If you’re new to the concept of personal readiness, the idea of putting together a survival bag might seem like a huge chore. These bags, also known as a bug out bags or 72-hour bags, are designed to hold enough very basic supplies to keep you alive for three days of extreme emergency conditions (We recommend the Humvee 3 Day Assault Packto hold all your supplies). If you try to think of every single item you might use in three days, you can get bogged down with hundreds of details, leaving you more confused than ever. Narrow down your choices by thinking about the basic categories of survival supplies you need.
According to experts, you will need a bare minimum of 1 liter of water per day to survive. Pack this in your bag first, using commercially bottled water. Add an extra liter if you have room, but don’t skimp on the minimum. To expand your water capacity, pack a water purification system such as iodine tablets and a vessel in which you can boil water.
Go with the lightest and healthiest food you can find. Backpacking meals are freeze-dried, making them light and simple to carry, but you need extra water to rehydrate them at mealtime. MREs are a bit heavier, but each one holds about 1,200 calories worth of food and needs no extra water. You can survive on one MRE a day, they don’t take up much more room than a thick paperback book.
Once you’re alive with food and water, you’ll need to get out of the elements. Pack a tarp or light tent, along with a ground cloth or sleeping pad. If you’re short on cash, an old exercise mat can double as a ground cloth. Add a bedroll of some type; a sleeping bag is best but rolled blankets work as well.
Think about the kind of clothes you would take on a weekend camping trip, and pack similar garments. Put in one pair of long pants, but avoid blue jeans. Add one long-sleeved shirt, one t-shirt, two pairs of socks and a waterproof jacket. Add extra items depending on the weather in your region. If you live in the north, pack silk long underwear for insulation, but if you live in Florida go with a pair of shorts for hot days. Finish your clothes bundle with a hat, a comfortable pair of hiking boots and one or two bandanas.
5. First Aid
Avoid commercial first aid boxes and create your own kit. Many of the commercial kits are filled with items you will never need. Find a waterproof box and build a kit, beginning with basics such as bandages, antibiotic ointment, medication for pain and diarrhea and a couple of needles for pulling slivers. Add items as you see fit, depending on your particular health needs. If you take any prescription medications on a regular basis, pack a three-day supply in your bag. Every time you get the prescription filled, switch out the packed samples for a new supply. This will make sure that you always have fresh medication on hand.
Learn as many ways to start a fire as possible, and pack the supplies for each skill you learn. At a minimum, have disposable lighters, waterproof matches and fire paste for helping fires to get going. Practice making fire with a flint and steel, and pack those supplies after you learn.
7. Rain Gear
Pack a couple of thin, foldable ponchos for sudden showers and a raincoat for more serious downpours. Add plastic bags to store your gear that you want to keep dry as well as a pair of rain pants to keep your legs dry in the wettest weather. If you have the room and can afford the weight, throw in a pair of waterproof boots or waders. In flood situations, nothing compares with the ability to keep your feet dry, so boots can be invaluable.
8. Cooking supplies
You may not need to do a lot of cooking, but at least pack an aluminum camping cup and a small pot. If you have MREs as your food supply, you will be using the enclosed heater to warm the food. However, survival depends on improvisation. If you happen upon a supply of food somewhere, you will need a way to cook it. A camping stove is a good alternative to making a campfire simply to heat a meal. Add a survival knife to your cooking kit for use in food preparation, and it can do double duty as a general, all-purpose tool.
9. Extra Gear
Every list will have miscellaneous items on it, but some of these are basic for getting through three days without harm. Add at least two sources of light, such as small keychain flashlights and larger flashlights and lanterns. Keep fresh batteries nearby and change them out regularly. Pack a weapon that you are comfortable with and trained on. If you know how to use a handgun safely, stow it in your gear bag along with ammunition. If not, pack a knife, an asp, cans of pepper spray or mace or even a sturdy stick to use to defend yourself if needed.
A well-planned survival bag can make the difference between surviving comfortably for a weekend and being at the mercy of others. Do you keep a survival bag ready at all times? What other items do you consider essential for your bugout bag? Leave a comment below…