People evacuating with backpacks

Introduction to Bug Out Bags

Bug-Out Bags or “Go-Bags” are kits filled with essential survival items which can be quickly grabbed in an emergency when you flee your house. Even if you are not a “prepper,” everyone should have some sort of emergency kit. These kits can be used for any emergency. Whether you are concerned about hurricanes, wildfires, civil unrest, or Armageddon, having an emergency plan and all of your emergency materials in one place is a good idea so you can leave at a moment’s notice.

Bug-Out Bags don’t have to be expensive. Even a small set of emergency supplies can help you get through a difficult time. However, a fully equipped setup can cost $1,000 or more. We have prioritized our list of supplies so you can buy one piece at a time as money permits.

We at Bug Out University have come up with a list of items every good 72-hour kit should include. You should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three full days in case of an emergency. Depending on the emergency, you may have to move across town for a period of time or halfway across the country.

Before we go into exactly what materials and supplies should be in your emergency kit, we should begin by discussing what to store the kit in. This is largely a personal preference and depends on the size of your kit, how you intend to transport the kit, and why you are putting your kit together. Some people use large plastic bins to store their items. Others use a large duffel bag or backpack. You can even split the kit up between several different backpacks. Regardless of how you decide to store your emergency supplies, it should be easily accessible, easily transportable, and sized to fit all your emergency supplies. We recommend you do not buy the container until you have compiled the entirety of your kit (or at least the bulky items).

Absolute Necessities for your Emergency Preparation Kit


Water is an absolute necessity for every living creature. Humans can live for 3 weeks without food, but can only live at most 3-4 days without water. Impure water can contain parasites, viruses, bacteria, or other harmful things that can make you sick. And being sick during a disaster is something you don’t want. As such, we recommend several methods of purifying and storing water. You will need to have as much water as necessary to wait out the disaster, so you either need to carry water with you or be in a location where water is readily available. Either way, our recommendations for water are below:

  • Water Purification Tablets (100)
  • LifeStraw – Personal Water Filter (1 per person)
  • 2.6 Gallon Collapsible Water Container (1 per person)
  • 1 Liter Canteen (1 per person)
  • BPA Free Water Bottle (1 per person)
  • Collapsible Water Bottle – Reusable Canteen (1 or more per person)

First Aid

You never know when an injury is going to occur, especially during an emergency. And depending on where you are and the type of emergency going on, it may be hard to find help. So having knowledge of first aid and the right tools is very important.

  • First Aid Kit
  • Bug Repellent
  • Aspirin
  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Pesto-Bismol
  • Burn Cream
  • Antiseptic
  • Sunscreen
  • Turkey Baster (for flushing wounds)
  • Aloe Vera gel
  • Antihistamine
  • Hydrocortisone cream

Emergency Notifications

Regardless of where you are or what the emergency, you need to be able to hear the news to know if it safe to return, or if your location is becoming unsafe. You will also want methods to be able to communicate with others outside of your group. Finally, you will need to be able to see in the dark and keep track of everyone in the group We recommend several methods to do this.

  • Paper map of the area
  • Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio with AM/FM with USB port for recharging cell phones
  • Cell Phone and Charging Cable
  • Amateur Radio (Requires FCC license, but the exam is easy with a bit of studying)
  • Glow Sticks (several per person)
  • Flashlights (at least 1 per person)
  • LED Headlamp (1 per person)
  • Batteries
  • Whistle

Weapons and Tools

If you are out on your own during an emergency, there may be people looking to rob you or you may have to hunt for food. Regardless of the emergency, we recommend you prepare with at least some, if not all, of the following weapons. Additionally, you may have to improvise to make your camp or fix things, so we have included a list of tools as well.

  • Handgun with ammunition
  • Rifle with ammunition
  • Machete
  • Combat Utility Knife
  • Survival Axe
  • Folding Shovel
  • Multi-Tool

Camping Supplies

If you are going to be spending time outdoors rather than heading to a friend’s house out of town, there are some necessities you will require to be able to live outdoors. Your car will become uncomfortable quickly.

  • Tent (enough to house your group)
  • Sleeping Bag (1 per person)
  • Cooking Stove
  • Fuel for stove
  • Stainless Steel Bottle Pot
  • Stainless Steel Drinking Cup
  • Dish Brush
  • Dish Soap
  • Flint and Steel
  • Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) or freeze dried foods
  • Canned Beans


The clothing you want to put in your emergency kit will largely depend on the location you plan to spend your time in and the reason for your kit. Below is a starting point, but you will want to add or remove based on your needs. You will want at least two of each item per person in case one gets wet.

  • Zip off pants
  • Hat with large brim
  • Shirt
  • Underwear
  • Wool socks
  • Fleece Pull-Over
  • Raincoat
  • Heavy coat
  • Hiking boots
  • Gloves