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Archive for October, 2010

What Goes In a Bug Out Bag?

We add inventory to our bug out bags as we accumulate things, so this will probably become a living list. My personal bug out bag consists of more survival gear than the ones for the kids. It’s a little heavier, and there are a few things in there that I do not want stored in their rooms (fire starting gear, a small axe, etc.). Their bags have mostly things like a change of clothes, an emergency contact card, a blanket, a couple water bottles, etc.).

Our “survival gear” bug out bag has the following contents:

  • A couple rations of food (high-calorie bars). We also have a few packs of Ramen noodles because they have a lot of calories and are easy to prepare, but are extremely light.
  • Flashlights. One in each bag. Never burn more than one light at a time to preserve batteries. A hand-crank light is good here, too, for battery-less operation.
  • Batteries. To power flashlights, mainly. Be sure to have the right size for your equipment, and pack plenty of extras.
  • Glow sticks. When flashlights and batteries run out.
  • Hand-crank emergency radio. Great for power outages, and if you are on the run, good for keeping up with emergency broadcast.
  • Multi-tool. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere without a good multi-tool!
  • Knives. We have several kinds of knives. A folding camp knife with a saw edge, a Swiss Army knife with attachments, a large, fixed-blade survival knife, etc.).
  • Change of clothes. Lean towards cold weather gear, and consider an emergency rain poncho.

What Is a Bug Out Bag?

The best way to define a “bug out bag” is to use a real-life scenario. You just got word there is a raging wildfire headed for your home (something Californians are dealing with right now). You have exactly ten minutes to get out of your home. Because you are not sure if you home will survive the fire, or how long you may be living out of your car, you will need to grab just a few essentials and run. That’s when bug out bags come in handy.


Our bug out bags are actually two old backpacks that we had retired from everyday use, and a duffle bag like the one shown above. My wife and I share the duffle, and each kid has their own bug out bag with kid-friendly survival gear tucked away in their closet. They know that if mom or dad runs to their room and screams, “Hurry, we have to bug out of here!” they are to grab only their bags and get out of the house as quickly as possible.

It’s worth mentioning here that taking time to open the closet door and grab the bag is a luxury of advanced notice – any notice. If there is an immediate danger (intruder, fire inside the home, etc.) the kids know to just get out with their lives. Be sure to emphasize the different scenarios and come up with a code word or phrase so the kids will know when to grab their bug out bags and when to just get out as quickly as possible.