How to Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag

I am a prepper. I used to hide it but now its how I make a living and I am proud of it.

Every so often I wake up in the middle of the night to a bump or a boom in the distance. I look at the alarm clock to see if there is still power. I look to see if our nightmare has come true.

Will we one night wakeup to the aurora borealis in the sky of a major city? Would you be prepared to survive an EMP on a moments notice?

If you are in a highly populated area and the sun smashes our atmosphere with a coronal mass ejection, it could crush the three major national grids and send civility spiraling into chaos.

When I wake up to these situations, I think first about my bugout bags:

  • Where are they?
  • What’s inside?
  • Are they ready to go?

Then I consider my bugout location and with that I can calm myself down and even get back to sleep.

These reassurances are so important.

They become the basis for dealing with the worst-case scenario, when you decide to abandon your most substantial investment, your home, for a safer location.

We are going to cover how to build the perfect bugout bag but first, I want to discuss the triggers for bugging out.

When do you bugout?

Are we a little too trigger happy with bugging out?

Truth is, its much the opposite.

It might seem easy because in the movies the aliens come down and wreak havoc or the meteor strikes the Atlantic Ocean.

Truth is, its never so easy.

Think about 9/11/2001. Did you bugout then? There has probably been no better example or warning that the S has HTF than 9/11.

Of course, in hindsight you might be thinking, “Why? I live in Tennessee?” At the time, no one knew what was coming next and that is a terrifying concept.

That could have been a precursor to an invasion or a massive attack from within. No one knew. Most of us just sat with locked eyes on the television.

So, as important as the bag itself you need to establish when it’s time to go.


While many understand the concept behind the bugout, it’s much harder to understand when to bugout. The acronym REDOUT gives you some clear examples of when it’s time to hit the road.


No matter how much you store there could come a time when resources start to run out. You will need to decide to run for more supplies or run for the hills.

Don’t make this decision after you have run out because then you are out of all options. Start thinking about what you will do now.


Is the immediate environment a threat to your life? If so, you need to consider moving away from that threat.


Do you have a BOL (Bug Out Location)? You need a place to go or a bug out location, if you are going to leave your home. Otherwise you are just going to be a target.


Have you come against overwhelming force? This could be in the form of something like criminals and thieves or worse, Martial Law.


While we like to assume that we are all prepared for every event, we could face something unexpected. If you are unprepared for the threat at hand you might be better off heading to your chosen bugout location that is stocked with supplies and easier to defend.


Perhaps you are holding your own for now, but the threat is increasing? There could come a time when the flood waters rise too high or the fire is too close.

The Best Bugout Bag Gear

If we are going to build the ultimate bag we need to start with,  well, the ultimate bag! In this section let’s explore what to look for in a great bugout bag.


There are a few bugout bags that standout, to me, but in order to create the PERFECT bugout bag it must be about you. You might be a smaller person than me or a bigger person. You might have physical restrictions that won’t allow you to carry the same weight or type of bag as someone else.

If we wish to do this right, we need to add the right bag, the right items and a personal touch to the creation of a bugout bag.


Obviously, we don’t want a bag that is going to fall apart after 5 miles. That would defeat the purpose of the bugout bag.

There are many bags out there that are of high quality. One bag that stands out to me is the Condor Three Day Assault Pack.

This bag is a powerhouse that is both durable and broken out for packing clothes and gear for a bugout. This is not an administrative bag. Its designed for the bugout and that is important.

Condor creates quality gear that can be used in the outdoors or in an application just like this.


While it can be alluring to get the highest speed tactical gear on the market, with the most potential for patch application. Avoid drawing attention to yourself in a bugout situation. Its beneficial to keep this OPSEC mindset when you carry bags each day, but it could be even more important during a bugout.

Look for natural colors and an appearance that doesn’t cry out, “This bag is full of all the right gear that you need to survive!” or “Come kill me and take my bag if you want to survive!”

A big part of early stage bugout is to blend in. Until you get away from a populated area you don’t really want to be noticed for that nice bag!

Keep all this in mind when you buy a bag.

The Vertx Gamut is a bag that really answers the call but doesn’t look like your average, MOLLE covered BOB or EDC bag.


While you might find a high quality bag that doesn’t look too suspicious, you need it to be functional. It needs to be able to hold the things you require in a bugout situation.

Now, everyone’s bugout needs are going to be different. A person with a BOL that is easily accessible by car wont pack like a person who knows they have 15 miles to cover on foot.

Be sure that your bugout bag has the compartments and the storage space to function the way you need it to.

The Velox II by 3VGear is the rare case of affordability and serious storage space. These bags are not the highest quality on the market, but they could be just what you are looking for.

I would also encourage you to check out the Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack.


We have broken this down by category and there are several items under each category. This list takes into consideration an economy of space and weight. Remember, gear costs ounces.

Don’t start your bugout with a bag that weighs 75% of your bodyweight. A good guideline for a safe weight to carry is 20% of your bodyweight. So a 160 lb person with no major disabilities could carry a pack weighing 32 lbs. For a day pack the number goes down to 10%.


Don’t just carry water for drinking. You also need a means to refill your bottles and your bladders. This is no joke. Your LifeStraw is there as a last ditch effort but if you want to keep moving you need to have a pump style filter designed for filling other containers.

Katadyn Hiker Pro


Steel Bottle


You are not going to die if we go a full day without food. However, you are also not conditioned to that. You will perform much better if we have full stomachs.

Millennium Bars





Fire is the means through which we do a whole host of things. When it comes to survival and the bugout, we are going to need fire to keep warm, cook food, boil water and maybe even keep away predators.

A word of warning when it comes to fire on the bugout.

If you are looking to stay concealed a fire in the dark of night is the worst way to do that. You might want to research something like a Dakota fire or just go a night without fire.

These bugout fire solutions are about starting a fire quickly and under any circumstances.

3 Lighters

Stormproof Matches

Thick Ferrocerium Rod

1 Large Ziploc of Dryer Lint


Ideally you get to your BOL (Bugout Location) in a hurry and have no need for shelter. However, there could be a situation where you wind up having to overnight. Better to have a simple answer than to be building a debris hut for the family as the sun goes down.

Camping Hammock

Weatherproof Tarp


Self-Reliance Outfitters All Weather Blanket


Security is first about protection and second about proficiency and comfort. While many people are uncomfortable with several means and ways that are involved in security and self-defense, we are talking about the very worst case scenario.

We need to be effective here and be able to neutralize a threat if it takes aim on our family.

Trip Wires

Solar Powered Motion Sensors


Projectile Weapon (crossbow, slingshot)

Less than Lethal Weapon (taser, mace)

Urban Survival Access

If you are in an urban survival scenario and you must bugout you are going to need to be able to gain access and escape through areas where access is limited. A small collection of tools can make this a much easier task

Bolt Cutters


Sillcock Key

Lock Picks

First Aid

While this list might seem lengthy, all these items can fit into a small pouch that can either be woven into your mole bag or snapped on your belt.

IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit)




Triple Antibiotic Ointment

Fabric Band-Aids

Israeli Bandages



Chest Seal


Activated Charcoal


This is a skill that most of us are not well versed in. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we don’t spend each weekend practicing our navigation skills. That is why I carry one of my favorite books in my bugout bag.

Even if you have taken a navigation course, the effect of duress on your skills should be considered. Have some resources to lean on!


Paper Maps


Preppers Survival Navigation by Glen Martin


A change of clothing is going to go a long way on a multiple day’s bugout. Just because you might feel good about being in the same clothes overnight, does not mean everyone in your party will. This is a big consideration. Also, if your bugout location does not have a few pairs of clothes, you better have at least one change of clothes.

Wool Socks

Rain Gear

Change of Clothes

Tubular Face Masks

Body Care and Hygiene

Do not short yourself on body care and hygiene. It could be feet, chafing, or even a serious sunburn, you need answers! Be sure you stay clean and protected against the breakdown of your body under conditions you don’t usually experience.

Lip Balm

Bug Repellent

Sun Block

Combat One Wipes

All Purpose Items

These are items that just need to be in the bag and often serve multiple purposes.


Hand Crank Emergency Radio

Shemagh (Desert Scarf)



Powerful Pre Built Bugout Bags

There is no prebuilt bugout bag on the market that is going to do you justice. You are a unique person and your bugout is a unique prospect.

However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot find a bugout bag that will answer a lot of questions and contain a lot of items from our bugout bag checklist. This could save you time and money!

Now, this prebuilt bugout bag idea is not for everyone. Some people are going to want to take the building of their prefect bugout kit step by step and item by item. That’s very understandable.

Not everyone has this kind of time and having a solid base to build is going to be much better for a person who is not as preparedness inclined. If it can address things like water, food, shelter, navigation, fire and maybe even self-defense, it frees up a lot of time.

Let’s look at 3 different prebuilt bugout bags and how they could help the average bugout bag building prepper.

Echo-Sigma Bugout Bag

The first and most important thing to mention when it comes to the Echo Sigma bugout bags is that they can get way up there in price. Their bugout bag options costs nearly $600. Its important you know this going in so you can understand the commitment.

The Echo Sigma offers up a few unique items and one is the sleep system. Its very rare that you get a sleeping bag with a prebuilt bugout bag. This kit provides that.

It has an SOG multitool, emergency radio, 7 days of food rations. It even comes with a LifeStraw and hydration bladder though these two cannot work together.

Again, this cannot be the perfect bag, but it can be a great base level bugout bag to build on.

Seventy2 Hour Bugout Bag

The Seventy2 survival system is a kit that could be used as a bugout bag. It has been relentlessly organized by the creators and makes it easy to navigate the contents.

The Seventy2 is also about $200 cheaper than the ES variety. That could be a deal maker for those on a budget.

This bag handles water needs like a true prepper or survivalist would. A couple Sawyer Minis, a Nalgene ,and even some ready to drink water. Great options. It has a filtering air mask and goggles which are rare to see in most bugout bag checklists.

Some of the tools look a little cheap but for the most part this is a great base level bugout bag.

Emergency Zone Bugout Bag

The Emergency Zone Bugout Bag stands out because it is designed to serve 2 people for 72 hours and is just over $100.

As you can imagine, the bag and its contents are not all highest quality. Your food is high calorie bars and your water options are a little rough, but you do get water pouches.

Emergency Zone does a good job with hygiene considerations. They offer up some cheap gloves and even a decent swiss army knife, however, the bag is inexpensive so most of the gear is, as well.

While it’s easy to get down on this bag because of some of the items aren’t top quality. Everything in this bag will serve you better than not having a bugout bag at all!

The Importance of your Personal Touch on the Bugout Bag

We have a very informative look at the bugout and building a bugout bag in this article. We have covered a lot of topics that work to expose where you might have flaws in your bugout plan.

However, no article can address 100% of your needs. There is no list in the whole of the world wide web that gives you all you need. The reason is, only you know your real needs.

Every bugout bag you create should have some personal affects and unique items within it.

Some of these items will be as important to survival

  • Medications
  • Braces
  • Inhalers
  • EpiPen’s

Other items might not seem as important, but they hold value to that individual.

  • A Child’s Blanket
  • Family Photos
  • Mementos
  • Favorite Books
  • Toys

Must Read Bugout Resources

Here at Backdoor Survival we have been exploring the idea of bugout bags and bugout bag lists for some time. We have some great information on creating a great pack, carrying water, finding a great bugout location and optimizing your bugout kit.

How about finding a great bugout location or testing your bugout might?

You will need a high quality bugout bag checklist that is going to help you build that bag but that’s, really, just the beginning.

Do you have the right bag, do you have the right gear, and do you make time to practice with your gear? Do you use your survival kit?

For lots of thoughts on the bugout and building the perfect bugout bag check out the links below.

Planning Your Bugout Location

Can you really create a bugout bag without knowing about your bugout location? You must consider where you are going and how long it will take you to get there long before you start building your bugout bag.

This is a great article on planning your bugout camp or cabin. Be sure to give it a look before you consider your bugout plan and bugout bag complete.

Best BOB DIY Options

If you are looking for more options about DIY bugout bags and pre-made options, check this one out. While DIY bags are going to be more personal, you can build a quick base with the premade bugout bag options.

If you are pressed for time these options might be best for you.

How to Test Your Ability to Carry a Bugout Bag

One of the most overlooked preps for the bugout is fitness. We concern ourselves so much with the bag and its contents that we hardly think about whether we can carry the thing!

How about a great read and test of your ability to actually be effective with that bag you built? While it might look very cool hanging on that hook, it needs to be carried for miles.

Can you pull that off? Find out how to test your ability in this article.

Bugout Cooking Options

What kinds of cookware do you include in your bugout bag? If you are on a multi-day bugout or if that bugout happens in the winter, a hot meal will be very important. Being able to cook both along the way and at camp is going to be important.

Remember, you might be in a situation where the electrical grid has been compromised and you will not be able to prepare foods the way you expected.

This article offers up a review of a piece of bugout cookware that is worth your consideration.


Of the building of many bags, there is no end. This is a point that we need to touch on as we close out.

We have a static list here. If you grab a high quality bag, fill it with the items listed, add your personal touch and throw the bag into a closet for a year, chances are it won’t be as effective as it was when you first put it together.

Things go out of date and needs change. While we can create the perfect bugout bag for the moment, these bags require that you check in from time to time and implement a little quality assurance.

You might have changes in health, changes in skill or something else. We all know how much life can change in 6 months. Maybe you even have a new baby or start caring for a grandbaby. They need to be considered in this bag, as well!

Bottomline, the bugout bag is not a checklist item. I would encourage you to look at it as a piece of your life that requires use and attention. You need use this bag on regular hikes and walks. You also need to check the contents to add or takeaway items on a regular basis.

It’s a living and breathing prep.



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One Response to “How to Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag”

  1. Thanks for a well written article. I personally change out my BOB a few times a year to be inline with the season. Don’t need sneakers in the winter…LOL I also test out taking the bag with me when I walk the dog. I have to test the weight of the contents to make sure it’s not over loaded. I’m not twenty years old by a long shot. If I can’t carry it comfortably for a 2 mile walk, what makes me think I can handle it for a 12 mile hike to my brothers place 🙂 Some items in the article I personally wouldn’t carry in my bag, but that’s just me. Can’t lug around everything I would like to, but that’s not the purpose.


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