What Is a Bug-Out Bag?
If you're around the gun community long enough, you'll likely hear the term bug-out bag (BOB). Perhaps you heard it by another name:
- The get out of Dodge (GOOD) bag
- The personal emergency relocation kit (PERK)
- The quick run bag (QRB)
- The Go bag
- The I'm never coming home (INCH) bag
The names are almost endless, but what exactly is a bug-out bag? More importantly, should you have one?
What Is a Bug-Out Bag?
Regardless of what you call it, the bug-out bag is a staple of survivalists, preppers, military personnel, and first responders. The concept itself is fairly straightforward: your BOB is a bag you have ready and waiting in case you need to "bug out." In essence, it's an emergency bag. But while the concept may be simple, the bag itself is not.
What a Bug Out Bag Isn't
Since we're talking about emergencies, we need to address what a BOB isn't. A BOB isn't a roadside emergency kit and it isn't a first aid kit. While you should absolutely have some kind of first aid kit and an emergency kit for changing your tire or jump-starting your vehicle, those are not the same as a BOB.
A BOB is to aid you in any emergency while the others are for issues with your car or if you have an injury while traveling. Each has its own distinct place and one is never an effective substitute for another.
What Is a Bug-Out Bag For?
The purpose of a BOB is to aid in your getaway in the event of an emergency situation — whether it's a natural disaster or a complete societal collapse. The BOB is a kit you keep with you that's stocked with the necessary items to help you in any of those situations. This includes food, clothing, different shoes, water, ammunition, communications gear, and anything else you might need to get you out of a bad situation and to safety should the need arise.
What Does it Do?
Think of a BOB as your individual personal emergency assistant. It exists to have everything you need for an emergency ready and waiting. A BOB can be a source of sustainment for an extended period of time. Your bag works to help ensure your continued survivability, whether it's for a few hours or a few days.
Who Needs a Bug-Out Bag?
You do. Everyone does.
Think of it in terms of a fire extinguisher or jumper cables for your vehicle. You may never use them, but you’ll be glad to have them when trouble arises.
The same thing goes for a BOB. If your car breaks down miles from home or the nearest gas station and there's no cell reception or traffic, you may end up having to walk a long way for assistance. If you commute to work and are stuck in traffic when there's a tornado, you might need to find shelter for an extended period of time. If a natural disaster strikes or the rule of law breaks down, you may need to get out of the area you're in.
Any unexpected situation that occurs causing you to deviate from your normal pattern of life may result in the need for certain supplies or provisions. Your BOB is where those provisions should live.
Where Should You Keep It?
Depending on the makeup of your bag, you might choose to keep it in a variety of locations. You could keep one at the office, one in your car, one in your home — or anywhere else, for that matter. You are limited only by storage space and accessibility. Keeping one at a friend's house, for example, might seem like a good idea if you're often there. But keep in mind, if you need it when neither of you are home, it does you little good.
The most common place to keep a BOB is in a car. It's pretty rare that we are somewhere that our vehicle isn't. We drive it to work and home, so having a bag ready to go and stored in a convenient location within your vehicle just makes sense. Another common place for keeping a BOB is in a garage or other accessible entryway to your home.
Keep in mind that there's nothing stopping you from having multiple bags in multiple locations. It's not uncommon for people to have one bag for their vehicle and one for their home. In some cases — particularly in events of extreme emergency — the goal of the bag in your car may simply be to get you to the bag at your house.
Are There Different Types of Bug-Out Bags?
It's not uncommon for people to have purpose-driven BOBs for specific sets of circumstances. Typically, a BOB consists of either a 24-hour bag, a 72-hour bag, or a bag capable of sustaining you for one full week.
A good 24-hour BOB carries supplies to last you a full day. This would likely be a few bottles of water, some energy bars, and other essential items such as a phone charger, extra batteries, and a flashlight. A gun, if you don't normally carry every day, and some ammo or magazines might be additions as well.
Without going into too much specificity, you just want enough stuff to be able to last a full day on your own. Remember, this is for emergencies and not best-case scenarios, so ensure you have what you need to survive.
If you're keeping it in your car, consider stuff to get you home in case of an issue. But remember that a 24-hour bag wouldn't work if you were stuck so far that you couldn't get home by walking within a day.
A 24-hour bag might be the bag that gets you to your other bag. A 24-hour bag in your car could be more than enough to get you to your secondary bag, whether that's a 72-hour or extended bag.
This is actually the length of time most recommended by preparedness organizations. The idea behind a 72-hour kit is that you have enough provisions for traveling a decent distance or for lasting long enough for help to arrive. It allows you to evacuate quickly in the event of an emergency but doesn't weigh you down with extended long-term gear. You're not going camping; you're trying to escape a bad situation.
The 72-hour bag is certainly the most versatile. It has the potential for extreme situations, but can be enough to get you to a bigger, more extended bag. As a result of this versatility, these are by far the most common BOBs kept in vehicles.
In reality, the 72-hour bag should be the foundation of any preparedness planning involving a BOB. It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it — especially since the weight of a 72-hour versus a 24-hour bag is likely negligible.
The purpose of a kit more than 72-hours is traveling a set distance or waiting out a situation before leaving. These bags are designed to provide for a week or longer. If you're traveling, this kit would be designed to get you from point A to point B and have the specifics for a trip and any setbacks. Also, if a disaster is in the forecast, you may want to wait a while before traveling, and this kind of bag would assist with that.
Even if you aren't traveling to another location, there are still plenty of uses for a bag like this. Avoiding the initial rush of panic, even if you're planning to leave anyway, may be helpful depending on the situation. This type of bag could also aid in waiting out flooding, sheltering in place through a blizzard, or handling an extended power outage.
The reality of the different types of bags is that they are driven by needs. Consider your own daily habits and what your needs would be in an emergency, and take it from there when creating your own bug-out bag (link to bugout bag checklist).