Gear Guide for Your Bug Out Bag


When traveling, working from a vehicle, or in a hostile environment, it makes sense to keep all your important and essential equipment in a bug out bag. From a tactical point of view, if you are attacked, ambushed, or involved in an emergency situation and have to evacuate you will want to have any confidential information, emergency, and survival equipment with you.

You never want to leave your essential equipment in an unattended vehicle, hotel room, or non-secure location. For example, if the vehicle is stolen you lose your kit, which could be embarrassing to say the least, especially where weapons and confidential information is concerned.


What you carry in your bug out bag will vary greatly depending on where you are and what you are doing. For example, what you need in an urban environment will be different from what you could need in a very rural environment. What I have listed here is just a guide to what you may need, you need to keep things real and not include gear that you will never use, remember if things go wrong, and you have to run you don’t want a bag weighing 100 lbs. on your back.

Bug out bag equipment (Basic)

  • A decent bag that is easy to carry, preferably a day sack or something that can be carried on you back, so your hands are left free.
  • All equipment should be in individual waterproof bags or containers. This is to keep everything dry, organized, and clean.
  • Good maps and street plans of the area and a compass.
  • Any confidential information such as orders, codes, designated routes, operational procedures, etc.
  • Radio/communications equipment, chargers, and spare batteries.
  • A good first aid kit.
  • A good flashlight and spare batteries.
  • Lighter or matches
  • Personal water filter
  • A bag of coins for parking meters and payphones.
  • A camera, for taking photos of anything suspicious or that you think needs recording.
  • Waterproofed note pad and selection of pens.

Bug out bag equipment: Potential threat environment

  • Radio scanner can be used to scan the emergency services radio frequencies; this can provide you with an early warning of potential problems or criminal/terrorist incidents in your area. In some areas, there are restrictions on the use of scanners, always check.
  • Spotlight can be used at night to shine in the face and blind the driver of a threat vehicle which is following/chasing you etc.
  • Smoke discharges, military-style some grenades are illegal to possess in most places. What is legal though are the smoke distress signals that are carried on yachts and maritime vessels. These can be bought at most boat shops and are not that expensive, they usually can discharge about a minute’s worth of red smoke. Smoke can be used to provide cover if you are ambushed or need to evacuate on foot. In addition, it can be used to cause a distraction to say an urban environment, so you can evacuate the area.
  • Weapons, in some areas you cannot carry weapons on your person but can carry them in a secure case, the case can go in your bag! Where there may be a need for a long gun such as a shotgun or assault rifle and these cannot be carried openly they can go into a car bag. Of course, you can carry spare ammunition.

Related: SHTF Weapons Checklist

Food and drink

Depending on where you are and the length of your journey you may want to carry some form of food and drink with you

  • Drink, it’s always handy to have a thermos flask of coffee or tea available for moral reasons if nothing else. With drinks and liquids, you must ensure they do not spill or leak over documents and equipment. Highly caffeinated and sugary coffee or sports drinks can be included in your car bag for emergencies, these can give you an energy boost when you need it and can help you to stay awake when you’re tired.
  • Food, if you are carrying food as with liquids you need to ensure they do not spill or leak over documents and equipment. If you take a sandwich or other perishable food with you make sure you do not leave them in the car bag for any extended length of time and they go bad. It is also a good protocol if sharing a vehicle with others not to carry strong-smelling food; it might not smell good to everyone. The emergence of foods that can be carried include chocolate bars, nuts, raisins, etc. These will give you energy, are compact, and have a long shelf life.

Remember if you use any emergency supplies to replace them. This only a guide to what you may want to carry with you. We are not going to get into wilderness survival and navigation techniques as that is another subject, which is your operating in you should have at least a basic knowledge of.

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