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Avoiding Common Mistakes With Bug Out Bags


Bugging Out

Your home or compound has been compromised! All the security measures you put in place have been overcome! If you stay, the odds of survival are slim to none! The time has come to BUG OUT!

Time is of the essence, forget about grabbing anything you have not packed already! Get the bug out bag and get out of Dodge!

Assuming you have a secondary compound set up already - taking extra time to grab items could mean compromising the secondary location. As the intruders close in, they will likely follow you if given the chance!

Bug out Bags should be ready at all times, keeping them in an area that you will have access to even when intruders show up!

Bug Out Bags On The Market

Simply search "Bug out" and you will be flooded with chances to purchase pre-packed bug out kits and bags. While these are great for saving time and some have ingenious items in them, to aid in your survival needs. Survival needs are not identical for every individual.

The bug out bags available may very well suit your needs and then go beyond necessities. I will discuss the ins and outs of key things you should consider when preparing your bug out bag. Using myself and my particular skills as an example.

For instance anyone who has spent anytime in any branch of the military will have the ability to survive longer with less - than an civilian or average "Joe" will have even with 50 lbs of gear.

You also need to factor in Urban Vs Wilderness survival as the skills needed can be very similar, yet the ability to find shelter maybe easier in an Urban environment. This will eliminate the need for certain items in your bag.

As a general rule - the further your bug out location, the less likely you are to survive. When you are planning your bug out destination, you need to factor in the distance you will be traveling, as well as the items you will need!


The Bug Out Bag, An Introduction

You may find yourself wondering what exactly a "Bug out bag" is. It is a key element that novices and experts alike need in any "Doomsday" scenario.

You may also be familiar with bug out bags and the purpose they serve. Though I find there are many mistakes one can make in choosing the right bag and what items are key to your survival when packing.

I will cover the basics. It is important to remember that no two preppers are the same - period! So it is important that each individuals bug out bag is packed according to their strengths and weaknesses in a survival situation.

Bug Out Bag- Considerations Prior To Packing

One of the most important things to consider before choosing and packing a bug out back are your physical attributes and even your health.

Accounting for your strength, stamina, agility and your skill set should be the very first thing you take into consideration.

I will use myself for an example. I'm a little overweight so this will decrease my stamina and agility. I'm pretty strong for an average woman, I do however have back issues. All these factors weighed in mean that my pack needs to be light. My skills level is moderate, I know what I can eat in the wilderness, provide myself with clean drinking water, create shelter and heat in the wilderness if needed. What I lack in skills would be combat training.

So factoring all these in, I would most likely opt for Military or tactical Cargo Pants aand Cargo Vest and pack the bulk of my bug out needs in those. As this will distribute the weight more evenly putting less pressure on just my back.

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Not your average "bug out" bag, yet, it will be what works best for me!

Knowing that the longer I need to travel with my back issues the harder a bug out bag would be for me to carry. I would likely only need to carry a change of clothes in a bag.

Being as practicle as I am I may even only pack clean socks and under garments. Let's face it if needed I can deal with dirty pants and shirts. Keeping your feet clean and dry may save you from trench foot and possible death due to untreated illnesses and complications that can arise from it.

As a rule I suggest following the 5 P's rule. "Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance." It is a simple rule that may very well save your life.

Understand all your limitations and abilities. Never allow yourself to be cocky or become complacent! This will help you narrow down what items are must haves for your bug out pack, and also what items you can skip!

Keeping in mind your skill set and abilities for survival will keep you from packing unnecessary items. For example a tactical or sniper rifle will not be of much use if you can't hit the broad side of a barn at 50 yards! As a rule firearms like rifles, are one of the heaviest items to travel with. If your skills are better close range then skip the rifle and opt for a small handgun.

This will also keep you from wasting ammo if you are not very good with a rifle!

I suggest learning to build a fire without the aid of any matches or lighters. It could just save your life one day!

I suggest learning to build a fire without the aid of any matches or lighters. It could just save your life one day!

What To Pack For Survival

Deciding what to pack varies based on the physical attributes we discussed earlier and your skill set. As well as the basic core survival needs of every human!

Basic core survival needs are the same for everyone. Water is the key element to survival followed by food, shelter and warmth. If you are interested in obtaining clean drinking water in the wild you can read more about it here.

What about the hoards of criminals that the catastrophic event created, the rioting and looters? Well it boils down to this, yes they are a major concern. In all honesty you will die of dehydration, starvation or hypothermia first. Likely the elements will kill you in the wilderness before you run into a band of scavengers in the woods.

Surviving the criminal element will only keep you alive if you have the ability to sustain your life in the wilderness as well.

You may very well only have to travel a few miles to reach a bug out destination (assuming you planned properly). A few miles with a heavy pack in the heat of summer or frigid temperatures of winter will seem like an eternity, if you are not used to this type of activity. I would only fair slightly better than some as we often hike through the woods and trade of the duty of carrying my 30 lb son.

Mind you we trade off a lot, carrying excess weight in a single area on your body will tire you more quickly than if you disperse some of the weight. Think of proper lifting techniques, you never lift with your back you should be lifting the brunt with your legs and the back is used as support for the legs.

Lets list the key items a bug out bag needs (generalized since every ones skill set varies).

  • Water The number one concern in survival scenarios! Most "experts" will tell you that you need a collapsible bpa free water bottle. While that is all well and good and will be light. I suggest a steel canteen, not wrapped in fabric, as you can sanitize water sources directly in your drinking vessel. This will optimize time management as well. If you read my first article you know that you can't just drink straight from the creek. I am also against the clip on bottles, they are noisy when you walk drawing unneeded attention to your location!
  • Matches is what you will hear from experts. I prefer a Zippo lighter because any amount of wind or rain and your match has went out. Zippos don't add much more weight and will hold out in wind. You can also pull out the batting and light a small piece directly if having difficulty starting a fire in the rain or when the wood is wet.
  • Bandanna I do agree with this one. I could dedicate an entire article to the prepping uses of a 100% cotton bandanna. They can help keep you cool when soaked in water, they can help filter water in a pinch and you can use them as an oven mitt when cooking on the fire.
  • Knives Yes more than one. I have been carrying a good knife as long as I can remember. They are worth the weight they add! You really need at least two a simple bladed pocket knife and a good solid serrated blade. These are another one of the items I could make an entire article for. Food, shelter, and even water can be gained from the use of a knife. Simple yet invaluable.
  • Handgun You get the need here, simple self preservation! Much lighter than a rifle or shotgun. Making a handgun the best choice for a prepper. If you really want to lighten the load consider a Swiss mini-gum C1ST, a six shot double action revolver, 0.9 caliber, the smallest gun I found in my research. I am not sure how much punch it would have but if your goal is to lighten your load that will do it.
  • Ammunition Yes more weight if you decided to pack a handgun you will need ammunition. Lets face it an average person + catastrophic event + criminals + adrenaline= wasted ammunition. Until you get your nerves under control odds are your not going to be a dead on shot. Adrenalin rushes can mimic to much espresso causing massive jitters, just some food for thought.
  • Food I do not find it really necessary for myself based on the skill set I have to offer. I will not starve since I know many safe edible wild plants. Most experts say to pack protein bars and granola. I get very irritated about these items, assuming you packed your bag 6 months ago and your bugging out now that food is rancid (because of the oils) if you are not constantly taking it out and replacing it. The goal of your bag should be to pack it and leave it alone and at the ready! Consider Bee Pollen powder it is a super food full of nutrients and 40% protein and has a shelf life of two years! Much better than switching foods out every 6 months! It also helps the body fight off allergies and illnesses. One serving is 2 teaspoons, so you can imagine that even a small container will be lightweight but last you a good while. I want to add it is bitter and gross, although if you want to survive you will eat anything!
  • Miscellaneous items Socks, Underwear, heavy duty duct tape, trash bag (preferably contractor bag as they are much thicker and you will use this for sleeping), rope or twine. Fire brick (make your own out of paper and use ice cube trays to shape, you don't need a big one to get your fire going!) I could knock this down to socks, underwear and the trash bag for myself all the other items I do not need as my skill set can be used without needed the extra items to build my shelter. The trash bag is important if you want to skip carrying extra clothes (other than undies and socks) it will insulate you from the ground when sleeping and keep you dry. You could skip the fire starter too and do it by hand, it just seems many preppers forget common sense and over complicate the necessities.

These are the basic items you need. Of course depending on your own physical abilities and skill sets, you will add and remove things as needed. This is the common sense light weight version of bug out bags! Optimally I say 5 lbs is best and your pack should never weight more than 10 lbs period. 10 lbs after 10 miles or more is going to feel like 50 lbs or more.

Trust me, by the time we get done hiking my 30 lb son (28.4 lbs to be exact). It feels more like I have been carrying a deer on my back for 10 miles - if you are a hunter, you should know what that feels like! Now imagine doing it while running for your life!

As a rule the more weight you carry the more calories you are burning. This will create a higher nutritional and hydrating need as well. Increasing the odds of starvation and dehydration if you failed to prepare properly!

Any sort of physical activity burns calories! The amount of calories you burn depends on your height, weight and the type of physical activity you are doing. You can easily burn all the calories you intake in a survival setting, even more so in hot weather. Not to mention in frigid temperatures - your metabolism will kick into overdrive burning calories and fat stores to heat you up! In order to keep your stamina up, you will need to replace some of these calories at the very least- if not all.

Will your bug out bag weigh under 10 lbs?

You should never choose a bright colored bag in a survival scenario!

You should never choose a bright colored bag in a survival scenario!

Bug Out Bags, Which One Is Right For You

By now you should have a good idea of what you will be putting into your bug out bag, now it is time to choose one. A good bug out bag will be much like finding a great pair of jeans or shoes. There are a few key things you want from your bag.

  • Weather proof- the fabric needs to wick in the rain or snow. If not your gear will be useless and wet, likely tripling in weight.
  • Emergency release- In the possible event you are attacked you need to be able to drop the bag quickly and run. An assailant is most likely interested in your bag anyway, let them have it and live another day! Many bags have release tabs on the shoulder straps easily accessible from the front, you want one that does. Otherwise you will likely not get away from the assailant who will use the bag against you in a struggle.
  • Light weight- nothing will be worse than choosing a heavy bag to add to the weight of the items you already chose to pack
  • Color- COMMON SENSE folks! Having neon pink, electric blue, neon green, red and so on is like saying "hey, I am over here, please come attack me and take my stuff". Camouflage is best hands down or neutral browns, tans, etc. You want to limit the attention you are drawing!

You need to make sure to try on your bag. Check on the return policy make sure you can take it back if you decide in a fair amount of time that it is not suitable to your needs. Take it home pack it with your gear and I suggest wearing it around for several hours at the very least. A test run to your bug out location is ideal! This will give you an idea if it is a good fit or if you need to start all over with what you will be packing!

Military Survival Gear

Survival Skills And Information

Skills for survival should be considered a top priority! They are the techniques needed in doomsday situations. Consider education yourself in the following areas.

  • First aid
  • Navigation (non GPS) (using nature as a guide)
  • Thermoregulation (ways to maintain your body heat)
  • Traveling without a trace- for protection against animals and the human element alike.

Keeping in mind weight is a crucial element when you are backpacking. Researching backpacking will tell you that you should not carry more than 25% of your body weight.

25% of your body weight can be much higher than you think. For me its is 60 lbs. Although I know I would never survive carrying that much gear for an extended amount of time! Offers a wealth of information on many different possible survival scenarios. It is a great idea starter and kit planner if you prefer to buy your kits.

Or you can simply purchase a military survival kit to be sure your bases are covered! has a wealth of information for military survival kits that could be very useful for all sorts of situations!

I suggest looking to those sites for ideas, you may find items you did not even think about packing! Shop around, I am frugal too and I often find that shopping around before committing to buy allows you to save money for other preps!

5 P's rule

Bug Out Bags, Temporary Survival

Lets be realistic here, less is more! With all jokes aside, I am totally serious- common sense can save your life. I have seen countless articles and blogs discussing bug out bags and the average weight is 25 lbs. This is a ridiculous amount of weight to be carrying for any length of time. After all a bug out bag is only meant for a back up and temporary survival at best.

Think about it like this - how often on a daily basis are you carrying 25 lbs on your back?

You also need to be able to run at a moments notice and maybe even uphill. Have fun trying to run uphill with 25 lbs working to pull you back down!

This means pack light and avoid carrying anything that is not an ABSOLUTE necessity! It is simple the less weight you have on your back the faster you move and with less resistance too!

I have a few other articles published now that may prove to be invaluable if you are interested in prepping or just being self sustained and relying less on consumerism. I am very passionate about being self sustained and prepping for the unknown! I am currently working on basic survival in the wilderness for beginners as well and a guide to free products for the frugal prepper. Yes you can get items for free that will be beneficial in your preps. I can't wait to get the article finished, you will be surprised what you can save on preps!,

Common sense and the 5 P's can and will save your life! So many people get caught up in planning for a specific E.L.E (Extinction Level Event), or the collapse of society due to some specific catastrophic event. Often causing them to go a little wonky and toss common sense out the window. Resulting in an inability to focus on the 5 p's and simply focusing on one scenario rather than surviving at all costs!

I welcome any comments, and want to thank each and every one of my readers! Without knowing my articles are being read I would not have as much passion in my writing! Feel free to comment with your latest prep too, I love hearing others prepping stories!


Peeples from South Carolina on October 20, 2015:

I've actually been working on an article for a few weeks about that. With the kids and busy schedule though I have no idea if or when it will ever get finished. :) Happy to know you will be publishing more! Have a great day!

Cynthia Hoover (author) from Newton, West Virginia on October 20, 2015:

peeples Thank you so much for the comment! I am currently working on a few more hubs, sourcing photos (for free) is proving to be difficult - possibly due to the subject matter! I hope to have a few more published soon though! I took a full time job to aid in the finances behind the homestead and our preps, so it is taking up much of my time these days! Children can absolutely change the items needed in a BOB, and cause much more weight in them as well. Especially if you have a little one that still uses formula! I may have to work on a hub specifically for items related to young children and BOB!

Peeples from South Carolina on October 20, 2015:

Thoroughly enjoyed this article along with a couple of your other articles I've been reading. Really a lot of the the prepping sites make it more difficult than it needs to be. The only thing I think literally weighs into the argument for needing more things in the bag would be the child factor. Out of my 3 kids, 2 have their own fully packed BOB's but my youngest just has a tiny toddler backpack with a blankie, flashlight, doll, water bottle, and a couple snacks. So my hubby and I would need to add in more to our bags to make up for her and of course a small amount extra for the older two. Medications and first aid supplies are also a big thing for our clumsy family of 5. Anyway, I am really enjoying your articles and hope you write more about both prepping and your progress on your homestead.

Cynthia Hoover (author) from Newton, West Virginia on February 23, 2015:

Poetryman6969 great example of packing light! Not to mention an endless good source! Although zombies tend to move slow. So you may not be moving very fast even though you packed light. :) Thank you for commenting I appreciate all comments!

poetryman6969 on February 23, 2015:

Water is essential of course. And then some Zombie Sauce in case I get hungry and some Zombie chow in case my zombie gets hungry.

Happy Zombie Apocalypse!

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