Survival Kit Ideas

Survival Kit Ideas

Have you ever wondered what exactly you need in a survival kit. In this article we will share some essential survival kit ideas with you. The survival kit or the bug-out-bag (BOB) may have evolved from the “bail-out-bag” used by military pilots. The kit was typically carried on their person so once they bailed out they had the necessary survival gear with them to survive on the ground. The term bug-out is military jargon used to describe a rapid deployment from one defensive position to another. Other names used to describe an emergency bag include “72-hour kit”, “get out of dodge bag”, “go-bag” and “grab-bag”. See 72 hour kit example here

The main purpose of the bag today is for rapid evacuation from a disaster area. The bag is kept packed and ready to go so families and individuals do not have to take the time during a crisis to pack. The supplies are usually enough for 72-hours. Typically, each member of the group or family would have his or her own bag. Each person having their own bag allows for better distribution of supplies and it ensures the survival of each member if they become separated from the group. It is recommended that each kit (bag) have identical supplies. You do not want one bag full of food and another full of water while someone else carries a shelter and fire starting materials. If one bag was lost or damage it would jeopardize the evacuation.

You may receive several answers as to why you should have at least 72-hours worth of supplies in your bag. One answer is derived from disaster relief organizations and their management that state they expect to have boots on the ground, providing help within 72-hours of any disaster. Another answer to this question is that you simply cannot carry anymore than three days supplies on your back. Water weighs 8.5lbs/3.8kg per gallon. Using the recommended one-gallon per day for each person means your 72-hours supply of water alone weighs over 25lbs/11kg. Then add food and other necessities and you have about all anyone could carry.

Survival Kit Ideas: Contents

People tend to be optimistic and convince themselves that the Red Cross or FEMA will be on the ground within three days. This may or they may not be the case, and they will always go to the hardest hit areas first, so it can be weeks in some cases before you ever see them. This means you will deplete your food and water source if you have to evacuate on foot because you simply cannot carry anymore. Where does this leave you then?

To be able to survive and take advantage of natural resources you will have to carry tools, supplies and materials that allow you to collect and purify a water source and to forage, fish and trap food. You will also need the tools to construct a shelter from what you find in your environment.



Before anything else goes in your bag make, sure you have the means to make a shelter. Have several lightweight nylon tarps, emergency thermal blankets and rain ponchos. You will need a small camp axe and/or machete/wood saw along with 550 paracord. Each item will roll up inside a nylon tarp or poncho, which can then be secured to the straps on the outside of your pack. Leave the thermal blankets in their package until ready to use because they will be much more compact this way.

Tents can be carried if you have the room for when you get to a safe haven/base camp. It is not recommended that you set up tents along your evacuation route. You can become trapped in a tent if your camp is overrun and your line of sight is restricted. The same thing applies to sleeping bags. You can be trapped in one. Carry them if you have the room for when you set up a more permanent camp.


Each person will require one gallon/four liters daily and this amount considers person hygiene to include oral care. You will need however, a way to also collect and purify water sources along your route. For hydration, only adults will need at least 2qts/liters of water daily.

ChlorineYou will need water purification tablets and it is recommended that you carry chlorine dioxide tablets because they have been proven effective against giardia and cryptosporidium, two very dangerous waterborne contaminates. The chlorine dioxide tablets do however require a four-hour wait period after treatment before you can drink the water. Iodine tablets are also a water disinfectant recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Military. Iodine typically only requires a 30-minute wait after treatment.

Filtration is important so filter any surface water source using coffee filters, sand, charcoal, cheesecloth or any clean cotton material. Filtering can remove waterborne cysts that harbor giardia and cryptosporidium. Iodine and chlorine based tablets will destroy bacteria, parasites and pathogens, but may not destroy all waterborne cysts, so it is important that you filter the cysts out. Cysts can be best described as microscopic sized seedpods or spores.

Boiling your water after it has been filtered is always the preferred choice, but you may not have the means to start a fire nor have a vessel in which to boil water, so make sure you always have water purification tablets.


Magnesium Stick

Magnesium Stick

Carry magnesium sticks, Ferro rods and waterproof matches. Always have more than one means to start a fire.

Ferro Rod

Ferro Rod

Ferro rod is not to be confused with a magnesium stick the Ferro rod is made from a manufactured material called Ferrocerium and it is capable of producing a spark at a temperature of 3,000ᵒf/1,650ᵒc. It can be used to ignite a fire just from the spark when using dry tinder.

Magnesium stick, magnesium is a mineral and while in mass form, cannot be ignited by conventional means but once scraped into particle form is highly flammable.


It is recommended you either carry military issued Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s) or the civilian version. Each meal is self contained and will have the traditional condiments and eating utensils. You may also get coco powder, coffee, sugar and chewing gum. Each meal is approximately 1,200 calories and they can be eaten cold or submerged in hot water for heating. The packages are lightweight and three days worth can easily fit into any pack. The recommended amount is two meals per day for each adult.

Civilian version MRE average price is around 7.00USD.

Military issue MRE available on the Internet and in most military surplus stores. Average price is around 7.00USD per package, does not include shipping costs or taxes. Either version is adequate and comparable in price and nutritional value. Can be purchased individually, or by the case, which has 12 meals

Additional Items

  • Fixed bladed knife as well as a multi-tool
  • 20 to 24 gauge wire for animal snares
  • First aid supplies
  • 15 to 20 pound fishing line along with assorted hooks and tackle
  • Compass and maps of the area, state and country
  • Flashlights
  • Communication devices such as two-way radios and/or Citizens Band (CB) radios, cell phone towers may not be operational so you cannot depend on cell phones
  • Personal protection
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Gloves, bandanas, lip balm, hand sanitizer, sunglasses and hats for sun protection
  • Insect repellent, consider liquid instead of aerosol cans
  • Signal mirror

These survival kit ideas can of course be adapted for your personal preferences and you must have clothing appropriate for the seasons or any upcoming weather events you may encounter. The basics to survival are, shelter, water, fire and food. Once again, each person should have their own pack with the above listed items in them.


When to Bug Out

There is a lot of emphasis placed on bugging out and given some of the information on the Internet, people may just naturally assume they must always bug out during a disaster. Your current home is your shelter and you should not be quick to give up your shelter and supplies.

  • Leave immediately if there is a mandatory evacuation order, leave before you become stranded and cut off from emergency help
  • Move away quickly from your area if you know there has been a nuclear, chemical or biological accident or purposeful attack and/or there has been a release of airborne contaminates
  • Evacuate if there is civil unrest that includes city wide looting, rioting or violent demonstrations

Think it through carefully before you decide and stay informed by any means possible. Panicked neighbors speculating that a nuclear device detonated in the center of the city needs to be verified before you panic and flee your home. You have to remember that once you do set out, there will be thousands of others citizens on the highways and roadways. Highways, bridges and tunnels will be a disaster area in and of themselves.

Most survival experts will always go with bugging in before bugging out unless there is a clear and present danger. Sheltering in place is usually the safest.


If you Do Have to Evacuate Where Do You Go

You have to get away from other people because the biggest danger aside from the disaster itself is your fellow citizens. You want an area that has natural resources, such as water, a place to set up a shelter and wild game to include fish. Use the Internet and programs (Google Earth free version) that offer satellite imagery so you can have a spot picked out before disaster strikes. You will be able to determine population density, identify water sources and infrastructure in the area by looking at aerial/satellite maps. Look for national or state parks within a 50-mile radius. The natural resources in the parks will have been protected so you would not have any problem finding water and game and many parks have cabins and tents sites in remote areas that you may be able to use.

However, before bugging out make sure you have the skills and mindset to be able to collect water, build a shelter and forage for food in a remote area. It does you no good to leave one disaster to find yourself in another. Know what you are capable of before you flee your home because once you leave you may not be able to get back for days or even longer.

Any vehicle can be a bug out vehicle however; some have features that will make evacuation easier. Having a four-wheel drive vehicle with high ground clearance will allow you to get off road to shelter overnight. You do not want to set up camp close to roads or highways because you should avoid others if possible in the initial days of the crisis. Vehicles with trailers offer extra space for supplies and can be used as a makeshift shelter along the route.

Unless you have, the means to carry extra fuel such as in a trailer, your destination must be close enough so you can get there and then back home on one tank of gas. Fueling stations are not likely to be available during a major crisis. Do not carry fuel inside the passenger compartment of any vehicle.

Bugging out on foot is dangerous and it will conceivably take you 72-hours just to clear the danger zone. People not used to hiking for hours at a time with a pack will overestimate their abilities. The average adult human can walk about three miles per-hour under ideal conditions. You cannot walk that fast during an evacuation especially if there is more than one person in your group. You will only walk as fast as the slowest person will in your group. You may have children or older parents with you as well. It would take you between four and five days to cover 50 miles.

Consider obtaining a vehicle for bugging out if you do not currently have one.

You can carry enough supplies for several weeks in a vehicle and it can be your shelter. However, vehicles do break down and run out of fuel so always have bug out bags packed so if you do have to abandon your vehicle you can do so with little fuss.


Additional Considerations

A crisis will always bring out the best and the worst in people, so keep certain plans to yourself for your protection. The ones that did not prepare will be searching out those that did and if everyone knows how well prepared you are, you are a target. You simply do not know how neighbors and even friends will react under stress. After three or four days of limited to possibly no supplies people will turn to violence to feed themselves and family during a crisis. Stay off of everyone’s radar as much as possible.


Posted on by Suburban Prepper in BOB, Evacuation, Survival Kits 13 Comments