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[UPDATED 2021] 8 Survival Experts Show You How To Pack A Bug Out Bag

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 items 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 out with packing your bug out bag efficiently for when SHTF.


Packing Tips to Achieve an Effective Bug Out Bag

Before we show you the experts have to say, here are few general tips to keep in mind when you start packing your bug out bag (BOB):


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 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 stone stones with one bird, 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 going to be highly likely that while you’re out there trying to survive, you’ll run into things you’ll need. The last thing you want to do when SHTF is figure 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, your bag should weigh under 20% of your body weight. 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

Again, don’t throw all your supplies into your bag. Learn to compartmentalize—designate spots in your bags for specific items. For example, front or side pockets can hold your folding knives and tactical flashlights. 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 pack your items 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’d 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 maps? 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. Items meant for your bug out bag shouldn’t be going into your camping bag. The last thing you’d want to happen 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 having survival items missing.


Bug Out Bags You Can Pack

Now that you’ve got a load of packing tips under your belt, here are some great bug out bags you can pack:


14lb 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 while it has everything you need, it shouldn't be too heavy. This video shows you how to pack a 14-pound bug out bag. 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 how to maximize the purpose of each item in your bag—from 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 were 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 what 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 how to pack a bug out bag, but it also has a lot of practical tips for a real-life disaster situation. It highlights the importance of having a 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 that has removable parts that you can modify depending on your needs. You can remove the top part of the bag which 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 what you can pack in a winter bug-out bag. 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 bags, 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 on how to pack a bug out bag. At the end of the day, it all boils down to your needs, location, and individual capabilities. 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.



Posted in  Prepping   on  June 28, 2017 by  Daniel Preissman0

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About the author

Dan is a recently retired DoD engineer. His passions include kayaking, skiing, hiking and backpacking. He is always looking for that next adrenaline driven adventure.

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