How To Organize Your Bugout Gear


Managing Your Bugout Kit

Gear is an essential part of any bugout strategy. The typical discussion of bugout gear revolves around the pack and related contents. Everyone has an opinion on what goes in the pack, but invariably everyone wants to bring the same items – weapons, food, water, clothes, etc. The only problem is keeping all this gear organized which is rather hard if you only have a pack.

Depending on the situation, you may not need to roll out the door with multiple weapons and a full combat load of ammunition. You might only need basic survival gear on your person or the mission may require load bearing equipment such as as chest rig. Maybe the situation is fluid enough that you need both or even more gear.

Herein lies the problem. If you’re only reliant on your pack, then you probably end up carrying gear you don’t even need. Beyond that, keeping all that gear organized and accessible is a logistical pain in the ass. In a real bugout situation, the last thing you want to be doing is sorting gear and trying to figure out what you truly need.

You might need a system to keep everything squared away and organized. It just so happens there is a way to manage your gear, named the Line System. It’s been in use by the military and police for years, giving them a way to quickly grab the right gear at the right time. In a world of danger, the mission dictates the gear, ensuring you always have what you need. Just a pack crammed full of everything but the kitchen sink doesn’t cut it.

The Line System is broken down into 3 categories –  First Line, Second Line and Third Line.  Each line serves a purpose and is customized based on experience and the mission at hand.

First Line Kit

The first line is the gear you carry directly on your person for a 24 hr time span. My current setup covers the essentials for survival and personal protection:

  1. Personal Survival Kit(PSK): Basic medical, water purification, tinfoil, fire tinder
  2. Ontario RAT-1 folder
  3. Suunto M-3 compass
  4. 5.11 webbing belt
  5. Mechanix gloves
  6. Glock 19 9mm > Visit Slick Guns
  7. Safariland ALS holster
  8. Cold weather apparel


Beyond these basics, you can modify as necessary. Add in a 1l water bottle, city map or whatever suits the mission/situation best.


Second Line Kit

Up next is the Second Line gear. At a basic level this is a chest rig or load bearing equipment. Depending on the situation, you may need to add body armor or a small assault pack. This gear should keep you alive and in the fight for a 48hr time span.

I expanded on my first line gear by adding the following items:

  1. USMC FLC Molle II Vest
  2. Gerber LMF II
  3. BDS Tactical utility pouch
  4. Trauma medical kit
  5. SDS Molle II canteen pouch
  6. Marz Tactical admin pouch
  7. KombatUK DPM notepad
  8. SDS Molle grenade pouch
  9. Surefire light & batteries
  10. Steiner Safari binoculars



Third Line Kit

Third line is the final layer, designed for sustainment over a 72hr period. This is where the large assault pack is used for storing food, shelter, medical and more.

For a non hostile situation, I selected common survival gear including a few nice to have items:

  1. FILBE Assault pack with various pouches
  2. Military issue poncho liner
  3. Shelter: Cordage, bungie cords and Tarp shelter
  4. Hydration: Sawyer Mini & Katadyn Micropur MP1
  5. Cold weather apparel
  6. Military issue e-tool
  7. Military rain poncho
  8. Therm-a-rest Base Camp sleeping pad
  9. Sanitation kit
  10. Trash bags and Ziplock bags
  11. Medical: C.A.T Tourniquet, Z-Pak Dressing, Shears, minor medical items
  12. Esbit Cookset & MSR fuel bottle
  13. Food: Jerky, Uncle Bens rice, smoked salmon, canned chicken, etc
  14. Dry bag
  15. Lighting: Hand crank flashlight, cyalume sticks and Exotac candle
  16. Silky Pocket Boy folding saw & camo paint kit



Bear in mind that the system can change. My current setup is designed for basic survival in the field and not so much focused on dealing with threats or OPFOR (Opposing Forces). If the situation degraded badly enough, I can modify my Second Line kit with ammunition pouches, smoke grenades and the items needed to survive and break contact with the OPFOR. The Third Line kit can also be modified as needed.

The best way to set this up is consider what you can carry directly on your person. The items you don’t carry on your person need to be ready to grab and go, without a second thought. Finally the big ticket items such as a sleep system and shelter go in your primary pack. Start by getting the First Line gear organized and ready, then move onto the next line. Make sure that the essential items that never change are always in the same location. No matter the situation, whether it be wilderness survival, bugout or dealing with hostile threats, there should be no doubt where your sidarm is located or that extra reload.

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