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What is a Bug Out Bag (And What Should Go In It)?

It's always good to be prepared. A bug out bag—or BOB—is a portable kit that contains items you would need to survive for 72 hours in the event you needed to evacuate for a disaster, such as a hurricane, wild fire or flood. Bug out bags aren't one-size-fits all, however, they should contain some key items. Here's a look at some items that you should have in your bug out bag.

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guy with water bottleLuis Molinero/Shutterstock


Water is arguably the most essential item in your bug out bag. At minimum, everyone should have one liter, per day, in their bag. In addition to water, consider packing a LifeStraw, which can filter out most bacteria from water sources such as lakes and ponds.

These are the items you need to keep on hand for emergencies in your home.

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Clothing for your bug out bag should be chosen with the climate in mind. Two changes of clothes will ensure you always having something dry to wear. A rain poncho and gloves are good items to consider as they don’t take up much room.

These items can help you stay warm in the cold.

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first air kit for bug out bagBogdan ionescu/Shutterstock


When packing food for your bug out bag, aim for a variety of nonperishable items along with some food preparation materials. Energy bars and dehydrated meals are good choices, along with a can opener, portable stove and stove fuel.

Check out these 10 cool camping gadgets.

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first aid kit for bug out bagBillion Photos/Shutterstock

First Aid Kit

Your bug out bag first aid kit should contain bandages, gauze, adhesive tape and an antibiotic ointment. Include an EpiPen if you have a severe allergy.

A first aid kit is among the safety gear every home improvement DIYer should own.

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fire starter, matchesPeter Vanco/Shutterstock

Fire Starter

You’ll need the means for starting a fire, such as matches and/or a lighter. Experts recommend having at least three ignition sources in case of a failure. You should also keep ignition sources in a waterproof bag.

12 Fire Safety Tips You Need to Know.

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tentVova Shevchuk/Shutterstock

Shelter and Bedding

It’s important to be well-rested during disasters, as it will help keep you physically and mentally tough. A tarp or tent is a good option for shelter, while a sleeping bag or wool blanket will keep you safe from the cold.

Here are 16 camping hacks, tips and tricks you’ll wish you knew earlier.

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tools for bug out bagklaikungwon/Shutterstock


When it comes to tools, think function. Pocket tools, such as a multi-tool and a small LED flashlight will come in handy. You should also carry a survival knife and a small ax or machete.

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washing hands with soap271 EAK MOTO/Shutterstock

Personal Hygiene Items

At minimum, pack hand sanitizer, an all-purpose soap, two rolls of toilet paper per person and a travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste. A small towel can also be rolled up and placed in your bug out bag, along with any other personal hygiene items you might need during a 72-hour time span.

Here’s more on making storm readiness kits.

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communications equipmentdcwcreations/Shutterstock

Communications Equipment

You don’t need much when it comes to communication equipment, but keep a cell phone and a cell phone charger (a crank power charger works well) in your bug out bag. You can also pack an emergency radio with hand crank.

Here are 16 must-have emergency kit items to survive a storm.

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travel resourcesPoprotskiy Alexey/Shutterstock

Travel Resources

In your bug out bag, keep a map, compass, a small note pad with pencil and emergency whistle. Consider keeping some cash in your bag as well, including bills and coins. Remember, in a major emergency, electronic banking may not be available.

Here’s how to get your home ready for floods.

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travel bag for bug out bagJamie Carroll/Shutterstock

The Bag Itself

Don’t pick out a bug out bag until you collect all your items. Find a bag that can hold everything and is comfortable to carry and waterproof.

Here are tips for staying safe during a hurricane.

Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.