Guide to Selecting Items for a Bug Out Bag

Survival is one of the hardest tasks for humans to do, and it is arguable that we try to survive every day by working hard and earning money, which can then be used to buy food and keep the electricity and water in our homes running. However, the type of survival that we will talk about in this article is surviving natural calamities like storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, and others.

During those dangerous situations, we would need to have a survival kit ready so that we would be able to survive for days and weeks without a proper home to stay in. In these natural calamities, our homes are sometimes destroyed to the point that we can no longer live there safely and comfortably. So, in those events, we would have to always be on the move to find a better place to live in, and during the move, we should have a much larger survival kit. 

This large survival kit is often known as the bug out bag. What is a bug out bag? And what should be the contents inside it? Let us find out more as we dive into the guide to selecting items for a bug out bag.

Guide to Selecting Items for a Bug Out Bag infographic

What is a Bug Out Bag?

A bug out bag is a type of bag that is specifically used for survival. Any kind of bag can actually be a bug out bag as long as it carries all or most of the essential items for survival. [1] A backpack can be a bug out bag, but most people would often use a hiking bag instead, as it has a much larger size and can store more items compared to a regular backpack.

The name of the bug out bag came from the term “bugging out.” The original meaning of this term was to “leave quickly,” but in today’s era, the term means that a person is willing to abandon his or her home during an emergency situation or a dangerous event quickly in order to have better chances of survival. [3]

items for a bug out bag

Creating a Bug Out Bag

Making a bug out bag is very simple, as all you really need to know is what type of bag you are going to use and what items should be stored inside the bag. Here are the things to consider when making a bug out bag.

The Bag

hiking bag

A bug out bag wouldn’t really exist without a bag, so you first need to get a proper bag that will be able to hold all the essential items for survival. You can use one of your old hiking bags as the bug out bag, or you can buy a new one so that it would last longer.

It would also be better if the hiking bag were made from durable materials like ballistic nylon and slash-proof fabrics so that it can withstand scratches, slices, and most types of damage. In addition, a bug out bag with plenty of pockets and inner compartments would also be great if you are planning to have a more organized way of storing items. Here are two bags we can recommend as great bug out bags.

  • Esup Hiking Backpack – has a 50-liter capacity with a large main compartment and several pockets and compartments.
  • RuRu Monkey 50L Hiking Backpack – another 50-liter backpack that has a 13-inch shoulder drop and multiple compartments for proper storage of items.


canned goods

Food is necessary for the survival of every living being on Earth, so it is not surprising if a bug out bag contains food. Here is a list of foods that are suitable for storing in bug out bags because of how long they last before expiring.

  • Canned Fruits and Vegetables
  • Dried Fruits and Vegetables
  • Dried Noodles or Pasta
  • Ground Coffee
  • Fruit Jams
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Beef Jerky

The foods we have mentioned should last for two to six years, although a typical bug out bag may only be able to carry food that can last for up to six months. As much as possible, you should only store food products that are relatively small in size, especially canned goods, as they can already have a shorter shelf life after you open them. So, the cans of canned goods should be small so that you can only consume a small serving a day without having leftovers.

Here are three canned goods that you can store in your bug out bag:

Then, here are three dried goods that you can get along with the canned goods:


water flask

Besides food, water is also important to consume for survival. While plastic bottles are a lightweight and compact option for bug out bags, they aren’t really suitable for longer storage, as the water inside these plastic bottles can get easily contaminated. Water flasks are arguably the best containers for water, as they retain the temperature of the water better, and they are also effective in preventing the water from being contaminated. Moreover, water flasks are very durable, so expect them to last for years. [2]

Of course, water stored in flasks could only last for a few days because of how much we consume water every day, so we would have to think of many ways to refill flasks. One of the best ways to quickly and effectively get drinking water is to use a water filtration system, which will allow you to drink dirty water because the system can filter out the dirt, grime, and bacteria from the water to make it clean.

Here are a few water flasks that you can consider putting in your bug out bag:

  • IRON FLASK Sports Water Bottle – this stainless-steel water bottle has a vacuum-insulated exterior so that it is sweat-free and won’t feel slippery when you hold it.
  • Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Straw Lid – this water flask features a mouth straw lid for easy drinking, and it also has a leakproof exterior so that the temperature inside the flash would be retained.
  • HYDRO CELL Stainless Steel Water Bottle – This water flask is resistant to oxidation, so it won’t rust or corrode over time. In addition, the bottle would remain cold for 24 hours and hot for eight hours.

If you run out of clean water, you can then use one of these three compact water filtration systems to turn dirty water from ponds and lakes into drinkable water:

  • Survivor Filter Pro – this system can remove 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and parasites from dirty water so that it will be safe to consume. The system is also 20 times more efficient compared to most water filtration systems on the market.
  • Sawyer Products Mini – this filtration system is much smaller compared to the Survivor Filter Pro, so it will most likely fit better inside your bug out bag if there are already too many items inside it.
  • LifeStraw Personal Water Filter – the smallest or most compact water filtration system that features instant filtration so that you can already drink clean water from the straw.


set of clothes

Clothes are also essentials when it comes to surviving, as these will give you warmth during colder temperatures outdoors. In order for your clothes to last longer, you may need to buy ones that are made from durable materials like thicker cotton and nylon. In addition to clothing, footwear is also essential to prevent frostbite and other foot-related injuries. Here are a few pieces of clothing that you should have in your bug out bag:

  • An extra pair of pants made of nylon and cotton
  • Extra shirts
  • A down jacket (if the temperatures can get very cold in your area)
  • Rain jacket or parka
  • Thick hiking socks made of wool
  • A pair of hiking boots

There are more types of clothing that you can add to your bug out bag, but the ones we mentioned are the essentials. Hiking boots are arguably one of the most durable types of footwear, so having them in your bug out bag is great if you want your foot to stay protected for longer. However, hiking boots are also one of the most uncomfortable to wear, so you may need a pair of sneakers that have softer midsoles and insoles if you want a much more comfortable time walking for hours.

Emergency Shelter

setting up a tent

If there aren’t nearby houses and sheds in your area, then you will need to have emergency shelter in your bug out bag. The emergency shelter can come in the form of survival tents, nylon tarps, sleeping bags, and survival blankets. [2] You should get emergency shelter items that are durable and long-lasting so that you can use them multiple times and they won’t show signs of wear for many months. Here are three emergency shelter items you should check out:

  • Go Time Gear Life Tent – this survival tent is very compact when folded, but once you set it up, it can actually fit two people inside. In addition to the tent, it also comes with a survival whistle and paracord.
  • Don’t Die in the Woods 2-Person Survival Tent – this is very similar to the Go Time Gear Life Tent, but the difference is that this one is heat-reflecting, so it will be able to reflect body heat and retain that temperature inside the tent.
  • Zmoon Emergency Sleeping Bag – if you can’t find a proper shelter outdoors, then this sleeping bag is suitable to keep you warm at night. It has thermal capabilities that retain your body so that you won’t suffer from freezing temperatures.



Tools are also necessary, as they will be able to help you fix things or destroy things that are blocking your path. Some of the tools are also effective self-defense weapons if ever there are criminals that may try to steal your stuff. Here are some of the most useful tools to have in your bug out bag.

  • Survival knife
  • Multi-tool
  • Survival hatchet (a smaller or compact axe)

The multi-tool should already be able to handle different tasks, as it usually has a screwdriver, a small pair of scissors, and a pair of pliers that are needed for repairs and construction of small items. [3] However, if there are bigger items to fix or destroy, you will need the survival hatchet, also known as a compact axe, as well as a survival knife. Take a look below for products that can complete your set of survival tools:

  • StatGear Surviv-All Bowie Knife – this survival knife is made from stainless steel, and its sheath has a fire starter and cord cutter to make the knife more versatile.
  • DEWALT MT16 Multi-Tool – one of the best multi-tools in the market that features durable construction and stainless-steel parts.
  • SOG Camp Axe – a compact hatchet that has a hammering surface on the other side of its head so that you can hammer nails on wood or break small items.

Items for Making Fire

Fire-Making Items

Fire is a great way to keep warm besides wearing thick clothes, and some would even say that it is more effective in providing warmth compared to clothing. In addition to giving warmth, fire is also used for cooking and heating up food like raw meat or frozen ingredients. Having a portable stove is convenient, but it would most likely run out of gas in just a few weeks, and getting compact gas tanks can be quite difficult after a natural or man-made disaster has struck your area.

So, the best and most long-lasting way to get fire is to make it on your own using different tools and items. A lighter is the easiest way to make fire out of different pieces of wood, but the liquid inside the lighter would only last for just a few weeks or months, depending on how frequently you use it.

A more effective method of igniting fire without the need for gasoline or oil is fire steel, which will be able to generate sparks that can turn into a fire no matter the temperature. [2] Then, once you are able to start a fire, you should have a pack of tinder to make the fire bigger and stronger. Here are fire steel and tinder products that you can put inside your bug out bag:


glow sticks

It can be very difficult to see in the dark without lights, so you would need to have tools and items that can provide lighting at night. One of the most common items used for lighting is the flashlight, although they often run on rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, so it may not be the best option if there isn’t any electricity in your area or if you can’t find batteries anywhere.

Fortunately, there is an item called the “9-hour candle,” which is a type of candle that lasts for hours. [2] In addition to the 9-hour candle, you can also pack several glow sticks that will give you light for at least an hour. Below are great items that can provide lighting for you and your loved ones at night:

  • UCO 9-Hour White Candles – as their name already suggests, these white candles can last for up to nine hours.
  • Glow Mind Safety Light Stick – this glow stick produces a very bright light so that you can provide illumination for your surroundings better. This product’s light can also last for up to 12 hours.
  • Dream Glow 14-Inch Glow Stick – this is the product to get if you want to have a bigger glow stick that can illuminate more areas. Much like the previous product, this glow also has a 12-hour lifespan.

This is just a simple guide to creating a bug out bag for emergency situations. Even if natural disasters don’t occur too frequently in your area, town, or city, it is still important to always be prepared if ever a disaster does strike. So, prepare a bug out bag and regularly remove and replenish the stocks inside it so that the canned goods, dried goods, and other items will still be brand new once you are able to actually use the bag during an emergency.


[1] Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Bug-out Bag. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved November 22, 2022, from

[2] Guest Contributor. (2020, September 18). How to Make a Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Emergency Evacuation Survival Kit. Art of Manliness. Retrieved November 23, 2022, from

[3] Uncharted Supply Co. Blog. (2022, March 2). Bug Out Bag Essentials Checklist. Uncharted Supply Co. Retrieved November 23, 2022, from