Premade Bug Out Bag vs. Survival Bug Out Bag

If you are planning for an emergency a good bug out bag is essential.  There are so many different types of bug outbags on the market that for beginners this can become overwhelming.  In my opinion a good place to start is to understand the difference between a premade bug out bag and a survival bug out bag.  These are two general categories and once you decide what is best for you the search should be much easier.

What The Heck Is A Bug Out Bag?

A “bug out bag” is typically a backpack or other bag filled with enough supplies or survival gear to keep you alive for 72 hours.  It is also referred to as a “get out of dodge bag” (GOOD), “go bag” or “bug out backpack.” The main function of a bug out bag (BOB) is to help you get from a place of low security (your house under attack) to a place of higher security (a friend’s house that is far from danger) while covering your basic survival needs. Generally, you will want to plan to have enough gear in your bag to allow you to survive at least 72 hours, if need be.

Where Do I Start?

Lets first define the two main categories of bug out bags.  The premade bug out bag and the survival bug out bag.

Premade Bug Out Bag 

premade but out bag

You can purchase a premade bug out bag (commonly referred to as an emergency bag or emergency backpack) which will give you up to 72 hours (three days) of supplies for one or two people depending on the size of the bag.  The bags come with packaged water, food, flashlight, emergency blankets, etc.    Let’s say you know a hurricane is heading your way.  You can use a premade bug out bag for emergency food or water at your home or throw the bag in your car and take off.  This photo shows a common premade bug out bag with typical contents.

Survival Bug Out Bag

Here is a shot of my personal survival bug out bag.

A survival bug out bag is one you build yourself to specifically suit you and your family’s needs.  If you talk to or read books by survival experts, this is what they would recommend.  This type of bug out bag is more geared toward using your survival/outdoor skills and can be equipped with heavy duty survival gear.  The person who is preparing for an extreme emergency and looming societal collapse will want to put together their own survival bug out bag.  This type of bag is geared more towards rugged outdoor emergency living and protection for you and your family.  This is what will really be needed when the s*** hits the fan!  This is the type of BOB I have for me, my wife and even our children.

Tip: If money is tight and you want to put together a quality survival bug out bag then my advice is to take it slow.  I would get the backpack first, then slowly fill it here and there when you can.  Some of the smaller items are very inexpensive so start there.  If you can’t afford a high end survival knife  then get what you can for now.  Also, give Craigslist and Thrift stores a try.  You will be surprised what kind of deals you can find! 

Here’s another photo of my personal survival bug out bag.

Tip:  A survival bug out bag can be a great learning tool for adults and kids as well.  We frequently hike with ours and stop to build fires (where allowed), use our survival knives, practice with our fishing kits and build shelters.  It’s really great exercise and fun for the whole family.

What should I put in my Bug Out Bag?

Survival bug out bag contents will vary greatly depending on age, geography, your bug out plan, medical requirements, physical abilities and survival skills.  I live in Florida and I can guarantee you that my survival BOB looks much different than someone in the Northeast or the smoky mountains.  Here in Florida we have serious moisture and bug issues most of the year so I must be prepared for that.  This is one of the limiting factors of a premade bug out bag.  You get what you need and the packs will leave little room to customize.


Tip: See document titled “Build the Ultimate Bug Out Bag” on our resources page for more details. 

Choosing the right bug out bag for you and your family is an important decision.  So take your time, look around and talk to some folks and figure out what will work best for you.  We hope that this article helps you in your decision making process and if you have any questions please let us know!

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