Building a bug out bag is one of the most important steps you should take to get prepared. These packed and ready bags serve as your “I need to leave home right now!” kit, and as useful supplies if you’re sheltering at home.

Even if you never use it, the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can handle most all of life’s adventures is well worth the effort.

You might see all kinds of labels for what is essentially the same concept:

  • Emergency Kit / Emergency Bag
  • 72 Hour Kit / 72 hour bag
  • Bug Out Bag (BOB)
  • Go Bag
  • Evacuation Bag / Evac Bag
  • Survival Bag / survival kit
  • INCH Bag (“I’m Never Coming Home Again”)
  • GOOD Bag (“Get Out Of Dodge”)
  • SHTF Bag (“Stuff Hits The Fan”)

Putting a bug out bag checklist together can be daunting — even if you’re only thinking about one or two types of scenarios, the list of items you’d like to have in an emergency is always longer than what you can take. Even the most experienced and skilled people have to make tough choices about what to pack.  Think through the seven “Survival Priorities” and this will help you determine your requirements:

  1. Fire (Heat for warmth and cooking)
  2. Shelter
  3. Water
  4. Food
  5. Communication
  6. Medical
  7. Personal Safety

We like to think in terms of “tiers” or levels of preparedness, this is most easily down in three tiers.  I’ll cover each of these tiers in detail in the weeks ahead, but for now, I’ll focus on the purpose of each and you can start working out the requirements for your situation, location and environment. 

Tier 1: 3-Day Kit.  Most “emergencies” will last less than three days before supply chains and emergency relief begin to work again and arrive, so for most events, this bag is all you will need.  This bag should be within easy access wherever you go, so most often they are kept in your vehicle as you go to and from work and other travel.  Your “EDC” or Every Day Carry bag should meet the seven survival essentials above and weight in and 20 pounds or less.

Tier 1: 2-Week Kit.  Some emergency events last beyond three days, so you want to be able to live and survive without undue hardship and risk.  A 2-Week Kit will add to your EDC and layer on additional items like additional food stuffs, bedding, clothing, solar chargers, lighting and cookware to make this extended and adventure instead of an ordeal.  This bag may by a large framed backpack or duffle bag.  It should weigh no more than 45 pounds, which is the maximum weight most people should carry for an extended distance.

Tier 3: Sustainment Kit:  This kit is designed to allow you to survive an indefinite period of time in a survival situation.  Most often this kit will contain additional foodstuffs, ammunition, bedding, tools that allow you to repair and maintain your shelter and maintain long term personal safety and health.  This gear will require animal or mechanical transportation and is used to establish and maintain a long-term location.  Things such as food stores, ammunition, larger tools, communications gear and additional bedding/clothing may be part of this gear.

Most often these will be packed in large wheeled totes, buckets or large duffle bags.  You weight is limited only by the size to the vehicle or animal transportation available to move it.  Note, items in this tier are expendable and should only be relied on to enhance the seven survival priorities.

In future blog posts I’ll cover each of these Tiers in detail.  There are no hard, fast, definitive lists, as each situation varied by person, location and environment, but you’ll find some common themes develop across each tier which will help you develop, plan and build your own BOB (Bug Out Bag).


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