What NOT to Pack in a Bug Out Bag

Bugging Out

When building a Bugging Out bag (BOB), every ounce counts especially if fleeing on foot. Unfortunately, many beginner preppers make several very common but easily avoidable mistakes when planning a survival kit for when disaster strikes. We’ve rounded up a list of the worst items you could pack in a bug out bag. 

8 Items You Could Totally Live Without When Bugging Out

  • Pre-made first aid Kit

Sure, when in an emergency, you’d want to have some medicines on hand to keep yourself going. But hauling a bulky first aid kit with you is an absolute no-no when bugging out. Why would you need a medical-grade tourniquet when you could improvise one from a bandana? Or why would you need a scalpel if you don’t know how to use it or if the road to your safe spot will take just a couple of days? Weed out the unnecessary items in your first aid kit as they will unnecessarily weigh you down.

  • Sleeping bag

Unless it’s ultralight and it sets you back several hundred dollars, a sleeping bag could weigh up to 7 pounds taking up precious room in your BOB that you could fill with other essentials such as food and water. A sleeping bag that can keep you toasty in winter is a must, but it the summer it can be replaced with a bivvy bag, which can keep you just as warm at a fraction of the weight and price.

  • Inflatable Sleeping Pad

Leave the inflatable sleeping bag at home. For real! It is bulky, it can get punctured easily, and it gets frigidly cold when temperatures dip too low, defeating its purpose – namely to prevent the cold ground from sucking out your body heat. Invest in a closed-cell foam sleeping pad rated for cold weather (R-value of 4.0 or higher) instead and you’re good to go.

  • Tent
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In chillier months, it is a good idea to have a 4-season backpacking tent around, but in the summer, to spare the extra weight, you could swap the good old tent with a tarp and paracord (if you know how to build a shelter from those two) or with a hammock and a tarp – don’t forget about the bug net when hammock camping. 

Some die-hard ultralight backpackers use the hammock to camp in winter too. I guess we could learn a thing or two from them.

  • Cotton clothing

Cotton is great at absorbing moisture but because it loses its insulative properties when damp, it should not be part of your bug out clothing. Pick merino wool and silk instead or synthetics that can really wick moisture away from your skin and that dry quickly. Plus, cotton is too bulky for a bug out bag.

  • Heavy/ Unnecessary Cookware

Another common mistake beginner preppers make is to stuff their bug out bags with heavy or unnecessary cookware. When car camping, you can bring as much cookware as you like, but when bugging out and having to walk on foot many miles, leave the unnecessary stuff behind. 

Invest in kitchen utensils that can work double or triple duty such as a spork that can work as a spoon AND a fork or pots that can double as plate ware. Ditch anything cast iron and stainless steel and use lighter materials such as aluminum or titanium.

  • Canned food

Canned food is extremely convenient and tasty, but when bugging out there is little room for both convenience and luxury. You’ll need simple items and food that can keep you fueled up for as many days as possible without turning your BOB into a heavy rock. Canned food contains lots of extra liquid that will weigh you down. 

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Instead go for dehydrated foods, trail mixes, energy bars, emergency rations and everything that packs a ton of calories in as little space possible. 

  • (Just) the Multitool

Don’t get us wrong. The multitool is a great survival tool to have around for long term survival. But when bugging out, if you rely solely on a multitool, you are very likely toast. If you insist on packing a multitool don’t forget about a backup knife. Do not pin all your hopes on the multitool knife, which is not designed for heavy duty use such as carving wood. Invest in a high quality pocket knife as a backup to your multitool instead. The great thing about a pocket knife is that it is very compact and it can be carried with you to save precious room in the BOB. It could morph into your favorite EDC knife in your normal day-today life too.

Conclusion How to Tell Essentials from Non-essentials

Conclusion: How to Tell Essentials from Non-essentials

When building a bug out bag, it is very hard to tell essential gear and non-essential gear apart. At first, everything seems critical to have around when away from home. But a bug out bag’s purpose is not to keep you as pampered as you would be in your nest. It is to keep you alive for up to 72 hours or as long as you need to get to a safe location. The golden rule to packing a bug out bag correctly is to always be able to make the distinction between needs and wants. If it’s a need, it goes in, if it’s a want, it stays out. It is THAT simple.


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