There are a lot of good articles with lists and other information out there to help you figure out what you should put in your bugout bag or in your other gear. I’ve written a couple myself, they don’t always get you to think outside the box. This post is really just to get you to think outside the box on what gear you might carry or store.
BTW, I had a different image for this page before to drive home the importance of having the right gear but it was apparently a bit too uncomfortable for some, even though it made me laugh when I saw it. I didn’t change it from any kind of censoring thing – I just want to make sure that people will share this with others if they think they could use it, and not have to feel weird about it. Soldiers have a different sense of humor I guess. The pic doesn’t depict what your gear room should look like by any means. I’ve had decades of collecting army, camping, and police gear that I’m in the middle of inventorying and just needed a pic.
I changed it to this one, which is my actual Army room where I’ve been storing all my extra gear for years and I’m in the middle of inventorying.
After thinking about it, I thought I should just make a quick list of some of the things that you may not have considered for your bug out bag gear. Just keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you should run out and buy all this stuff to put in your bag. If you can’t carry the thing, it isn’t gonna help you much and could make things worse. Always keep your stuff as light and small as possible but make sure you don’t have a single point of failure (They called this a SPOF in Warrant Officer school). You should have backups for every critical thing you want to do (make a fire, purify water, etc) in case you lose or break something and varied ways to do something in case the first way doesn’t work. Remember, it doesn’t help to have 10 lighters as backup if your environment and skill level won’t let you start a fire with a lighter. Also, remember that you should be carrying quite a bit of water in addition to your gear. I pack my bug out bag the same way I pack for deployments – lay out everything I have, put my kit together, make sure I’ve covered the “Two is one and one is none” rule with more than one type of method (it doesn’t do much good to have a lighter as your only backup to your other lighter as your only fire-starting method if a lighter isn’t working when you need it due to wind or whatever), remove what I can live without, re-lay out everything, rinse and repeat.
Top 50 bug out bag gear items you might not think of
Here are my top 50 at the moment. Ok, so I may have added a few extra…
- Backup and digital copies of all your important documents and reference information for the area. Digital stuff should be put on a secured thumb drive
- Weapons cleaning kit and CLP or equivalent
- gum wrappers to start a fire with a battery (they don’t take up much space)
- Small knife sharpener
- Tourniquet that you can put on with one hand
- Potassium Permanganate for fire starting/wound cleansing/water and some kind of glycerol or sugarfree replacement to match for firestarting. This stuff is getting pretty hard to find nowadays. I had to order mine online.
- Glow Stick Bracelets if you have kids so you can keep track of them while walking at night. You can also use these to mark your gear or a path from your campsite to your toilet area so people don’t lose their way. Get multiple colors so it’s easier to know who’s who.
- Neck Gaiter for cold weather
- Clotrimazole Foot Cream. This is one of the most important things I carry. I was down for the count in Central America once due to a heavy rash that broke through the skin. Couldn’t walk. Got some of this from a local pharmacy in a nearby town and it went away in just a few hours. Amazing stuff.
- 12v way to power your stuff. This includes a 12v charger plus whatever you need to hook it up. Maybe clips that connect to a battery to give you a power plug or just a good 12V USB charger plug
- Moleskin for blisters- your feet are super important
- Maps of your area, both paper and digital.
- Something metal to boil water and eat/drink in. I use a 24 ounce steel cooking cup.
- Good compass like a tritium lensatic compass that I use.
- Fisher Space Bullet Space Pen and Rite in the Rain All Weather Notebook
- Aluminum foil to start a fire or use as a cup/cooking etc
- A Fresnel Lens – Flat, lightweight and powerful magnifying lens to start fires. Cheap too. (Video)
- 5V portable solar charger and USB battery for your cell phone or other USB things
- Water filter like the Saywer Mini Filtration System or equivalent that will connect to a Camelbak. I haven’t found a better water filter yet. I even did a review of it.
- Avon SKIN-SO-SOFT Bug Guard PLUS Insect Repellent Moisturizing Lotion - the only thing I’ve ever found to work
Fishing line for fishing and/or for cordage/traps
- Dental floss reel for cordage
- Extra meds you’re on
- Birth control
- Vaseline-covered cotton balls or quik-tinder in seal straw segments for tinder – basically, waterproof your tinder
- Stormproof Lighter - this one floats too
- Spare batteries or better yet, 5v usb solar charger (above) with Solar Recharging Kit and Rechargeable Batteriesfor whatever you’re carrying. Check out how I put my solar power kit together here.
- Sewing Kit
- Couple of hidden hairpins to pick handcuffs or at least hidden handcuff key
- Spare prescription glasses if they’re needed
- Goggles and some kind of scarf or neck gator if you live in a desert (haboobs are pretty nasty). Seriously, get a neck gator. It’s amazing how warm you can be with something you can pull out of your pocket.
- Small container of pine resin if available for wounds
- Olive oil for cooking/lube/calories/lamp
- Cheap handheld ham radio that will also work on FRS/GMRS like this UV-5R.
- Family radios for everyone in your group. Preferably ones that will run off AA so you can recharge the batteries as you need to with your USB solar panel and AA charger pack. You can’t expect to keep everyone within eyesight at all times.
- Spare set of socks/underwear
- Some kind of tarp or quality space blanket (not the cheap crappy ones) for sun or rain shade with 550 cord or bungees
- Extra feminine hygiene products
- Fish antibiotics in case your fish catch something they can’t shake
- Small tube for syphoning
- Sleeping mask and earplugs if you’ll be traveling at night and sleeping during the day
- Tweezers to pull out splinters and thorns so they don’t get infected
- A A quality emergency blanket and not one of those crappy ones
- VS-17 signal panel sewn into the inside of a tent fly or alone
- Candles or at least candle wicks if you have olive oil or other available
- Gloves for heavy/rough objects even when it’s not cold
- Something like a commando saw or hacksaw blade to cut branches (or tie wraps) with
- Recent pics and info on all pax in your group in case they go missing
- Titanium spork because it’s better than eating with your fingers.
- Soft collapsible water bottle (it comes with the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System if you get one of those)
- Waterproof backpack cover. Sucks to get your toilet paper and spare underwear soaked from a rainstorm.
- Signal whistle in case you can’t yell (and it’s louder anyway unless you’re my ex).
- Imodium or equivalent in case you get diarrhea. Don’t use it until you’ve let your body work things out for a bit though or you’ll just be covering the symptoms and not letting your stomach do its stuff.
- Benadryl and/or epi-pen in case someone has an allergic reaction to something
- List of local repeaters/offsets for a ham radio
- Hat that covers your ears and neck from sunburn
- Quick-start or full manuals for any complicated equipment you’re carrying, like the UV-5R ham radio mentioned above (Thanks goes to db in the comments below for reminding me about this one)
- Pantyhose (from the comments). This is a good one. I wear knee high’s under my socks if I’m going on long hikes because it cuts down on blisters but full-on ones (haven’t worn those yet) can be used for things like a replacement fan belt on some older cars or for cordage. Picked up that trick in basic training a few decades ago.
- Eyeglass repair kit (from the comments).
- Green laser. I try to always have a laser with me when I’m going downrange even if they don’t give me one. It’s fantastic for signalling for help or just sending a message for a LONG distance if you have line-of-sight. There are definitely cheaper ones than the one I listed but so far they haven’t made it through a deployment. The green ones travel much farther than the red ones, btw.
- And now for the biggie (an update I’ve added after TONS of hours of research). The BEST way to stay warm and dry is to carry an ultralight 2-person backpacking tent. The technology on these things have improved dramatically in the past 10 years, and you can get an actual tent for about the same weight (or sometimes less) than a hammock/tarp or just a bivy.
Now obviously you’ve considered a flashlight but look at this one right now that you may not have considered. It’s a tactical flashlight under $5 that’s great for lighting up a big area or focusing to a long distance. I even did a review on it. The reason I put it also on this page is that not everyone considers getting a small flashlight that can also be a floodlight. This one can. You’ll probably end up buying at least a dozen of these though because they’re so cheap you won’t expect how awesome they are. They’re the perfect throwaway flashlight that isn’t built like a throwaway.
And now for the biggie that yo
Just remember – you really shouldn’t be carrying a lot. These are just ideas to solve a particular problem you might have. You DEFINITELY shouldn’t be carrying all this stuff. So what things can you think of that a lot of people would forget or not think of to put in their bag? Here are some related articles you might want to read:
- The best water filtration system so far: Sawyer MINI review
- Best EDC flashlight value: CREE 7w review
- What to pack in a bugout bag – a comprehensive look
- How much gear should you put in your bug out bag?
- How much water should be in your bug out bag?
- What should you have in your everyday carry (EDC) gear?
- A simple budget EDC kit
- What documents do you need in your bugout bag?
- 12 tips how to pack a survival bugout bag
- Incorporating prepping into your life – Motorcycle EDC
- Choose double duty prepper gear to save weight
- Graywolf’s bug out bag contents list (my go bag)
Anything you can think of that’s not on the list that would be useful to have but people might not have thought of?