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Over the years, Chilcotin Holidays has welcomed guests with interests and abilities that are as diverse as the wilderness around us.
Scared yet excited, Rick raced anxiously to retrieve the large bundle he had carefully hidden in the corner of his garage. Several months ago, Rick had come across a video about Bug Out Bags (BOBs) while surfing the Internet; even with no outdoor or survival experience, he decided he needed one.
No doubt you’ve spent months, maybe years, carefully planning out potential bug out scenarios and collecting the items you’ll need to survive should one of those scenarios pan out.
In addition to comfort, the pack must weigh enough to be carried wherever you need to go; this sometimes means paring down your items to only the most essential or packing more creatively.
With mobility as your number one priority, the best strategy is to find a bag that is most comfortable for your body type and tailor your items to fit in it. There are myriad lists available online that can provide you with suggestions for essential bug out items, including broad-based lists such as this one from Survival Cache as well as highly specific ones such as our own Ultimate BOB Checklist. What you pack depends entirely on your own situation and location; check out our past articles on how to tailor your kit for an urban location or a wilderness location and see how they differ.
The types of items you choose for each of these categories depends on your personal situation, but the greatest tool you can add to your bug out kit is knowledge. For those with minimal survival training, packing a survival guide is a must (the SAS Survival Handbook is a solid resource). When packing your BOB, much like choosing your bag, mobility is key, while utility is a close second. However, keep in mind that the purpose of a BOB is not for a hiking or camping trip – it’s to save your life in an emergency.
Emergency items are those that will need to be accessed within a moment’s notice; these items should be kept on your person or in easy to reach pockets of your pack. Within each of these categories, you should compartmentalize your items based on a system that will make it easy for you to find what you’re looking for in a hurry. Above all else, remember to waterproof your items; you can use professional grade plastic bags or simple Ziploc bags, just ensure your items are protected. While mobility and utility should be your foremost concerns when packing your BOB, it is also important to keep in mind safety. However, he doesn’t need to worry about his pack anymore; his flashy bag and expensive tools hanging from the side attracted the attention of less-prepared parasites who quickly took it off his hands. Don’t end up like our friend Rick by letting let packing become an afterthought; put the same effort and analysis into packing your kit as you did into planning it. We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. We use our extensive wilderness experience and insider knowledge to turn your wilderness dreams into a reality! That’s why we provide the opportunity for individuals and groups to create their own custom wilderness adventure.

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After a short career behind the scenes in the music industry, Stroud became a full-time wilderness guide, survival instructor and musician based in Huntsville, Ontario. Planning a personal BOB seemed like an awful lot of work, so in his panic he bought the most expensive pre-made bug out kit he could find.
It could have been any number of things such a natural disaster, civil unrest, viral outbreak, or some other type of event that throws society into a freefall ; but the ‘why’ isn’t what’s important. One of the key questions in choosing your bag is whether you select a bag big enough to hold all the items you need, or a bag that best fits your body and sacrifice some of your items if there isn’t enough room. However, if you have a ‘can’t live without’ item that requires using a certain bag, you may consider packing your kit around your bag. Having simply bought the most expensive bag he could find, without consideration to how it would fit his body, he found his bag way too heavy. You can even purchase pre-made bug out bags; if this is something that interests you, we’ve provided a fairly robust review of some of the pre-mades out there. Customizing based on your own situation is essential – a well-stocked urban kit could be useless in the wilderness, while a bug out kit perfect for California wouldn’t hold up for a minute against Canadian winter.
You can never be 100% sure of what you’ll need should disaster strike so the best you can do is make educated guesses. Spending time with your bag under non-disaster conditions will not only help you determine what is essential and what may be missing, but also allows you to test out your equipment and become more proficient with its use.
The more you know, the more useful your pack will be in an emergency situation and the less you will have to pack. If you want to develop your survival skills, there are many resources available to you including Creek Stewart’s Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag, which has an entire chapter dedicated to developing the mental and physical preparedness needed to survive in a disaster scenario. The organization of your pack cannot be haphazard and must be approached with the same methodical process as planning for your bug out kit. As such, you want to prioritize the packing of your survival kit slightly differently than you would a hiking or camping backpack while still keeping in mind basic rules for properly distributing your load. Generally, you want to keep heavier items further down in your bag and close to your back and vice versa for lighter items. When packing your items, look for creative ways to save space; some popular tricks include wrapping duct tape around a water bottle as well as packing items inside other items, such as your cooking pots. Creek Stewart also recommends lining your pack with an industrial strength garbage bag as an added layer of protection. Don’t make it obvious how much gear you’re packing; in desperate times you don’t want to become a target for scavengers. When disaster strikes, it won’t be the guy with the biggest BOB who wins, it’ll be the guy who best knows how to use his. From activities and experiences to rental gear and accommodations, you have the freedom to hand-pick every detail of your journey.

You can revoke permission to mail to your email address at any time using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Stroud has produced survival-themed programming for The Outdoor Life Network, The Discovery Channel, The Science Channel, and YTV. After dropping a whopping $3,000, he felt confident he was prepared for any emergency and left the pack hidden for 2 years.
When you need your BOB, the question ‘why’ becomes much less important than the question ‘will’: will this survival kit keep you alive for 72 hours? Additionally, not having tested the bag, he found that the straps dug into to his shoulders and made it almost impossible to walk for more than a mile at a time. However, keep in mind that no two kits are the same; the person who best knows what should be in your survival kit is you, and customization is key. A good adage to remember is that if you have two, you have one, and if you have one, you have none – always bring a back up. Since he didn’t bother to try out any of his gear, he found that he couldn’t even use half of the items in his bag. The more your bag looks like a simple backpack and less like a survival powerhouse, the safer you’ll be.
We recommend a quarterly review to ensure the items you’ve chosen are still the best choices and that nothing has expired, leaked or been damaged.
Since his store-bought BOB was packed more for show than utility, he had to stop and unpack his entire bag every time he needed something, slowing him down at critical points. This provides an ideal opportunity for families and groups to create a custom wilderness adventure that’s perfectly suited to their unique interests. The survival skills imparted from watching Stroud's television programs have been cited by several people as the reason they lived through harrowing wilderness ordeals.
Using Rick as an example, I’m going to take you through the basic steps in properly packing your bug out kit so that if (or when) you need it, ‘will’ won’t be a question – it’ll be a certainty. To learn more about selecting the best bag for your situation and what to look for in terms of comfort and fit, please see our article How to Pick the Best Bug Out Bag Backpack for YOUR Survival Situation.
Instead of being the life-saving asset he intended it to be, his BOB has turned into a hindrance.
For tips on periodic BOB reviews and a checklist to help make sure you have everything covered check out our article, How Often Should You Update Your Bug Our Kit? Thankfully, he’s found one item he actually can use and that he desperately needs – aspirin.

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