T Nation

Bug Out Bag 'Special' Items

Now is as good a time as any to recheck the Bug Out Bag. Do you guys have any special items in there that sometimes gets overlooked or missed?

Some weird stuff not in most bags: iodine tabs, surplus gas mask, lock picks, machete, mini sledge. Need to rebuild it, I haven’t updated since kids. Looking at Houston self cooking MRE’s and water purification stuff would be essential.

I would think that the weight to usefulness on that wouldn’t be so high? I can’t think of many situations where I would use one…

Escaping through the roof like Houston residents are being advised to do if the lower floors flood? I think a hand axe might offer a better option.

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Well I have lock picks in the bag, but I’m not very practiced with them. If the shtf so bad I need to loot empty houses or use them for shelter there aren’t a whole lot of residential doors (wood or steel) that can stand up to the nob being sledged off.

Not strictly in “the bag”, but we’ve been pretty good at keeping a 5-gallon container of fresh gas in the garage. In a bug-out situation, I can top off the car (it’d be about 1/3 of a tank) without having to deal with gas station drama. Every 4 months or so, I fill a new one and put the older stuff through the lawnmower.

Another thing that may or may not be overlooked for a B.O.B is cash. Having a decent amount, not a ton, of smaller bills on hand is kinda important and was one of those “so dumb I should’ve thought of it sooner”-ideas. Though I’d rather not say how much we aim to keep in the bag, for fear of ending up on BG and his sledge’s radar. :wink:


I think that is very important. In any emergency situation where mass amounts of people are trying to flee cities and towns, fuel stations could become very dangerous as desperate and panicked people come together. I also try to keep my ute filled at least half full at all times as well as having a jerry can back up.

Cash is something I should add to mine. I just never seem to have it around! Haha

I have lockpicks in my bag, and like yourself, I cant use them very well. Something I should really try to remedy.

This is a fun topic. I love to backpack and carry my whiskey and cigars into hard-to-reach places. This of course gives way to keeping a ready-to-go bag that I could grab, walk out my door with and not die for at least a few weeks, even in the winter. In theory, at least.

Regarding the mini-sledge, I think that’s a bit heavy. I picked up a Stanley Wonder Bar for a few bucks at a yard sale, and its a great little chunk of steel if you need to, say, break into something. Or out of somewhere. Still kinda heavy, but not nearly as big as a hammer. Probably more useful too.


I recently bought a Ruger 10/22 takedown rifle, which lends itself well to a bug-out-bag. The barrel is threaded, so I"m thinking about shelling out for a suppressor too. Such a cool rifle.

I think a Lifestraw is just one of those things everyone should have at least one of. Perfect for a bug-out-bag, or even general preparedness.


My eyes were opened to this during hurricane Sandy when we were standing in line (on foot, like everyone else) with a few dozen people and we saw people trying to buy their way to the front of the line, saw a few arguments almost boil into fights, and saw people turned away because they were trying to fill 1-gallon milk jugs with gas.

It didn’t enter my mind because I keep it with the basement tools, but I do have an Annihilator. I never considered it for the bag because it is pretty heavy, though versatile. Hammer, chisel, prybar, couple other little uses. And it’s marketed as a zombie killer just as much as a general construction tool, so you know it’s totally legit for a survival situation.


According to Amazon, the Annihilator is 3.7 lbs, which is ideal for dealing with zombies, but way too heavy for a bag you might need to carry.

12 inch pry bar listed above is just under 1 pound. They also make a 7 inch version that’s like 4 ounces, but might be a bit small for the job. Especially if you’re killing zombies with it.

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I went ahead and cracked open my bug-out-bag for the first time in quite a while. This is an ongoing project of mine that gets attention once or twice a year, so I’m not claiming to be some kind of preparedness guru. It definitely needs work, but I yanked out a few items I thought kept with the spirit of this thread.

If I were building a long-ish term bug out bag, these are a few items I would toss in. This isn’t a comprehensive list, just stuff I already own that would be included.

A rugged sewing kit. Shelter and clothing repair.

Crystalline Iodine. This tiny bottle will make 2000 quarts of water safe to drink.

Small forest axe - Vital in the north woods of Maine for shelter and fire.

10/22 takedown rifle - a semi-auto .22 with 25 round capacity that breaks in half and has very light ammo. Good for self-defense, can take most game to be found in my neck of the woods. Can carry a LOT of ammo.

10L ruggedized dry bag. This is just a very useful item, both for keeping things dry and doubling as the largest water container I will carry. For when your 1L nalgene just won’t cut it.

Here’s a few items I pulled out that are in my bag at all times, just because they are very light and generally useful. Again, not a comprehensive list, just keeping with the spirit of the thread.


Israeli battle bandage - Light, long shelf life and it works. Trauma might happen.
Duct tape/Gorilla Tape - Gazillion uses
Sierra Cup - Useful container, basic cookware
Knot card - just a bunch of credit cards with knot instructions, because I’m not good at remembering knots.
Copper Wire - Gazillion uses
Condoms - One obvious use, many other less obvious ones
Zip Ties - Gazillion Uses
3M mask - Very light, very useful in certain situations.
Pantyhose (not pictured) - weighs nothing, gazillion uses.

Everything in this picture is maybe $5 or less, except the bandage. I think that was around $10.

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Some items I didnt see:

  1. small med kit with 2 SF tourniquets.

  2. try to obtain either from your doctor or dentist a prescription of antibiotics.

  3. get an updated tetanus vaccination.

  4. make sure your dental work is up to date, nothing worse than a dental problem stuck in the wilderness or some third world country.

  5. If you need prescription medication, get extra.

  6. what is your light source? need white and red.

  7. independent power source for cell phone, GPS. Buy a pre paid phone from a different carrier than your primary one.

  8. firestarter, water proof matches, and tinder, cotton balls in a small water proof tube work well.

  9. Buy a pair of good quality hiking boots, break them in and then set them aside for when you need them. Not for everyday wear.

  10. space blanket or small water proof tarp.


Whats your reasoning for this? Would you carry battery powered torches with extra batteries or something that doesn’t require batteries?

[quote=“Irishman92, post:14, topic:233596”]
Whats your reasoning for this? Would you carry battery powered torches with extra batteries or something that doesn’t require batteries?

Red lens so you dont totally destroy your night vision. Red is also harder for the enemy to detect in the
darkness, especially if you are in a structure. White light has a tendency to “bounce” and create shadows that can be seen. A small red lens light will allow to read your electronics without turning up the brightness level on your phone, GPS. paper map, whatever. You can cup your hand over a small red lens and it is hard to see 15 feet away.

The whole purpose of a bug out bag is to get away and remain hidden, take every step you can to achieve that goal.

Flashights are a personal choice, like weapons, just use what fits you. However, I would have them on the small side because of weight, since, by night fall you should have already found a place to camp. Walking around in the dark, with a light, is a sure way to get killed.


I didn’t unpack my whole bag yesterday, so I just yanked out some items that might fall into the “special” category Irishman was asking about. I’m covered for all of what you listed except…

  1. Antibiotic prescription (real good idea)
  2. Power source and backup phone. These have been getting cheaper but last I checked the little solar panels were too expensive for an emergency kit (for my budget).

If it stays gloomy all weekend I might make a project out of cataloging my camping supplies and post a configuration for discussion’s sake. I’ve got a backpacking trip coming up so I’m getting into the gear anyway…

Bump. I saw that Chris recently linked to this in the Hurricane thread.

@ First Aid
I recently asked a question about first aid supplies that you’d add to a basic first aid kit in The Tactical Life thread.

I’ll put them here since this is more to the topic.

This moves more to stuff to have in your home in an emergency.

Also, related to power supplies. My husband has been looking at lithium battery units that can be recharged with solar panels. Also, we’ve been looking at generators.

@ Power. We’re looking to replace, and go up a bit in function. We’ve had an old portable power supply unit that would jump start the car, charge a cell phone, useful for plugging in a lamp during power outages. They aren’t making these anymore.


I have beenlooking at this as well. Really, I’ve been lookkng into rechargeables generally, and the feasibly of recharging by solar. The smaller solar cells would take forever to charge anything, the best option all around seem to be the ones the size of a folding table.

Living in an area about to be hit by the coming Hurricane-o-pocalypse, I wish I had invested in solar already, but c’est la vie. It’s funny how drinking water is sold out, yet they’re calling for 40 inches of rain and no one is talking about safe ways to collect rainwater.


A note on gas. Gasoline loses about an octane a month. That four month old 87 ethanol gas is very suspect after four months. If your going to store gas get non-ethanol highest octane available. Add Seafoam as a stabilizer. The gas is most likely fine for your vehicle but for generators maybe not so much.