The Ultimate Bug-Out Bag List is here to answer all your questions and help guide you through all your long term and short term survival needs. Whether you’re being proactive about emergency preparedness or are a skilled survivalist, we can help you get through any situation. We will review and discuss in great lengths all the items that are necessary for your ultimate bug-out bag, or BOB. The Ultimate Bug-Out Bag List, where we care about your survival.
What is a bug-out bag?
A bug-out bag is a bag that contains food, tools, and other things for use in a disaster or other type of emergency. Often when a disaster occurs, the infrastructure that we normally take for granted becomes bogged down or completely unavailable. Electricity may be out for days or even weeks, the supermarkets we buy our food and water from may be low or out of stock, hospitals may be extremely over capacity, and even the roads we use everyday may be closed.
This is why there are bug-out bags. Like insurance, BOBs are something that you hope to never need, but are extremely important to have if you ever do. Many people like to keep a BOB or two on hand, just for the peace of mind of knowing it’s there for use, should the need arise. Having all the right things in your BOB can mean all the difference if you or your family are ever in a position to have to use it.
Should I buy a bug-out bag or make my own?
This is a good question, and it’s something that a person has to decide for himself. We frequently get asked this question, and our answer normally comes down to how much time and money the person wants to spend. If you’re short on time we recommend that you buy an off-the-shelf bug-out bag.
An off-the-shelf bag will have basic supplies that might be useful in an emergency situation. But it may not have everything you want, in the quantity you want, and so you’ll probably have to supplement the bag or do without. The cost will also likely be more than making your bug-out bag.
Making the bag yourself allows you to personally choose everything that goes into it. This can be very time to consume, because you need to research every individual piece, to make sure it’s right for you. Many people enjoy researching items for their bag and finding the perfect ones. You will have more confidence knowing that you have personally researched and chosen every item in your bag, and you will very likely spend less money than if you bought a similar off-the-shelf bug-out bag.
But no matter whether you want to buy an off-the-shelf bag, or you want to make your own, have something. Even the cheapest off-the-shelf bag is better than having nothing at all. Don’t be one of those people who intend to make their bag, but never get around to it. Make your own, or buy one, but have something.
Recommended Bug-Out Bags
Before we get to our list of recommended bug-out bags, I want to point out that none of these BOBs come with everything you’ll need. All of them require some additional supplementation, but some require less than others. For these recommendations, we have listed the BOBs we feel are best, for some price ranges. There are other bug-out bags that are in these price ranges, but we did not feel that they were as good as those listed.
When it comes to supplementing food and water, you can buy food specifically made to be emergency food, or you can even just add a couple more liters of water per person, and a jar or two of peanut butter. But whether you’re adding peanut butter or food designed for emergencies, always check the expiration dates!
Finally, remember that a BOB with a rating of 1.5 stars is still better than no BOB at all!
2.0 Bug Out Bag by OuttaGEAR
Recommended Supplementation: We recommend that you add additional food and water to this BOB.
This bug-out bag is the top off-the-shelf BOB that we recommend. It has almost everything you need to ensure your survival in the event of a disaster. It has some items that many other off-the-shelf BOBs don’t have, but the well-roundedness of this bag comes at a price. This is the most expensive of all the BOBs we recommend.
Another recommended pre-packed BOB that comes with a nice variety of items that comes close to fulfilling most of your needs. This particular one person pack is mid-sized and weighs in at 17 pounds. The price of this BOB may limit some from purchasing it, but if you don’t want to put the effort or time into research, then this pack will keep you covered through numerous scenarios.
Two Person 72 Hour Bug Out Bag
Recommended Supplementation: The addition of a tool and knife would help greatly further this pack, as well as an extension of the initial water offerings.
This particular item is a two-person BOB that’s packed into a Fox Tactical Rio Grande pack. It takes numerous needs into account but ultimately falls short of our highest marks because of its price range as well as its lack of a few key items.
Click here to read our review of this BOB!
Urban Survival Pack for Two
This two person pack by Zippo is a relatively affordable BOB that contains numerous items to help you survive an emergency or disaster in an urban environment. The items contained within a range from food and water, to the addition of flashlight/radio and a stainless steel multi-tool.
Here we have another BOB by Zippmo, except this 72hr pack is meant for four individuals. Much like the pack we previously reviewed, this bag comes with many similar items except multiplied to help further a larger group.
This BOB is contained within a Fox Tactical Field Operator’s Action Pack. The bag is very durable and contains enough room for those additional items that are not included. Overall this is a good beginner kit and should be modified to your particular specifications.
Recommended Supplementation: We insist that if you purchase this bag that you consider adding a well stocked first-aid kit, some tool/knife, and a way to purify additional water.
4 Person Deluxe Survival Kit
Once again we have a four person pack that shows potential with the variety of items but falls short of being able to equip all four individuals over a 72 hr length of time. More and more we see that a four person BOB would be better off if it were broken down into two separate packs especially when considering the weight.
Recommended Supplementation: Changing this duffel bag to an actual back pack would help with carrying all the gear needed for 4 people. Also extending the amount of food and water that’s included would further sustain the needs of those who purchase this bag.
This deluxe survival kit by wise is meant to sustain one individual for 2 weeks, or two people for 1 week. Initially, the contents of this bag look quite attractive simply because the description of the food included, but once we delve deeper how does it stack up?
Recommended Supplementation: You would be wise to add a healthy supply of water to this pack, and think about switching over to a bag that’s easier to maneuver especially over rough terrain.
This reasonably priced BOB by Ready America is fairly popular. While it says it’s packed to help sustain 4 people during a disaster or emergency, we don’t feel there is enough food or water for 4 people, and we recommend it for 2, or possibly even 1 person. It weighs in at 19lbs.
Recommended Supplementation: To help this BOB out, consider adding more water, a few home items like toothbrushes, a BIC lighter, and a wire saw.
The Life Gear LG567 Wings of Life Emergency Survival Kit Backpack is moderately priced and has some basic supplies that you would need in a disaster or emergency situation. There isn’t enough food or water, however, and some critical things are missing, such as a flashlight and a way to start a fire. It weighs 8.6 pounds and would be worth keeping in a car.
Recommended Supplementation: More food and water, a knife, a fire starter, a lighter, and if for use in a car, some road flares.
Like the Ready America pack designed for “4 people”, this one really doesn’t have enough food and water for the number of people that it claims to. It might be enough for 2 people if you don’t have to physically exert yourself during the 72 hours this bag is for, but if you do, there isn’t enough food or water to sustain 2 people. It weighs 8.1 pounds.
Recommended Supplementation: More food and water, a knife, a multi-tool, a fire starter, a lighter, and if for use in a car, some road flares.
Life Gear LG492 Emergency Survival Kit Backpack
It should be noted that this BOB has NO food or water! It does have some basic supplies that would be useful in a disaster or emergency.
Recommended Supplementation: Some food and water, a knife, a multi-tool, a fire starter, and a lighter.
Food and Water for a Bug-Out Bag
Food and water are two of the most important things in a bug-out bag. They sustain you, and they give you the energy to do the things you need to do in a disaster. They also help to keep your mental health good, and that is very important, especially in a survival situation.
How much food and water do I need?
One question people constantly ask us is, “How much food and water do I need?”
The Centers for Disease Control, FEMA, the Red Cross, and the US Coast Guard all say that you should have at least one gallon of water per person, per day. We agree. You might not need that much, but you never know when a disaster will strike, and if it’s hot or if you’re having to physically exert yourself a lot, you will need at least a gallon of water. If it’s not hot, and if you’re sheltering in place, you might need less, but it’s important to plan for the maximum amount you might need.
For food, most of these sources are less specific, and just say “a three day supply for evacuation, a two week supply for home.” And when you look at most off-the-shelf bug-out bags, they’ll say they have a three day supply of food, but there are very few calories available per person.
We recommend that you plan for 3,000 calories per day, per person. A person can survive for three days with absolutely no food, but he won’t have the energy to get much done, and his mental health will not be good (don’t forget that mental health is as important as physical health).
3,000 calories of food might seem like a lot, and it’s probably more than you normally eat in a typical day. But after a disaster, there are often many physical things you have to do, such as clearing debris, moving to a safe location, building or repairing shelter, etc. All those things require energy, and that energy comes from your food.
What kind of food should I put in my bug-out bag?
When it comes to what kind of food you should have, there are some choices.
One choice we like is food bars. These bars are made specifically to be used in emergencies. They have a long shelf life, and they don’t require water or heating. You just open the package and eat them.
Some people like to use canned food. Things such as beans and chili can be eaten straight from the can, without being heated. Canned fruit can be good, and so can things like can stew. You’re mainly looking for food that doesn’t taste too bad straight out of the can and unheated, and food with high calories.
MREs are great for a bug-out bag. Meals Ready to Eat usually have a long shelf life, they are often high in calories, and as the name says, they’re ready to eat. Many will even heat the food themselves. And the food itself will often taste better than food bars, and is more like “real food.”
One type of food that we like to avoid is dehydrated food. Like MREs, dehydrated food often tastes better than food bars. However, unlike MREs, dehydrated food isn’t ready to eat; you have to add boiling water. This means that you must have some way to heat water, like a portable stove, and you must also use water, which presumably comes from your drinking water. We don’t like food that requires us to use our drinking water to prepare it.
Something else we recommend is if you’re supplementing an off-the-shelf bug-out bag, or you want to add some more calories to a BOB that you have made, toss in a jar or two of peanut butter. A normal 2.5-pound jar of peanut butter has over 6,000 calories.
What kind of water should I put in my bug-out bag?
Just like with food, you have a number of choices when it comes to stocking your BOB with water.
A good source of water is bottled water from the grocery store. Leave the bottles unopened until you need to use them, and they’ll last quite a while. They’re cheap, and you can get different sizes, which can be helpful when packing your BOB.
Many off-the-shelf bug-out bags come with pouches of water. These are good because they have a long shelf life, and they can be convenient to stuff in your BOB. That being said, bottles are often more convenient, so that you don’t have a huge pile of small water pouches in your bag.
Some backpacks come with hydration systems. These can be great because they fit in a compartment in the backpack that is made specifically for them, and they allow you to get water quickly and easily, without having to stop to open your pack. The downside is that, if you’re filling them yourself, you need to read the instruction manual on how to clean them, and how often to change the water. The water won’t be good for as long as bottled water that you buy.
Many people ask about storing tap water in soda bottles. You can do that, but you need to do it right, and it won’t last as long as bottled water bought from a store. For information on how to store tap water in soda bottles, see FEMA’s instructions on how to do it properly.
Anything else to consider when adding food and water to a bug-out bag?
Always check the expiration date on both food and water!
Emergency food is designed to have a long shelf-life, but it does still go bad. So make sure it has a long expiration date.
If you use canned food, you can rotate it out so that the food in your BOB always has a long expiration date. Also, make sure you have a manual can opener.
Even water goes bad. So you need to check the expiration date on your water, too. And if you’re storing tap water in bottles or hydration packs, you’ll need to rotate it more often than if you buy bottled water.
Don’t assume that because you just bought some emergency food or emergency drinking water, it has a long expiration date. Always check expiration dates either before you buy food and water at the store, or as soon as you get it, if you bought it online.
Keep this info in mind when you’re stocking your bug-out bag, and you’ll be ready to go if disaster strikes. The last thing you want is to think you’re prepared, only to find out that you don’t have enough food and water, or that it’s out of date and no good.