11 Common Bug Out Bag Mistakes That You Need to Avoid

ommon Bug Out Bag Mistakes That You Need to Avoid

The bugout bag is important to anyone who is keen on preparedness. It is an important element that you cannot take for granted when things get tough and disaster strikes. Take your time to learn all you can about preparedness, reading books and blogs, and watching TV shows about how to be prepared.

 If you have to leave your home during a disaster, you may not know when you can come back. Because of this, if you make some mistakes in preparing your bugout bag, you could be in a lot of trouble. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make with bugout bags.

What Is a Bug Out Bag?

Basically, your bugout bag is your ultimate survival kit and bug out bag shelter, the one thing that will house everything that you need to get you through whatever disaster situation you happen to find yourself in. 

The bugout bag should help you think small.  You know that you are not planning a holiday experience somewhere in the wild. You are trying to get as far away as possible from a disaster. When you are getting your bag ready, you need to remember that this is meant to carry only the things you need.

You need to remember the bugout bag because besides keeping all your basic, essential provisions in it, it is supposed to keep you going for at least three days, not a year, so plan accordingly when you are packing.

Why You Need a Bug Out Bag?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is one of the main sources of legitimate and accurate information on the bugout bag and one where preppers usually seek expert advice.

The bugout bag is important, not just to you but to those you love. It is packed with necessities to help you to survive a disaster ordeal. Natural or otherwise, emergencies often strike without notice. This should be reason enough to get you planning for the worst-case scenario.

Imagine a situation where there is a chemical spill, and you need to evacuate immediately, or if there has been an earthquake, and you have to get as far away from the area as possible. How would you handle this situation?

Take some time and imagine if you were given 15 minutes to leave your house and vacate to safety. What would you carry? What would you leave behind? It is for this reason that you need to have a bugout bag.

A bugout bag is all about preparedness. This is not something that you are going to pack overnight and be ready to go. This is something that you should prepare for many weeks or even months in advance. Preparing a bugout bag ahead of time helps you carefully plan what you need to take.

Also, updating the bag regularly keeps the contents relevant to your needs.  It is all about making sure that you don’t get caught unawares. When preparing the bag, you have to have in mind every room in the house. Every important aspect of the room must be considered so that you do not run the risk of leaving behind anything that you would find useful to you in the long run.

Don’t Select the Wrong Bug Out Bag: Picking Haphazardly

You need to spend some time and select your bugout bag carefully. This bag could be your lifeline for several days. Many people often look at bugout bags that they find on websites and decide to purchase them just because they think they look awesome. No. To be precise, there was a time when I was checking out a bugout bag that was being reviewed on a particular website that I used to frequent.

This bag was hyped as a military-type bag, and indeed it seemed to have a lot of room in it. With a lot of room and the military concept behind the bag, I was totally hooked on it, considering that these are guys who basically spend a lot of time on the road, so it sounded like a good buy. Besides, the bag looked cool to me too.

I immediately made an order. When I got the bag, it was just as I had hoped for, with all the cool compartments. On the other hand, the bag weighed close to six pounds without anything inside. How would I carry this after packing in all the stuff that I wanted with my small size? Luckily, I happened to know someone big enough who could make some good use out of it.

So, what did I learn here? When you want to purchase a bugout bag, it is important to ensure that you try it out before placing an order. While today we are fascinated with shopping online, when it comes to your bugout bag, take your time and purchase it in a store. Try it out; make sure it fits and be functional, and then you can take it home.

Before you purchase the bag, go to stores where these bags are sold, like an academy or any sports store that stock such. Speak to their salespersons and tell them what you need. Take your time and find a bag that fits your size, shape, and physique, and that will not become a bother for you when you are using it.

To know if the size will be perfect for you, try inserting some weights in it to see if it really is manageable. Try and walk around in the bag for at least 10 or 20 minutes inside the store and determine whether it will be comfortable for you. Remember that those 20 minutes are crucial to you since you could be carrying the bag for days.

Eventually, I managed to find one bag that was just perfect for me, but I can guarantee you that I had to be very patient to find what I wanted.

Purchasing a Bag That Stands Out Doesn’t Blend In, The Attention Seeker Bugout Bag

I always thought people with esteem issues were the ones who were attention seekers until I came across particular bugout bags that did just that. From my experience, you need a bag that does not really attract unnecessary attention. Of particular note is the color of the bag. You need not pick a bag with screaming colors. You don’t want to get all the wrong attention directed towards you. If yours has bright colors, you may have just turned yourself into an easy target.

To avoid this, always go for the dark and plain-colored bags, with careful choices in navy, black, grey, or khaki-colored bags. At the same time, focus on the design of the bag. Make sure that it is not too fancy. In such a situation, you should be looking for something functional rather than fashionable.

When packing, always try not to pack anything outside the bag, especially anything that chimes or jingles, because this could attract the attention of not only people looking to pilfer the contents of your bugout bag but also animal predators that might also lie in wait.

Packing Too Little Food or Water, Which is More Important?

As we said earlier, when it comes to survival outside your home in the event of a disaster, water is at the top of the list of what you’ll need. You have to carry enough water to get you from one point to another. Packing water purifiers and iodine tablets to use in case you come across a source of water that might be contaminated are also a must.

But, what happens if you never come across a source of water? Always make sure that you carry with you as much water as you could need.

Packing Unnecessary Equipment and Items, Don’t Overload The Bag

A lot of people make the error of panic packing their bugout bags. You have to know how much weight is enough for you to tug along and what should be in the bag.

The highest amount of weight suggested for you to tug along should be on the higher side of a quarter or a third of your weight. Still, a third of one’s weight is an extreme measure for those built for this kind of thing. Considering that not everyone has the build for it, hauling around a third of your weight through rugged terrain and many other dangerous conditions is not easy.

When you are packing, you need to remember the real possibility of walking through treacherous conditions, running for your life, or even having to stay still and wait for some uncertain situation to pass before you can continue on your journey. As has been said in the past, always plan for the worst, but hope for the best.

Forgetting The Children’s Bug Out Bag

Understandably, you will end up packing a lot of supplies for your children inside your bugout bag, but at the same time, consider packing some supplies for them in their own bags that they can carry with them. This will include things like snacks, small toys, or anything that can make them comfortable.

The best thing about this is that by carrying their own bags, it will have eased enough space on yours to carry other useful stuff that you will need on your way. Of course, you should not overload your kids’ bags because this will only slow down your journey and give you twice the challenge you are trying to avoid.

Keep In Shape, Understand How Much You Can Physically Carry

Keeping in shape is important when planning for emergencies. Once, I was walking down the street, and I happened to chance upon some guy pacing on the sidewalk very early in the morning with a big backpack. I questioned what he was doing, thinking that the weather was fine, and there had been no disasters reported on the news for a very long time.

But, since I was an early morning jogger, I had the chance to meet him again a few more times. The third time I met him, I gathered up some strength and asked him what he was doing. He told me he was getting in shape for a backpacking trip that he had been planning for a few months. That was when it hit me! What a splendid idea!

Getting in shape before an emergency is an only common sense. While I can understand that having to do the whole activity with the bag on one’s back might be a tall order, you can do some exercises that will help you get into shape and be ready for your possible crisis.

Not Packing Supplies to Fix Your Bug Out Bag If Repairs are Needed

In your journey, you may come across various terrains, diverse weather situations, and many other circumstances that could rip your bag. For this purpose, you should have a sewing kit with you to take care of any tear that might happen. You need a small, heavy-duty sewing kit. Some are available that can double as suturing needles.

If you don’t bring anything to help repair the bag, you could lose some of your bag’s contents along the way or have to carry the bag on one arm if one of the straps lets go. The bag is supposed to be conveniently strapped around your shoulders, and any other position would change the convenience and comfort levels of carrying it around, which in turn will slow you down.

Lack of Familiarity and Hands-On Training with Tools In The Bag Contents

If you are the kind of person who packs their bags a long advance, be sure to check through the contents from time to time. You need to know what is important and what is not. You have to check the packed clothing to ensure that they fit in with whichever season you are planning for, and for the kids, they still fit.

If your bug out bag is packed with gadgets that you don’t know how to use, it would be a useless effort. The items that you bring in your bug out bag has to be Important for your survival. The only way the item can show important is only when you know how to use it correctly.

There are contents of your bag that may have either dried, expired, or leaked. These need to be thrown away. When you organize your bag, you have to be familiar with the contents, so you don’t leave anything to chance. This also helps you to find something in the bag.

Pack Sharp Objects Correctly

Always make certain that all the sharp things that you are taking with you are correctly covered. This means that you should have the right kind of protection for things like knives, axes, or machetes.

Besides the fact that they could cause an injury, they could become a weapon toward you. Even in your hands, they could become a hazard if an accident occurs. If not correctly concealed, they can harm you, or tear your bag, something that you surely must avoid.

Don’t Pack At the Last Minute

Last-minute packing is one of the worst things you can do.  It would be best to wait until there is a disaster for you to start emergency packing. That’s the perfect recipe for mistakes. You are much more likely to leave important things behind and instead carry with you many unnecessary items.

There is a good reason why we call this preparedness. It’s to get you ready in case disaster strikes. You must get your things perfectly inventoried to ensure that you know where everything is.

Don’t Have a Planned Escape Route

When you are planning the route, you need to consider the following important factors:

  • Consider where you are starting your journey from and where you are heading to
  • Consider the person that you are taking with you on the journey
  • Consider the mode of transportation that you will be using on the route
  • Consider the equipment or anything else that you will have to carry or bring along with you

That being said, there are important tools that you must have to get through or to use the bugout route as desired. These are:

  • A compass
  • Water
  • Pen and paper to document notable things you come across along the way
  • Communication equipment

Finally, once you have all of these in check, you need to plan for the route assessment. Route assessment is all about being familiar with the route, and making sure that you are comfortable with it, and any other alternatives that are available.

For a proper route assessment you need to do the following:

  • Familiarize yourself with the area
  • Look for any possible routes that can be used as alternatives and from there prioritize them
  • Make sure that the alternative routes have been documented on the map

Take some time and run through all the routes to know them well enough.

With these tips, you should be able to make your way out of any situation and get you and your family to safety. Don’t forget to practice your escape route with your bugout bag packed. Involve everyone that will be coming with you. Being prepared is much safer than panicking in the face of adversity.

Quick Reference Bug Out Bag List

The following is an ultimate bug out bag list that can help you plan for the things that you will need for your bugout experience:

Waterproof tent or tarp

  • Dehydrated meals
  • Sleeping bag (ultra-light)
  • Mosquito net shelter
  • Water filter & bottle
  • Water bottle
  • Solar water collection bags
  • Map compass
  • Survival knife
  • Firestarter
  • Can opener
  • Machete
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Road maps
  • Topographical maps
  • Firearms if necessary
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Reading/sunglasses
  • Transistor radio
  • Nose and mouth mask
  • Extra clothing
  • Duct tape
  • Drinking water
  • Source of heat
  • Insect repellant
  • Wet napkins
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Travel toilet paper
  • LED headlamps
  • Money in small bills
  • Emergency whistle
  • Bandana
  • Binoculars
  • Face paint
  • Resealable bags


Make Your Own Survival 3 Day Bug Out Bag – A Contents Checklist

What Is An Ultimate Survival Kit: Bug Out Bag Essentials

Bugging Out Know When to Evacuation During An Emergency

Bugging Out Basics: Choosing The Best Emergency Bug Out Bag for You

Ultimate Survival Bug Out Bag Bare Essentials






Macallister Anderson

I am by no means an expert in every aspect of this stuff. I plan to learn, and when possible, enlist the help of experts in various fields to come together and offer their knowledge. In a few years, I dream that this site will be a virtual survival encyclopedia and allow a total novice to come on here and be supplied with everything they need to prepare for anything.

Recent Posts