A “go bag” or “bug-out bag” is a collection of essential items that you can grab quickly in case of an emergency or survival situation. It should contain everything you need to survive for at least 72 hours, as emergency responders may not be able to reach you right away. Here is a list of the most important items to include in your go bag and why they are needed.
Water is one of the most important items to include in your go bag as it is essential for survival. The average person needs about 2 liters of water per day, so it is important to pack enough water for at least 3 days.
When selecting water containers, it is important to choose containers that are made of food-grade materials and are BPA-free. Some good options include water bottles made of stainless steel or plastic, or water bladders that can be easily stored in a backpack.
It is also a good idea to include a water filtration or purification system in your go bag. Water filters can remove bacteria, protozoa, and other contaminants, while water purification tablets can be used to make water safe to drink. Some popular water filtration systems include the LifeStraw and the Sawyer Mini Water Filter. Water purification tablets like AquaMira or Potable Aqua can also be useful.
It’s also important to note that in certain situations, like flooding, it might be hard to find or access clean water. In these situations, it’s important to have a way to collect rain water or other sources of water like streams or rivers. Water collection bags or a camping tarp can be useful for this purpose.
Having enough food in a survival or emergency situation is just as important as having enough water. When selecting food for your go bag, it’s important to choose non-perishable items that can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration. Some good options include:
- Granola bars: They are high in calories and can be easily stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.
- Dried fruit: Dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, and cranberries are high in calories and can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.
- Nuts: Nuts such as almonds, cashews, and peanuts are high in protein and can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.
- Trail mix: This is a combination of dried fruit, nuts, and sometimes chocolate. It’s a great source of energy and can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.
- Canned goods: Canned goods such as beans, vegetables, and fruits are a good source of nutrients and can be stored for long periods of time. However, a manual can opener should be packed if you are including canned goods.
It’s important to consider any dietary restrictions or allergies when selecting food for your go bag. If you or someone in your group has specific dietary needs, make sure to pack enough food that meets those needs.
Additionally, if you are planning to be on the move, it’s a good idea to pack a lightweight and compact camping stove or a fire starter, so you can cook your food if needed.
3. First Aid Kit
A first aid kit can provide critical care in case of injuries or illnesses. A basic first aid kit should include:
- Band-aids: for covering small cuts and wounds
- Gauze: for covering larger wounds or wrapping sprains
- Adhesive tape: for holding gauze in place
- Scissors: for cutting gauze or clothing
- Tweezers: for removing splinters or other small foreign objects
- Pain relievers: such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Antiseptic wipes: for cleaning wounds
- Antibiotic ointment: for preventing infection
It’s also a good idea to include any specific medical items that you or someone in your group may need, such as an EpiPen for severe allergies or prescription medications.
It’s important to review and restock your first aid kit regularly to make sure that all the items are in good condition and that you have the most current essentials.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to include a basic first aid manual in your go bag as it can provide instructions on how to treat various injuries and illnesses.
4. Fire Starter
A fire starter can provide warmth, cooking, and a means of signaling for help. Some popular fire starters include:
- Matches: Waterproof matches are a reliable fire starter and can be easily stored in a waterproof container.
- Fire steel: A fire steel, also known as a ferro rod, is a durable and long-lasting fire starter that produces a spark when struck with a piece of metal.
- Lighters: Butane lighters are a reliable fire starter, but can run out of fuel quickly.
- Our very own Ultimate Match: the Ultimate Match is a ring-pull pyrotechnic device that can produce fire instantly. It can be used in any weather conditions, and works well even when it’s wet and windy.
It’s important to include at least two different types of fire starters in your go bag, in case one fails or is lost.
It’s also a good idea to include tinder, such as dryer lint, cotton balls coated with vaseline, or even paper, to help ignite the fire.
5. Warm Clothing
Warm clothing can help protect you from cold weather and hypothermia in a survival situation. Some important items to include are:
- Warm jacket or coat: A jacket or coat that is insulated and waterproof is important to keep you warm and dry in case of cold weather.
- Warm pants: Warm pants made of insulated and waterproof material can keep you warm and dry in cold weather.
- Warm hat: A warm hat can help keep your head and ears warm, which is important as a significant amount of body heat can be lost through the head.
- Warm gloves or mittens: Warm gloves or mittens can help keep your hands warm and protect them from frostbite.
- Warm socks: Warm socks made of insulated and waterproof material can help keep your feet warm and dry in cold weather.
- Thermal blanket or sleeping bag: A thermal blanket or sleeping bag can provide additional warmth in case of cold weather and can also be used as a shelter.
It’s also important to pack extra clothing, including a change of clothes, in case your current clothing becomes wet or dirty. It’s a good idea to pack clothes that can be layered, as this allows you to adjust to changing temperatures.
6. Flashlight and Extra Batteries
A flashlight can provide visibility in case of power outages or low light conditions. Some important things to consider when selecting a flashlight for your go bag include:
- Brightness: A flashlight with a high lumens output will provide more light and is more useful in a survival situation.
- Durability: A flashlight that is waterproof and shock-proof will be more reliable in a survival situation.
- Battery Life: A flashlight with a long battery life will be more useful in a survival situation.
- Size and weight: A compact and lightweight flashlight will be more convenient to carry in a go bag.
It’s also important to include extra batteries or a hand-crank flashlight as a backup in case the batteries of your primary flashlight die.
When packing a flashlight, it’s also a good idea to include a headlamp as well. A headlamp allows you to have a hands-free light source, which is useful when performing tasks that require both hands.
A whistle can be used to signal for help in a survival situation. A whistle can be heard from a greater distance than a human voice, making it a more effective signaling device in case of an emergency.
When selecting a whistle for your go bag, it’s important to choose one that is durable and has a loud, distinct sound. Some whistles come with a lanyard, which makes it easy to carry around your neck.
It’s also important to learn how to use the whistle effectively, such as using it in a series of three blasts, which is the internationally recognized signal for distress.
In addition to signaling for help, a whistle can also be used to signal to a companion in low visibility conditions, or to deter an animal if you happen to cross one.
8. Multi-tool or knife
A multi-tool or knife can be used for a variety of tasks. A multi-tool is a compact tool that contains multiple functions such as pliers, a knife, a saw, a can opener and more. A knife, on the other hand, is a single tool that can be used for cutting, chopping, and slicing.
When selecting a multi-tool or knife for your go bag, it’s important to choose one that is durable and has a good quality blade. The blade should be made of a strong material such as stainless steel and should be able to hold a sharp edge.
It’s also important to consider the size and weight of the multi-tool or knife. A compact and lightweight tool will be more convenient to carry in a go bag.
A multi-tool or knife can be used for a variety of tasks such as cutting rope, opening cans, and even as a weapon for self-defense. It can also be useful for starting a fire, carving wood, or even as a tool for hunting or fishing.
9. Personal Hygiene Items
Personal hygiene items are an important component of any go bag as they can help maintain health and sanitation. Some important personal hygiene items to include in your go bag are:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste: These items will help maintain oral hygiene and prevent tooth decay.
- Hand sanitizer: This can help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.
- Soap: This can be used to maintain cleanliness and prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.
- Tissue or toilet paper: This can be used for personal hygiene and sanitation.
- Wet wipes: These can be used as an alternative to a shower or bath, and can help maintain cleanliness when water is scarce.
- Feminine hygiene products: These are important for women to have in their go bag.
It’s also a good idea to include a small towel, to dry yourself off after cleaning or for use as a makeshift washcloth.
It’s important to note that these items may not be a priority in a survival situation, but they can help with maintaining a healthy state of mind and avoiding infections or illnesses.
10. Cash and Important Documents
Cash and important documents can provide access to funds and personal identification in a survival situation. Some important documents to include in your go bag are:
- ID: This can include a driver’s license, passport, or state ID.
- Insurance cards: This can include health, auto, and homeowner’s insurance.
- Emergency contact information: This can include important phone numbers and addresses of family and friends.
- Proof of address: This can include a utility bill or lease agreement.
- Cash: It’s a good idea to include a small amount of cash in case of an emergency.
It’s also a good idea to make copies of these documents and keep them in a secure and accessible location, such as a fireproof safe or a cloud-based storage system.
It’s important to note that in some situations, such as natural disasters, electronic devices or papers may be damaged or lost. Having a hard copy of these important documents can be very useful in these situations.
11. Communication Devices
Communication devices can provide a means of staying in touch with others. Some important communication devices to include in your go bag are:
- Cell phone: A cell phone can be used to make calls, send text messages, and access the internet. It is important to have a fully charged phone and a charger with you, or a portable charger that can be used to charge the phone.
- Hand-crank or solar-powered radio: A hand-crank or solar-powered radio can be used to listen to news and weather updates.
- Whistle: A whistle can be used as a signaling device in case of emergency.
- Personal locator beacon (PLB): A PLB is a device that can be activated in case of emergency to send a distress signal to emergency services.
- Satellite phone: A satellite phone can be used to make calls and send text messages in remote areas where cell phone coverage is not available.
It’s important to note that in some situations, such as natural disasters, communication infrastructure may be damaged or non-existent. It’s a good idea to have backup communication devices, such as a whistle or personal locator beacon, in case your primary communication device fails.
12. Maps and Compass
Maps and a compass are essential components of any go bag as they can provide a means of navigation.
- Maps: Maps are an essential tool for navigation, they provide information on terrain, elevation, roads, and landmarks. It’s a good idea to include topographical maps of the area you will be in, as they provide detailed information on terrain, including elevations and contours.
- Compass: A compass is a navigation tool that uses the earth’s magnetic field to indicate direction. It’s important to learn how to use a compass and understand the basics of map reading so that you can navigate with confidence.
Together, maps and a compass can help you determine your location, plan your route, and find your way back to safety. It’s also a good idea to include a GPS device as a backup in case you need to find your way back to a specific location.
It’s important to note that electronic devices may fail in certain situations, such as in extreme cold or after being submerged in water. It’s a good idea to have a backup navigation tool, such as a map and compass, in case your primary navigation device fails.
13. Signal smoke
Signal smoke can be useful in a survival situation, specifically for signaling for help or for concealment purposes. Smoke grenades such as our EM55 and TP40 are designed to create a large volume of smoke that can be used as an emergency signaling device.
The smoke generated by these devices can be seen from a great distance and can be used to attract the attention of rescuers.
Signal smoke can also be used for concealment in a survival situation. For example, if you are trying to evade a pursuer, you can use the smoke to conceal your movements and to create confusion.
These products come with a waterproof casing which is essential to maintaining their viability, even in poor weather conditions.
14. Additional Items
Additional items are those that may not be essential but can be useful in a survival situation. Some additional items to include in your go bag are:
- Trash bags: Trash bags can be used to keep your items dry or to create a shelter.
- Duct tape: Duct tape can be used to repair gear or to create shelter.
- Paracord: Paracord is a strong, lightweight rope that can be used for a variety of tasks such as setting up a shelter, securing gear, or as a makeshift clothesline.
- Multi-purpose tool: A multi-purpose tool such as a Swiss Army knife can come in handy in a survival situation.
- Fishing bags: These are small bags that contain a variety of small items that can be useful in a survival situation such as fishing line, hooks, weights, and a small mirror.
- Water purification tablets or a water filter: These can be used to purify water in case of emergency.
- Sunscreen and insect repellent: These can protect you from the sun and insects.
- Personal medications: If you take any medications on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to include them in your go bag.
The contents of a go bag may vary depending on the specific needs of an individual and the location where you will be using the bag. It’s a good idea to review and update the contents of your go bag on a regular basis, especially if you plan on traveling to different locations or if you think that the location you will be using the bag may change.
Remember to also consider any specific needs you may have such as medications or extra clothing for small children.
In summary, a go bag is a collection of essential items that you can grab quickly in case of an emergency or survival situation. It should contain enough supplies to last for at least 72 hours, including water, food, first aid kit, a fire starter, and warm clothing amongst other items.
Remember to regularly review and update the contents of your go bag to ensure everything is up-to-date and in working order.