Must Haves For Your Bug-Out Bag

Last updated 10/12/2019 | |

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Planning is critical if you want to be prepared for emergencies. Last time, we made an emergency document binder and now let’s work on an evacuation pack, or bug-out bag. This is another critical preparedness item that you need to make before an emergency hits.

I know what you're thinking...even if your area doesn’t have hurricanes, floods, or earthquakes, you could be affected by a house fire, gas leak, or extended power outage. And the emergency won't wait while you run around the house gathering supplies! You need to be ready now.

By the way—am I the only one who gets anxious thinking about these “all heck breaks loose” situations? The reason I’m focusing on this uncomfortable topic is that if things go sideways, the government/police/fire departments can’t and won’t be able to go everywhere and help everybody. We need to be responsible for ourselves.

Must Have Items For Your Bug-Out Bag:

You don't need any kind of special backpack--we had a couple left over from college that work just fine. You can get inexpensive backpacks in August during the back-to-school sales, or anytime at a thrift store.

By the way: these bug-out bag tips are designed for evacuation to a shelter, relative’s house, etc. I’m no expert in wilderness survival, so we aren’t going to talk about weaving a hut out of wild grasses, catching rodents for food, or anything like that. If you want to learn about that, read When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes.

Adult bags contain:

  • Clothes designed for layering. I’m combing the thrift stores for cargo pants for me, and I also have a button-down flannel shirt, t-shirts, bandana, socks, and undies.
  • A mini-first-aid kit with bandages, essential oils, and clearly labeled prescriptions
  • TP, soap, toothbrush, deodorant. Good hygiene is good for morale.
  • Food (energy bars, beef jerky)
  • Water
  • Pocketknife and duct tape
  • Hand-crank radio (this one does just about everything except make you dinner)
  • Hand-crank flashlight
  • Deck of cards
  • Hubby has an old pair of glasses in his. An old prescription is better than none at all!

Kids' bags:

Jackjack’s pack has a similar assortment of clothes, a flashlight, whistle, emergency contact info, and snacks.

Little Peanut’s pack is her diaper bag on steroids. It has formula, bottles, diapers, and wipes; Cheerios; clothes and a blankie.

Extra Supplies

Our camping supplies are stored in a plastic bin that’s easy to toss in the car. The bin has a small cookstove and electric lantern (no propane!), biodegradable soap, emergency blankets, matches, and so on. These camping supplies are great to have for an extended power outage, too. 

Speaking of your car, you already have a paper map of your area, jumper cables and a few basic tools (screwdrivers, pliers, crescent wrench) in your car, right? Good. I knew you did.

I hope that having this stuff ready will help you feel prepared and not scared. Next, we'll learn about food preparedness. Stay tuned!

What's in your bug-out bag?

To learn more:
Emergency preparedness part 1: Document Binder
Emergency preparedness part 3: Food Storage

Must Have Items For Your Bug-Out Bag:

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  1. Heather on November 27, 2015 at 12:39 am

    This may sound a bit wacky, but there are places you can get “temporary tattoos” made with your image on them. Would it make sense to have one per child made up with a family photo, so there is NO WAY they can possibly lose it, even if they strip off all their clothing and run about naked? (Not much risk of that past toddlerhood, but still. Clothes can get ripped or removed and lost, things fall out of pockets, but skin — especially skin that usually has a shirt sleeve over it? — is pretty hard to lose.

  2. Kari on June 11, 2015 at 9:45 am

    military grade glow sticks are a must they are about a $1 each and last 8-12 hours. They come in an array of colors. Red is for night when you don’t want to lose your night vision but need some light. For the small kids I saw on another post they put a family picture in the pack to help keep kids calm and to help them get back with there family if they got separated. I would laminate it though for better wear.

  3. loans on September 9, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

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  4. sharon m on August 21, 2013 at 8:15 am

    i would put some crayons/coloring books etc in the kids bag, somthing that they could do to keep htem busy for a lil while, you cna go to dlollar stor and hook up on som e cool books/coloring books for htem to pass the time either with mom and dad or withouth hugs

  5. Anna on February 15, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I saw a great idea elsewhere (don’t remember where) – for little kids, put clothes one size too big in the bag – then rotate them into their wardrobe as they grow. That way you don’t have to “waste” a good outfit. (I keep a bag for little one in the car lots of times- just for “everyday” emergencies)

  6. Nancy Claeys on September 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Such a great collection of tips in view of the natural disasters that have occurred recently.

    Thank you for sharing at RT this week. xo

  7. Kathy Felsted Usher on September 14, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Since you have small children I would put your contact information into their bags plus see how you can tag them as well= a card in a pocket or an engraved bracelet/necklace just in case you were ever separated during an emergency.

    • Brown Thumb Mama on September 19, 2012 at 4:21 am

      That’s a fantastic idea, Kathy. Thanks for the suggestion!

  8. The Prudent Pantry on September 9, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    This is so important. Thank you so much for posting. You never know when you may need something like this. Good for you, planning ahead!

    I would love it if you would share this at the Smart Solutions linky party. You can link up here:

    Have a great day!

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