bug out bag essentials

Bug out bag essentials – Expert Roundup (7 Experts)

One of the main reasons of having a bug-out bag which contains bug out bag essentials is to allow you to evacuate as soon as possible once disaster strikes. With a high-quality bug-out bag, you will be able carry around all the necessary items and survive from them for at least 72 hours. All of these starts from getting the best bug out bag which is large enough to contain all the necessities and durable enough for roughhousing.

Most people are curious what bug out bag essentials they should keep in their bug out bag. There are loads of lists online which states generally what you can consider putting in your bug out bag. However, there isn’t really a post which suggest what are the TOP bug out bag essentials you MUST SERIOUSLY consider.

Bug out bag essentials

In this post, we explore various items which the experts themselves have suggested that we store in our bug out bag. I’ll reveal their thoughts about the topic, one by one.

The question posed to the experts are: What are the top 3 bug out bag essentials you think a person should have to be ready to face any emergencies? Let’s dive in.

Before revealing what the experts have to say about bug out bag essentials, I have tabulated a list of items which you can consider putting in your bug out bag.

Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 1Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 2HydroBlu Water FilterCheck BEST Price2.8 ouncesIf you want to get
clean filtered
water in any
outdoor setting
or emergency
situation, you
should definitely
get this
filter which
protects you from
99.9% of harmful
Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 3Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 4Cheese Tortellini MRE MealCheck BEST Price28.8 ouncesA nutritious and
tasty meal that is
made for long-
term storage that
has awesome
tasting goodies
which even your
kids will love
Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 5Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 6Darn Tough Boot SocksCheck BEST Price4.8 ouncesElastic and
performance fit -
giving you
comfort even
after hours of
staying on your
Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 7Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 8Smith & Wesson Fixed BladeCheck BEST Price5.6 ouncesBlade that is
made from high-
carbon stainless
steel that can
help you
complete most
survival tasks with
Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 9Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 10Sawyer Products Water FilterCheck BEST Price9.6 ouncesWith the 0.1
Micron inline
filter, you'll be
able to filter
99.9% of harmful
bacteria and it's
really easy to
bring around too

Bug Out Bag Essentials Votes

If you are in a hurry, you can have a glance at the votes which all the experts gave towards different categories of items.

Category of ItemsVote
Cooking Pot2
Baking Soda1

1. Alex Garcia – EarthSkillsLLC.com

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The question posed to me is: What are the top 3 bug out bag essentials you think a person should have to be ready to face any emergencies?

A very open-ended question and one has to have a few more details before offering a logical response: What is the emergency? What is the threat level? How am I affected? Where did it take place? How long will it likely endure? So, in the vacuum of this knowledge, a few human requirements are always in need in order to answer the “should” and “any” in the question above.

At EarthSkills school we teach how to first achieve a survival attitude — and more importantly — how to prioritize our needs according to the emergency in order to survive, both short and long term. These basic needs for human survival are: preservation of core body temperature, water, and food. So, without first meeting the top two needs, core body temperature and water, within a relatively short amount of time, everything else is just “stuff to carry” and useless in this vague scenario.

Depending on the environment one finds themselves in at the onset of a given emergency, i.e. urban area versus the wilderness, they will need some sort of shelter. The military poncho, preferably Marine Corps MARPAT pattern would be my first choice if I did not want to be found. An off-the-shelf brightly colored one if I want to be found. I can wear the poncho or make a quick shelter; use it as a raft to cross bodies of water; use as a vessel to capture rain water and much more.

Making fire: Use to distill or purify water, cook my food, help me stay warm, signal others, etc. My second piece of equipment would be a ferrocerium rod, like Gob Spark or the Swedish Light My Fire. A 3-inch ferrocerium rod will work in wet and in freezing temperatures, is easy to use and will start hundreds of fires. I always have one on me or in my vehicle, on my knife scabbard, first-aid kit and travel bag.

For food one can’t beat a military MRE. Lightweight, nutritious and loaded with calories with an all-in-one reusable package as well.

Wilderness survival training is not meant to supersede a good plan and material preparedness; it is the ultimate, lightweight solution that complements every emergency plan. In short, the top three survival tips is first, don’t depend on gear. Second learn to identify the resources that are in your given area of operation; third know how to use these resources to your advantage.

We have a adage at the school: “Who are you without your gear?” If one is not prepared to live without their gear, they are not fully prepared to live.

2. Jason Marsteiner – Colorado Mountain Man Survival

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I don’t carry a bug out bag any longer or at least I do not carry what most people think  of when you say “bug out bag”. When I did, my bug out bag weighed far more than I can carry over long distances and it had ridiculousness amounts of stuff in it. I began helping people build bug out bags in 2010 when I realized that I had the knowledge, passed down to me through my childhood, to help people that didn’t know where to start. My small mountain town upbringing and outdoor lifestyle made me quickly realize that what most people put in a bug out bag is just not practical if they intended to travel by foot for any substantial amount of time or distance.   I began utilizing my knowledge base and learning new ways to whittle down the size of my bug out bag into something far more practical if I intended to step foot out my door.   Through the years, I have changed my view of prepping and no longer focus on stuff. Instead I focus on training.  While I do still help people build their kits, I spend more time helping them build their skills and knowledge base.

As the late Mors Kochanski used to say, the more you know, the less you carry. In my survival kit, I carry about 10-15 items that, with the proper training, will cover all of your essential bases. Fully loaded, with food and water, my kit weighs about 35 lbs.  My old bug out bag probably had at least 50 items and weighed nearly 60lbs without food or water. It was redundantly redundant in its redundancy and was entirely unnecessary.   While redundancy is not a bad thing, having the ability to think outside the box and improvise, is a far greater tool.  Ive done a large amount of research and gear testing through the years and have determine that while gear is great, creativity is your #1 survival tool. 

That being said, if I were only able to choose 3 items from my kit, I would have to go with 3 items that are the hardest to reproduce in the wilderness.  If I were in an urban survival setting, these items wouldn’t be as needed as I could improvise and source them from the streets around me but since I have the option, I would still choose these three items. 

1)   A good knife – I choose a knife because with it, I can do or create nearly everything else that I truly need.  There are plenty of things I can substitute for a knife but it would not be of good quality and would make most tasks significantly harder.  With it I can craft tools for hunting and trapping, containers for gathering, process wood for fire, limb trees for shelter…the possibilities are endless.  A good knife, and the knowledge of what you can do with it, is essential.  There is much debate as to what the best survival knife is so I will refrain from telling you the exact knife that I carry but some things you should look for in a knife are, full tang, 4-6 inches in blade length, no serrations, easy to sharpen, flat spine, comfortable in your hand and I prefer a knife with a saber or scandi grind.  Combat style knives have a purpose but not really when it comes to using it to make other tools.  I also recommend that you stay away from Damascus knives.    Every single Damascus knife that has been brought to my training camp has broken on the student that used it….just an observation.  Oh, and those “Rambo” knives with a survival kit in the handle… complete junk. Give those to someone that you don’t want to survive the apocalypse 😉

2)  A cooking pot or single walled metal canteen – Again, a hard item to recreate in the wilderness. Sure I can make a bowl out of wood but its uses are limited.  With a metal pot I can easily purify water and cook meals.  In a survival situation, you get the most calories out of wild game and/or wild plants if you can make a stew, and every calorie matters.  You simply cannot make stew without a cooking pot. I can fashion a water filter out of natural materials, to get rid of bad taste, smell, some toxins and a small amount of bacteria but one must boil water for 3 minutes to properly kill bacteria and viruses.  A manmade water purifier makes this process easier but it is a single use items and will eventually clog.  A good cooking pot will always be there, save some unusual mishap.  Keep in mind that boiling your water will not remove heavy metals or sediment but it can be done without the use of a store bought filter.  A cooking pot can also be used to transport items or even carry hot coals from your fire to your next location.  p.s. I mentioned single walled metal canteen because an insulated, double walled canteen could exploded if you put it in the fire and at the very least, will ruin it.  For survival purposes, leave those insulated canteens with your camping gear.   

3)  A ferro rod – The third item was a hard decision for me.  Because of my environment I believe carrying a shelter, such as a tarp, is very important, but in the end, the ability to easily create fire ruled out.  While I know how to create fire through the use of a bow drill, hand drill or bamboo fire saw, it’s not always easy, especially if you are cold, tired and hungry. With a fire starter I can simplify the task. As my primary stomping ground is more of a cold weather environment, I have learned that it is best to be able to get a fire quickly and efficiently.  With fire I can purify water, cook food, stay warm, signal for help, ward off animals, boost morale and so much more.  I prefer a larger ferro rod with NO gimmicky items, such as signal mirrors or flashlights or a big clunky piece of magnesium, attached to it.  I go with a plain rod that is 6 inch long and ½ inch in diameter so that it is easy to hold onto when my hands are cold and numb and I am shivering.  It might be slightly heavier than the more popular rods out there but I can get over 1200 fires with it and easily hold onto it.  If you have arthritis or cramping  in your hands, those little rods are impossible.  The ferro rod I have now has lasted me 5 years and as a survival instructor, I have started A LOT of fires with it. Some people will argue the use of a ferro rod over a BIC lighter with me but once you can make a lighter last 5 years (without refilling the fuel) and get 1200 fires lit from your lighter, then we can revisit this discussion.   

That’s it…if I were limited to 3 items.  My next items would cover shelter, medical and food procurement but that’s a whole different story!  

READ ALSO: Top 13 Bug Out Bag List Essentials

3. Bob Rodgers – Prepperswill.com

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Over the years I’ve repurposed a lot of items. It really depends on the needs I have and If I can figure out an alternative use for the available items. I’m always trying to train my mind, even though sometimes I end up ruining certain items. To keep it short, here are my picks based on real-life experiences:

a) Socks

I’ve used my socks for numerous purposes, other than keeping my feet warm. For example, when testing my ability to start a fire with wet and cold hands, I’ve used my socks to warm my hands. By doing so, I manage to stop my hands from shaking, and I was able to use my Ferro rod to ignite the ember. On various occasion, I’ve used my socks as improvised pouches when foraging for berries and other wild edibles. I tie the socks to my belt, and I’m able to carry whatever I need.

b) Zip-ties

I have to admit that I love these small plastic strings, and I always have some in my bug out bag. I remember using them more than once as improvised crampons during my trips to Canada. My luggage was lost, and the pair of shoes I was wearing didn’t provide proper gripping for the icy sidewalk. I had to attach three cable ties around my boots just to be able to walk around town. I’ve used zip-ties to keep my pants up, and I’m often using them in the wilderness to improvise shelters and tie things together. There are so many things you can do with zip-ties in an emergency situation that you could write a book on this topic.

c) A quality tarp

There are so many uses for a tarp that it would be impossible to write all of them in just a few lines. You can use the tarp to improvise a shelter. You can camouflage your vehicles or supplies. It can be used to haul items over long distances. A tarp can also be used as a blanket or sleeping bag (insulated with dry leaves). You can make a hammock out of a tarp or use it as a rain poncho. And the list goes on.

4. Mark Suter – Primitivetexas.com

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Fixed Blade – First, I would have a good fixed blade knife with no serrations (blade 4-6 inches long; full tang; I am a big advocate of Buck brand knives, as they are affordable and of high quality (I have been using the same one since high school, over 25 years now). I knife is essential in fashioning other tools that a person needs in a survival situation. These include carving fire-making kits, trap parts, fashioning bows and arrows, and much more.

Medium sized stainless steel metal pot – Second, I would have a medium stainless steel metal pot. This is just as important as the knife, since it would be used to purify water (boil for 5 minutes), cook soups and stews (a good way to get more nutrition from your wild food diet), and make wild plant teas for leisure and medicinal purposes.

Machete – Third, I would have a normal machete (about 3 feet long). Machetes can handle big chopping camp chores and small. It will make a huge difference when building a shelter and save time and calories with other tasks as well.

5. Coach Bobb – Bugoutbagbuilder.com

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Rather then go for the obvious stuff, I’ve come up with a few less often suggested but very useful items:

– Baking soda: a few grams of baking soda can go a long way and it can be used as: toothpaste, a facial and hair cleaner, deodorant (a tiny amount will keep you from stinking) a cleanser for pots and pans, and best of all a treatment for bug bites (mix with a little water and put of bite asap.) 

– Soffe Men’s Ranger Panty Running Shorts: thin, lightweight, breathable and quick drying shorts with a liner. Essentially they are boxer shorts outside with nylon tighty-whities inside. Very packable. They can be worn as underwear, but have enough substance to them that they look like and can be worn alone as shorts. Comfortable enough to sleep in. These are useful to wear back and forth to the showers and around your sleeping area, and they are easy to wash and dry fast. 

– Leukotape: Blister prevention tape that works much better than most of the other tapes out there. Preventing blisters is critical: not only do they hurt and affect your ability to walk and slow you down, but blisters can get infected. Infections can lead to amputations and even death pretty quickly. I’ve seen people wrap nearly their entire feet in leukotape on super long hikes. It is comforatble and stays on for many days, even after being wet. 

6. Jeff Nicholas – Survival-journal.com

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You will not survive without having these items:

– A good survival knife will help you cut, break, prep, defend, and so
much more. Be careful when selecting this item as it should be high quality

Water container. Ideally, a good quality bottle made of very robust material. Moving drinking water around is absolutely essential to survive!

Survival mylar blankets. They don’t take up a lot of space and can be used for so many things. Shelter building, sleeping blanket, isolation etc…

You will need a lot more to complete your bug out bag, but these are really essentials!

7. Peter Betts – The Survival Hacks

Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 17

I thought it would be great if I could chip in my thoughts about what are the top 3 bug out bag essentials as well.

For me, items which fulfil our basic needs should top the list. Naturally, 3 things come to mind: water, food and clothing (shelter). Instead of talking about some general categories, I thought it would be helpful to highlight directly what I think the top items are.

a) HydroBlu VersaFlow Water Filter System

Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 18Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 19

The filter can be used on a water bottle or act as a straw.

The product is rated to filter 100,000 gallons of water, which means the HydroBlu Versa Flow Water filter system can last for years.

Also, the water filter system provides disease protection as it contains a 0.1-micron hollow fiber membrane which will protect you against most of the harmful bacteria.

This means that you’ll be able to get clean water wherever you go. Of course, if you can’t get access to water easily, I would recommend getting stored water.

b) Cheese Tortellini MRE Meal

Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 20Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 21

It’s important to get nutritious food that are small enough to bring around.

I’ve included the Cheese Tortellini MRE Meal as one of the ‘bug out bag essentials’ because it’s one of the best MREs which I can find. Even when you are caught outdoors, you’ll still get to eat a hot and tasty meal to get your spirits up when SHTF.

c) Darn Tough Hiker Socks

Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 22Bug out bag essentials - Expert Roundup (7 Experts) 23

Besides having good clothing, I would like to highlight that having great socks is vital too. You need socks that will help remove fatigue and keep your feet comfortable.  

It’s itch-free and has unmatched durability. Even if you are on your feet for hours, you’ll still have comfortable feet which will encourage you to keep on going!


These are ESSENTIAL items that you must consider putting in your bug out bag, but they are not an exhaustive list. There are several further considerations which you must think about such as your geographic location, what are your physical ability, how many people are you bugging out with and what threats will likely face.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: 19 Important Items Checklist for Get Home Bag

However, this is a good starting point for you to consider what the experts consider. Hopefully, this article is a worthwhile read.

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