How to Make a Bug Out Bag or 72-Hour Emergency Survival Kit

Posted by Will H. on

Realistically, we can't control when, where, or how disasters strike. But we can control how prepared we are to deal with a disaster. There's a fine line between order and chaos and sometimes that line can be measured in seconds. So when every second counts, having a plan and the tools to see that plan through are crucial to survival. So with this in mind a Bug Out Bag should be the #1 resource in your overall survival plan and may very well be your key to survival one day. Here are 11 supply categories that need to be considered when assembling your Bug Out Bag.

Category #1: WATER

When building a Bug Out Bag or 72 hour survival kit it needs to contain at least 1 liter of water per day for proper hydration. More may be necessary especially considering your hygiene concerns and certain weather conditions (deserts, etc.). Additionally, I carry a Lifestraw water filter and water purification tablets in my Bug Out Bag.

Category #2: FOOD

Most likely you're not going to get three well balanced meals because this is going to be for survival.  So with this in mind MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) canned meats and beans can work just fine (Don't forget the can opener and a cooking kit.). If the weight of your Bug Out Bag is an issue, dehydrated meals make excellent choices. 

CATEGORY #3: SHELTER

Protecting yourself from the elements, whether rain, cold, or heat, is incredibly important. A military poncho should be your first emergency shelter option. These are designed with grommets in the corners to be used as a make-shift emergency tarp-tent and are actually quite effective. Other options for emergency shelter are a simple reflective emergency survival blanket, a 6’x10′ waterproof rip-stop nylon tarp, a wool blanket, or a very packable sleeping bag.

CATEGORY #4: FIRE

You need a minimum of 3 ways to make fire.  When preparing your Bug Out Bag, toss in a few of the easy options like lighters, waterproof matches, and flint. Besides these, you also need some tinder for fueling your initial flame. You can buy tinder from any outdoor store, but cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly is a great option if you want to make your own.

CATEGORY #5: FIRST AID

No matter if your decide to build your own first aid kit for your Bug Out Bag or buy a pre-made first aid kit, make sure at a minimum it includes the following items: 1″ x 3″ adhesive bandages (12), 2″ x 4.5″ adhesive bandages (2), adhesive knuckle bandages (3), butterfly closure bandages (2), gauze dressing.Additionally, you can add other items like suture kits, alcohol pads, additional gauze, and larger bandages.

CATEGORY #6: TOOLS

The first and most important tool in your Bug Out Bag is a full tang fixed blade all-purpose survival knife. It should be around an overall length of 10"; large enough to use for chopping, splitting, and self-defense but also small enough to use for more delicate tasks like preparing food. Besides a knife, one other item you will want to consider is a good multi-tool. At a minimum your multi-tool should have a screwdriver (both Phillips and flat-head), pliers, a knife blade, and wire cutters.

CATEGORY #7: LIGHTING

Your Bug Out Bag should contain at least 2 light sources. 1 light source should be a flashlight that can shine light some distance. The 2nd can be a smaller one to use while fixing meals, etc. Other ideas are glow-sticks, candles, mini key-chain LED lights, and LED head-lamps.

CATEGORY #8: COMMUNICATIONS

A fully charged cell phone should top this list.  In an emergency, cell phone service will probably be down.  However, text messages will usually still go through, so having a cell phone is a necessity. You should also include a solar charging unit, hand crank charger, or an aftermarket battery booster to charge the cell phone. In addition to a cell phone, you should also pack a small battery powered or crank powered AM/FM radio since important information will be broadcast on emergency channels.

CATEGORY #9: PROTECTION & SELF-DEFENSE

You can guarantee that in an evacuation emergency there will be chaos and disorder. Events of this magnitude inevitably overwhelm normal police and public safety measures– even if it's just temporarily. History tells us that rioting, looting, rape, and violent crimes will occur. Being prepared to protect and defend yourself and your resources–especially if you have a family should be of great importance. Do not be naive and not take this category seriously. The best means of self defense is a gun–period. Besides the intimidation factor, a gun has reach, stopping power, and can also be used for hunting if necessary.  What kind of gun to pack is a lengthy topic all by itself. Some like shotguns, some prefer rifles, and others choose handguns. Other formidable weapons of self-defense can be your survival knife, slingshot, crossbow, bow and arrow,and machete.

CATEGORY #10: MISC. GEAR

Just in case you have to Bug Out on foot, you should be comfortable carrying your pack for up to 3 days. So the weight of your Bug Out Bag should be a consideration. Below are some additional items that you can pack in your Bug Out Bag that when building your own:

  • CASH – (because cash talks)
  • Toilet paper
  • 200 feet of paracord (building shelter)
  • Duct tape (100s of uses)
  • 100 feet of Army issue trip wire (misc. projects, snares)
  • Pad of paper & pencil (leave notes or record information)
  • 2 Bandanas (because they are multi-useful)
  • Leather work gloves
  • Small knife sharpener
  • Machete (clearing brush, chopping wood, self-defense)
  • 2 dust masks (can double as crude filters)
  • Bar of soap & small bottle of hand sanitizer (hygiene)
  • Travel toothbrush w/ tooth paste
  • 36″ length of rubber tubing (siphon, tourniquet)
  • Small sewing kit
  • 2 heavy duty 30 gallon garbage gags (water storage, shelter, poncho)
  • Can opener
  • Binoculars
  • Small fishing kit
  • Sunglasses (can double as safety glasses)
  • Whistle
  • Insect repellent
  • Earplugs
  • Compass

CATEGORY #11: IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS

In the case of emergency evacuation, you should carry certain important documents with you.  Among these should be your driver’s license, passport, social security card, medical information, important phone numbers and account numbers (bank, insurance, credit cards, etc.), and your gun carry permit. 

Also you should pack a detailed map of your surrounding area and your state. Don't depend on GPS in an evacuation emergency.  PACK MAPS!

CONCLUSION:

Remember, at the end of the day, there is no perfect Bug Out Bag. Your Bug Out Bag should change and evolve with your needs, thoughts, wants, and tastes. With this in mind an incomplete or imperfect Bug Out Bag is better than nothing at all in an emergency situation. However, the main key to an effective Bug Out Bag is to be familiar and effective with setting up and using all of the items in it. Keep this in mind when setting up your own Bug Out Bag. 


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