Things to Consider
- Things to Consider
- Understand Why You’re Building a Bug Out Bag
- Climate, Disaster-Propensity, and Other Geographical Factors
- Should You Evacuate or Bunker-Down?
- Create an Emergency Evacuation Plan
- Identify How Many People You’re Preparing For and if Those People Have Any Special Needs
- Total Bag Weight, Physical Condition, and Other Considerations
In this section of our bug out bag guide, we’ll discuss some of the most important factors to consider before you buy a bug out bag. While building a bug-out bag is an important part of prepping, we encourage a higher-level understanding of survival preparation.
Before you build it, you need to understand why you’re building it, understand your region-specific needs, and understand when you need to bug-in and when you need to bug-out.
Moreover, having an emergency evacuation plan and a family meet-up plan is critical, as is having a pre-defined bug-out location. You need to consider how many people you’re taking with you in an evacuation situation, whether mobility is a factor, the individual needs of your family members, and what to do with your pets.
When it comes time to assemble your 72-hour bag, among the most important factors is the weight of the bag and your ability to carry it on foot to your bug out location. Other factors to consider are the size of your bag, how your bug out backpack fits on your body, considerations of color and design, and how your choice of both color and design can affect your ability to casually blend in to your surroundings without drawing attention.
On this page you will find a basic overview of the considerations mentioned above. Each of these major considerations before building a 72-hour bag have links to fuller, more complete discussions.
Understand Why You’re Building a Bug Out Bag
Before you rush out to buy your survival stuff to build your bug out bag, it is important to understand the purpose of a bug out bag and the reason and type of situation where you would benefit from having a bug out bag built and ready-to-go.
Building a bug-out bag is an important first step in prepping, and having three days worth of supplies in the form of a 72-hour bag is something recommended by most non-profits and federal disaster relief organizations in the United States.
Once you have a solid understanding of the purpose and benefits of creating a B.O.B., really think about why you’re building it and how you are most likely to use it. While it’s statistically unlikely you’ll need to use your B.O.B, it is an important thing to have and is one of the first steps we recommend to new preppers.
We recommend researching and understanding your chances of a disaster by completing a risks and threat assessment and learning about basic disaster preparation.
Climate, Disaster-Propensity, and Other Geographical Factors
The next step is to consider the risks of your geographical region, which you will partially do when conducting a risks and threat analysis. When considering where you live, there are a number of factors to include, such as climate, types of natural disasters, population, and whether there is a statistically higher probability for a disaster or major emergency in your area. Understanding your location-based disaster propensity, along with how to prepare for it, is highly important. It will come in handy later when if customize your bug-out bag based on where you live.
Should You Evacuate or Bunker-Down?
While we recommend that everyone has a bug-out bag or another form of a 72-hour kit in some for or another, you should still consider if it meets your needs based on your region and your risk analysis.
In some disaster situations, bugging out might not make sense. Rather than evacuating, one might be better off bugging in.
In the case of a wildfire, you would certainly want to leave when it approaches. But what if there was a tornado? If a tornado appears and you’re already in a relatively safe location, evacuation doesn’t make sense.
Consider the disasters you are most likely to face, the type of emergency for which you are planning, and the degree to which you want to be prepared – then decide whether temporarily fleeing your home would be the best decision. We have a dedicated article on deciding whether to bug in or bug out.
Once you understand exactly what you’re planning for, briefly educate yourself on how bug out bags are different from other types of survival bags. A different survival bag may be better for you. Once you’ve done this, consider a few frequently overlooked – but important – factors.
Create an Emergency Evacuation Plan
One of the most important things you should do before you buy your bug out bag is to develop an evacuation plan and family emergency meet-up plan. Having a plan, having a B.O.B. prepared, and choosing your bug-out location the three most important first steps of disaster planning.
When you need to get the fuck out of dodge, it’s important to know where you’re going. You need an emergency evacuation plan specifying what situations would merit evacuation, where your bug out location is, what route and transportation method you will take to get there, and where to meet up if you have family. It’s a short mental exercise at its least, one that provides a good idea when you need to bug out, what you will do, where you will go, and how you will get there.
If you have a family, developing emergency evacuation plan and a separate family meet-up plan is even more critical. What happens if disaster strikes and your wife or kids are on the other side of the city? If you’re serious about this, you need to educate them what to do, how to act, and where to go in the unlikely event an evacuation is required.
You should give special consideration to choosing a bug-out location. A bug-out location is where you will go when you evacuate. It’s your final destination until the threat has passed. Different locations will have different risks and different benefits. The benefits and risks of your bug-out location may vary by region and whether you live in an urban, suburban, or rural environment.
Identify How Many People You’re Preparing For and if Those People Have Any Special Needs
We’re almost ready to get to the bag itself, but first you need to consider how many people you’re prepping for and whether these people have any additional needs.
If you’re preparing a personal B.O.B. for yourself, you can skip this section. If you have a family, pay close attention to our article on preparing to bug out with multiple people. If you’re a family, you probably need individual bug out bags, a large reduced-size bug out bag, or a family bug out bag with a bug-out vehicle.
Disaster preparation as a family can be hard, but it can also be a great exercise to educate your children, teach them basic survival skills, and provide them with a serious-but-fun hobby.
If you’re bugging out with multiple people or bugging out as a family, there are a few special considerations to take. Are you bugging out with anyone with limited mobility? Are you bugging out with children, the elderly, or someone sick or disabled? Does anyone have any special medical or dietary requirements? Consider the needs of each and every one of your family members, and customize your B.O.B. and plan accordingly.
One consideration often overlooked is pets. If you need to evacuate on foot, would you bring your pet or pets along? How would you do it? What would they need? Bugging out with pets can be an additional challenge, but can also be relatively easy if you plan ahead.
Total Bag Weight, Physical Condition, and Other Considerations
If you’ve done all of the above, you’re in great shape. There are only a few final-but-important things to consider about your actual bug out bag before you’re ready to pull the trigger and assemble the damn thing.
Before you actually buy or build your bug out bag, it is important you consider the total weight of your bug out bag and evaluate your ability to carry it, on foot, to your bug out location.
We recommending building your own bug out bag, but for those of you interested in a quicker solution, pre-made bug-out bags are also an option.
Other factors worth considering is the size of your backpack, your body type and the fit of your bag, and the color and design of your survival bag. These factors can affect your ability to carry all of the survival supplies you need, your ability to reasonable carry the bag without discomfort, and your ability to avoid additional risk by blending in.
There are many other factors you may wish to consider when you’re looking for the actual bag or backpack you’ll use to build your bug out bag. If you’re interested in these considerations, check out our extensive guide on what to consider when buying the actual bag for a bug-out bag.