Need Help? Email Us:
Survive...Don't Suffer


This Bug Out Bag Checklist isn't going to cover the needs of everyone, since every one's needs will be different. Your particular requirements will depend on where you live, and the time of year involved, just to mention a few. However, there are certain items on a Bug Out Bag Checklist that everyone will need, regardless of where they are or what their special needs might be. Those are the specific Bug Out Bag Checklist items you need to focus on.

A Survival primer is in order before we begin. The three ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENTS for human survival are FOOD, WATER, and SHELTER. If those three requirements are present, you can survive. Omit one of them and you're toast. It is therefore logical to concentrate your initial Bug Out Bag Checklist items on those three areas.

A good Survival tent would be ideal, but in it's absence a Survival tarp would work. But what if you have neither?

Survival food can be packed, but how long will it last?

Water can be treated by boiling, but what if you can't (for whatever reason) light a fire or there are other conditions present that might preclude you from finding a water source that's drinkable ... or at least treatable?

The solution to both a Survival shelter and Survival food is quite simple really. THE MOST IMPORTANT ITEM YOU CAN PLACE IN YOUR SURVIVAL KIT IS A HIGH QUALITY FIXED BLADE SURVIVAL KNIFE. Period. End of sentence. With a good Survival knife you can construct a shelter, hunt, prepare traps and dead-falls, clean game and fish, use it for defense, digging, and 1001 other tasks that can keep you alive. This is THE ONE SURVIVAL ITEM you should NOT be price conscious about or compromise on. A superior Survival knife, in a true Survival situation, is absolutely priceless.

The solution to the potential water problem is also quite simple. Expensive though they are, the answer is a quality portable water filter. I don't recommend anything but a Katadyn. You can trust your health, and your life to a Katadyn water filter. Many thousands have done so over the years, including myself. In a true Survival situation, a Katadyn water filter could easily spell the difference between life and death. Do you consider your life and the life of your family to be worth a couple hundred bucks? Of course you do.

So that's your starting point. WATER, FOOD, SHELTER. Consider the following 2 items to be Essential Survival Gear, and put them on your Bug Out Bag Checklist. You should obtain the VERY BEST SURVIVAL KNIFE & SURVIVAL WATER FILTER YOU CAN POSSIBLY AFFORD.

A HIGH QUALITY FIXED BLADE SURVIVAL KNIFE : - If you're not certain what constitutes a good one, I suggest you read the section on CHOOSING A SURVIVAL KNIFE in our Survival library.

KATADYN MICRO-FILTER: I've used the same Katadyn Pocket Microfilter for many years, on many "trips," and under very extreme circumstances. If your budget will allow it, I guarantee you that the purchase of a Katadyn Pocket Filter will turn you into a very happy camper. No pun intended.

If, for whatever reason, you're unable to secure a good water filter, make certain you provide another method of treating water. Boiling the water and/or treating it with bleach will work. The bottom line however, is that without some method of treating water YOU WILL PROBABLY DIE!

This Bug Out Bag Checklist, does NOT include: Food - Clothing - Footwear - Personal medications - Toiletries - Personal papers - Firearms - Ammunition - or necessary personal items such as eyeglasses, contact lenses etc.

Important papers including all licenses, birth and death certificates, inoculation records, passports, deeds, pertinent medical records, and other important papers should be photo-copied and placed in a 100% waterproof pouch, along with (perhaps) a few selected pictures. The pouch should either be put into the Bug Out Bag, or placed in an area that would allow quick and easy insertion into the Bug Out Bag.

There are too many variables concerning food, clothing, footwear, personal medications and toiletries to make an attempt at providing a sensible Bug Out Bag Checklist. You will have to give personal and serious thought to those items yourself. Different people will require different items depending upon location, time of year, health and other factors. Bear in mind you won't be as squeaky clean then, as you are now, so you don't need that many toiletries. Cologne isn't going to keep you alive, and in fact, could kill you. (Cologne can be smelled from long distances in an environment devoid of those types of odors.)

This Bug Out Bag Checklist also does not include weapons and ammo. I highly recommend a .12 GA shotgun loaded with #00 buckshot for personal defense, and if possible, a 9mm automatic, such as a Glock. The choice of firearms and ammunition is a matter of personal preference. Take what you can, but bear in mind ammo is heavy.

Here's the Bug Out Bag Checklist. There are items on the Checklist you don't absolutely have to have. Then too, there are items, such as a tent, that are not on the Checklist. You'll have to mix and match. Experiment to see what you can and can't get in/on the bag and adjust accordingly. It's not perfect for everyone, but if you have most of the listed items in your Bug Out Bag, you'll do OK. By the way, you don't have to match them exactly, just get close.

For detailed information on packing and loading your Bug Out Bag, go here>Bug Out Bag Selection and Packing

One bug-out bag per person with waterproof cover
Fixed blade survival knife (at least one)
Water filter (preferably a Katadyn)
9" X 12' (or) 12' x 12' lightweight nylon survival tarp with grommets
6' x 9' or 5' x 8' lightweight nylon tarp with grommets for tarp/tent floor 
Mummy style sleeping bag (1 per person)
Sleeping bag pad (1 per person)(3/4 size)(see Klymit sleeping bag pads)
50' 3/16" nylon rope (tent/tarp center-line - clothesline etc.
1 pack of nylon parachute cord or equivalent (staking & misc.)
6-12 lightweight heavy duty aluminum tent stakes
Binoculars, small, lightweight
Folding shovel
Folding saw with extra blade
Camp axe (not a hatchet)
Quality folding knife (1 per person)
Quality pocket knife (1 per person)(optional)
Heavy duty sewing kit with scissors and safety pins
Stick matches double wrapped in zip-lock bags
Survival candles (they can become heavy)
Bic lighter
Fire starter (magnesium or equivalent)
1 gal Zip-loc bag with newspaper strips for tinder
NO-SEE-UM head-net (minimum of 1 per person)(NOT MOSQUITO)
Lightweight cotton gloves (for mosquito protection)
Rain jacket or poncho (1 per person)
LED flashlight with AA batteries (1 per person)
2 extra AA batteries per flashlight
Knife sharpener
10" mill bastard file with handle (optional)
Small (not tiny) AM-FM radio with AA batteries
Extra set of AA batteries for radio
One water bottle or canteen per person
1 pint of unscented chlorine bleach (for water treatment)
1 eye-dropper or 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon (water treatment)
Small pack of cheesecloth (water treatment)
Collapsible water carrier (optional)
Collapsible bucket (for hygiene & dishes)(optional)
Small folding metal camp cooking grill (optional)
50' Heavy Duty aluminum foil
1 per person - aluminum bowl and cup (heavy plastic ok)
1 per person - flatware set or spork (folding if possible)
1 large serving spoon (optional)
Small can opener
Quality nesting cookware set with fry-pan (not cheap aluminum)
2 dish cloths
1 each face-cloth & hand-towel per person
Packable (telescoping) fishing rod & reel (if possible)
Small tackle box with hooks-sinkers-corks-jigs etc
Waterproof medical kit (see the section on building a Survival Medical Kit)
1-2 bars of soap per person (Ivory is good)
TP - 1 squashed roll per person
Garden seeds (F-1 hybrid OK if no heirloom avail)
1 to 2 watches that ARE NOT battery operated

The following items are all optional but I suggest you take them if you can:
A perpetual calendar
A copy of the Constitution of the United States
A copy of the Declaration of Independence
A copy of the Bill of Rights
A copy of all amendments to the Constitution
A Holy Bible
A deck of cards or similar game (pastime)
A tablet and several pencils
Relevant map(s)
Old silver coins (and gold if you have them)

Substituting a survival tent and floor protector for the 2 tarps.
Adding a 50' length of 5/8" nylon climbing rope
Adding a tent repair kit
Adding a packet of sourdough starter
Upgrading the medical kit
Adding extra fishing equipment
Antibiotics - if you have them, take them along regardless of the room

The "EXTRAS" list is endless, but unfortunately the bags are not bottomless.

Remember -- extra clothing will take up a significant amount of room in the Bug Out Bag. Extra socks are mandatory. You HAVE to eliminate blisters if you're on foot. Make sure the food you pack is dehydrated or freeze dried.

Hopefully you will NEVER have to use your packed Bug Out Bag ... but if you do, and you packed it using common sense and a lot of thought ... you and your family will survive.