Everybody knows the bug-out bag basics: food, water, shelter, clothing, a First Aid kit, and something for personal protection. Articles, blogs, and even whole books have been written on these and everything else that needs to be included in any bug-out bag. While many of these resources can indeed be helpful, they can also lead to overthinking the matter, and overthinking can lead to over-packing. Best practice is to keep it simple and stick to the following five essentials.

1.   Water Purification and Filtration Systems

Having water on hand is essential to any survival situation. Typically, a person can only survive three or four days without drinking any water and needs a bare minimum of 32oz of daily water to survive. These numbers will vary depending on how much exertion you’re putting your body through. If you’re moving around a lot and in a hot environment you will need significantly more water.

Since you can only carry so much water, you’ll need to have a water filtration and purification system. In an apocalyptic situation, you may come across several water sources that contain different kinds of contaminants that need to be removed in different ways. Before you can choose a filtration system you must be aware of the most common types of water contaminants.

Types of Water Contaminants

  • Bacteria – single-celled organisms that are a component of everyday life. Most bacteria are harmless to humans but certain types, such as E. Coli, can cause sickness and disease in humans.
  • Protozoa – parasites that contaminate water when it comes into contact with sewage and animal feces. When infected with these parasites you can experience symptoms of abdominal discomfort, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Viruses – microscopic parasites that are much smaller than bacteria and protozoa. Viruses also contaminate water through feces. Common symptoms include fever, fatigue, respiratory infection, and even paralysis or death.
  • Chemicals – such as herbicides and pesticides, usually contaminate water from agricultural run-off. Drinking too much contaminated water will give you fever-like symptoms and indigestion issues.
  • Heavy Metals – like Mercury and Lead contaminate water through old piping or industrial runoff from the manufacturing of metal, electronics, and batteries. Ingesting too much can cause serious health issues like dementia, loss of muscle control, and death.

Now that you are aware of the different types of contaminants, you can now make a better decision on which purification and filtration system to carry in your bug-out bag.

Types of Water Treatment and Filtration Options

  • Boiling Water – is one of the oldest means of disinfecting water. The heat damages structural components and kills or inactivates bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Boiling water will not remove chemical components or heavy metals. It’s best to use this method with a filtration method to ensure safe drinking water.
  • Distillation – is the process of turning water to steam and collecting the condensation for drinking. This process will remove bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and heavy metals like lead, arsenic, and mercury. However, this process will not remove most synthetic chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, and chlorine because they have lower boiling points than water.
  • Filtration Straws and Pumps – Filtering water removes contaminants from water by means of a fine physical barrier, a chemical process or a biological process. Most filters will do a great job of filtering out protozoa and bacteria but will not filter out chemicals or heavy metals.
  • UV Light Devices – are good devices for killing bacteria and viruses but won’t eliminate heavy metals. The water needs to be clear so that the UV light can penetrate the water and kill bacteria. Because of this, a filtration device will need to be used first before the UV light can be effective.
  • Purification Tablets – are typically chlorine, chlorine dioxide or iodine. These chemicals deactivate bacteria, viruses, and protozoans. Purification tablets don’t remove large pathogens and particles. The water will typically need to be filtered first to remove large particles.

To be prepared for any survival situation and give yourself the best chance at survival, having a combination of both filtering and purification options will greatly increase your odds of survival. It’s important to remove the larger pathogens and bacteria with a filter and then use some sort of purification process to remove chemicals and heavy metals that can’t be filtered out.

2.   Fire Starting Options

The ability to start a fire is vital for any survival situation. It provides you with heat for cooking, warmth, water purification, light, and protection. It’s not good enough to just have one means of making a fire because flint and steel aren’t always convenient in wet conditions, lighters run out of fuel, and waterproof matches break and deteriorate.

  • Lighter – This is the easiest way to start a fire but eventually it will run out of lighter fluid, get wet, or break.
  • Waterproof Matches – Are coated with a waterproof lacquer that makes them resistant to water. But they too will run out or deteriorate before you get the chance to use them.
  • Flint and Steel – Is a proven and primitive method of starting a fire. Striking flint against steel creates a spark that will ignite a fire. You’ll need material that’s dry to get a spark to light. This can be a problem if you’re in a wet environment.
  • Lens – This is a great way to start a fire on a hot sunny day. All you need is some sort of lens, angle it toward the sun, and focus a beam on a dry piece of tinder. Lens’ are great because they’re reusable but they can break and only useful this method on a sunny day.

3.   Personal Hygiene Solution

Something that’s often overlooked when preparing for a survival situation is personal hygiene. Soap and water won’t always be available, which is what makes Combat One’s military grade hygiene system products are the ideal choice. This product was developed for combat warriors in the harshest conditions. It has patented technology designed to be an all-purpose skin cleanser, conditioner, and protector. Combat One is specifically formulated for:

  • hygiene management
  • first aid solutions
  • reduce or eliminate body odor,
  • improve the pH of your skin

4.   Dependable Multi-Tool

Since every ounce counts it’s important to choose a multi-tool that’s lightweight and versatile. Most of the iconic multi-tool manufacturers offer a wide selection of light instruments, some of which weigh even less than half a pound. Depending on one’s environment and potential needs there are obviously a huge array of options, but at a minimum, a multi-tool should include:

  • Blade
  • Screwdriver
  • Hole Punch
  • Needle-Nose Pliers
  • Wire Cutters

5. Duct Tape

Duct tape is a favorite survival tool for many preppers because of the endless ways you can use it. It’s also lightweight and doesn’t take up a lot of space making it ideal for any bug-out bag. Some uses of duct tape are:

  • First Aid – Cover cuts, tape a sprained ankle, uses it for an arm sling or as a leg splint.
  • Repairs – Fix a water bottle, shelter, clothing, tools, leaking hoses on a car, and much more.
  • Restraints – In a survival situation, it’s likely marshal law will be enforced and you have to protect yourself from the bad guys. A pair of handcuffs or a way to tie up trouble makers may come in handy.
  • Mark a trail – Use duct tape to mark a trail for rescue team or to track group members of your group if you are to separate.

The uses for duct tape are virtually endless, limited only by your creativity. This is one piece of equipment you will not want to do without. There are several types of duct tape you’ll want to consider. Some duct tape is camouflage, which would be great for repairs to your hunting equipment. Other types are reflective, which would be great for marking trails.

So long as you don’t forget these five simple essentials your bug-out bag will prepare you for anything. Most of the items listed above are available at any outdoor outfitter or camping store, and many are even available at big box stores like Walmart. You can often find better prices or selections by shopping online, however, especially for the Combat One hygiene system supplies.