In extreme cases, you can theoretically survive 72 hours with your bug out bag. “Theoretically” because this emergency backpack can, of course, only develop its full effect in conjunction with your trained knowledge.
The most important survival tool is your head!
Bug Out Bag
Designed for fighter pilots, the BOB was so they could survive in hostile territory with its contents after a crash. Whether they survived depended on the one hand on the BOB equipment and, on the other hand, on their experience in using this equipment.
You should know the contents of your bug out bag very well. Therefore, you should pack it carefully. The following guide will help you.
- 1 What Is a Bug out Bag?
- 2 BOB: The 72-hour Survival Kit
- 3 Bug Out Bag Content
- 3.1 Survival-Knife
- 3.2 First Aid Kit
- 3.3 Water Supply
- 3.4 Outdoor Water Bottle
- 3.5 Firestarters – Magnesium Stones
- 3.6 Emergency Radio Receiver
- 3.7 Hygiene (Toiletry Bags)
- 3.8 Rain Poncho
- 3.9 Tarpaulin
- 3.10 Emergency Food Supply
- 3.11 For Big Hunger
- 3.12 Outdoor Cookware & Stoves
- 3.13 Other Bug Out Bag Equipment To Consider
- 3.14 Frequently Asked Question
What Is a Bug out Bag?
The term bug out bag is standard today and likely derived from the term bail out bag.
The Bail Out Bag was an emergency or survival backpack for military pilots and parachutists who, with the help of this 72-hour survival kit, made their way from the landing or crash site to the following secure base or could fight their way back home.
I deliberately write “fight” in contrast to the Get Home Bag. That is because a get home bag has civilians in mind to use it to find their way home in specific emergencies or disasters. The Bug Out Bag is already a survival kit with some military equipment.
Combat Backpack Survival Set
The combat backpack Survival Set is a survival backpack with essential utensils for survival in an emergency, and that is an excellent idea for a beginner’s set.
In this section, we will talk about what you need to have. These are only my recommendations. However, they are certainly a good starting point. If you wish to add any more equipment into the bug out bag, please feel free. However, remember that you have to carry it!
Here is an overview of some details of the BOB survival backpack:
Approximate material and properties of the backpack:
- Material: 100% polyester, polyvinyl chloride coated
- Dimensions: ~32 x 15 x 64 cm
- Capacity: approx. 65 liters
- 1x storm lighter
- 1x light survival camping hatchet 29 cm, weight: approx. 360 g
- 8x Tinder Sticks (lighter)
- 1x Armed Forces triple spade: 1.4 kg, extra robust design
- 1x survival box with the following contents:
- Wire saw
- Survival Instructions. – There are many instructions that you can print here.
- Accident Evaluation Report
- Safety pins
- Bottle opener
What Do I Need a 72-Hour Survival Kit Bug Out Bag For?
In addition to a first aid kit, an emergency food supply, and a survival knife, the bug out bag for military pilots also contains firearms. They ensure that the pilots have a defense in the event of being shot down over enemy territory (as in the Korean War) so they could defend themselves.
Military pilots needed and need their bug out bag to make their way to a safe base under the most extreme conditions and, in the worst case, even with enemy attacks.
If you have a gun license and a gun, you can decide, at your discretion, if you want to include your weapon in the checklist for your bug out bag.
Why Do Civilians Need A Bug Out Bag?
With a well-packed bug out bag, civilians can help themselves for a while in the event of a disaster (until government infrastructure restoration). They may also defend themselves against the “enemy.”
Because nothing is as dangerous as a hungry wolf, that is especially true when the supply collapses. When there is no food left, there is a risk to life, even for a piece of bread. An excellent example of this is Hurricane Katrina 2005, where just a few hours after the usual infrastructures collapsed, the people stormed shopping centers, and people died.
It is not pleasant to have to deal with it, but unfortunately, it is necessary because the “enemy human” can be worse than a wolf.
Some Scenarios That May Require A Bug Out Bag
A bug out bag is an always-ready emergency backpack that you can snap up in the event of an evacuation, and that contains everything that (or yourself and your family) needs to survive outdoors and, at worst, even ensures survival under the most extreme conditions.
Evacuations due to earthquakes, tsunamis, or other unpredictable events are usually unpreparable due to their nature. In addition to the natural disasters mentioned, there are, of course, different and much more terrible worst-case scenarios, such as accidents in nuclear reactors or terrorist attacks.
Everyone still remembers Chernobyl and Fukushima. The population is usually only informed after the occurrence. That is when it becomes every man for themselves.
Even if you think something like that will never happen on your doorstep because of thoughts like: “I don’t live by the sea, why should I care about tsunamis?” Or: “What do I care about earthquakes? There are no earthquakes by me. ”- Something like this can happen anywhere and at any time. And that is when you need your bug out bag.
BOB: The 72-hour Survival Kit
Just like the Get Home Bag, the Bug Out Bag contains the appropriate equipment for bridging emergencies for 72 hours.
In principle, a BOB should only cover the first three days. Everything else is something you need to think about after or have an escape backpack. An escape backpack contains everything that can ensure survival in an emergency. Even for a period of up to two weeks and beyond.
Other terms used in connection with the Bug Out Bag:
- 72-Hour Kit
- Escape backpack
- Survival Backpack
- Get Home Bag
- Emergency Grab Bag
- Personal Emergency Relocation Kits (PERK)
- Battle Box
- Go Bag
- GOOD Bag (Get Out Of Dodge)
- INCH Bag (I’m Never Coming Home)
- Bug out bag equipment.
Bug Out Bag Equipment
Now we come to the extra equipment and see how to put a “civil” BOB together. First of all, of course, we need a suitable backpack.
The BOB Backpack
The bug-out bag backpack is slightly larger than the get-home bag backpack.
While the Get Home Bag can be tiny, very small, the pack for the bug out bag should be a bit bigger. However, this should not exceed the 60-liter mark.
Ideally, the bug-out-bag backpack has a capacity of around 45 liters.
Tasmanian Tiger Trooper Rucksack
The TT Trooper Pack backpack is functional, inconspicuous, and has a volume of 45 liters.
An ideal backpack size for short, medium, or long distances.
It is lightweight, tactical due to various individual pockets, Velcro and Molle system, and everything that you need for BOB purposes fits in for several days.
The Gray Man principle
Why should a survival backpack be inconspicuous?
A BOB backpack should be inconspicuous and functional (such as the Tasmanian Tiger Backpack Trooper, for example). Unobtrusive because you are too prominent with a bag that is too conspicuous. And you want to avoid that if possible.
Let’s take the worst-case (which a BOB is there for) and imagine that due to some catastrophe, similar to what happened after Hurricane Katrina, everything suddenly collapsed, people looted the supermarkets, and people were at the same risk. Intervention by the authorities is unlikely due to the government official’s concern with their survival and the survival of their own families.
In such an extreme case, we would be entirely on our own and would even have to defend ourselves against attack for our backpack. So it is better not to attract too much attention from the outset and to appear inconspicuous to the masses according to the “gray man principle” – that is, as a “gray man.”
So you should already avoid bright colors when it comes to clothing. And the backpack itself should also appear as unassuming and harmless as possible. Colorful backpacks are, therefore, rather unsuitable for the bug out bag. Even a green bag may look like you know what you are doing more than the average person. Consequently, we recommend a black bag.
You want to stay as Camouflaged as possible.
Bug Out Bag Content
Once you have the perfect bag, that is inconspicuous, but still has enough room for all of the equipment, you need to know what to put in it.
We recommend a functional and robust survival knife with a high-quality blade and possibly even with additional functions such as serrated edge (for smaller sawing jobs) and a knife sharpener and fire starter integrated into the sheath.
3 Suitable BOB survival knives:
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival knife. It has a partly serrated edge, fire starter, signal whistle, and hammer surface.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Survival knife. With continuous tang, fire starter, signal whistle, hammer surface, and pocket guide for emergencies.
Gerber LMF II survival knife. Partly serrated and striking element on the pommel and lashing holes to enable conversion to a spear.
You can also look into whittling knives to carve objects such as spoons or spears for hunting.
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit (emergency pharmacy) should not be missing in the BOB. In the emergency pharmacy, you will find everything you need for quick treatment.
You can put together the first aid kit yourself, or you can fall back on a pre-packed emergency pharmacy (recommended – since it already contains everything you need). If you choose to put it together yourself, the best thing to do is to consult a doctor or pharmacist who will help you put it together correctly.
Don’t forget your critical equipment and medication! Your personal (survival) equipment can include cardiac medication, asthma spray, or replacement glasses.
You should also pack an emergency blanket in the First Aid Kit (usually not included).
An emergency blanket can save you in an emergency from hypothermia. It weighs next to nothing and does not take up any space in your backpack. In emergencies, however, it is all the more valuable.
Without food, a person can survive for several weeks. Without water, we can only survive for three days.
We need water for drinking, for cooking and our hygiene. Therefore, most countries recommend a personal water requirement of 2 liters per person per day, plus 2 liters for personal hygiene. With our 72-hour BOB, we would already have 12 liters of water that we would have to carry around with us. That is too much.
Twelve liters of water weighs a whopping 12 kilos, which we would have to carry in addition to the rest of our equipment. This weight would only stop us, but it will almost crush us. So we have to find alternatives. We, therefore, recommend using 2 x 1.5 liters and filtering water on the way if necessary with water filters such as the survival straw to sterilize or otherwise make it drinkable.
Outdoor Water Bottle
We recommend the tried and tested outdoor aluminum bottles with an eyelet on the closure or stainless steel drinking bottles with a hole or handle for the bug out bag.
An eyelet or handle allows you to attach the bottle to the outside of the backpack using a sling or a carabiner. That is useful if the pack is full.
Tips for water treatment on the go: outdoor water filter
If you want to be on the safe side and still have enough space in your backpack, you can get an outdoor water filter. The LifeStraw water filter weighs only 57 grams, and with the help of a drinking straw, you can even drink directly from the corresponding water source. The LifeStraw will filter up to 4,000 liters of water, with no harmful chemicals or batteries.
Alternatively, you can learn how to purify water in the woods in this guide I wrote.
Firestarters – Magnesium Stones
You can rely on a magnesium fire starter in any weather. A fire starter with magnesium stone can light a fire in any weather.
Even in hopeless situations, a fire offers warmth, and at night it protects against all kinds of animals and provides a feeling of security and security. We gained this connection to fire from our Stone Age predecessors.
You can often find some flammable material, or firewood almost anywhere. There are also all kinds of ways to start a fire. The magnesium fire starter is one of the most reliable alternatives, even under adverse conditions. You can see our article on keeping a fire burning here.
A magnesium fire starter is insensitive to moisture, has a long service life, and is maintenance-free. With lighters, the gas can escape over time, or the flint can wear out or get lost. Matches can get wet and unusable. A magnesium fire starter, on the other hand, is always ready for use at any time.
These can in turn, use this fire to make a torch if you need light in your situation.
Emergency Radio Receiver
Off-grid radio receivers work with solar power or via hand crank using dynamo. Therefore, you should always keep an emergency radio receiver in the BOB.
There are various reasons for keeping a radio receiver in your BOB:
- If due to a catastrophe, the public infrastructure collapsed for a certain period, it would be a world collapse for some. For example, if there was a long-lasting power outage, and we were suddenly without the usual communication options such as cell phones, PCs, televisions, social media, etc.
- A network-independent radio guarantees a connection to the rest of the world, even in extreme emergencies.
- The emergency radio receiver is a device that works independently of the mains, i.e., without electricity from the socket. With a radio receiver, you are always up to date on new reports on the situation.
Hygiene (Toiletry Bags)
Freshly washed, the world usually looks very different. If you are skilled, you can wash your whole body with just one liter of water. In an emergency, water from your drinking bottle can suffice.
You absolutely must have personal hygiene equipment in your bug out bag. Brushing your teeth in the morning and evening is also a part of the quality of life that you should keep, even in catastrophic situations.
Everyone will know best what belongs in their toiletry bag. Of course, the contents of a toiletry bag for men also differ for women.
While women need tampons and a few more handkerchiefs, the shaving kit may seem important to some men. Since I’m male, I’ll give you a rough overview of what can be in a men’s toiletry bag:
- Toothpaste and brush
- All-round soap for body and clothing
- Safety razor
- Thin microfiber outdoor towel
As you can see, there is not much that you need. However, having the essentials will make you feel much better.
A rain poncho not only protects against rain. In cold or wet outside temperatures, a rain cape also keeps your body warm thanks to its impermeable fabric. And a rain cape weighs next to nothing. It is advisable to wear a rain poncho that reaches over your knees, as your legs often get wet with shorter rain capes.
Not only do your legs stay dry under the more giant rain ponchos, but you can also fit your backpack underneath.
I’d also recommend waterproofing your cloths for an extra layer.
Some tarpaulin doesn’t take up a lot of space in your backpack and doesn’t weigh much either. In adverse weather conditions, however, you can conjure up a protective roof in no time.
Tip: If you take tarp with you, you should not forget some cord (around 3 mm thick) to be able to tie the tarp.
In addition to tying the tarpaulin, some cord is also a good companion. You can quickly stretch a clothesline out of it, or even use it as a sling under challenging situations.
Emergency Food Supply
The emergency food supply should, above all, be high in energy. Protein and also a little fat are the best sources of energy, and you will undoubtedly need some strength in some of the more difficult situations.
Fast energy suppliers:
- Dried fruits, nuts and energy bars are particularly suitable as quick energy suppliers
- energy bars
For Big Hunger
Durable foods are best suited to those who are very hungry, as they are easier to count on and can be rationed and divided if necessary, without having to pay attention to the expiry date.
You can use the following foodstuffs as an emergency supply for the big hunger:
- All kinds of preserves (dried fish, meat, legumes)
- Dried bread, rusks
- Dried meat – Beef Jerky
- Bacon and smoked food. (Bacon, dried meat, dried fish, or dried food are often heavily salted and therefore make you thirsty. If you have little water available, you should use salted or “thirsty” food sparingly.)
- Rice, pasta, legumes (in case you have cookware with you)
Outdoor Cookware & Stoves
For a 72 hour bug out bag, cookware and stoves are luxury items. However, you can find some pretty compact stoves, as spoken about in the bushcraft essentials kit article.
Assuming the case that an exceptional situation lasts longer than 72 hours, very simple and compact camping tableware is enough. And as a stove, alcohol stoves, gas stoves, or hobo stoves are particularly suitable.
Hobo stoves work with all kinds of fuel and spirit stoves work with liquid fuel. However, if you have a gas camping stove with you and the gas cartridges run out, and there are no new cartridges available, then you will have a hard time. Therefore we recommend the ones we spoke about in the kit guide above.
Other Bug Out Bag Equipment To Consider
- Sewing kit
- Some fishing gear
- Path and terrain maps
- Compass – Or Read this guide on using a watch as a compass
- Signal mirror (High-quality plastic is preferred)
- Own needs
There is a lot of adaptations between the bug out bag and the bushcraft bag. Therefore, you may want to look through that article and see what we suggest there and incorporate the items that you feel are relevant.
Bug Out Bag – Conclusion
A well-packed bug out bag can save your life for 72 hours in emergencies.
The best way to prepare yourself is to put together your bug out bag. That begins with the selection of the right backpack. Then you can continue with the detailed assembly of the equipment with the least used items at the bottom and the most frequent at the top.
You can only learn how to use your equipment through practice tests. Then, if an emergency does occur, you will know precisely how far you can rely on your BOB.
Frequently Asked Question
What is the difference between a BOB and an escape backpack?
Since the design of the BOB was for fighter pilots and lone fighters, the equipment in its original form primarily focuses on defense. In addition to a proper survival knife, the Bug Out Bag can also contain other defense equipment.
An escape backpack is all about survival during an emergency. Here, groceries, an emergency pharmacy, enough drinking water, and appropriate clothing are more important than weapons.