A bug-out bag is a survival kit you pack if you need to shelter in place or flee your home at a moment’s notice. In a natural disaster, you might not have time to prepare a backpack stocked with food and provisions, so a bug-out bag acts as an emergency kit filled with survival gear and other essential items to help you through a sudden and dangerous event. \n\nBecause of its contents, a bug-out bag is also known as a 72-hour bag, a go bag, or an emergency-preparedness kit. Bug-out bags vary among survivalists, but in general, bug-out bags will carry key essential items such as a first aid kit, chargers, a water bottle, and a survival knife for protection in a wide range of emergency scenarios.\nBugging out during a survival situation or natural disaster can be made easier with these considerations in mind:\n\n1. __Weight__: It’s best to assume that while backpacking or bugging out you will be carrying your bug-out bag. Just because you have a vehicle does not mean it will be usable; in an emergency, roads may be closed, storms may come, and gas stations may be inaccessible. You’ll want to know how much you can feasibly carry for a prolonged period in case you are on your feet. Bug-out bags can be anywhere from ten to forty pounds; consider your body weight and how much you can carry.\n2. __Waterproofing__: Natural disasters can bring a significant amount of precipitation, so it’s essential to have a waterproof bug-out bag containing waterproofed items. Waterproof containers can store essential items that shouldn’t get wet, such as matches, important documents, and foods. Pack a poncho—they’re lightweight, easy to fold up, and can help keep you dry.\n3. __Compartmentalize__: Stay organized. The last thing you want to do in an emergency is rifle through your bag looking for an item. Compartmentalize your bag, pack like items together, and place heavier items on the bottom so as not to squish more delicate ones. In your free time, practice packing and unpacking your bug-out bag to better know where essential items are stored.\nYou can stock your DIY bug-out bag with easy-to-assemble prepping items you might have around the house. Preparedness means planning, so keep these essential items in mind when creating your bug-out bag:\n\n1. __First aid kit__: A first aid kit should be at the top of any bug-out bag checklist. The size, complexity, and weight of a first aid kit will vary depending on how much room you have and how much you’re willing to carry, but a simple first aid kit with bandaids, cotton balls, hand sanitizer, a tourniquet, sunscreen, and petroleum jelly will all prove helpful while bugging out. \n2. __Water bottle and filtration__: Hydration is vital in survival situations. Pack a pre-filled canteen and supplement your bug-out bag with water purification tablets or a water filter in case you run out of water and need to drink from rainfall or running streams. \n3. __Chargers__: You’ll want to have chargers at the ready to keep your cell phone charged during less certain times. Rechargeable batteries, hand crank generators, and solar chargers can also be helpful.\n4. __Sleeping bag__: A sleeping bag may take up the most space, so planning how to store and package it while bugging out will be worth the time and investment. If you can spare the room, a sleeping pad and hammock that’s easily collapsible can improve sleeping conditions.\n5. __Ready-to-eat food__: Food that has a long shelf life will be more practical while bugging out. You’ll want to go for hearty food that can fuel you, like protein and breakfast bars, nuts, jerky, pemmican, and peanut butter packets. Canned goods will also have a longer shelf life; just be sure to pack a can opener and utensils (such as a multi-purpose spork).\n6. __Toiletries__: Toiletries are bug-out bag essentials. Pack a spare toothbrush, a small toothpaste bottle, soap, and toilet paper.\n7. __Cutting tools__: In emergency situations, you may need a survival knife. A hatchet or machete can be particularly helpful in the woods.\n8. __Important documents__: After fleeing your home, you might not have access to essential documents. Make photocopies of your and your loved ones’ driver’s licenses and identifications for your go bag, so you have those prepared should you need them.\n9. __Firestarter__: Knowing how to start a fire is among the most crucial survival skills. Some tinder (light, dry sticks, and paper) can be wise to pack to more easily start a fire. If you are in the woods, you may be able to find some on your own. Fires will be good for warmth and cooking, and tinder can expedite the fire-starting process. A fire will also help you see at night, as will flashlights, a headlamp, and glow sticks. \n10. __Clothing__: Clothing with long sleeves will keep you warm and will protect you from the sun, [bugs](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/homemade-mosquito-repellent), and [poisonous plants](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/poison-oak-rash-guide). Bandanas will keep sweat contained. You may also want to pack a small sewing kit in your survival bag to mend clothing. \n11. __Survival tools__: The best bug-out bags will also have a variety of other survival tools. Prep your home bag with essential items like a signal mirror, duct tape, pliers or a multi-tool, zip ties, a fishing kit, a paracord, and pepper spray for self defense.\nCertain outdoor activities carry an elevated risk of serious injury. Wilderness scenarios require extensive survival gear, including but not limited to food, water, maps, protective clothing, and first aid, along with mental and physical fortitude. This article is for educational and informational purposes, and is not a substitute for hard skills and expertise.\nPrepare for any outdoor journey by grabbing a [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com) and committing Jessie Krebs’s wilderness survival course to memory. As a former United States Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape instructor, Jessie can teach you everything you need to know about packing for a trip (neon is the new black), purifying water, foraging (crickets: the other white meat), starting a fire, and signaling for help (forget SOS). \nA stocked bug-out bag serves as a survival kit to help you weather challenges in case of an emergency.