Preppers, Here Is Everything You Need In Your Bugout Bag

Blog | February 13th, 2020

You’ve heard of Doomsday preppers, and while it may seem like a fringe movement, the concept of preparing for apocalyptic disaster has gained popularity with shows on National Geographic and Netflix. As you learn more about prepping, it becomes apparent that nobody seems to agree on what disaster is on the horizon. On the other hand, they all agree that being prepared is essential.

Consider that the theme of being prepared has long been a mainstay of the Boy Scouts of America. The Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” originated in 1907 and means “you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.” Of course, the Scouts didn’t have the apocalypse or bugging out in mind, but you get the point. It makes good sense to be ready for the curveballs that life could throw you at any age.

Even if you are just curious about prepping and don’t foresee any imminent disaster, finding out more about how to be prepared can’t hurt. On the contrary, having some essential supplies ready in a so-called “bugout bag” is a wise idea in the event of things like power outages and extreme weather events that seem to be more common these days.

What’s in Your Bugout Bag?

Let’s take a look at some basic equipment for your basic bugout bag as you contemplate bugging out to a secret location or maybe your own home.

We won’t get into the most expensive elaborate high-tech items but focus on the affordable essentials within everyone’s reach.

Bugout Backpack

With this item, there are endless affordable options on the market. Bug Out Bag Academy suggests finding an inconspicuous neutral-colored backpack that isn’t too heavy but carries only the essentials. The idea is to have what you need for a quick escape, not so much for long-term survival. In these cases, taking too many items will weigh you down.

Choose a lightweight yet durable and well-made pack that will hold the basics comfortably. 

Some other helpful features:

  • Water bottle pocket
  • Water resistance
  • Meets carry on regulations
  • Sleeping bag compartment
  • Compartment for a water bladder
  • Ample padding on shoulder straps
  • Adjustable straps around the chest and waist
  • MOLLE system (pronounced “Molly”) A military strap system that lets you easily attach equipment

The Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack is highly rated and affordable.

Water Filtration 

You might not last longer than two days without access to safe drinking water. So, of course, the number one essential is a means to filter water. Fortunately, technology has come a long way in this department. Todd Sepulveda, the editor of Prepper Website, recommends the Sawyer Mini Water Filter, which comes with an attached drinking straw.

This little gadget can filter an astonishing 10,000 gallons of water in any setting from a hotel faucet to the remotest places in the world.

Tiny micro-pores and hollow fiber membranes quickly filter out contaminants such as:

  • Bacteria
  • Protozoa
  • Cysts 
  • Microplastics
  • E. coli
  • Giardia
  • Salmonella typhi 

You can find the Sawyer Mini Water Filter here.

Fire Starter

The ability to make fire transformed ancient society and made civilization possible. Today, making fire remains a must in survival situations. Fortunately, there are easy methods to carry along in your bugout bag. 

Since lighters run out of fuel and can be damaged, preppers always recommend fire starters. Business Insider recommends the highly-rated Überleben Zünden Bushcraft Ferro Rod Fire Starter. The Ferrocerium rod creates copious sparks when you strike it with the included tool.

Water Bottle

There are many options for storing your water, including collapsible canteens and hydration bladders. These soft vessels are great for lightweight portability in a bugout back. However, Off Grid Survival recommends a sturdy single-wall stainless steel bottle. It can double as a container to boil water and cook food, and they won’t leak. 

The founder and editor of Offgrid Survival, Robert Richardson, suggest the Nalgene Guyot Stainless Steel Water Bottle. The bottle features solid steel and a 63 mm opening that works well with water filters.


While flashlights are great to have on hand, a headlamp is far more convenient when spending any length of time outdoors at night. Wearing the lamp leaves your hands free as you navigate obstacles. 

Choose a headlamp based on:

  • Lumens
  • Light options and distance
  • Battery life, rechargeable batteries
  • Size and weight
  • Comfort
  • Water resistance
  • Shock resistance
  • Durability

The Bugout Bag Guide suggests the Vitchelo Waterproof IPX6 for a top headlamp for hiking. It’s far less expensive than their top pick that would be better in long-term survival situations.

Field Knife

Of course, you can invest in expensive multitools, sure to come in handy in long-term survival. However, an inexpensive but quality field knife is a basic necessity in a bugout bag. One of the top-rated knives that won’t cost much is the Schrade SCHF9. The high carbon steel blade comes with a ballistic belt sheath.

First Aid Kit

When it comes to first aid, it’s tempting to pack one of everything, but the idea of a bugout back is to avoid a heavy pack. Therefore, it’s important to carry just the items needed the most.

Basic items include:

  • Gloves
  • Gauze bandages
  • Medical tape
  • Tourniquet and splint
  • Respirator mask
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Antibiotics
  • Towel
  • Heat blanket
  • Scissors or medical shears
  • Zip ties
  • Allergy and pain medications

When it comes to first aid kits, you can opt to buy the item individually, but there are so many affordable kits. Keep in mind; you will have to add some things to the bag.

A compact, lightweight First Aid Kit by DeftGet is a highly rated and affordable way to get started.

Bivvy Bag

It’s always a good idea to carry a mylar blanket in your bag, but for something a little more substantial yet light, you’ll need a tent, bivvy bag, or hammock.

The S.O.L. Survive Outdoors Longer Bivvy is highly-rated and versatile. The bag works as a sleeping bag or emergency blanket. It’s waterproof and traps body heat to keep you warm in the elements, yet the material is breathable and weighs just 9 oz. or less. You can also use it as an extra layer of protection around a sleeping bag.


If you are a true prepper, then a respirator and gas mask are must-have items. For the rest of us, it’s hard to think about preparing for situations where your breathing could be compromised. Nevertheless, having a mask ready could be essential in cases like heavy smoke or air pollution.

You can get a highly-recommended affordable, lightweight, disposable respirator from 3M.

Ready to Bug Out?

These are some of the most affordable options for your bugout bag. Also, there are many easy-to-find items to consider. Of course, you’ll still need everyday items you’d take in an overnight bag, like a jacket, socks, soap, and a hat. Then consider lightweight options for dehydrated survival food, tinder for fire, cordage and rope, toilet paper, and waterproof bags to hold things like cash, documents, and writing pens.

When you start investigating the world of preppers, you will find there’s always more to learn and invest. Thinking about what’s needed could help you in emergencies we are all likely to face someday.

Related: How To Start And Maintain A Stockpile