Bug Out

10 Bug Out Bag Mistakes that Make You Look Like a Complete Prepping Rookie  

bug out bag mistakes

Imagine for a second that the SHTF and it’s time to bug out. You grab your bug out bag and away you go. You might be going on foot or jumping in your vehicle to get out of dodge, but either way it’s time to leave.


bug out bag mistakes


Then you arrive at your predetermined bug out location, cabin in the woods, relative’s house, maybe just a campsite. Its winter and very cold outside, and you realize when you packed your bug out bag, it was the middle of July, and very hot and humid. Going through your bag you find only summer clothes, you’ve also included expired medication and you have no idea how to use that fire starter in the handle of your survival knife.


This can be a very real scenario as many of us don’t constantly rotate the stock in our bug out bags or practice using the tools and equipment we pack in them.


Here are 10 bug out bag mistakes that you can avoid and keep you from looking like a complete prepping rookie:


Packing ExpiredMedications:

If you have medications that you have to take on a regular basis, you need at least 3 days worth in your bug out bag. A lot of drugs break down when exposed to extreme heat, like what you might see  inside a car. So be sure to ask your doctor about your medication and base your storage off their recommendation.

It’s also important to rotate your medication. If the medication in your bug out bag only lasts 2 months in the heat, then you need to use it first and rotate in new as you get your refills.


Bringing the Wrong Shoes:

Many Americans are accustomed to wearing flip flops, heels and dress shoes. If this is you then you need to be sure your bug out bag includes a good quality pair of shoes and or boots. They don’t have to fit in your bug, but can be tied to one of the straps to save space.

You will also need to include at least one pair of quality socks and underwear as well.

Packing for the Wrong Season:

Many of us pack our bug out bag for the current season, as those clothes are the ones most readily available to us. However you should always carry clothes for the off season as well. Now this can be accomplished one of two ways, you can simply set a reminder to rotate out the clothes as the season changes, or store extra clothes in your car and bug out location for all seasons.


Not Considering the Needs of Small Children:

Young children can add a whole other level of complexity to any survival situation and bugging out. You need to consider the type of food you are bringing. Will the children eat your survival food? Make sure you have extra clothes, diapers, and wipes for them. Also consider pain management for kids that might be teething.

Transporting young children while bugging out can be difficult as well. You can always create a wearable sling using a bed sheet if needed. If you plan on using a stroller make sure you take an extra tire if they are inflatable, or maybe a small tire repair kit.


Forgetting about the Pain:

Whether you have a high tolerance for pain or not, experiencing pain in a survival situation can be a whole other ballgame. There are several proven techniques that can help you manage your pain without the need of medication.

However it is a great idea to carry some pain relievers with you like ibuprofen, anbesol or prescription pain medication if you have any, and don’t forget pain medication for your pets if you are planning on bringing them with you. You can also include some herbs to help with the pain as well.


Not Checking Your Equipment:

If you elect to buy a readymade bug out bag or 72 hour kit make sure you inspect everything that it included, and check for defects or faulty equipment. Check your multi-tools, matches, knife blades, Band-Aids, stickiness of your medical tape, survival blankets that may have holes worn in them. Be sure to check your equipment every 6 to 12 months.


Not Knowing How to Use Your Equipment:

Have you practiced using the equipment in your bug out bag? If your fire starter is a glass or Fresnel lens, can you start a fire with it? Do you have a magnesium fire stick? Have you tried using it? Have you sampled your survival food? Can you stomach it? If you have an emergency shelter, have you tried fitting everyone in your group in it? How far have you tried carrying your bug out bag?


Bottom line here is, try out your equipment. Practice starting fires, cooking your survival food and actually carrying your bug out bag several miles.


Not Having Enough Water:

Do you have at least 1 gallon of water per person per day? That’s only for hydration, that’s not including hygiene or cooking. Have you calculated water into your pet’s prepping plan? Most animals will need approximately a half gallon per day. Simple calculation, 2 people and 2 dogs equals 9 gallons for 72 hours.


How much does all that weigh? Nine gallons of water equals almost 8 ½ pounds, and will take up 2000 cubic inches of space. Do you have the means of transporting that much water? Have you considered how you will collect water when your stored water is all used up? Read our Definitive Guide to Water for Preppers to ensure you have enough water, know how to collect, filter and store it.


Not Considering the Pets in Your Bug Out Bag:

Your pets will need food and water too. Do you have 72 hours of food for your pets? Are they going to be sharing your emergency food? Are they able to eat and digest the survival food? If you plan on taking a sizeable dog with you, then investing in a nice bag for them to carry can help them not only pull their own weight by carrying their own food and water, but possibly help you carry yours as well.


Not Organizing Your Bag:

If you buy a bag or even pack your own, chances are the items you have packed in there are thrown in the main compartment. Every time you need something you will have to sort through the entire contents of the bag until you find it.


A quick and simple tip for organizing your bug out bag, is to sort things out in Ziploc freezer bags, or separate smaller packs for different categories of bug out bag supplies. When you sort the items out, be sure to label the packaging you put them for easy and fast retrieval.


Here is a sample of how you can divide things up into different categories:

  • Fire
  • Shelter
  • Water
  • Food
  • Medical
  • Trauma
  • Security
  • Tools
  • Pets
  • Clothes



Building a bug out bag or 72 hour kit is not something to take lightly. You will need to have one for every member of your family and bug out plan. Make sure to include your children and pets in this plan as well.


Want more tips on bug out bags?

Check out Building the Ultimate Bug Out Bag [Infographic]


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  1. shannon

    July 10, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    I think you made a typo on the weight of water. Water weighs about 8 lbs per gallon, which would pit your 9 gallons at ‘about’ 72 lbs. I spent time on a team that used to go out in a desert that offered no access to water for weeks at a time, and water was our #1 space and vehicle weight issue. I would also join you in saying how important GOOD shoes/boots are. I complain about the cost of Army boots but they stand up to daily wear, 10+ hrs a day. I’m still looking for good comfortable civilian shoes that will do that. Now I’m on a pair of Dr Martins Industrial work shoes for summer wear (they are comfortable, look dressy, with rugged combat sole). We will see how the summer goes.

    • Scott

      July 11, 2014 at 5:02 am

      Thank you for your insight. You’re right, I did miscalculate the weight of water. Good luck finding a pair of civilian shoots/boots to hold up to your old military boots. When I was a corrections officer I had a pair of Bates that held up for over a year, working 12 hour shifts.

    • Tim

      August 18, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      Check out red wing boots, pricy but worth it. I’ve frequently worked 18+ hour shifts in them no problem.

  2. Pingback: Don’t Try Building Your First Bug Out Bag Without Watching this Video First | Freedom Prepper

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  4. Byron Scott

    December 26, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    For boots …Whites Boots ..Spokane , Washington. They make boots for loggers, firefighters, etc. Custom made .i have two pairs , and have worn them for 20 + years …Every day …

  5. don

    July 3, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    I had my own private security firm in Phx az in the early 80’s and the shoes I used (as did Phx PD) was the Rocky…they called it a tennis shoe but it was soft leather with a hollow air filled(pockets) sole that made it much easier to walk on rocks and hot pavement …running was comfortable…I have seen that they still make that same shoe….try it you might like it…LOL

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