A bug out bag checklist really should consist of two categories. The first is things to physically pack and have ready to take with you at a moments notice. The second category is equally important and that is what you know. The bug out bag checklist is meant to be light weight. If a real emergency arrises a bug out is most likely not going to be permanent. If you need to carry your bag for miles upon miles – the heavier the bag is the faster you will wear down. You do not need to have a bag packed sitting by your door in case something happens, but rather have everything you would need in a bug out situation readily available so that you can finish packing a bag and leave. For example in California when residents were told they had to evacuate their homes due to fires they were given about an hour pack and leave. Imagine having one hour to pack your life away, what do you take? Also take into consideration that a bug out bag may need different equipment based on a bug out location. If you know where you would go in an emergency then maybe your location has the essentials you need and the bug out bag is more of a personal effects carrier. If you don’t have a bug out location then it is best to stick with the essentials. The list below is not a comprehensive list, but these are a few of the essentials that every bug out bag should have.
Physical things to pack
- Three days of food
- Water purifier – life straw or life straw water bottle are my personal favorites
- USB with all legal documents on it – a bug out is most likely not going to be a permanent situation. There will come a point when you will need proof that you are who you say you are. Rather than keep original passports or birth certificates make copies and put them on a USB jump drive, and then put that jump drive in a waterproof container.
- First aid kit
- Change of clothes – this can vary based on the season. You will not want to wear shorts in the middle of winter.
- Personal hygiene – hotel size toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap should work fine
- Fire starting material – waterproof matches, lighter, or magnesium flint and steel (Magnesium burns so hot it will start anything wet on fire)
- Ham radio – I strongly recommend the Beofeng UV5RA as it’s only $30. You will need to make sure you are licensed to use a ham radio.
- Portable solar power – a portable solar panel for any electronic devices you have
- Cash or other currency exchange
- Something personal to quickly add – depending on the situation taking something priceless like journals or family heirlooms would be appropriate
Checklist of things to learn
Learning and preparing for emergencies is a lot like practicing a musical instrument. The more you practice the more muscle memory you build up. Soon your fingers know where to go without looking because you just know. Being prepared for emergencies is the same way. Doing dry practice runs or learning as much as you can will give you the advantage because you will just know what to do in a bug out situation.
- Know basic to advanced first aid. Be able to set a broken bone, use a tunicate, or give someone stitches if needed.
- Have an understanding of botany in your area. What plants are good to eat and what plants should be avoided.
- Trap animals. Knowing how to catch, clean, and eat small game will help keep your energy up if food supplies run low.
- Practice grabbing your bug out bag and going where you need to go.
- Get licensed for ham radio. Hamstudy.org is a most excellent resource.
- Learn to use a firearm
Who needs a first aid bag
A first aid bag is not necessarily the same thing as a first aid kit. A first aid bag tends to have more supplies for various emergency situations than a first aid kit. Typically EMT’s or first responders to an emergency will have a first aid bag rather than a kit because the bag is larger. With a larger bag you can not only have more medical supplies, but also tools for helping diagnose problems. If you are going on a campout with a group of people (adults and children) usually one person in the group has had first aid or extended medical training and that person usually is in charge of first aid. He or she should be have more preparations than a first aid kit. This does not have to be limited to camping trips, but any trip or excursion that lasts more than a few days should have more medical essentials. Multiple day rafting trips, horseback riding trips, week long canoeing are all good examples of when a first aid bag is needed over a standard first aid kit.
First Aid Bag Includes
We’ve made the assumption that the person who uses a first aid bag has had the necessary medical training to use and administer these items appropriately. Everyone should have first aid and CPR training from basic to advanced. Any bag will do. Amazon has some cheap ones that have the medicine sign on the top so the bags are easily identifiable. Your needs may be different but below is a generic list of what I have in my first aid bag. We take this on long trips, especially when we will not be near any medical facilities.
- Bandages – a box of various sizes is usually sufficient
- Knuckle Bandages
- Gauze Roll – various widths from 2 – 4 inches
- Gauze Dressing Pads – various sizes
- Butterfly Wound Closure
- Acetaminophen – This is just basic Tylenol
- Benadryl – for allergic reactions
- Pepto-Bismol Caplets
- Nitrile Gloves – Any latex gloves will also work.
- Stainless Steel Tweezers
- First Aid Guide
- Antibiotic Ointment – neosporin or alternative will
- First Aid Tape
- Burn Cream – either for sunburn or fire burn
- Antiseptic Towelettes – generic alcoholic wipes
- Alcohol Cleansing Pad – meant for larger wounds to help disinfect them
- Trauma Pad – larger than gauze dressing pads for more serious wounds
- Sutures – These are for small stitches
- Cotton Swabs
- Instant Ice Pack – these type of ice packs can be stored at room temperature and used when needed
- Iodine – Iodine is used for radiation exposure or as a great sterilizing agent
- Forceps – to remove impaled objects from wounds or to help with stitches
- Single Use Saline – for use if something gets in eyes and is great for cleaning wounds
- Sinus and Congestion
- Mole Skin – used for blisters
- Absorbent Compress
- Tampon or Pads – these serve two purposes, either feminine hygiene or as an absorbent pad.
- Anti-itch Cream
- Extra Batteries
- Snake Bite Kit
- Blood Clotting Powder