20 Items You Must Have In Your Bug-Out-Bag

by Michael

When disaster strikes suddenly, you may be forced to leave everything in a matter of seconds. You will need tools, materials and supplies to sustain yourself as you evacuate the disaster area, which is why doomsday preppers recommend that you have a bug-out-bag. A bug-out-bag is pre-packed bag that you can grab as you run out the door that can sustain you for at least a few days.

Generally, you will have to leave on foot so your supplies must be literally carried on your back. People tend to over pack not realizing that their backpack will be on their back for hours a day. Therefore, your supplies must be multi-purpose and you must have the essentials to make shelter, collect and purify water, make fire and possibly hunt, fish or trap small game if the disaster continues for an extended period. For this reason, it is recommended that doomsday preppers have these 20 items in your bug-out-bag:

20 Must Have Bug-Out-Bag Supplies for Doomsday Preppers:

  1. You will need foods that can be eaten as you walk. You need enough for three days at a minimum. Protein bars, hard chocolate, peanut butter are examples. You can also carry Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s). The MRE packaging is plastic and you can easily carry more than three days worth. The meals can be eaten with or without heating.
  2. Water in more than one container because of the weight and if you damage a container, you will not lose all of your supply. Carry at least three days worth.
  3. Carry a slim flashlight also consider infrared lenses for night use to prevent detection.
  4. Fire starting tools such as magnesium sticks also waterproof matches but always have a backup fire starting method.
  5. Personal hygiene items in particular body washing wipes to conserve water. Hand sanitizer and insect repellent in liquid form. Aerosol cans are bulky and inefficient and can be a fire hazard. Include a small container of soap for clothes laundering.
  6. Multi-tool
  7. Heavy bladed knife
  8. Small stainless steel bowl for food preparation and for boiling water
  9. Water purification tablets and/or a water filtration system
  10. Two stainless steel canteens
  11. First aid supplies
  12. Sewing kit
  13. 20-24 gauge wire
  14. Assorted fishing hooks, fishing line and tackle
  15. Self defense items such as mace, stun-gun and/or firearm
  16. Folding walking stick(s)
  17. Nylon or wool sleeping bag
  18. 550 para cord/heavy twine
  19. Two rain ponchos that can be used for shelter -must be large enough to cover you and your pack when carried
  20. Extra socks

Your backpack itself is important and it should be water resistant if not waterproof. It must have straps to secure a sleeping bag on the outside of the pack. You simply cannot spare the room for one inside the bag. The straps and harness should be considered load bearing so you can attach a machete or axe and carry your water bottles. Weight must be distributed evenly for comfortable hiking.

If the weather is cold, it is assumed you will be wearing your cold weather gear. It is not necessary then to pack an additional heavy coat if you are wearing one. However, pack clothes so you can layer to regulate body temperature. Your main priorities are shelter, water, fire and food. When packing, carefully evaluate all items for multiple uses such as wire or cordage, which can be used for, gear repair, shelter construction and animal snares.

What other items do you have in your bug-out-bag?

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Dennis October 28, 2012 at 11:39 am

I agree with what your doing I just feel it should have been done 30 or 40 years ago I know that I need to find a way to start doing this on a limited income and being a disabled veteran I also need to find someone that is in central maine that can help me do this Keep it up best of luck.

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Colleen December 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Try going to your local thrift store for some of the items. You may find a sleeping bag or and older army backpack and some used knives that just need sharpening and maybe a vinyl tarp. Walmart has water purification tablets in the camping area that are not too expensive. Walmart also has their own brand of protien bars, granola bars (etc.) that are less expensive.

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Jack October 30, 2012 at 10:03 am

Can anyone recommend a good, reliable, portable water treatment device? I believe water’s probably going to be scarce during a doomsday event and sources of water may be too polluted for consumption. Thanks

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Melissa November 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm

A good water treatment device is the Katadyn water filtration system and a good steri pen that is solar powered. With the Katadyn you can get water out of mud and it has a ceramic filter that would not need to be replaced for a very long time. I hope this helps.

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Tiffany Briglin November 17, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I found the best water treatment system to be Sawyer filtration bottles/systems. I bought a couple bottles for easy carry and also a 4L dirty/clean bag system that folds up pretty small for filtering more water at a time. They filter 1 million gallons of water without having to change the filter, guaranteed. I tested it in some pretty dirty water and it came out tasting great…also, I believe that the sawyer filtration systems filters the most of any filtration system…down to 99.9997 virus, bacteria, protozoa.

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steve December 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm

you can find a portable water treatment device at any sporting goods store or on line at REI Mountain Hardware etc.. Some can also be fitted to purify the water directly to your water bottle and very easy to use.

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Terri December 19, 2012 at 6:11 am

Do those water purifying pills work for purifying water?

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seamus January 14, 2013 at 4:49 pm

An easy trick to do that without purchasing much is buy a small pot and boil water you would find in a stream or from an untrusted faucet, also check before hand on local maps for high points in the landscape, usually there are runoff streams and such on the high ground

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Ramon October 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm

How about a Lifestraw? Or several even, as one filters about 250 gal. You’re good for a year if you have 3 of these pen-size filters.

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J.P.Daly April 11, 2013 at 7:37 am

Ever try using one of those? There not as easy as they seem. A industrial water pump would have trouble sucking up water through one of those.

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Brian Pride October 31, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I think I saw one called SteriPen in my local pharmacy. I personally use a water treatment system at home myself, and it’s a good investment.

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cory November 9, 2012 at 10:50 pm

For water filtration when I am on the land I have always used a katadyn-vario Multi flow water microfilter. This babies standard filter system will provide clean water up to a minimum of 500 gallons per filter set. System includes a ceramic core filter with active carbon agent for cloudy or dirty most Likley stagnant water and a glass fibber primary filter in normal conditions. What I like most about this filter is the attachable base that can connect to almost any nalgene type wafted bottle and comes with an output house for large containers and hydration systems. Bought my last one (drooped the first one off a cliff in Montana) from amazon for $73.40 bit as long as you have iodine or florins on

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Eric November 17, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Check out sawyer.com. I have one. Supposed to be good for a million gallons and it takes up less space than a pair of rolled up socks.

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Jason November 21, 2012 at 12:58 am

Maps, compass
Pen and paper never know when you will need to leave a note for friends and family in an extreme bug out situation.

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LaDonna December 19, 2012 at 8:23 am

Excellent recommendations, Jason.

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gary November 25, 2012 at 4:37 am

A replacement for twine would be a spool of 50# braided fishing line.
The braided lined doesnt break very easy and you can carry 250 yards of it in a cargo pocket.
I also carry an old tin band-aid container with a 55 gallon trashbag, fire
starter, a couple of tea bags , tweezers and a book of matches.

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Terri December 16, 2012 at 5:19 am

What are some ways to prep if you do not have any money? What are the free ways?

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J.P.Daly April 11, 2013 at 7:54 am

Empty soda bottles refilled with water. Metal cups for cooking food, boiling questionable water. Bleach (non scented type), or iodine for water purification. Vaseline or melted paraffin rubbed into cotton balls or cosmetic pads for starting fires. Small aluminum pans available in supermarkets, (the 1 time use type). They could be collapsed for storage. Pillow cases layered with a garbage bag or two tied off with some cord makes a bag you could toss over your shoulder. Military can openers are not expensive. Zip lock plastic bags hold first aid supplies well. Hope this helps. God bless you.

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M Jo December 20, 2013 at 1:21 am

Scary… I feel it’s getting closer and closer

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randy March 6, 2014 at 12:37 am

used dryer sheets and dryer lint makes a great fire starter and are free. I collect it after each dryer cycle in an empty zip top bag so its cost free all around.

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Big Nate December 20, 2012 at 10:37 am

A pack of coffee filters or bandana for large particle filtering and a little medicine bottle with a dropper filled with plain (no extra fragrance or detergents) house hold bleach can go a long way when it comes to water purification. Make sure you carry a cheat sheet for ratio amounts a couple drops can purify a lot of water!

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Alan December 25, 2012 at 5:21 am

Duck Tape, Sun Glasses, Passport, Super Glue, Bible Not listed above

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Chris December 30, 2012 at 6:17 am

Ah Alan they weren’t listed above because they aren’t essential! How is a bible or ducttape or superglue an essential in this situation?? Sunglasses?? lol. geez. what about toenail clippers, wigedy board and a cheese grater… on a serious note, My compound bow is definitely going to b on my priority list. Retrievable ammo for hunting, protection is a plus..

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DocOnes January 24, 2013 at 10:54 pm

While I never completed SF school, I did suffer through 3 months before shattering an ankle, DUCT TAPE and 2 branches allowed me to splint it while I hobbled out to a rescue road. Duct tape is good for many things including fixing stuff you find in your travels. I do recommend wraping the 2″ version around an old ID or credit card. SUPER GLUE is also essential, it water proofs seams, can be used medically for cuts and scrapes, serves to repair boots/shoes, etc.

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tina February 19, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Duct tape is also great for fire starting…

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Dazy10 January 1, 2013 at 6:33 pm

The ecomonic crisis looming in the horizon is upon us now.
With the major changes they are predicting and some they have already implemented our economic future looks dim.
I think cash is very very important to have !
If the US actually goes into a depression , all things will be precious and life as we know it now will be gone.
Getting ride of cc debt, stocking up on essentials for everyday life, food included and getting back to basic’s like our grandparents and great grandparents would definitely be a good idea.
When gas is $8 , milk is $8 , just think how much everything lease will be.
We will all be hit with horribly high taxes, some starting today the 1 st of Jan 2013 the rest of these outrageous taxes will be slipped in gradually over the next 4-10 years , that means less money to Survive on.
There are certainly other natural and man made crotastrophy’s possible in everyone’s future but the ecomimic downfall and monitary downfall of the US will be hard to handle .
Gathering info from all news sources and sometimes reading between the lines will keep us informed somewhat.
Pay attention and get ready !
Love these articles…would like to some predictions from others and advise on our economic future.
From Texas

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pam January 1, 2013 at 9:46 pm

i think you are excatly right about getting back to basics as our grandparents and great grandparentd lived. you will need money,silver,gold etc to barder with. Things are going to get rough in the four years. we will need to live with the basics

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Keith January 12, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Uh Chris, to many, having something to read helps pass the time and what better book to have than the best survival guide of all time….The BIBLE. Plus, duct tape and super/crazy glue Have 100′s of uses. I’m Ex-military (20yrs Psy-Ops & SF) and a bow would be one of the last things I would take with in a Bugout scenario. Too much room needed for firing and your target must be within 50m to really make the shot count. But, what would I know, I’ve only had to survive for several weeks on my own with one days rations and what I carried in my Ruck.

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Jon June 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm

I find this response humorous… I agree with some of what was said, but certainly not all of it. I have no use for the Bible (and if someone is going to sit down and get religious in a SHTF scenario, it’s probably because they’ve given up). The duct tape and glue comment is spot on though… they are both abundantly useful and I keep them on hand at all times.

Now, on to the one piece of this I really don’t agree with… You say that a bow is one of the last things you’d bring with you. For most people that’s probably a fair statement… your average civilian (or soldier, sailor, airman, etc) probably has never used a bow and they are definitely a skill that must be learned.

So basic disagreement isn’t really funny… why do I find this humorous? I’ve never met anyone who was both PsyOps and SF. PsyOps is an abbreviated way of saying Psychological Operations. The largest, although not only, PsyOps group in the country is the Special Activities Division of the CIA. CIA operatives (particularly those who are/were cover operatives) do NOT publicly post their affiliation (or even hint at it) on the Internet. While various DoD units do engage in psychological warfare, they are not responsible for the creation of such campaigns.

By definition, psychological warfare is “the planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives.” As such, it is a job geared specifically towards practiced non-violence, a philosophy not practiced by most special operations units.

For that matter, I’ve never met someone who actually served who called it SF. Those who actually served in “SF” units usually fall into one of two categories… Those who are proud of their unit/position and will gladly tell you who they served with, or those who (for one reason or another) CAN’T say who they served with and as such won’t refer to their training AT ALL. The only people I can think of who would call it SF would be those who were part of the OSS during World War II, at which time it literally was frequently called “Special Forces”. If you fall into that category, then I hope no offense was taken by my previous comments… but I would suggest that the age group your service puts you in would indicate that the bow probably wouldn’t be the best weapon for you anyway… arthritis and all make the use of this type of weapon very painful.

Conversely, one might ask what makes me such an authority? In truth, I’m not and I doubt that anyone who is able to discuss their job IS an authority. Even inside their respective communities, people rarely have extensive knowledge of other organizations. However, seven years working my way through the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC), all the way through 2nd Recon Bn and the beginnings of MARSOC (Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command) say that I have at least knowledge of how it works in that community!

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bill April 1, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Spot on. Semper fi. In fact a bow…or cross bow…or high powered along shot even…is good. Why? If you need to defend yourself and you use a gun….the noise attracts everyone. If you’re hunting for what little game there might be…same thing….. bang and suddenly you have company.

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Paul January 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Just as an aside, that hand sanitizer you listed can also be used to help start fires if needed.

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Frank January 22, 2013 at 9:35 pm

For quick and cheap water treatment, iodine should not be overlooked. A drop or two in your water bottle, wait 20 minutes or so and you have drinkable water. Using a scarf or other cloth can filter out the chunky stuff.

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Tom January 28, 2013 at 12:35 am

“Generally, you will have to leave on foot so your supplies must be literally carried on your back. People tend to over pack not realizing that their backpack will be on their back for hours a day. Therefore, your supplies must be multi-purpose and you must have the essentials to make shelter, collect and purify water, make fire and possibly hunt, fish or trap small game if the disaster continues for an extended period. For this reason, it is recommended that doomsday preppers have these 20 items in your bug-out-bag:

Carry at least three days worth (of water).”

Depending on climate and activity, that is 2 to 5 gallons per person – more if you plan on MREs as the food recommended at item 1 because MREs have very low water content and most MRE meals need water added to be edible (yes, you CAN eat them dry, but you won’t want to, and you will be thirsty if you do).

OK, everyone, go fill a container with five gallons of water, pick it up and see how far you expect to carry it. If anyone in the party isn’t a strong, healthy, physically fit adult, someone is going to have to carry more than their own share of water.

Time to go back and revisit your planning

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RichFl April 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm

A NOTE: about water. a gallon of water weighs in at 8 pounds. To carry 1 gallon per day use (FEMA, CDC, AMA states you need that as a minimum) for 3 days will have you carrying a minimum of 24 pounds of water. That is a lot of weight to walk around with.

Suggestion is to reduce down to 3 Litters in a pouch in your pack and 1 canteen of 1 quart on your hip. Go GI JOE. Have water filter kit and water treatment pills along in your pack.

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RichFl April 7, 2013 at 9:25 pm

PS: You can bleed to death in under a minute
You can live for 3-5 minutes without oxygen
You can live 3-5 days without water
You can live about 2 weeks without shelter
You can live for 30+ days without food

Remember what your priorities need to be.

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Prepper Paul August 15, 2013 at 3:54 pm

That’s a great thing to keep in mind RichFL, thank you!

I also agree about Iodine tabs. They take up very little space and are extremely valuable in the field.

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M Jo December 20, 2013 at 1:24 am

Scary…. I feel each day, it’s getting closer and closer

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holieguacamolieeeee January 18, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I have purchased many good items for our bugout bags and first aid kits at Wal Mart and Dollar Tree – and, a few extra clothing items from a Goodwill store – your can get quite a bit in a bugout and first aid kit without items being so heavy. Take some of your products out of the boxes, bottles, etc. and place in them in ziploc bags; be sure to let all the air out of the ziploc bag. We purchased some items in travel size so they won’t take up quite so much space. In addition to the clothing and other essentials, I bought the following small items/travel size items -
cotton balls, duct tape,masking tape, cough drops, liquid hand soap, hand sanitizer, dental floss, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, bar soap, disposable razors, nylon thread, sewing kit, allergy liquid, Benadryl caps, Zyrtec, Musinex, vitamins, pocket kleenex, mathces, earplugs, qtips, sharpie markers, rubber bands, small writing pad, tape measure, ace bandages, disposable gloves, trash bags, toothpicks, tin foil, lighters, icy hot, chest rub, bandaids, scissors, heat patches, plastic forks, spoons, straws, nail clippers, tweezers, emery boards, compact mirrors, small bungi cords, rain ponchos, clothesline, clothespins, tongue depressors, pocket knives, Chigger-ex, anti nauses/diarrhea medications, eyedrops, Energy shot – stuff like that – go to Dollar Tree first!

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mm March 21, 2014 at 9:12 pm

3.Carry a slim flashlight also consider infrared lenses for night use to prevent detection
You do realize that with out night vision goggles (or super powers) you will not be able to see ‘light’ with your ‘infrared lenses’ on

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daddydrifter May 1, 2014 at 5:49 pm

RichFl list should be read every time you go to the store to buy SHTF products. But a truck load of stuff won’t help you if you don’t know how to use it. Also, go out doors for a few days with what you can carry in your pockets and enjoy yourself. This way you’ll be comfortable in that situation(SHTF). And last but not least, only a fool would tell someone not to bring a Bible. whether you believe in God or not. a calm mind is what you need to survive , so if a Bible will help you, by all means bring it…peace

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