Common-sense emergency preparedness from a combat veteran

60 bug out bag gear items you may not have considered

60 bug out bag items you may not have thought ofThere 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…

  1. 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
  2. Weapons cleaning kit and CLP or equivalent
  3. gum wrappers to start a fire with a battery (they don’t take up much space)
  4. Small knife sharpener
  5. Tourniquet that you can put on with one hand
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Neck Gaiter for cold weather
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  11. Moleskin for blisters- your feet are super important
  12. Maps of your area, both paper and digital.
  13. Something metal to boil water and eat/drink in. I use a 24 ounce steel cooking cup.
  14. Good compass like a tritium lensatic compass that I use.
  15. Fisher Space Bullet Space Pen and Rite in the Rain All Weather Notebook
  16. Aluminum foil to start a fire or use as a cup/cooking etc
  17. A Fresnel Lens – Flat, lightweight and powerful magnifying lens to start fires. Cheap too. (Video)
  18. 5V portable solar charger and USB battery for your cell phone or other USB things
  19. 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.
  20. Avon SKIN-SO-SOFT Bug Guard PLUS Insect Repellent Moisturizing Lotion - the only thing I’ve ever found to work
  21. Get a strong USB battery so you can charge your cell in case of emergency

    Fishing line for fishing and/or for cordage/traps

  22. Dental floss reel for cordage
  23. Extra meds you’re on
  24. Birth control
  25. Vaseline-covered cotton balls or quik-tinder in seal straw segments for tinder – basically, waterproof your tinder
  26. Stormproof Lighter - this one floats too
  27. 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.
  28. Sewing Kit
  29. Couple of hidden hairpins to pick handcuffs or at least hidden handcuff key
  30. Spare prescription glasses if they’re needed
  31. 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.
  32. Small container of pine resin if available for wounds
  33. Olive oil for cooking/lube/calories/lamp
  34. Cheap handheld ham radio that will also work on FRS/GMRS like this UV-5R.
  35. 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.

    Get some kind of comms for your family

  36. Spare set of socks/underwear
  37. Some kind of tarp or quality space blanket (not the cheap crappy ones) for sun or rain shade with 550 cord or bungees
  38. Extra feminine hygiene products
  39. Fish antibiotics in case your        fish        catch something they can’t shake
  40. Small tube for syphoning
  41. Sleeping mask and earplugs if you’ll be traveling at night and sleeping during the day
  42. Tweezers to pull out splinters and thorns so they don’t get infected
  43. A quality emergency blanket and not one of those crappy ones
  44. VS-17 signal panel sewn into the inside of a tent fly or alone
  45. Candles or at least candle wicks if you have olive oil or other available
  46. Gloves for heavy/rough objects even when it’s not cold
  47. Something like a commando saw or hacksaw blade to cut branches (or tie wraps) with
  48. Recent pics and info on all pax in your group in case they go missing
  49. Titanium spork because it’s better than eating with your fingers.
  50. Soft collapsible water bottle (it comes with the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System if you get one of those)
  51. Waterproof backpack cover. Sucks to get your toilet paper and spare underwear soaked from a rainstorm.
  52. Signal whistle in case you can’t yell (and it’s louder anyway unless you’re my ex).
  53. 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.
  54. Benadryl and/or epi-pen in case someone has an allergic reaction to something
  55. List of local repeaters/offsets for a ham radio
  56. Hat that covers your ears and neck from sunburn
  57. 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)
  58. 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.
  59. Eyeglass repair kit (from the comments).
  60. 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.
  61. 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.

9 ultralight backpacking tent for hiking or bug out bags 600

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:

Anything you can think of that’s not on the list that would be useful to have but people might not have thought of?

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About graywolf

I am a military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help preppers and others understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life.


  1. FloridaHillbilly says:

    Good list, you covered a lot of great things…however, I’d suggest one glaring omission, since yo included the UV-5RA radio – directions on how to program it. (You should also keep in mind that in any situation, other than an emergency, transmission over certain frequencies this radio is capable of reaching is considered illegal.)

    Having used one of these radios quite a bit, having a crib sheet on the programming sequence is a must.

    HAving said that, I see a couple things I want to add to my gear, thanks! I totally forgot to consider my “fish health”. Nice tip!


  2. mapleleaf says:

    I really enjoy your site, but that picture does not bring happy innocent camping to mind. Sorry,

    • Pedro A. Cruz says:


    • graywolfsurvival says:

      Hi Mapleleaf. You’re not the only one who thought that. I was actually just using the image to make a point that there could be consequences for not having the right gear lol. I updated the image to. Needed to be done anyway so google images will show it because the other one is a duplicate image from all around the web.

  3. Number 11 was moleskin for blisters, but I have found that keeping those little styrofoam circles that come in CD and DVD spools are even better. You can place them over an already formed blister with some tape and it will keep anything from rubbing against it any further. I ALWAYS hoard those little things.

  4. Christopher de Vidal says:

    I second foot creme. I once had a rash that kept me awake at night. You aren’t going to be worth a hoot during the day if you don’t get good rest at night.

  5. rj2029x says:

    Just adding another use for pantyhose: makes a great anti-tick suit when traveling wooded areas. Need two pair. Put one on legs and pull up as high as possible. Cut hole in the other one and out over head with arms through legs. Duct tape or 550 cord wrists and waist. Dress as normal. This will prevent ticks, fleas, and other nasties from getting to your skin.

  6. You are right … there are items on your list that you will not find in my bag … time to go repack … again

  7. New to your site, but loving every article. Since I’m, let’s just say, a little young and considerably limited in the funding department, a lot of the material like on OPSPEC can be slightly overwhelming; but since I’ve been starting small and working out an applicable EDC, a lot of your articles on that and focusing on intro to prepping have been loads of help. And on an off note, thank you for your service to our country, and for sharing your knowledge and insight with everyone here.
    Also, if I may, in an extremely humble manner, offer an addition that might be a decent idea for some…Browsing other people’s bug out bags for certain types of amenities as well as specific brands/products, one thing that really jumped out at me was a calculator. If you’re not taking in sufficient fluids/calories, suffering from sleep deprivation, stressed out about the world ending around you, worrying or thinking about other more immediate needs and finding yourself unable to concentrate, it might come in handy for some people? Given the increasingly compact size of a modern basic calculator, it’s well worth it, at least for me, with my ADD and the fact that my genetics haven’t exactly put ‘math whiz’ in the cards for me.

  8. Marty0879 says:

    On the Full length panty hose. I was taught back in the 80′s to wear them hunting in cold weather under thermos. My feet and legs were always warm.

  9. Another use for Panty hose, very light weight thermal underwear, learned this from my great grandfather who used them all the time while hunting. I’ve tried them and they can change a pair of jean’s into something warm on a cold day, though they ain’t sub-zero rated they will keep your legs warmer.

    Also didn’t notice poggie bait on the list, in addition to vein available to share with potential helpful persons when hiking long hours and distances sometimes having a pack of gum, handful of hard candies, or some flavor packets for your water can really go a long way to improving moral and keeping the energy levels up.

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