"Proelium Comminus Auctoritate" "Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a muzzle flash."

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