Minimum Equipment For Standard Bug-Out-Bag

imagesCADLW6ZNMany of the articles that I have read on various web sites are, in my not so humble opinion, not adequately addressing the equipment necessary for a Bug-Out-Bag (BOB).  Having had many years of experience in the survival arena, winter and summer, in the Arctic, mountains, tropic and desert regions, many times in hostile theaters, I have drawn up a list for a BOB, along with some accompanying information. There are variations for some of these items and the list of potential equipment and gear is nearly infinite.  However in my considerable experience, what I have listed below has proven to work.

Minimum Equipment

Weapons and Ammunition

  • Semiauto handgun in .45 ACP, 40 S&W, in  (A 9mm, is less desirable. The bigger the projectile (bullet) the bigger the hole and big holes and deep penetration.)
  • Four loaded magazines for handgun
  • Additional 50 rounds for handgun
  • Fixed blade combat knife
  • Folding tactical knife
  • Tomahawk with sheath (excellent for bush craft & a formidable weapon)
  • Compact weapons cleaning kit for weapon caliber (Bore Snake and CLP)

Other Tactical Equipment

  • LED Key Chain flash light with green lens (to read maps)
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Holster for your handgun (see info below)
  • Handgun Magazine Pouches
  • Camel back style Hydration System with inline filter, 100 fluid. oz
  • Multi-tool, black or OD in color
  • Small SureFire (or other tactical-type) flashlight
  • Six spare batteries for lights, GPS, etc.
  • Six spare batteries for Surefire lights
  • One (1) spare flashlight bulb for each style of light
  • Appropriate first aid kit
  • Small binoculars
  • GMRS/FRS Radio
  • Radio pouch for GMRS/FRS size radios
  • Head set with push to talk for GMRS/FRS radio
  • Wristwatch with covered dial/face.  Nothing that reflects.  (See SOP)
  • Knee pads
  • Ruggedized Cell Phone with spare battery
  • Cell Phone charger for 12 volt and 110 volt
  • Topo maps of your area of operation (AO)


  • Sleeping pad (Thinsulate)
  • Good quality large size Space Blanket or Rain Fly, either camo in color or with camouflage net

Water / Food

  • Water bottle with filter
  • Several coffee filters to strain sediment from water
  • Flint & Steel with Magnesium Bar (practice building fires in the rain)
  • Zip Lock Bag of Dryer Lint (fire starter)
  • Dehydrated food for at least seven days, entrees only
  • Heavy duty Fork and Spoon
  • A way to cook your food, i.e. MSR Multifuel stove or MRE cook pouch.  You probably will not always have time for a cooking/warming fires and there will be many times that you do not want to expose yourself with that type of a signature.
  • P 38 can opener


  • 1 set of Camo appropriate for your location
  • 1 pair of combat style boots that are well broken in to your feet
  • Camo rain gear or winter gear as needed
  • Hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Tactical belt for pants
  • Dry socks (No socks with seams over the toes!  i.e. Smart Wool brand)
  • Camo rain poncho
  • Store everything that has to stay dry in heavy duty Zip Lock bags


  • If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses you must have a spare pair/set
  • Toilet paper and know a natural alternative in your AO.  Save the T paper for when you have to be quick
  • Tooth brush
  • 10—six inch black zip ties (to repair equipment in the field)
  • 10—heavy duty 12” black sip ties to secure bad guys
  • One roll black electric tape (UL listed)
  • Partial roll of camouflage Gorilla Tape
  • 100’ of 550 cord
  • Potassium Iodate tablets
  • Several one gallon size Zip Lock Bags (spares)
  • Two leaf/yard size trash bags
  • Two small roles of picture hanging wire for snares etc.
  • Hooks, flies, lures, line, sinkers, swivels, weighted treble snagging hook with  steel leader, all sized for your A.O.
  • One small plastic container of cayenne pepper
  • Mosquito repellent
  • * Coagula XL, 2 ounces
  • * Dysentery Stop, 2 ounces

SOP  (Standard operating procedure)

No glow in the dark, shinny, reflective gear of any kind, including but not limited to:

  • Stainless side arms or Leatherman tools (unless painted)
  • No glow in the dark sights (tritium type).  Black them out for night ops
  • Shiny pistol grips
  • Ink pens
  • Watches and watch bands
  • Rings and other jewelry
  • Flashlights
  • Eye glass frames

There will be nothing in your Bug-Out Bag that rattles or makes noise.   No perfumed products of any kind


After reading this list, I am sure that each of you has many different questions and I will try to answer some of them here.

One question that I am asked a lot is “How do I carry all of this stuff with me?” Some people prefer to have some type of day pack or back pack. Personally, I am not a great fan of packs because they throw your center of gravity to the back making it more difficult to navigate difficult terrain. Personally, I like a tactical vest better than anything else does. The tactical vest, in my not so humble opinion, is far superior to day packs and is much more comfortable to carry.  A tactical vest is much less fatiguing to wear all day than carrying a pack.  You do not have to take the tactical vest off to access the most critical items because they are carried in your front pockets.  You can conceal your tactical vest in a duffel bag while at work or in your vehicle.

Good tactical vests for a standard bug out bag (BOB) can be bought at This company makes very good equipment and I have personally used a lot of their gear. If the only weapon that you plan to carry is a handgun (or no gun at all, which is foolish at best and catastrophic at worst) then I suggest that you get the Blackhawk Mega Tactical Vest (Medic/Utility), along with a Patrol Belt & Pad. This vest has many pouches to carry your gear/equipment. I also suggest that you get the S.T.R.I.K.E. LRRP Butt Pack GP, which easily attaches to the back of the vest. This allows you to carry extra supplies in the Butt Pack.  A 100 oz. hydration bladder will also work with this vest, so get one. I also suggest that you get the Serpa Drop Leg Holster (Platform)  for your handgun on your strong hand side and an additional drop a leg STRIKE platform for your weak hand.  These attach to the Patrol Belt Pad (which attaches to the vest).  The weak hand platform can be used to carry your first aid kit or other things in a separate pouch or pouches.  BLACKHAWK carries a wide variety of STRIKE pouches.  If you do decide to use a day pack, get the best one that you can possibly afford.  Tactical Tailor, Blackhawk and 5:11 Tactical all  make great packs.

[JWR Adds: As I’ve previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog,  I personally find the weight of drop-leg holsters  uncomfortable for walking long distances.  I prefer traditional belt holsters.  Not only is the weight distribution more natural–on your waist rather than on your thigh–but they are also quicker to access. But your mileage may vary.  If you have the chance, try out this style gear before you buy it.]

Personally, if it is not in the winter, I do not take a tent or sleeping bag if I am going to be gone on a (dismounted) patrol/mission for less than 10 days and, depending on the climate/terrain etc., sometimes longer.  I take a Thinsulate closed cell foam sleeping pad just to stay off of the cold ground, a space blanket and maybe an extremely light water proof shelter.

Here is the scenario. All of a sudden without warning, there is a meltdown in the nation, whether it is social/economic, a terrorist strike, natural disaster or some combination of these. You grab your BUG-OUT-BAG and head for the door, be it from your place of work or your home. The next question is “Where am I going and can I get there from here?” If you plan to head home, you have to consider that someone else might be occupying your home by the time that you get there.  What will you do then?  Have you ever considered this?  Do you have a plan in place for this event?  No?  Then make one, make several.  It is critical to your survival and the survival of your family and loved ones that you have a plan for this. Just taking off with your BOB, family in tow, with no destination in mind is going to be a world-class train wreck for you and your family. So get a plan and then make several alternate plans and stick with it.  Always have several backup plans.

Be absolutely certain that you have a communication (commo) plan set up with all of your family members.  If things get bad during a weekday, you will be at work, your wife at home or at work, your kids in school….in other words almost everyone in your family will be away from home with no way to communicate with each other.  Do you think that is impossible?  The government always shuts down local cell phone service in a crisis to keep the bad guys from communication and remotely detonate IEDs. Just wait until the cell phones go down, the electricity goes out, the land line phones go out…then what are you going to do to communicate with your family?  Have a Rally Point (RP) that you know that you can all get to and have at least two alternate RPs in case the first one is compromised (overrun).   Everyone in your family has to be able to get there from all the places that each of them spends most of their time away from home.  Be able to pick up your kids from school on your way to the Rally Point and have an alternate plan for that. If your kids are old enough to be able to make it to the RPs on their own in case you can’t get there they need to be trained in how to do that, where to go, what to do, who to trust and who not to trust.  Make it known to the school that your kids can and may be picked up by your trusted friend or relative.  Then this trusted friend must be willing and able to transport your kids to your RP.

A few words about your handgun:  Buy only a good quality semi automatic handgun like a Colt or a Glock.  Then get some quality tactical training with your handgun!  I cannot stress this enough! After you get the training, practice and practice and practice some more. If you cannot hit a 3” X 5” note card four out of five times at between  7’ and 21’ than you need to practice some more. In a survival situation where the nation is completely falling apart, if you do not have tactical training with your handgun then somebody is going to take it away from you and use it on you. I have heard this many times “nobody’s taken’ my gun away from me!” but here is a news flash for you. If you do not have proper tactical training and if you do not keep current with your proper  training then you will one day be in for a very rude awakening! When the chips are down and someone is trying like mad to kill you or one of your family members, believe me, when you return fire it is not the same as shooting at paper targets on the range with your friends!  And one more thing…get a concealed carry permit and carry your weapon with you….always!   If you are three seconds away from your weapon, then you are unarmed!!!

You very well might not make it out of Dodge if you leave too late, and you might very well bug out but not make it all the way to your RP or your retreat location with your vehicle.  In that scenario you will be stuck trying to survive with what you have on your back until you get to your RP or to your retreat.  If you do not have a retreat location that is already stocked, then you will have to spend the rest of your days trying to make it with what you have on your back, what you can hunt, catch or gather and what you can take from the enemy.  Not a very pretty picture is it?  So get a retreat and get it stocked…yesterday!

Remember this:  Many so-called experts only recommend that you have 72 hours worth the food in your BOB.  If that is the only thing that you have in your BOB, then you are only 72 hours away from being just another refugee.  You must have the necessary equipment (and knowledge) in your BOB to obtain more food, build a shelter, and provide heat and first aid treatments!

Another thing that I highly recommend you get is some wilderness and urban survival training and some Escape and Evasion (E&E) training. Let’s face it; most of you do not know anything about E&E when the bad guys are hot on your heels and very little to nothing about surviving in the wilderness or in an urban setting with nothing but your BOB. None of this great stuff in your BOB will do you any good if you do not know how to use it. Get the training. You can survive with the gear/equipment on this list but you need some training in how to use it.   

Also, get some training in map/compass orientation and navigating. The civilian portion of the GPS system will likely be shut down in the event of a terrorist attack!  Or…..what are you going to do if your GPS batteries run out or just gets broken and quits?  If you cannot read a map and use a compass, and know how to orient yourself and navigate to your destination, you are going to be in very deep trouble!

When you have made up your Bug-Out Bag use it before you need it.  Get the kinks worked out of before you have  to put it to use in a real world situation!  Take nothing but your BOB and head into the bush for a few days.  You will be surprised at what you learn works and what does not work.

This list may seem very long but most of the stuff is small and light and you will be surprised at what little room it takes up in your vest or pack.

Keep your Bug-Out Bag with you at all times!  It will do you no good if you leave it at home and you find yourself miles (or even several blocks) from home when you need it and there is no way to get back home.  If you chose to use a tactical vest for your Bug-Out-Bag then keep it in a duffel bag or larger back pack and keep that with you all of the time.  It will be far less noticeable.  When things fall apart, do not worry about what you will look like wearing a tactical vest.  Wearing a tactical vest with a drop leg platform/holster, you look like a professional and that you are serious. I promise you that the bad guys will be far less apt to mess with you.  They will pick a different target, probably the person wearing a day pack with his weapon his hidden inside.



One Reply to “Minimum Equipment For Standard Bug-Out-Bag”

  1. For emergency shelter consider an oversized nylon waterproofed poncho. It will serve double duty. Does the job for rain, and emergency shelter. I carried one in Alaska, and later on in North Louisiana…where it rains often.

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