A yellow bug out bag and emergency survival gear are displayed on a table

Building Your Bug-Out Bag: Emergency Essentials You Should Have

You’ll find the emergency essentials you need for your bug-out bag at your local gun show. Pennsylvania’s Largest Gun Show has a lot more to offer than firearms. You’ll also find the outdoor sporting and preparedness equipment you need for emergency situations, including compact, transportable survival gear. Whether you just need a small kit for traveling in your car in inclement weather or want to make sure your family is covered in the midst of a disaster, you’ll find the tools and supplies you need to survive. 

Bug-Out Bag: A key piece of survival gear, often housed in a backpack or bag that is stored in a safe and accessible location, containing the emergency essentials you’ll need for up to 72 hours.

The Importance of 72 Hours

Many government entities, including the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Emergency Management Agency, recommend building and maintaining a kit that has the emergency essentials you need for 72 hours. They may cite tornados, earthquakes, and even zombie outbreaks as the impetus for these kits, but the fact is that disasters are rarely scheduled and coordinated. An emergency can happen anytime, anywhere. Whether it’s natural, manmade, or an act of terrorism, having a bug-out bag could be your key to survival.

Seventy-two hours of supplies gives you three days’ worth of necessities, which may not be enough to last through every disaster situation, but your survival gear isn’t prioritized for permanency. Emergency essentials should buy you time, giving you the supplies you need until you can reach help or help can reach you. These kits should be portable, located in the safest area of your house, car, or apartment, and be easily found in tense, adverse conditions.

Personalize Your Survival

Various emergency survival items ready to be packed in a bug out bag

Your bug-out bag needs to reflect your essential emergency gear and supplies, which means it may be very different from someone else’s. We’ll cover the basics that fit well with most kits as well as some personal items that are frequently forgotten in emergencies (when often they’re hard to find or replace), but take some time to consider what you may miss that’s vital for you. Remember, this kit isn’t meant to last forever–just buy 72 hours of time for you to create a safer circumstance.

Remember that weight is a factor in your planning. Most healthy adults can carry around 20% of their body weight reasonably well, but this may need to be adjusted up or down depending on health, conditioning, and other factors. That means you may not be able to carry everything you want, and if you have a family to plan for, you may need to split the load amongst multiple packs.

The Basics

  • Food – Shelf-stable emergency food is a must-have for your emergency essentials. Look for tasty meals or rations, such as military-style MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) that require minimal water or cooking to be edible. They offer the calories you need with a good load of proteins, carbs, and fats to keep you going.
  • Water – Clean, potable water is often in short supply when disaster strikes. Unfortunately, water is heavy and cumbersome. You should plan for one gallon per person per day, which comes out to three jugs of water for 72 hours, weighing approximately 24 pounds. While disciplined water usage can stretch lesser amounts, don’t skimp on water. It’s worth its weight when it comes to survival gear. 
  • Light – A reliable flashlight can give you the light you need to navigate within fading light, signal for help, or just help you find the emergency essentials you need in the dark. Opt for an efficient LED flashlight that will make the most of its battery life.
  • Power – Even the most efficient flashlights can run out of power, not to mention other electrical gear like radios or cell phones. Add batteries for your flashlight and pick up a power bank and extra cord or adapter for your necessary tech.
  • Heat – Add a lighter or pack of all-weather matches to your bag to ensure you can light a fire for warmth or cooking food. Both add minimal weight to your bug-out bag, but the payoff can be huge in terms of both morale and practical utility.
  • First Aid Kit – Unless you’re trained to use extensive kits fit for trauma incidents, a small first aid box or zipped tote with some bandages, antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, and light analgesics will give you plenty of versatility for small injuries and ailments.
  • Navigation – Your smartphone may have GPS and maps, but they may not work if signals can’t get through. Add some paper maps to your survival gear covering your local area, premarked with local emergency shelters and landmarks.
  • Knife – Make sure your kit has a good, strong knife for cutting, sawing, or prying. If it has a few extra tools like a Swiss Army Knife or multi-tool, all the better. You don’t need a Rambo-sized survival knife for this, however, just a serviceable blade three-to-five inches long.
  • Identification Documents – Make sure to have a copy of your ID as well as the ID of everyone else in your household you’re responsible for and a document containing your emergency contact information.
  • The Bag – Your bug-out bag needs a good, sturdy bag that can hold all your emergency essentials. Remember that you’re packing quite a bit of weight, so forego the duffle in favor of a good backpack that distributes the weight across your shoulders for easier carrying.

Personal Additions

  • Shelter – Next to food and water, shelter is often the most important thing to your survival. In many situations, natural or manufactured shelter is available, even if less than comfortable, so you may want to save weight for other emergency essentials. If it’s needed, however, a small, lightweight tent may be enough to keep you dry, warm, and reasonably protected from bugs while you sleep.
  • More Extensive Tools – Hatchets, hammers, and emergency saws may have their place if you live in rural or rugged areas.
  • Water Filtration – Small water filters are becoming increasingly popular with outdoor enthusiasts, and these straw-sized units are perfect for your bug-out bag.
  • Communication Equipment – Cell phone batteries die, and in an emergency, the network may be down or overloaded. Consider adding a two-way radio, satellite phone, or GPS text device to your survival gear.
  • Prescriptions – If you take maintenance medications, a supply of several days should be in your kit. If possible, take as much as a week’s worth, as it may be difficult to get non-essential medical care in the meantime.
  • Important Papers – There are an array of documents that may come in handy or that you might not want to risk leaving behind. One of the most overlooked documents is custody paperwork that can serve to show the kids traveling with you are yours. This can be especially helpful in blended, foster, or adoptive families where children may not share a resemblance to each other or a parent.

Make Sure You’re Ready

You can find the emergency essentials you need to build your bug-out bag at your next local Eagle Shows gun show. With vendors drawn from across the country, there’s something for everyone at our family-friendly events held in an exhibition hall or conference room near you. Circle the date on your calendar, decide what survival gear you need to pick up, and arrive early on the day of the show to find the best deals. Get your tickets online from Eagle Shows today.

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