11 Multipurpose Bug Out Bag Essentials You Should Pack

“I want to be helpless in the face of disaster,” said no prepper ever.

In our quest to prepare for any emergency, a lot of us tend to pack just about any tool and supplies we can get our hands on. This, unfortunately, results in a bug out bag so heavy that you’d be tempted to ditch it after a few miles of walking. Counterproductivity at its finest, don’t you think?

To bridge the gap, the smart prepper packs multipurpose items. These items can be used in several ways, allowing you to maximize bag space while minimizing weight. They’re often recyclable, too.

Here are 11 multipurpose bug out bag essentials:

11 multipurpose bug out bag essentials infographic

The Bug Out Bag Essentials You Must Start Packing Today


A good knife is an indispensable tool in any survival situation. Think of it as your best friend and go-to gear. In the right hands, a knife can be used to secure shelter, make a fire, do bushcraft, find food, and do first aid when needed. Without a knife, surviving—especially outdoors—can be twice as hard. So include one in your bug out bag list.


Nothing says multipurpose more than your multitool. That’s why it’s on our list of bug out bag essentials. Originally designed for handymen and repairmen, the multitool has now evolved into a must-have item for any sensible prepper. These compact contraptions can let you whip out an entire toolbox, sans the weight and space.

Most multitools are equipped with pliers, blades, screwdrivers, scissors, wire cutters, and bottle openers, to name a few. You can use these tools to do things like cut cordage, secure shelter, fix broken gear, and make feather sticks for tinder. The best part is this tool occupies very little space, so it’s a must-have for any bug out bag.

Dental Floss

Why is floss considered a must-have for your bug out bag list? Well, there are lots of ways you can use it, and most of them don’t even involve your teeth.

Most dental flosses are made of nylon, the same material as your paracord thread. Floss is obviously not as strong as a paracord, but you can still use it to whip up some badass snares and fishing lines to catch food in the wild. Once you’re ready to cook a meal, you can also use dental floss to get a fire going, since its wax makes it a pretty good firestarter. You can even cut cheese with it.

Other uses include repairing and hanging clothes, as well as securing shelter.


The shemagh, usually called the “tactical scarf,” is one of the most versatile bug out bag essentials out there. Originally used by Middle Eastern people to protect themselves from dust and the wind, the shemagh has now found its way into many a bug out bag around the world.

You can use it as a blanket or scarf to keep you warm when it’s cold. On the flip side, you can use it to protect your head and keep cool when it’s too hot out. It can also be used as a towel, a pillow, or a pouch where you can stow away some of your belongings.

If you ever encounter medical emergencies, you can use your shemagh as a bandage, tourniquet, or sling. And if you ever need clean water to drink—you guessed it—simply whip out your shemagh and use it as a water filter. Pretty handy, right?


Guys, this is no time to get squeamish or anything. Tampons truly are bug out bag essentials, regardless if you’re a male or female. They’re just too functional to pass up.

Tampons can more or less save your neck in a survival situation. These lightweight multipurpose items are individually packed, sterile, and crazy absorbent, so they’re actually quite ideal as makeshift bandages or wound packs. You can also use them as tinder for fire. Ever tried filtering your water with a tampon? In extreme situations, you certainly can.

Do yourself a favor and add tampons to your bug out bag list, even if there aren’t any females in your household.


Tampons aren’t the only “female items” that should be in your bug out bag list—leave some space for pantyhose, too. You can use it to ward off bugs by using it as a mosquito net. It’s also quite effective against ticks. You can wear it under your socks as an extra layer to keep warm at night.

Cut off the foot part, fill it with herbs, and tie the other end shut so they can dry better.

For first aid, you can use pantyhose to hold bandages in place or as a tourniquet, splint, or sling. You can’t discount the pantyhose’s ability to tie things together, so use it to lash poles, secure tarps, and the like.

Duct Tape

Another item that’s great for tying or sticking things together is duct tape.

It’s perhaps one of the most useful bug out bag essentials to have in your arsenal. Duct tape is so durable, you can use it to fix and patch just about any broken thing. You don’t even have to bring the entire roll—you can simply wrap some on your flashlight or water bottle to conserve space. Duct tape can patch holes in your tarp or tent, or hold together pieces of wood or foliage for your survival shelter.

For first aid, you can turn it into a makeshift bandage or use it to secure splints. In pretty bad situations, you can even use duct tape to seal off punctured chest wounds to prevent a person’s lung from collapsing.

If you need some cordage, twist that duct tape and turn it into sturdy lengths of rope. You can also use duct tape to mark your trail to prevent yourself from getting lost. When you need some warmth, use some duct tape as a fire starter.


Like your duct tape, paracords are also indispensable in securing tents or tarps for shelter. The best part about these bug out bag essentials is that they don’t even have to occupy any precious real estate on your bag. You can wear paracords as belts, lanyards, or bracelets.

If you’ve mastered your paracord knots, you can make just about anything with it, too. Its impressive tensile strength makes it ideal for weaving hammocks, fishing nets, belts, tool grips, or simply holding someone’s weight. If you need to rig a pulley system or tie something securely, you can use your paracord to do the job.

It’s also got some pretty badass first aid features: it can be used as a tourniquet or sling, and you can use the inner strands as emergency sutures.

You can use it to make a fishing lure to catch some dinner and as a bow drill to start a fire.

Safety Pins

Safety pins also take up little space in your bag. In fact, you can simply pin these bug out bag essentials on your gear or on the outside of your bag until you’re ready to use them. Use safety pins to secure bandages, splints, or torn clothing.

They are also ideal for minute, detailed tasks that knives or scissors won’t be able to accomplish, like removing nasty splinters. Use your multitool and refashion that safety pin into a fish hook, awl, or even a needle.

Poncho or Tarp

It only takes a bad rain shower or a day in the snow for you to contract a bad case of hypothermia, so never leave home without a tarp or poncho. In survival situations, these can lend instant shelter and are very useful in keeping things relatively dry and warm.

Aside from that, tarps and ponchos can also be used to collect rainwater for drinking. If you need to transport wounded people, you can use your tarp to make an improvised stretcher with the use of two long poles.

Ziploc Bags

Ziploc bags come in handy if you want to keep your things clean and dry. You can put just about anything in a Ziploc bag: survival bars, medications, some extra cash, electronics, matches, and firestarters. Aside from that, you can also use these bug out bag essentials to marinate meat and even cook some omelets.

Final Thoughts

“You have to pack everything but the kitchen sink,” said no smart prepper ever.

Sure, it’s tempting, but you don’t have to pack a lot of items in your bug out bag. You just have to pack the right ones.

Take a look at your bug out bag contents and strategically pack items that will help you in more ways than one. Make every square inch count. Remember, your bug out bag (and your back, for that matter) can only take so much. The weight of your pack will exhaust you, so you have to make sure that you’re packing efficient, multipurpose items like the ones on this list to help you out in a lot of ways.

We’ve listed quite a few multipurpose bug out bag essentials, but we’re pretty sure there are a lot of them out there.

What’s your favorite multipurpose item on your bug out bag list? Let us know in the comments below!

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