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Bug Out Bag Checklist

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Whether you’re a seasoned prepper or new to the idea of emergency preparedness, having a bug out bag is essential. This article will provide you with a comprehensive checklist to ensure that your bug out bag is stocked with all the necessities in times of crisis. From food and water to first aid supplies and communication devices, this checklist will cover all the essentials to keep you prepared and safe during unexpected emergencies. So grab a pen and paper, because you won’t want to miss this handy guide! Find your new Bug Out Bag Checklist on this page.

Essential Items


Water is perhaps the most essential item to have in your bug out bag. Staying hydrated is crucial for your survival, especially in emergency situations. Pack several water bottles or a water bladder that can hold enough water to last at least three days. Make sure to periodically check and replace the water in your bug out bag to ensure its freshness.


Alongside water, having enough food to sustain yourself is essential. Opt for non-perishable food items that are easy to prepare and provide adequate nutrition. Energy bars, protein bars, dried fruits, and canned foods are some great options to consider. Aim to pack enough food to last you for at least three days.


Choosing appropriate clothing is important to protect yourself from the elements. Pack a few sets of tight-fitting, moisture-wicking clothes that can help regulate your body temperature. Don’t forget to include extra socks and underwear as well. Depending on the climate you are in, consider packing items such as raincoats, jackets, or hats for added protection.


Having a shelter is crucial in emergency situations. Pack a lightweight tent or a sturdy tarp that can provide protection against the elements. Make sure to include extra ropes or cords to secure your shelter and keep it stable. Additionally, consider including a sleeping bag or emergency blankets to keep you warm and comfortable during the night.


In times of uncertainty, it’s important to be prepared for any potential dangers. Include items that can offer you protection, such as a pocket knife, pepper spray, or a personal alarm. These items can provide you with a sense of security and can be useful in self-defense situations. Remember to familiarize yourself with the proper use and handling of these items before relying on them.

First Aid Kit

Being equipped with a comprehensive first aid kit is essential for addressing medical emergencies. Your first aid kit should include bandages, adhesive tapes, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, and other basic medical supplies. Additionally, include any specific medications you or your companions may require. Regularly check and replenish your first aid kit as needed.

Fire Starter

Having the ability to start a fire can be extremely beneficial for various reasons. Pack waterproof matches, a lighter, or a fire starter kit to ensure you can create fire even in wet conditions. This can provide warmth, light, and a means to cook food. Remember to practice responsible fire safety and ensure the fire is always attended to.

Survival Tools


A reliable knife is a must-have tool in any bug out bag. It serves multiple purposes, such as cutting ropes, preparing food, building shelters, and self-defense. Choose a durable and versatile knife that fits comfortably in your hand and consider packing a knife sharpener to maintain its functionality.


A multi-tool is a compact and versatile tool that combines various functions in one. Look for a multi-tool that includes a knife, pliers, screwdrivers, scissors, and other useful tools. This can save valuable space in your bug out bag while providing a range of capabilities.


A reliable flashlight is crucial for navigating in low-light or dark environments. Make sure to pack a flashlight with long battery life or opt for a rechargeable one. Consider including spare batteries or a portable charger to ensure your flashlight remains operational throughout your journey.


In times of emergencies or when navigating unfamiliar terrain, a compass becomes an indispensable tool. It helps you find your direction and navigate towards safety. Familiarize yourself with how to use a compass or consider packing a GPS device for added convenience.


In addition to a compass or GPS device, having physical maps of the areas you may be traveling through is essential. Maps provide a visual representation of the terrain, landmarks, and potential dangers. Make sure to choose detailed maps that cover your planned route and keep them in waterproof sleeves to protect them from damage.


A whistle is a simple yet effective tool to attract attention if you are in need of help. It can be heard over long distances and can aid in search and rescue efforts. Attach a whistle to your bug out bag or keep it easily accessible for immediate use.


In emergency situations, staying informed of the latest updates and news is crucial. Include a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio in your bug out bag to receive important information and instructions. Make sure to pack extra batteries or opt for a radio that can be powered by alternative sources such as solar or hand-crank charging. how to build a bug out bag 1   Click to view the Bug Out Bag Checklist.


Cell Phone

Carrying a fully charged cell phone can be a lifeline in emergency situations. Ensure that your phone is equipped with a reliable network provider and capable of receiving emergency alerts. Store important emergency contacts and relevant information for quick access.

Portable Charger

To ensure that your cell phone remains usable for an extended period, pack a portable charger. Portable chargers allow you to recharge your phone’s battery even when you don’t have access to electrical outlets. Choose a portable charger with high capacity to provide multiple charges, and periodically recharge the charger itself.

Emergency Contacts

Prepare a list of emergency contacts containing important phone numbers for your local authorities, family members, and friends. In times of crisis, having access to these contacts can be crucial. Print multiple copies and keep them in your bug out bag, wallet, and other easily accessible locations.

Local Information

Include relevant local information such as maps, evacuation routes, and contact details of nearby shelters or safe zones. Familiarize yourself with this information beforehand to facilitate quick decision-making and navigation during an emergency. Update this information regularly to stay informed about any changes or new developments.


ID Cards

Include copies of your identification cards such as driver’s license, work ID, or any other official documents that may be required for identification purposes. These copies can serve as backups in case the original documents are lost or damaged.


If you have a passport, include a copy of it in your bug out bag. In emergency situations, having your passport readily available can be beneficial if you need to travel across borders or seek assistance abroad.

Insurance Policies

Copies of your insurance policies, including health insurance, car insurance, and home insurance, should be included in your bug out bag. These copies can help facilitate any necessary claims or provide useful information in case of emergencies or accidents.


Having a sufficient amount of cash in your bug out bag is essential, as it may be difficult to access banks or ATMs during emergencies. Include both small and large denomination bills to cater to various situations. Aim to have enough cash to cover immediate needs and unforeseen expenses.

Important Phone Numbers

In addition to emergency contacts, include a list of other important phone numbers such as your doctor, insurance providers, and other essential services. Having these numbers readily available can save valuable time and effort when seeking assistance or guidance.  

Personal Items


If you or any members of your group require medication, ensure an ample supply is included in your bug out bag. Pack necessary prescription medications, over-the-counter remedies, or any other specific medical supplies that may be needed.


Personal hygiene is important, even in emergency situations. Pack travel-sized toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, and toilet paper. These items can help maintain cleanliness and prevent the spread of diseases.

Sanitary Items

For women, including sanitary items such as tampons or pads is essential. These items may not be easily accessible during emergencies, and having an adequate supply can provide comfort and hygiene.

Extra Cash

In addition to emergency cash, include some extra cash in small denominations. This can come in handy for purchasing essential items or services that may not be readily available through credit or debit cards.


Pack a few extra sets of clothes appropriate for the weather conditions you might encounter. Include layers that can be easily added or removed to regulate your body temperature. Choose clothes made of moisture-wicking material to keep you dry and comfortable.

Photographs of Loved Ones

Although not essential for survival, carrying photographs of loved ones can provide emotional support and motivation during stressful situations. Print out small pictures and keep them in your bug out bag to serve as a reminder of the people who care about your well-being.

Survival Gear

Sleeping Bag

A sleeping bag is crucial for providing warmth and comfort during overnight stays or rest breaks. Choose a sleeping bag suitable for the expected temperature range and make sure it can fit comfortably in your bug out bag.


A lightweight and easy-to-assemble tent is essential for creating a secure and private shelter. Opt for a tent that can accommodate the expected number of occupants and offers protection against the elements. Practice setting up the tent beforehand to ensure efficiency during emergencies.

Emergency Blankets

Emergency blankets, also known as space blankets or thermal blankets, are lightweight and compact but provide crucial insulation. These blankets reflect body heat back to the user and can help prevent hypothermia in colder environments.

Emergency Whistle

Although mentioned earlier, it is worth reiterating the importance of an emergency whistle. This small tool can be heard over long distances and can be a potential lifesaver in dire situations. It attracts attention and alerts rescuers to your location.

Emergency Radio

Alongside a regular radio for communication, consider including an emergency radio that is specifically designed for weather updates and alerts. These radios often have built-in features such as AM/FM, NOAA weather band, and even solar or hand-crank charging options.

Duct Tape

Duct tape is a versatile item that can be used for various purposes in emergency situations. It can help repair equipment, patch shelter materials, secure objects together, and even provide basic first aid support. Pack a small roll of duct tape to have it readily available when needed.


Paracord, short for parachute cord, is a strong and versatile cord that can serve multiple purposes in survival situations. It can be used to secure shelters, create makeshift harnesses or slings, repair gear, and even be unraveled for use as fishing line or sewing thread. Include a length of paracord in your bug out bag to take advantage of its many potential uses.  

Food and Water

Water Bottles

In addition to the essential item of water, consider including durable and reusable water bottles in your bug out bag. These bottles can be refilled from a reliable source whenever necessary and minimize waste from disposable bottles.

Water Purification Tablets

Water purification tablets are an effective and compact way to ensure safe drinking water. These tablets kill or neutralize pathogens and contaminants in water, making it safe for consumption. Include a supply of water purification tablets to guarantee access to clean water in case your initial water supply runs out or is compromised.

High Energy Snacks

Pack high energy snacks such as energy bars, granola bars, or trail mix in your bug out bag. These snacks provide a quick and convenient source of calories and nutrients to sustain your energy levels during emergencies.

Canned Foods

Canned foods, particularly those that require little to no cooking, are ideal for emergency situations. Include a few cans of ready-to-eat soups, beans, or meats in your bug out bag. Make sure to choose cans with a long shelf life and rotate them periodically to maintain freshness.


Don’t forget to bring utensils to eat and prepare your food. Include lightweight, compact utensils such as a spork or camping utensil set that can be easily stored in your bug out bag. These utensils are reusable and won’t take up much space.

Health and Hygiene

Prescription Medication

Ensure you have an ample supply of any necessary prescription medication packed in your bug out bag. It is important to have access to these medications, especially during emergencies when obtaining refills might not be feasible.


Include over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to provide relief from minor aches, pains, or headaches. These medications can be valuable for managing discomfort during stressful situations.


Pack a variety of bandages, including adhesive bandages (such as band-aids) and sterile gauze pads. These items can help treat minor cuts, scrapes, or blisters and aid in preventing infection.

Antiseptic Wipes

Antiseptic wipes or disinfectant solution are essential for cleaning wounds to reduce the risk of infection. Include these wipes in your bug out bag to maintain proper hygiene and aid in wound care.

Hand Sanitizer

Maintaining hand hygiene is crucial, especially in emergency situations where cleanliness may be compromised. Include a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean when water and soap are not readily available.

Personal Hygiene Items

Consider including personal hygiene items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and other products that are essential for maintaining cleanliness and preventing the spread of diseases. Opt for travel-sized or sample-sized items to save space in your bug out bag.   Knowing the Limitations

Clothing and Footwear

Extra Set of Clothes

Including an extra set of clothes in your bug out bag allows you to change into fresh clothes when necessary. Pack lightweight and moisture-wicking clothes that are suitable for the climate and weather conditions you may encounter.


A lightweight and waterproof raincoat can provide protection against rain or unexpected weather changes. Choose a raincoat that is breathable and has a hood to keep you dry and comfortable as you navigate through various terrains.

Sturdy Shoes

Invest in a good pair of sturdy and comfortable shoes that can withstand the demands of walking or hiking for extended periods. Choose shoes with good traction and ankle support to minimize the risk of injuries.


Including a pair of gloves can provide protection for your hands in various situations. Opt for gloves that are durable, water-resistant, and provide a good grip. These gloves can be useful for handling objects, building shelters, or even protecting your hands from extreme temperatures.


A hat is essential for protecting your head from the sun’s rays or providing warmth in colder climates. Choose a hat that offers good coverage and is made of breathable material. It can also provide some protection against insects or debris.


Pack extra pairs of socks made of moisture-wicking material to keep your feet dry and comfortable. Good-quality socks can minimize the risk of blisters and other foot-related issues, especially when you are constantly on the move.


Including extra sets of underwear in your bug out bag allows you to maintain comfort and hygiene. Opt for moisture-wicking materials that dry quickly and reduce the risk of chafing or infections.

What Items Should I Include in my Disaster Preparedness Checklist?

When creating a disaster preparedness checklist, it is crucial to include the essential items that can ensure your safety and survival. Some must-have disaster preparedness essentials are non-perishable food, water, flashlight, batteries, first aid kit, medication, and personal hygiene items. Additionally, make sure to include a battery-powered radio, extra clothes, cash, important documents, and a multipurpose tool. Stay ready, stay safe.

Personal Documents


Make copies of your identification cards such as driver’s license, work ID, or any other essential identification documents. These copies can serve as backups in case the original documents are lost, stolen, or damaged.

Birth Certificate

If possible, carry a copy of your birth certificate in your bug out bag. This can be helpful for establishing your identity and age, especially in situations where you need to access services or resources.

Driver’s License

Include a copy of your driver’s license as part of your bug out bag documentation. Your driver’s license can serve as both a form of identification and proof of your ability to operate a vehicle in case it becomes necessary during an emergency.


If you possess a passport, make a copy and include it in your bug out bag. A passport can provide proof of citizenship and identity, which may be essential if you need to travel across borders or seek assistance abroad.

Emergency Contact List

Prepare a list of emergency contacts that includes important phone numbers for your family members, friends, and local authorities. In times of crisis, having access to these contacts can be crucial. Print multiple copies and keep them in your bug out bag, wallet, and other easily accessible locations. By following this comprehensive bug out bag checklist, you will be prepared for various emergency situations. Remember to periodically review and update the contents of your bug out bag to ensure everything remains in good condition and meets your specific needs. Stay safe, and may your bug out bag provide you with the peace of mind you need when faced with unexpected challenges. Discover more about the Bug Out Bag Checklist.