A simple list of items to consider when creating your bug out bag or survival kit.
A simple bug out bag check list. Lot's of ideas on what your survival kit should contain. I've simply made a list. You may like some items and not others. Best to have considered each item and take what you feel is most valuable. The list will also vary according to your mode of transport. Trekking or Driving? If you're starting the journey in the car take a 2nd bag with extra supplies and heavier items like a large axe, stove and fuel for cooking. Keep your first backpack ready to go in the car.
Air Horn – Can signal distress and also scare off bears with a long blast.
Air Rifle – For quiet hunting. Does not scare wildlife away from your hunting patch.
Aluminum Foil – Aids in cooking on open fire, reflects heat, reflects sunlight on shelter in hot weather
Ammo – Extra ammo for whatever you are using. Pellets, Bullets, Steel Balls, Arrows.
Antibiotic Ointment – Used to treat cuts and scrapes; carried in a first aid kit.
Awl – A useful multipurpose tool with a single point. Can be used for scratching messages in wood as well.
Axe – A light weight axe is a handy tool for backcountry survival. A larger axe is an option if you are planning to travel with a car.
Bandana – Helpful for desert or sandstorm situations as well as for protecting eyes in bright sunlight in snow.
Bait – Various types of bait can be used for both small game and large game hunting including bait specifically recommended for black bears and grizzly bears.
Balaclava – A lifesaver in severe cold situations.
Batteries – Extra batteries for your equipment.
Bleach – Chlorine Bleach 1/4 teaspoon per gallon will purify water. Further research required!
Binoculars – Useful in unknown territory
Bivvy Sack – Lightweight 1 person shelter
Bivvy Shelter - As above but with poles. Better for keeping out rain and bugs.
Boots - A spare pair of good boots that are already broken in. Don't walk for miles in a new pair of boots, it'll slow you down and hurt!
Bowie Knife – A fixed blade large knife usually with a sheath.
Bug Out Bag – Your emergency bag. Packed and ready. A good backpack is practical and even if you start out by car you may be walking further down the road.
Bug Repellent – To keep insects at bay.
Bungee Chord – Really useful to have a small selection. Many uses you haven't thought of yet.
Camp Stove – Useful in the car situation - Remember to carry the fuel.
Camouflage – Hunting and hiding.
Candle – Can be useful.
Canning Supplies – Supplies for preserving food, sometimes under high pressure, in which cooked or uncooked food is sealed in a tin plated and lacquered steel can.
Canteen – Portable container for carrying water and other fluids necessary for hydration.
Can Opener – If your packing tinned supplies don't forget the opener.
CB Radio A Citizens Band Radio can be a good short distance communication tool. Consider a solar power source, generator or car battery connection.
Cell Phone Signal Booster – Extend your cellphone coverage. Additional antenna is also an option. Think power source!
Collapsible Fishing Pole. A compact fishing pole is easier to carry.
Come Along (hand winch) – Useful even if you do have a winch on the car and this manual ratchet winch can get to places your car cannot.
Compass – A good compass is a necessity but so is the knowledge of how to use it accurately.
Crampons – Attachments for boots to grip the ice.
Crowbar – Available in various sizes and larger bars may be impractical unless you have transport. Good for entering buildings to find supplies and a simple self defence option.
Dental Floss – Used for hygiene, can also double as emergency fishing line or emergency cordage and even emergency sewing in place of thread (yes, even first aid suturing).
Duct Tape – Strong adhesive tape renowned for multiple uses and quick fixes.
Decoy – From a duck decoy to a decoy that looks exactly like a white tailed deer — there are several types of decoys that can assist in hunting wildlife.
Distiller – In survival, water from the ocean (through a process called desalination to remove salt from salt water) or contaminated fresh water is boiled and evaporates and then becomes condensation in a second part of the distiller — the final product is clean drinking water minus any minerals typically found in ground water; long term, drinking distilled water is dangerous as it will leach minerals out of your body, minerals your body needs for health. Use water distillation only as a temporary solution to water purification — or find a way to add minerals to distilled water if you intend to use distillation for any extended length of time.
Distress Radio Beacon – An emergency beacon that can be activated to alert the Coast Guard (in the U.S.) to an emergency and to your location via GPS technology.
Dry Bag – Waterproof bag popular with kayakers and canoers as well as backpackers hiking through wet or rainy conditions in need of a waterproof compartment; commonly used to protect maps, small electronics, and other personal goods.
Electrolyte Tablets – In every day life your body requires electrolyte minerals, potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium for your internal organs and brain to function properly. Without proper electrolyte balance you are easily tired, physically stressed, and in hot conditions susceptible to heat stroke and even death. Proper electrolyte balance is critical in both athletes and also in long term survival. Athletes require more electrolytes, due to the stresses they put on their body, and someone in a stressed survival situation will require more electrolytes also. That’s why electrolyte tablets are included in Navy Seal survival kits.
Emergency Candle – Specialized candle with much longer burn time than decorative candles and a good candle to stock up on for long term lighting in an extended emergency.
Emergency Food – A non-perishable (or alternative) food source to turn to when primary food supplies are exhausted or not an option (they’ve been contaminated for example); emergency food can include MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), canned food, freeze dried food, nuts, seeds, grains, flours, bottled food, and even small scale crops grown in urban gardens.
External Frame Backpack – Intended for multi day hiking and also used by hunters, an external frame backpack has zippered compartments but also an ability for an excess number of goods (or even parts of an animal carcass) to be added outside of these zippered compartments, attached using rope, paracord or even bungee chord to a backpack’s frame. Some external frame backpacks are also survival backpacks, but not all survival backpacks have external frames.
Flashlight – Provides artificial light via battery, solar power, or hand crank, depending on the style.
Fire Steel – Fire steel produces sparks (even in a wet environment) and is a survival tool commonly carried by survivalists and backpackers for emergency fire starting in the event a lighter or match is lost or damaged by water.
First Aid Kit – Includes bandages, tourniquet, wound cleansing, prescription medication, written instructions that advise on what to do “in the event of”, tweezers, needles, stitches, pain reliever, fever reducer, antihistamine, etc.
Fishing Kit – A customized emergency fishing kit is recommended for both military or civilian survival kits; have a local fishing guide equip you with both salt water (if you live near a coast) and fresh water gear based on the region you reside in currently and also the region you may one day relocate to.
Folding Saw – Basic bushcraft, shelter building, and wood cutting for pointed traps, etc; lighter than a hatchet, quieter, and a favorite with survivalists and experienced hikers both.
Flares – Emergency flame used to signal for help that can be shot by a flare gun or (those that are shaped like a stick) have a fuse that can be lit and will burn for several minutes; can also be used for emergency fire starter if no other sources of emergency fire starter are available.
Fresnel Lens – Certain makes and sizes of Fresnel Lens can be a powerful fire starting tool that work by magnifying the suns rays and must be used with extreme caution.
Freeze Dried Food – Lightweight and easy to prepare food commonly carried by backpackers and kayakers.
Garbage Bag(s) – Heavy duty garbage bags can come in extremely large sizes (up to 55 gallons) and be used in everything from securing campsite garbage from bears (when tied to an overhanging tree well off the ground), as well as an emergency poncho in a rainstorm, and even used as an emergency bivy sack for temporary shelter from the rain and wind.
Gas Can – Used to transport a few gallons or more of extra fuel into the backcountry when traveling by dirt road where there are no gas stations along the way to refuel.
Giant Shark and Alligator Hooks – Need to catch a meal big enough to feed several people at a time? Use a giant fishing hook made specifically for catching shark and or alligator. Both are easily attracted to a baited hook; use either Kevlar line or galvanized steel line with a strength rating of several hundred pounds (for the bigger beasts) and anchor the line to shore (for sharks) or hang from a tree over a water source (for alligators).
Gillie Suit – Possibly the ultimate in camouflage; look like “moss man” and disappear by blending in with the vegetation around you.
Gloves – Includes work gloves and cold weather work gloves; activities that include chopping with an axe or clearing brush with a machete or even shoveling dirt can create blisters in a short period of time if appropriate work gloves are not worn to protect hands; gloves are also good for a disaster zone and picking through debris and even glass.
Goggles – Tinted ski goggles are a survival tool in areas of snow or cold winter weather and high winds; during sunny weather tinted goggles reduce snow glare to safe levels (helping protect from “snow blindness”.)
Ham radio – Currently requires a license to operate a Ham radio; operates on the “Amateur Bands”, radio frequencies designated by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) for use by Ham operators.
Hatchet – Small hand axe (also known as a survival hatchet) that is useful for chopping firewood or clearing branches but is often frowned on by light weight backpackers who recommend a smaller folding saw rather than a heavier hatchet. We don’t necessarily agree – in many cases, we’d rather have the heftiness of a hatchet over a folding saw. We have a guide to the best survival hatchets which will help you pick a survival hatchet that fits your needs if you’re looking for a great one.
Headlamp – A hands free choice for a flashlight, traditionally worn by miners and underground explorers (spelunkers); headlamps are a great choice as an emergency lighting system by anyone in need of a good flashlight.
Helmet – Necessary safety item for any possible climbing or steep ascending where a fall is possible.
Internal Frame Backpack – Frame is built into the pack and majority (or all) supplies are intended to be carried within zippered compartments.
Ice Axe – A tool commonly carried by glacial mountain climbers, used to both ascend steep slopes as well as to descend. If there’s any chance you’re going to cross over a mountain pass, and you see snow on the peaks or saddles, an ice axe may be what makes the final climb over the top possible.
Jerry Can – Bolt on external gas can for carrying extra fuel or portable gas can.
Jon Boat – Small fishing boat that can carry a few hundred pounds of gear and 2-3 people. It can be rowed with oars, like a row boat, or outfitted with a small engine in back. Intended for calm waters and slow rivers.
Kevlar Line – Kevlar line is included in Navy Seal survival kits; the Kevlar line in these kits is designed to break into small sections for emergency snare use, but experts on snaring advise that self locking snares are better (animals are a lot less likely to escape, once snared, in a self locking snare). Kevlar has extremely high tensile strength — much stronger than rope of similar diameter. In survival Kevlar with a breaking strength of several hundred pounds can have multiple uses: It’s commonly used in spear fishing; if you’re in a coastal environment you can also bait, hook, and catch sharks or alligators on the end of a long Kevlar line (using large hooks, but only in emergencies — be sure to check fish and game laws otherwise for your area), with the Kevlar line anchored to the shore (use a buoy or even inflated balloon to dangle a baited hook a few feet under water for shark fishing).
Kleen Kanteen – Popular stainless steel water bottle with a useful property of being an easy way to boil water in a hurry, right in the water bottle; don’t try to boil water with a plastic water bottle — the plastic is likely to melt; choose only the Kleen Kanteen that describes itself as able to boil water over an open flame (the vacuum version is not intended for this and will leach chemicals into the water).
Knife – A knife can have many uses; specialized knives are made for specific purposes like animal skinning, animal butchering, filleting fish, and the list goes on. Bowie knives were originally intended for close quarters combat; can also be used for self defense against some species of dangerous wildlife — but not the bigger beasts.
Lantern – From battery operated lanterns to oil lanterns and kerosene burning lanterns.
Laser Pointer – Can be useful to help signal for help, especially to a much further distance than a whistle or air horn can be heard in an emergency.
LED Squeeze Light – Small device with a bright light activated by simple button squeeze and at last report included in Navy Seal survival kits.
Life Vest – A life vest is essential for canoes, kayaks, and ocean fishing or when paddling a river with periodic white water (rapids).
Lightstick – Backup light source that is chemically activated; requires no batteries; good for approximately 8 hours of emergency light — if your flashlight or other light sources are lost, broken, or batteries go dead, a lightstick is a handy tool to have.
Lighter – Produces a flame when mechanical lever is rolled, producing a spark that ignites butane; essential survival tool for fire starting.
Longbow – A large bow drawn by hand specifically for shooting a long feathered arrow; used for hunting and as a ranged weapon in combat; a well crafted bow along with well crafted arrows has been a proven hunting tool and combat weapon for many cultures over the centuries.
Machete – Effective tool for clearing brush; can be used for self defense against dangerous wildlife, dangerous dogs, and in extreme cases — dangerous people.
Maps – A map(s) is a must haves for any serious traveler or recreationist or someone navigating a disaster zone; trail maps and detailed road maps can show various ways to reach help or safety.
Matches – In dry conditions, an easy way to light a candle or ignite a tinder bundle to start a campfire can be by match.
Micro Torch – A highly effective tool for wet weather fire starting; similar to a lighter, but larger, a micro torch has a much hotter flame and carries more fuel providing a longer continuous burn time — when all else fails, a micro torch should get a fire started fast.
Medicine – Various medicines should be included in a fully stocked survival kit, including prescription medicine required by you or family members.
Medicinal Plants – There are many plants found in nature with medicinal qualities. Prior training is advised.
Mess Kit – Self contained cooking pots and or utensils that fit into small compact kit for backpacking.
Mosquito Net and Mosquito Head Net – In areas of heavy mosquitoes, a mosquito net can help protect from annoying bites and also help protect from catching dangerous viruses like West Nile and Malaria, depending on where you are in the world, and where these viruses may be prevalent.
Multi-Tool – Combines several individual functions into a single unit that commonly include a knife blade, screw driver heads, pliers, and an assortment of other tools. Check out our guide to the best survival multi-tools to know which to choose.
Mylar Blanket – Also known as a space blanket or thermal blanket and included in Navy Seal survival kits. This heat-reflective thin plastic sheeting is intended to be worn as an emergency blanket — when worn around a person’s body it reflects body heat to help a person escape otherwise hypothermia or just sleep through a cold night. Can be used as a shelter floor to help conserve shelter heat on a cold night, especially on frozen ground.
Paracord – Called 550 cord when referring to type-III paracord, paracord is a lightweight nylon rope used by both military personnel and civilians as all purpose cordage. We highly recommend you carry around a length of paracord with you on all outdoor treks. The best way to carry paracord around is with survival bracelet – its lightweight and convenient, and leaves your hands free without filling up your pack with more stuff. Read our recommendations for the best survival paracord products.
Pepper Spray – For deterring bears and other dangerous wildlife, to deterring criminals, varieties and strengths of pepper spray vary, according to specific uses; be sure to carry the right one for who or what you intend to defend yourself from.
Pick – (5 pound pick) Breaks up hard packed ground to make using a shovel possible; If traveling by boat through an area of heavy vegetation, a pick can be used to clear away brush for the purpose of setting up camp or blazing a trail; can be used to dig trenches; used to dig holes; not recommended for backpackers due to the fact that they are not light and weigh a few pounds.
Poncho – Simple waterproof overcoat that offers protection from heavy rain and wind; can be used as an emergency temporary shelter if you have warm layers on
Pulley – Used to hoist heavy weights; once set firmly in place, a pulley can also be a quick way to climb up and down into places such as tree shelters.
Saw – Various saws exists for everything from cutting tree branches, to cutting large trees, to cutting metal.
Sewing Kit – Various size needles and lines of various thread thickness can be used for everything from sewing rips in fabric, to emergency suturing (stitches) to close deep cuts where skin has been torn open from any number of injuries.
Shovel / Collapsible Shovel – Digs and moves loose ground and rock; shovels can also be used to clear away mud, sand, and snow; a handy tool for burying garbage, dung, etc. In wartime shovels are used to dig trenches and bury dead; if a vehicle gets stuck a shovel (and a pick, see above) can be used to dig a path back out and get traction to the tires; in escape and evasion a shallow camouflaged trench can be quickly dug as a way to hide.
Signal Mirror – Use to reflect sunlight to signal distress to searching overhead airplanes or helicopters or send signals to boats and ships off shore if you are shipwrecked; in wartime a signal mirror can be used for Morse code communications. The signal mirror included in Navy Seal survival kits includes an aiming hole built into the mirror.
Sleeping Bag – The choices for a good all around sleeping bag for survival will differ than a sleeping bag chosen for recreational backpacking; a survival sleeping bag should contain layers, because when it comes to survival you never know what time of the year you’re going to need it (cold of winter vs warm and even hot temperatures of summer).
Slingshot – A good slingshot can be effective for hunting small game mammals, reptiles, and birds; an asset in a survival situation; even children can develop good aim and small game hunting skills with a slingshot.
Skis – Cross country skis are a long time effective tool for long distance travel in areas of mild to moderate snowfall.
Smoker – A primitive smoker is a way to smoke and dry meat for short term to long term storage; a commercial smoker is manufactured and a common “backyard” smoker sold in outdoor stores today.
Solo Stove – Solo Stove is a small, specialized wood-burning camp stove that is compact, light in weight, and useful in just about any environment. It burns a small fire within the stove and the way the stove is constructed (the shape of a medium sized coffee can) it focuses heat on a small area where the top opens, allowing food over the flame to cook quickly, or water in a small pot to come to a quick boil.
Sun Block – A survival essential in tropical, sub tropical, desert, canyons, and even mountainous environments where the suns rays can otherwise cause significant sun burns; if there’s any question about possible long term sun exposure on a particular day, apply sun block before you set out and then re-apply as the day progresses.
Sun Glasses – Protect your eyes from the intense rays of the sun in a snowy, desert, or ocean environment with a good pair of UV sunglasses.
Snare Wire – A survival essential for a wilderness emergency when in remote areas; use snare wire to set multiple traps (snares) for capturing small game rabbits, muskrat, squirrels, and an assortment of other critters; choose self-locking snares for best success rate.
Spear Gun – Scuba divers and snorkelers can make use of a variety of spear gun technologies, from simple to more advanced, in coastal underwater fishing.
Steel Wool – Used in conjunction with a 9v battery for emergency fire starting.
Snow Shoes – In winter survival, especially in areas of moderate to heavy snowfall, snow shoes are an essential for overland travel.
Solar Still – Used to create condensation from the power of the sun in both primitive and advanced water purification; process turns salt water into fresh water through desalination; can also be used to purify river and lake water, but not safe for chemically contaminated water due to the fact that these chemicals evaporate along with the water into condensation, contaminating your distilled water. Avoid water found near industry as it can contain gasoline, oils, or other chemicals, and avoid agricultural water ways due to the widespread use of chemical pesticides in commercial farming.
Space Blanket – Also known as a Mylar Blanket (see above).
Spear – Used throughout history as a tool for hunting, fishing, and combat; some are designed for thrusting and others (javelins) are designed to be thrown.
Stuff Sack – A stuff stack can cinch tight to hold a sleeping bag; a compression stuff sack considered military issue has additional straps for cinching (compressing) a stuff sack’s contents to decrease bulk and enable more to be carried.
Survival Guide – A thorough and respected survival guide can be a great reference tool as you need it in the field.
Survival Seeds – Seeds that can be stored safely using various methods (even freezing) for use following a catastrophic event; once planted, these are seeds that are easily sprouted with greatest odds of producing various foods in the shortest periods of time.
Tactical Tomahawk – Breeching tool and close quarters weapon of modern day SWAT teams and special forces. Historically a proven survival tool used by Native Americans for hunting, close quarters self defense and eliminating an enemy from several yards away.
Tarp – Strong tarp can have several uses in survival, from shelter building and shielding from weather, to collecting water as part of a rainwater harvesting system.
Taser – When is a taser a survival tool? In a self defense situation vs an aggressor or against loose, dangerous dogs.
Tea Kettle – A good backcountry tea kettle is small, stainless steel, and can be used to both quickly boil water and even as part of a DIY emergency distiller system, especially useful in a salt water environment.
Tent – Common tool used by campers and backpackers alike; some tents are 3 season tents, and others are 4 season tents (fall, winter, spring, summer).
Tinder Tabs – Compact tinder tabs part of Navy Seal fire starting kit. Seals carry 4 in a resealable bag.
Two Way Radio – Hand held portable two way radios are called walkie talkies and work on similar frequencies to CB radios, however they have unique codes programmed in to block out any noise or communications not created by a paired set; two miles is a typical max range, though higher priced walkie talkies may reach as far as 5 miles.
Trap – Traps exist for small game like rabbits, possum, squirrels and other rodents; traps also exist for ocean crab, lobster, shrimp and certain types of fish; in fresh water traps exist for crawdads/crayfish, beaver.
Trident – A three-pronged spear; a trident is handy for spearing fish in shallow water; spearing small game; spearing snakes; spearing lizards.
Tweezers – Remove wood splinters and bee stingers with tweezers; if bitten by a tick, heated tweezer tips (held to a flame) can be used for safe tick removal: When the hot tweezer tips are touched to a tick, the tick will then move backwards, pulling it’s head out from under skin where it has bitten; once the tick is fully exposed, now grab it with the tweezers and remove it.
Water Bladder – Bag made from plastic material that allows for expansion when filled and compression when empty; it is a hydration system sometimes built into a backpack that can feed a person water from a tube without that person having to stop to retrieve a water bottle when thirsty.
Water Bottle – Modern day “canteen”; transports water; have one for clean water and another for collecting contaminated water that can be purified for later consumption.
Water Filter – Used to filter out contaminants sometimes to a microscopic level, making lake, river, or even pond water relatively safe to drink; not a complete solution to water purification as a water filter cannot remove hazardous chemicals; chemicals can in fact ruin a water filter and thus the importance of collecting water from typically safe areas (lakes, ponds, and rivers) not found near agriculture or industry or oil field operations or mining.
Water Purifier – A water tablet (see below) or water filter (see above).
Water Purification Tablet – Water purification tablets are included in a Navy Seal survival kit. Water purification tablets are used to make contaminated water suitable for drinking; kills bacteria and viruses and parasites like Giardia common in lakes, streams, and ponds.
Waterproof Notepad – Included in Navy Seal survival kits; handy for note taking in possibly wet conditions experienced in any manner of survival scenarios. Also pen and paper may be useful.
Wet Suit – Wearing a wet suit enables a person to spend long periods of time in cold water without risk of hypothermia (colder water often requires special wet suit boot, gloves, and hood to offer enhanced protection from the cold).
Whistle – Used as a distress or warning signal and to sound for help; without a whistle, an injured or lost person can lose their voice after shouting for help several times — a whistle helps ensure an ongoing distress signal is possible.
Wild Cards – You’ve heard of playing cards? Here’s a card deck of photos and descriptions of common edible plants found in the wild; said to be much easier to refer to than a thick book on wild edibles.
Wire Saw – Pocket chain saw that is compact and operated by hand; popular type of survival saw; can cut bone, wood, and in some cases light metals.
Wool – Wool is the textile fiber most commonly obtained from sheep; it’s known for it’s ability to retain warmth even when wet; pioneer families and trappers relied on wool blankets, hats, socks, and gloves to stay warm through cold winters; merino wool is a higher quality wool.
Zodiac – Small or mid-size inflatable boat powered by an outboard motor; can be used for coastal fishing and diving and for evacuation purposes from a metropolitan area where bridges or tunnels are no long an option.
Got your own ideas or have I forgotten something? Please add to this list. Contact Us!