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6 Essential Items for Your Bug-out Bag

Do you have a bug-out bag (emergency survival kit) prepared in case of a hurricane, tornado, flood or other disasters? If not, now is the time to put one together!

A poll from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found that 80 percent of Americans live in counties that have been hit with a weather-related disaster, but only 39 percent of respondents have developed an emergency plan. We’re not saying you need to be a conspiracy theorist or a doomsday enthusiast, but you should at least have supplies on hand to take care of yourself and your family in an emergency.

A bug-out bag contains the essential items you need to survive for 72 hours. While certain items may vary based on your location and your skillset (it doesn’t make much sense to pack tools you don’t know how to use in hopes that you’ll learn on the spot), here are the six must-have items to pack in your bug-out bag.


Survival experts say you can live up to three weeks without food, but water is a different story. You can’t survive for more than three days without water, which is why this is the first, most important item on our list. You can pack water in a variety of ways: water bottles, water pouches or a built-in or exterior bladder for your pack. 

Remember, everything you include in your pack adds to the total weight, and water bottles can feel heavy if you’re carrying your bag for an extended period of time. Instead of multiple bottles, pack these portable hydration tools: 

  • Water-purification tablets
  • Water filter straw
  • Emergency water storage


Pack a three-day supply of food. Although canned food will keep for an extended period of time, cans add unnecessary weight. Pack portable food options like nutrition bars, trail mix, and Ziploc snack bags. In addition to snacks, pack some pre-packaged emergency food:

  • MREs – Meals Ready to Eat
  • Freeze-dried food
  • Dehydrated food

Survival Tools

Survival tools like knives, flashlights, matches and a multi-purpose tool will help you handle the elements and are useful in the event you need to cut through things, fend off animals, make your way in the dark or set up shelter. Survival tools for your bug out bag:

  • Flashlight 
  • Knife
  • Shovel
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Firestarter
  • Waterproof matches
  • Whistle
  • Candles


When it comes to shelter, you’re restricted to the size of your bag, and since you need to pack a lot of other items, a tent may not be ideal. Tarps are a great shelter option because they are extremely versatile so pack some tarps and some rope.

To keep warm and shield yourself from the elements pack these shelter items:

  • Poncho
  • Emergency blanket


You can’t predict the weather in advance, so make sure you pack clothes you can layer if it’s cold or remove if it’s warm. Pack a pair of boots, breathable, waterproof clothing and an extra pair of socks. You may also want to pack a pair of work gloves and personal hygiene products. When it comes to clothes, just pack the essentials. You’re packing for survival so you don’t need multiple options or unnecessary weight.

Miscellaneous Supplies 

Include the following safety and communication items:

  • First-Aid Kit
  • Emergency radio

 If you’re still not sure of exactly what you need, you can also purchase one of our pre-packed emergency backpacks. 

Keep your Bag Ever-ready

Set a phone alert or email reminder every 12 months to ensure your bag has items that will work and be somewhat fresh or at least palatable. Check batteries, battery packs or use as many items that are solar-powered as possible. For the energy bars, replacing them at least annually is a good idea, if not more often.

Pack your bug-out bag in hopes that you will never need it, but with the confidence that you have everything you need in the event of an emergency.

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