How to Pack a Bug Out Bag According to 8 Survival Experts

So, you now have a list of items for your bug out bag. The question is—do you know how to organize the items inside it? What things are the most essential? How heavy should your bag be? Do you know how to use everything in your bag?

In this article, we show you 8 preppers and wilderness experts who can help you learn how to pack a bug out bag that’s practical and useful for SHTF.

Effective Tips on How to Pack a Bug Out Bag

person adding supplies to their bug out bag

Before we show you what the experts have to say, here are some general tips on how to pack a bug out bag:

Be Careful With the Extras

It’s always a good thing to have some extra items on hand, but don’t go overboard. Your main goal is to make sure you survive uninjured. You’re not packing a bug out bag to fend off wolves or zombies—you’re packing to stay fed, hydrated, and warm.

Go for Dual Items

Duality is all the rage today, and a lot of survival items are multipurpose. Take, for example, multipurpose shovels that come with various tools already integrated into the shovel itself. If you can hit two birds with one stone, why not?

Make Sure to Leave Some Space

As tempting as it is to stuff your bug out bag to the brim, don’t. It’s highly likely that while you’re out there trying to survive, you’ll run into things you need. The last thing you want to do when SHTF is figuring out which survival essential to dump to make way for new finds.

That, or you’ll be carrying new stuff in your arms while on the road…not exactly something we recommend you do.

Avoid Being a Cheapskate

Going for items just because they’re cheaper is gonna kick you in the butt in the long run. There’s a reason those items are cheap, and it’s usually because their quality is awful. It’s not going to last you long, and when SHTF, you’re gonna be left with either a broken item or something that can’t do its job properly. Remember, folks. Quality is king, so don’t skimp.

Follow the Rule of Thumb for Bag Weights

If you’re not physically fit or don’t exercise regularly, packing a bug out bag that’s under 20% of your body weight is ideal. If you get enough exercise and can comfortably hike with your gear on, feel free to go to 30% of your body weight.

Heaviest Items Should Be Closer to Your Back

For an easier time carrying your bug out bag, pack the heaviest items closer to your spine so that it doesn’t pull your weight down. By doing this, you also put less stress on yourself.

Pack Based On a Bug Out Plan

For a more streamlined bug out bag, make sure you pack according to the bug out plan you have in place. You won’t know what to pack if you don’t know where to go.

Learn to Compartmentalize

if you want to know how to pack a bug out bag, learn how to compartmentalize

Again, when packing a bug out bag, don’t throw in all your supplies at once. Learn to compartmentalize—designate spots in your bags for specific items. For example, front or side pockets can hold your folding knife and tactical flashlight. Compartmentalizing helps you find the things in your bag quicker.

Pack Items Based on Frequency of Use and Urgency

To pair with compartmentalizing your BOB, make sure you are packing a bug out bag with the items you don’t need much at the bottom and the most valuable items at the top.

For example, you wouldn’t place your maps at the bottom of your bag and your clothes at the top. Imagine the scene you’ll cause if you needed your map all of a sudden. Are you really willing to take EVERYTHING out of your bag just to get to your map? Hard pass.

Place your navigation items at the top along with everyday survival tools and your water filter. Clothes and your sleeping bag can go at the bottom.

Prep More Than One Bug Out Bag

We’re not saying you should have about 20 bug out bags, but having several stashed in different places you frequent is a good idea. Aside from that, you can also place bug out bags in a survival cache along your bug out route. 

Avoid Mixing Gears

As tempting as it is, make sure you don’t mix your gears. You’re not supposed to be packing a bug out bag with items meant for your camping bag. The last thing you want is to find important items missing from your main pack because you used them on your last hiking trip.

Don’t be afraid to invest in separate gears for different packs and bug out bags, so you don’t have to worry about missing survival items.

Bug Out Bags You Can Pack

Now that you know the basics of how to pack a bug out bag, here are more advanced tips from the experts:

14 Lb Survival Bug Out Bag

One issue that comes up with packing bug out bags is the weight. You’ll have to carry that bag around, so it’s important that it has everything you need without being too heavy. This video shows you how to pack a bug out bag that’s 14 pounds.

That’s pretty light for a bag that has everything you need. It’s full of multipurpose items and is organized in such a way that’s upgradable so you can switch items up, depending on your location and climate.

Efficient and Practical Bug Out Bag

This is not a video that just shows you how to pack a bug out bag. It’s even better: it shows you what to put in your bug out bag and how to use them in a real wilderness setting. It’s full of practical tips on maximizing the purpose of each item in your bagfrom purifying water to making fire from scratch.

Top 10 Things You Forgot to Put in Your BOB

This video shows the top ten things people often forget when packing their bug out bag. While most preppers put extra food rations or pack two knives for good measure, they often forget these 10 useful things. Have you considered the importance of stomach meds? How about a dental first aid kit?

This video details why a prepper shouldn’t overlook these unassuming but helpful items.

Survival Rule of 3 Bug Out Bag

This no-frills video stresses the importance of getting a pack that’s compartmentalized and of organizing a pack according to the rule of three in survival: 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. It also gives great tips on hiking with your bug out bag to know if the weight is manageable even after long hours of walking.

Vehicle Bug Out Bag

Bug out bags are meant to be carried, but you should also consider preparing a long-term survival kit that you can put in your car. While it stresses the need to prepare a lighter “go bag” that has all your essential needs, the video also details other items you could keep in your bug out vehicle, like extra ammo or radio communication devices.

This also gives tips on how you can keep your survival items concealed within your car (clue: under the bench seat) and how to organize in a way that you can grab the essentials quickly in case you need to leave your car behind.

Modular Bug Out Bag

This video from Black Scout Survival not only shows you how to pack a bug out bag. It also has a lot of practical tips for a real-life disaster situation. It highlights the importance of packing a bug out bag that’s not more than 45% of your body weight, having a predetermined bug out location, and how to get there safely.

Another cool thing about this video is the bag itself: it’s a tactical-style bug out bag with removable parts that you can modify depending on your needs. You can remove the top part of the bag that contains the essential items and convert it into a fanny pack. The rest of the bag can be stowed in a safe location while you scout around.

Bug Out Bag for Cold Climates

This video shows you how to pack a bug out bag for colder weather. Bugging out or not, winter is always a difficult situation to prepare for. This video stresses the need for items that can keep you warm in really cold climates, like thermal clothes and down blankets. The result is a bulkier bug out bag, but one that won’t let you freeze to death in the wilderness.

DIY Desert Bug Out Bag

You won’t believe how many tools and supplies can fit in this humble bag. This bug out bag may lack the fancy bells and whistles of other preppers’ BOBs, but it can definitely hold its own against the arid Australian climate. It’s a simple pack full of DIY and practical tools that you can use to survive against the elements.

Final Thoughts

There’s really no right or wrong way how to pack a bug out bag. At the end of the day, it all boils down to your needs, location, and individual capability. Just keep these useful tips in mind, mix and match their methods to find out what works for you best, and you’ll be on your way to prepping the ultimate bug out bag.

Have other tips on packing a bug out bag? Share them down below!

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