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A few weeks ago I audited my 2-week emergency food and water supply, and with the Frankenstorm known as Hurricane Sandy about to wreak havoc on the East Coast, I thought it would be a good to also audit my bug out bag.

Though we live in the Midwest and are safe from hurricanes, we have been known to experience ice storms that can knock out electricity for weeks at a time. Being proactive means you don’t have to stand in line for hours and fight for supplies like the idiots in Manhattan.

What is a bug out bag? Basically it is a backpack full of essential items that you keep at the ready, either in your house or in your car, in case you need to quickly leave your home behind.

For the record, I am not one of those weirdos who believes the Mayans predicted the end of the earth in 2012. I just believe that our electricity grid is very outdated and vulnerable, and with most towns and cities having only a 3 day supply of food (thanks to our “just in time” food delivery network), any long term emergency situation would quickly devolve into panic and chaos.

bug out bag

My bug out bag contents. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Bug Out Bag Contents

I knew before my bug out bag audit that I would be lacking the most important items: food and water. After I stocked up my house with 2 weeks of food and water for 4 people, I just forgot to get some special order calorie-dense food packs and sealed bags of water for my bug out bag.

Now that we are out of debt, I’m more comfortable spending a little bit of money to buy some peace of mind, and am slowly tying up all loose ends.

So let’s take a look at what I have in my bug out bag:

  • Coleman PerfectFlow 1-Burner propane camp stove
  • Can of Coleman camping propane (1)
  • Coleman aluminum camping mess kit (cup, frying pan, 16 oz pot, deep-dish plate)
  • Large Gerber machete (parang) for clearing vegetation and making shelter
  • Ruger 10/22 Takedown collapsible hunting rifle + 500 rounds .22LR ammo (for hunting squirrels, rabbits, birds, etc) NOT PICTURED, ON BACKORDER
  • SAS (British Special Forces) Survival Handbook in Ziploc bag
  • Mylar blankets for warmth (4)
  • 9-hour candles (3)
  • Magnesium firestarter tool with striker/flint
  • Red Cross emergency hand crank radio w/flashlight and phone charger
  • Napkins, paper and pencil in sealed plastic bag
  • Fishing kit (sinkers, bobbers, hooks and fishing line)
  • Paracord
  • Roll of twine
  • Signal Mirror
  • Large, fixed blade survival knife
  • Small Swiss Army knife with can opener, screwdriver, tweezers
  • Rubber gloves (not sure what for, but can be used to carry water)
  • Playing cards
  • Bottle opener
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses

As you can see, this is actually more of a long-term survival kit than something meant to last 72 hours. Instead of having food, I have the means to acquire it and cook it. In my opinion, if you are leaving your house and setting out on foot, it means that something really bad has happened. My preference is to stay in my home as long as possible and pitch a tent indoors where it is warm. The only reason I’d leave with my family is if we ran out of food and water and there was no chance of help coming.


What I’m Lacking


  • A new bag (mine is getting janky and may be too small after adding these items)
  • 3 days food and water (prepackaged calorie-dense MREs and water pouches)
  • Changes of clothing
  • Eating utensils
  • Collapsible fishing pole
  • Charged but unactivated cellphone for calling 911
  • Water purification (either iodine crystals or UV filter)
  • First Aid kit w/medicine
  • Emergency whistle
  • Family phone numbers and addresses (who memorizes #s anymore?)
  • Entrenching tool (mini-shovel)
  • Hatchet for chopping wood
  • Goggles
  • Dust masks
  • Snare kit
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Sewing kit
  • Bic lighters and waterproof matches
  • Cash ($100 in various increments, including some quarters)


The important thing here is that you have enough to survive, but not so much that you can’t carry it. After I buy the remaining items on my list, I will probably find that I need to have another bag for my wife to carry as well.


Prepping Is Becoming Mainstream, But People Will Think You Are Crazy

“Prepping” has become a more mainstream topic of conversation lately, and there are even TV shows about it (Doomsday Preppers and Doomsday Bunkers). Unfortunately these TV shows go out of their way to find the craziest people and are meant to sensationalize the topic. For that reason, if you take the time to prepare, I’d suggest not telling anyone about it, except those you love.

I realize that some of you will think that preparing for an emergency is crazy because nothing bad has ever happened to you, but all you have to look to is look at Hurricane Katrina to know that the government is probably not going to be able to help you.

If more people took emergency preparation seriously, towns would take the time to draw up emergency plans and shelters, and families would take pride in being self sufficient. Instead, most people will rely on their elected officials and law enforcement to take care of their families.

Call me crazy, but I’ve worked with politicians for ten years and I’ve yet to meet one who could help me in an emergency.