Ultimate Bug Out Bag: The BOB Guide for Your Survival

Ultimate Bug Out Bag
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Basically, the ultimate bug out bag is a portable kit that contains all the items you need for survival in the next 22 hours (or more). But there are also kits designed to last up to three days. The focus of this survivalist subculture kit—BOB—is on quick evacuation and short-term survival, not long-term.

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Also called bailout bag, it is what many military aviators carry, but in the US, this term refers to the Korean War practice of the US military designating an alternative defensive position if the military units had to displace, wherein they had to bug out when the chance of being overrun was high.

Since then, the concept passed onto a wider range of use among both the military and law enforcement, but now, the term BOB (grab bag, bug out bag, personal emergency relocation kits, PERKS, a good bag, bailout bag…) has been used to refer to a kit designed for escaping during emergencies. It must be light to carry and it must be compact enough of getting in the way when doing an all-out run…).

Bug Out Bag Infogaphic

No one wants to be caught in a situation when he has to drop and leave everything behind during an emergency. And given the uncertainties in this modern world, it will be wiser that you’re prepared for any disaster to come.  But are you prepared? This is the major question we deal with every single day and so emergency preparation is serious that requires an equally serious attention.

Some unexpected disasters in today’s world might result from a civil unrest, natural disaster (flood, hurricane, tsunami, earthquake…), fire, home invasion, mass shooting, or a terrorist attack, which everyone should be prepared for all the time, and one of the best things you can do is to prepare a BOB, with the essential gears and tools for urban or wilderness survival.

Getting ready with your bug out bag

Preparing is not being paranoid, and certainly, you’re not for getting a bug out bag, which you can easily pickup in an emergency, ready.  So what makes a good BOB? Well, there is certainly no definite answer for this one, as there are many ways to prepare it on demand.

You can individually pick out the essentials you think are necessary for your own and your family’s survival. But there are also ready made ones sold on the market, although they may not be suitable for your specific locality.

Bug Out Bag

So, we’ve made a research and compiled an all-important guide to help you prepare one.

Comfortable, fit and spacious bag

Ensure you can carry it comfortably, especially that you may have to walk for a long distance. Just imagine how inconvenient that would be if you would have to carry a too heavy or an ill-fitted bag. You don’t have to take chances but make sure that you are picking the right bag for you.

A bag, aside from comfort, should also give you with enough space for your gear, so you may want to opt for the one with more pockets, loops, zippers and straps. You also have to be organized, something very important in a bug out situation. Being organized may mean the big difference between life and death.

BY-S Military Army Patrol Molle Assault Pack

So, aside from perfect fit, you should see for a number of compartments, too, so that you can have several options on the way to organizing your stuff inside. Finally, you may want to look for a bag that fits your personality by choosing one with your preferred appearance and color. You can also get some relatively cheap military style bags that have plenty of compartments and space.

As you know, one can never really have enough of space to store everything you need, so you basically need a bag with more pockets and other organization features.

A good choice is a BY-S Military Army Patrol Molle Assault Pack that has two separate main compartments and two front pockets and comes with different attachment points, D-rings on shoulder straps and loops. It also has an integrated VELCRO pocket for a hydro pack, weight of 1400 grams and capacity of 36 liters.

Mil-Tec rucksack

There is also the 3V Gear Outlaw Sling Pack, a heavy-duty bag made with 600D of PVC nylon and a huge compartment with internal organization and overall size of 694 total cubic inches. It can be worn in the front comfortably while you’re sitting.

Packing simple

You know that you’re not building a mobile home to carry around, so in that sense, you should not bring everything you want rather than what you need during times of emergencies. You should pack wisely so that you don’t add to the weight of the bag you are carrying around when walking (and sometimes when running). Pack things to make yourself and your family sufficient.

Now if you bring something, which you will have to source later in order to use it, forget it. You should not worry about scavenging.  You should also plan your BOB with a well-defined picture in mind, but a good starting point may be 72 hours—approximately the time a person can live without water. When packing though, you should think of survival and not luxury, so leave anything for luxury behind. And what should be in the BOB?

You should bring a map and a compass to know ways and places to bug out and a multi-tool to help you with a wide range of uses. You will also need an emergency shelter or a tarp that you can use for signaling and for shelter.  More so, you will need a paracord to use when building your shelter and for use in plenty of other tasks on your way to survival.

Best Compass

Aside from these, you can also take a magnesium fire starter, which works better than ordinary matches that usually do not work when wet. If you have a magnesium fire starter, you don’t have to worry about the wind blowing your last match.

You may also opt for the GERBER Bear Grylls Fire Starter, which is an excellent product for this firestarting. It also comes with a waterproof storage compartment for tinder and works as a compact firestarter that comes with a metal striker and a ferrocerium rod.

Gerber Fire Starter

In addition to these, you should bring spare socks at the top of your list because taking extra care of your feet is very important when bugging; therefore, you should always keep them dry with dry socks, ensuring they stay clean and blister-free, while you’re moving longer. You can opt for wool socks, such as the Sierra Club Men’s Socks that feature an anti-odor technology, full-cushioned construction and low profile toe closure.

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There is also the Merino Wool Socks, which work ideally for bugging out because it is made with anti-microbial properties and durable construction during emergencies.

Merino Wool Socks

You will also need a survival blanket, which is smaller and lighter than your sleeping bag, a LED flashlight for using less power than light bulbs and transmitter radio. Remember, the items we’ve listed are basic but you can also tailor them based on your individual needs. The above guide is meant for packing for yourself that you can personalize to add in more items as you deem important in bugging out. Here’s our article reviews of the best sleeping bags for more options.

Some factors to consider when packing for a bug out bag is based on your location, the number of people you are traveling with and the duration of the evacuation. While everyone’s needs may vary, the preparation tips we’ve discussed above are the basics to include in your kit. However, it is also crucial that you review the bug out backpack essentials every now and then so that you can adjust its contents based on your changing survival needs.

Customizing the bug out backpack essentials

As mentioned, you may have to customize the contents of your backpack, all depending on your situation. But in case you need guidance in building the right backpack depending on where you are, check out the next section.


First, let’s talk about an urban bag out bag. For emergencies in the urban setting, such as an industrial accident or a terrorist attacks, there are some unique elements to consider when preparing the checklist because of situations that may or may not include increased likelihood to look for food and water from abandoned or deserted building, needing to avoid broken glasses and building debris or encountering other people also trying to survive. Or there may also be the need for an emergency shelter because there are buildings and debris to use for making one.

Dust mask

During an urban disaster, some of the essentials to pack in your BOB may include a can opener because many of the food to find in this location are canned, a dust mask for protecting your lungs from debris falling from collapsed structures and buildings and work gloves you need to avoid harsh contact with debris and glass.  You will also need a crow bar you will use for pry opening any barriers or smash opening a window.


On the other hand, if you’re preparing for wilderness survival, there are basic gear essentials you may find useful, and some include a compass you will need for navigating your way in the wilderness and preventing yourself from going to circles but getting to your next destination.

You will also need a fire starter so that you can avoid spending energy and time on lighting matches, which may not also work especially in the cold or rainy weather in the wilderness. You should also take hatchets or knives so that you can build shelters quicker and a water filter so that you will have the opportunity of filtering water and making it drinkable.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

But there are also filtration systems available, and one of the best and most portable is the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter that can remove at least 99.99% of waterborne bacteria and at least 99.9% of water parasites. Aside from being effective and portable, this product can also filter up to 1000 liters of contaminated water even without the use of chemicals, chlorine and iodine.  Products like it can purify and filter water to make sure you can have a clean and safe drinking water.


There are many people that go to the rural areas during emergencies or disasters because they perceive such locations are safer than to stay in the city.  They also think that they can survive better there.

You can consider packing a few things, which may include a paracord you may need for just about anything but it is sturdy to use for many purposes. You can also bring a hammock that you can use when isolating yourself and your belongings as well as hiding out on the farm.

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One of the best choices is the Eagles Nest Outfitters Double Nest Hammock, with a max capacity of up to 400 pounds and high strength construction. It also has a triple-interlocking stitching and breathable nylon construction. It is a top-rated hammock with a compression stuff sack and a nautical standard line with snap links for securing the hammock into trees, boat and poles.

ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters - DoubleNest Hammock

You can get it for its durability and versatility that you can depend on for bugging out.  Don’t forget your MREs or meal ready to eat when bailing out because canned goods may be hard to find; when packing, consider including dried and lightweight food to pack into your backpack easily. See our article on the the best homemade MRE meals to pack in your bug out bag, check it out.

Additional tips when packing your perfect bug out bag

  1. Avoid packing more than what you will ever need. You should hold essentials and not your entire stuff, so learn to getting rid of things. Remember, you won’t be able to carry a 90-pound of kit very far; otherwise, you will be moving very slow. You should make a list before packing.
  2. Leave some space for important items. You should remember that your bug out backpack should be able to fit things you find essential. For example, you may find kindling or tinder in one area that you have to take in another area. If you have some room for things like it, you don’t have to carry them in your hands all the way to your destination.
  3. Choose wisely by listing the things you need for this bug out plan because you cannot simply bring them all. In survivalism, it is important noting that every single thing has its equal opportunity cost and that you only have limited room in your bag and you can only carry limited weight.
  4. Learn how to rotate your stock, including vitamins, food, water and medicine. You don’t pack your food inside the bag and lock it up, but go through it to monitor what to replace and what you have.
  5. Have duplicates of what you might put into different bags should you bringing more than one. However, these things do not have to be exact duplicates. What you also have to remember is to get your bases covers and to not to be stuck because your fire-starter is in another bag.
    Therefore, it may be wise to bring extras for your things separated in different bags for quick access. You may also want to choose things that can do more than one function so that you can be sure that you have overlaps in capabilities without you having to add equipment.
  6. If possible, have more than one bug out kit, although this may not be feasible for everyone. You can consider not keeping all your things in your house, but you may want to keep some of your items in your relative’s house. You can get them hidden in the woods where you can get it later.
    Overall, keep all your bags ready to go, but you don’t have to keep them lying all over the floor. Keep them in a safe place. Because you’re also planning for emergencies, you should pack early and do not wait until only a few minutes are left for packing.
  7. Learn survival skills, so you don’t have to take much equipment. For instance, learn how to build a fire or filter water, two of the most essential survival skills everyone should learn about. Remember, skills can also be bartered.
  8. Remember of packing heavy items closest to your back, as close to your spine as possible. Additionally, pack by frequency of use and urgency, so you should put your things you use a lot at the top of your bag and the things you don’t use a lot and need at the bottom of it. If possible, you can also consider buying a bag that has an access of opening it all the way.

No one knows what man-made or natural disasters are looming around the corner, so it is best prepared with a BOB than not.

Survivor bug out bag infographic

Perhaps, this kit may mean the big difference between life and death because you can pack the most essential stuffs for survival during an emergency, such as fires, riots, civil unrests, disasters and terrorist attacks in this bug out bag.

If you find this guide useful, feel free sharing it with your social circles and bookmarking this page for quick reference. And finally, should you have some more BOB tips to share, tell us in the comments.

For tip and guidelines on the top bug out bag for survival , check out our piece on this crucial topic.

About the author

David Dawson

David Dawson is a retired security specialist with over 20 years of experience. He worked for a secret manufacturing facilities and hospitals in Illinois. David's responsibility was to protect people in case of any disaster or cataclysm that might occur. Now he keeps on doing it through teaching others about how to prepare and survive flood, earthquake or even war.


  • I already have one BoB packed and it’s what I wear on my hiking excursions. I am planning on creating at least 2 more; one for each of my vehicles. I also have two kids and have gallon-sized baggies with child-specific items for them.

  • I am preparing for a road trip, and maybe For a short hike as well, I have all the things I need inside my bug-out-bag and some additional bags for blankets and clothes. I am planning to bring my dog with me because I will be away for 5 weeks, and I don’t have someone to look after him. I trained him before how to carry small backpacks for his food and water. Of course, I’ll bring spare food for him too. Can you recommend me some things I might need to include for my dog’s bug out bag? Thanks.

    • Your dog’s bug-out-bag should include: copies of dog ID, health record, and emergency contact; A colored photo of you and your dog; Dog food & water; Non-spill bowls; Collar &
      leash; 1 small lightweight blanket and towel; and Allergy medication.

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