72 Hour Bug Out Bags
We’ve written about 72-hour kits (also known as Bug-Out Bags/Kits) and it’s a common theme on any survivalist website. You can buy a backpack such as THESE and start building your own kits or you can buy one pre-assembled such as the one’s we’ve found and listed HERE, and then add to it other items that are relevant to your particular situation, like certain medical needs, pet needs, geography needs, etc.
Many people will also try to put in additional supplies to enable one to last more than three days. This can be a great idea, but take into account that whatever you have to pack, you have to carry. I wanted to go into a little detail on some of the important items.
The number one requirement is water. Many recommendations state you should have a gallon of water per day but please take into account that each gallon weighs 8 pounds. A three-day supply adds 24 pounds to your pack. Health recommendations say you should drink 2 liters of water per day. The rest of the water rationing is for cooking and personal hygiene. Our thought is that if you carry ration bars or other items that don’t require cooking, you’ll need to carry less water, and also the smell of cooking food won’t attract undesired attention. Another option is to carry less water but carry water purification supplies such as disinfectant tablets or filters and filter water as you go. But take your geography into account. If you’re in a desert environment, carrying a small amount of water and then hoping to find more is not a very good idea.
This would be your next requirement. As mentioned above, the smell of cooking food requires the carrying of more water and also might attract undesired attention from people who are less prepared and hungry. Compressed ration bars, such as THESE, have a long shelf-life, are compact, lightweight, and packed with calories. (Include a non-electric can opener in case you packed canned foods or come across cans at a later time.)
Again, take your environment into account. During hot months, items made of cotton will help wick sweat away from your body. During cold, rainy seasons, that same cotton will lose all of its insulating benefits the moment it gets wet (think how uncomfortable walking around in a wet pair of jeans could be!). If you live in a sunny, desert area, a light long-sleeved shirt will help protect you from sunburn. If you’re in a wet place think polyester and nylon. Don’t forget to pack socks and underwear! Don’t try to pack a fresh change of clothing for each day, but do carry at least one so that should what you’re wearing get soiled or wet, you can change and allow the original pair to get cleaned and/or dry out.
You need protection from the environment and the ability to stay dry. A tent with an underground tarp is something that at least one member of the family should have added to their pack. Sleeping bags now roll up extremely compact and are lightweight. It could be possible for each member of the family to have a bag.
5. First Aid.
It is important to have a first aid kit in one of the family members bags as access to emergency help is unlikely to be available for the first three days of an emergency, and what resources there are are going to be few and far between and swamped with people needing aid. Having a first aid kit can help an injured or sick member of your party hold out until help is available. Add print-outs of any information that you may need to help administer assistance to a family member with a medical condition and encase them in a plastic sleeve to help protect them from water. You can buy one pre-made but if you do, I suggest looking into First-Responder kits or kits geared towards campers and hikers rather than standard First Aid kits as they’ll have a lot more items that you’ll need in the event of traumatic injury.
You may still want to add other items to them to make them complete.
Here’s a list of what my family has in our pack.
3 Israeli Trauma Bandages
6 gauze pads
1 Ace Bandage
1 Triangular Bandage
Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories like Aspirin, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen
Superglue (great for closing small open wounds!)
Anti-Diarrheal medication such as Immodium
A 2 week’s supply of our prescribed medications
Benadryl for allergic reactions
An Assortment of Safety Pins
A handful of individually packaged cleansing wipes
A non-mercury thermometer
Hydrocortisone cream for skin rashes
A sample size of cough medicine
Instant Cold Compress for sore or spasming muscles
Lip Balm like Blistex
Several non-latex Gloves (some people have severe latex allergies)
A booklet on first aid
2 dozen cotton swabs
2 dozen standard adhesive bandages
One particulate face mask for each member of the family
3 sheets of moleskin in case of blisters
If you have a member with an illness that may need other requirements, take that into consideration. People with Diabetes, for example, may want to pack extra items to care for their feet.
You will likely want some kind of tools to help you get through the three days or so. Items to make a fire, a compass in case you need to travel a distance, fishing gear if the option is likely to present itself, some razor blades, a whistle and mirror for signaling, zip ties, maps, paracord, flashlights and extra batteries, and a crank-powered radio.
A stash of small bills is something you should have tucked away in your bag. Banks may be shut down or inaccessible. You may need to make purchases along the way. Many people also recommend keeping some gold or silver items in the case that currency becomes valueless.
8. Important Documents.
You are going to want to have copies of important documents, if not the originals. I’d advice having both hard copies as well as scanned images of them as well as cherished family photos on a USB drive tucked in a waterproof container. House deeds, car titles and registration, passports, birth certificates, insurance information, photos of your home and its valuable contents (for insurance purposes), emergency phone numbers, records of latest bill payments and anything else you deem important. Our family keeps all the originals in a fire-proof safe, packed in a waterproof bag. Obviously, if we have time we will grab the originals out of the safe but in the case that we can’t, at least we have copies and they don’t add much weight to the pack.
Unfortunately, should disaster strike, there will be a lot of desperate, unprepared people. A firearm and ammunition and a sheath knife may be something to consider for keeping in your 72-hour kits. If you’re considering including weapons in your bags, please take classes to familiarize yourself with their usage. Having a firearm and not knowing how to use it can be more of a danger to you than a help.