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

minimalist bug out bag

This article aims to help you build your own comprehensive ultimate survival kit/bug-out bag for you and your family. Having a kit prepared will often mean the difference between relative comfort and being in a dicey situation where your and your loved ones’ health and well-being are at risk. It can often take up to 3 days for help to arrive and reach you in emergencies.

Most of the items listed are relatively cheap and require minimal space. A survival kit is an essential item; there is no excuse not to have one. About $200 and an afternoon will often be enough to set one up, and you’ll have the safety and peace of mind that come with knowing you’re prepared.

Tactical Bug Out Bag Essentials

Here’s a selected list of items. You don’t necessarily need all these items, but think hard before crossing one of your lists. It’s always better to be over-prepared than underprepared, and how much food to stockpile per person.

  • A weather-resistant container or backpack: to store your kit items in.
  • A copy of important documents: Your passport, driver’s license, contact phone numbers, etc. These will come in handy if you need to drive, identify yourself, pass checkpoints, etc.
  • Three liters of water per person: if you have space, store even more. But 1 Liter of water/per person/day is the minimum recommended.
  • Three days’ worth of non-perishable: survival food list you can store for long periods, prepare easily, and are high calorie/high nutrient. Some high-calorie junkie food is fine here, as it will supply maximum calories with its limited space and offer some comfort in an emergency. Some ideas: Peanut butter, beef jerky, fruit cup, raisins, crackers, chicken noodle soup, MREs, ramen noodles, granola bars, instant oatmeal, and freeze-dried food.
  • A mess kit: knives, forks, spoons, cups, and plates to eat your food with. Disposables are good, as water may be limited in an emergency, and you won’t want to waste it on dishwashing.
  • First aid kit: an essential item to your kit. If you’re looking to build your kit and become acquainted will all its items. There are many kits available for sale at low prices.
  • Battery-powered portable radio: it may be your only info on the disaster. Have a backup set of batteries as well.
  • Medication: keep an extra stash of any medications needed by your family. You never know when you’ll have access to a pharmacy again.
  • An extra pair of glasses/contact lenses: for anyone who uses them.
  • LED flashlight: a bright, energy-efficient flashlight (go for yellow or white-colored light, as it is most visible). Have an extra set of batteries.
  • Swiss army knife: many potential uses on these babies.
  • Lighter: I prefer a lighter to matches- it takes up less space, is easier to use, and is less likely to be ruined by water. I’ve always been baffled why some kits recommend matches.
  • Pencil and notebook: if you need to take or leave notes, write down information, etc.
  • Fifty water purification tablets: to purify water. Unscented household bleach and an eye dropper will work as well.
  • Personal hygiene: shampoo, bar soap, liquid soap, disinfectant, sunscreen, bug repellent, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, lip balm, wet wipes, tissues, dust mask.
  • Tools: hammer and nails, adjustable wrench, bungee chord, staple gun, crowbar.
  • Sewing kit: for fixing clothes and gear.
  • 3 oz. Gel fuel: for cooking if the power is out.
  • Three garbage bags: for waste. It can also be used as shawls (the clean ones, at least).
  • 6 Ziploc bags: put food leftovers in; they can be useful in other ways.
  • A Warm blanket: to stay warm if the power goes out. 1 per family member.
  • Extra clothes: to stay warm and dry. And remember- you can’t have too many socks.
  • Poncho: protection from the rain/snow.
  • Compass; is critical should you need to evacuate and travel to another location.
  • Candles: for light if the power goes out.
  • Mirror: for grooming/treating wounds that are difficult to see.
  • Whistle: signaling others, scaring off animals.
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape: for sealing broken windows, among other things.
  • Large heavy-duty: plastic bags and plastic buckets: for waste/sanitation.
  • Emergency cash: have some cash on hand, including quarters for phones.
  • Maps of the area: should you need to evacuate and move to another location.

Optional Bug Out Bag Kit Items

  • Compact camping stove: for boiling water and cooking food. This can be extremely handy if the power goes out or finds yourself on the move. It’s worth considering, but it can be bulky and expensive, so I was hesitant to include it in essentials.
  • Camping Gear: (tents, sleeping gear, etc.) if you live in an area with a lot of wilderness, this can come in handy should you need to evacuate your home.
  • Gas masks: if you live in an area that could be a terrorist target or potentially face a chemical disaster, this is an idea. I’ve heard painter’s respirators with activated carbon filter canisters can be a decent, less expensive substitute.


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.

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