Tips For Packing a Bug Out Bag

What is “bugging out”?

Bugging out is basically an exit strategy to minimize losses and to get to a safe area in case of disasters or any type of situation that makes staying at your home impossible. It typically consists of using a “bug out bag”(BOB) to transition from an urban area to a rural one. The bug out bag is a container that has vital tools and materials for helping someone survive in various weather conditions.

My Urban Bugout Bag 2020! - YouTube


Some ask “Why would someone go the extent to plan for something that may never happen?” to which I respond with a prompt “Why wouldn’t you?” Most times a situation where having a bug out bag/plan would be useful come without warning. Take Hurricane Katrina for example, during the initial anarchy there was violence and looting. 25,000 people had to take refuge in the Superdome and it took the government some time in order to get supplies and help them bug out bag.

#1. Bugging out into the wild:

This, for most people, is simply not a viable option. Think about it logically. A disaster has happened that was bad enough to force you out of your home (be it wildfire, floods, hurricanes, etc.). That would mean it would force tens/hundreds of thousands of other people to evacuate as well. Public or private land will be a no-go as other people will try to go there as well (and rest assured the owners of the land will be looking for people trying this). Hotels, shelters, rest stops, campsites will either be full, too crowded or too dangerous. Unless you own some decent land that’s excluded enough not to draw attention or a place that’s well hidden and not many people know about, it might be best to just meet up at a friend’s/families house. Remember: This isn’t some macho “live off the land”, this is your life you’re risking.

#2: I would only have to walk XYZ miles from point A to point B.

The fact that you know the geography and planned this far is good. However, it’s not JUST walking. It’s walking with a fully packed bag/heavier clothes(depending on the season)/extra supplies. Depending on how much you’ve packed this could be very encumbering walk. And have you taken into account unforeseen complications? What if you have to walk on the road next to park/office/apartments that a gang has taken control of during the chaos? Will you take the extra 2 hours to make a detour?

What about weather, what if you can only walk 6 hours a days because of extreme cold/heat? What are some good over watch positions at night? What areas are safe/what areas do you want to avoid? What if that creek shortcut is flooded and you can’t pass it? Are your maps current?

For every one route, plan 2.

#3: The minimalistic Bug out bag

Alright, I understand the challenge and tactical advantage of packing as little as possible. And for the MacGyver that can live with just toothpaste, duct tape and a paperclip more power to you. But most minimalistic bug out bags are missing vital components. What if your only space blanket rips and your only means of purifying water is compromised (water filter contaminated, dropped in while running, etc… )? Remember, a bug out bag is meant to have backups( and in some cases backups for your backups). Your bag is supposed to have the materials to help you overcome any challenge in your way.

#4: The Vacuum sealed bug out bag:

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea. But there are several things you have to lookout for when using vacuum sealing in a bug out bag. The first is, you are sealing potential items that you need on the fly. Instead of just reaching in and grabbing what you need, you’ll have to grab the sealed items, cut it open and use it then. Another drawback is if you vacuum seal too much and then open it all will you be able to make it all fit again without it needing to be vacuum sealed?

#5: Dressing like you’re going to a war means you’re asking to be shot:

This one has less to do with your bag and more to do with the practicality of what you’re wearing. To most people a bag is a bag, no matter what color or size, so that’s not the issue. If someone see’s you with a bag, whether camo or bright red they might want it. Whether it would be useful to them or not is irrelevant. However, If you’re in full Chinese tactical gear you might begin to look less like a person with a bag and more like a target that has some very nice supplies.