What is a Bug Out Bag?

What is a Bug Out Bag

A bug out bag is one of the most talked-about types of survival kits out there. Most people that are looking to get into preparedness see the term thrown around everywhere they go.

A bug out bag is a survival kit that contains everything that you’ll need in case some form of disaster (either natural or man-made) forces you to leave your home and go to a safer location. They’re also sometimes referred to as 72-hour kits or abbreviated as BOB.

When you start reading about bug out bags, most places just jump straight to a list of some kind and tell you what to put in a bag. I really don’t like approaching things that way. If you’re like me, knowing why you’re doing something is just as important as knowing how to do it.

What a Bug Out Bag Should Be

Before you build any kind of survival kit, you should start by thinking about what that particular kit is supposed to do and what it’s supposed to provide for you during that emergency. A bug out bag is no different.

When your home is no longer safe (because of civil unrest, natural disasters, etc.) you may need to leave it quickly and get to a place that is safe (or at least safer). This is where a bug out bag comes in.

What Should Be in a Bug Out Bag

A bug out bag should be focused on one thing…getting you safely from your home to your bug out location. Anything that doesn’t add to your ability to make that trip is just added weight.

When you’re packing a bug out bag, it should be as light as you can make it while still having everything that you’re going to need for a few days of travel.

Before you add anything to it, you should ask yourself if you need that piece of gear or if you just want it. If you decide that you’re just packing something because you want it, then you probably shouldn’t pack it. We’re going for survival, not comfort when you’re packing a bug out bag.

Shelter, water, and food are the bare minimums that you should pack in your bug out bag. Exactly what you pack is going to depend on how far you need to travel to get to your bug out location, the type of environment that you’re bugging out from, and the type of weather that you plan to encounter while you’re bugging out.

A bug out bag that’s made for bugging out from the city over a three day period in the summertime is going to look a lot different than one that’s made to bug out from a rural area in the wintertime and have to sustain you for five days!

How Big Should a Bug Out Bag Be

There really isn’t a certain size requirement when it comes to bug out bags as far as I’m concerned. In general, smaller is better.

If you have a bag with a lot of extra space in it, the tendency is to keep adding things until the bag is full. I know I fall into that trap from time to time so it’s something you need to be aware of.

In the end, it’s a lot more about how much it weighs rather than how big it.

How Much Should a Bug Out Bag Weigh

Weight can potentially be a killer if you’re in a bug out situation. It will slow you down, wear you out and possibly even lead to injuries that you wouldn’t otherwise have to deal with.

When I’m building a bug out bag, I like to shoot for a weight of 25 lbs for the bug out bag without any weapons. For some people, walking with 25 lbs on their back is going to feel like a lot of weight and for others, it’s like an easy walk in the park.

If you’re a PT stud, then add as much weight as you want, but I recommend a bug out bag that’s around 25 lbs.

When is it Time to Use Your Bug Out Bag

Just because you have a bug out bag, doesn’t mean that you should rush to use it! There is a fine line between an emergency that is bad enough to make you bug out and an emergency that you should bug in for. It’s not a decision I can make for you, but I can give you my opinion on when you should bug in or when you should bug out.

When should you bug in?

In my opinion, bugging in should be your default response to disasters, emergencies, etc.

When you bug in you have all of the food, water, hygiene items, clothing and everything else that you normally have in your house. In other words, you start out ahead of the game.

If you live in an area that is going to make you want to immediately bug out in the face of some kind of an SHTF or disaster, I would suggest you make plans to move somewhere safer as soon as you can. Don’t stay in an area that’s immediately going to be unsafe for you and your family!

When should you bug out?

You should only bug out as a last resort.

When you bug out, you trade the security and supplies that you have at your house for the lack of security and the unknown of being on the road. It’s not a good trade-off!

You should bug out when there is a serious risk that some kind of disaster will destroy your home or make it unlivable or unsafe to stay there. A massive hurricane, wildfires, extreme civil unrest or some invading army would probably make me bug out. Other than that I plan to stay in place and I’d suggest that you do the same.


A bug out bag is probably the most talked-about type of survival kit there is! It’s designed to safely get you from your home to your bug out location when there’s a disaster that will make your home and the surrounding area unlivable.

Try to keep your bug out bag as small and light as possible to make your trip to your bug out location as fast as possible so you can get out of the unknown environment that comes with travel and into the safety that comes from being in a safe, known environment like your bug out location!