bug out bag checklist

Bug-Out Bag Guide and Checklist

In Bugging Out by M.D. Creekmore

bug out bag checklist

The Ultimate DIY Bug-Out Bag Kit and Checklist

by Mike

If you are like me, you may find prepping for everything to be a little overwhelming. It can seem that no matter how much you have, there just is never enough. I have read hundreds of articles and watched endless videos on what to carry for EDC and how to make a BOB/INCH bag.

I also seemed to focus on one aspect at a time and way overdo it while letting the rest slip by. So to keep me from having the most awesome arsenal in town and dying of thirst, or keeping me from caring an 80 lb. backpack everywhere I made a graph of what I might need in a survival situation vs. how long I need to survive.

My first concern in any emergency is can I breathe, see, or am I bleeding? Next question is am I in immediate danger and what can I do to remove the threat?

After that, I need to ascertain what threats are likely to come from this situation and prepare my surroundings to deal with them. Once the threat is no longer my focus, it should turn to how can I sustain myself in this situation?

Now many of the answers may change depending on what type of emergency you are facing. I am bleeding but an EMT is currently coming through my door would be handled a lot different than I am bleeding and marauders are currently coming through my door.

The two situations require both different responses from me as well as needing different gear.

To know what I need, I need to know how long the emergency will last. Here is where the problem comes in, I don’t know when what, or how long. Many Preppers feel the best way to combat this is to always be prepared for everything, and that is where the sense of overwhelming comes from. It’s almost impossible to be prepared for everything all the time.

So here is the solution I find works best for me.

I broke it down into 10 categories.

  1. How to transport my kit (Carry).
  2. How to deal with injury (Care).
  3. How to stay warm and dry (Cover).
  4. How to make what I need (Cutting).
  5. How to make light and fire (Combustion)
  6. How to transport/prepare food and water (Container).
  7. How to secure and repair (Cordage).
  8. How to replenish/get food (Collecting)
  9. How to stay in touch (Communications)
  10. How to obtain/replace gear (Currency)

I borrowed heavily from Dave Canterbury’s 5 C’s on this.

First I listed what I need to survive, then based on how long it might take I made my different kits. If the situation is over in an hour or so I should have everything I need in my pockets to survive. If it were to take the rest of the day then I would need my sling pack/handbag.

Overnight to a week then I would need my large pack. A week to a month I would need a cache, and a month to a year I would need to make it to my retreat. There will be some redundancy but the five should build on each other.

I am going to use level one through five for my emergencies. This is in no way an official scale, just me sorting what I might go through. Level one examples could be a power line down, flat tire, a fire, first date, minor accident, a confrontation, etc.

Can I breathe, am I bleeding?

For both of these, a couple handkerchiefs can help. To both cover the face to keep smoke, dust, and other stuff from being drawn into your lungs and as a makeshift bandage.

These are temporary measures until you can make it to help or help can find you. (Note, if you can’t breathe because of a windpipe, lung, or chemical issue that is not a level one emergency.) I also keep some gauze, alcohol wipes, anti-bacterial cream, and a few band-aids wrapped up in the handkerchiefs. For seeing I keep a small single battery flashlight.

Am I in immediate danger and what can I do to remove the threat? Here you have to make a decision, get out or stay. In level one cases removing yourself from the situation is usually the preferred method. If you don’t then you will focus on the threat.

For cold/rain I keep a paracord bracelet, space blanket, lighter, and a pocketknife. Seasonal, sturdy clothing and dressing in layers is a huge help in this. For danger from physical attack (dog, snake, biker, ex-wife) I have my knife and my CCW pistol, but in a level, one escape is still the best option if available to you.

Preparing your surroundings to deal with threats and sustaining yourself usually are not a worry as the emergency will have passed before you need either of those in a level one.

However, if I were to need to collect water or food I have my pistol and I keep the handkerchiefs in a ziplock baggie with a water filtering straw.

I can use the baggie to collect the water and drink through the straw. Communication during a level one can usually be accomplished with a cell phone, but I carry a sharpie as well just in case. For levels 1-3 Currency I carry cash.

Level two emergencies are ones that last several hours to all day. They might include breaking down, getting lost, flooded streets, bad break up, freezing rains, terror attack, second dates, all day power outage, riots, etc.

For this, I carry my kit in a sling pack or messengers bag, whichever looks less conspicuous. I have a small first aid kit, with tape, gauze, painkillers, antihistamines, anti-diuretic, and more options in band-aids and would cleaners.

For cover, I have a self-folding Rain Jacket/Wind Breaker, gloves, and watch cap, if you are already dressed appropriately these will make a great difference.

My cutting tool is a strong belt knife. I highly recommend you get a full tang, high-quality one as this knife seems to take the most abuse. I also carry a multi-tool, small pry bar, and lockpicks.

For combustion, I have another lighter and a 2 cell flashlight as well as spare batteries and a magnesium fire starter.

My container is a metal water bottle already full. For cordage, I have 50’ of paracord and zip ties. For collecting, I have my full sized pistol as well as extra ammo.

At this point, a few Cliff bars are going to get you a lot further then trying to set snares, fish, or hunt, and the pistol is more for protection but can still be used to collect game if needed.

Finally, in communication, I have my iPad mini, a notebook, and pens.

While in the first two levels of threat it is possible and even likely you would live through without preparations, a level three there can be a considerable danger.

A Three can be a tornado, hurricane, blizzard, coordinated act of terror, nuclear meltdown, helplessly lost, mother-in-law visit, martial law, etc.

In a level three, you are likely going to be spending several days away from your normal comforts and routine. In a situation like this staying put is not always a bad idea, and in most cases preferred. If you are home, don’t head for the hills.

If you are somewhere safe, going home could be more risky then staying put. If you are not safe, this pack should help you get to a place that is.

For carry, I use a full sized backpack. A good sized duffle or gym bag could also be used, but I find them to be less comfortable if you do end up heading out.

For care, I have a full first aid kit, including quick clot, bandages, scissors, irrigation syringes, Epi-pens, wound closers, etc.

Cover can change a lot depending on the time of year, but I like to always have at least a bivy roll (t-shirt, underwear, and socks), Sweat shirt, long underwear/base layer, extra socks, hammock, tarp, ground cloth, and blanket/sleeping bag.

Tent and change of clothes are nice if you have the room or don’t have to pack them far. For my cutting tools, I carry an entry tool, a tomahawk, and a large knife.

Combustion at this point can be one of the things that can make or break you. You will need it to cook food, make water safe, warm you up, and see at night. There is also a great psychological aspect to having a fire that can bring up your spirits.

For this, I have a wood burning camping stove that also accepts an alcohol burner for fast fires and to cook without smoke. I carry several fire starters for wet conditions, a head lamp to keep my hands free, flares for signaling and really wet conditions and rechargeable batteries for my lights.

For containers, I carry a water bag that can be used as a hydration pouch, metal cup, and hiking water filter. I also add light wire and tape to more paracord and zip ties for my cordage. For collecting, I now have snares, fishing gear, and a carbine as well as more ammo.

Finally, for communications, I have a solar panel that can charge the iPad, cell phone, or batteries for lights, and walkie-talkies.

While Level 3 are possible to die in, Level 4 emergencies are those you are likely to die in without proper gear/experience/help. They can last up to a month long and could include things like Katrina/Sandy, Nuclear accidents, large scale Terror Attacks, ending/becoming Engaged, run on the banks, or as in the only Level 4 I have ever been, a blizzard that lasted a month.

The first night power went out and we were stuck for weeks until the National Guard arrived.

A level four Carry for me is a stash. Now I know most people think of stash as something buried in a hole in the woods, and while it can be that, a Stash can be many other things as well. Supplies left in the attic, basement, closet, or spare room can be your stash.

Things you leave at a friend’s place, storage center, locker, hunting blind, or favorite campsite. Stashes are only limited by your imagination and can very well mean the difference between like and death.

For care, I recommend a full EMT kit. You can find them on Amazon pre-built, or buy a good bag and make your own. If you are on prescriptions meds it is a very good idea to have a supply of them in your bag, but remember they do expire so have a plan to rotate them. Cover should be something you can live in for some time.

One of my stashes is the RV I lived in while attending college, another is a shipping container several of us use.

RV for bugging out

Our stuff is already there along with the tools to make it a livable structure with minimal work, and still, another just has a tent buried along with the gear, and not to be discounted the homes of everyone in our group.

I also recommend at lease complete changes of clothes and 3-4 extra changes of undergarments never hurts to have. Whatever you choose just make sure you can live in it for 7-30 days. The last place you want to be is the superdome with everyone else.

Cutting at level 4 includes things like Axes, Bow saws, hammers, nails, shovels, etc. I have several places where we stashed enough tools to build a dugout cabin if necessary. Combustion includes things like a rocket stove, the Solo Stove Campfire, and whatever you start a fire with while camping.

I also like to keep a decent number of tinder/fire starters, you never know when you will get there and getting a fire going quickly could be vital. As for Containers, all the camping pots, plates, kettles, water bags, collapsible buckets, regular buckets, and bottles that were too heavy or just didn’t make it for the BOB’s can be used.

As for cordage you really want rope, straps, and even nails or screws to help make a secure and comfortable shelter. For collecting, I feel shotguns and high powered rifles work well here. Also steel traps, nets, and even cage traps.

For Communication, I like to have a wind up/solar radio and several drop points that are known to me and the rest of the group. For Currency, I like extra food, alcohol, batteries, candles, blankets, or pretty much anything that you would want to stay comfortable on the run.

When it comes to Level 5 I am really talking about something I know nothing about. These could include an invading army on our soil, nationwide EMP, stock market/total economic collapse, a divorce, Zombie Apocalypse, or cutting off welfare and food stamps.

Since nothing like that has happened in my life time I can only speak third hand what I have heard from those who have gone through it. The one thing I gather from those who have gone through it is decide ahead of time what you will and won’t do. I will leave that up to you to decide what that means to you.

For carry, I recommend it already be at your retreat, if it’s not, then plan on only bringing what you have in a level 3. For Care, I recommend learning as much as you can about alternative treatments and care.

We are lucky to have a Surgeon, a trauma nurse, and an EMT in our group and most of the care items has been left up to them.

If you do not have these you will have to decide how far you are willing to go and stock accordingly. Cover is the house at our retreat. It has wood stoves, beds, blankets, and most of the clothes that we no longer wear but still fit.

For cutting we have all the implements you would find on a farm, since it is on a small scale being used as such, we just have extra of everything we use (while we do have gas powered equipment, we have a section that is only farmed with hand tools to keep our skills and knowledge of needs up to date).

Combustion is the wood stoves, rocket stoves, wood grills, solar stoves, wood smokers and a fire pit, as well as lanterns, candles, candle making equipment, solar panels, rechargeable batteries, and spare part for all of the above.

For containers, we have pretty much what you will find in our homes, as well as larger ones to accommodate larger groups, canners, jars, lids, and bins in the cellar. Cordage goes from fishing line to logging ropes. Collecting we have raised beds, an orchard, a pond, two creeks, barns, pens, fenced fields, and the land we can and do hunt.

For communication, we have a Ham radio both at the farm and at our homes as well as the smaller hand held units. Currency is pretty much anything we have extra, as well as tools that can make both replacement and barter gear.

I could go on forever about the retreat and what we have done, but the truth is, if you aren’t living on one now (at least part-time), a lot of it will just be a waste. For the long term, it is my opinion that skills are what will bring you through and while I could tell you the best thing for me, it may not be the best thing for you.

A lot of full time farmers argue forever about how things should be done, and for you to know what works for you, you really need to be doing it. But then again I am only guessing, I have never been through a Level 5, and if you haven’t prepared for the lower level ones, maybe that’s where you should start. Anyways hope this helps.

Some thoughts on bug out bag firearms selection…

bug-out-bag-gunAdded by M.D. Creekmore

Most people will suggest a .22 caliber rifle, such as the Ruger 10/22 and this is a great choice. A .22 caliber rifle can take small game as well as larger game such as deer with proper shot placement.

Another advantage for having a .22 Long rifle is the relatively low-report especially when using CB caps and the ability to be effectively silenced with a commercial or homemade sound suppressor aka “silencer”.

Just remembered that such a device is illegal without proper government approval and will land you behind bars if you’re caught, and is suggested here for a worst case scenario only or after you have gone through all of the legal hoops.

The downside of the .22 Long rifle round is the limited range, penetration and stopping power all of which limit the rounds effectiveness when used for self-defense.

I suggest a backup handgun chambered for a cartridge suitable for self-defense. I would not go below a 9mm or 38 special and then us good expanding ammo.

Even with a 9mm and 38 special, you should seriously consider using only the +P rounds such as the 115 or 124-grain JHP +P in the 9 mm or 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point .38 Special +P for defensive purposes.

Your location would also determine weapons choice. For example, those bugging-out in grizzly country should definitely consider something more powerful than the aforementioned 9 mm or 38 special.

My first choice for protection against such large game would be a center-fire rifle chambered for 308 or larger. My second choice would be a magnum revolver with a 5.5″ to 7.5″ barrel chambered for .44 magnum or larger.

It is wise to avoid any armed confrontation if possible. Trust me you are not a coward if you avoid the possibility of being shot or having to shoot someone else. You are not expendable – neither are the lives of your family or those in your bug out group. Those with the macho kill ‘em all attitudes will not last very long after the poop hit’s the fan.

With that being said, a semi-auto military style rifle should be considered especially if you are trying to get from an urban area to the country, where facing organized gangs or other threats attempting to block your exit could be a possibility.

An AR-15 with collapsible buttstock or folding stocked AK-47 (for compactness and concealability) could help get you out of a dangerous situation if you’re forced into one while taking up little space and not adding significant weight to your overall survival gear.

The $10 Fire Kit For Your Bug Out Bag

Added by P. Mueller

FIRE-KIT-for bug out bagIt all began this past winter while watching the national news. Apparently, an older couple decided to try an untested shortcut home from a nearby casino. This shortcut happened to be through a lightly traveled mountain pass. Did I mention there was a blizzard going on at the time?

Well, there was. You know what happens next. The folks got lost and their car became stuck in the snow and they weren’t going anywhere. They must not have believed in being prepared for situations like this because they had no useful supplies with them, not even a bit of food, water or matches.

After hearing this story, I decided that I would build an inexpensive fire kit for each of my vehicles, and while at it, another for a prepper friend whose birthday was coming up.

Since there are typically higher priorities for my cash, I thought I’d challenge myself to build a waterproof fire kit for under $10. And the challenge was on.

The first step was to comb the internet websites, blogs and YouTube for ideas. To say there are a lot of great ideas is an understatement by far. There are tons of styles and types of containers alone, from mint tins to plastic zipper bags, along with content suggestions too numerous to name.

As stated earlier, the container had to be waterproof, so mint tins and the like were out. I browsed an online retailer for containers and found dozens, so once I refined the search by cost, I stumbled upon a 14 cm x 10 cm x 4 cm, a waterproof plastic container for $5 with free shipping.

There went half the budget and I hadn’t even started on the contents. But that was okay because I knew that I had many of the contents already in the house. I bet you do as well. This hard plastic container is watertight and closes securely against a rubber gasket with a locking latch; a prolonged submersion test was performed on each to verify that fact.

The completed kits were placed into freezer zip bags as the first line of defense anyway.

Since I was already at the online retail site, I ordered small, but stout, 2” ferrocerium flint rods with red plastic handles and an attached striker. These cost about $3 each and also had free shipping.

While waiting for these items to arrive, I set about pulling together the rest of the contents of the kit. In an empty coffee can, I’d drop items as I found them, not knowing if they would actually be used.

FIRE-KIT for bug out bag containerFinally, the day came when the items were delivered; the assembly process could now begin. The first step was to pull out the 550 paracord that’s kept on hand for miscellaneous tasks and projects. The container had a cheapie cord which definitely needed replacement.

After watching various online videos, I decided on an attractive braid called the Cobra Weave. According to the video, there was approximately one foot of cord for each inch of braid; three feet of cord would be sufficient.

That should also be enough for a bow drill cord if needed. I attached a medium sized split key ring on one end and connected the other end to the box. Now the kit could be hung in a tent, a car or from a go bag,

By this time, the rest of the needed materials had been gathered so it was time to get to work. Below is the kit inventory is broken into three categories: ignition sources, tinder and miscellaneous.


Disposable butane lighter – This is your standard, full-sized Bic lighter, not the mini or the cheapie. I guess the mini would work, but in an emergency situation, I would want as much fuel as possible. The lighter does have a leash clip cover with a split key ring to protect against the fuel being inadvertently released. The leash clip and lighter cost approximately $2 each.

Ferrocerium flint rod – There are many options to choose from when you order these. I needed something that would fit in the container, but would not be so small that it would be tricky to grip and strike with cold hands.

The two-inch rod I found fit the bill. This particular model had a red plastic “winged” grip that made holding the rod very easy. The rod itself is also quite stout so there are lots of strikes before it is worn out. The metal striker was attached with a small bit of elastic cord and I knew I could do better.

Out came the paracord as a replacement. It is important that the rod and striker are not separated because one without the other is useless. I know you could use a knife edge, but that assumes you have a knife.

Lifeboat matches – Here I cheated a bit. I already had the matches so I didn’t need to buy them. I wrapped six matches in plastic cling wrap along with the striker pad cut from a matchbook. For those who don’t know, lifeboat matches are waterproof and can be ignited even when wet. Make sure that the matches can’t rub against the striker or each other while in storage to avoid accidental ignition.

Matches – Again, these I had from a previous camping trip. I took a small matchbox and replaced half of the stick matches with waterproof camp matches. My thinking was that having different types gives options.

Just make sure the striker on the box works with all of the matches in the kit. On one of the Alaska reality shows I watch, one gentleman said that he prefers paper matches in the freezing cold, so I included a book of plain, old paper matches.


Cattail – Last Fall while out golfing, I came across some dried cattail at the end of the season. I broke a couple off and stuffed them in the golf bag; now I had a use for them. I cut a section long enough that it would fit snuggly in the lid of the container and stay there. Once I wrapped it in plastic wrap, it stayed in place nicely.

Char cloth – This type of tinder intrigued me. I’d seen it work in videos, but had never made any or started a fire personally utilizing char cloth. Now was a great time to acquire a new skill. Using an old, clean t-shirt, I made enough for three patches, each 2”x 3”. Once completed, the cloth was placed into a small brown paper envelope to minimize the mess.

Due to space restrictions, I can’t go into the actual process here. That could be a whole post on its own. It is simple to do though.

Cotton balls with petroleum jelly – This was a bit of a project. I cut large drinking straws into 1.5” sections and stuffed it with half a cotton ball slathered in petroleum jelly. The ends are then sealed using a lighter and needle nose pliers. This eliminates the mess and keeps the jelly from drying out or getting all over the rest of the contents.

Jute twine – This I use around the house to tie up plants or wrap packages. I cut an 18” piece and wound it tightly around two ten penny finish nails driven into a piece of scrap lumber. It snuggled next to the cattail in the lid.

There is just enough friction to keep both firmly in place. I realize that 18” is not a very long piece, but it should be enough for a fire or two in an emergency situation. More twine could be stuffed into the voids of the container when done.

Wet Fire – Individual tabs are sold at a big box hardware store nearby for $1 each. These things are great; they burn while wet. Better living through chemistry indeed.


Aluminum foil – 18”x 24”piece folded neatly so that it could be slipped on the side of the container taking up virtually no room. The foil is very handy if you need to start a fire on a wet surface. Spread this on the ground and build up from there.

Candle – This is a 4” long cylindrical candle with the diameter slightly smaller than a dime. The family got these at a church function and it was a perfect fit. The candle can be used for multiple purposes including light, heat and melting snow to make water.

550 paracord – The usefulness of this item in any emergency kit goes without saying. Altogether the kit consumed about five feet of cord. I used what I had on hand, but there are fifty plus sheath cover colors including a really cool reflective variety. By the way, don’t buy the cheap stuff, you’ll regret it later.

All in, I spent $11. Drat, I missed by $1.00. That’s okay though because I had a blast putting this kit together. I combined many things I already had into a potentially lifesaving kit. There are many items that you could substitute in your kit. Maybe you can get birch bark in your area or prefer fatwood or dryer lint and a magnifying glass. Customize the kit to fit your needs.

Take the $10 Fire Kit Challenge, I dare you! Make mods to this kit like wrapping it in duct tape (itself a nice fire tinder) or connect items to the key ring.

Oh, I almost forgot, the stranded folks finally made it out a week later. Hungry and cold I would imagine, but wiser for the experience.

Cheap, Light Shelter Ideas for Your Bug Out Bag

setting up a bug out camp shelterAdded by Mike

I have the same mindset as M.D. – bugging out is your absolute last resort. You’ll never be able to carry as much as you can store in your house, and your house is (or very well should be) water tight.

That being said, there are going to be situations where you have to get out. If your city is under water. If Ebola is going around (stay away from people with blood coming out of all of their orifices, eh?), if martial law is called, if the power is out and you live in a big city – all these things are good cues for you to leave.

Everyone should have a bug out bag. Everyone. Disasters and situations can come very quickly where you need to leave and NOW – you won’t have time to pack a bag in all cases, so you must have one ready to go.  But if you’re like me, you don’t have all sorts of excess money to throw at high-end products for something you may (and hopefully never)  have to use.

Also if you’re like me, you’re healthy and in not too bad shape, but you’re also no Olympic athlete. There’s a saying when it comes to bags for camping, hiking, and especially bug out bags where you have to be mobile – “Ounces mean pounds and pounds mean pain”.

Your bug out bag should overall be small, light and portable. But that’s a whole topic for an entire another article of a type that’s already saturating the internet.  I’m here today to talk about cheap, light ideas for shelter to bring with you on your bug out.

What Is Shelter?

Shelter is the idea of keeping the elements at bay so you can stay warm and dry.  This is why you live in a house or apartment, and not out in the open. Humans, with our slow crappy metabolisms and our hairless skin, are probably one of the most susceptible creatures on the planet to the elements.

We need to stay out of the wind, we need to keep our temperatures at a decent level, and an excess of water tends to make our skin shrivel, then get infected, then rot and fall off.

No one wants their skin to fall off, I’m almost 100% sure of that.

Seeing that we can die of exposure almost as fast as we can die of thirst, a shelter is an absolute must in your bug out bag. I’m sure you’d all like to bring a 3,000 square foot holiday house with granite counter tops, but that’s not going to fit in your 45-liter bug out bag.

Your shelter will not be comfortable, but it will keep you alive, that’s the idea. It will not be heavy, and it will not be expensive, and here are some ideas for you.

Contractor Grade Garbage Bags.

They are thick, they are big, they are cheap, they are durable, they are light, they can fold up into a teeny space, and they have a million uses.

I have one in my bug out bag specifically to use as a ground sheet.  The ground can conduct cold and wet very quickly.  Using a big garbage bag will stop moisture from getting through the ground to you.

If you are in an area with some dry vegetation, stuff the garbage bag full of dry leaves, or soft pine branches or grass or straw or whatever is around. This will give you both some insulation from the grounds cold, as well as some padding for comfort.

You can also use a garbage bag as a makeshift bivvy sack (see below) or a makeshift rain poncho or tarp. Put a few in your bug out bag, you won’t regret it.

Bivvy Sacks

A bivvy sack, or bivouac sack, is a small, light and 100% waterproof sack that’s designed to slip over a sleeping bag. It’s an alternative to a tent and basically wraps you in a cocoon of waterproofing.

It’s incredibly small and light and very, very portable.  You can pick one up online very cheaply and store it in your bug out bag.  I have a bivvy in my bug out bag made by a company called SOL. They are thermal bivvy’s made from a mylar material that reflects your body heat back to you and they are completely waterproof.

You can get the original product for less than $20, and it’s actually about the same price for a two-person version if you’re bugging out with someone you don’t mind spooning within a giant plastic bag.

I actually have the SOL product with the breathable fabric that is still 100% waterproof but will not build up any condensation in. It’s a bit more expensive but at $40 it’s totally worth it to not be damp, in my opinion.


Again, a small tarp is cheap, light and waterproof. It can be folded up to take no space in your bug out bag. If you have some rope, you can tie a tarp in such a way that it will keep most of the rain off of you. Even if your bivvy sack is waterproof, I’d still like not to get rained on if at all possible.  Tarps can also be used to help conceal you if you decide to buy say a green or brown tarp and not one of those bright orange ones.

Single Man Tent

I have a single man tent I purchased a couple of years ago. I absolutely hate it. Sure, it was cheap, and light, and small (rolled up its smaller around and shorter than my forearm). Sure it’s waterproof.  But the top of the stupid thing is inches away from my face and if it’s warm and even a bit humid out you get some serious condensation in the thing.  That’s why the bivvy is in my bug out bag and not the single man tent. That being said, to each their own, and I would a million times rather be claustrophobic and slightly damp than soaked and exposed.

Multi-Man Tent

Multi-Person tents are larger, harder to set up and heavy.  However, if you know for sure that you’re bugging out with several people and you don’t think you’ll get separated, having the stronger person carry this on their pack might work.  You’ll certainly get more space in your shelter but for the reasons I listed above, I don’t like or recommend this.

A Folding Shovel

You heard that right. A folding shovel. This can absolutely help with shelter.  If you live in a cold climate, and if you’re in the horrible situation of having to bug out in the winter, that totally completely sucks and should only be done if you have absolutely no other choice, a shovel makes sense.

That’s because if there’s snow on the ground, snow can be used as a shelter material. Take your shovel and make the snow into a wind block. If you’re really good, you can build an underground snow shelter, because snow actually is a good insulator. Only do this if you know what you’re doing though. No one wants a snow collapse to deal with.

Putting it all together

So, in my bug out bag, I have a tarp, a couple of contractor garbage bags, and a watertight, heat reflective bivvy sack.  I find some high ground in between a couple of trees. I tie my tarp up on an angle to form a sort of tarp lean-to.  I stuff my contractor garbage back full of dry grass and leaves and put it under the tarp lean-to.

I put my bivvy sack out on top of the stuffed garbage bag. All these items together weigh less than two pounds, cost a little over $40 ($20 if you get the cheaper bivvy) and if put together right, form a weather resistant, dry and (relatively) comfortable place to sleep.

There it is. If I’m very lucky, I’ll never have to use it…

A Combat Vet’s Perspective on Bug Out Bag Water Filtration

Added by David

hiking clean drinking water filters

There is no shortage of products or systems to choose from, but which ones are the best investments? I’ve been doing a lot of research into the packable water filtration systems currently on the market and I’d like to share my findings and opinions.

In this section, I’d like to try to cover which products successfully filter/purify water of toxic industrial chemicals, viruses, bacteria’s, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, and sediments, and which do not. Also, some of the pro and cons of each variety. So, here we go.

Product Group 1A: Katadyn Hiker / Hiker Pro / Vario

These pump style filters have found their way into many bug out bags, and for good reason. They’re simple and effective. There are very few differences between the models listed above, but I’ll highlight the differences here.

Hiker and Hiker Pro $50 – $75 – Fact Sheet / Pro Fact Sheet

The Hiker and Hiker Pro are both decent backpacking filters and they are both fairly reasonably priced if you shop around. In fact, I own the Katadyn Hiker and I’ve successfully used it to pump my canteens and hydration pack full of pond water with no ill effects.

The products are compact, light weight, easy to use, and relatively effective, but you assume some risk because the filter media is only capable of capturing particles of 0.3 microns average size or larger. They do leave a slight tinge to the water and if the water is particularly nasty there can be some mild odors or taste left in the water.

It probably won’t kill you, but there are better options out there so that in the event you do have to drink water that is potentially contaminated with a virus you won’t contract it, especially post SHTF when treatment will be harder to come by.

  • •Filtration Quality: 0.3 Microns (bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, sediments)
    •Filtration Volume: 200gal / 750L (Pro 300gal / 1150L) 1-3 people
    •Filtration Media: replaceable glass fiber media with activated carbon core
    •Filtration Flow: +/- 1 quart / liter per minute
    •Filtered Turbidity: Mildly Tinged / Mostly Clear
    •Filtered Aroma: Very Mild
    •Filtered Taste: Mostly Pure

Vario $75-100 – Fact Sheet

  • •Filtration Quality: 0.3 Microns (bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, sediments)
    •Filtration Volume: 528gal / 2000L 1-4 people
    •Filtration Media: replaceable glass fiber media with activated carbon core
    •Filtration Flow: +/- 2 quart / liter per minute (1q/lpm in long life mode)
    •Filtered Turbidity: Slightly Tinged / Almost Clear
    •Filtered Aroma: Slight or None
    •Filtered Taste: Mostly Pure

With the exception of volume, these filters are almost all identical. If you are going to purchase one of these, purchase the most inexpensive version because no improvement in particle size is gained by purchasing the upgrades.

The replacement filters (Hiker / Vario) are reasonably priced to stock up on and easily replaceable simply by unscrewing the top discharge lid, disposing of it, and installing a new one (don’t throw it away though because you can drill a hole in the bottom, clean out the charcoal, and reinstall to use the filter system as an unfiltered pump unit as I’ll discuss later).

In the end, these are decent products, but make sure you stock up on the filter cartridges if you intend to use it for any extended period of time or buy a Sawyer (if you’re sold on Katadyn’s brand name then upgrade to one of their endurance series products for greater filtration volume).

Product Group 1B: Katadyn Pocket / Combi / Expedition

These pump style filters are designed to support multiple people (anywhere from 1 – 20 depending on variety) or for a longer period of time. They range from on the expensive side to outrageous, but if you have the money they’re awesome. There are some variations to discuss though.

Pocket +/- $270 – Fact Sheet

  • •Filtration Quality: 0.2 Microns (bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, sediments, and some viruses)
    •Filtration Volume: 13,200gal / 50,000L
    •Filtration Media: Replaceable Ceramic
    •Filtration Flow: +/- 1 quart / liter per minute
    •Filtered Turbidity: None
    •Filtered Aroma: None
    •Filtered Taste: Pure

Combi +/- $225 – Fact Sheet

  • •Filtration Quality: 0.2 Microns (bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, sediments, and some viruses)
    •Filtration Volume: Ceramic 13,200gal / 50,000L, Charcoal 105gal / 400L
    •Filtration Media: Replaceable Ceramic / Replaceable Activated Charcoal
    •Filtration Flow: +/- 1 quart / liter per minute
    •Filtered Turbidity: None
    •Filtered Aroma: None
    •Filtered Taste: Pure

Expedition +/- $1200 – Fact Sheet

  • •Filtration Quality: 0.2 Microns (bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, sediments, and some viruses)
    •Filtration Volume: 26,400gal / 100,000L
    •Filtration Media: Replaceable Ceramic
    •Filtration Flow: +/- 4 quarts / 4 liters per minute
    •Filtered Turbidity: None
    •Filtered Aroma: None
    •Filtered Taste: Pure

There are some variations here, but with the exception of volume and flow, the pocket and Combi filters are almost identical, the expedition is more of a camp filter, but I suppose you could pack it.

The replacement filters (Pocket / Combi Cer – Car / Expedition) are fairly expensive, but the volume they’re capable of makes up for the cost if you plan to use the filter this much. These are really great products, but the initial cost will be prohibitive to people on tighter budgets.

Product Group 2A: Sawyer Point One Biological Filter Variations – Print Brochure

These filters are sold as a squeeze, gravity, and pump style with different adapters and configurations. The filters are Non replaceable sealed element hollow fiber membrane (kidney dialysis machine technology).

But they’re guaranteed for 1 million gallons (I’m not sure that the guarantee will work for you post collapse though) and are touted as an indefinite use filter by the use of periodic back flushing and maintenance. If the filter ever does happen to break on you though, they’re very affordable and stocking up on them won’t be too difficult. Let’s delve in.

Point Zero Series $20 – $220 (average $50) – flow rate report – microbiological test report

  • •Filtration Quality: 0.1 Microns (absolute) (bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, sediments, and some viruses)
    •Filtration Volume: Indefinite (yes indefinite with maintenance back flush and care)
    •Filtration Media: Non Replaceable Hollow Fiber Membrane
    •Filtration Flow: 4 quarts / 4 liters per minute Squeezed or up to 5 gallons per minute at max inlet 40psi
    •Filtered Turbidity: None
    •Filtered Aroma: None
    •Filtered Taste: Pure

These filters are excellent. They’re lightweight, easy to use, filter down to an extremely small micron size, and are extremely inexpensive and reliable. They do not have replaceable media, but they are considered indefinite use as long as you regularly back flush the filter with the included back flush syringe and prevent it from freezing with water inside.

If you do happen to break it, they’re so affordable you can buy backups. These filters really only have 1 draw back in my opinion, and that is due to their hollow membrane pore construction they do not filter out and dissolved solids or solutions. That is to say that they cannot filter out anything that is completely dissolved into the water.

Product Group 2B: Sawyer Point Zero Two Biological Purifier Variations

These purifiers are sold as a squeeze, gravity, and pump style with different adapters and configurations. The purifiers are Non replaceable sealed element hollow fiber membrane (kidney dialysis machine tech).

But they guaranteed for 1 million gallons and are touted as an indefinite use filter by the use of periodic back flushing and maintenance. If the filter ever does happen to break on you though, they are fairly affordable and stocking up on a small supply is doable.

Point Zero Two Series $140 – flow rate report – microbiological test report

  • •Purification Quality: 0.02 Microns (bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, sediments, and all of the most common viruses CDC: Scroll all the way down)
    •Purification Volume: Indefinite (yes indefinite with maintenance back flush and care)
    •Purification Media: Non Replaceable Hollow Fiber Membrane
    •Purification Flow: 4 quarts / 4 liters per minute Squeezed or up to 5 gallons per minute at max inlet 40psi
    •Purification Turbidity: None
    •Purification Aroma: None
    •Purification Taste: Pure

If you haven’t noticed the above facts, these are actually not considered filters anymore, but purifiers. These purifiers are capable of removing every harmful thing (that is not in dissolution) from the water.

Again, the only drawback is that due to the hollow fiber technology, these purifiers do NOT remove anything that is completely dissolved into the water. They pass everything that is smaller than .02 Microns in size without absorption.

Product Group 2A & 2B both function in exactly the same manner, but the Point Zero Two variation has smaller pore sizes. Both of them utilize an ABSOLUTE micron measurement which is much more stringent than the AVERAGE micron measurement. This basically means that absolutely NO particles, biology, or vectors of the specified micron size or larger will be found in the processed water.

The different variations of these products are the same core filter or purifier with different peripherals included in the package. For example, the SP129 package contains one Point One filter, one 1L collection pouch, and a mouthpiece valve for $45 while the SP131 contains one Point One filter, 3 collection pouches, a back flush syringe, and a mouthpiece valve for $45, and the SP181 All In

One packages contains 1 Point One filter, 2 mouth piece valves, 1 faucet adapter hose, 1 back flush syringe, 1 1L collection pouch, and a bucket adapter kit for $60. Here’s a view of their water products.

At the end of the day, in my opinion, the best investment would be to purchase both a Sawyer Zero Point Two purifier and the Katadyn Hiker Pro along with some extra filters for the Katy.

The reasoning is that while some chemicals can slip by all but the most advanced filtration and purification techniques, a glass fiber / activated charcoal filter pump unit used as a post-filter would help to capture some chemicals by absorption while the Sawyer purifier will function to eliminate all of the smaller non dissolute “badies” such as HEV/HAV/SARS.

The sawyer will benefit and accommodate the pressurization that the pump filter will add to the line and this will speed your collection up as the drop tube can be easily dropped into the water source, the pump outlet can be connected to the Sawyer very easily, and the Sawyer can be adapted to a hydration pack drink tube so you never really have to drop your kit to refill your bladder if you’re traveling with a buddy.

If you are trying to collect water in an environment that is potentially hostile you can just use the sawyer collection pouches to grab the water and take it with you to purify it in a safer environment. Just bear in mind that the Katy media would need replacement after about 200 gallons (you could probably get more since it’s used as a post filter).

Most filters cannot remove toxic chemicals due to the dwell time required to absorb them onto the charcoal media. In fact, even distillation does not remove all chemicals because of some exhibit the same properties of evaporation and boiling/condensation points.

Choose your water source more wisely, and/or use the old-fashioned method of digging a hole a few feet from your source water and collect from the water that has flowed into the hole. The Katy is mainly used as a pump, but the filter can help to improve taste that the Sawyer may not. You can refer to the CDC for further information on filtration properties and effectiveness here.

My personal configuration currently is a combination Katadyn Hiker Basic / Sawyer Point One filter connected in series so that the Sinker/Screen and Bobber are connected to the inlet of the Sawyer Point One filter, the Sawyer outlet is connected to the Hiker inlet, the Hiker outlet is connected to a quick disconnect Camelbak adapter and the QD connects to my Camelbak drinking tube after removing the bite valve.

Connected in this manner I am using the Katadyn prescreen and bobber to screen the water out going into the Sawyer. Since the Sawyer is back-flushable I use it to capture all sediment, bacteria, and protozoa prior to the Katadyn Glass Fiber / Charcoal unit to extend the life of the filter.

I am using the Glass Fiber / Charcoal filter to absorb any dissolved contaminants that the Sawyer passes through which can help to improve any taste issues that the Sawyer may miss, and I’m using the pump unit to speed the process by pressurizing the line.

An added benefit to using this system is that by slightly pressurizing my Camelbak’s bladder I can allow the filtered water to back flush the Sawyer filter automatically and lose only 1 liter of water from my 3 liter reservoir providing me with a freshly back flushed Sawyer filter and 2.5 liters of very clean water.

Bear in mind that while this system is excellent for most water sources in the US, it does not filter our viral contaminations. I plan to upgrade the Sawyer Point One to a Point Zero Two purifier in the not too distant future.

If viral contamination is a concern you can add 4 drops of unscented bleach per liter/quart or 12 drops to a full bladder directly into the drinking tube prior to connecting the filtration system and allow the bleach 10-15 minutes of contact time in the bladder before drinking.

Now, if you remember, I recommended saving your used Katadyn filter cartridges because they can be reused in a way. Allow your filter to thoroughly dry out by leaving it in the sun for a day or two. Take your used filter cartridge and turn it upside down to see a plastic circle in the center of the bottom plate.

Using a 1/4″ or similarly sized drill bit you can drill a hole through it. Now, just dump out any charcoal media that you may find inside. Now find a drill bit that just fits into the outlet hole in the top of the filter cartridge and drill down through the top to clear the silt barrier that holds the charcoal in.

Now, run some tap water through the inlet hole of the filter to wash out any residual charcoal or drill shavings that may still be inside.

Now reinstall the filter into your pump and cycle about a quart of fresh tap water through the filter to remove any more filtration media or shavings that may have survived your first two attempts. You now have a cartridge that can turn your Katadyn filter into a basic hand pump to use on your Sawyer indefinitely.

Warning: This is only recommended for filtration cartridges that have only ever been used as a post filter behind a Sawyer or other similar smaller micron filtration system.

If you’ve ever used a filter cartridge to directly filter contaminated water this is not recommended because bacteria and or cysts could be present on the dirty filtration media and could potentially make their way through the filter in the future.

If you want to convert a used filter of this type be sure to allow the filter to soak in a water/bleach solution of at least 1% for 24 hours, then allow the filter to thoroughly dry out in direct sunlight.

Take your bug out bag for a walk

test your bug out bagAdded by Georgia Boy

For any of you with a BOB or GHB, congratulations – it’s a big important step to being prepared. But…have you ever taken it for a walk? If not, I urge you to do so. A long walk. It’s the only way to know whether it’s heavier than it ought to be and to know how fast you can travel with it.

I’m in my 50s and have done a lot of backpacking. I’ve carried some heavy loads on some long trips, and one thing I can tell you is that it is no fun humping a heavy pack. In looking over many posts on what people include in their BOBs, I often think that people tend to way overload them, trying to be able to meet any contingency.

Taking your BOB out will give you an idea of just how heavy it will feel in a bug out situation.

I’d recommend at least a day’s hike, which will give you an idea of just how much ground you can cover. That should give you a much better sense of how long it will take you to reach your BOL than just guessing.

If your bag is too heavy, you’ll need to think hard about what to cut, but one thing I’d cut out of a lot of the loads I see is cooking gear – it may not be as pleasant, but you can certainly live on cold food (protein bars, energy bars) until you reach your BOL.

Even in a very cold environment, having enough calories and adequate clothing and sleeping bag are more important than eating hot food (I know, I know, I’m from Georgia, what do I know about cold weather?, but I have done a fair amount of cold weather camping). I have no cooking gear, not even a cup or bowl or fork or spoon in my BOB.

I’d keep some way to start a fire for a cold weather bugout, but keep in mind that a fire may compromise your security, as may cooking over a stove to a lesser degree. I love starting a fire with a magnesium fire starter, but with the weather here and a relatively short distance to my BOL I could forego it.

A lot of BOB gear lists include hunting/fishing / snaring equipment. While I’m a big believer in all these for the long term, they all take time to use – I’d forego them for a BOB unless your trip is so long you cannot pack enough food to make the trip. I want to get to my BOL as soon as possible rather than spend time along the way hunting or fishing.

Clothing choice is obviously dependent on where you will be traveling, but I would recommend wool and fleece garments. while you want to avoid overdressing while on the move, wool and synthetic fleece have the great advantage over cotton of remaining warm when wet, something cotton fails miserably at.

Again, try out your clothes on your walk-you don’t want to spend hours walking in pants that chafe or bind. A practice walk is also the time to find out if you have the right shoes, not after TSHTF.

For a warm weather or dry country bugout, water is critically important, but damn if it isn’t heavy. Unless you’re going to be in a desert, I’d take no more than 2 or 3-quart bottles and instead rely on a Lifestraw or something similar if you’ll be crossing streams or creeks. I do carry Gatorade powder. While I am both frugal (cheap?) and old school, if you’re doing a long walk in the heat,

Gatorade definitely beats water.

A tent is another thing to consider leaving out, in favor of a small lightweight tarp or shelter half or bevy sack (like a form-fitting tent for your sleeping bag), or just a sleeping bag alone. A down bag is worthless when wet, but a synthetic fiber bag will keep you warm even when wet. I don’t carry a tent but I darn sure carry bug spray to keep from being eaten up at night.

One thing I would absolutely, positively include in any BOB is Dr. Scholl’s moleskin. Blisters can be debilitating and completely screw up your timeline for reaching your BOL, and moleskin is incredibly effective at preventing and protecting blisters.

Take care of your feet-stop if you feel a hotspot developing and take care of it. One benefit of a lighter BOB is that depending on the terrain you’ll be crossing, it may allow you to hike in much lighter shoes than heavy hiking boots, which reduces the chance of blisters.

I have gotten to where I hike and backpack in sneakers on even the roughest terrain, and much prefer them to my heavy boots. Unless you’re used to walking, the practice hike should leave you sore. In a real bug out, expect to be quite sore the second and third days. Usually, by the fourth day, the soreness will begin fading and you’ll be getting into shape, and the hiking will get easier and maybe faster as well.

If after your practice hike you are still worried that your bag may be overloaded, you may want to add a plastic lawn bag to the BOB, so that you can cache non-essential items during your bug out.

M.D. Creekmore