The 72 Hour Bug Out Bag – What Goes In It, And Why?

by D-Poc

By Dale Pocat (D-Poc)

Everyone talks about the 72 hour bug out bag or (BOB) for short. Why 72 hours? Why not 51 hours? or 94 hours? What are you supposed to put in it? Why do you even need one? Well, we are going to answer these burning questions and more in this article. So get your favorite drink, sit back, relax, and let’s get to it.

Let’s start with “Why 72 hours?”

Simple math tells you that 72 hours equals 3 full days and 3 full nights. The reason you should have a BOB that will last that long is because some whiz kid somewhere sat down at a computer and after punching in all manner of calculations determined that in an emergency it would take EXACTLY 72 hours for help to get to you.

Not really, it could take more or less time. Your mileage may vary. But the rule of thumb is that you need supplies to last you 3 days and nights until help can get to you or until you can find more food and water to help you survive longer.

The truth is that it’s a disaster bag. It’s a bag you hope you never have to use, but if you do you’ll be awfully glad you have it.

Your next question went something like, “Why do I even need one?” or “Does this look infected?”… something like that. I’ll stick with question A, Johnny.

You need a bug out bag because disasters happen every day. Somewhere on this planet every so many minutes of every day someone’s life is coming apart at the seams. Whether it’s caused by nature, man, or aliens from the planet BuckBuck.

Nuclear plants going kablooey in Japan, weather knocking out power for weeks, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires… need I go on? These are things that have happened very recently in a BIG way. I can’t count how many reports I’ve seen on TV that show people evacuating an area and taking nothing with them but the clothes on their backs. Now those people are totally reliant on getting shelter and help from someone or some organization.

If you think that the government is going to bail you out, ask the people on the gulf coast that went through Katrina how well that worked out for them. Or the people in Texas that had massive wildfires that didn’t even get classified a disaster area. Or the people in the Eastern part of the US that went without power for weeks in triple degree heat.

But really, I’m preaching to the choir here. You’ve already decided to take action, or at least you’ve decided to research what action you should take. Either way, you’ve taken the first step.

So let’s get to your next question, “What goes in it, and why?”

Let’s get one thing straight right now, there is no perfect 72 hour bug out bag. There are all manner of “kits” you can buy online that swear they are the cat’s meow. They aren’t. They aren’t tailored to your life and your family. They are trying to sell a product and they are trying to do it cheaper than everyone else. Even if you get one of these kits you’re going to have to tweak it to your particular needs.

If you build the kit yourself it will have the best in it that you can afford and you know what? You just might learn something and you’ll have some fun along the way putting it all together.

I’m going to give you some bullet points about what should be in your bug-out-bag. They tell me everyone likes bullet points so let’s see how it goes.

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Rescue
  • First Aid
  • Other Tools & Necessities

That worked out well but don’t worry, I won’t do it again.

Each one of these categories are important to any bug out bag, but I’m going to show you a few things that, just maybe, you didn’t think about when you read them.

Food – You certainly don’t want anything perishable here. So you’re looking for something like freeze dried camping food, or some kind of meal bars or rations.

Water – No getting around this one, you’re going to have to carry water in some kind of container. However, you also need to carry items to help you get more water and make it safe to drink. A stainless steel wide mouthed water bottle is great for carrying water but it’s also great for boiling it if the need arises.

Shelter – No, I’m not talking about a tent. There are certainly some great light weight tents you can buy that are very expensive, but I’m talking about basic shelter here. Extra clothes, rain ponchos, maybe a small tarp or emergency blanket that you could cover yourself with, that sort of thing.

Rescue – Besides the flare gun… (Just kidding). A signalling mirror, rescue whistle, compass, maybe your rain poncho is red and can do double duty as a signalling device.

First Aid – This one is going to be a little tough. If you’re a surgeon then you’re going to need different things in your first aid kit. But if you’re an average Joe (Or Joette… Joan?…) anyway, you’re going to want to stick to basic first aid. Band aids, alcohol wipes, antiseptic cream, aspirin. The kinds of things to treat minor emergencies. But you also want things like, extra prescription medication to last you a week, just in case.

Other Tools & Necessities – In case you didn’t figure it out, this is the catch-all category. Things like a survival knife, NOAA hand crank radio, flashlight, fire starter, para-cord, lots of para-cord… did I say para-cord? And the list goes on and on.

If you have a family you should think about getting a bug out bag built for each of them. You’ll want to tailor them to each family member. Your significant other should have their needs covered but then their bag should complement yours. Think backup equipment in case something breaks or gets lost or even stolen. Kids bags should have their clothes and things but also should have something to keep them occupied during down times. Toys or puzzles or maybe even a book. Don’t let this get overwhelming though, get yours built first and then theirs. You’ll be better at it after you’ve had the practice.

Your 72 hour bug out bag, or bags, should be placed somewhere easily accessible, you don’t want to be searching for them in an emergency. They should also be kept up to date. Yes, there is maintenance that needs to be done with these kits. Medications expire so they need to be rotated out, seasons change so the clothing in them needs to change as well. Things that have batteries need to be checked also.

When should you do maintenance on your bug out bag? The best time to do it is when you check your smoke alarms, when it’s daylight savings time.

When should you start building your bug out bag? Yesterday, but today will be fine. There’s a supercenter just down the road, that’s where I would start.

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