A disaster has struck and now you have to get out of your house and to a safe location within minutes. If you have a bug-out bag, your first 24 to 72 hours of survival should be a lot easier. In order to be prepared, however, there are some essential items you should definitely have in your bug-out bag.

A Sturdy Base

The bag itself needs to be sturdy, and there are a lot of vendors out there making some great packs out of Cordura nylon. Your bag should be able to hold all of the gear on this list, and potentially more if you think you should add to it. MOLLE webbing allows you to attach items on the outside of the bag for quick and easy access. The pack should also be waterproof and have solid support for prolonged use. The Tacprogear SAP3 pack tops my list of several quality bug-out bags due to its large storage space, rugged build and its ability to be reconfigured for a variety of needs and tastes (

All-Terrain Gear

You have no idea what kind of situation you may be faced with. There may be a flood, high winds or even a nuclear attack. You need to carry shelter to protect and hide you if necessary. Simple lean-tos can work, but plenty of vendors make terrific portable shelters you can and should consider for your bug-out bag.

The Catoma Raider is a tent made for people who need shelter in a small, light and rugged way ( While many quality tents exist in today’s market, few built for survival come in colors that help keep you hidden, which matters more than comfort in a bug-out or survival situation. It’s easy to pack, easy to set up, keeps you dry and even comes already treated with Permethrin to keep bugs away. For a 72-hour escape and survival situation, the Raider is my choice to stay out of the weather.

Tactical Clothing

Tactical clothing usually has a lot of pockets and is often well made, but it isn’t the best choice for your one set of clothes to count on in a survival and escape situation. A better solution comes from FirstLite, which makes a superb Merino wool clothing line that works to keep you concealed and comfortable ( Synthetic fibers have lots of advantages these days, but wool, especially Merino wool, still serves as a better solution to assisting your body regulate temperature.

You also need to understand how important good hygiene is to your survival. Make sure you have the tools and materials you need in your bug-out bag to sustain good hygiene habits. A washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and even toilet paper all make sense. So does a messing kit with washable utensils, a plate or bowl and other items you can use, wash and reuse. Don’t forget soaps either, both for yourself and for your tools.

Fuel Your Escape

Most experts agree that a three-day supply of food makes sense for most bug-out bags. Simple foods work best here, like protein bars, oatmeal and ready-to-eat meals, which can be consumed cold if need be but also heated.

Chances are your local fast-food joint will be compromised, looted or in flames in a situation where you have to reach for your bug-out bag. You’ll need food, and despite some fancy commercial products, simple, proven Datrex rations serve as the very best solution to give you safe and healthy calories to keep you energized, mobile and focused while you escape and establish a plan for sustained survival ( Many commercial products hide sugar and empty calories in attractive and tasty meals and should be avoided when everything is right in the world and absolutely avoided when everything is wrong. Datrex also makes water rations that can serve as a rather savvy backup to your own water solutions in a pinch.

Water Filtration

You’ll need a water filtration system. In fact, you might want two if you follow the adage of “two is one and one is none” when it comes to essential gear. You’ll also need a heat source, so waterproof matches, fire-starters like Vaseline-soaked cotton balls, magnesium fire-starters and hexamine all help you get things like water to boil and food cooked above bacteria-killing temperatures. Remember, to heat things up, you’ll need cups or bowls, plates or other dishes that can be heated directly.

Cooking Choices

There are a lot of choices for a cooking device in your bug-out kit. I like to keep things simple, and the Solo Stove is just that ( How simple is it? You don’t need to pack your fuel. It will burn twigs, leaves and branches, and it does so in a very hip way. You see, the Solo Stove is a convection inverted downgas gasifier stove. That means it creates heat from what it burns and then it reheats it again to maximize the heat transfer of the fuel you are using. The Solo Stove is about the size of a softball and it takes less than 10 minutes to boil 32 ounces of water.

Once you have the heat, you’ll need a pot, and few are smaller and better built for a survivalist than the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Minimalist ( You can cook in it, drink out of it, it stores itself and comes with a utensil. It weighs just over 7 ounces and is just a bit bigger than a Rubik’s Cube to take the puzzle out of making a hot, safe meal.

Disaster-Proof Tools

Heading to Home Depot isn’t going to be an option for you when the apocalypse happens, so you’ll need to make sure your bug-out bag has the kinds of tools that you can employ smartly to help keep you alive. While a Swiss Army knife may seem like a do-it-all kind of tool, there are a few more items a savvy survival person needs to stick in their bag.

Think you’ll be able to tote a toolbox in that bug-out bag? Nope, but you’ll sure wish you had one. A multi-tool like the SOG Power Assist comes pretty close to giving you enough of the kinds of tools you’ll need to make it through the first 72 hours ( While the SOG Power Assist gives you a little bit of everything, you’ll still need a few dedicated items, and SOG is still your one-stop shopping home for a quality knife and hatchet and the SOG SEAL Pup Elite along with the Voodoo Hawk tomahawk, and of course the SOG Elite Entrenching Tool takes care of all of your hardware needs.

Other Essentials

Other essential tools include duct tape for sealing air leaks and fixing tears; laminated paper maps of your area because, chances are, cellular service and the internet will be down; a sewing kit; a tritium compass; plenty of paracord; at least one knife and sharpener; first-aid kits; and a  hand-crank AM/FM radio.

This article was originally published in SURVIVOR’S EDGE™. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

Up Next

Eat To Live: Stockpiling Food For a Long-Term Survival Situation

Food is life, and you can only live so long without it. Follow this...