Survivalism # 8 - The 'Perfect' BOB

Jack Goblin By Jack Goblin, 1st Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Personal Development>Planning

A Bug Out Bag is the last line of defense in the survivalist's preparations. How to make a practical one, and what to put in it.


The BOB or Bug Out Bag looms large in the minds of many survivalists. As indicated in a previous article, the idea is to have a container (backpack, suitcase, gym bag, five gallon plastic bucket, anything sturdy and carriable) into which necessary supplies and items are put.

The BOB itself is then stored in an easily accessible place, preferably near the door. In the event that an emergency evacuation (ie, a 'Bug Out') is necessary, the BOB can be grabbed on the way out. And if there is no time to gather anything else, it will have all that is needed for short term survival.

This is a reasonable idea. Making a BOB is often the first thing a fledgling survivalist does. But a few get stuck on this step, becoming obsessed with creating the 'perfect' BOB. A BOB that will see them and their families through any crisis, often for a long period of time. Water supplies and filters, concentrated food, weapons, spare clothing, tents, sleeping bags, cooking gear, equipment and supplies: All that would be necessary to pass on foot through a post apocalyptic world, or plunge into the depths of the wilderness.

Given how extremely lightweight camping gear and supplies have become, this is not impossible. As long as there was access to water and fuel, a person or group could last a long time with nothing but the contents of a well crafted BOB in a world where civilization is gone.

Just because something may be possible doesn't mean it makes sense to do it, though. It is doubtful Western civilization will collapse overnight - or even in a few weeks - into Mad Maxian chaos. Or that there will be some disaster that would force people to flee to the woods to survive. Indeed, most survivalists have indicated they would want to stay AWAY from the woods, the hills, the uncharted wilderness if there's a prolonged breakdown in society. Because that's where the general public will be going, thinking they can survive there. And being anywhere near a concentration of probably terrified, probably armed, probably desperate people would be probably unhealthy.

Building a BOB focused on these possibilities would seem a waste. Yet some survivalists spend hours doing precisely that. It may be an exercise in fantasy. Like making a Superman suit while envisioning being able to fly...

In preparing a BOB, it might be better to consider reality, and the circumstances under which such a thing would most probably be used. A house fire in which only seconds are available to flee. A natural or man made disaster that puts home and hearth at risk and has to be avoided. A situation that requires immediate attendance, and someone has to go on a trip with only what can be snatched up. There are also slower developing events in which the BOB becomes an addition to what else might be available. If one considers the BOB in this light, priorities change. Instead of including supplies to enable one to survive the end of the world as we know it, it would probably be wiser to pack as if one will wind up in a shelter, center, hotel, relative's home, or even living out of a car for a while. So, with THOSE criteria in mind...


Money - In the form of cash, credit or debit cards, and check blanks. Assuming civilization hasn't collapsed overnight, you may be able to buy what you need if you end up in a place with open stores or a black market. Note that in the latter case, and/or if the power is out, it will probably be cash only...

Documents - Identification. Personal papers and financial records. Insurance policies. An inventory of possessions. If you have to run and there's no assurance you'll be coming back, you'll want to have everything necessary to prove to insurance agents you had all you say you did so you can get reimbursement. Here is a link to the blog of a man who bugged out of New Orleans just before Katrina, reaching Texas and a relative's house safely. (link)

As someone who lived through a MAJOR Bug Out, he makes a variety of suggestions of what to take when you have to flee. He tells of trying to find work in Texas, locating a job that would be prefect... and realizing that his resume and all documents proving he had the necessary skills were back in New Orleans. He suggests scanning everything from your Social Security card to irreplaceable family photographs onto a flash drive, encrypting the data, and keeping it in your BOB. If you get to a place with a working computer and printer, you can then reproduce any documents you need.

He also recommends using a digital camera to take photographs of everything you own. Then either putting the memory disc in the BOB or transferring the pictures to the flash drive you've already got in there. The idea being that even the most suspicious claims adjuster won't be able to dispute photographic evidence.

(Seal all documents, thumb drives, and anything that you don't want getting wet (like spare clothing) in multiple ziploc bags. You and your BOB may wind up exposed to weather; allowing moisture to damage what's in the BOB will negate most of the advantages of having one.)

Medical supplies and a first aid kit - Prescriptions, both pills and script so that you can have it refilled at a new pharmacy. You also should have a medical history of everyone in your group and a list of current medications so that, should treatment in an unfamiliar medical facility be necessary, the attending physician will be fully informed. Further items to have are spare eyeglasses (and repair kits), hearing aids (and batteries), and any other devices (like a blood glucose monitor and test strips) you or any member of your group might need. Chapstick, a tube of antibiotic ointment, a tube of petroleum jelly, bottle of hand sanitizer, antacids, nail clippers, and packages of tissue paper would also be useful.

Change of clothing - You may be driven out of your home with nothing but the clothes on your back and a BOB. If so, it would be nice if the BOB contained pants, shirts, and several changes of underwear and socks. Also shoes in case you have to leave in nothing but slippers or bare feet.

Weather Gear - Raincoat or poncho, gloves, a windbreaker, hat.

Hygiene - Toothbrush, dental floss, razor, soap, toilet paper, sanitary wipes, feminine supplies.

Blankets - Space blankets, the insulated kind which are very lightweight but warm. You may wind up having to sleep in your car, or on a cot or mattress in a shelter. Having some way to retain body heat will be important.

Notebook, pencil - You're going to be in a stressful situation. You'll need to be able to write information down so you don't forget it. Also perhaps record what is happening for future reference. Not to mention the pages can provide tinder for starting a fire.

Address book, contact information - Many people keep all address information in cellphones these days. If the cellphone runs out of power or can't operate, there goes all the telephone numbers, e-mail, physical addresses, and other contact data. A physical record of that information could hardly hurt.

Lighter, matches - Survivalists seem obsessed with starting fires. Yet it can't be denied that fire can be extremely useful. A container of strike anywhere matches and a few lighters will not add greatly to the BOB's weight but might be very valuable.

Flashlight - A wind up flashlight, a head light so you can keep both hands free, spare batteries, lightsticks, candles (although they're a fire hazard).

Compass, maps - If you have to run, and you have to run far, maps will be useful. Especially if the road you want to use is unusable or blocked - by a traffic jam, for instance - and you need to figure out an alternative route. If you know how to use a map and compass together, so much the better.

Whistle - The sound of a whistle can carry much farther than a human voice. If you're in a situation where you need help, blowing a whistle may bring it.

Radio, cellphone, charger - Where ever you go in a disaster you'll need news and, if possible, communication. Radio is the most dependable public communication medium. Having a radio that you can wind up with a crank (so the batteries never go dead) may enable you to learn what's going on no matter what. Should the cell towers and network continue to function, you can use the cellphone to try to contact others. Some wind up radios say they can be used to charge cellphones; but it often requires vigorous cranking for 30 minutes to charge a cellphone up for even a few minutes of use. That would seem to be of limited practicality.

Bandanas - These simple pieces of cloth have a variety of uses. Slings, filters, bandages, carry alls, it is good to have several available. In colors that stand out.

Tools - paracord, duct tape, tube of SuperGlue, small sewing kit, multi-tool, folding knife, plastic garbage bags, can opener. A spare set of keys to your house and car and other places you might wish to go. Leather and latex gloves. A canteen or other water carrying container.

Comforts - These may seem like luxuries. However, in a highly stressful situation, something to take your mind off your troubles, or provide a burst of energy, or simply give you a chance to relax, may be what you wind up needing as much as anything else. And it would not take up much room or add much weight to include some hard candies and tootsie rolls, a pack of playing cards, a carton of cigarettes for those who smoke, ear plugs in case you wind up in a noisy place, a favorite book, a few small games.

Some bottles or containers of water, stored separately to reduce risk of leakage, and picked up at the same time as the BOB, would be advisable


This is not a definitive list. It may not be possible to make the perfect BOB, or even one that actually works in all conditions. And of course there will have to be adaptions for individual circumstances. Parents with babies and small children may have to make a separate BOB simply to take along all the items needed! And it is possible each family member may need or want their own BOB. But the above list should provide a BOB that is not extremely heavy while answering most needs.

Next: The fantasy BOB, for comparison.


Bob, Bug Out, Disaster, Emergency, Fema, Katrina, Preparation, Survivalism, Survivalist

Meet the author

author avatar Jack Goblin
Was born. Haven't died yet. Don't intend to anytime soon.

Thank you much for reading my articles. I hope they brought you pleasure and enlightenment. :)

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Nice read!

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