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2016 Bug Out Bag Checklist

The official 2016 Bug Out Bag Checklist. Start 2016 with a fully equipped bug out bag. See our top picks and most reviewed items for your BOB.

A bug out bag is designed to get you out of an emergency situation, get you to your bug out location, and typically allow you to survive for up to 3 days (72 hours).

Whether you’re prepping for a hurricane, solar storm, or a severe Twinkie shortage caused by the zombie apocalypse, start your 2016 year out right with a fully equipped bug out bag.

Already have a bug out bag? Awesome! Use this checklist to make sure you have everything, and to see if your gear is getting outdated.

Why A Bug Out Bag (BOB)?

With a backpack containing everything you need to live fairly comfortably considering the situation at hand, you’ll be much better off than if you grabbed a few random things while trying to quickly evacuate your current location.

Some short event such as a quick cold snap that will put the power out for a few hours would be better suited for a more lightweight (and cheaper) Basic 24 Hour Kit or a severe storm kit.

A lot of people plan their Bug Out Bag to last much longer than 72 hours, but there is always a limit to what you can carry on your back and a 3 day target is a good starting point.

The suggested contents of a bug-out bag vary, but most of the following items are usually included.

2016 Bug Out Bag Checklist

Here is a simple checklist for your bag, in no particular order. Note that nothing is set in stone and everyone has difference needs and previously learned skills that will affect what they put in their Bug Out Bag (BOB).

Full Kits – All In One Solutions

If you just want to get right to it and buy a full kit outright, it’s hard to go wrong with one of these kits. Consider replacing the backpack with a hiking bag if you’re not a big tactical backpack fan (see the bug out bag section right below this one for more).

We reviewed each of the picks below. They are all worth mentioning and any could work for what they are made to do but none of the backpacks were perfect and overall we think it’s best to build your BOB based on your individual needs instead of buying a ready-made kit.

The Bug Out Bag – Pick one

When it comes to bags there are two camps. Some people prefer a hiking style backpack, something like the Teton Sports Scout 3500 below. These backpacks are made for carrying loads long distance and are usually easier on the back thanks to their metal frame and general design.

On the other side of the stream are the tactical backpack fans. Most “survival” specific backpacks are tactical, meaning they wear and look like an extra thick book bag with velcro strips for attaching molly bags and just about anything else you want.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. With a tactical bag it’s easier to store stuff in some ways, but a hiking bag will be easier on your body if you plan to walk for several miles. You will feel less tired with a hiking backpack.

Through our research and field tests we found there’s a little to be said for both sides of the hiking vs tactical debate. These are our best picks.




Flashlight – Small, Powerful, Rugged

You want a dependable, rugged, and small flashlight. There is no sense in lugging a massive 4lb flashlight as big as your arm that puts out less or just as much lumens as a modern day compact LED the size of your palm. LED is a must for battery life, and having a handheld light and a headlamp is a good idea.

Alternate powered lamps are another option. There are many great LED flashlights with handcrank or solar power options on the market.

We researched, reviewed, and field tested dozens of flashlights. Here’s our top three picks.

Knife – Your Best Tool

Outside of a fire, your knife is your number one tool. You will need one for just about everything like cutting rope, cording wood, and preparing food. As such you want the best knife money can buy. The good news is good knives are not expensive, so don’t fall for the marketing hype of a $300 knife.

My personal favorite knife, and the favorite knife of Cody Lundin of Dual Survival fame, is a simple Mora fixed blade carbon steel knife. No surprise that it easily ranked number one in our trials.

Our top four favorite knifes. The Morakniv Companion was by far the winner.

Water Filter/Purifier – Don’t Leave Home Without One

You won’t make it very long without one of these. Lifestraw is a heavy contender for best water filter. Sawyer and Katadyn are also great filters, but the portability of the Lifestraw puts it on the top of our list.

We used and reviewed water filters and purifiers for days. These top four picks came out on top.

Honorable Mention – The Katadyn Vario is more than worthy of an honorable mention. We’ve recommended it for quite a while and we still love it. In the end its bigger size pushed it to number five (and off this years list). There’s just nothing out there as good as the Vario if you need to put water into a separate container after it is filtered, something the Lifestraw struggles at.

Fire – Think Simple And Reliable

You need a fire, and you need it without fuss. There are a thousand+ choices but in the end you need something simple that always works, wet or dry. Our personal favorite way to start a fire is the fire piston. Not only does it work without fuss, but it is nearly dummyproof…and it looks awesome in action.

If you don’t know what a fire piston is yet, check out our article The Fire Piston – Starting A Fire With Air.

If you don’t want to spend a little time learning how to use a fire steel or fire piston, simply pack a lighter. It’s also a good backup and security against wet tinder. A lighter is essentially foolproof for a 72 hour BOB. Eventually you’re going to run out of fluid, but that’s a month away. After that you can fall back on your newly acquired fire piston skills.

Here’s our top four picks for favorite firestarter.

Shelter – Pick and Choose

Here you have options. Pick and choose what you like best. These are portable shelters that will keep you comfortable. They can also be used for signaling.

You should get a tent or tarp for your main shelter, then add a cheap mylar blanket and a lightweight sleeping bag.


Thermal blankets are not your Grandma’s thick quilt, they are made of aluminized mylar designed by NASA to reflect 97% of your body heat back at you. They are super thin and loud, kinda like wrapping yourself in a trash bag made of aluminum. I use them to lay on the ground under my sleeping bag (inside the tent or on the bare ground) then put another on top of me. They also make excellent reflectors for a fire, with you between the fire and the thermal blanket.

Sleeping bags should be bought based on your lowest nighttime temperature. You want the thinnest bag possible but you also want to be warm. The below bags have separate temperatures and you should consider which you need in your situation.

We spent a lot of time reviewing, testing, and harshly judging shelter gear. In the end this is the gear that made the final cut.

Miscellaneous – Essentials

Important miscellaneous items that you need. Don’t consider these optional. They are essential.

Important Extras

Some things are better locally. They can be found just about anywhere and you’ll save money on shipping. These are the items that are better bought at a store near you or that you should already have at home.

  • Hand sanitizer (save your water for cooking and drinking)
  • Map of the area (street and topographical)
  • Small mirror (for signaling, hygiene, and a lot more)
  • Extra change of clothes (include socks and underwear)
  • Hat (a full brim is preferred, they protect you from falling ticks and sunburn better)
  • Gloves (don’t skimp, buy a good pair of leather work gloves or prepare for blisters)
  • Money (small bills, nothing bigger than a $20 bill)

Optional Extras

These items should be considered optional, but they can make your life a lot more comfortable. If you want to be totally prepared consider adding them to your BOB.

  • Light My Fire Titanium Spork for your dining pleasure (really a great add-on)
  • Survival Fishing Kit (if you will be near water you’ll want the tools to catch fish)
  • Survival Sewing and Repair Kit (also good for sewing yourself up in an emergency)
  • Protein Bars (much better flavored than survival food bars)
  • Multi-tool (good to have for the extra bade + screwdrivers and pliers)
  • Radio (battery + hand crank with solar and NOAA is best. Can also power other devices)
  • LED Lantern (great for lighting your camp or a trail, but it must be small and portable)
  • Small Backpack Stove (in case you cannot make a fire because of weather or stealth)
  • Binoculars (good for seeing when you don’t want to be seen)
  • Survival Whistle (yelling wears you out, but you can blow a whistle for days on end)
  • BladeMedic Knife Sharpener (specifically this sharpener because it’s easy and multi-use)
  • Gerber Hatchet & Saw Combo (much better than a knife for cutting larger trees)
  • Extra batteries (get rechargeable batteries and a solar charger for “unlimited” power)
  • Dish soap, bar soap (for washing up and cleaning)
  • Small hand towel, possibly two (for washing up, drying your mess kit, and more)
  • A copy of emergency and important contacts (include addresses and phone numbers)
  • Hygiene necessities (travel size comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, shaving cream, shampoo)

Mini Survival Kits

For the person that wants to be prepared for everything.

It’s worth carrying some mini survival kits on your person in case you lose your bag or have to leave it behind, such as a paracord bracelet or a “survival grenade” on your belt loop.

The only paracord bracelet worth having by a long shot is The Ultimate Paracord Survival Kit Bracelet by LAST MAN. It’s amazing and packed full of gear. You’ll never even realize it’s there until you need it.

On your belt loop you can wear a small survival kit that’s nearly a mini Bug Out Bag called a survival grenade. Imagine if you took all your most important Bug Out Bag gear, minified it, and wrapped it in paracord. Again, we’ve examined several survival grenade kits and the best one is Gecko Equipments Paracord Deluxe Grenade Survival Kit.

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Meet The Author

Robert Rickman

I have been practicing survival and prepping skills since the 70's through backpacking across the USA and outdoor living in the wild, and also at my off-grid homestead with my family of four.


Add a Comment
  1. Good list Sergeant Survival. I always go for the basics and work my way down. I will say that sticking some ChapStick into my BOB has helped with fire starting in the past.

    1. Great advice, chapstick has a ton of uses. Even makes a decent candle in a last ditch effort for light.

  2. This is a great list for putting together a bug out bag. I like your thorough coverage of the many different types of gear to consider.

    I am also a fan of the Mora Knives, and want to point out for potential buyers that the Companion comes in carbon steel, stainless steel, and heavy duty flavors, all around the same price.

    So make sure and pick the one that is best for your needs and preferences. Carbon steel takes more maintenance to keep it in top shape.

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2016 Bug Out Bag Checklist

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