September 18, 2015 Comments (0) Adventure, How To, Safety and Survival, Travel Hacks, Travel Tips

Travel Hack Friday: Gone In 30 Seconds With A Bug Out Bag

bug out bag

I often like to paraphrase Robert De Niro’s character in the movie Heat, where he says, “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat.” Granted, his life was decidedly different from my own, being a bank robber and all, and he’s probably referencing a life on the run, but in everyday life I do find the philosophy has some applicable wisdom behind it.

Emergency and survival situations can happen fast, and never in the moment of our choosing. Every second can mean the difference between life and death. When your adrenaline spikes, and you find yourself in a fight or flight response, good sense and critical thinking become distorted.

To mitigate this, preparation is key – have a bug out bag ready to go. You don’t have time to collect valuables, shuffle through drawers and round up all your loved ones. By eliminating as many extraneous steps as you can in advance, you’ll help your reactions go more fluidly while your mind and body are still in the flight stage.

Being able to bug out in 30 seconds flat can make all the difference between living and dying. I’m not talking about a full fledged roller suitcase, or moving boxes.   I’m talking about a convenient, mobile, 72 hour bug out bag, with enough resources to keep you alive for a minimum of 3 days, along with documents to prove identity and ownership when SHTF!

As much as we’ve become attached to all our earthly belongings, it’s essential to keep it light – you can’t outrun zombies while dragging a 100lb suitcase.

Related Posts: Know Your Knots

What makes the perfect bug out bag?

For me, a perfect bug out bag is in its minimalism. If I can’t jump, crawl, swim and climb with the bug out bag slung over my shoulders, it’s too heavy. I usually opt for multipurpose, lightweight equipment, rather than an item that serves only one singular function, for example a tarp that can double as a shelter and a survival blanket.   Admittedly, what is considered “essential” is certainly up for debate, and broad enough for multiple interpretations, so here’s a list to help figure out what you need in your Bug out bag:

Bug Out Bag List:


  • Multi Tool (think Swiss army knife)
  • Fixed blade knife (stronger and more reliable than folded blades)
  • Chain saw (just the chain for friction sawing)
  • Stuff sack/compression sacks
  • Storm proof matches or Fire starter (good to have both. Save the matches for emergencies)
  • Paracord (check out all the things that paracord can do here, and carry at least 100ft. For mobility and function, make a paracord belt or paracord bracelet)
  • Flashlight (rechargeable and can connect to your solar charging panels)
  • Glow sticks (low lumens, but waterproof and have long burn time)
  • Solar powered charging panels
  • Condoms (latex cover is good for many uses such as waterproofing and sealing)
  • Hand Crank Ham Radio
  • Fresnel lens or magnifying glass (useful for starting fires or creating a solar stove in a pinch)
  • Green Laser (useful for getting the attention of those at great distances like planes, rescue helicopters)
  • Small Mirror (for signaling)
  • Duct Tape
  • Small manual pencil sharpener (good for sharpening sticks and creating tinder)
  • Small Trowel
  • Compass


  • Tarp (can be used to create shelter, and body cover)
  • Lightweight 3 season sleeping bag (High performance sleeping bags are now incredibly lightweight and can be compressed really small)


  • Shemagh or a Bandana (Can be used for a whole range of functions)
  • Tri-climate outer layer (one outer layer for multiple seasons and climates)
  • Convertible Pants
  • Long sleeve and short sleeve shirt
  • Undergarments
  • Wool Socks
  • Hat with Brim
  • Work Gloves
  • Rain Poncho


  • First Aid Kit (standard kits are fine, like this one: Adventure Medical Kits First Aid)
  • Survival blanket (may not be necessary with a good quality tarp, but current survival blanket technologies have made them incredibly small and lightweight, so it wouldn’t really hurt)
  • Krazy glue (great to secure, waterproof, and seal wounds)


  • Wood Burning stove (to avoid the weight of carrying gas canisters)
  • Pack of Esbit Fuel tablets (surprisingly can work in Wood burning stoves)
  • At least 3 liters of water (most bug-out bags now have hydration pack functionality)
  • Water filter and purification tablets (Have both in your bug-out bag, as filtration and purification are entirely different)
  • Dry food (Bring only enough for a few days. You can survive 3 weeks without food)
  • Energy Bars
  • Olive Oil (all around great for cooking, lubrication, creating oil lamps)
  • One metal pot
  • Sea Salt (keep yourself hydrated longer and to keep meats from spoiling)


  • Maps (city, state, and country)
  • Important and irreplaceable documents (another option is to always have a digital copy in an accessible cloud, along with hard copies in a safety deposit box)
  • Toiletries
  • Money in small bills (500 is a good number)
  • Identification (passports, Identity verification, Bank Documents, Deeds)
  • Zipties (limitless what you can do with zipties. Good to have for the just-in-case moments)

The above items, are the very least you should have in your bug out bag for most emergency situations that require you to evacuate at a moments notice. You can certainly add items, but be sure to stay cognizant of the bags weight.

Related post: 28 Tips to Survive A Wildfire

Taking the time to prepare a bug out bag will give you, and your family, invaluable peace of mind during catastrophes, like evacuating during a wildfire.  Most important to keep in mind though, a bug out bag will help you re-establish yourself in the event of devastating material loss.

Did I miss anything?  What else should be included on the list?

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I'm an aspiring scuba diver, novice spelunker and avid adventurer.I have a penchant for always getting lost with an established track record for choosing the worst places to eat. With a healthy aversion to staying in one place for too long, I am the ceaseless wanderer and explorer. I recently traded in the suit for a backpack, and am now pursuing to live a life of sustained travel. I travel to learn, I travel to live and I travel in search of adventure.
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