In some emergencies or in situations when things go completely sideways, often you will have very little notice to get the hell out of Dodge. The concept of the Bug Out Bag is an efficient, easy to manage back back that contains the basic essentials of what you need to live upon for a short duration of time if you need to evacuate your home.  And nothing else. In these emergency situations you do not have the luxury of long term survival resources.

We’ve all heard the tales of people in the path of a firestorm or flood and are forced to evacuate with not even 10 minutes notice. Then is not the time to decide what you are taking with you. So this “Bug Out Bag” or “72 Hour Bag” needs to have critical items for not just your survival and comfort, but for possible insurance claims and your emergency contacts. Remember…this is all you may have.

Most people will have to evacuate by car, so it would be wise to keep this in your trunk or by the front door. But if you cannot evacuate by vehicle, then it comes down to only what you can carry.


The biggest thing to ask yourself is what will be the nature of your emergency? And the pack accordingly.  Then pack a bag that you can actually carry. If you are on foot and your bag is too heavy then you are going to have to ditch items. Your bag should be under 10lbs unless you are in the kind of shape that can carry heavier. Mine has all of the items below and comes in just under 7 pounds. But if you are likely to have to evacuate by car, then you can keep heavier items in your vehicle.

That being said THIS is a good pack as is THIS. But if it’s simpler for you to just get something quick, they sell them READY TO GO.
And THIS ONE is pretty hard core and a portion of the proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior charity

Most lists of what to include are nearly identical, but this is mine

ENERGY FOODS: Snack bars, ready to eat MEALS, trail mix, raisins, nuts, emergency FOOD BARS, etc.
WATER: Several bottles of water, water PURIFICATION and/or a LIFESTRAW. This will be your heaviest item. Debate on going with water filtration
FLASHLIGHT AND BATTERIES: Like THIS one which is hand crank or just a bad ass FLASHLIGHT or HEADLAMP
DEVICE CHARGERS: Small SOLAR PANEL or hand crank CHARGERS for devices
CHANGE OF CLOTHES: This is debatable and honestly I think unnecessary. This isn’t a vacation. You can deal with dirty jeans.
TENT AND SLEEPING BAG: This is a great compact SLEEPING BAG and EMERGENCY TENT.  Keep it light! And see below…
FIRESTARTER: Lighters, FIRE STRIKERS, water proof MATCHES* and fire CUBES** (which can help a fire going)
MINI STOVE: This is GOOD ONE because it’s small and compact
GAFFER TAPE: It’s a miracle invention with more uses than you would think
ZIP TIES: Another useful resource
GARBAGE BAGS: Lightweight and with multiple uses from wound protection, rain poncho and even shelter. Here’s a good LIST from
COOKING PAN: Keep it light. Here is ONE
FIRST AID KIT: THIS ONE is good basic kit and this is a good MANUAL
EMERGENCY RADIO: And one with the NOAA emergency frequencies on it like THIS ONE
TWO WAY RADIO: At the very least a “bubble pack” GMRS radio or ideally a HAM RADIO***
MAPS: If cell phones aren’t working, then you have to know how to navigate. Get one like THIS for your area
COMPASS: And know how to use one. THIS is the one I own
IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS: Copies of insurance, banking info and your emergency contacts
ROPE: Or better yet, a good length of PARACORD and some fishing line with lures and hooks
PERSONAL SANITATION: Wet wipes, toilet paper, soap and a small towel
WHISTLE: This ONE is perfectly fine
DUST MASK: Use the N95. Depending upon the event there could be particulate debris in the air. 
GLOVES: You may need THEM
SAFETY PINS: Always handy
SPECIAL NEEDS: Medications, glasses, contact lens solution, etc. Think of any item you use on a daily basis
FIRE ARM: Your call…and bring ammo. But not too much…

And though these are suggestions, you have to tailer make your bag to suit your needs. Do some research and find items that double up functionality.
Like THIS is both a hand cranked charger and NOAA radio. Remember that this is to get you by for a few days and not a long term survival strategy.

What NOT to include

FULL TENTS AND SLEEPING BAGS: Unless you are evacuating by vehicle you are not going to successfully carry these huge items around.
CANNED FOODS: Same issue. Weight.
POTS AND PANS: You are not going camping. You have to simply get by for a few days. If you are in a vehicle then sure, but if you are on foot you are going to regret that cast iron skillet. Use a single light weight pan.

Get your bag together today and be safe…

*Water proof matches are easy. Wooden matches dipped in wax
**A great and easy way to make these is to soak dryer lint in melted wax
***To operate a Ham Radio you need your license from the FCC (and there is plenty of information about that on this site, BUT in an emergency situation that involves risk to life or property any person can transmit on any of the ham radio bands.