There is a wide school of thought on what should be carried in your bug-out bag. Some folks say you should always carry water purification tablets. Others say take some emergency food. Still, some say neither of those are necessary. There are five items, however, that most every prepper or survivalist will agree are true bug-out bag necessities.
Top Five Items for Your Bug-Out Bag
All good preppers understand that two is one, one is none. Now, if you don’t understand that, I’ll explain it. Imagine you have one lighter. That lighter gets lost. What do you have? No lighters. If you have two, you know you have a backup.
The whole thing is about redundancy. Not good when you’re speaking, but awesome when obtaining survival gear.
Get it? Good. On with the program.
A good cutting tool is arguably the top item you need in a SHTF situation. I said before that knowledge is the most important survival tool, but I’m telling you now that a good knife comes in second above everything else in my book. The best kind of knife to have in my opinion (and the opinion of most other preppers and survivalists) is some sort of full-tang survival knife. The term “full-tang” means that the metal from the blade goes all the way through the handle. It’s basically a full piece of metal in the shape of the knife with a handle attached. Because of the full-tang, the chances of the blade breaking loose from the handle is seriously reduced.
Some cheaper “survival knives” may not be full tang and just won’t last as long. Oh sure, they have the hollow handle with “all the gear you need to survive a SHTF situation”, but that stuff is usually cheap junk in a cheap junk knife. Besides, you’ve probably started building yourself one of those nifty little pill bottle survival kits by now, right? So there’s no need for that junk in the hollow handle.
Fire Making Implement
Making a fire is very important in a survival situation for many reasons. Aside from warmth and the ability to cook your food, there is also a distinct psychological advantage to having a fire. It scares away the “Boogey Man”, ya know? If you’re trying to be rescued, the smoke from a fire would also be an indicator of your position for rescuers looking for you.
I personally prefer carrying matches, lighters and ferro rods in my bug-out bag. I usually carry some homemade fire starter straws, too, in case I’m having trouble with actually getting a tinder bundle started — damp tinder is always hard to get started.
Tarp or Oilskin
A tarpaulin — or “tarp”, as it is more commonly known — may seem like a luxury for your bug-out bag to some people, but they come in very handy. You can, of course, make a shelter by stringing the tarp between two trees with some 550 cord, or by forming a makeshift tent using downed branches. Wrap yourself in the tarp as a form of rain gear, put your gear inside the tarp and cinch it up to use as a pack, or make it into a hammock.
There are so many things you could do with a tarp that it would be almost foolish not to pack one. If you’re more of the DIY type, you can always make your own oilskin.
You can never go wrong carrying a container with you. You can funnel rainwater into it for drinking, or you can boil water to purify it. Most survivalists think it is best to carry an aluminum or stainless steel water bottle to make boiling easier, but you can even boil water in a plastic bottle if you’re careful.
Remember, you can only last 3 days without water, so a container is one of the most important bug-out bag necessities. The longer you go without water, the worse your condition will be. Start with a full container of water and refill it as you can, and learn multiple ways to purify water.
In recent years, more and more survivalists and preppers have begun wearing paracord bracelets. This is a great idea — you never know when you will be faced with a SHTF situation and need some spare rope or cord. I would also recommend you keeping at least 100 feet of cordage in your pack. You can pack 100 feet of 550 paracord without using much room, and it’s strong (obviously — it has a tensile strength of 550 lbs). If need be, you can double that up onto itself effectively doubling the tensile strength to 1,100 lbs. You could also split the paracord open to utilize the smaller inner strands for things like making snares and fishing line.
If you’re going to efficiently use that cordage, you’ll need to learn to tie various knots. If you’ve ever been a Boy Scout, you probably know a handful of useful knots already, but it never hurts to brush up on your skill. Remember — the more you practice, the easier the skill becomes when you need it the most. This book is a great way to learn knot tying. The good thing is you can take the book and a length of paracord and practice knot tying anywhere!
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Those would be the top 5 items in my bug-out bag. Remember to double-up on everything when you can. “Two is one, one is none!”