How To Build A Bug Out Bag: Survival Essentials

My first bug out bag (BOB) build from scratch was a daunting process. I realized that I must consider the environment, hostile elements, the location and more. These variables help to define the gear configuration. The mission at hand dictates the contents of the pack and the season plays a big role as well.

He or she may upgrade the shelter, add a sleeping bag and so on. Considering all the variables at play, it’s understandable that most individuals start by purchasing the pack.

The pack seems like a logical first choice and usually an expensive one as well. Average prices for a quality pack from 5.11 Tactical or similar brands are well above $50. At this point, sometimes the build stalls out due to the myriad of options and purchases to be completed.

The survivalist may have to purchase boots, socks or water filters to fill the gaps in the inventory. It’s easy to see how this process can hit the wallet hard, making it difficult for some to finish quickly and effectively.

In my experience or lack, therefore, I wasted hard-earned coin on items I simply did not need.  However, you won’t have those issues if you follow these easy steps.

The bug out bag should always begin with a direct focus on survival essentials: food, water, shelter, fire. This serves as the foundation and helps to make other choices easy. No matter the situation, hurricane or emp strike, as a human being, you always need clean water, shelter, fire, and food.

The BOB is designed for 72hrs of survival without resupply. Keeping this in mind, I selected equipment for the humid subtropical climate of North East Florida.


The rainy season in my area lasts from May to October, dumping brief but massive amounts of rain. Taking into account the urban context, I chose a lightweight civilian poncho over my 1970’s military issue poncho. This choice does restrict options for a shelter, however, I was able to work around it. Using paracord strands, I secured the sleeves and grounded the base, making a lean-to configuration.  Considering that the urban AO has many options for shelter, I’m not too concerned about the selection of a civilian poncho. However, in the future, I will be using my mil issue poncho for a wilderness specific 72hr bag.

Snugpak Patrol Poncho:
Mil-Spec Poncho:
Titan Survivorcord:


Selecting the combination of food for 3 days can get complicated fast. There is no need to start calculating caloric requirements and creating the menu at this stage. In the interests of simplicity, the MRE is the best and most expedient way to start your food supply. It requires no fire to cook and gives off virtually zero smell. The survivalist can eat it on the go or if time permits use the heater to enjoy the main course.

Quick, simple and easy is the key. Fire and smell attract unwanted attention and force you into a static position. In a future blog post, we’ll add to this foundation with mixed nuts, beef jerky and other high fat/high carb/moderate protein sources.

Southwest Chicken:
Elbow Mac:


Survival situations can be high stress which impacts fine motor skills. Taking this into account, I like to keep my baseline fire kit simple, just a Bic Lighter and tinder. Sparking a fire should be quick and easy, freeing up time to focus on bigger survival priorities.

Bic Lighter Pack:
Friendly Swede Firesteel:
Wetfire Tinder:


The human body is comprised of nearly 60% water, making clean water a vital survival need. Once again I prefer to keep the process simple. The classic stainless steel canteen and cup is a common sense choice that provides flexibility. Instead of boiling water in the canteen cup, the canteen can be closed loosely with the lid and placed next to the fire. No need to balance the cup or cover with tin foil. For quick purification on the go, water purification powder or tabs are a great asset.

SS Canteen & Cup:
Purification Powder:
Purification Tabs:


When we build a BOB, it’s best to break it down into layers, each one dedicated to a specific purpose. Along the way, we keep in mind that the One Is None, Two Is One rule. The foundation of survival essentials covers the ONE and then in future layers, we can add customized shelter options, fire and more. The final build provides the survivalist with redundancy and gear customized for the climate, season, situation.

Real world experience can drive much of the gear selection, so getting out in the dirt is crucial. Over time and training, skills increase and the gear should decrease relatively.

In the next installment, we will select a Bug Out Bag based on situation, environment and other key factors.

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The post How To Build A Bug Out Bag: Survival Essentials appeared first on The Survival Outpost.

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