When you do your own Internet searches on bug-out-bags & survival kits for the first time, you may start out a little confused & overwhelmed - and rightfully so. There are many lists of survival kit essentials and suggestions, along with many different terms for basically the same stuff:
BOB - Bug Out Bag, Bail Out Bag, Bug Out Box
GOOD Bag - "Get Out Of Dodge" Bag
PERK - Personal Emergency Relocation Kit
EDC - Every Day Carry
GHB - Get Home Bag
Mini Survival Kit, Survival Tin, Pocket Tin
INCH Bag - "I'm Never Coming Home" Bag
BOV - Bug Out Vehicle
BOL - Bug Out Location
Vehicle Kit, Car Kit, Car BOB
So many different names, sizes, types, abbreviations, uses, and contents, and yet the concepts are all basically the same - To help aid in one's comfort and survival, should some sort of un-forseen emergency occur.
Being prepared, or having a survival mindset, can range from simply having some extra items on hand at home (blankets, batteries, ammo, soap, food) or having a small bag of emergency supplies in your trunk, to creating a full-blown "bug-out-bag" backpack-kit that you can grab and take with you at a moment's notice.
Everyone has differerent needs, different locations, different belongings, and different opinions, so everyone's survival kit is going to be different! There is no *PERFECT* bug-out-bag, although there are some essential survival categories that should be considered when making one, including: shelter, food/water, warmth (fire & clothing), light, first-aid, communication/signaling, personal protection, and navigation.
BOB, BOV, & BOL
Bug-Out "Bags, Vehicles, & Locations"
A "bug-out-bag" (BOB) is generally a bare-minimum, 3-day emergency bag. You put one together in order to make it from point A to point B (perhaps on-foot, in a worst case scenario) and survive for at least seventy-two hours. It is meant to go along with (complement) your seperate EDC items and your mini-survival-kit.
Why might you need to have a BOB in your home?
A number of reasons! - house fire, family emergency, natural disaster (flood, hurricane, earthquake), nuclear fallout, zombie invasion...
Why might you need to have an emergency kit in your vehicle?
What if - your vehicle runs out of gas out in the middle of nowhere where there is no cellphone reception, you're stranded in a blizzard and need to survive inside your vehicle for an indefinite amount of time, roads are blocked due to a natural disaster & you need to abandon your vehicle/head out on foot, your vehicle breaks down and you can't make it home, or you are just stuck in bottle-neck traffic for several hours due to an extreme accident.
Plan to have some sort of bug-out-bag/emergency kit with you NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE. This may mean having a 3-day BOB packed and ready-to-go inside your home, while ALSO having an emergency kit packed inside your vehicle. Having just one 72-hour ULTIMATE BOB that you take with you everywhere is probably not that feasible - it may be too big for EDC (every day carry), and if you do take it with you everywhere you go, you will probably want to leave it inside your vehicle at times, which may not be good in extreme heat OR extreme cold (depending on what's inside your bag). I left my complete BOB in my van all last summer and candles melted, batteries lost their charge, food quality was potentially diminished, etc. Same goes for the wintertime - Now that it is below freezing outside, I have taken everything out of my vehicle that may freeze or be negatively affected (water, stove fuel (butane/denatured alcohol), batteries, first-aid supplies). Instead, I keep those items in a smaller EDC bag that I grab every-time I head-out in my vehicle. Getting stranded somewhere up here in the winter is not only likely, but very possible. I have run out of gas and been stranded along-side the road in the middle of a blizzard before, so I have no doubt that it could happen again.
When making your own bug-out-bag & emergency kits, consider both your potential location when an emergency may strike and also where you physically plan to keep your kit. Perhaps play devil's advocate and try making up your own worst-case scenarios - They can help you to become better prepared and aid you in making a more realistic kit OR they can help to test how prepared you currently are.
Ask yourself a variety of questions:
* Where are you most of the time, and is your survival kit with you there?
If it isn't with you, why isn't it? Is it too bulky? Do you not want to leave certain items inside your cold or hot vehicle?
* Are you going to keep your BOB at home, in your vehicle, or both?
Perhaps you will decide to have several survival bags: a smaller EDC bag, a seperate vehicle kit, and an additional (bigger) BOB at home.
* Is your home BOB ready to grab & go? Or are there some items you plan to grab or throw in at the last minute? (handgun, cell-phone, more comfortable hiking boots, long underwear you want to actually put on before you head out, etc.) Have those items nearby or have them written down on a list that is next to your BOB.
* Where do you plan to bug-out to?
Will you be "bugging-in" (staying home OR trying to get home), because that is where your preps/supplies are? Or will you be heading to an alternate location (survival retreat, relative's house, etc.)? Even if you plan to use your home as your survival retreat (and don't plan to leave your home in an emergency situation), you should still consider keeping a packed BOB in your home that you can quickly grab to head to your BOV or an alternate BOL in case you must leave your home (nuclear fallout, natural disaster, etc).
* Is your family prepared to bug-out without you? Does your family have an agreed upon BOL and back-up BOL in case you are not with them when an emergency strikes? Does your family know how to use all their gear in case you become seperated?
* Most likely, you will be able to drive in a bug-out-scenario, but what if you aren't? Do you only have a plastic tote in your trunk, or do you have a backpack with you as well, so you can easily leave your vehicle and head out on-foot? Your vehicle may run out of gas, roads may be blocked, or, depending on the emergency, you may be staying off the roads for the sake of not being seen.
* What items would you really need to get you from point A to point B?
As for the general term "Survival Kit," I've often heard people use it to refer to their 72-hr "bug-out-bag," their smaller "vehicle kit" OR their tiny pocket-suvival-tin. Wikipedia considers a "Survival Kit" to be a more long-term kit, containing items & tools that can be used to provide for all of our basic needs: shelter against the elements, food/water, warmth, first-aid, signaling/communication device, etc. Personally, though, I cover all-those bases in my 72-hour bag, so I'm still not totally sure how (or if) it truly differs from a BOB
Also, instead of packing a 72-hour pack, some people instead pack an "INCH" Bag ("I'm Never Coming Home" bag) - In other words, some people decide to pack their BOB like they are never coming home, while others only pack their BOB with some simple essentials to get them back home, to their BOL, or to their BOV. Some people don't find it realistic to carry everything they need on their back, while others like to plan for those worst-case scenarios. It all comes down to a matter of preference.
My BOB personally falls more in the middle of a 72-hr pack and an INCH bag, and I tend to keep it indoors, wherever I spend the most time. On top of my BOB, I also have a vehicle kit in my trunk, an EDC pack that comes & goes from my vehicle with me (items that should not be exposed to extreme cold or heat), and a mini survival tin in my purse.
More of my own random thoughts on Bug-Out-Bag considerations:
* You might make a BOB and let it sit for MONTHS (or years!) without going thru it - Don't let that happen! Go through it every once in awhile - Check all of your supplies and re-evaluate what you need periodically, because situations may have changed (medications, summer vs. winter items, etc.). Be sure to rotate your food rations and check expiration dates on food & medical supplies. Pay attention to how you are storing your BOB (hot/cold location), and make sure none of your items have melted or frozen. Spare batteries might now be dead, candles may have melted, medical supplies may have frozen. Do your backup clothes still fit comfortably? If you've gained or lost weight since you packed your BOB, you don't want your emergency clothes to be uncomfortable on a potential 3-day trek on-foot.
* Do you know how to use all your gear (cookstove, water-filter, tent, etc.)? If you are another female, and your husband or boyfriend helped you to get your BOB together, make sure that you are personally familiar with everything in your kit, just in case he is not around when you need to bug-out. If your spouse/partner knows how to start a fire, use your new gear, or set-up camp using paracord & a tarp, BUT you don't, that is NO GOOD.
* Have you field tested all of your gear? Don't just buy survival items for your BOB and stick them in your bag without opening them or giving them a trial run. Is your sleep system warm enough? Really go out camping (in each season) and test your entire setup. Maybe you didn't realize that you need a sleeping pad between your body and the cold ground, or maybe you forgot about the possibility of a thunderstorm & your gear or sleeping bag gets soaked! Perhaps a field-test will remind you to consider items such as a goretex sleeping bag bivy, poncho, pack cover, or packable rainjacket. On your trial-run camping trip, maybe you will realize that you forgot something major, but small, such as a flashlight, lighter, paracord, extra pair of socks, or a knife. Maybe you even forgot your sleeping bag, because it is filled with goose-down & you don't want to leave it compressed inside your BOB. I actually had the unique opportunity to stay in a Yurt in the middle of the woods, in the middle of winter last year, for about 5 days. All I took with me was my BOB, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had everything I needed. :) It feels so good when you get it right.
* Really consider HOW your BOB is packed/organized. You don't want something poking you in the back when you walk, and you want certain items to be easily accessible (water, first aid kit, cellphone, knife). In the wintertime, I personally choose to keep my comfortable hiking boots and long-underwear OUTSIDE my pack, so I can quickly throw them on before I grab my bag and go. In a blizzard it makes more sense to stay indoors, but IF for some unknown reason I must bug-out into a blizzard (to hypothetically get to a relative's house that is 3 days away), and I'm going to be on-foot, where am I going to be able to stop and put on my long-undies? There might be people around (urban setting), and it would also be freezing cold outside - the least useful place for my long underwear at that point would be the bottom of my pack.
* Also consider the colors of your visible BOB items (pack, sleeping gear, tarp, pack cover, poncho, clothes) & how well they blend in for your area (rural natural location or busy downtown urban city location). You may or may not want to be seen, depending on the situation. I personally believe that most likely, if I have to bug-out, I will not want to be seen, so my BOB is planned around blending in & not standing out. Nothing in my BOB screams "Over Here! I'm a visible target!" I go for olive greens, browns, camo, and earth tones. As much as I like camo, though, I don't choose to have ALL camo stuff, because in a bug-out-situation, I'd rather appear to be a harmless "civilian backpacker" rather than potential military. Also, depending on the bug-out scenario, you MAY want someone to be able to find you, so you should plan accordingly. Perhaps have a bright red/orange bandana in your BOB (along with your camo one), and maybe throw in a bright pack cover or a brightly lit roll of electrical-type tape.
* Are you strong enough to physically carry your prepared pack on a 3-day trek? Take your BOB on a test hike! Make it a fun family outing. If your BOB is uncomfortably heavy, you'd be better off lightening your load than hauling more than you can handle. You may decide to substitute some lighter items and take out unnecessary items. You may even decide you need a different sized pack altogether, because your torso length makes that particular bag incredibly uncomfortable. To save on weight and space, really consider packing items with multiple uses, such as a bandana or a camo poncho (used as a raincoat, pack cover, tent, or sleeping bag bivy).
* When you pick the actual pack to carry all your items in, make sure it is the correct size for your torso length and comfortable enough for you to carry for a long distance. Also make sure the color of your BOB pack is pretty natural/neutral. I tried out the military Medium Alice pack ("All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment") for awhile, because it is a very inexpensive, commonly available, popular BOB choice, but it just does NOT work for my body size. I tried adjusting it in every possible manner and tried various amounts of weight inside the pack (I even had help!), but it was a no-go on the Alice Pack for me. Also consider the cubic-volume size capacity for your pack. Something like 1500 cu. will probably be too small for your BOB, and something like 4000 cu. is probably too much! 2500 cu. is a very common BOB size, but, again, needs vary from person to person. For my 72-hr winter BOB, I currently use a women's North Face Crestone 60 backpacking pack, which has a 60 liter capacity (or approx. 3650 cu.). It is very spacious and very comfortable. I bought it back several years ago when it came in a dark "crocodile" green color. I also bought a very lightweight, packable green "silicone rain cover" to go over it when it rains.
* What you put in your BOB really depends on where you live and what season it is. For example, In January, someone in Key West or Naples, Florida will consider some different BOB contents than someone living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Likewise, someone living in downtown Chicago will pack/prepare differently than someone who lives far out in the wilderness... Bag content considerations that vary by season & location may include: dust mask, eye protection, heavy duty gortex winter boots, comfortable hiking shoes, a high-caliber handgun for wild-animal protection, mosquito netting, sunblock, or sunglasses.
* There are many little decisions to make when choosing BOB items, depending on the weight of the pack you want to carry (& are able to), what gear you already own (& how much money you want to spend), and personal preference. There are many different options and variations of the following:
water and/or purification methods (canteen or Nalgene of actual water, water filter with ceramic element, Steripen UV purifier, iodine tablets, clorox bleach, eyedropper, & sealable baggie, pot, fuel, & lightweight stove for boiling water, etc.)
sleep setups (tent, tent footprint/rainfly, sleeping bag, poncho, tarp, goretex bivy, hammock, Thermarest inflatable sleeping pad, military closed-cell sleeping mat, space blanket, etc.)
food options (fishing/hunting gear, MREs, Mainstay Emergency Food Ration Bars, Datrex food bars, snack items, a portable stove with fuel and food items that can be cooked, etc.)
staying dry (spare clothes, raincoat, pack cover, poncho, tarp, etc.)
fire-starting (waterproof matches, lighter, fresnal lens, flint & steel, Ultimate Survival Technologies "Sparkie" or "Wetfire tinder," cotton balls rubbed with vaseline & stored in a film canister, votive candle, birthday candles, heavy-duty foil for windscreen, etc.)
cutting wood for shelter or fire (hatchet, folding saw, wire-saw, machete, etc.)
* There are so many items to consider, and every person will be different on what they want! For instance, you could easily get by without a portable backpacking stove or a home-made alcohol stove if you only pack Mainstay Emergency Food Bars, BUT I've got a compact backpacking cookset, I prefer to boil water as my water purification method, snow could easily be melted for drinking water in the winter-time, and I would personally find a cup of green tea to be quite calming and warming in a cold, stressful, bug-out situation. So for me, a little penny alcohol stove (and homemade coat-hanger pot stand) is part of my BOB. Someone else may just choose to have basic fire-starting tools. To each his own! There is much to consider. :-)
* Very basic BOB content ideas to consider and get you started!! --
Backpack that blends in with nature
fixed blade knife
smaller folding-blade knife
flashlight (crank, shake, led flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries)
100' of 550 paracord
sleep setup (not bright colors)
food, MREs, snacks, or Mainstay/Datrex Food-Ration bars
water & way to purify more
complete medical kit (I will be doing an ENTIRE post about this)
IOSAT - potassium iodide
backup clothes, socks, shoes
rag or washcloth
small bottle of campsuds
money ($100 per day, in small bills)
USB flashdrive that contains scans of important documents & family photos
cookset, stove, fuel, pot-scrubbie
gun, ammo, gun-cleaning supplies (bore-snake & small bottle of cleaner/lube)
paper & pen (Rite-in-the-Rain all-weather pen & paper)
folding saw or axe
mini sewing kit (dental floss, needles, safety pins)
POCKET SURVIVAL TINS & MINI SURVIVAL KITS
"Survival Tins," "Mini Survival Kits," and "Pocket Survival Tins" are intended for the EDC (every day carry) of small, useful survival items that are the hardest to improvise in an emergency, but are crucial to your survival. They are often made with Altoids containers or film canisters, they can be carried in a purse, glovebox, or pocket, and they can contain a wide VARIETY of items. Although very small, they can contain any of the following useful items that help with:
fire-starting (warmth, light, & signaling) - waterproof matches, lighter, fresnal lens, heavy-duty foil for windscreen, birthday candle, etc.
obtaining food & purifying water - fish hooks, lead balls, & fishing line (or dental floss), snare wire, water-purification/Iodine tablets, Clorox-bleach in a sealed straw, small sealable container for holding water (such as a "breast milk bag" or a tiny ziplock), bullion, tea bag, piece of hard candy/glucose tablet, etc.
first aid - bandaid/butterfly-closure, alcohol prep pad, antiseptic packet, sewing needle, Ibuprofen in a sealed straw (melt ends shut with lighter), etc.
navigation - mini button-compass
shelter - mini wire saw (for cutting)
other - whistle, mirror, small flashlight, knife, tweezers, safety pin, duct-tape, information card (perhaps with fishing knot info), etc.
More info on mini survival tins:
VERY HELPFUL Bug-Out-Bag LINKS:
WIKI "Bug-Out-Bag" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bug-out_bag
WIKI "Survival Kit" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survival_kit
BOB Item List: http://civiliandefenseforce.com/bugoutbagitemlist.html
NeilStrauss.com BOB contents: http://www.neilstrauss.com/fliesian/bugout.html
Rural Revolution BOB list: http://www.rural-revolution.com/2010/12/bug-out-bags.html
The Big List: http://www.survival-center.com/dl-list/dl1-toc.htm
Photos of Your BOB: http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=1508.0
The Bug-Out-Bag PDF: http://tomsebooks.com/BugoutBag.pdf
2012 Supplies BOB List: http://www.2012supplies.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=1788
TheBugOutGuy.com List: http://www.thebugoutguy.com/bugoutbagAM.htm
Economic Collapse Survival 72-hr kit: http://www.economiccollapsesurvival.com/bug-out-bag/
Survival News Online BOB info: http://www.survivalnewsonline.com/2010/03/16/survival-plan-2-bugout-bag/
72-Hr Kit - http://thesurvivalmom.com/2010/03/28/dont-leave-home-without-it-the-vehicle-72-hour-kit/
SecurityWhip.com BOB info: http://www.securitywhip.com/2010/08/06/bug-out-bag/
DefensiveCarry "What's in your BOB?": http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?115192-What-s-in-your-Bug-Out-Bag
One guy's vehicle kit/get home bag- http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=12849
One guy's INCH bag: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread452126/pg1
Backpacking/Hiking survival essentials: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Essentials
Survival Checklist: http://www.survivalgearsource.com/SurvivalInformation/SurvivalChecklist/tabid/115/Default.aspx
ZombieSquad BOB info: http://zombiehunters.org/zss/?p=15
ZombieSquad BOB additional info: http://zombiehunters.org/wiki/index.php/BOB
ZombieSquad "Preparing Your BOB" PDF: http://zombiehunters.org/flyer/ZS-bob-trifold.pdf
Recommended BOB list: http://www.survivalistssite.com/~canuck/downloads/bob_list.pdf
INCH bags: http://www.warriortalk.com/showthread.php?58399-I.N.C.H.-Kits-(I-m.Never.Coming.Home.)...whats-in-yours-or-what-would-be-in-yours
GO Bag ideas: http://www.tennesseepreppersnetwork.com/2009/09/guest-post-good-bag-how-to-ideas.html
72-hr kit ideas: http://www.tennesseepreppersnetwork.com/2009/01/baby-steps-72-hour-kit.html
Family Survival Blog BOB essentials: http://familysurvivalblog.com/bug-out-bags/
Prepper e-book: http://www.prepperbook.com/
SurvivalCache.com (7 Types of Gear to have in your BOB): http://survivalcache.com/bug-out-bag/
The Art of the BOB: http://www.survival-spot.com/survival-blog/the-art-of-the-bug-out-bag/
Survival Gear & BOBs: http://offgridsurvival.com/survival-gear-bugoutbags/
knol Bugging Out! : http://knol.google.com/k/bug-out-bag-bob#
GearPatrol.com Ultimate Survival Kit: http://gearpatrol.com/blog/2009/05/04/bug-out-bag-aka-ultimate-survival-kit/2/
Bug-Out-Bag Quest Blog: http://bugoutbagquest.blogspot.com/:
One Man's Bug-Out Bag: http://bugoutbagquest.blogspot.com/2010/12/one-mans-bug-out-bag.html
Crusader BOB Contents: http://gundoctor.wordpress.com/personal-preparedness/bug-out-gag-contents/
Several BOB lists: http://civiliandefenseforce.com/training.html
Build Your Own BOB PDF: http://web.comporium.net/~klj2324/BOB-SurvivalKit.pdf
Ezine BOB Checklist: http://ezinearticles.com/?Bug-Out-Bag-Checklist---Make-Sure-You-Have-All-the-Bug-Out-Bag-Essentials!&id=4023102
Survival Magazine Ultimate BOB List: http://survivormagazine.blogspot.com/2008/01/ultimate-bob-bug-out-bag.html
34 BOB Essentials: http://frugaldad.com/2010/02/10/bug-out-bag-essentials/
Fundamentals of a BOB: http://hideawayoutdoors.com/archives/195
BOB gun selection: http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/survival-guns/selecting-guns-for-bug-out-bag/
BOB item list: http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/uncategorized/bug-out-bag/
Home Survival Kit: http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/uncategorized/basic-survival-gear/
101 Barter Items: http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/uncategorized/list-101barter-items/
Thoughts on BOBs & supplies: http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/this-n-that/guest-post-thoughts-on-bug-out-bags-and/
Bug-Out Locations: http://www.bugoutsurvival.com/2009/12/bol-bug-out-location.html