You’re having dinner with your entire family. It’s been a while since you had a meal together. If not for John, who was caught up in the traffic snarl-up at the last minute, you’d have been one complete happy family. You’re all still happy anyway. Suddenly, the dishes on the table begin shaking. Before you can register what’s happening, the walls start swaying, and lights go off. It’s an earthquake! You need to leave your home immediately. In such scenarios, there’s usually no room to pack essentials, and that’s where bug-out bags come in. In this article, we highlight the best premade bug out bags and why they’re crucial.
What Is a Bug Out Bag, and Why Should You Have One?
Also known as a go-bag, grab bag, or 72-hour kit, a bug out bag is a survival kit for emergency evacuations. A typical grab bag contains essentials that can sustain you for at least 72 hours after the evacuation.
- “Bugging out” means leaving your home to escape the risks of an emergency scenario caused by natural disasters like earthquakes or artificial situations like civil unrest. Therefore, a typical bug out bag contains essentials that can sustain you for at least three days away from the comfort of your home.
However, sometimes emergencies confine you to your house. A perfect example is the current COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns that forced people to stay indoors. In some cases, people ran out of basic supplies and turned to their emergency survival kits for sustenance.
What are we driving at?
Bug out bags are meant to increase your chances of survival in a wide range of emergencies, whether they are indoors or outdoors. The notion that grab bags should exclusively be used in outdoor disaster situations is misplaced and unfounded. So, in your quest for the best bug out bags, remember that the emergency scenarios can be either out in the wild or within your house. This determines the essential survival gear you need to include in the go-bag.
Essential Items to Have in Your Bug Out Bag
The following bug out bag list considers all types of potential emergencies. Browse each category to identify what applies to your scenario:
An average human being can survive for a maximum of three minutes without an ample supply of clean air. Therefore, you might want to include a few air filtration masks for emergencies that might inhibit your access to clean air. The best masks for bug out emergency kits are those that can filter out particulates.
Water comes second in the list of the essential things to include in your survival kit. While you can go for weeks without eating, you can’t survive more than three days without water. As a rule of thumb, every bug out bag should have at least one gallon of water per person for five days. Keep the water in sturdy water pouches that can withstand harsh conditions without exposing the water to contamination. Besides the water bottle, you might also want to pack water purification tablets in case you come across questionable water supplies.
Whether you’re caught up in a wilderness in the middle of nowhere or driven out of your home by a storm, you’ll always need immediate shelter. Some primary survival gears that you can use to erect temporary shelters include:
- Tent: While you may not fit traditional tube tents in bug out bags, you should have survival tents to protect you from harsh weather conditions. Find a waterproof survival tent that can retain heat to keep you warm. We recommend tents made of Mylar. If the weather is too adverse, you can stack grass or leaves against the tent for extra protection.
- Emergency blankets: The most common ones are space blankets made of light metal-coated sheets that retain heat. You can also tie the survival blanket with a paracord and attach it to a trunk/limb for additional rudimental shelter.
- Sleeping bag: A lightweight sleeping bag that retains heat and doesn’t occupy too much space can perfectly complement the survival blanket. It should be water-resistant.
The clothes in your grab bag should take into account all possible weather scenarios. Ensure the bug out bag has all the following types of clothing:
- Gloves: Cold weather gloves will keep you warm in low temperatures. If they’re sturdy enough, they will enhance your grip when moving debris and protect your hands from blisters, cuts, and contaminants that may cause infection.
- Extra clothes: Have at least one extra pair of clothes that you can change into. Even in survival situations, you don’t want to walk around sweaty and feeling dirty.
- Jackets: Like gloves, jackets keep you warm. If frequent rainfall is a concern in your area, you should consider packing a waterproof jacket.
- Headgear: Pack a few beanies or caps to provide head warmth. They should be thick enough to retain heat.
One of the greatest challenges in emergencies is keeping yourself warm. To avoid the risk of catching a cold or developing hyperthermia, throw a hand warmer, thermal blanket, and leg warmers into the bug out bag. Also, pack a firestarter or matches for scenarios where you need to start a fire for warmth, to cook, or create smoke signals to ask for help.
You need food for energy to go through hardships in emergencies. The challenge is that you may not have enough room in your bug out bag to pack a lot of food. The trick is carrying dense and precise food rations. A perfect example is the Datrex emergency rations; they are small enough to save space but are packed with ample calories to last you three days. If there’s a possibility of the emergency catching you near a body of water, a simple fishing kit (bait, string, and hook) will come in handy.
You can never tell when emergencies will arise. Therefore, you might want to have a flashlight, headlamp, chem light, or LED lanterns in the bag in case you’re stranded at night. Lighting is essential for basic illumination, scaring away animals, and signaling for help.
8. Navigation Tools
Even if you have a firm grasp of the area, it’s crucial to have navigation tools in the bug out bag. Depending on the survival situation, you should pack a compass, map of the area, or a GPS tracking system. For the GPS tracking system, you might also need to carry a solar charger or extra batteries. Also, consider packing an emergency whistle. You can use whistles to ask for help and direct rescue teams to your location.
There’s no telling what danger you might come across away from your home. Pack a pen-knife or pepper spray in case you need to protect yourself from animals or burglars.
10. First Aid Supplies
We should have probably started with this one. Accidents are prevalent in disaster scenarios. A first aid kit is essential to dress the wounds and prevent contamination before professional medical assistance comes your way. Some must-haves in the kit include:
- Painkillers: Pack essential painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin for temporary relief if you sustain injuries.
- Instrument kit: It can be on its own or within the first aid kit. An instrument kit is where you keep medical tools like safety pins, scissors, tapes, and forceps.
- Sunscreen: If your area experiences extreme temperatures, pack sunscreen to protect your skin against scorching.
- Sling: Emergencies involve lots of moving around and relocating things. Increased activity can sometimes immobilize arms, hence the need for external support from slings.
- Burn gels: They are particularly essential in emergencies that involve fire. Burn gels provide temporary relief in case you get burned by cooling the affected area.
- Anti-bacterial wipes: During disasters, you may not have enough water to clean your hands whenever you want to. Carry antibacterial wipes to clean your hands in such scenarios.
- Gauze pads: Disasters come with an increased risk of incurring injuries. It’s, therefore, essential to pack gauze pads for dressing and keep wounds clean.
- Medical gloves: Due to the unavailability of medical professionals in emergencies, higher chances are that you’ll be performing most basic medical operations like dressing wounds by yourself. You need gloves to prevent infecting the open cuts you’re handling.
- Antibiotic ointments: They prevent infection and double up as pain relievers.
- Antiseptic wipes and bandages
- Tourniquet: This is a compression device that you can use to prevent excess bleeding during a cut by stopping blood flow through the affected veins or arteries.
- Hygiene kit: Here’s where you keep personal hygiene items like toothbrushes and toothpaste that should not get into contact with the other supplies.
- First-aid instructions: You can have all the above essentials, but if you don’t know how to use them, they have no value. That’s why you also need to pack first-aid instructions in the bag.
- Medical supplies: If you have any chronic medical conditions, you should pack extra doses of your medical supplies in the bag.
Why Should You Have a Bug Out Bag?
According to HealthDay, over 48% of Americans do not have emergency supplies. That means that if a disaster were to spread through all states at once, almost half the population would be caught unawares.
Emergencies have no warnings; they can strike at any time. The best way to handle disasters is to prepare for them before they happen. And that’s why you need to have a bug out bag:
- It allows you to evacuate quickly: When a natural disaster like an earthquake strikes, you need to leave your homes as soon as possible. With a bug out bag, you don’t have to run around the house looking for essentials to pack before the evacuation. All you have to do is grab the bag, and off you go.
- It increases your chances of survival: Bug out bags enable you to leave danger zones fast enough to evade disasters like walls crumbling down on you. Besides, they’re usually packed with basic items to sustain you for at least 72 hours before help comes your way. All these increase your chances of surviving an emergency situation.
Why Choose Pre-Made Bug Out Bags?
One of the leading reasons for not having bug out bags is that they take a lot of time to assemble and require considerable subject-matter expertise. Luckily, there are pre-made bug out bags that do not need you to collect personal items one by one.
So, are pre-Made bug out bags a better option?
Pros Of Premade Bug Out Bags
- They save time: As the name suggests, pre-made bug out bags are ready-made. You don’t need to spend time researching and assembling the survival items. That makes them a perfect option when you need to secure a survival kit at the last minute.
- They require no expertise: To piece together a bug out bag, you need considerable knowledge on emergency response and outdoor survival. If you don’t have this expertise, opt for a pre-made bag. It requires no knowledge since it’s already assembled by professionals.
- They are more convenient: Premade bug out bags save you both time and effort, making them convenient. They are an “off-the-shelf” solution that works almost as good as customized bags or even better.
- You have a guarantee that they’ll cover basic needs: Unlike you, those who make pre-made bug out bags are industry professionals. They understand what one needs to survive a disaster, hence the bags they make are likely to include all the essential survival tools. Some people even opt to buy pre-made bags and customize them to suit their unique needs instead of starting from scratch.
Cons of Premade Bug Out Bags
The most significant disadvantage of pre-made bug out bags is that they have a one-shoe-fits-all approach. You could find yourself having unnecessary items that don’t apply to your situation, or you’ll be missing some survival supplies you need. The solution to this is to customize the pre-made bag by adding essential items and removing those that you don’t need.
Best Pre-Made Bug Out Bags
When selecting the best bug out bag, consider the following factors:
- Does it have all the essential survival items that you might need during an emergency?
- What else will you require to make it perfect for any emergency?
- Does it balance urban survival and wilderness survival kits?
- How many survival items that you don’t need will you be paying for as part of the bug out bag?
- Can you carry the bag for long distances?
- Should the bag be stored in the house or your car’s trunk?
Here’s a list of our top picks for various categories:
1. Best All-Round Premade Bug Out Bag
This bag is our top pick because it comes in a wide variety and is more complete than most options on the market. It has all the essential survival items you need to sustain you for up to 72 hours. Depending on your family’s size, you can select the kit that meets your needsâ€”from a one-person bug out bag to a six-person kit.
2. Cheapest Premade Bug Out Bag
We usually discourage people from buying cheap bug out bags because they lack even the most basic survival items. Well, that doesn’t apply to the Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit. It offers almost all you (and another person) may need to survive an emergency without putting a dent in your wallet.
3. Best Value Premade Bug Out Bag
This kit gives you the best value for your buck. It has enough supplies to last a family/group of four for up to 72 hours. The Premium Family Emergency Survival Kit also has a 2-person bag for smaller families.
7 Other Honorable Mentions
1. Best Premade Bug Out Bag With A Guide Book
A survival kit is only as good as you can use it. Not every bug out bag comes with instructions on how to use the items in it, and that’s why the Emergency Zone 4-Person Urban Survival Bug Out Bag stands out. It has a detailed Emergency Guidebook that highlights how to use every item and piece of gear in the bag.
2. Best Personalized Premade Bug Out Bag
This bag eliminates the chances of missing necessary survival essentials or ending up with a kit full of tools that you don’t need. Before purchase, you fill a survival questionnaire that a specialist reviews to recommend what you should have in the bag. You then go through the recommendations to confirm that they meet your expectations. You only pay for the bag once you’ve agreed with the disaster preparedness specialists on the items it will have.
3. Best Heavy-Duty Premade Bug Out Bag
The Uncharted Supply Emergency Survival Backpack is made of waterproof tarpaulin (600 deniers) and has several storage compartments. It’s our top pick for heavy-duty emergencies because it’s resilient, offers ample space to carry almost everything, and has a comfortable, sturdy design.
4. Best Premade Bug Out Bag With Most Essentials
It has 38+ essential items for any emergency scenario. As the name suggests, it can sustain you for up to five days. The best part is that even with all these supplies, this durable backpack has a pretty average weight of 9 lbs.
5. Best Premade Bug Out Bag For Convenience
Are you looking for a bug out bag that has everything you need for an emergency evacuation and is easy to carry around? Buy the “First My Family” kit. It has survival items to sustain four people for 72 hours, distributed in two large bags for convenience and easy portability.
6. Best Premade Bug Out Bag For Advanced Preppers
It has more survival items than you’d find in a standard emergency kit. We recommend the Prep Store Elite Emergency Pack for advanced preppers because it requires lots of customization. It allows you to personalize certain supplies like food and water.
7. Best Premade Bug Out Bag Starter Pack
This survival kit only includes essentials that any average person would need. It leaves out the extra items and gives you more room to customize the bag to your preference and survival needs.
Consider Making Your Own Bug Out Bag To Customize Its Contents
If you want a bug out bag that fully addresses your survival needs, consider making one by yourself. This process may be lengthy and tiresome, but at the end of it all, you will have a product that you know inside out and are certain meets all your needs.
First, you need to identify the survival items you need; this is usually the most challenging step. If you aren’t sure, you can consult with disaster preparedness specialists who understand your locality. Once you’ve assembled everything, find a bag or backpack that you can carry around comfortably. The bag should be sturdy and able to withstand harsh conditions.
There you have itâ€”everything you need to know about bug out bags, how to select the best pre-made bags, and what you should consider when making a personalized grab bag. Let us know if you found this article helpful in the comment box below.
Premade Bug Out Bags FAQs
- Is it cheaper to make your own bug out bag? No. Customizing a grab bag requires piecing together several essential gear and survival items, which is more costly than getting them already assembled in a kit. If you also consider the time spent on personalization, pre-made bags are way cheaper.
- What’s the best color for a bug out bag? The color of a bug out bag doesn’t matter in most cases. However, you may want to go with darker shades that don’t show dirt easily. Darker colors also prevent unwanted attention that brighter colors can attract.
What is the most important item in a bug out bag? While food, emergency shelter, and personal hygiene items are essential, water pouches are arguably the most vital items. That’s because you can’t live without water for more than three days.