What is a Bug Out Bag?

Pelican Flyer  |  June 11, 2020

Though none of us want to think about facing an emergency situation, preparing for a disaster is actually one of the best ways to ensure that you weather even the harshest storms without incident (perhaps quite literally). The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that citizens have an emergency plan in place and keep at least 72 hours of basic survival supplies on hand at all times. A bug out bag (BOB) is a smart and simple way to do this, and it doesn’t take a huge investment of money or time.

What Is a Bug Out Bag?

A bug out bag is a portable survival kit that provides survival essentials for at least a 72-hour period. It differs from a standard household emergency kit because it’s designed to be taken with you should you be required to evacuate or flee your home. Though smaller than a standard household emergency kit, a bug out bag is usually larger than a go bag, which is made for a similar purpose but usually only holds about 24 hours’ worth of supplies. The bug out bag is meant to be stored in a place where it can be easily grabbed on the way out, such as in the closet by the front door or in the trunk of your car.

What Makes a Good Bug Out Bag?

Emergency kit containers vary in size based on the length of time for which they’re intended to be used. While household kits may be packed in waterproof hard cases — they are meant to stay in the house — and go bags are often packed in heavy-duty backpacks, bug out bags are somewhere in-between.

It’s a good idea to use a high-capacity duffel bag made of durable, water-resistant material for these applications. Duffel bags hold significantly more than backpacks but are a lot easier to carry and toss in the trunk than standard luggage or heavy hard cases.

pelican consumer blog mpd100 black travel duffel bag

The Pelican MPD100 Duffel Bag (pictured) is a popular choice among survivalists because it features a 100-liter capacity and is made from ballistic, durable water repellent (DWR) nylon. It also has a compression-molded EVA shoulder strap that makes it comfortable to carry across long distances. With a bug out bag, it’s crucial that you’re able to grab and go without scrambling, so a bag with a strap is key.

What to Pack in Your Bug Out Bag

Your bug out bag should be tailored to your environment and your family. For example, if you live in a high-risk hurricane zone, you should pack extra supplies that are useful in the event of flooding or loss of power. If you have children and pets, you’ll need to make sure your bug out bag includes their basic necessities as well.

pelican consumer blog bug out bag packing

Here are the fundamental items. From here, you can customize to your needs. Just be sure not to weigh your bag down too much, as you want to be able to grab and go quickly.

  • Water, at least a gallon per person per day
  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food for each person
  • A mess kit with paper plates, cups and utensils
  • An emergency radio, such as a NOAA Weather Radio with an alarm tone
  • A long-lasting LED flashlight with backup batteries
  • Paper maps or maps downloaded on your phone
  • A solar-powered phone charger or backup phone battery
  • A multi-tool with pliers, a wrench, a screwdriver, scissors, etc.
  • An emergency blanket
  • An emergency whistle
  • A face mask to filter contaminated air and dust
  • Prescription medications, including spare glasses or contacts
  • A first-aid kit with wound care and over-the-counter medications
  • Personal items, including a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant
  • Matches and fire starter
  • Paper, pencils, a deck of cards, puzzles and games
  • Copies of personal documents, including medical and insurance information
  • Cash, preferably in small bills
  • Pet supplies, including food, water, medication and a leash
  • Supplies for children, including diapers and formula

pelican consumer blog bug out bag duffel emergency supplies

It’s All About Peace of Mind

With the bug out bag, the idea is to create something that you will never have to use. While it should be completely deployable and well-stocked in the event of an emergency, the real purpose of your bug out bag is to provide you with peace of mind so you feel safe and secure in your own home no matter what, and that feeling is priceless!

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