Go Bag Items: The Essentials And Must-Haves

The go bag items you have on hand may be the only thing that you can bring with you if you have to head for the hills in a hurry. It pays to think out in advance what you’re going to need. That way, you won’t stumble into situations you’re not prepared for. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

A hiker carrying his go bag items.

How To Think About Go Bag Items

When you’re planning your go bag items, you have to think a little differently. You want everything to be as light as possible, including the bag itself. The “go” in a go bag means you’re trying to be mobile and agile. 

Survival is also paramount. You’re not trying to assemble your must-have luxuries, you’re trying to stay safe and alive. The best way to make sure you’ve got your bases covered is to remember the Rule of Three’s.

Go Bag Items And The Rule Of 3’s


You can only survive 3 minutes without air. Luckily, Earth is mostly covered in it. Problems arise when something contaminates the air. Many types of disaster might do this. Volcanic ash, tear gas, or even heavy smog can impede your ability to get oxygen in your system.

For this reason, air masks are a must have for your go-bag. You should at least have N-95 masks handy. These are cheap, lightweight, and easy to use. If you’ve got extra space or fear that air quality will be a major factor in your escape, opt for a larger respirator


This one surprises a lot of people, but shelter can be more time sensitive than water or food. You can only survive 3 hours in extreme hot or cold environments. Shelter should include your clothing and something you can camp with. 

This depends on your environment. If you’re in an area that experiences extreme heat or extreme cold, you should have a change of clothes that will protect you from this. You should also have a folding poncho. Getting wet can be deadly in a survival situation. It very quickly wicks heat away from your body. Getting a poncho with grommets will mean that with some rope or twine, you can use it as a tent as well.

As for your shelter, your rain poncho and cord should be able to cover you, but what about keeping you warm? Emergency Mylar blankets are cheap, versatile, and very lightweight. You can line your shelter with it, wear it around yourself, and even signal for help with shiny ones. They’re a must-have go bag item.


You can only survive 3 days without water. Because water is so heavy, you can bet that you cant carry enough to sustain you for long. This is where planning comes into play. I’ve already written an article about water purification you can read (HERE), so I’ll spare you the details. More important than having water is being able to clean water you find. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a water purification straw for the short term, and techniques planned for the long term.


You can make it about 3 weeks without food, depending on the person. While it’s another one that requires renewability, it’s a little easier to carry than water. Emergency rations have a good shelf life, and are easy to carry. You can toss a 72-hour supply of food in as a go bag item that’ll carry you until you reach a safer destination.

Bug Out Items – Tools

There are a few tools you’ll want to add to your list of bug out items in addition to the Rule of Three’s gear.

First off, you’ll want light. If you plan to be traveling at night, or if you will be out after dark, you’ll need to be able to see. Cheap flashlights are lightweight and can be found everywhere, but headlamps are an even better idea. They’re hands-free and also very lightweight.

Additionally, you’ll want a good multitool. They come in a million shapes and sizes but the must-haves are a cutting edge, pliers, and a fire-starter. If you have these bases covered then you’re ready for most everything.

Go Bag Items Wrap-up

Ultimately, what goes in your go bag is up to you. You need to make sure that you understand how to use everything you pack. And you need to make sure that the total weight is manageable for you. Otherwise you’ll be chucking useless items as you go, wasting time and energy when it matters most.

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Bug Out Cooking Kit Shopping List: Point-By-Point

This bug out cooking kit will give you a good baseline to start with. It’s perfect for longer-term bugging out, not necessarily short-term get home bags. There’s a lot of things that you an add to your kit. There are tons of luxury items you can throw in if you’ve got the extra space! But you have to remember to keep weight and the ways to reduce it in mind. 

Someone using a bug out cooking kit.

The first way is with materials. Aluminum and titanium are much lighter than iron or steel! The other way to bring weight down is with the number of pieces. If you reduce the number of pieces then you reduce the total weight right off the bat.

Bug Out Cooking Kit List

  1. A Lightweight Wood-Burning Stove (Optional)
  2. A Cooking Pot
  3. A Cup For Each Person
  4. A Bowl For Each Person
  5. A Set Of Silverware For Each Person (This could be a fork and a spoon, or a spork.)
  6. A Can Opener (This might be on your Multi-Tool.)
  7. A Wooden Cooking Spoon (Can be cut short to save space.)

Now let’s jump to the recommendations. Since this is a short list I wanted to give two choices for each piece of gear. Ultimately, this whole thing comes down to a lot of preference. Everyone cooks and eats differently. The only way to know what you really need is to test it yourself! Below you’ll find my recommendations and also a link to a list of all of them put together.

TOMSHOO Camping Stove

Ohuhu Camping Stove

MSR Alpine Stowaway Pot

GSI Outdoors Halulite Boiler

Life Gear Stainless Steel Mug

TOAKS Titanium Cup

Ecoart Silicone Expandable Collapsible Bowl

Bisgear Lightweight Dinnerware (6 pcs)

Light My Fire BPA-Free Original Spork BIO

finessCity Titanium Spork

Two Sets of P-38 and P-51 Military Can Openers

Gerber Suspension-NXT Multi-Tool

OXO Good Grips Wooden Corner Spoon

Genius Outdoors Titanium Spoon

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Best Bug Out Emergency Rations – Pre-Made Meals!

Emergency rations aren’t a good permanent option. To last as long as they do, they can’t be very natural. They’ll often also have some slight imbalance to nutrients. That said, they’re a very important part of your short-term survival plan. They’ll easily keep you going for days, months, even years if you’ve got nothing else. They’re an excellent thing to stockpile in places you can prep like houses or cars.

Emergency rations roasting on an open fire.

I put together a list here of the best emergency rations I could find to fit a variety of situations. Your 3 day emergency rations shouldn’t look like your 3 month rations! With the ones I’ve got compiled here, you’ll be covered for hunkering down or bugging out!

Best One Month Emergency Rations – Augason Farms 30-Day

I really like how all-in-one this solution is. This 30-day meal kit takes all the guesswork out of picking and planning your meals. That’s what you pay for when you go for kits like these! 

Some emergency ration solutions have you on pretty slim diets. This one plans for 1800 calories a day. This is just about the perfect number for a wide range of people and body types.

You won’t be hurting on quality either. Rations are never as good as the real thing, but these come pretty darn close!

One thing to keep in mind is that the foods themselves aren’t packaged on an individual basis. You’ll want to have bags to keep the food fresh as you work through the ~7 day bag.

All of this with a 30-45 day pre-prepared meal plan makes this bucket a slam dunk!

Best Breakfast Emergency Rations – Augason Farms Breakfast

Getting into the longer term, we’ve got the Augason Farms Breakfast pail. Depending on the size you end up with, this could be a 15+ day supply of breakfast. Not only will it last you a long while after you open, it’ll last 30 years before you do!

This is an incredible deal for this amount of food. Trying to put together this much yourself could easily get much costlier. 

Not only are these good for survival, but they also make great camping meals! 

Splitting up your foods into breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a luxury. You’d think you have to forgo luxuries in a survival situation, right? Not with this kit. This kit will have you eating warm oatmeal and flapjacks well into the end of days!

Best Lunch & Dinner Rations – Augason Farms Lunch & Dinner

I told you about Augason’s breakfast pail, but pancakes aren’t a balanced diet. This lunch & dinner pail rounds out the menu and will keep you stocked with a variety of meal options!

Most people think of simple one-pot meals when they think about prepping. Things like soup, stew, and pasta come to mind. This pail will satisfy that! With survival classics like beef stroganoff and chicken noodle soup, you’ll be well covered!

This is another pail that can easily carry you 15 days, even more if you ration down. By stacking a few of these, you’ll have a lasting food supply that’ll ensure your survival!

If you’re looking for quality survival food, Augason Farms is a name to remember!

Best Emergency Calorie Bar – Grizzly Bear Emergency Rations

I love these crazy things. These are so simple and easy that it’s silly not to try them out. For starters, what are we even looking at? These “Calorie Bars” are vitamin packed calorie cubes that have specific measured sizes. Each pack of these is made up of 9 cubes, with 400 calories per cube. This makes it very easy to measure and plan out your calorie consumption. 

You might expect these to be hard to choke down. After all, they’ve basically chewy multivitamins, right? They actually have a crumbly texture and taste more like sugar cookies than anything. 

Who doesn’t want to eat sugar cookies instead of survival soup?

In addition to all of this, they last 5 years and can withstand extreme temperatures!

Best 72 Hour Emergency Rations – Readywise 72 Hour

From Readywise we have another great example of an all-in-one solution. This package will easily keep you and your loved ones stocked for 72 hours. 

Reviewers even recommend this survival supplies for camping and vacations! If that’s not a glowing recommendation of it’s quality in a survival situation, I don’t know what is.

Like many emergency food packs, these come in big bags for each food, so be ready to re-seal.

That said, those who’ve tried them love the quality. The shelf life is 25 years so these make another good long term solution for food stores. You can buy these, stack them, and forget them until you need them!

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The Bug Out Van: Take Your Home With You

Bug out vans are an exciting new twist on the growing van life movement. Van living and other forms of mobile living have been around a long time, but they’ve recently gotten a boost. You may have seen YouTube videos or articles about people building out stealth living vans. Some even convert old school buses! What does this trend have to do with bugging out or prepping?

Bug out van under a full moon.

Quite a bit actually. The biggest reason we build bug out bags is to buy us time to get away from possible dangers. Whether the dangers are forming where we are right now or they’re already on us. The bag is great but if you can’t make it away then it may not really cut it. Then what happens when you get to your bug out location? Do you have a structure there already or are you planning on doing some bushcraft? Investing in a bug out van could answer these questions. If you don’t want to limit your bug out to a bag, why not take a whole home?

The Growing Van Life

Let’s start off by talking about van living. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s worth diving into. It’s a fascinating movement of people that are avoiding the rent or house status quo. They’re doing this by building fully functional living spaces in vans or trucks. Some of these vans even have toilets and showers! For most van-lifers, this isn’t an attempt at prepping for bugging out. This is an inexpensive and free way to live your life. However, if the SHTF, these van-lifers wouldn’t have to bug out of their homes, they can bug out in their homes! 

If you’re the owner of a van that’s built out for living in, you’re set.  When the going gets rough, you can drive your home straight out of the area. If you’ve got a bug out property or a location you’ve scoped out, you can park your house right there and boom! Instant structure. If you’re living in traditional housing, a bug out van might be an investment into being prepared. If you’re considering this, let’s talk about some of the pro’s and con’s of living in a van. And whether they’d apply in a catastrophic situation.

The Pro’s and Con’s of a Bug Out Van

One of the biggest drawbacks to living in a van is privacy. It’s hard (and sometimes illegal) to get your windows fully tinted. And needing to park your home to live means that you’re always going to be in public places. However, if this van is your bug out vehicle, this privacy shouldn’t be a big concern. An essential part of a good bug out location is isolation. If people are finding your bug out spot then you’ve got bigger problems. Somebody seeing you getting dressed through a tinted window will be a small concern. 

Most of the drawbacks stem from a lack of a permanent location. Cooking becomes difficult, you can’t really expand your space, you may not have much storage room. If your van is for bugging out then you really shouldn’t be on the road long. It should be a vehicle to get you to a permanent location, and then you can build up any sort of camp you want you’ve got it set. 

Bug Out Van Mechanical Considerations

There are of course mechanical considerations. You’ll need to be sure that your van is waterproof and able to retain heat or air out if it gets hot. For any of these considerations, a van is going to be a more comfortable bet than a straight up bushcraft lean-to. However if you’re looking at the decision to build a small home or park a van on your bug out property, these are great options. Vans can mean that you can drive the home right to the property and use it in the meantime.

When you’re looking at whether or not to invest in a bug out van, there are a lot of things to consider. It can be a viable option if you’re looking for a permanent shelter that you can stock and move if you need to. Plus, when times are good you can go camping or even live in it! 

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Bug Out Bag Size: How Big To Go?

Bug Out Bag size, it’s a common question. How big or small should your bag be? The answer is “It Depends” which is never the one you’re looking for but it let’s us give you a lot more information.

Bug Out Bags come in all shapes and sizes. There’s really no wrong answer for how big it should. This is true as long as you have an answer to another question: Where are you bugging out to?

Bug out bags are planned with a purpose. They’re designed to get you from Point A to Point B. This is because, for most people, you can’t fit everything you need to survive forever in one bag.

Backpacker with a large bug out bag size.

Get Home Bug Out Bag Size

Let’s start with a small form of bug out bag, the Get Home Bag. You can probably guess what it’s designed for. This type of bag should contain everything that you need to get from wherever you are back home. (Bags like this are usually stored in your car or place of business.) This is important so you can get your family and your supplies and either hunker down or bug further out.

These bags aren’t normally designed for extended use. They carry about 24 hours of emergency supplies and quick rations. They’re designed to keep you going as you close a short gap. When you’re considering size for this bag, it can be tempting to go too big. With knowledge of what tools you would need to survive for longer it may feel silly not to throw them in. That’s why the purpose is so important when you’re sizing out the bag.

A Get Home Bag should be lightweight and easy to throw on and move with. Ideally, you can drive home if the worst happens. This is the bag you grab if you have to leave your car behind and move on foot. You’ll want a relatively small and light backpack.

Bug Out Bag Size

Your standard bug out bag normally shoots to triple this timeframe. The ideal goal is that your bug out bag has enough supplies to last you three days, but there’s a balance you have to reach. Studies on hikers have shown that if your bag is more than 20% of your body weight, you become much more likely to hurt yourself. That’s just by carrying it! Others suggest that ideally you should shoot for 10%. This level keeps you healthy but also allows you to run full speed if you need to. Plus you should be able to fit everything you need.

This would mean that if you’re a 200 lb person, you should shoot for 20 lbs of weight. You could carry up to 40 lbs if you’re in peak physical condition. But even then, this weight will wear you out faster. Not only that, but it still carries a higher risk of injury like blisters or even falls. For this purpose the size of your bag is less important than the weight. Prioritize lighter bags over even more durable bags. This bug out bag is only designed to last you three days anyway. 

With this bag you should be getting you and your loved ones to a more permanent location. Whether that’s with friends or family far away; a bug out property that you’ve planned for; or even just an area of nature that you can build shelter and find permanent food and water sources at.


The final size “bag” you may want to weigh out is sometimes called an INCH Bag (or tub). The INCH stands for ‘I’m Never Coming Home” and so any bag with that purpose in mind could be considered an INCH bag. I recommend only having a bag larger than the limits described above if you already have another bug out bag. Anything larger can weigh you down or could be unnecessary. 

You should be prepared to abandon it and run with your bug out bag if you have to. Anything bigger than the above bags should be taken in a car. For this reason, you can go with larger duffles or even plastic tubs. Just keep in mind that extra weight will take more gas in your car and increase the likelihood of a flat if it’s too severe. Make absolutely sure you’ve got your bug out bag set before filling tubs or duffles with luxuries that aren’t necessary to keep you alive.

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Best Weather Radio – All Hand-Crank!

Emergency radios are one of the most important pieces of survival equipment you can have. They can’t be replicated with bushcraft or natural tools.  In the case of many disasters, power and communications might go down. If you’ve got your own hand-crankable radio, you’ll stay connected. This is why picking the best weather radio is so crucial. In some instances, information about disaster movement could very well mean your life! 

Below I’ve put together a collection of the best hand-crank weather radios I could find. I tried to pull from different categories so no matter your situation, you’ll be able to find the right one for you. It’s a crucial part of your bug out bag!

Best Budget Weather Radio – Esky 3W

Best Budget Weather Radio - Esky 3W

This radio is the perfect example to show that you don’t need to empty your wallet to do some solid prepping. With the yellow model coming in at $20 and the red even lower, this radio is a steal!

This radio has two ways to charge, solar and hand crank. The combination of these two methods will keep you fully charged in any situation.

Not to mention, it’s got a charging port to let you hook up your USB devices. This combined with the flashlight make this a very versatile tool for a very low price.

Reviewers love the value for the price. But they do note that the battery doesn’t last very long when charging smartphones.

Overall, this weather radio is an excellent tool for the absurdly low price!

Best Multi-Use Weather Radio – Midland ER310

Best Multi-Use Weather Radio - Midland ER310

If you’re looking for the Swiss army knife of emergency weather radios, look no further! This radio has all the features that have become standard, with a few fun new tricks.

This radio has hand-crank and solar, but on top of that, you can charge it with a USB. This means that on top of all it’s functionality, it’s a fully functioning power bank. 

It’s got all the standard features. It’s got a built in flashlight, an AM/FM/NOAA radio. But it’s got some fun stuff too. It comes with an ultrasonic dog whistle built right in. The other feature I think is nice is an SOS strobe feature. The flashlight will automatically signal SOS in morse code. A useful feature if you find yourself in trouble!

Reviewers found some issue with the proprietary battery used by this company. (It’s hard to replace). That said, you can also use AA batteries which are possibly the most standard battery out there.

Best Value Weather Radio – RunningSnail

Best Value Weather Radio - RunningSnail

The RunningSnail is the best low-cost but high-function option. Coming in at $30, this radio is a good deal! 

This radio has three ways to charge, hand-crank, solar, and battery power. This radio actually accepts AAAs, which is less common but appreciated by reviewers. 

Owners that have been through hurricanes love this one! They talk about how the battery holds up and really does charge the phone. Since this is chargeable by USB, it’s an effective power bank. That means you can use this all the time, even without an emergency!

Many love the simple sense of security that this inexpensive radio can bring. If you don’t have a weather radio and want to pick one up for the peace-of-mind, this is a good choice for you!

Top Highest Rated Weather Radio – FosPower

Top Highest Rated Weather Radio - FosPower

The FosPower radio is the highest rated on Amazon. With a 4.6 out of over 5000 reviews, this radio has stood the test of time. Don’t take my word for it, this is Amazon’s “Best Choice” for weather radios. 

A feature I like that this radio has is the double light. It’s got a full flashlight on the front but also a reading light on the side. The three charging methods will keep these lights running. Even when everything else goes dark. 

You’ve got your choice of solar, hand crank, and USB charging to keep it stocked. As long as you do, it’ll serve you well.

At $40, reviewers love that this radio is a big bang for your buck. Many have taken this radio through hurricanes and come out the other side with only good things to say!

Best Quality Pick – Kaito KA500

Best Quality Pick - Kaito KA500

This sturdy, feature-packed radio from Kaito is a hit. This weather radio leaves nothing out and will not leave you disappointed! 

With the most options yet, this radio has 6 ways to power! If you want to crank it or use solar, you’re in good shape. If you want to run it off it’s own internal battery or off of AA’s, you’re in luck. You can even plug this radio directly into the wall or a USB port!

It doesn’t disappoint on features either. It’s got a flashlight and reading lamp, as you may have come to expect. It’s also got an AM, FM, Weather, and Shortwave radio, with handy dials to control bands.

There are a lot of good Voyager Emergency radios out there. This one is no exception!

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Bug Out Location: What Is A Bug Out Property?

A bug out location is anywhere that you plan to bug out to. A bug out property is a property specifically owned for fleeing to in the event of a catastrophe or it’s a property that people agree to meet at in case of a SHTF (S*** Hits The Fan) scenario. These properties are usually out away from the city and for that reason are more important if you live in a major city. 

Bug out location high on a mountain.

Why A Bug Out Location Instead Of Your Home?

Major cities are inherently unsustainable. They can’t produce enough resources to support themselves, it’s just a fact. During normal life, this isn’t a problem. Cities are hubs of trade or creative products so they generate value and can trade. There’s a flow in and out of resources and people are generally taken care of. That flow relies on lots of massive and intricate supply chains. Those supply chains rely on things we may take for granted. Things like power, communication, and physical resources. The chains themselves need fuel and supplies to run!

In the event of major catastrophes, or even localized ones these supply chains break down quickly. The 2006 Hurricane Katrina remains a frightening example of this. Existing resources within a city can be quickly depleted. (As we even saw with the runs on toilet paper and other necessities with the start of the Covid-19 lockdowns). When these resources are depleted cities are not a good or fun place to be for you or your loved ones.

You Need To Get Out Of Dodge

When the SHTF you can take your supplies and go pitch a tent in the woods. You’d likely be better off there than in the middle of New York City. Or you can bug out to a location that you’ve planned on previously.

It’s common to see in history (and movies about history) that when there are bad things afoot, we head for the hills. During WWII, families sent their children from urban London out to rural England. They’d stay with family or even with non-family that would offer to take them.

In half of the apocalypse movies out there (probably more), the main goal of the heroes is to get away. They’re working towards some family member or friend that has a property away city. They’re trying to flee the hellscape that the city has become. The morale of the story is that you need to get out of heavily populated areas. These areas with their dwindling resources get unsafe.

Where Should Your Bug Out Location Be?

In comes the bug-out property. This is a place that (ideally) you can go to before you need it. You can stash supplies or other resources that will come in handy. You can fell and get to this place if and your resources if the SHTF. A bug out property is usually also a place with natural resources. A place that won’t be disrupted by supply chain breakdown. Fresh water is a must for any long-term survival. The presence of animals and plants that can support you is also important. A bug out property isn’t very useful if you have to go back into the fray a couple weeks after leaving it.

The final important factor in what determines a good bug out location is isolation. Even out in the country you’ll need to make sure that your bug out location is far enough away. Stay away from places of interest so that you don’t get harassed. If you’ve got a nice thicket of woods picked out but it’s a couple hours walk from a major city, you won’t be alone out there. The whole point of the bug out property is to get away from people that could do you or your loved ones harm.

To wrap it all up, a bug out location is a place that you own or have designated that you can “bug out” to. If the going gets really rough, you know where to go. Ideally this is a place with resources (natural or otherwise). A place that will let you stay there and far away from unrest in areas with denser populations.

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