Bug Out Bag Gear Recommendations

While there are a lot of bug out bag lists out there, very few of them contain specific recommendations. This list contains items that I would have no problem including in survival kits for my loved ones and most of them are part of my bug out bag.

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Water Treatment and Purification

Grayl Purifier Bottle: Grayl purifier bottles are the best water purification option for a bug out bag. They can remove more contaminants than any other method, work quickly, and are easy to use.

Water Purification Tablets: While everyone should have a water purifier in their bug out bag, you should also have a backup way to remove biological contaminants. Water purification tablets are a tried and true way to do this and take up little room in your pack.

Sillcock Key: Even though this won’t help you purify water, it will help you collect water. Pipes running along the exterior walls of commercial buildings may still have water in them, and a sillcock key will allow you to operate the spigots you’d need to access it.

Food and Cooking

Freeze-Dried Meals or MREs: These will be your primary meals while bugging out. Mountain House has been making these meals for decades, and most of their stuff tastes very good. Nutrient Survival has fewer options, but their meals pack more beneficial nutrients. MREs are more expensive but are fully self-contained. They have the food and everything that you’d need to prepare them except water.

Energy Bars: While you want actual meals in your bug out bag, you may get hungry while you’re on the move. Energy bars will give you extra calories and something to put in your stomach.

Pathfinder Bottle Cook Set: This is the best all-in-one kit I’ve found. It comes with a stainless steel bottle that you boil water in, a stainless steel camp cup, a stove, and a case to hold everything. It also includes a few extra items, like a ferro rod, cutlery set, fish mouth spreaders, and emergency fire starters.

Alcohol Burner: While you could use solid fuel tablets or sticks with the stove from your bottle cook set, an alcohol stove is more reliable and easy to use. They can run on denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, Yellow HEET, and even Everclear.

Alcohol Fuel Bottle: A bottle like this one will hold your alcohol fuel without you having to worry about it leaking in your pack. It will also dispense fuel without spilling it.


Bandana: A survival bandana like this one can be used for hygiene tasks, first aid, water filtration, and much more. It even has helpful information printed on it that could help you during an emergency.

Wide-Brimmed Hat: Hats like these will help keep the sun out of your eyes and won’t take up too much room in your pack.

Military-Style Poncho: This poncho by USGI can be worn on your body to help you stay dry and it can also be used as an emergency shelter.

Health and Hygiene

First Aid Kit: A good kit will have everything you need to deal with the injuries you’ll most likely experience while bugging out. This includes bandages, antiseptics, medications, and other essentials.

Hand Sanitizer: While washing your hands with soap and water will get your hands cleaner, you may not always be able to do that. Hand sanitizer will kill most of the germs on your hands without using any of your water supply.

Wet Wipes: If your hands are so dirty that hand sanitizer can’t do the job wet wipes are a good first step. You can use them to wipe dirt and grime off your hands and then follow up with your hand sanitizer.


Concealable Handgun: This may be your most important gun and should always be with you. The Glock 19 is an excellent choice for this.

Related: Best Prepper Guns

Pepper Spray: While you should always carry a gun, using a firearm isn’t always the best option. For situations where a less-lethal option is more appropriate, pepper spray is a good choice.

Fire Kit

6 x 1/2-Inch Ferro Rod: A ferro rod of this size will have enough material to start hundreds of fires. It’s also large enough to hold onto, even if your hands are cold or wet.

Bic-Style Lighter: If you’re bugging out you don’t want to leave anything to chance, especially when it comes to fire starting. Having one or two lighters in your kit will give you the best chance of getting a fire going.

Stormproof Matches: If you have a good ferro rod and a couple of lighters these may not be necessary. However, they are good to have as a backup option and work better with solid fuel tablets.


Ultralight Tent or Tarp: Exposure to the elements can kill you faster than a lack of food or water. Having a shelter will help you stay warm and dry. I carry the Kelty Grand Mesa in my bag to make a potential bug out easier on my wife and son.

Survival Bivy or Sleeping Bag: When choosing a sleeping bag, get the warmest and lightest you can afford. A survival bivy can be used by itself or as a liner for your sleeping bag. I keep the Kelty Cosmic 20-Degree Bag with synthetic fill in my bug out bag.

Mylar Emergency Blanket: While this can serve the same role as a survival bivy it doesn’t hurt to include at least one in every emergency kit. They take up very little space and weigh next to nothing.

Paracord: Having cordage will allow you to construct emergency shelters, repair gear, and perform numerous other tasks. SurvivorCord can be used as regular paracord but includes additional materials, like snare wire, fishing line, and waxed jute for fire starting.

Contractor Trash Bags: These are thicker than regular trash bags and work well for keeping gear dry. They can also be used as a makeshift shelter or as a poncho.


Full-Size Multitool: The Leatherman Wave Plus has been the go-to multitool for preppers for the past several years. However, if you want the same functionality with better build quality, you may want to look at the Victorinox Swisstool X.

Related: Victorinox Swisstool X Review

Full-Tang Fixed Blade Survival Knife: A good survival knife will help you prepare meals, process firewood, and do numerous other tasks. The Becker BK-7 is what I keep in my bug out bag. It’s razor-sharp, easy to resharpen, and is a good size for an all-purpose tool.

High-Lumen Flashlight: A handheld flashlight should be bright and durable. I’ve carried the Olight Warrior Mini 2 for nearly 3 years, and while it isn’t perfect, it has done well enough to remain in my pocket.

LED Headlamp: While you want a flashlight to be capable of producing bright light over a long distance, many times, a headlamp is more well-suited for working up close. Headlamps made by Energizer are a good choice if you’re looking for something inexpensive.

Whistle: A good whistle can help you signal for help if you need it, or it can be used as a distraction if you need to draw attention away from a fellow group member.

Navigation and Reference

Compass: This is the newer version of the compass that I’ve had for around 20 years. It isn’t the fanciest tool out there, but it’s inexpensive, reliable, and won’t take up too much room in your bag.

Rite-In-The-Rain Pad: A waterproof notepad like this one will allow you to take important notes and leave breadcrumbs if you’re trying to help someone find you while on the move.

Repair Items

Canvas Sail Needle and Waxed Twine: Having a heavy-duty needle and strong twine will allow you to make repairs to backpacks, sleeping bags, holsters, and belts. Those items tend to be made of sturdy materials that may be difficult to get through with a regular sewing needle.

Sewing Kit: A small sewing kit like this has everything you need to repair your clothes or other lightweight materials. That includes sewing needles, thread, buttons, safety pins, and even a miniature pair of scissors.

Zip Ties: Having zip ties of different sizes will allow you to repair your gear and create field-expedient tools and shelters.

Duct Tape: Not all duct tape is created equal. This Gorilla tape is strong and will hold up well.

Miscellaneous Items

USB Power Bank: This is the power bank I use personally and recommend to friends. It does a good job charging cell phones, flashlights, and other USB devices. You can make a miniature solar generator by pairing it with portable solar panels like these.

Flash Drive: If you need to bug out, it’s wise to have copies of important documents with you. Unfortunately, these can get heavy and take up a lot of space in your bag. Storing digital copies of insurance documents, birth certificates, and other important documents would allow you to still be able to access them if the originals are destroyed.

Ziplock Bags: These will help keep small odds and ends organized inside your bug out bag and protect them from moisture. You can also keep things like alcohol fuel bottles inside of one in case it leaks.

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