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Items You Should Never Pack In Your Bug-Out Bag

Probably every survivalist and prepper out there has at least one 72-hour BOB ready to grab on the way out when SHTF. Bug-out bags should be a part of any plan for disaster if you want you and your family safe. They can save your life in most survival situations, but ONLY if they`re prepared correctly. Unfortunately, many are the cases where the BOB becomes a liability and ends up dragging you down instead of helping you out.

I`ve made up a list with things that, in my opinion, do not belong in a BOB, unless you`re going to camp with the wolves or run from the zombies. So here is what you should never pack in your bug-out bag if you don’t want to break your back, and instead be light on your feet while you “camp” your way back to better times. Adjust it to your family’s needs and choose the things most suitable for your survival.

Perishable products

Perishables such as fruits, meats or other unprepared foods aren’t a feasible option for your bug-out bag. They weigh a lot and you are trying to shave off as much weight as possible and also to save maximum space.

Fresh food products need refrigeration otherwise they go bad quickly and can turn your BOB into a real mess if not properly contained. When it comes to food, I suggest you throw in some freeze-dried foods, as they`re very light and take up very little space.

However, one of the MFSP community members said he doesn`t agree to packing freeze dried foods in the bug-out bag, since it`s a 72-hour kit. It`s your choice what you pack, after all, but whatever you choose, make sure it`s light & long-lasting.


Don’t pack knives and other pointed or spiky objects in our bug-out bag if you take safety seriously. Think about the injuries open blades can cause when you or your children are accessing your bag or how they can damage other items packed if not stored appropriately.

Anything beyond a good multiple-use tool is too much for the purpose of the bag. Keep in mind that, as I also said here, you should invest in good quality multiple-use gear or not invest at all.

If you want to take a knife with you, carry it in your pocket or strapped to your belt. Make sure the blade is perfectly covered and cannot harm you or anyone else.

Big guns and ammo

Unless you`re dealing with an alien disaster or extreme wilderness (where you need to shoot large animals for defense or eating purposes), you probably won`t need a rifle. Big guns and ammunition take up a lot of space which you could use to fit in more important items for your survival.

Also, think of how much they weigh, hurting your back and slowing you down while you are walking (you couldn’t even consider running in case of emergency with that extra-weight). Not to talk about how dangerous they can be with children around.

iPods and other unnecessary gadgets

These are not items that you absolutely need for your survival. iPods, tablets, netbooks, cameras, more than one cell phone… these just add to the weight of your bug-out bag. You need a device to communicate with family and authorities, to keep in touch with friends and to find out about local shelters or fortified buildings to move to in case of emergency or to ask for directions.

Any other gadget serves no reasonable need for short and even long term survival. Even if your kids are under the impression they won`t survive without their video games, don`t let them convince you to slip a tablet or a laptop in your bug-out bag. Their comfort and enjoyment is a must, of course, in any crisis situation… but you don’t need Nintendo for that. Invent games, use a plastic plate as a frisbee, adapt along the way.


Potassium permanganate is a great multiple purposes item and I use it as a fire starter (also for water purification and wound sterilization) so I don’t pack lighters or lighter fluid in my bug-out bag. It saves me a whole lot of space and it’s a safer option. I do have matches in my coat pocket, however. I always carry them around with me, just in case.

Duplicate items

A common mistake most preppers make is doubling up on many things. Pack one bug-out bag for your entire family may not be the best choice. It`s best to prepare individual bags for each member and stock them properly so you don’t feel the need to take two of one thing, if not necessary. Don`t pack more, pack smarter!

If you`ve got any other thoughts on what NOT to pack in your BOB, please share them with us in the comments section. We`d love to see your ideas. Stay safe!

By Alec Deacon

22 Responses to Items You Should Never Pack In Your Bug-Out Bag

  • Make sure all your bags(BOB, GHB{Get Home Bag}, Medical etc.) complement each other and don't duplicate items (except water). Having young kids make their own small bag with items(guided by you) that they will want/need to make the situation less traumatic for them. Taking your kids out for nature walks with walking sticks will show them why the sticks are very handy. It is just very hard to come up with a list that fits everyone, Just the main of food and water and then the individual needs/wants/requirements.

  • No knife? Srsly?

    Dave Canteberry would have your hide on a lashed up frame that he built with the PRIMARY survival item! A cutting tool is the number one of the 'five C's of survival".

    • Have a knife on your belt and around your ankle, have one on the outside of your BOB bag.

  • I have to agree with you Texas Scout. Also, if there is a need for a bug out bag I'm bringing my gun. It's not the animals I'm worried about. It's the people...

  • I have to disagree with almost EVERYTHING about this article. You should DEFINITELY have multiple sources to create fire and shelter, also, NOT having an iPod or tablet, you are deep letting yourself of EXTREMELY valuable resources. Both as a way of entertainment, and a source of entertainment. Take this article, read it, and then do the exact opposite. The author needs to spend some more time in his house with the power turned off and ONLY his 72 hour kit, and then re-write the whole thing.

    • Lets get real Clint! They are saying if your in an emergency situation these are things you are not going to put in your bag to weigh you down. If a true emergency is actually occuring most likely there is power anywhere and you are leaving to go survive somewhere, somehow. Your not sitting at home. Thats why its a "Bug OUT bag", you are leaving your home!!! Why the hell would you bring an ipad in a life or death situation? When it runs out of battery its useless. Use some common sense! We know who wont be surviving if god forbid you needed to bug out for a true emergency. Your going to have a million unecessary things your holding onto for no reason! If your planning on just sitting in home with no power its not a bug out bag, you just need some emergency supplies stored at home somewhere.

    • No, you're wrong. Maybe something like a crossword puzzle book, an entertaining yet educational book about nature, something like that. Electronics..seriously? If you can't find entertainment without items like iPods, you have issues. You can play mandala with rocks and little holes dug in the ground. Create a horseshoe type game, etc. Don't act like this person is all wrong and you're all right. I know NO survivalist that says to pack the things you're talking about. Take a deck of cards and play games and have fire starting material.

  • My bob has a larger (cold steel bushman) knife .Shelter building will be easier w a decent size unit.Also I take exception w no lighters. I keep 2 (2 is 1) as well as a strike force and magnesium . Also a AR7 w/250 rds. Amongst other stuff.The point is your bob should have every thing you need for survival. Iff your in nothing but your underwear and need to scoop and run your ready w/ whats in your bag.No knife? No lighter? Good luck! Thanks for the read. highdesert

  • Is this article a serious one? I personally consider this terrible suggestions for someone in an emergency situation. You are entitled to your opinion but remember you can always throw away items from your pack to conserve weight, but in an emergency you are not going to be able to add to your pack.

    • Try not to build your pack in an emergency situation !!

      • I think you miss read my comment. I already have packs ready to go. The point I am making is if an emergency arises and you are not at home and you feel your pack is too heavy you can simply throw away items you don't need for your particular situation to reduce weight. From the way I interpret your article your survival pack is potentially seriously lacking from the beginning and you're probably not going to be able to add items to your pack while broke down in sub zero weather 20 miles from home....

  • Terrible advise, no knife, no lighter, no weapons, no ammo, don't double up on critical items? This sounds like a bug out bag built by Joe Biden!!

    • Always keep a knife on your belt at your ankle and at least one hanging on the outside of your BOB bag!

  • I have 2 bags. The first is my BOB with every essential tools and items I might need outside. The second is a larger one with shelter and protective gears in it. I have everything packed including multiple knives, ammo, batteries, hat etc. because I might have no time to get my knife onto my belt and choose every piece of my gears before I must leave. Yes, these bags are heavy, but after I bugged out I will be able to throw away any item I consider unneccessary - however it seems unrealistic that I want to do that in a situation when all I have is what I have packed into those BOBs.

  • I have the same ruck sack I used in the Army, just boots socks, change of underware and spare uniform with some gloves and thermal underware and a cold weather hat. Wet weather boots , poncho and trousers all packed the way my drill Sgt. taught us. It's all I ever needed for 8 years and two combat tours. Anyone could set one up at a surplus store for about $150 I think. I have some batteries and ammo shoved in with little cans of some beanie weanies and mre type food. A knife and sharpener and a fire starting flint sparker thingy I got for $5. Also have a hand crank powered flashlight. Deck of cards and 4 packs of cigs! A little shaving kit with toothbrush and bar of soap and razor.
    2 quart canteen attached to outside of pack with alice clips.
    Basic, functional and not too expensive. Your experience may vary.....

  • You have to remember, he said a 72 hour bag, Most peoples mind set in a bug out bag is have everything you need to start a new life, a bug out bag in the city is different then in the burbs which is different than in the country which is different depending on what part of the country, a survival bag in many places is keeping it small for sure to where your quick on your feet, but can live 3 days, This could be different than the HUGE cooler or 2 you have set up with much more gear you can throw in your trunk in case of an emergency or what people might carry in there trunk just in case anyways, were talking about a 72 hour bag, something to survive 72 hours.

  • The logic is flawed in several points of this article, and the same flaw is repeated by a few of the people who have replied to it. You CANNOT make the unsafe assumption that a 72 hour bag will ONLY be used for 72 hours. Sure that's all you plan to use it for, and that may even end up being all you actually do use it for... but then again it might not. Your situation could all too easily devolve into something worse than you had originally planned, causing you to rely on the contents of that 72 hour bag for much longer than the 72 hours you'd had in mind when you packed it.

    Don’t pack knives because of the possibility of injury? Well first of all, that's what a sheath is for. Or you could pack a folding knife. In either case, the risk of injury while fumbling in the pack to look for it is almost nonexistent. Secondly, NOBODY should ever pack a survival bag or kit of any kind that does not include a knife. A cutting tool is the number one item that you should never be without, and yes, even if you carry one in your pocket, you should have ANOTHER ONE in your pack, just in case. See below concerning Duplicate Items.

    Don’t pack guns and ammo? Well, totally aside from the utility of hunting with that gun, it would be extremely shortsighted and naive to forget that just about every large scale disaster in history has at some point devolved into looting and rioting. So while you will hopefully never have to defend yourself from maddened and desperate people, there is no other tool at your disposal that will allow you to do so as efficiently should it ever come to that. As long as owning a gun is legal in your jurisdiction, and as long as you DO own one or can get one, then you should DEFINITELY bring it with you. It needn't actually be IN the pack, but certainly with you.

    Don’t pack ipods and other gadgets because they are useless weight? Well sure they are if you think the only thing they're good for is playing video games. Again, presupposing that you end up relying on that bag for more than the expected 72 hours, for the sake of a few extra ounces, an electronic device can carry an entire library of survival resources, from wilderness survival and first aid manuals, to detailed instruction guides with full color photos on how to identify edible and medicinal wild plants and so on. While I know it's not the kind of thing the author was referring to, one electronic device that NO emergency kit should ever be without is a radio that will allow you to get up to date news relevant to the disaster, and for the poster who replied that an electronic device is useless once it's batteries run out, while a battery operated radio is good, many radios now include solar panels and hand cranks and what not that allow them to be used even after batteries would long since have failed, and guess what? Most of those sort can also be used to keep your other electronic devices charged so that you needn't lose access to whatever valuable resources they contain should the nature of the disaster preclude charging them from a conventional outlet.

    Don’t pack lighters or lighter fluid because they are flammable? Uh, well yeah they're flammable, that's kinda the point. Emergency matches are great, but one box of matches is good for starting about 30 fires at most, and even that figure generously assumes that you will be able to successfully start a fire with only one match each time, which most people cannot. In the same amount of space as that matchbox, however, you can fit at least one or maybe even two or three lighters that will start hundreds of fires, and most people these days will be WAY more likely to start a fire with a lighter than with matches. Now I'm CERTAINLY not saying don't carry matches, especially the windproof waterproof ones if you have them, but you carry them IN ADDITION TO a lighter, not instead of. Again, see below concerning Duplicate Items.

    Don’t pack duplicate items because they are useless weight? With certain items, perhaps, but one should DEFINITELY have multiple cutting tools (even if only smaller ones to back up the larger primary one) and multiple means of creating fire. A cutting tool, as previously mentioned, is one of the two most critical items that you will not want to be without in a survival situation (a means to create fire being the other), and if you only have one of either, and if that one gets lost or broken, then you're gonna have a real bad day. Creating fire, obviously, is also crucial because fire can cook food, boil unsafe water, ward off dangerous animals and, most importantly, keep you warm. Creating a shelter, for which you may need that cutting tool, and starting a good fire may be the only things between you and death if you are caught in harsh conditions. Don't leave yourself without either just because you wimped out on carrying a few ounces of extra weight.

    Other than all that, I agreed with every point the author made in this article. LOL

  • Dude seriously.
    You DO take backups for all critical items!
    I`m no great survivalist but i know some stuff...
    You MUST have at least 3 ways to start a fire (lighter, matches, fire steel, etc.)
    You do want backups for your water supplies as well. I`d say life straw, water purification tablets and ability to carry about 2.5 - 3.5 liters of water.
    Weapons... well... maybe not essential for weekend bug out few hundred meters from your home at camping site...
    And even there i will take something.
    In SHTF scenario there is no doubt that you DO take your gun and ammo (although i would prefer my bow as arrows will last longer and can be made in nature).
    Food - if you don`t take your gun you must take food!
    No gun means no hunting!
    I would consider some dried food, bread and stuff like that ( not packed permanently!) as the bottom line.
    NO comments on the knife (thumbs up for knife carry!)
    this article is bullshit only good for haters.... if you wanted your ass kicked online you have it.

  • No knife in the bag? Check. Not IN the bag. (I always have 2 or 3 good knives on my person anyway.) No tablet, etc.? Uncheck. I have tons of reference works stored on my tablet. For example, while I have good first aid training (and even more than a few real world experiences, including successful CPR--the first survivor of complete arrest our local EMTs had had) and pretty extensive experience with health issues, for a layman, having a few good medical references on my tablet means it's not dead weight, and the med texts are just a start. Firearms? If I think the situation calls for it at the time, I can shoulder a longarm to supplement on the way out the door (or from the trunk, whatever). Heck, I probably will, given any likely scenario in my locale. Not in the bag, though. As to what's in the bag, though? Apart from my cavil about one electronic device (based on my idiosyncratic "survival library" tablet--and yes, I have a solar charger for it :-)), the _principles_ behind this article's advice are sound, IMO.

    • Most of the things in the article that are said not to bring are in my opinion among some of the most important things like a knife or an iPod or tablet ipods and gadgets may not be absolutely necessary for survival but it is a way to maintain your sanity throughout your survival or as long as you can keep them charged

  • So many come to these sights looking for information to use for survival and they get the basics and some people just are not happy to see the things they have in there bag do not match the lists. Every person needs to accurately assess there ability to survive and build their bags to match their strengths. If you can't fish don't pack fishing supplies. Likewise for hunting. If you buy your way through life you will likely survive by doing the same. Each and everyone of you is welcome to share my daily kill with me and my family, but it Damn sure won't be free. Bring along anything for trade. I am not going to waist money and space to bring barter items as I will survive on skill and barter what I cannot use before it goes bad and what ever you have that I can use could be currency. Biggest tip should always be to be honest with yourself now because the last thing you want is to face the harsh reality that you can't use anything you have when it does hit the fan.


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