You’re starting to take action and build your bug out bag when it hits you:
What’s the best gear for my bug out bag?
Building your survival kit or bug out bag can be a tough decision process if you are stuck deciding between what tools to pack. Packing what you need for food, water, shelter, fire, self-defense, medical care and clothing can quickly get overwhelming and lead to frustration.
Choosing the best combinations of high-quality tools available increases your chances of survival in an emergency scenario. You simply cannot pack everything that you might need in a situation of urgency. Otherwise, your bag would be too heavy and cumbersome. Choosing the best multi-use tools to pack is essential to maintaining an efficient and lightweight bug out bag or emergency survival kit.
All of our top picks meet our criteria of being lightweight, durable and offering great utility while being simple to use.
Lightweight – Carrying a pack that is 10lbs heavier than necessary over long distances can prove to be very tiring. Tools that are lightweight and compact get points for being easier to pack and carry and should prioritize for your pack.
Durability – Even the most promising tools are no good if they damage easy and break. Your tools should be robust enough to survive anything you put them through.
Simple Utility – Everything in your pack should be intuitive to use and offer excellent service. Operating unnecessarily complicated and poorly designed tools under stress or in an emergency situation will only lead to frustration. Packing tools that are simple to use and provide great utility will make your survival easier.
If you’re short on time, we’ve assembled a quick list of all our recommendations to consider packing.
Best Bug Out Bag
The best choice for a survival backpack and bug out bag is the 5.11 Outdoors Tactical Rush 72 backpack. The “72” in the name comes from the design being built to hold enough supplies to pack for 72 hours or longer.
The carrying capacity inside is simply better than most everything else on the market. The backpack has a total carrying capacity of 55 liters without any additional packs or attachments. Nylon mesh compartments are everywhere inside the main and tertiary pockets. Also included is a fleece pocket for sunglasses and two side pockets for large water bottles and canteens.
Everything on this bag is built to last and designed to get you through any survival scenario. There is not an inch on this bag that is lacking in smart design and durability.
The entire bag is made from durable nylon including the reinforced buckle connections and handle. The exterior of the bag is double stitched with 1050D nylon with a water-repellent PUx2 coating for extreme durability and weatherproofing. Inside the bag, you will find double stitched 210D nylon also with a water-repellent coating along all the inside pockets and bags. Drainage holes are built into the bottom and side of the pack to prevent wet, broken gear and water logging. For added rain protection, pick up a backpack rain cover.
The Tactical Rush 72 is incredibly comfortable, even when loaded with 50+ lbs of gear. 5.11 Outdoors cut no corners when designing this pack by engineering a sturdy internal frame to support the weight of your gear evenly and distribute the load comfortably.
The outside of the pack is covered in PALS webbing, giving it numerous MOLLE compatible attachment points available for whatever your heart desires, such as extra water storage, bags, pouches and more.
The shoulder straps of the Tactical Rush 72 are widened and thoroughly padded for maximum comfort and double stitched to the bag for ultimate carrying capacity. On the inside of the straps as well as the back is nylon mesh designed to vent extra heat away from the user to prevent heat exhaustion. The padded waist belt securely clips to attach the pack at multiple to your person and distribute the load evenly and comfortably.
This kit meets all the criteria on the list of what would comprise the best bug out bag. Huge carrying capacity, sturdy frame, comfortable, durable, water-resistant, and MOLLE compatible PALS webbing. You cannot go wrong buying this pack for your survival bug out bag.
Keeping a trusty survival knife can make your survival much easier. A good survival knife is a force multiplier by making work easier and allowing you to cut, stab, slash and chop anything you may need. Whether it’s cutting para cord, setting snares, or bush craft I would suggest the LSP Laserstrike fixed blade knife. We’ve written a review about the best survival and camping knives and the LSP Laserstrike came out on top as our pick for the winner. Durable, dependable, great warranty and overall value are what leads us to choose the LSP as a knife you can trust for every situation.
Water is vital and should be one of your first thoughts when planning for an emergency situation. Planning to pack water and planning to source water will save you time, energy, and possibly your life.
Three solutions for safe drinking water present themselves as viable for a bug out situation.
This is the most guaranteed way to ensure that you have water readily available. Packing water ahead of time will give you a significant advantage, and it is recommended by the government’s emergency guidelines to keep at least 1 gallon per person per day in readily available, safe drinking water.
If you go with the Tactical Rush 72 above, the weight and storage space required should be no problem as long as each person carries their supply. Buying purified water in hermetically sealed pouches such as US Coast Guard approved DATREX water pouches to put in your pack is an incredibly wise choice when planning.
Chlorine dioxide tablets
Keeping water purification tablets on hand is easy and allows you to make safe, drinkable water free of dangerous waterborne bacteria, viruses, and parasites that iodine tablets kill as well cryptosporidium that chlorine dioxide tablets kill but iodine tablets cannot.
The tablets are straightforward and easy to use and one tablet can purify up to a quart of water each, meaning four chlorine dioxide tablets are all that is necessary to make a gallon of safe drinking water per day.
LifeStrawLifeStraw is a portable filter system proven to remove a minimum of 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria a minimum 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites. This drinking straw surpasses EPA standards for water filters. I wouldn’t call it crazy to think that water you drink through this straw or filter system is cleaner than the water that comes out of your faucet.
The filter is designed to filter up to 1000 liters of contaminated without using iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals. The LifeStraw works with any water source, just place the straw in the water and drink from the filtered end to enjoy clean water. Millions have bought and used this product for filtering water, with widespread usage in third-world countries such as those in Africa where access to safe drinking water is scarce in some areas.
One of my favorite substitutes for the LifeStraw is the LifeStraw Go water bottles with the same filter technology built in, meaning you can quickly fill up near any water and begin drinking it safely.
Food and Nutrition
Preparing for the worst should also include plans regarding diet and nutrition. It’s recommended to have at least a three day supply of non-perishable food such as canned meats, fruits, and vegetables. Other options include dry cereal, peanut butter, protein bars or similar non-perishables to sustain yourself for at least three days or more with rationing.
For ways to support yourself for periods of time longer than 72 hours, there are several good ways to plan and ensure your survival.
Buying prepackaged food bars and buckets with MRE (meals ready to eat) can be a viable solution to buy and keep in a truck or home to last up to 30 years when stored properly. Meal buckets may not sound appetizing, but the quality MRE food is surprisingly good in both tastes and nutrition. MRE is a technology invented for the military to easily store and prepare quality and nutritious hot meals in 10 minutes.
Meals from manufacturers such as Mountain House only need water to be added to the individual packs to heat up a meal ready to consume in 10 minutes. Buying a food bucket ahead of time can offer variety in your diet and comfort food that may not be readily available during an emergency situation, providing a precious morale boost.
A long-term sustainable option for feeding yourself and many others is to plant a variety garden of vegetables. Picking up multiple seed packs such as the one containing 15,000 non-GMO variety vegetable garden seeds (includes growing guide) and planting the seeds can grow yourself a garden that will fruit not only food but more also more seeds than you will know what to do.
Imagine growing tomatoes, eggplants, beans, squashes, and more in your garden. You will be able to harvest vegetables and an exponentially greater amount of seeds available to eat, plant, or trade for other goods.
The seed pack is hermetically sealed and easy to carry in case your 72-hour survival scenario turns into a long drawn out situation. Packing two or three packages of various garden seeds will only benefit your survival if you need to survive beyond the foreseeable future.
Packing snare wire to catch small animals or a big game can offer significant amounts of calories and an energy boost. Start setting a few traps and check back your locations every day. You could find everything from small squirrels to larger game such as whole hogs and deer.
I’ve read of people setting snares with these exact snare lines and catching hogs upto 150 lbs, and they still held strong! What a boon that would be to have 150lbs of meat available to feed yourself and company. I strongly recommend that everyone packs snare for this exact reason. The effort to setup traps is small for the amount of reward and resources that they can bring.
For more active hunting, look towards buying a rifle or shotgun at your local pawn shops such as .223 or .308 rifle, or 12 gauge shotgun to carry with a MOLLE compatible tactical shotgun scabbard. Spear hunting hogs is also a dangerous but exciting solution. In many areas such as Texas, feral hogs run rampant and can be taken down with an appropriately sized spear head when cornered. Be very cautious and weary, as hunting hogs with spears are considerably more dangerous than doing so with a rifle or bow.
If you prefer bow hunting, I would recommend the Diamond Archery Edge SB-1 Bow due to its solid construction, adjustable draw weight, and ease of shooting. The SB-1 can shoot up to 318 fps for great stopping power and accuracy over long distances and the draw weight can adjust to any range for all shooters. The let-off of the bow once drawn is 80%, of the draw weight to stay drawn. If you set your bow to 100 pounds of draw weight, once the cams kick in, only 20 pounds of draw weight will be required to hold the bowstring back. This is one of the many advantages of compound bows.
The bow comes with a peephole sight for easy target finding and superb accuracy out the box. The arrow rest is a 3 way whisker biscuit arrow rest that exerts minimal resistance on the shaft for better accuracy. The SB-1 also comes with a counter-balance to balance the bow and a lightweight quiver is included to hold your arrows conveniently and not have to worry about storage.
Overall, the bow is high quality, light weight, powerful, and will stick with you no-matter the conditions. Pick up some field points for target practice and broad heads for hunting and you’re set to provide large amounts of meat for yourself and others.
If you prefer crossbows or need a weapon that is silent but deadly, I’ve got a real treat for you. CenterPoint makes a crossbow package that I believe is simply too good to pass up. The CenterPoint Sniper 370 crossbow package is lightweight, accurate, and deadly.
Crossbows are inherently easier to learn to shoot than a regular bow because of the simplicity of firing. Simply cock the crossbow, load in a bolt, acquire your target in the sights and pull the trigger. In the case of the Sniper 370, it will send a bolt traveling 370 feet/second down range.
To achieve such velocities, the Sniper 370 has a 185-pound draw weight. The draw weight is suitable for stronger shooters. If you anticipate it will be a hassle you can opt for a ?crossbow rope cocker to significantly ease the effort required to cock the crossbow. Much more power can be delivered by a crossbow than a standard bow and crossbows are typically more accurate for shooters of all skill levels.
The major advantage of the CenterPoint Sniper 370 is its lightweight design. If you carry four bolts in the quiver and one nocked, you can expect the crossbow to weigh about 10 pounds total. Having a lightweight and portable weapon that can reach out and touch a target to deliver lethal force silently beyond 80 yards is very powerful.
With the bolt flying at 370 feet/second from when it leaves the groove, you can count on it delivering enough force to take down larger game such as deer and wild hogs. Once the bolt leaves the slot of the crossbow, the string has been specially engineered to be suppressed to make no noise and mitigate vibration after the shot to further aid the silent nature of this crossbow.
The included scope is very high quality and will serve you well once sighted-in. The scope’s image is a 4-dot design with a cross post to ensure accurate shots.
One caveat about this crossbow package isn’t even about the crossbow itself: the included bolts are of cheap Chinese quality. I would recommend picking up some better 270 to 370-grain bolts with hunting points and a few bolts with field points for target practice.
Hunting for your food will be much easier with this crossbow, and I would thoroughly recommend it to anybody who has the weight to spare with their bug out bag to carry it something like soft crossbow case or in a truck.
Strategies such as spearing fish or casting lines into a river are easier if you pack the required necessities beforehand. If you anticipate being near a waterway with fish ripe for eating in it, consider packing a compact fishing rod or learning how to make a fishing spear from a tree branch.
Spearing fish is exciting and can lead to a belly full of tasty meat. While any knife affixed to a pole will suffice for a spear, to make a better fishing spear, you can whittle yourself a pronged fishing spear out of wood and test your luck to nab a nutritious meal.
If you prefer to cast from the bank instead, my recommendation for a compact fishing rod would be Plussino’s compact fishing rod and reel combo due to its quality, included lures and lines, and ability to be packed into the small carrying case for easy storage in your bug out bag. Sizes are available from 1.8 meters long up to 3.3 meters long for deep saltwater fishing. For most freshwater fish, the 1.8-meter long rod should be sufficient.
The rod is telescoping and locks securely in place. When closed, the overall length of the 1.8-meter version is petite and fits nicely in the included carry case.
The combo kit comes with a spinning reel with a good action that consistently pulls in line and allows slack and friction like any other spinning reel on the market. I’ve seen no problems with the spinning reel and it has held up well thus far.
The included lures and line are sufficient from catching everything from crappie to decent sized bass and beyond. The line is monofilament and with roughly 8-11lbs in strength. I would consider picking up some braided line for larger fish and splurging on some better quality lures as well.
The only issue I found with this round is that it’s very stiff compared to conventional rods. Due to the telescoping nature, the inside of the rod must be hollow and made from sturdier materials. You won’t have the same feel and action as a regular fishing rod, but there is nothing technically stopping you from catching all the same fish. Casting may feel a little wonky compared to a regular flexible rod due to its stiff nature.
The sensitivity of the rod is low because of its stiffness as well. Once you get used to it, nothing is stopping you from casting lines and catching some great fish. I would again recommend picking up some better lures and line If you’re going after larger fish.
Overall this rod’s compact size and quality plus included lures and line perfect for small to medium sized would lead me to give this package an easy recommendation to anyone who plans to bug out near waterways with hungry fishing inside.
Planning to establish a form of shelter should be your next priority. Packing a tarp is a simple way to ensure shelter. Throw a tarp over a stake in the ground, and you have a simple emergency tent with protection from above.
If you desire a complete shelter, consider packing a tent and sleeping bags in one (or more, just in-case) of your member’s bags if you’re bugging out in a group, or pack a single-person tent for yourself instead.
The Argus Le Automatic three person camping tent is rated for all for seasons and is easy to setup. Thermally insulated, waterproof, windproof, and made from durable, lightweight materials, you can count on this tent to shelter you. Sleeps two very comfortably and is setup in seconds with no poles to worry. Lift it up, stake it down, and you’re ready to go.
If you’d prefer a single person tent for yourself, I would recommend the ALPS Lynx 1-person tent. The main reason I chose the Lynx tent was for its lightweight, durable design while still being roomy and weatherproof.
The Lynx tent weighs just 4 pounds total and packs easily into your bug out bag. The interior sleeping dimensions when deployed are 7’6” x 32”, which should is roomy enough for those that are 6’2” and shorter to sleep alongside their gear.
The Lynx 1-person tent comes with a rain fly, and the tent itself is weatherproof with factory sealed seams coated with 2000mm to prevent moisture intruding and polyester material for UV protection. Mesh vents are built-in to ensure you sleep comfortably whether you’re in the Mojave desert or the Colorado mountain tops. All zippers are #8 extra large sized to provide durability and ease of use.
Setting up the tent is intuitive and easy with the aluminum poles practically assembling themselves. Once done sleeping it packs away right back into your bag ready for the next night.
Sleeping like a king will require a sleeping bag and sleeping pad. The best option would be Abco Tech’s four seasons insulated sleeping bag, designed to be ultra comfortable, easy to clean and carry. Abco’s sleeping bag is rated to keep you warm and comfortable down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
The sleeping bag is machine washable and dryable and weighs only 3 pounds, an excellent package for how warm this bag will keep you. The sleeping bag is 210T polyester making the sleeping bag waterproof and weather resistant.
The manufacturer also offers a 100% risk-free satisfaction guaranteed warranty, with a no-questions asked return policy. When combined with a good sleeping pad it will be akin to sleeping on a cloud, all for a great price.
Preparing one or more methods of starting a fire will save your frozen rear in an emergency situation when the temperature drops and night time starts to creep in. Don’t hope for favorable conditions when disaster strikes. Plan for the nastiest, wettest, most unfavorable conditions when starting a fire so that you can be sure to start one with ease when conditions are optimal.
My favorite method for starting fires when conditions were particularly wet and nasty is to pack dry kindling ahead of time with a method for ignition. Once lit, dry kindling can dry out and light tinder quickly. Once your fire is going, you can dry out larger fuel woods for your fire and burn them even when raining.
For traditional dry kindling, you pack materials such as cotton balls, petroleum jelly, or even corn chips in a waterproof container until needed.
One alternative to traditional kindling is to pickup chemical kindling tablets. Chemical kindling tablets come sealed in packs and will light under the worst conditions and burn at 1300 degrees Fahrenheit without smoke or residue.
One 14g cube of fuel tablets will stay lit for 12 minutes to light any wet or dry tinder and can also be used to cook food on its own. I think it’s needless to say that these tablets are incredibly useful. The fuel tablets burn easy with any standard match, lighter or ignition source to kick start your campfire no matter the conditions.
For a lighter and ferro rod combo, I’d recommend you pick up the EverStryke Pro waterproof lighter for free. It’s weather resistant and easy to work. Strike included the ferro rod to make sparks hot enough to light your kindling. It’s small, compact, fits on a key chain, and will never fail to strike. It’s simple, but it works damn good, and most importantly free.
Accurately knowing your location and navigating to other areas as a civilization or a designated rescue spot is crucial. You can either go the convention route and pack a map in a waterproof map holder and use a compass to navigate or if you could use a GPS. Neither is vastly superior to the other, but in an absolute worst-case scenario, it’s wise to anticipate the loss of the global positioning system satellite network.
A GPS needs a charged battery to work, but is more intuitive than a static map. The Garmin GPSMAP 64st has maps functionality and the included battery pack has a 24 hour life and also takes AA batteries. With such a long battery life, it couldn’t hurt to buy a GPS as they have several helpful features such as base camp support, interactive topographical navigation, 3-axis tilt navigation and a barometer.
Pack a method of communication if you get separated from your group or need to signal rescue. Anything will suffice such as a signal mirror, whistles and walkie-talkies for talking over the radio or a prepaid cell phone. I would recommend also picking up an emergency radio with a hand crank to stay alert and up to date on any emergency broadcasts and radio transmissions such as refugee locations and rescue information.
If you’re forced to leave your home in an emergency, you will want to have already prepared supplies to aid your trip. Currency items such as packing at least $500 in small bills, precious metal coins, and quarters can be used to barter for goods and use services that are still running after a small disaster.
Defending yourself is crucial to ensuring your survival during a bug out scenario. Bugging out dictates a survive or die situation and you must be prepared to do anything to defend yourself and your loved ones from harm.
Self-defense tools come in nonlethal and lethal varieties. No matter which type you choose, you must use it with full intent on stopping the threat. Examples of non-lethal self-defense tools include pepper spray, tasers, stun guns, and batons.
If you must consider lethal force as an alternative, a knife, handgun, rifle, or crossbow are all viable options depending on the scenario. Be sure to train with your weapon of choice before having to use it in a life or death situation.
Pack at least a basic first aid kit including bandages, latex gloves, gauze, and rubbing alcohol. If you prefer a more deluxe and complete first aid kit, you could also opt for a suture kit and essential medicines such as ibuprofen, Benadryl, Neosporin and general antibiotics. I would recommend carrying the SurviveWare first-aid kit for having all the necessary supplies. Pack in some medicines and you’re set.
Packing repellent for mosquitoes and ticks would also be wise. Going with conventional DEET repellents such as Repel Sportsman Spray or an alternative natural Lemon Eucalyptus spray works just as well and lasts longer (and may even be better for you too).
Packing basic toiletries in a waterproof bag with your medical kit will also ensure that you stay healthy. Including a toothbrush, toothpaste, and toilet paper will prevent bodily disease and keep your healthy.
Pack appropriate clothing for the weather conditions and climate of your local area. I would recommend packing a set of good boots, pants, a shirt and face mask. Covering your skin against the elements and insects will aid in keeping you healthy and energized.
If you don’t already own a pair, I’d recommend picking up a pair of Timberland waterproof hiking boots, they also come in women's sizes. They work like any standard hiking boot, but they’re waterproof and break in easy. They come in all sizes and will get you where you need to get and not break the bank doing it.
Keeping a good pair of wool socks in your pack will be a blessing when covering significant amounts of ground. You don’t want to end up with trench foot like the unfortunate souls back in WW1.
Wool socks keep your feet warm and dry while wicking away moisture. Picking up a pair or two of wool socks like Merino's wool hiking socks will keep your feet warm, dry, and disease free.
Bug out pants ideally should be breathable, warm, comfortable, preferably waterproof and protect the legs from dangers and injury. Columbia’s hiking pants for men and women offer all these qualities in one package. They’re high quality and don’t cost too much making them a great deal.
If you’re in a colder environment, I would pack yourself some fleece pants made by Clothin. Both their male and female versions are insulated with micro fleece and have a water-repellent finish on them. They’re comfortable and durable. I highly recommend them if plan to bug out in a colder environment.
Your primary bug out shirt should be a mid-weight layer made from wool to wick moisture and keep you warm yet ventilated. The ideal shirt to meet these criteria would be the Minus33 Merino Wool crew shirt. It’s comfortable, affordable, and has all the moisture wicking and comfort benefits of wool. Quality shows in every thread of this shirt, and you can’t go wrong picking one up.
For icy environments in the negative temperatures layer well and pack your usual winter jacket If you don’t already have a winter jacket, I would recommend the Kryptek Men’s Aegis jacket because of its extreme waterproofing with 20000mm coating, windproofing to prevent wind chill and PrimaLoft insulation for extreme temperature insulation.
For women in extreme temperatures, I would recommend the Orolay Women’s down jacket. The jacket has sewn pockets between layers that are insulated with down to insulate and trap heat. It’s windproof and waterproof as well, making for an excellent extreme cold bug out jacket.
Packing protection from the rain will help you stay dry, comfortable and prevent hypothermia. I’d recommend choosing to carry either disposable lightweight rain ponchos or your favorite rain jacket.
If you plan to encounter a dusty environment or desire face protection from the sun and the wind, you can wrap your head in a shemagh. Shemaghs are military style head scarfs used by special forces and operators to shield themselves from elements and cover their face.
Shemaghs are cotton meaning they’re breathable and comfortable to wear at all temperatures. Keeping the sun and the wind off your face will protect your skin from sunburn and windburn. Dressing your head in a shemagh will also help you conserve energy to prevent heat that would be carried away by the wind causing you to tire out easier.
These are items that didn’t quite fit into other categories but go high into a general service.
550 Para Cord
Great for just about everything that needs to be tied, hoisted, or bundled. Paracord can also be used to snare small game or weave fishing nets.
All purpose adhesive and construction material. Duct tape can solve just about any problem from repairing your tent, mending wounds, and even fletching for arrows.
Protect your eyes from the sun and prevent damage. Long term sun exposure can lead to sunburns on the cornea of the eye causing searing pain and long term eye damage. Sunglasses are particularly important in environments with high ground reflectivities such as deserts or snowy biomes.
Increase your viewing distance and see objects beyond your range of vision upon your average ability to view threats and assets during a survival situation. Enhancing the effectiveness of your sight expands on one of your most useful survival tools and would benefit any prepper. If I had to recommend binoculars, I would choose the Bushnell waterproof/fog proof compact binoculars.
The biggest draw to these binoculars is their compact, durable and waterproof design. The overall size of these binoculars is about 2 liters in volume, not too bad for a 10x magnification upgrade to viewing distance. The exterior is covered non-slip rubber to absorb shock and provide a firm grip even when wet.
The viewing relief of the binoculars is purged and sealed by a 100% waterproof O-ring with nitrogen gas to prevent any fogging inside the binoculars. I especially like this feature as you can use them in any weather conditions with no problems as opposed to more expensive models that still fall susceptible to water damage and fogging.
The four prism design offers clear viewing, but not as sharp as larger and bulkier binoculars on the market. Not having the same viewing potential as ?200+ high quality dollar binoculars is acceptable in my book, as I would rather pack smaller binoculars that I can see objects far off clearly than to pack giant binoculars that significantly more even if they’re better.
Focusing the binoculars into view is easily done with the large center knob. Adjusting is intuitive and hassle-free when looking down the binoculars. Acquiring a crisp, clear picture couldn’t be easier in my book.
Overall I would consider these the best binoculars for your bug out bag. Compact, lightweight, rugged and easy to use are terms I would use to describe these. While they may not be as powerful as more expensive and bulky models, they are more durable and the best choice for binoculars to put in your bug out bag.
That wraps up our comprehensive list for the best bug out bag gear. You should know that you can’t pack everything, which is why we recommend tailoring your kit to the area you expect to be bugging out. If you think we missed anything or want to share your opinion, please feel free!
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