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by Mountain House September 28, 2023

Bug Out Bag Essentials: Tips from the Experts

Ah, the perennial prepper's quandary: what to put in a bug out bag. Well, thanks to the insight of Mountain House fans, we've got some genuine, real-life examples to inspire your own disaster preparedness!

First things first, though: What is a bug out bag? It's essentially a version of the 72-hour kit, an arsenal of survival tools and provisions that will see you through at least three days of an emergency situation. "Bug out" references the bag's specific purpose of supporting your basic needs as you navigate to a safe longer-term location to ride out a disaster scenario of some kind. (You'll also see these bags under other names of the same spirit, including "go bag," "car bug out bag," "SHTF bag," and "Get-Out-of-Dodge (GOOD) bag.")

A bug out bag checklist includes the basic staples of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's recommended 72-hour disaster supplies kit, including a three-day-plus supply of food and water, a first-aid kit, a flashlight (and backup batteries), a hand-crank or battery-powered radio, and signaling devices such as a whistle.

Infographic showing essential items you already have on hand to build a go-bag in case of an emergency and you have to take off fast. Items include maps & important documents, water, flashlight, multitool, first aid kit, matches, mountain house meals, batteries, and medicine.

Many preppers also include components of wilderness survival in their bug out bags, given their bug out location may well be somewhere in the boondocks. Extra clothing, raingear, an all-purpose knife, fishing line, fire-starting materials, and pertinent up-to-date maps are examples of other goods commonly contained in a bug out bag. A lot naturally depends on the environment you'll be navigating through to reach your bug out refuge, whatever and wherever it may be. (Our post on becoming an urban prepper includes more info on these kinds of survival bags and kits.)

Want to get a sense of what some knowledgeable preppers consider bug out essentials? Well, we recently asked fans of Mountain House what their bug out bag contents looked like, and received some illuminating responses via Instagram. We thought we'd share them with the broader Mountain House community so you all can start making a bug out bag list, or maybe fine-tune the go bag contents you've already begun assembling.

Kenny Dietrich/Ugly Tent

From a gas mask to a OneTigris solar charger, Kenny D's bug out bag covers some admirable territory.

Lobo Mountain

Lobo Mountain has the SOL Emergency Bivvy, bear spray, a hunting knife, a compass, a stormproof matches kit, and fuel for cooking up a pouch of Biscuits and Gravy.

Jonathan Revelle

Jonathan's bug out bag essentials include a folding saw, water filter, passport, local maps, and a deck of cards for good measure.

Pennsylvania Land Real Estate

A Big Agnes tent, Hanwag Boots, a Black Diamond lantern, game planner maps, and plenty of Mountain House meals to prepare in the Primus pot!

Renaud Family

The "Adventurous Family" makes sure everybody has his or her own survival kit complete with a solar charger, matches, backpacking stove, flashlights, and other survival must-haves.

Chad Thornley

Hiking boots, Anker Powerport Solar, sleeping bags, a first aid kit, fuel, a GoPro, and Mountain House Breakfast Hash, Chicken Fajita Bowl, and Chili Mac With Beef. Chad is ready for anything!

Steven Mullinax

Among Steven's well-equipped bug out bag are tools for rustling up grub in the backcountry, including a slingshot, snare wire, and fishing gear.

Andrew Sporrer

Andrew's bug out bag stores multiple water-treatment technologies, stove and fuel, a sleeping pad, and personal-hygiene essentials.

Ryan Noeker

Ryan Noeker's bugout bag is designed for both adventure and relaxation in mind. He has Dual CamJam and ENO hammock, Mountain House's Chili Mac with Beef ready to go in the BioLite Campstove, and a GoPro and tech gear for capturing the outdoors.

Mike Holmquist

Leatherman, knife sharpener, sleeping bag, camo garb: Mike's bug out bag doesn't play around.

Roxanna Kooistra

Roxanna Kooistra has everything she needs in case of an emergency, including a LifeStraw, Delorme InReach Satellite Tracker, Osprey Hydration Pack, medical supplies, a mini fire extinguisher, a headlamp, cold weather gear, snacks, and of course, Mountain House and cooking utensils.

Morgan at Rogue Preparedness

A tent, tape, paracord, amazing freeze dried meals, a Jetboil and other emergency gear. Morgan at @roguepreparedness is prepped and ready for anything in Alaska!

Here's a big thank-you to all of our Mountain House fans who shared the contents of their bug out bags with us. And if you have any suggestions for bug out bag essentials, take a picture and tag us on Instagram! Key to survival and disaster preparedness is an unflagging willingness to learn, and everybody has something to offer to the conversation. Happy prepping!

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