6 Must-Have Bug-Out Bag Items

Posted on: 5 December 2017

Whether it's a hurricane on the Gulf Coast, tornadoes in the Dust Bowl, raging wildfires out west, or some other natural disaster or emergency event, you never know when you might have to suddenly evacuate your home.

Rather than being caught unprepared, putting together a "bug-out bag" ahead of time could mean the difference between surviving and perishing. A bug-out bag is a portable tote that contains enough supplies for you to survive longer depending on what you pack. Here's six things to consider packing in your 12 hour bug out bag.

Water Purification Tablets

No one survives without water, and carrying a bunch of water isn't realistic. You might have room in your pack for a bottle or two, but after that, you're going to need to purify as you go.


You will need to be able to build a fire for warmth, for cooking, and potentially, for making a smoke signal to alert the auth0orities of your location. Every bug-out bag should have several fire-starting methods. A few waterproof lighters, a stone and a flint, and weatherproof matches should all be in your bag. Coat some cotton balls in petroleum jelly and place in a plastic bag. These can be used as a long-lasting tinder to help you get your fire going.

Signaling Devices

Add a small mirror to your bug-out bag. This can be used to reflect the sun. It can also be used to help start a fire in a pinch. Include two emergency flares as well. You will also want to include a whistle in your bag, which can be used both for scaring off wildlife and calling for help.


Easy-to-prepare and lightweight food is a must for evacuation situations. You will need to keep your energy up, and you will likely be expending more calories than usual. You can buy military-type meals ready-to-eat rations. You can also get freeze-dried and dehydrated foods that don't weigh a lot. Protein sources are very important, and in colder climates, you will need more food as foraging will be difficult or impossible.


A lightweight Mylar blanket will help keep you warm. You will also want to carry a tarp and some paracord to fashion a makeshift tent. You may also want to consider a foam bedroll.


Everyone should have a Swiss Army knife in their back, but you may also want to carry a hunting knife or even a pistol depending on your area's laws and regulations.