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The Best Bug Out Bag List (2018) – What You Need and
Why You Need It!
April 4, 2018
Best Bug Out Bag List for 2018
It seems like putting together the best bug out bag list is one of those things that every
preparedness website has to do. The thing that other sites often ignore is the fact that
everyone has different needs and lives in different environments. This article will help you
design the best bug out bag for you and your family!
This article is going to cover everything that we at Ready Lifestyle believe should be on every
bug out bag list. Then we‘re going to give you a range of options to fill those needs. By
examining each section, you’ll be able to tailor a kit to meet your needs, no matter what they
are, so you have the best list for you and your family.
Follow this link to download our free bug out bag list.
Who Needs a Bug Out Bag?
I always recommend bugging out only as a last resort, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t
be prepared to bug out. With our current political situation, both at home and worldwide, there
are any number of possible scenarios that could cause us to have to leave our homes at a
If you live in an urban environment the need for you to have a well thought-out and prepared
bug out bag is even more important. Everyone living in a city or a suburban environment is at
an increased risk to experience political and civil unrest, riots and will likely feel the effects of a
man-made disaster before those in less populated areas.
This doesn’t mean that those in a rural environment would never have to bug out. Many
natural disasters, such as wildfires and hurricanes, could cause those in rural areas to have to
bug out. Some people believe that after a disaster, those within the cities will migrate out to the
rural areas. If this migration does take place, it’s one more reason for those in rural areas to be
able to vacate quickly.
If you aren’t properly prepared and haven’t taken the time to put together a bug out bag, you
could possibly find yourself having to evacuate your home with minimal notice, no food, no
water, and no equipment. By having a go bag ready you ensure that you and your family will
always have the minimum gear needed to survive.
We provide you with a sampling of items that we feel would make a good addition to your bug
out bag. As with all preparedness topics, you are the only one who knows your situation. You
will have to modify the items in each category to best meet the needs of you and your family.
If you’re interested in buying a premade bug out bag, then you should read our review of the
best survival kits on the market.
Guidelines for Selecting Bug Out Bag Items
When deciding on what to put on your list, it’s best to choose those items that have multiple
uses. This cuts down on weight and the number of items that you have to buy and carry.
Don’t blindly select the least expensive gear out there. If you see two items that look very
similar but have a large price difference, it’s probably because the less expensive item is made
with lower quality materials. Of course, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes there are just
items that present a very good value to the consumer.
The items on your bug out bag list should be able to get you through the first 72 hours of an
emergency. Some people even go so far as to call this a 72-hour bag. Try to include items that
will allow you to survive past the 72-hour mark. Sustainability and reusability are important
when choosing items.
As an example, putting 72 hours of water in your bag may seem like a good idea, but adding
just two or three liters of water and adding a portable water filter will last you much longer.
Full-size image: Full Size
The climate, season, number of people in your family, etc. will all have an impact on what type
of items we need in our bug out bags. Make sure you take these into consideration when
building your list.
Military surplus stores make a great place to get a lot of these items. I’d suggest swinging by
one in your area and checking it out. They sometimes have great deals on gear that’s hardly
The base of any good bug out bag is the bag itself. When choosing a backpack there are
several things to take into consideration.
If you live in an urban environment, choosing a backpack that does not appear tactical can be
an advantage. Being able to look like any other person on the street will make you less of a
target if you are trying to evacuate a city (or other populated area) on foot. This grey man
approach is often the preferred theory for people in cities and those that may be caught in a
For those of you that live in a rural environment, a tactical backpack may serve you better.
These backpacks or often designed to effectively carry large amounts of equipment in a
compact package. Camouflage patterns will also allow you to blend into your surroundings
Regardless of the style of pack you choose, a subdued color is probably the way to go.
Osprey makes great packs in all colors, shapes, and sizes. This Aether AG 60 is designed for
a week on the trail and comes with a removable top lid that can be used as a daypack. The
adjustments available with the pack make it suitable as a bug
out bag for almost all adults.
Kelty is another well-known manufacturer of backpacks. The
Kelty Redwing 44 is a little on the small side, but it would
certainly work. It’s size also makes it less conspicuous
compared to other hiking packs that are much larger. A bag
like this could be a great bug out bag for an older child or a
This Teton pack is 55 liters and is the most affordable pack
we’re looking at in this article at right around $60. The Teton
Scout 3400 represents a sweet spot for cost, durability, and
size. It’s fully adjustable and pretty close in size to the Osprey.
Something like this is what I’d recommend to anyone looking
to build a new bug out bag.
Osprey Aether AG 60
About the same size as the Kelty, the 5.11 Tactical RUSH72 has a
ton of MOLLE webbing on the outside which allows for expansion
if you really need it. Being on the tactical side of backpacks, it’s
made of stronger, heavier material than the other packs and comes
in several different subdued colors and camo patterns.
If you’re looking to build a more tactical bug out bag, this could be
just what you’re looking for.
A lot of people swear by 5.11 products, but I tend to prefer a pack
designed for comfort when I intend to wear a pack for days on end.
There’s nothing wrong with a pack like this, in fact, this pack has
rave reviews on every site I can find. It’s just been my experience
that, after a couple days with a pack like this, I’m much more tired
than I am with other backpacks.
How to Pack Your Bug Out Bag
Kelty Redwing 44
To keep your pack as stable as possible, load the heaviest gear next to your back and
centered in the middle of the pack like the drawing above shows. Pack your lightest equipment
in the bottom of your backpack with the medium weight loaded at the top and outer parts of the
To maximize the amount of gear that you can pack in your bag, fill up items that have empty
spaces with other items. As an example, you could put some items in your mess kit and pack
your sleeping bag into any open areas around other light gear in the bottom of your pack.
Fill in all empty space and use any internal tie downs to secure your items in place. (Were you
wondering what all those straps inside your pack were for?)
This prevents the load from shifting in your pack and it will allow
you to fit more items into it.
Women and shorter men often find that carrying heavier weight
slightly lower in the pack is more comfortable. Heavy items
should still be high in the pack, but feel free to adjust your load
for your comfort. This is just a general guide, not a hard and fast
TETON Sports Scout 3400
5.11 Tactical RUSH72
Shelter can come in many forms. A lightweight backpacking tent may be the best option for
some, for others, a tarp makes more sense as it can be a shelter and has other uses. It doesn’t
matter what you choose, as long as you have a shelter in your bug out bag that makes sense
A purpose made tarp, like this Chill Gorilla
10′ Rain Fly, makes a great shelter. You
can also use it to waterproof your pack,
collect rainwater, etc. They’re extremely
versatile on top of being light and not
taking up much space.
A lot of people would argue that a
sleeping bag or blankets don’t constitute a
shelter. I totally disagree. This list is
completely modular. Just because a
sleeping bag or blanket roll wouldn’t work
for one situation, doesn’t mean that it
wouldn’t be great for someone else.
Blankets are also easy to come by and
make a really cheap alternative that
someone can start with an upgrade from later on.
Chill Gorilla 10′ Rain Fly
An old military poncho makes a great makeshift tent and can be used to keep you dry in the
event of inclement weather. If you add a poncho liner you have both a blanket and an extra
layer that can keep you warm when it gets cold.
For those that are likely to spend any length of time in an urban or suburban area, I
recommend picking up Tom Brown’s Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival. The section
on shelter building makes it a worthwhile purchase all by itself.
Having a steady supply of water will be one of the things that you battle with first. The problem
with water is that it’s heavy and takes up a lot of room.
With that in mind, we always recommend having some form of portable water filtration system
as well as several collapsible water containers on your bug out bag list. Keep these containers
full of water so you have something to drink when you first bug out. Then, as you empty the
water containers you can refill them with water that you gather along the way.
Make sure you read our article How to Choose the Best Survival Water Filtration System for
more information about how to select the best water filter for your bug out bag list.
The Katadyn Hiker Microfilter is one of the best
handheld water filters available. It’s a little on the
expensive side, but you get what you pay for.
Something along these lines is important for any
Collapsible canteens are nice because you can
roll them up when they’re empty to save space in
your bug out bag. I like these Nalgene canteens
because you can stand them up when they have
water in them. Not all of the collapsible canteens
I’ve used will do that.
You can also add water purification tablets, or
chemical disinfection kits since they take up very
Katadyn Hiker Microfilter
Aquamira makes several types of water
purification chemicals. These water purification tablets would be a good addition to any go bag
as a backup to other water collection tools.
This Aquamira Water Treatment kit can treat up to 60 gallons of water. That’s far more water
than you could ever carry!
You’re going to want to filter the water through a cloth (or a similar item) to remove any large
particulates before you treat it.
If you’ve included a mess kit or metal container of some kind, you can use that to boil water for
an additional means of getting clean drinking water.
Nalgene Collapsible Wide Mouth
Aquamira Water Purification Tablets
Aquamira Water Treatment Kit
The type of food that you bring will depend upon your environment.
Freeze dried food weighs very little but takes a lot of water to rehydrate and cook. It probably
makes sense for you to include freeze dried food if you live in an area that has a lot of natural
bodies of water.
The Mountain House Pro Pak is designed with
backpackers in mind. Each pack is one meal and
comes vacuum packed to be as light and compact
as possible. They come in a wide variety of flavors,
so anyone should be able to find something they
If you live in a very arid environment or an area that
doesn’t have a lot of natural water, such as a city,
then putting food that doesn’t need to be rehydrated
on your bug out bag list makes sense. You just
need to be aware that it’s going to weigh more and
plan accordingly. MREs and canned food could be
options as well as food ration bars and things like
tuna and chicken packets.
If you choose to carry canned food (which I don’t
recommend) make sure you have a lightweight can
opener like a P-51 or a multi-tool.
Mountain House PRO-PAK
MREs are a great choice for an all in one meal that can be prepared with no outside