Dude – What Ya Got in that Bugout Bag?

Every few months I empty out my bugout bag, putting in fresh items, replacing older gear with updated ones I have been fortunate enough to acquire.

Every wonder what is in the bugout bag of a guy like me?

First what is a guy like me? I’m an ex-soldier of fortune who’s been around the globe and has dived numerous times for the nearest hole when the shooting started in many different locales.

My personal bugout bag is an item I keep close tabs on and refresh at least quarterly. You may wonder why?

Stuff gets old especially things like stored foods, batteries and clothing – the clothing can gather moisture so can paper goods like toilet paper and need to be changed out or washed to prevent mold and mildew. Moisture can affect a bugout bag depending on where it’s kept.

What is my choice of bugout bag? A Kelty 64, external frame pack which will accommodate a comfortable 60-80 pound load allowing me to stay mobile in the field for quite a while.

Now you’re thinking 60-80 pounds is pretty heavy, I would agree but allow me to explain the merits of that choice a bit further.

You need five basic items when your two legged mobile: water, food, shelter, protection and warmth.

Let me break it down further and it will explain the contents of my bugout bag.

  1. Water– I keep a 100-ounce hydration pouch and two (2) Nalgene 24-ounce bottles in side pockets to handle drinking needs for a minimum of two days walking.
  1. Food– here weight and choices can be an issue. In a vehicle you can carry canned goods which weigh a lot but in a bugout bag that weight can break your back and is foolish so you instead pick foods that are in pouches both moist and dry prep’s whose weight is low. I chose protein such as fish, peanut butter, energy bars and tasty snacks I eat normally but in my bugout bag consist of 30% of its weight and can sustain my needs for up to 14-days at a stint; longer in an emergency.
  1. Shelter– I carry two types – a tent and a tarp. The tent requires longer to set up, provides shelter not only for myself but my supplies keeping them out of the rain but also the morning dew. A trap is quick and convenient and when done with can be shaken out to remove water and rolled up and put away in a one gallon sealable plastic bag.

Moisture when you’re out is the enemy for your gear and keeping it dry is an imperative. I use a high quality rain cover for my backpack and a hooded waterproof windbreaker for myself and gloves for my hands.

  1. Protection– Now this is always a contentious subject and many opinions vary according to the survival needs of the person you are talking to. I tend to lean on the side of a little heavier fire power and pack a rifle and a pistol. My choice in a rifle is a trustworthy AR15 in a light weight M4 configuration with four (4) 30-round magazines filled with 5.56 – 62 grain ammo. My pistol is also a heavier caliber in semi-automatic 45 ACP round with an additional five (5) 8-round magazines.

In a protect yourself scenario that isn’t much if you are pinned down and people are shooting at you but let’s be honest regarding that – that firefight situation – it’s unlikely to happen.

You need a round that can provide protection from a bear, a mountain lion and a two legged beast too.

  1. Warmth– in a wilderness or urban setting warmth is necessary and beneficial. Nights without sun can get cold even in the southern climates depending on the time of year. Having a warm sleeping bag rated to zero degrees and warm clothing will help you avoid contracting hypothermia, illness and disease.

Having two full changes of durable clothing such as jeans, t-shirts, heavier secondary long sleeved shirts, changes of dry socks and change of shoes will make a tremendous difference in your levels of comfort.

first-aid-kitNow that covers the necessities but not the conveniences and practical must-haves.

  1. First Aid Kit– I have the best First Aid kit I can afford to buy with antibiotic ointment, bandages and other necessary emergency supplies.
  1. Water Purification – My choice is the tried and true Katadyne system capable of filtering 3,000 gallons of water. I carry an extra filter just in case.
  1. Fire Starter– I carry five (5) packaged fire starter bricks plus a striker kit of magnesium and steel. I also carry ten (10) BIC lighters which work really fast but will eventually be used up. Getting a warm fire going quick is an art one best master dam quick if they intend to survive.
  1. Cooking and Eating Gear– A good alcohol or LP gas stove, mess kit and utensils are something you’ll need every day. Get the best stuff you can afford durable and good quality.
  1. Dry Goods – This is often overlooked but toilet paper, writing notebook and wet wipes are a convenience you may find are great to have.

The toilet paper part especially when you have to go the BS about using a leaf to wipe is a fallacy you’d soon need to discard. Carrying five(5) two ply – 425 sheet rolls will not weigh much and you’ll be glad you did.

Writing paper to keep notes and your thoughts in are nice but not necessary.

Wet wipes are a monumentally convenient item for hygiene when bathing is not possible.

  1. Walking Stick – Now while this is not necessary a high quality walking stick have always been a stable in my inventory. It helps support you when footing is precarious and gives you an item that can provide a cadence when you walk and quick and adequate protection against an surprise happen stance with a poisonous snake.
  1. Soap, Chap stick and Moisturizer – These are nice to have when you need to treat hygiene situations. An 8-ounce bottle of Dawn to wash clothes, yourself and to clean and sanitize your cookware can last months.

Chap Stick to keep your lips moist and protected from drying out and cracking is a nice item too and last but not leastmoisture protection for your face and hands to keep it moist and protected too with a sunscreen.

  1. Hat and Gloves – A wide brimmed hat to shield your head, face and neck from the sun and rain. Hand gloves that are made of a light weight fabric to protect you from nicks, snags from brambles and rocks you may traverse are always a welcome item.
  1. Umbrella – while this may sound stupid and unnecessary a good quality umbrella that folds up and can be hung from a molly is a great item to keep you and your gear dry if you get stuck in a sudden downpour.
  1. Razors, Insecticide and a Compass – these are side pocket items that are nice to have. Growing a Wilderness Beard may sound like the way to go but not when it can harbor lice and things you do not want. Insecticide such as Deet to keep you from becoming a buffet for bloodsuckers and then these wounds festering and getting infected. A compass to show you directions.

Yes there are always other things you can take but these are my basics and I expect you’ll agree and disagree with some but “choose wisely” weight is a factor.


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