The (Almost) Free Bug Out Bag

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I’m going to tell you a secret…prepping for free

… come a little closer…

… little more…

… are you ready?

“Prepping” is a lot easier and cheaper than you think.

Being prepared doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a $200 bug out backpack and a Rambo survival knife.

The truth is, you can start stockpiling supplies for free (or at least pretty close to it) by scavenging and looking for deals. You would be amazed at how much storable food you can buy for less than $50.

The bottom line is that prepping doesn’t have to be expensive.

In fact, I bet you could build a bug out bag without taking out your wallet.

Don’t believe me? Let’s find out!

The Quick and Dirty Basic Bug Out Bag

You already own a lot of the things you need to survive. I mean… here you are… surviving.

So you obviously have a lot of items that make that possible nearby. Now you just need to put them in one place. Simple, right?

No, this won’t be the best bug out bag out there. But spending 20 minutes tossing odd items from around your house into a bag could quite literally save your life. Basically the 80-20 rule (AKA Pareto Principle) applies here.

There are plenty more items you can add such as a hammock, antibiotics, fire starter, medicinal herbs, etc but they aren’t things that most people already own.

Last note before we get started – What you put in your GOOD bag/SHTF bag/go bag/whatever you call it is for your survival.

So if you live in Cleveland and it’s winter, you might want to add some warm clothes and hand warmers. And if you live in Tampa during, well, most months, make sure to pack a poncho and a boat.

Your BOB contents should be dependent on you, your environment, and your situation. This is just a recommendation. Alter your list accordingly.

Here we go…

Grab an old backpack and throw these items – that you probably already have laying around the house – in there:

  • Couple of Bic lighters
    lighter for survival
    Grab some lighters
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 2 pairs of underwear
  • T shirt(s)
  • First aid kit or at least some bandaids and antibiotic
  • Anti-diarrheal (terrible time for the trots)
  • Any OTC meds you take
  • Eye drops
  • Water bottle or two (empty is fine)
  • Food of some sort – Protein bars, trail mix, hard candy, etc
  • Small flashlight(s)
    bug out bag flashlight
    And a sick flashlight
  • Pocket knife
  • Coffee filters
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Small radio
  • Duct tape (wrap around a pencil to save space)
  • Super glue
  • Tinfoil
  • Magnifying glass
  • Bandana
  • Pantyhose (for the guys and the gals)
  • Trash bags (2)
    survival candles
    This guy gets it
  • Ziplock bags (2)
  • Vaseline/lip balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Candles (the trick birthday candles that you can’t blow out are perfect)
  • Whistle
  • Rope/cord/twine/shoelaces
  • Fishing hooks and line
  • Towel
  • Zip ties
  • Floss
    free bug out bag
    My favorite gum
  • Pen
  • Pocket notebook
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Cash
  • Batteries
  • Gum
  • Tarp
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Tampons
  • Cotton balls
    maps for bug out bag
    Don’t forget a map!
  • Bleach in a small container
  • Sewing kit
  • Cash
  • Map of your area (print it from your computer)
  • List of names and phone numbers of important contacts

There. Now you’re 1,100% more likely to survive an emergency situation than you were yesterday.

Bet you didn’t even need to go to the store.

And if you don’t have some of these items, don’t worry. Just make a list of things you’re missing that you think are important and pick them up the next time you go shopping.

I’m no mathemagician but I’m pretty sure nothing on this list costs more than $10 so it shouldn’t ruin your grocery budget too bad.

Ok, yes, the cash would cost more, technically. Stop splitting hairs.

Finally, the most important aspect of prepping isn’t about having stuff. It’s about knowing how to use the tools you have, of having a plan in case of an emergency, and being prepared with the skills and knowledge you will need.

So make sure to check out our fa-ree prepper resources to get started.

What are some other items around the house that you’ve added to your bug out bag?

13 thoughts on “The (Almost) Free Bug Out Bag”

  1. Thanks for mentioning my baby food idea. Great article by the way. I’m going to have to look into those herbs you talked about too.

  2. Great list. I am always revisiting my Bug Out Bag and adding things that I think may be useful. No bag will ever be perfect since there is no way you can ever know for sure what you will face, but as you say, you will be approximately 1100% more prepared with a BOB than without one.

    • Thanks Shane! That was the whole point of this article, to show that prepping doesn’t have to be that difficult and, with 15 minutes and a couple of laps around your house, you can take a big first step towards being prepared.

  3. items that have more then one use and a place to stash some goods outside of your home as well as the bag in a shed is perfect but multi porpoise items alcohol its fuel and antiseptic to carry a gallon is not a bad idea if you have 4 or 5 people with you and you chose to carry a riffle a few hundred rounds of ammo not a bad idea as that is food for you for 100 days and likely some to share with others kinda hard to pack a deer with you but one round in the 302 cal equals one deer the birthday candles great idea

    • the reason for outside storage is depending on the issue you can quickly exit your home say for an earthquake then get what ever supplies you think you need based on what the problem is and the number of people on hand to carry and serve

      • you likely only need 2 or 3 fire starting devices if we are talking flint strikers and having 4 or 5 people does not increase the need for fire starting medium once the fire is started you all cook something and more people the more ultra dry wood you can find so having a few people with you is a plus not saying a small village

  4. I love how cheap it really is to build a bug out bag, some people make it technical and scare all the new-bies away. You can also find a cheap tarp for $5 at Harbor Freight. They are a smaller size to fit into a backpack nicely. If you sign up for their ads, you’ll probably get a coupon for a free one in the mail to!

    • That’s a great tip! Harbor Freight has had free flashlights (with purchase) quite a few times that would be great for a bug out bag. I know a guy who uses their 20% off coupon along with the free item promotion and ends up getting some decent tools for only a couple bucks


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