A ‘Bug Out Bag’ is an emergency supply of essential equipment you may need to survive for an unknown amount of time. This bag is designed so that in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, where roads, electricity, and even water are cut off, you can survive until you can find permanent solutions to those problems.
For reference, a ‘collapse event’ is any event where electricity, water, food, or shelter are threatened, and there is no known time for them to be restored. An example of just one type of event would be the flooding in Baton Rouge in 2016. Immediately, people were forced to evacuate their homes with little warning. Many were left on their own with nothing other than that which they brought with them.
The core configuration of any bug-out bag needs to address the following:
- Food – An immediate source of calories, protein, and fat.
- Water – An immediate source of clean, fresh water that is free of contaminants.
- Shelter – A means to construct a shelter that will conserve your body heat.
If you don’t have those three things covered, the rest of your bag is worthless.
- First-aid – Fixing immediate but non-life-threatening injuries.
- Navigation – Determining where in the world you are located without a cell phone or computer.
- Procuring Food – Finding, trapping, or killing animals for food.
- Procuring Water – Purifying water from the environment for hydration.
- Repair/Construction – Building or repairing scavenged tools and materials.
You can’t carry everything you need to live indefinitely. Your supplies in your bug out bag will run out. Choose your items wisely.
Many survivalists will be miffed ‘defense/personal protection’ didn’t make that secondary list. No, that’s a tertiary list. Yes, it is something you may immediately need to do in a collapse event scenario. But inevitably there is one rule in survival:
No such thing as a free lunch.
Every weapon you carry that doesn’t serve an essential purpose outside of defense is dead weight. A gun can be used to hunt animals. A knife can be used to make traps and snares as well as prepare game. A taser? Worthless. Once the battery runs out, it’s a paperweight. Pepper spray? That’s a toss-up. Yes, it’s great at blinding opponents and wild animals, but it will run out and then be completely ineffective.
The items you put into your bug-out bag should have multiple purposes. A tent pole, a bandana… Everything needs to pull double-duty. You should weigh your bug out bag and make sure it addresses every primary and secondary element we listed above. This will ensure you survive well after whatever stores of food or water have diminished.
After your supplies in your bug out bag have run out, you should already be ready to go from temporary movement to a more permanent situation. By day three, you should be setting up traps to kill rodents, snakes, lizards, and purifying water for drinking. By day four, you should have some sort of permanent camp set up and allocated all resources to surviving for an indeterminate length of time. This is how you ensure your bug out bag gets the most miles out of it before failing you. And your bug out bag will fail eventually. You won’t.