Bug-out bag

A bug-out bag or BOB[1][2][3] is a portable kit that normally contains the items one would require to survive for 72 hours[4] when evacuating from a disaster, although some kits are designed to last longer periods. Other names for such a bag are a 72-hour kit,[5] battle box, grab bag, go bag, GOOD bag (get out of Dodge),[6][7] personal emergency relocation kit (PERK), or quick run bag (QRB).[8][9]

Off-the-shelf Red Cross preparedness kit

The focus is on evacuation, rather than long-term survival, distinguishing the bug-out bag from a survival kit, an aviation or a boating emergency kit, or a fixed-site disaster supplies kit. The kits are also popular in the survivalism subculture.[citation needed]


The term "bug-out bag" is related to, and possibly derived from, the "bail-out bag" emergency kit many military aviators carry. In the United States, the term refers to the Korean War practice of the U.S. Army designating alternative defensive positions, in the event that the units had to retreat. They were directed to "bug out" when being overrun was imminent. The term has since been adopted by military training institutions around the world, with Standard Operating Procedures involving a bug out location, a method of withdrawal, and the bare supplies needed to withdraw quickly but still survive in the field.[10] The concept passed into wide usage among other military and law enforcement personnel, though the "bail-out bag" is as likely to include emergency gear for going into an emergency situation as for escaping an emergency.[11]

The term go-kit is popular in the amateur radio service, especially in the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) communities, and describes a combination personal bug-out bag and portable amateur radio station. A personal go-kit generally takes some combination of units: a "one-day" (or "24 hour") kit, a "three day" (or "72 hour") kit that adds additional supplies, or a "one week kit" that adds yet additional personal items to the three-day kit. Any or all supports deploying the operator plus his or her privately owned self-contained radio communications setup.


A Japanese earthquake survival bag, kept under an office desk. This example contains water, canned bread, rice, disposable toilet bags and a foil sheet

The primary purpose of a bug-out bag is to allow one to evacuate quickly if a disaster should strike.[12] It is therefore prudent to gather into a single place all of the materials and supplies that might be required to do this, such as a bag or a few storage containers. The recommendation that a bug-out bag contain enough supplies for 72 hours arises from advice from organizations responsible for disaster relief and management that it may take them up to 72 hours to reach people affected by a disaster and offer help.[13] The bag's contents may vary according to the region of the user, as someone evacuating from the path of a hurricane may have different supplies from someone who lives in an area prone to blizzards, earthquakes, or wildfires.

In addition to allowing one to survive a disaster evacuation, a bug-out bag may also be used when sheltering in place as a response to emergencies such as blackouts, house fires, tornadoes, and other severe natural disasters.

Some survivalists also recommend keeping a get me home kit in the car and/or at work. This is a kit to enable a person to get back home from work in an emergency where all transport cars and public transport have broken down. It is designed around personal circumstances where, for example, a walk of 25 kilometres might be required from work to home. The get me home kit can include, for example, enough water to get home, suitable walking shoes, a map (not electronic), enough food for 12 hours, clothing for adverse weather, etc.

Typical contentsEdit

The suggested contents of a bug-out bag vary, but most of the following are usually included. They can usually be sorted into several categories:[1][14][15][16]

  • Essentials (necessary for the human body to survive):
    • Air filtration mask—if in an environment where one needs to access safe to breathe oxygen.
    • Water and food to last for at least 72 hours. This includes:
      • Water for washing, drinking and cooking. Canada recommends 2 litres (0.53 US gal) per person per day for drinking and an additional 2 litres (0.53 US gal) per person per day for cleaning and hygiene if possible.[17] New Zealand recommends 3 litres (0.79 US gal) per person per day for drinking.[18] The US recommends 1 US gallon (3.8 L) per person per day.[19]
      • Water purification supplies or water filtration system.
      • Non-perishable food[20]
      • Cooking supplies.[21]
  • First Aid (a first aid kit can contain multiple different items in case of injury)
  • Shelter, Clothing and Warmth
  • Literature
    • A disaster plan including location of emergency centers, rallying points, possible evacuation routes, etc.
    • Professional emergency literature explaining what to do in various types of disaster, studied and understood before the actual disaster but kept for reference.
    • Physical maps and travel information.[24]
  • Tools and Navigation
  • Defense from most dangerous animals or people if required. Some equipment listed in other sections can also serve as self-protection if required, such as a shovel or hatchet.
  • Miscellaneous
    • Pet, child, and elderly care needs.[20]
    • Physical cash and change, as electronic banking transactions may not be available during the initial period following an emergency or evacuation.
    • Positive identification documents, plus any medical ID cards if you have them. Those with allergies should have a MedicAlert or similar ID.
    • Copies of medical records for each person in the family.
    • Printed copy of any insurance information such as home and contents insurance.[25]
    • Copies of birth certificate
    • Passport

In popular cultureEdit

Dean Ing's 1995 novel Spooker revolves around the theft of bug-out bags (called "spookers" in the novel) from spies.[29]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b South, J. Allan (1990). "Chapter 11 (Equipment), Bug-Out Bag Contents". The Sense of Survival. Orem, Utah: Timpanogos Publishers. p. 221. ISBN 0-935329-00-5.
  2. ^ Lundin, Cody (September 2007). "Chapter 3 (Includes a Bug Out Kit list)". When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith.
  3. ^ "What is a Bug Out Bag". Bug Out Bag Academy. Retrieved 2016-11-03.
  4. ^ "Disaster Planning Is Up To You". FEMA (Press release). Archived from the original on 2009-11-17. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  5. ^ "72 Hour Kit – How to Make a 72 Hour Kit for Emergency Preparedness". About.com. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  6. ^ Borelli, Frank (September 4, 2009). "Equipment Review: Bug Out Bags?". Officer.com. Archived from the original on 2009-12-27. Retrieved 2010-01-11.
  7. ^ Muska, Scott (April 30, 2014). "The "I'm Never Coming Home Bag:" An Assembly Guide". Weekly Gravy. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  8. ^ "Disaster Management Team Good Practice Guidelines" (PDF). Tearfund. 2007.
  9. ^ "Contingency Recommendations". VSF Germany. November 30, 2016. Archived from the original on November 30, 2016.
  10. ^ "BUG OUT BAG: The Essential Multi-Budget Set Up To Be Prepared". The Prepping Guide. August 12, 2017. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
  11. ^ "The Bail Out Bag". BlueSheepdog.com. July 16, 2009. Retrieved 2011-06-18.
  12. ^ Clayton, Dr. Bruce (1980). "Chapter 3 (To Flee of Not To Flee)". Life After Doomsday. Boulder, CO: Paladin Press. p. 39.
  13. ^ "Disaster Supplies Kit- Canadian Red Cross". GadgetBackpack.com. Redcross.ca. 2007-05-03. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  14. ^ Stewart, Creek (2012). Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit. Betterway Books. ISBN 978-1440318740.[page needed]
  15. ^ Building Kits: Getting Prepared takes commitment, by Mike Peterson, American Survival Guide Magazine, Dec., 1993, p. 76
  16. ^ Survival Skills Intensive Training: Assembling the Bug Out Kit, by Christopher Nyerges, American Survival Guide Magazine, May, 1998, p. 26
  17. ^ "Emergency Kits". Public Safety Canada. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  18. ^ "Emergency Survival Items & Getaway Kit". Civil Defence NZ. Archived from the original on 2015-11-19. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
  19. ^ "Build A Kit". FEMA. Archived from the original on 2019-06-19. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  20. ^ a b c d "Survival kit: Things you'll need in case of an emergency". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2014-12-07.
  21. ^ "Survival Supplies You Need To Store Aside From Food And Water". Present Day Prepper.
  22. ^ "Yes, That's a Tampon in My Mouth: The Swiss Army Survival Tampon — 10 Survival Uses". Art of Manliness. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  23. ^ Survival Kits: Critical 10 Percent, by Daniel C. Friend, American Survival Guide Magazine, Mar. 1990, p. 30
  24. ^ The Commuter Kit: Essential Tools for Daily Commuters, by M. Marlo Brown, American Survival Guide Magazine, Jan. 2000, p. 112
  25. ^ a b "BUG OUT BAG: The Essential Multi-Budget Set Up To Be Prepared". The Prepping Guide. 2017-08-12. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
  26. ^ "The Survivors Bug Out Bag List". James Kearney (Doomsday News. October 21, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  27. ^ "Ultimate Bug Out Bag Checklist". Know Prepare Survive. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  28. ^ Dalvi, A A; Faria, M M; Pinto, A A (1986). "Non-suture closure of wound using cyanoacrylate". J Postgrad Med [serial online]. 32: 97–100.
  29. ^ "Spooker". Publishers Weekly. 30 October 1995. Retrieved 26 January 2020.

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