Flashlights, glow sticks, etc. help you to see in dark spaces and provide light to get you around safely. Don’t just rely on battery-operated flashlights because there is a whole world of solar power lighting options available to you now that are much better than they used to be. Light sticks are great for an emergency situation. For example, glow sticks are excellent items in which you reserve their energy until you need to use them. Invest in good lights, not the cheapest you can find. There are so many options, but here is what we use:
Customize this list to what you need for the particulars of your family. There are many other things that you can add to the list that you may find helpful depending on the vehicle you may be able to evacuate in or the modes of transportation you may use, where your planned final stop might be, or whether you have extra bodies to help carry. Use this as a starting point for what you need to do for the basics and expand it as your family needs and as circumstances dictate.

Tent: In many emergency situations, shelter may be hard to find. While packing a traditional tent may not be a viable option, a good bug out bag should always include a waterproof survival tent. The best survival tents are made of Mylar, which can retain heat and repel water. Pro-tip: Be sure to stack leaves, grass or anything else from around the campsite against the tent for added protection from the elements.

Be prepared at work with a 72-hour kit filled with our recommended emergency supplies. Add a rain poncho to your backpack in the event of a weather disaster. If you can’t get home from work because of transportation issues, you might have to walk home for miles. We recommend keeping your emergency kit in your office desk in case disaster strikes outside. Then you have all of your emergency supplies right there at work.
Water for washing, drinking and cooking. Canada recommends 2 litres (0.53 US gal) per person per day for drinking and an additional 2 litres (0.53 US gal) per person per day for cleaning and hygiene if possible.[18] New Zealand recommends 3 litres (0.79 US gal) per person per day for drinking.[19] The US recommends 1 US gallon (3.8 L) per person per day.[20]
The Deluxe 3-Day Emergency Preparedness Kit is approved by the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. The American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, a volunteer committee of nationally recognized health care, aquatics, preparedness and educational professionals, helps establish and assure the scientific basis for Red Cross programs, products and public guidance. Council members’ contributions help ensure that the Red Cross is using the latest science, addressing current needs and is preparing for future changes.
or, I’ll give you a very serious and concrete example, I live in a highly seismic area, if the reason I’m fleeing is the earthquake, I will have to take my backpack really running, but I would hate to run down some unsafe stairs, with a heavy backpack that contains an ax, a bow and a rifle, on that occasion quite useless, but if for another reason I am running away from my house to never go back, or to take a long journey, then maybe even the carpenter’s scrap metal must be taken rushed.
Its also of the utmost importance that you have access to Two-Way Radios in your kit. If the cellular network is out of range or out of service you’ll need another way to communicate. They are very useful to keep your family in contact and organized during an emergency. You can also use them during recreational activities like backcountry camping. Have a look at my report on the Best Walkie Talkies and other Two-Way Radios.
I have to agree with Steve: I have a bug out bag ready in case the SHTF. That doesn’t mean that there’s going to be a lot of “safe places” to run to. If we get together with like minded people, we can make a long term plan. The only reason for a “three day bag” is if “they” are coming for you specifically and you can go to another sane location. I personally have packed a .22 revolver and 200 rds., carry a .38 Special and pack 100 rds., and shoulder a Saiga .223 carbine with 200 rds. of “penetrators”, FMJ, and some soft point if I need to take a little larger animal. And, another thing, if you pack “pills” in a baggie and happen to get stopped along the way, you can bet on a trip to the station!
We are going to Need Long Term Gear because we will be at WAR. A Civil war, as a matter of fact. This is not going to be like Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, etc., etc. So, when it comes to the ESSENTIALS, there shouldn’t even be a Thought of “Games”, “Bipods”, “Frisbees”, or any such ‘stuff’ should not be a consideration. Simply put, unless you plan on joining up with a Group where there are enough people so that you can afford to actually have time to “Play” -when you [will] NEED time to eat, clean yourself, and then sleep: not to mention those Unknown Factors, such as Wood gathering, Repairs to equipment (Tents, Clothes, Weapons, Boots, Etc.), Catching/Cleaning/Cooking food (Then the clean up of it all) we are not going to have the Luxury of all this ‘stuff’. Seriously!

The Ready America bug out bag features a 107 piece first aid kit, survival blankets, emergency whistle and more, including 4 ‘food bars’. Since those food bars won’t get you very far the company, like many others, is counting on you to provide your own rations and that’s fine. There are plenty of places to purchase ready to eat, vacuum sealed meals as well as dehydrated food that you can stuff in the generously proportioned backpack. The backpack itself is well built, water resistant and easy on the shoulders. It can also be carried at your side using the convenient top handle. If you live in an area prone to hurricane strikes, tornadoes or flooding you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to invest in a bug out bag like this and keep it at the ready. It’s 100 bucks very well spent.
Disaster preparedness doesn't need to be complicated, but you’ll find that shopping and collecting gear for a DIY bug out bag can prove to be difficult. In many cases, the DIY approach may prove more expensive than necessary, leaving you with items you don’t really need—and shouldn’t waste your money on. Instead of forcing useless items into a bag that won’t hold up, opt for a pre-packed, top-rated bug out bag. 
I think you’re both correct, although you are addressing separate threat levels and emergencies (civil disobedience vs. natural disaster). I keep a basic bag, plus a small box with optionals that can be quickly loaded, depending on the threat. I realize this may take precious seconds, so this is time dependent. I live in the Chicago area, so civil unrest is a greater concern, and my firearms choice reflects this probable eventuality.

If your bag is so heavy that you can’t carry it more than a few miles, you’ll have to ditch some of the items, anyway. And what’s going to happen if you have to run from attackers, jump walls, and climb fences? Having a bag that’s too heavy could get you killed. Ideally, a bug out bag should weigh about 15% of your body weight, assuming you’re in decent shape. 20% of your body weight should be the absolute maximum.
I agree with all except this one, “you should carry a water filter instead.” That water filter does NOT filter viruses which can incapacitate or kill just as quickly as can the bacteria it does eliminate. Carry purification tablets & a couple gallon sized double-ziplock baggies or an aluminum/titanium pot (multiple uses) or learn about SODIS instead. Why plan to fail?

If you have kids you know getting out the door on time is a challenge on the best of days. In an emergency, it is not going to be pretty. Let’s look at survival in a disaster from the same standpoint of taking a car trip. Loading the car is a pain! Getting everyone and their stuff in the car and on the road is stressful! Now imagine having to do this in 15 minutes or less with only the essentials. You need to be able to get everyone and thing into the car in as few trips as possible.
Good list! I have/use my daughter’s old diaper bag for compartmentalized carry. It is the bigger “gym bag” type with adjustable shoulder strap with multiple compartments. Best part is it comes ready for “messes” so each compartment is also waterproofed to keep liquids from going to other areas. Also, was made with carrying stuff around in mind so the strap has a big cushion that fits comfortably on my shoulder when using.
If you are stranded on the way, your car can serve as a shelter. However, a packed shelter can give you peace of mind in case you are no longer with your car or are given rest in an area without your own shelter. A simple tarp + rope can serve as an emergency shelter, or you can tie a small tent to the bottom of your pack, or make a bedroll out of sheets and pillows. We keep a tote of just the camping equipment that can be attached to our backpacks if needed. We live in an area that even in colder weather, we don’t need heavy-duty gear, so please pack according to your environment.
It’s an impressive lineup – did we mention the 2 person tents? – that, like many of its competing bug out bags, is light on food. Although there’s plenty of room in the heavy duty nylon backpack for all the food you’ll need to survive several days in the wild. The company advertises their bag as being ‘discreet’, which is their way of saying others won’t recognize that it’s full of high quality survival gear and try to steal it from you. That may very well be but if Hurricane Harvey is bearing down on your location you have bigger things to worry about. The 2 person tent we mentioned is minimalist in nature but will provide welcome shelter if you can find a dry place to set it up and the waterproof backpack cover that comes with the bug out kit is a major plus this bug out bag has over some of the competition. The Stealth Tactical bug out bag costs a little more but it’s ready for whatever comes.
useful vs bugs, but it also protects vs condensation inside of the Escape bivvy. If I get inside all of the bags, I can sleep pk (by virtue of an Ambien pill) at freezing temps, given two sets of long johns, wearing my (unlaced boots or 2 sets of socks) gloves, shemaugh around the face, (keep head inside the bags) neck gaiter, boonie hat,, and balaclava. This is if I”m up in a hammock or on a pile of dry debris. If I add dry debris between all the bags and the layers of clothing, I can sleep ok at 20F, and suffer thru the night at `10F, or sleep ok with a seated position and the UCO candle lantern (beeswax candles only) or happy rocks/water bottles giving off heat between my feet. I can handle 0F if I can have the aluminum foil reflector on the far side of a Dakota fire pit, using the happy rocks, and the PEVA over the propped open end of the bivvy. If it’s below zero, it’s unlikely (at night, at least) that anyone will bother you if you use a Siberian fire lay to “project” heat 6 ft or so, “aimed” at the propped open head end of the bivvy. The clear PEVA lets in radiant heat, but then traps it. If you set up the gear as a supershelter, 0F at night can become 40F by noon, if the sun comes out, due to the greenhouse effect.
107 piece First Aid kit, 2 hygiene kits, 2 tissue packs, 2 waste bags, Hand crank radio/phone charger/flashlight. Waterproof matches. 2 Ponchos. 2 Mylar sleeping bags, 2 person tube tent, 2 body and hand wamers, 30 hour candle, 12 hour glow stick. Note pad, 5-1 Whistle, 2 dust masks, Nylon rope 50 ft, sewing kit, goggles, leather work gloves, multifunction knife.
Yes, this is something that often goes overlooked. I wouldn’t COUNT on everyone being there for a bug out situation, as by nature you never know where everyone might be at the moment and if they will all be there with you, but spreading the weight across several people can make a huge difference. Suddenly an unfathomable 50 pound carry load becomes more than reasonable with a family of 5.
An excellent resource regarding bug out bags is a new book by Max Cooper called, “Realistic Bug Out Bag, 2nd Edition: Prepared to Survive.” This is a monster book at over 600+ pages. It has scenarios, drills, and is full of useful and insightful information. I like that the author stresses planning and has a section devoted to bug out plans and how to practice & train your plan. He is also a huge advocate of designing a BOB that fits your needs based on factors that pertain to your situation. I highly recommend this book.
Cold weather gloves: A sturdy pair of gloves will provide you with better grip, protect your hands from cuts and splinters, offer warmth in low temperatures, and keeps your hands clean to reduce the risk of infection. In the aftermath of a disaster, you may be tasked with moving fallen branches, gathering firewood, or making your way through broken glass, and high-quality gloves will give you the dexterity to accomplish these tasks.
Great read & outstanding list of items. Extremely helpful & very much appreciated. While I’ve found over the decades that there are usually several ways to accomplish most things, focusing on the core items/goal while adapting to the situations & environment an individual(s) find themselves in is crucial. You can have everything known to man & still have limited skills/experience leaving you vulnerable. You can have all the skills but arrogance & overconfidence can do you in. Applicable intelligence, balance in actions/approach to problem solving on the fly & practice with skills/preps can make the difference in most cases. So one has a 35 year supply of beans and rice, great to have no doubt, but who wouldn’t trade some of it for a coke and some M&Ms for normalcy occasionally? That may be just enough encouragement to get the companions/family through to safety. Again, it’s all a wag for the most part…do what preps you can, develop usable skills…plan, persevere & prevail. Fantastic prep checklist & ideas…thanks! Proverbs 27-17…As iron sharpens iron, so on man sharpens another! 
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