Whether you are evacuating before a natural disaster or running from the government, a properly stocked bug out bag can save your life. That bag can also be useless if filled with the wrong items.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
If you’re new to the prepper lifestyle or haven’t had to use a bug out bag in the past, chances are you’ve made some of the following mistakes:
When putting together a bug out bag, keep in mind that your goal is to reach a certain destination as quickly and safely as possible while avoiding conflict.
#1 Don’t buy the Bag First
This is probably the most common mistake out there. You should gather supplies first so that you know how big the bag needs to be – not have a bag already and try to pack it as full as possible.
Don’t look online when purchasing your bag. Visit stores where you can wear the bag around to test how it feels. Let your wife and kids pick out their own bags. If your bag is too heavy or does not fit well, it can cause injuries that may hinder your escape.
#2 Don’t be Overly Tactical
We all want the coolest-looking bug out bag, but that may not be a good idea. Keep in mind that you aren’t preparing for an assault, you’re escaping. If you flee your house looking like marine, chances are you’ve got the wrong bag.
The key to bugging out is to blend in. Consider what Navy Seals do in Afghanistan: they grow beards and dress in indigenous clothing. Remember to keep a low profile and buy a bag that won’t make you stand out.
#3 Don’t go too “Bushcraft”
You aren’t Bear Grills. Avoid bags that rely on bushcraft. They typically don’t have enough life preserving equipment, food, or water to get you to your destination. Don’t make the assumption that you’re going to find food or water along the way.
#4 Don’t Wing It
Your bug out strategy should be planned well it advance. Conduct drills with your family and make sure they know the route, alternative route, and any signs and signals you’ve decided to use.
When you know exactly what to do and where you are going, bugging out will be safer, easier, and quicker.
#5 Don’t Overestimate your Fitness
If you or anyone else in your family is out of shape, what’s in your bug out bag won’t matter. You will need to be in decent physical shape to get to your bug out location. Chances are, you’ll need to be fit to survive any disaster scenario.
Take regular hikes with your bag to test your fitness level.
#6 Don’t go it Alone
It’s not the best idea to adopt the “lone wolf” mentality or assume you will be alone when you bug out. Your family will be involved in whatever you do, so helping them prepare is just as important as making sure you are ready.
Expect that you will encounter others on the way to your bug out location.
#7 Don’t Forget to bring Personal Information
Included in your bug out bag should be an envelope containing all the information you will need to recover from a disaster situation. Many preppers forget or don’t even think to bring this. Consider including the following:
• Family photos
• Bank account information
• Insurance information
• Credit card information
• Photocopies of car titles, wedding certificates, birth certificates, IDs, drivers licenses, etc.
• Contact list of friends and family members with addresses and phone numbers
#8 Don’t Leave Without Money
Although you might not consider money to be important in a disaster, it might be just the thing you need to acquire an item or purchase a ticket. Keep $500 cash and a little gold and silver in your bag.
#9 Don’t Assume your Bag is Bullet Proof
Most preppers forget to include items that can be used to repair their bag if gets damaged. This kit should include heavy duty patching material, a needle and thread, and replacement items like buckles and straps. Adhesive patches work well on synthetic bags.
#10 Don’t Forget about your Stomach
While most preppers include supplies for bee stings, broken bones, and gunshot wounds, they neglect to bring first aid for their stomachs. Stomach issues will be the most common problem in a bug out situation – just the stress alone can cause digestive issues.
Stomach problems can disable and kill you in just a few days.
If you have a bad cause of vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation, those other supplies aren’t going to do much. Make sure to bring fiber drink mixes, fiber pills, Imodium AD, Pepto-Bismol, and ginger tablets (for nausea).