The very first time I heard the phrase “bug out” was on an episode of the old MASH tv show. The camp was about to be overrun by enemy soldiers so Col. Potter ordered everyone to “bug out”. I thought it was a funny saying at the time but I understood exactly what he meant. The rest of the episode was the team packing everything up that they could take with them when they left.
They had the advantage of being given a warning that something bad was about to happen. In real life we don’t always get that warning message. That is why we need “Bug Out Bags!”
What is a Bug Out Bag (BOB)?
To put it simply, a bug out bag is a pre-loaded bag that you can grab and go on a moments notice. It should contain items that will help you get away from whatever disaster is happening. It should also give you the best chance of survival during your exit.
There are companies that make pre-assembled bug out bags. These can be a good way to get started as long as you understand that they are for the masses. By that I mean that they will not be unique to your area or needs. They also tend to have a lot of things in them that are the cheapest version that they can find as well as lots of duplicate items so that the total item count looks impressive.
Examples of this are kits that contain 50 band-aids each in 3 different sizes so the item count is 150. What are the chances that you will need 150 band-aids?
Another example is when they use items that are so cheap that you can tell they will break after 1 or 2 uses.
I’d prefer to have items of a higher quality even if it means fewer items in my bag.
Plus, many people don’t think about the weight of their BOBs. I’ve seen people with 90 pound bags – they look at me like I’m crazy when I ask them if they can carry that bag 1 mile or 5 miles. That thought never crossed their minds!
As a simple rule of thumb, you should have one BOB for every adult and a smaller BOB for every child that is able to carry it. Each bag should be customized to fit the groups needs as well as that individuals needs.
Here’s a basic list that you can use to customize your BOBs:
- IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit)
- 32 oz potable water stored in a hard canteen
- Collapsible canteen/vessel
- Water filter/Water purification tablets
- Protein Bars/Heat and Eat Food
- Fire starters (lighters, waterproof matches, etc.)
- Field knife
- Waterproof paper and pen
- Important Documents (physical and USB thumb drive)
- Condensed soap
- Toilet paper
- Nail clippers
- Jacket/Poncho/Rain Gear
- Communication – Hand Crank Radio, Walkie Talkie, FRS/GMRS Radios, HAM radio
- USB charging cable and wall plug
- Li-Ion battery pack
- Contractor trash bags (thick walled bags)
- Storage bags (various sizes)
This video shows a great, lightweight BOB that will cover almost anything you need. You should watch his videos and join his channel for more excellent advice.
This list is just a starter list of things that you should consider for your BOB. I haven’t put the list in any specific order, it’s really just to get you thinking of your needs.
The main thing is you want to have a way to start a fire, filter water, protect yourself from the weather, have a change of clothes, have basic sanitation and first aid capabilities.
While you are thinking about your BOB let me throw you a curveball. What if you aren’t at home and an emergency happens so you need to get home?
What is a Get Home Bag (GHB)?
That’s where the GHB (Get Home Bag) comes into play. This is a smaller bag that is designed to have things that will help you travel on foot for a few days, if needed, to get back home to your family and preps.
Again, weight is a concern when it comes to a GHB. If the bag is too heavy you will have to dispose of items that you may need later. If it is too big then it could signal to others that you have “stuff” so you become a target.
Some people have a Vehicle Preparedness Bag and a GHB. Others treat them as one bag that is kept in the vehicle. Either way, you need to make sure it has some basic items to help you when needed.
When building your GHB consider adding some of these items:
- Shoes/Hiking Boots
- Shelter (Tarp or small pop up tent)
- Fire Starting capabilities
- Knife or cutting tool
- Container for water (or bottled water)
- Container for heating water or cooking food
- Eating Utensils
- Local Maps
- Protein Bars and Heat and Eat Food
If you keep your GHB in the trunk of your car then make sure to check on the water and food items to prevent them from freezing or over heating. You should add and remove items depending on the time of year and the climate in your area.