Survival Kit and Bug Out Bag: The Ultimate Survival Guide
Nobody wants to be in an emergency situation where we have to give up everything and survive, but in the event of accidents on hikes, fires or other types of natural disasters, many people who are far-sighted choose to prepare for unforeseen events
The majority of these people are not paranoid but ordinary citizens who prefer to prepare for the worst, without wishing it.
To be able to cope with these types of emergencies, simply take simple steps, applying the basic precepts of a survival guide with the essentials to protect yourself by building a survival kit or a Bug Out Bag (BOB or evacuation bag) to include in the survival bag and creating an escape plan for yourself and your family.
Sometimes people do it for fear of a great dramatic event initiating an end to civilization, but no need to be so extreme, there are a lot of more frequent events that happen all the time that will make a person well prepared happy to have prepared his survival gear.
Each survival scenario has its own factors that will influence what contents you should put in your survival kit. For example, being in the forest or urban areas have its own advantages and disadvantages and will affect changes to the components of your Bug out Bag, which I described below. In essence, it will be necessary to make changes to a survival bag depending on your needs.
What makes a good survival kit?
This can be answered in different ways. There is a wide variety of prefabricated survival kits sold online that has lots of survival equipment and if you are not interested in the individual selection of the essentials of the Bug Out Bag, they can be a good option. However, because they are produced and intended to respond to a mass audience and they do not necessarily take into account variables that may be present depending on your locality. For example, you want to adapt your basic necessities for urban survival compared to wilderness survival in the wild or in the desert. Same thing if you are preparing a BOB survival guide for yourself or for a family. Regardless of these variables, there are some simple rules that must be followed to determine its contents:
Make sure you can carry your bag comfortably – you will probably have to walk a long distance to get out of danger or to be rescued. If your bag is unsuitable or too heavy, you may have difficulty getting away. Please see my article for more information on choosing your survival bag for your needs.
Keep your survival kit SIMPLE
You are not looking to build a mobile home. Also, do not forget that electronic items need to be recharged to work. Carry simple and reliable things to cover basic needs. If you think of something that needs another to work, you’re wrong. Instead, focus on items that can be used individually and complement each other to save space.
Plan your survival gear for a set period of time
Any survival guide says it, 72 hours is a good starting point because it’s about the time that a person can survive without water. Once you start planning for several weeks, you will add too much hiking gear to your list of essentials. Remember that the goal here is survival, not luxury. If you do not need an object to survive, do not take it.
Essential elements of a survival kit
OK, I’m ready to start, what are the essential elements of a disaster survival kit ?
If you’re just looking for a checklist, I’ll make it easy. You can download, print, complete and possibly use to start a fire (as a last resort of course) my free Checklist.
However, if you want very detailed information, continue reading below. I put together an incredibly comprehensive survival guide on everything you need to have (it took me hours!).
If you are experienced or beginner, it is likely that you miss something in the list. So I’m going to show you the nine categories of elements that all survival kits must have.
Whether you use it for cooking, cleaning or of course drinking, water is the most important part of any survival kit. The average person can live only three days without water, make sure to have access to a water source should be the first priority.
In order to ensure a renewal of the stock you should have 3 items in this category:
Potable water :
The best way to make sure you have clean water to drink is to simply bring some water. Since water is heavy, it’s a balance between what you can wear without weighing you down too much. I suggest you put between 3 and 4 liters that will last from 3 to 4 days if they are consumed responsibly.
Now, how to bring this water is another debate, it depends on the amount of water you can carry. If you had to buy one thing though, I would say a reliable, metal canteen. I love the brand “Klean Kanteen” and I really like the size and wide opening of this gourd . It is easy to fill and can be used to boil water.
In addition to a canteen, foldable water tanks are also a good buy as they can be compressed to take up little space in your survival kit once they are empty and can hold a good amount.
If you have a tight budget, there is nothing wrong with the plastic bottles available at the supermarket.
Water Purification Tablets
The second step to having a source of replenishing water is to carry water purification tablets (usually iodine). They are fast and easy to use and will certainly save your life if you need clean water.
Water purification filter
The last step in ensuring a steady supply of drinking water in your survival kit is to have a portable water filter to turn water from any lake, stream or pond in tap water. If you ask the opinion of several experts, there is a company that dominates the market in terms of quality: Katadyn.
They have many models ranging from filters meant to suit a set of people or to smaller and individual units. I personally like the Katadyn Hiker Pro – it’s one of the best-selling and most reliable mini filters and weighs only 310 grams.
This small accessory is robust, reliable and able to handle the most demanding filtering (water flow with lots of deposits, lake or pond). If there is one thing that absolutely deserves your money, it’s a portable water filter. If the situation changes significantly clean water will become your most valuable benefit.
FIRE AND LIGHT
We will move on to our second category: fire and light.
Whether you use it to bring warmth, to protect yourself from wild animals or to prepare your food, it is essential for survival in nature and therefore for your disaster survival kit.
When it comes to making fire, the rule of three prevails: have three different ways to light a fire at any time. A solid lighter or three is always my first option, so make sure you have several in your survival kit (do not worry about quality, some BIC lighters will do).
The matches are second on the list. Make sure they are waterproof and keep them in an airtight container. Nowadays, you will find very easily this type of waterproof matches to withstand the weather. I advise you to include these in your bag because it is better to be prepared and they will save you valuable time, until you get to the end, which brings us to the following material …
As a last resort, nothing beats a good firelighter that works with the combination of flint and steel, which creates a spark. The task can be slow and tiring, but clearly reliable when you reach the end of your lighter and matches. Make sure you have one in your backpack.
Cotton balls impregnated with Vaseline
Now that you have a way to make a flame or a spark, you’re going to need something to catch fire. The best (and lightest) method I have found is to take a Ziploc plastic bag and fill it with cotton balls dipped in Vaseline. If you have any doubts about this method do a quick search on YouTube. It works every time (even wet) and burns for about 2 and a half minutes.
If you are outside in the desert, the last thing you want to do is grope around you blindly in the darkness. Depending on your needs, a small Maglite may be what you want, however if the extra weight does not bother you, do not hesitate to choose a more powerful flashlight.
Some would say it’s a waste to carry both, a headlamp and a traditional flashlight, but I do not agree. Having both hands free can be a vital benefit for survival gear – so try to hold a card, cut wood or shoot with a flashlight in your hand. Be smart and use your head (literally).
No it is not only great accessories for parties with friends, the glow sticks have real value as hiking equipment in a survival situation. It is a light source that does not use batteries, can be used in various climates, can indicate dangers but above all signal your presence to be rescued. You will not need it all the time but you will be happy to have them.
Now that we have the essentials, it’s time to move on to interesting things. What is this proverb about a man and his tools?
No need to detail the different uses of a solid blade, you already know its importance. A knife is one of the most personal items you will have to choose from and I encourage you to do some research to find out which ones are most popular. I cannot tell you what is the best survival knife for your survival kit and your needs, there are tons. Personally I love the ESEE-6 knife , the Becker BK2 Kabar and also a Mora MG Companion is always very popular.
Equally important, a multi-function gripper is a versatile solid tool. I strongly suggest a Leatherman Wave or a Leatherman Charge TTi , which are clearly among the best on the market. However, I know that not everyone does not necessarily want to put so much money into these models. If you have a tight budget, other strong brands like SOG, Gerber and a good old Victorinox Swiss army knife can do the trick.
Machete / Ax / Hatchet
My ___ is bigger than yours. “No matter” you answer, “It’s how to use it that matters”. We are talking here about axes and machetes of course (you have misplaced ideas), and the size is quite personal.
I prefer a slightly larger machete (not because I have a complex), but because I want to be able to split a log or cut down a tree if necessary. If you prefer big models, know that they can become heavy after wearing them on your back for several days in your kit survival .
In terms of recommendations, I really like the affordable Tramontina machetes but also the Kukri style, such as Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri measuring 43 cm in total with 20 cm blade or the Ontario Kukri , which is roughly the same size. In terms of ax, tactical tomahawks SOG are excellent, also used by the US Army, very versatile, they are always very useful. Also the classic Fiskars garden tools. However, although it is essential survival equipment, choose one or the other, do not clutter these two types of tools.
Now that I’ve filled my quota of dirty jokes for the article, let’s be serious for a moment. While many people have the dream of shooting deer with a rifle or catching a rabbit with home-made traps, a solid fishing kit is likely to be your most reliable source of food in the wild.
When you look strictly from a caloric point of view, fishing needs much less effort than hunting and thus offers the best return on your energy investment. Assemble strong fishing survival gear and find some good open water and I guarantee you will not be hungry.
Thread for traps
Although I joked that those who have dreams of greatness can catch a rabbit with a trap, have survival skills in the forest and a small kit of traps and know how to use them is always a great addition to any survival kit. I am a big fan of having passive means to feed myself, so the possibility of setting up a trap and letting him do his job is always very beneficial. However, I do not recommend using this unique survival technique as the sole source of food, but it can eventually provide an additional source of good food, which is never negligible.
You will surely get to brush your way with your machete so something will necessarily end up being torn. Make sure you have a sewing kit with a needle and thread to keep these holes repaired.
Even if you bring a machete or ax, which are able to cut down a tree if necessary, it often takes a lot less energy to drop it with a foldable saw . They take up little space and weigh almost nothing. In short, you have no excuse not to include in your bag of survival.
Whether it is your survival knife, machete, ax or multifunction pliers, you have a lot of blades on this list. Do yourself a favor and get a good sharpening stone to keep them all sharpened.
A shovel digs holes. The holes are useful. Is this explanation enough? You can also use this foldable shovel as a means of self-defense, to more effectively clean your camp or to bury your waste to avoid attracting unwanted animals. Yes I know, it’s not very ecological but we’re talking about emergency situations here.
You do not have to be an expert in survival ration when it comes to survival food, but you have to know the basics to respect in a decent meal of survival: calories and protein.
In this regard think of items like dried beef and protein bars. Both elements give a lot of energy, take only a small space and keep for a very long time.
Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) is another option, but tends to be quite expensive if you want to limit yourself to a tight budget. Things like oatmeal and nuts are also good additions to any survival list.
If you are interested in the subject of survival food, you will find articles dealing with this topic with the best food items to acquire for an emergency as well as their estimated lifespan.
One last (often overlooked) element is: multivitamins. Even if you can survive with oatmeal and the fish you catch, having something to replace the missing vitamins and minerals will be essential to keeping you healthy and therefore active.
When camping or in a real danger situation, a camp or backpack cooking kit will be essential for eating and preparing the meal. Make sure your drain bag contains all the essentials including a metal pot, pot, cups, utensils, etc. No need obviously to bring 15 forks.
If you are planning to cook soup or boil water during your adventure I highly recommend a mini portable stove. Like this one , cheap and weighs only 135g, it’s hard for me to find a better deal on the internet.
This unit works with all the butane / propane cartridges available at any sports store and is powerful enough to boil water in less than a minute. It comes with a PIEZO ignition system, adjustable flame and its own protective case. What should I do to convince you? Buy it!
You can also opt for a Solo Stove wood stove .
I have detailed all the elements individually in each of the previous categories but I will avoid doing it only to “clean” this section a bit … I could not resist doing the joke.
All word games on good hygiene side are things that cannot be underestimated. Make sure you have the following items in a waterproof toilet kit:
- Hand Sanitizer
- Toilet paper
- Wet linens
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
Ok, here’s the situation, if it’s the end of the world, are you really going to worry about having a cell phone? Probably not. But in 95% of realistic survival scenarios having a way of communication is going to be very important. Whether it’s a “prepaid” type of recharge phone or your everyday phone, it’s important to have something.
* Little reminder: If you take an extra phone make sure you program a list of important numbers and take a piece of paper with this information. Nothing worse than having a phone, but not knowing the number of the person you are trying to call.
A cell phone could be controversial, it’s hard to argue having a good dynamo radio . In any scenario, it’s important to be well informed – even if it’s just to decide that you’re never going home. This type of object is rather useful for a disaster survival kit rather than a survival kit used as hiking equipment.
If you’re the kind of person who has a lot of stuff and gadgets, make sure to take a solar charger so that his things continue to work when you’re out of energy.
While we can debate the practical utility of bringing your iPod or iPad there is no better option for storing large amounts of information such as survival manuals and local maps.
Map of the region
When talking about maps, it is important to know your area. Having a paper copy of the local geography will give you a major advantage over a person moving blind. Be sure to identify all sources of fresh water and camping possible.
If you find yourself trapped in the bush for a long period of time, you will need to change clothes and a way to conserve heat. Below, I’ll cover all the essentials to keep you warm.
If you have sensitive hands or not, you will do a lot of work with them and you have to keep them protected. They do not take up much space, weigh almost nothing and probably rest around your house. Would you like to please me? And throw a pair in your survival kit, please?
Not essential for any type of scenario but nice for those of the chemical type. Can also be used to filter air in the blink of an eye.
Your eyes will be grateful … You can always have them on you so it does not take up any space.
Another of my favorite items: a pair of warm socks is essential to stay comfortable and allow you to keep walking. No need to explain the effect of wet feet on your health or your morale, to have the morale in your socks, that’s the proverb?
I know this is another perfect opportunity for a play on words, but that would be too easy.
Pants are always necessary, even in survival situations. Make sure they are waterproof. Do not venture into the jungle with shorts, admittedly it is hot and it is unbearable but you will be more easily subject to injuries or scratches, which can quickly become problematic.
As with pants, the important criterion here is that the jacket is waterproof. Depending on the climate and the time of year when you will be outdoors, I will leave it to your best judgment as to the weight you want. Practical tip – I would rather be stuck with a thick jacket when it’s hot than a light jacket when it’s cold.
SHELTER OF SURVIVAL
Well yes, we talk about it often but a survival cover is light and cheap, less than $15 and can save your life in certain circumstances. Buy one at Amazon or any other sports store.
I recommend you to opt for an emergency bivouac of the brand SOL , which is much more effective than a classic survival blanket.
If a bandanna is one of my favorite items for a survival kit, the sleeping bag is definitely the one I like the least. Let’s face it, this is not a survival blanket, it is bulky, heavy and incredibly expensive for the best. However, they are an essential part of every survival list.
Sleeping floor mats
An option if you are young and active but essential if you have back pain – a floor mat is something I always take on a hike. I would not say it’s absolutely essential but try to spend a few nights on the floor and see how you feel on the morning of the 3rd day …
Tarp or waterproof plastic tarpaulin
Finally, we arrive at tarp or tarpaulin – may be the most essential of this part. Its main use is to keep you dry while you sleep at night, but it has so many other uses that I would probably pack a couple of them.
If you want my opinion there is no better extra bed option than a hammock stretched between two trees with a tarpaulin, quick and easy. It is usually not too expensive, easier to set up, more comfortable (in my opinion) and lighter than a tent … my choice is quite easy.
In a disaster situation, people will panic – it’s as simple as that. And if you are reading this now you are probably better prepared than 99% of people. The reality is that having all the accessories will only serve you if you can protect them. This section aims to choose the right tool.
Depending on the legislation of your country, you can opt for a firearm, I will not be advising you but you will have to find the one that suits you easily.
Bow and crossbow
For those looking for an alternative to a gun, a good bow is a great option. It is quiet, easier to transport than a firearm and has reusable ammunition if you are lucky. As with all weapons, do not forget to practice and become familiar with the bow before the situation arises and where you will need it.
Another alternative to a firearm, the crossbow is much slower than the bow but also more accurate and easy to use for beginners.
One of the reasons I personally recommend a 22-caliber rifle is because of ammunition. You can carry a lot of 22-caliber ammunition without worrying about weight. Ammunition also includes arrows for your bows or balls for your slingshot.
We have finally arrived at the last category – various. The other objects that I could not categorize in all other categories. This section could be literally 100 pieces long so I tried to keep them to a minimum.
As I often say, if it’s good for the air force, then it’s good for me. It cannot be said enough, but a paracord is one of the most flexible elements in any survival bag. Use it to hang tarpaulins, tie up your hammock, secure the elements of your hiking gear and much more.
In addition to the one in your survival kit, I also like to wear two paracord bracelets to always have them on me in case of emergency. You will find on YouTube tutorials on how to make your own bracelets, or if you do not have the time and you just want to buy one, you can get them on Amazon cheap.
Paper and pencil
There are times when you need to write something but you do not have paper and pencil? Well, it happens when you’re in the middle of nowhere. Not essential but for you to see.
Essential for things like headlamps and flashlights, a spare battery pack can be a lot more useful than you think. Plus, you can always steal them when your TV remote is running out (I tried to resist that urge, but I’m just a simple man … just try to make sure you replace them).
Heavy Garbage Bags
Why take garbage bags ? Because they are so versatile. Use them as a poncho, a means of collecting water, a waterproof bag and lots of other things.
Essential to get noticed by someone and report your exact location. It can also be useful for frightening unwanted animals. I let you decide when it is useful and where it is not, besides there is no need to place it at the bottom of your bag, always keep it around your neck.
It all depends on the region and the season, but in some parts of the world the insects will kill you before anything else.
Your amazing astronomical navigation skills will not work during the day. It’s better to take a compass . Another survival equipment option can also be a survival watch. In fact, nowadays, a military survival watch can serve as GPS, compass, the number of calories spent, and many other things, including time!
First aid kit
Cuts, bruises, fevers, you name them and they will arrive without delay in a wild environment. Having a good first aid kit is worth its weight in gold. If you are convinced that you know what a good first aid kit entails, build it yourself. If this is not the case, there are many good prebuilt kits that come with everything needed.
And that’s all!
If you followed my survival guide and got all this Congratulations! So you are on the right road to prepare a survival bag that could save the lives of your family and yours in an emergency.
Now, keep in mind that this list is only a survival guide and needs to be modified to fit your needs and preferences. No survival kit is ever really complete, and each person will surely have their say by adding or removing an item! If you think something else should absolutely be included, please let me know and I will add it. You can contact me here.