The purpose of a bug-out bag is to provide the tools and supplies needed to deal with a disaster, your strategy for dealing with which ever disasters you choose to prepare for will determine which of the following variants you use. A BOB is generally used to compliment and expand upon the abilities of one's Every Day Carry and/or Personal Survival Kit.
Types of Bug Out Bag
There are different types of Bug Out Bag, differing in their size and contents as well as their intended purpose. What they have in common is that they are portable aides to survival, designed to assist their user in surviving and/or escaping from a survival situation. The basic types or categories are described here.
This is what is most commonly meant by the term "Bug-Out Bag". It is designed to sustain one person for three days, on the move.
Get Home Bag
The get-home bag (GHB) is a BOB intended to get the user from wherever he or she happens to be when disaster strikes, back to his or her home, where (presumably) the rest of his or her survival preparations are stored. From there, he or she can then decide whether to bug-in/bunker, or bug out. The GHB is generally smaller and lighter than a 72 hour BOB, as it is only useful if it is light and handy enough to actually carry every day.
If possible, have an Office Kit stored at your place of employment with additional supplies you cannot carry with you in your EDC. Some employers even supply a small emergency kit which can be the basis for your Office Kit. This kit is especially useful in an urban location, when you are dependent upon public transportation or when your EDC is limited in size.
A Go bag is intended to support its owner while getting from point A to point B, typically a Bug Out Location. The contents and size of the bag will be determined by the time, distance, and obstacles that one expects to encounter during their bug out.
I'm Never Coming Home
The "I'm Never Coming Home" (INCH) variant is designed to support the life of its owner indefinitely as opposed to other BOBs which are oriented torward sustaining life for a fixed length of time and perhaps an advantage if something unexpected happens. These bags tend to be much larger and contain a wider array of tools and supplies, they are also much heavier. If you decide to build an INCH, you may want to give consideration to an easier way to carry it such as a pulk sled, Travois or rickshaw.
The Car BOB
The Car BOB is a combination of GHB and BOB, kept in one's car. It is intended to get the user, either in his/her vehicle or on foot, from wherever the car happens to be (whether at home or not) to another location (either home, or a bugout location). Typically, it is a big larger than a GHB that is carried in a daypack (because it can be left in the trunk rather than carried every day), but not as thorough as a 72 hour BOB (because it is usually only going to be used for a short period of time, to get home to one's other preparations). The car BOB should also carry car-specific items, like trunk-safe emergency fuel, a battery charger, fix-a-flat, road maps and atlases, flares, etc.
Building Your Bug Out Bag
Once you fully understand what each type of BOB is for and have established your survival strategy, you will want to begin building yours. You must choose both its contents and the bag itself to fit your needs. This can lead to somewhat of a chicken and egg problem as the bag will determine what you are able carry to while your gear will determine what kind of bag you need.
main article: Backpack
Your bag must be adequate in size and capacity to meet your needs. It should be durable, comfortable, and affordable. You may also want to consider its appearance carefully with respect to visual camouflage or social camouflage. You may want to consider starting with a bag you already own to save money for its contents, or purchase one of the following bags:
- Military Surplus - Military surplus packs are one of the most common types for BOB building, they are affordable and generally of high-quality. The ALICE pack is one of the most common military surplus bags.
- Backpacking/Camping - Civilian camping bags offer comfortable, affordable bags designed specifically for the purpose of carrying camping gear.
- School/Book - School or book bags, like those typically carried by students, are generally cheap and readily available. They easily go unnoticed in many situations. They also come in many form factors such as messenger style bags and "man purses."
- High-End Civilian - High-end civilian packs can be had at most camping and outdoor stores. They can be very lightweight with many desireable features
- High-End Military - High-end military packs vary, but Kifaru is widely regarded as the final word in high-end military packs. These packs typically offer the widest array of features and highest quality construction, with the possible exception of High-End civilian gear. Packs like the Kifaru accept MOLLE pouches for customization to tailor the pack for individual needs.
Your bug-out gear needs to be tailored to your needs so what works for one person, may not be right for you and vice versa. Note that many of the items listed are redundant, such as a tent, bivvy sack, and Hammock shelter OR water purification tablets, water filters, and a means to boil water. Many individuals follow the "two is one, one is none" rule and prefer to have redundancy while others choose to minimize their equipment for maximum mobility. Some simple principles and guidance are here.