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9 Common Bug Out Bag Mistakes to Avoid

When you ask preppers what’s one of the essential survival kits they own, most will answer a bug out bag (BOB).


Well...they’re not wrong. Everything you need to survive for at least 72 hours after you’re forced out of your home is literally in this bag.


Since this emergency kit is a major lifesaver, you can’t afford to make mistakes when building one. But in reality, they can’t always be avoided, whether you’re an experienced prepper or a newbie to prepping.


What you can do is to be aware of these errors and try your best to prevent them. Here are 9 common bug out bag mistakes to watch out for:


Packing Too Much Gear and Supplies

In a survival situation, it’s basic human instinct to stuff all the prepper gear and survival supplies you can find in one bag. But the last thing you want is for your bug out bag to weigh you down en route to your destination.


Remember that the sole purpose of a BOB is to help you reach your bug out location in one piece, not to sustain you forever or until things go back to normal. There’s a bigger bag for that containing more supplies than your BOB — the INCH or "I'm Never Coming Home" bag. It’s meant to help you survive for an extended period.


So you’re not tempted to bring your entire house with you in a backpack, start prepping the bare essentials and add in multipurpose items later on.


You wanna avoid suffering from backaches because you might have to travel longer distances. Make sure your bug out bag is no more than 25 percent of your body weight unless you’ve packed on the pounds.


Not Loading Enough Water

Quick survival fact: a person can only last 3 days without drinking water. With that said, it’s natural to prepare an ample supply of water in an emergency. Take note that before anything else, storing clean water should be your priority.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency even recommends drinking at least half a gallon of water each day, so don’t think about cutting off your water consumption unless you wanna die of dehydration.


However, loading water in your bug out bag is gonna be a different situation. Why? Carrying more than 2 gallons of water for 3 or 5 days could literally break your back, especially if you’re walking the whole way. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack potable water at all. Here’s what you can do:


  • If you’re traveling long distances, carry at least 2 1-liter containers. Make sure they’re made out of stainless steel so you can use them to boil water if needed.
  • Take a water filter with you in case you’re able to find and collect water from rivers, streams, or other water sources.
  • If it isn’t possible for you to carry gallons of water, spend time learning different water purification methods instead since you’ll be harvesting water.
  • Use collapsible water bottles to save yourself some precious real estate.


Buying the Bag First

It may sound like buying the bag first is a bright idea, but it isn’t. Preppers usually have their eyes set on the largest pack that they can find on Amazon or eBay, then immediately click checkout.


The thing about big BOBs is that you’re forced to fill them to the brim. Why waste storage space when you can pack more gear, right? Wrong! If you get too carried away filling your bug out bag with stuff you won’t even use, you’ll end up with a bag you can hardly carry.


The question now is: are these added tools really necessary and worth the weight? No, because you’ll only find yourself back to square one.


To avoid such a situation, decide what survival supplies and gear you need first, then shop for the perfect BOB that will contain them all. Here are some questions to ask yourself when looking for a bug out bag:


  • Is it comfortable and lightweight?
  • Does it fit your specific needs?
  • Does it provide enough space and compartments?
  • Does it give you easy access?
  • Will its appearance and color draw attention?


Purchasing a Bag That Stands Out

You don’t wanna lose your hard-earned supplies and tools to unprepared folks, so make sure you ponder on that last question above before you spend your dollars on a BOB.


Every prepper knows that you shouldn’t be too conspicuous to increase your chances of survival. And that your best and safest bet to avoid getting mugged is to act and look like a gray man. That means staying under the radar and not carrying around a backpack with striking colors.


While personal preference isn’t discouraged, it’s still recommended that you choose a bag with muted colors like brown, black, navy, or gray with a nondescript design.


Packing Sharp Objects Without Proper Covering

You’ll be surprised how often this happens because you might be mindlessly stuffing your bug out bag with gear and forgetting to put a protective covering on your blades.


This is your reminder to make sure your knives are sheathed or at least have their edges wrapped to prevent injuries or ruining your BOB and its other contents.


You can try making a DIY knife cover using a Manila folder or buy a magnetic blade protector as alternatives.


Failing to Include Bug Out Bag Repair Tools

No matter how strong or durable your BOB may look and feel, it can still break and tear under stress. In case a strap breaks, always include a sewing kit so you can repair the damage immediately.


A sewing awl kit would be ideal for backpack repairs, but needles of various sizes and some thread work fine as well.


Also, take good care of your bag and protect it well since it carries all your essential supplies. One way to do that is to waterproof your bag and your survival gear and emergency supplies because rain can start falling at any minute while you’re bugging out.


Forgetting Important Documents

When an emergency forces you and your family to evacuate your home, you shouldn’t leave without the following documents in your bug out bag:


  • Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Medical ID cards
  • Insurance policies
  • Social security cards
  • Copies of your credit cards
  • Bank statements that show account numbers
  • An original will
  • Documentation of housing and land ownership
  • Photos of each family member


It’s best to keep these items in a sturdy folder or envelope and protect them with a waterproof bag before packing them in your BOB. For backup, you can also make digital copies of these documents using a phone scanner.


Lacking Hands-On Training

Imagine spending so much time and effort building your bug out bag, but being unfamiliar with more than half of the tools inside it. What’s the point of even packing one if you don’t know how to use its contents properly?


Since you’ll be depending on these pieces of equipment in a life-and-death situation, it’s only fitting that you schedule practice sessions to familiarize yourself with every tool you’ve packed. Don’t forget to teach your kids, too, so you have an extra pair of hands in challenging situations.  


When you have the skills to use your gear effectively, you’ll avoid putting your life and the lives of your family at stake when things go south.


Waiting For SHTF Before Packing

Prepping your bug out bag shouldn’t be done at the last minute. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for a disaster or emergency to happen before you decide to start packing.


As early as now, create a list of everything you need and gather them one by one while debris isn’t falling from your ceiling. Once you’ve collected all the tools and supplies on your list, put them in a bag and place your BOB somewhere you can quickly locate when heading out.


Final Thoughts

These common pitfalls are very easy to make, but we’re all just humans. However, if you have fallen victim to these mistakes twice, you’re gonna set yourself up for failure when the next disaster comes. And you don’t want that.


We advise you to take your time building your bug out bag and take all this information in stride so that you won’t commit the same errors. This way, you’ll be dodging these mistakes like the plague and have a BOB that’s ready for action.


Found this article helpful? Check out our other posts on tactical gear.


Posted in  Tactical Gear   on  October 12, 2021 by  Pat C.0

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