Organizing Your Bug Out Bag

Jan 30, 2013 by

Any good prepper has to have a bug out bag ready to go in the event you have to bug out.  Styles and types vary by preference but Dan Bacon, from Dan’s Depot, offers us a view into how best to organize your bug out bag.  

Organizing Your Bug Out Bag

Organizing the equipment in your bug out bag or hiking pack is an important skill that must be mastered. Although there are a lot of rules and suggestions as how to organize your pack, your own experience will play an important role as you grow more accustomed to the outdoor/survivalist lifestyle.

Bug Out Bag

We’ll talk about some of the basics that you need to apply to start you on your way.

First thing to consider is your pack or bug out bag. A gym bag or duffel bag is not exactly a great idea for hiking or “bugging out”. It is not only inconvenient to sling a bug out bag on one of your shoulders, it also doesn’t have the same support that most hiking bags have to distribute load adequately through your hips, back, and shoulders.

Durability for rugged outdoor use as well as water resistance is also an important concern. For you wilderness pack or bug out bag, I highly recommend purchasing a high quality backpack with waist belt at the very least. This helps to distribute some of weight to off of your shoulders and on to your hips.

If you can make it happen a pack with a frame sheet or other frames with an adequately padded waist belt would be another step up on the comfortability scale. Another nice addition would be a sternum strap which ensures your pack fits snugly around your body, preventing any swaying when you have to move quickly.

Bug Out Bag Styles

The color of your pack is a matter of taste and need. If you are planning on going hunting or have a need for concealment, then you should pick earth colors that will help make you blend in with your surroundings.

If you’re the kind of person who needs to be color coordinated all the time, then you can also pick earth colors to help you blend your bug out bag with your surroundings and not stick out like a sore thumb. Similarly a pack that is earth toned and “tacticool” might just stand out in an urban environment. Plan accordingly.

The size of your pack is also an important consideration. Packs come in different sizes and your many online retailers can help you pick out the best bag for you depending on the number of days you plan to be gone and the equipment you have to carry. Try to find packs with several convenient pockets so you can stash important equipment and access it easily when you have to.

Water proofing or at least ensuring your bag has adequate water resistance will protect your equipment from getting wet in a sudden heavy downpour. You can buy a high quality water cover for your pack, and even have a heavy duty plastic liner inside your pack to protect it from getting wet.

Bug Out Bag Contents

The next thing you have to consider is the equipment you will need to have in your pack. Of course we all have different reasons and needs when we go outdoors, we still have to remember that there are basic equipment that should be with us all the time when going outdoors. Here are some of the basics I suggest having in your outdoor/bug out bag:

  • Lightweight sleeping bag
  • Lightweight tent
  • Water filter
  • Headlamp
  • Clean water
  • Knife
  • Ferro Rod
  • Lighter
  • First Aid kit
  • Whistle
  • Jacket or Poncho

The list here includes items that you need in your bug out bag both for survival and making your life in the wilderness more comfortable. However, these are not hard and fast rules and you may add to them as needed. Some of the items I mentioned here can also be carried on yourself, for example a knife and whistle can be hung from your neck or belt, and the lighter can be carried in your pocket.

The next step is organizing your bug out bag. Stuffing all your equipment in your pack is a bad idea, particularly during certain emergencies when particular items need to be accessed quickly. The rule of thumb here is to keep the most important items on top.

For example, jackets should be kept on top of the bug out bag so you can easily access them in a sudden downpour without having to rummage through your pack. The same goes for your headlamp, and first aid kit. Remember, important items related to safety and survival should be on top or easily accessible.

As much as possible don’t leave equipment hanging from your bag. If you are in a heavily forested area, equipment dangling from your pack might get caught on branches. Keep your pack streamlined and clutter free. I’d also like to add that it would be a good idea to keep your items separated in different zip-lock bags. This organizes your pack and makes finding equipment easier. It also individually waterproofs your different items in the bug out bag.

After figuring out what your priority equipment is, the next step is organizing stuff in your bag. A general rule would be to keep all non-emergency and bulky items at the bottom of your pack and close to your back. Tents and sleeping bags can be kept at the bottom and water can be placed in the pack closer to your back. This helps to lend stability to your pack and to distribute weight properly.

So now that we have talked about some basic rules for organizing your outdoor / bug-out bag, I’ll end this topic here. Remember, experience will also play a role in organizing your outdoor / bug-out bag, we’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments section below.

Dan Bacon enjoys the great outdoors with his bug out bag. Learn more about outdoors survival at Dan’s Depot.


  1. John

    Great crash-course on bug-out bags. A very informative article. Thanks for taking the time to post.

    • Thanks John. Really thought this article hit an area we’ve missed on the blog in the past. Replaced my “duffel bag” a few months back and amazing how much more it holds and how much more secure I feel.

  2. Kevin Thomas

    Why do people always want complicate things, a fero rod? really how about a bic or a zippo and i would add some wetfire tinder. In my EDC I carry a knife (spyderco emerson folder), a bic lighter (cheap and lightweight), and a fenix flashlight. In my B.O.B. i keep 3 bic lighters with duct tape around the handles and vacuum sealed this makes my fire-starter dry and gives more uses with the tape.

    • Kevin – I think it’s really a matter of preference. However, great tips on keeping your lighters dry with the duct tape.

  3. Nikki Neel

    I am very new to prepping and am at the gather information stage. Your article really helped me. I can now make a B.O.B. for my husband as well as myself and know that we can tweak it if necessary.

    • Nikki – glad to hear it. Be sure to check out our previous posts as we cover some other basics for prepping. Our main page also highlights great prepping articles as well as articles on the economy and coming collapse.

      And as always, be sure to join our mailing list at the right. Thanks and happy prepping.


  1. How To Start Your Bug Out Bag | Personal Survival Skills - […] Organizing Your Bug Out Bag | The Home For Survival – … be sure your bug out bag is…