Ultimate Bug Out Bag Checklist


Increasingly unstable times calls for extraordinary preparation – or at least a proper bug out bag. We have assembled the ultimate bug out bag checklist along with some seasoned advice so you can prepare yourself for anything that blasts through – because you never know when they’re going to drop the nuke. When I say ultimate I mean ultimate. There’s a lot of gear on this checklist you don’t need depending on variables like location, your skills, and your unique bug out situation. Let’s crack into it.

What is a bug out bag?

A bug out bag is a special backpack filled with short term supplies to help you get to your bug out location. The supplies you carry will aid in your survival and see you through tough times in the short term. At the bare minimum it will have 72 hours worth of food and water. It is not designed for an extended stay in the wilderness and shouldn’t be seen as a long term survival solution. Your bug out bag only needs to get you to your bug out location or see you through a rough situation until normalcy is restored. Additionally, your bug out bag will have tools to secure or improvise resources for longer periods of time.

Reality check


When most people think of “bugging out” they have a romantic notion of escaping into the woods and living off the fat of the land. They assume that impending doom and “full system meltdown” is right on the horizon. This is very unlikely. It’s much likelier that you get caught in a snowstorm or you lose power for a couple days. Maybe your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere with zero cell reception. Many of these scenarios require you to bug out and seek resources. Having a bug out bag with the resources you need is crucial to making it out through these situations.

Crucial considerations

Your plan – What is your plan if TSHTF? Where will you bug out? How far is your bug out location from home/work? Will you walk? Like Denzel Washington in the book of eli, your actions need a purpose and a plan. Your plan will govern what you pack in your bug out bag.

Your physical strength – Your bug out gear will be carried on your back. Most people drastically underestimate their own physical strength and stamina. The weight of your bug out bag needs to be taken into consideration, along with your own willingness to lug said weight. Your bug out bag is no good if you crumble under the load. Consider that you might have to walk a considerable distance to safety and ask yourself – will you be able to carry all of that gear? Next weekend go out on a camping trip with your friends. Take whatever you think you’ll need for the trip. If your experience is like most new backpackers, you probably packed way more gear than you actually needed. You will inevitably find yourself ditching the heavier stuff in favor of lighter alternatives. This is the spirit of the lightweight backpacker. In fact, your pack for a backpacking trip is essentially a bug out bag!

Your resourcefulness – The more resourceful you are the less gear you need to survive. This comes down to raw survival skills. Knowing how to use your gear is crucial. Knowing your environment is just as important. If you know where to find clean water then you don’t have to carry as much. If you know how to make shelter with a couple garbage bags and a bit of paracord then you don’t need a tent. Packing a bug out bag is like packing for a backpacking trip. Assess your skills and pack accordingly.

Best bug out pack?

The genesis of any B.O.B. is the humble backpack of course. You have many options available to you. Packs can be broken down into military or civilian types. Read this post for a detailed analysis for the pros and cons of each. In short, military packs are bombproof compared to their civilian type counterparts. They can be picked up for cheap at any military surplus store. Civilian packs, on the other hand, are lighter and offer a range of design options and versatility. Some of them even rival the durability of military packs. Civilian packs are more expensive due to the commercialization of the hiking industry.

At the end of the day, a bug out bag only needs to meet 2 requirements.

1.) It must hold all of your gear

2.) It must not fall apart on the road

Stay away from bags with cheap zippers and material that feels like it could tear apart at any second. A popular option is the Rush 5.11 72 hour bag. It’s a best of both worlds choice – the durability of a military pack with the versatility of a civilian pack.

Ultimate bug out bag checklist

Let’s get into the gear. The first section will cover the 4 core components of any effective B.O.B. – fire, shelter, food, and water. This is the gear you need at the bare minimum. The second section will cover secondary make-life-easier items.

Fire – fire is a necessity in a survival situation. If you’re trapped outdoors a fire will keep your body at an ideal temperature for survival. Fire also cooks your food, provides a moral boost, and serves as an effective way to signal. Keep at least 2 methods of making fire in your bug out bag for redundancy.

Shelter – exposure to extreme elemental conditions will kill you faster than anything else.

Food –  72 hours worth of food. Here are some ideas, and remember, survival is not a culinary experience. Pack foods that are high carb, high fat. The foods that deliver your body the most bang for the weight. Also, non perishable!

  • Dried nuts/fruit
  • Clif bars
  • protein powder
  • Tuna packets
  • Snickers
  • etc

Water – 72 hours worth of water. There is no exact science on how much this is exactly. Everybody is wired differently and the amount of water you need depends on a number of variables like how much you sweat, what you eat, etc. My advice is to bring as much as you can carry. Scout your bug out route ahead of time and identify locations where you can get fresh water. This will reduce the amount of water you need to carry in your B.O.B. Packing a water filter is another way to reduce your in-pack water supply. You can filter water from local ponds, lakes, rivers and other potentially dubious sources. Read my guide to purifying water.

Upgraded B.O.B

The above is a skeleton version of any decent B.O.B. It’s lightweight and has everything you need to survive for 72 hours. But what if you want to make life a little more cushy? There are lots of gear options that will make life easier if you’re willing to bare the load. Here is a complete list of items you should consider.

Knife – I almost included this in the skeleton list because of it’s raw practicality. A knife is a truly versatile piece of gear and some argue it’s the most important gear in your pack. You can’t go wrong with the Kabar Bk2. Required reading: How to choose a survival knife.

Flashlight – Ever been camping without a flashlight? Life becomes very dark and difficult. I recommend a headlamp to free up your hands to work around camp.  If you have the extra cheddar the Fenix PD-35 is an amazing tactical flashlight and doubles as a self defense weapon.

Hygiene – Alcohol wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, tampons, hand sanitizer, toilet paper – you know the drill. Anything you use on a regular basis to keep clean and hygenic.

Upgraded sleep system – Tarp and paracord not your thing? Don’t let me keep you from your creature comforts. Just make sure your tent has a waterproof bottom and a good rain fly.

Duct tape – A million and one uses. Repair ripped shelters, tape trash bags together for make-shift shelter, compression wrap for wounds, heal and protect blisters, fly trap, DIY handcuffs etc. Don’t bring the whole role though – wrap a few rounds of it over a pencil or your BIC lighter.

Plastic spork – Use the spork to eat any food you come across.

Multi-Tool – A good Leatherman multi-tool is a versatile piece of equipment. The built in tools can be used in many scenarios: Cutting up cardboard for shelter, opening food canisters, removing secured items, cutting cordage, etc. Don’t leave home without one boys.

Sillcock key – Ever seen a water faucet with no handle to turn it on? These water sources are on every commercial building and accessed with a tool called a sillcock key. Even if the power was offline there’s a good chance there is enough pressure left to fill your water bottle. On large buildings these sources could amount to hundreds of gallons of water. This tool is easily acquired at any hardware store.

Water Bottle – A good water bottle will store any water you come across in the city. Using the sillcock key above you can easily keep your bottle filled for a good while. Opt for the stainless steel varieties to boil water in a fire. Stainless steel containers will add extra weight to your pack but are more versatile than a plastic bottle.

Gloves – You want to protect your hands from all the sharp edges and glass you will be handling. A good set of gloves will give you a better grip if you need to climb structures and prevent cuts and scrapes. Your hands are too important not to protect. Pick up a pair at your local Home Depot or hardware store to get ones with a good fit.

Garbage Bags – Industrial strength garbage bags are versatile pieces of gear. They are waterproof so you can use them as a make-shift rain coat. Garbage bags can be laid flat to create a dry sleeping system and durable enough to collect and hold water.

Pepper spray – If you aren’t trained to take down an assailant with your bare hands then pepper spray is a great tool to include in your bug out bag. In desperate situations you can’t rely on people being civil. A face-full of pepper spray will stop an attacker right in their tracks.

Dust mask – Put on the dust mask if you’re going to be exploring abandoned buildings for shelter. The dust mask will help protect your lungs from inhaling harmful particles. This becomes more important if you’re surrounded by collapsed structures or buildings that have recently been destroyed. They are also useful in the event of an influenza outbreak. The dust mask is a very light piece of gear and extremely affordable.

Shemagh – a classic trick to stay warm at night is to keep your head and neck covered. A shemagh is a multi purpose article of clothing that has a number of practical uses. Besides, who doesn’t want to look like a ninja while they’re bugging out?

Water purification – Having a way to purify water will reduce the amount you need to carry in your pack. I’ve written a complete guide to purifying water here. Water filters like the Life Straw are extremely cheap and lightweight. Throw one in your bug out bag and call it a day.

Battery bank – Useful to recharge your phone and other electronic devices. Survival might depend on your ability to make a single phone call. SHTF situations do not take your smartphones battery life into consideration before striking.



The clothes on your back are just as important as the gear on your back. They are your first line of defense against the elements. Here are a few tips to pack the right clothing for your bug out bag.

No cotton – Cotton retains moisture and sticks to your skin. This creates prime conditions for hypothermia. Your clothing should keep you dry and wick away moisture. Even in the cold your body will sweat – especially when you’re tromping around with a bug out bag. It’s crucial to stay dry. Opt for wool clothing like smart wool or a polyester fabric.

Layered system – dressing in a layered style makes you highly adaptable to changing environments and body temperatures. You can easily remove layers or add them depending on the situation. Remember, the key is to stay dry and keep the body at a healthy temperature. A common layering system involves 3 layers:

  • The base layer is the layer next to your skin. This layer should be made of a wool or polyester (synthetic) fabric and wick away moisture.
  • The insulation layer is a warming layer – typical fabrics include wool, fleece, or down goose feathers. These types of fabrics trap heat close to the body.
  • The shell layer is your protection from the elements. This can as complicated as a $400 dollar jacket or as simple as a trash bag. This layer serves to protect you from the rain, sleet, and snow.


Protect your feet at all costs. Regular shoes degrade quickly and don’t support your feet very well. I’m partial to a good pair of waterproof hiking boots. Material like Goretex is waterproof and breathable. A mid size hiking boot will also support your ankles. Generally, a good boot will last you years. I’ve worn a pair of these everyday for over a year and they’ve held up like a tank.

Final thoughts

Not many people have the money to go out and buy an ultimate bug out bag. I recommend you start small. Put together the skeleton version of this bug out bag first and then slowly expand it. Once you have the gear you need, take it for a test run. Get out of dodge for a night and hike to someplace local where you can experiment with your gear. While this won’t simulate a real SHTF scenario it will allow you to familiarize yourself with all your gear and test your physical stamina. You will quickly get an idea for what pieces of gear you do and don’t need. The bug out bag is always a work in progress. Have fun with the process but be serious when it comes time to BUG OUT.

Have any additions you would make to this list? Leave your comments and criticisms below. Thanks for reading and be sure to subscribe to the email newsletter.








Epic Survival Lessons From The Book of Eli

The Book of Eli is an epic story about a man (Denzel Washington) with intense purpose and cunning survival skills. After a nuclear blast Denzel Washington receives a message from God. His mission – deliver the last known copy of the King James Bible to a remote western city to recirculate the knowledge of God back to mankind. The movie is chocked full of survival tips and crucial takeaways you can use in any SHTF situation. Here are a few ideas.

Cats are food

Right in the opening scene we see Eli take down a cat with his bow. This tells us a few things. One, in a survival situation animals become food. They lose their value as pets in favor of keeping the human machine alive. The inner animal of the human comes out. Hunger brings you very close to the animalistic side of you that sees animals as prey. You do not have the luxury of taking an animals are pets perspective. This perspective can only be realized in a state of abundance. Chances are, in a survival situation you can not afford to have this perspective.

Mind your own business

Eli notices multiple injustices throughout the movie but chooses to stay on his path and not intervene. Survival is not pretty and you are not superman. Short of rescuing a close family member or friend, your job is not to rush to the rescue of every damsel in distress – unless you want to get yourself killed of course. Mind your own business and stick to the path.

Have a path

Eli had a very clear path from the beginning. He was not walking aimlessly. He had a purpose and a defined mission. Your mission might not be as dramatic. Your mission might be to find water or locate a lost member of your group. Whatever it is, having a purpose and mission will pull you through the hard times and see you through to ultimate survival.

Have faith

Eli had unwavering faith in God. He chose to believe that he was protected by God. His suffering was easy to endure because his faith gave meaning to everything. He did not question Gods will and stuck to His divine purpose. It’s important to have faith in something when you’re struggling to survive. Especially if you doubt your own survival skills, having faith in the divine will summon internal resources you never thought you had. Stop doubting and have faith.

Have a skill

On his journey West Eli passes through a small town of hostile survivors ran by a maniac searching for his own copy of the Bible. While waiting for his battery to charge Eli is questioned by a hostile road warrior. Things turn sour and Eli takes out the whole bar in an impressive display of self defense. The maniac mayor of the town takes notice of Eli’s skills and invites him to join up with his crew. His life was spared because he had a unique skill set that could benefit many people. Having some kind of skill is important for your survival and will benefit you if you decide to absorb into a group.


In the end, Eli completes his mission and ultimately survives. Had it not been for these survival skills he might not have made it through the first obstacle. Survival depends both on the gear on your back and on the wits in your head. Common sense goes a long way to ensuring a safe passage through a deathly SHTF scene. Much of Eli’s success can be attributed to his unwavering faith and common sense. Yes, it helps to be a complete badass too.

What did you think of these lessons? Drop a comment below.

8 Paracord Ideas For Survival/SHTF Situation


You’ve done the research and assembled one hell of a bug out bag according to expert bloggers. Pack paracord they say. It will come in HANDY they say. I had to do quite a bit of research before I understood why I actually needed any paracord at all. In this post I have assembled 8 practical examples of what you can use your paracord for in a survival situation.

Shelter – This is a big one so I put it at the top of the list. With only a tarp and some paracord you can fashion yourself a nice shelter from the elements. Forget about lugging around a heavy tent. Hell, if you really want to go RAMBO you can forget the tarp too and simply forage what you need from the city or wilderness. Don’t, however, expect to find you some decent rope. Pack a good bit of paracord and you can rest soundly at night knowing how prepared you are. There are lots of ways to create shelter with paracord. You can create an A-frame structure by tying the paracord to two supporting pillars (trees, poles etc) and then just throw your tarp over it. Stake off the corners and you’re right as rain.


Bear bags – If you find yourself in bear country don’t forget to bear bag your food. Throw whatever goodies you have in some kind of sack and hoist it high in the air with your paracord. Don’t keep open food containers in your tent unless you want a 3am wake up call from Yogi Bear himself.

Cliff loads – This one is simple. Attach one bit of paracord to a heavy load and use the other end to drag that sucker up a cliff, steep mountain, or other natural or man-made obstruction.

Boot laces – Another timeless tip from my paracord ideas VAULT. If you have boots with metal eyelets it’s only a matter of time before you go to lace things up and the whole lace rips apart. Patch things right up with a good bit of paracord and you’re GOLDEN. This will save you from tromping through the zombie apocalypse with a boot that constantly falls off. Don’t forget to burn shut the other end so the paracord doesn’t unravel.

Swedish fire torch – Take a log and split it into 4 equal pieces. Secure the pieces together at the bottom of the logs with your paracord. Stuff sticks and anything else that will burn inside of the cracks. Light the material and sit back as your Swedish fire torch burns from the inside out. This method of fire making allows for a flat cooking top and is completely self feeding and contained.

Swedish fire torch hard at work


Fishing line – Imagine, you are stranded in the middle of a wilderness DEATH TRAP. All you have is 10 feet of paracord and a river rushing with the worlds FRESHEST salmon. You might be thinking that 10 feet of paracord is not nearly enough to test your fate at the hands of the fishing Gods. But did you know? The inner strands of any 550 cordage can be turned into fishing line with a surprising amount strength. Just 10 feet of paracord can easily turn into 80 feet of line with 50lb test! Lash the inner strands together and put a hook on the other end for a fishing experience straight out of Huckleberry Finn.

Self extraction – steeped deep in an urban DEATH TRAP? All hell breaking loose? Fight for your life and use that paracord to descend down the side of your burning apartment building. But can it hold your weight you ask? It’s called 550 cord for a reason – 550 cord is rated up to 550 pounds. I doubt you’re that fat my friend.

Citizens arrest – Tie up that bandit and question his motives with a good length of paracord. In a SHTF there isn’t going to be anybody to save you. You may find yourself in a group and one of them goes nuts – experiences a mental BREAKDOWN from lack of nutrients and death showing his teeth at every corner. Tie him up and calm him down – or force him out of the group.


You can see that paracord is a truly versatile piece of gear. It’s super light so there’s literally zero excuses not to have any in your pack. Paracord can easily be had on Amazon for cheap. Get some today before shit gets REAL. You don’t want to be scrounging for important gear when all hell breaks loose. You want to grab your gear and go – so don’t forget the paracord my friend!





Everything You Need To Know About Purifying Water



One thing that gets hammered into your skull as a budding survivalist is the importance of water. Water is crucial for your body to maintain it’s processes and without it you will die. It’s that simple. So how do you go about securing this resource when the water stops coming out of the pipes or if you’re lost in the wilderness? How do you go about purifying the water so you don’t shit yourself silly from a virus strain or other waterborne pathogen?

What’s lurking in the water?

Water that has been contaminated with either human or animal waste is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, protozoa and viruses. These microbes wreak havoc on your intestinal system and the body reacts explosively with diarrhea that serves to further dehydrate you. Here are a few examples of the type of pathogens I’m talking about:


Your garden variety protozoa
Your garden variety protozoa

I don’t know about you but I don’t like the sound of this already. Protozoa is an enteric pathogen that relies on water and thrives in fresh water environments. Even more terrifying than the name is the typical life cycle of this pathogen. The protozoan oocysts (eggs) enter your body where they hatch open inside your intestines and begin furiously reproducing. Symptoms of infection begin roughly two days after exposure and include diarrhea, vomiting and intestinal discomfort. Some protozoa are ultra-resilient and resist treatment from chemicals like chlorine (water parks anyone?)  Symptoms can be treated but are generally not unless you have a more serious infection. Expect to ride this one out for 1 – 6 weeks.


Bacteria is structurally distinct from protozoa so it’s grouped into a completely different class of pathogen. Everybody has heard of the heavy hitting bacteria E. Coli and Salmonella. Creeks, rivers, and streams are fertile breeding grounds for these microbes. Symptoms from ingesting bacteria riddled water appear anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and include diarrhea and intestinal discomfort.


Like protozoa and bacteria, viruses are born from the ripe environment found in human and animal fecal matter. Viruses like hepatits A, otavirus, enterovirus and norovirus are some of the more common viruses waiting patiently for a host to infect. Viruses love cold water but disintegrate when exposed to UV light or intense heat. Viruses are structurally smaller than protozoa and bacteria which makes them resistant to filtering devices.

[c5ab_box title=”Note:” type=”alert-info” ]Viruses are rarely found in North American rivers and streams.[/c5ab_box]

4 Ways To Purify Water

I have some good news: Despite all this doom and gloom it is very rare to die from a waterborne bacterial, protozoan or virus infection. Those most at risk for serious health issues include individuals with immune disorders. In a survival situation, however, it is possible that due to the diarrhea you will become dehydrated to a very severe point. Let’s not take that gamble and learn about 4 ways you can purify water.


Filtering dubious water sources is the most popular method of purifying water. Water filters like the Sawyer Squeeze can filter up to a 100,000 gallons of water and remove harmful bacteria and protozoa down to 0.1 microns. Water filters work by filtering the water through a layer of fine porous material. This material allows water to pass but traps anything larger than 0.1 microns – the size of most harmful bacteria and protozoans. Filters can’t remove viruses however because of their microscopic size. Filtering water is a fast, lightweight and convenient method to obtain drinkable water in most locations.

The Sawyer water filter is the standard for filtering dubious water sources

Chemical Treatment

Treating water with chemicals like iodine is another effective way to remove protozoa, bacteria AND viruses. Iodine purifies water by oxidizing the membranes and organelles of water-born pathogens, upsetting their biological functions and causing them to die. Iodine tablets are extremely cheap, effective and lightweight. Downsides of using iodine include a long wait time for purification (up to half an hour) and a less than pleasant after taste. Iodine tablets also don’t keep their shelf life as long as other methods and their effectiveness degrades when exposed to heat, moisture and humidity.

[c5ab_box title=”Note:” type=”alert-info” ]Pregnant women and individuals with a thyroid condition should not drink iodine treated water.[/c5ab_box]

Ultraviolet Light

UV light destroys protozoa, bacteria and viruses by destroying their DNA. UV light can rapidly treat 32 oz of water in 90 seconds. Downsides of using a UV light solution include a reliance on batteries which can die and a requirement for a clear water source. If you have cloudy water the light cannot fully pass through. Finding clear water is essential when using UV light.

One of my favorite hi-tech methods to purify water.


The classic method that never fails. Intense heat structurally destroys the pathogens rendering them inactive. Bring your water to a rolling boil for one minute. If you are above 5000 feet elevation the EPA recommends you boil the water for 3 minutes. This method is effective but very slow and inefficient.

General Rules of Thumb

High elevation streams can be safe sources of water
High elevation streams can be safe sources of water

Firstly, I wouldn’t trust any water source in an urban environment unless it’s coming out of the pipes. (Depending on the scenario even this water might not be trustworthy.) Standing or flowing water next to any city is sure to be polluted with all kinds of pathogens from years of industry. You MUST purify this water. The rules in the wild change. As you go deeper into the wild, water sources become safer. If you must drink water and you don’t have a method of filtering try to find a water source that doesn’t appear to be frequented by humans or animals. Higher elevation water sources are safer because this water is closer to the source and hasn’t flowed far enough to pick up contaminants. Springs are the best because they are the literal source of the water. High elevation streams are a good second choice and still-standing lakes and ponds are a last resort because stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Final Thoughts

I recommend that you pick a method of purification and immediately include the appropriate gear in your survival kit. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to include multiple methods. If you have a cook kit you already have a method of boiling water. Pairing this with a bottle of cheap iodine tablets and a water filter will give you redundancy and a more versatile kit. Don’t drink bad water if you don’t have to.

Leave a comment below and share your own thoughts on purifying and drinking water.

14 Death Defying SHTF Tips



Live to see another apocalyptic sunrise with the following 14 SHTF tips:

1. Use a guitar case for your bug out bag – Effective tactic for bugging out under the radar. Pair the guitar case with some clothes from Goodwill and you look like a transient who’s just passing through.

2. Purify water with household bleach – 6 drops purifies an entire gallon.

3. Make dry shavings from wet material with a pencil sharpener – These shavings will be dry enough to make fire.

4. Place living green material over your fire to create a thick white smoke signal – The green wood and leaves creates dense plumes of white smoke. This smoke is highly visible from the air.

5. Pine sap is a natural antiseptic – Wound a pine tree by slicing into the trunk or branch. The tree will produce it’s own sap to heal the laceration. Collect this sap and apply to wounds of your own. Thanks mother nature!

6. Get in shape – Surviving is going to be a grueling and uncomfortable task if you’re fat or you get winded easily. At the very least grow accustom to walking long distances. Anybody can walk to the grocery store or around the block.

7. Use abandoned railroads to escape the city – If you live in the city you most certainly have abandonded railroads running in and out of your province. Find out where these tracks are and where they go. They just might be your ticket to safety.

8. If you feel you’re getting a blister, stick a piece of duct tape right over the hot-spot.

9. Stuff leaves or other insulating materials into a trash bag for a make-shift sleeping pad – Sleeping directly on the  ground will steal your body heat like a thief in the night. Sleeping on an insulating layer can make a miserable night slightly less miserable.

10. Carry spare cash and a pack of cigarettes – Use the cash to buy store items when electronic credit card processing is unavailable. Use the smokes to make friends and barter for survival goodies. Addicts will part ways with very valuable equipment when they need a fix.

11. Guitar strings make great snare wire 

12. Use a sillcock key to tap into commercial water sources – Built in to most commercial buildings are water faucets you can only turn on with a special “sillcock” key. Even if the power is out there is usually enough pressure in the pipes to extract many gallons of water.

13. Take your bug out bag camping or spend a night in the city – What the hell is the point of amassing all this gear if you don’t know how to use any of it? Bug out for a night or two and experience a small slice of what a survival situation feels like. You can do this in the city or in the wild.

14. Learn to Meditate – Probably the hardest tip on this list but easily the most important. When the SHTF do you think you’re odds of survival might be improved if you’re calm, cool, and collected? Freaking out and panicking is only going to accelerate the process of digging yourself an early grave. Meditating is a tool that builds focus and allows you to take a cool step back from a chaotic situation to formulate a solid game-plan.

Do you think these tips will help you stave off the grim reaper? Let me know what you think below.