How to Build the Ultimate Bug Out Bag

How to Build the Ultimate Bug Out Bag

How to Build the Ultimate Bug Out Bag

They go by many names: tactical bag, go-bag, bug-out bag, 72-hour bag, emergency bag, and so on. It doesn’t matter what you call it; what really matters is what you put in it. That’s why we’re going to take a look at some of the critical things to consider when building out a tactical bag.

First off, let’s dispel one common misconception: tactical bags aren’t just for doomsday preppers. They can come in handy in case of a house fire, a local or regional blackout, getting stranded while traveling, or neighborhood flooding. Of course, they’ll also be useful in the event of an occasional zombie apocalypse.

The essentials


The whole goal of a tactical bag is to keep you alive, and without proper sustenance, the rest of the items in your bag are worthless.

Be sure to pack water, which could include full bottles, water purifying tablets, a purifying straw, or any combination of those items. For the sake of durability, go with a lightweight metal water bottle instead of flimsy store-bought ones.

Your food can come in a variety of forms. Things like jerky, MREs, trail mix, and energy bars are all good places to start. Make sure to also include a bowl or plate, utensils, and a can opener.


Whether you’re looking to cook the food you brought, found, or killed, or you’re just trying to keep warm, you’re going to need a way to make a fire. Get some strike-anywhere matches, a waterproof match case, and some prepackaged firestarters. The last one is ideal for getting a fire going in damp conditions. If you’ve got the ability to carry the extra weight, packing some kindling couldn’t hurt, too.

Of course, not all heat comes from fire. A lightweight emergency thermal blanket and some hand warmers are always a good idea.


In a similar vein as heat, you’ll also want some artificial light sources. Handheld flashlights, wearable headlamps, chem lights (aka glow sticks), and even some candles are ideal sources of light. Unless you’re going to pack spare batteries, it would be wise to choose rechargeable options and bring along a solar charger.


Things like a lightweight tent and a compact sleeping bag are ideal but don’t go overboard on taking up space with these items. You can make do with a tarp for shelter and the emergency blanket mentioned above as the absolute bare minimum.


Plainly speaking, guns and blades, people; guns and blades. A handgun and a lightweight carbine are ideal here, and this is not the time to grab something in a brand new or en-vogue caliber. Stick to 9mm or .45ACP for your handguns and .223/5.56 for the carbine.

While certainly not a necessity, if you have a suppressor and space in your bag for it, packing it along with you couldn’t hurt. Not only will it protect your hearing while hunting or defending yourself, but it’ll keep your sound signature down if you need to shoot while trying to keep your position somewhat hidden from dangerous animals or people.

When it comes to blades, you’ll want a small assortment. This should include a folding pocket knife, a fixed blade, a folding saw, a multitool, and a knife sharpener at the bare minimum. Also, consider razor blades and a camp ax if space allows.

First Aid

Accidents happen, and you don’t want any minor injuries turning into major problems from a lack of basic first aid. At a minimum, pick up a prepackaged first-aid kit. This will include things like bandages, gauze, gloves, aspirin, alcohol pads, etc.

In addition to the prepackaged kit, you should consider allergy medication, sunscreen, tweezers, needle and thread, trauma shears, burn cream, and any prescription medication that you’re currently taking.


Spare socks, underwear, shirts, and pants are the bare necessities when packing clothing into your tactical bag. Rain gear, a hat, and gloves are also items you should pack. In an effort to save space, try to pack items that can pull double duty, like pants that zip off into shorts or other garments that can be layered.


Brushing your teeth or detangling your hair may not be at the top of your list when you’re just trying to survive, but hygiene is very important even on the go, as neglecting your personal health can be a bigger issue as time goes on (toothaches can be debilitating). Plus, cleaning yourself up can also provide a morale boost if you need it. Pack the same items you’d take on a trip: toothbrush, toothpaste, brush/comb, soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and a towel.

Miscellaneous Items

Obviously, every tactical bag is different and it would be impossible to list anything and everything that you might want to include. Some of the other miscellaneous items you should consider including are a whistle, flares, two-way radios, bear spray, big black trash bags, important documents, cash, a compass or handheld GPS, rope, duct tape, and so on.

The Bag

The actual bag itself is the last thing you should consider when putting together a tactical bag. That’s because you want to make sure that you have gathered all of the necessary items that you feel are necessary, placed them in a big pile, determined how much space you’ll need, and then set out to buy a bag that will hold all of your stuff.

If you do this the other way around, you may find yourself excluding items due to a lack of space. Worse yet, you may find yourself adding items you don’t really need simply because you have space. Every item you add to your bag increases the weight you have to carry, and every ounce counts. As a rule of thumb, try to keep your tactical bag at a weight that does not exceed 25% of your body weight.

Stage the Bag for When You Need It

Now that you’ve got your pile of items sized up, the right size bag selected, and everything packed up in a neat and orderly fashion, it’s time to put your tactical bag in standby mode.

Some people make multiple tactical bags and keep them in various places, such as next to the bed, one in each car, etc. Pick the option (or options) that work best for you, put the bag there, and leave it there. Learn more about suppressors on our blog or contact us today to complete your ultimate tactical bag. By not moving it from place to place, you’ll be able to grab it when you need it without having to think about where you left it last.