What’s In a Thinking Man’s Bug-Out Bag?

I’ve learned about bug-out bags a few years ago, and I took interest in them because they appealed to a sense of survivalism and emergency preparedness. Since then, I’ve had time to think about the kind of things that would be best for a bug-out bag.

But then I got to thinking: What kind of emergency would a person be most likely to face? If one were to consider most bug-out bag configurations that are easy to find on survivalist websites, it would seem like people have an unrealistically high expectation of having to go on an emergency camp out, or be on the run from law enforcement.

Think about it: If law enforcement decided to come after you, how would you be able to determine this before the moment that they show up on your doorstep to make an arrest? How would the intent to come after you be telegraphed if the most practical course of action they could take is to ensure that you’d have the least amount of warning to escape with a few things to spend a few days in the woods? And considering how persistent they can be, in the event that you escape through a window or something, you’d be buying yourself a few days at best (assuming that they don’t anticipate that you’d pull such a thing and station someone in your back yard).

So, it doesn’t seem like there’s much point to entertaining a paranoid fantasy of a life on the run. Here’s a cool idea: if what you’re doing is highly illegal and can get you into loads of trouble, you’re probably better off not doing it.

A more realistic thing to prepare a bug-out bag for is a disaster of some kind. This can be something like an earthquake, flood, or fire. Or perhaps you’d benefit from having one around in the event that you have a falling-out with someone you’re staying with. Stuff happens.

If such an emergency were to come up, where would you be most likely to go? Into the woods for a while where you cook some wild animals and eat some berries? Not likely. The place you’d be most likely to go would be a friend’s or relative’s house, provided they have room for you.

That being the case, the kind of bug-out bag that you’d be more likely to actually get a use out of would be one that’s filled with some supplies for short-term living at someone else’s place. With this in mind, I’ve assembled a short list of items that are generally a good idea to keep in a realistic bug-out bag, which can be called The Thinking Man’s Bug-Out Bag.

Suggested items for The Thinking Man’s Bug-Out Bag include:

  • A change of clothes

Or two, if you can find room for it. If all you have to wear is what’s on you, things can get kind-of awkward on laundry day. And laundry day might end up happening kind-of often.

  • Several day’s supply of socks and underwear

Having just a few day’s supply of clothes will be easier to stretch when you can at least change your undergarments. That might not sound ideal, but remember, you’d be making do with a little you brought with you in response to an emergency.

  • Some bedding

Comforters and pillows might take up a bit much room in your bag, but getting some sheets in there should be easy.

  • An extra charger for your phone

Your host probably doesn’t have the kind of charger you’d need for your phone, so it’s not a bad idea to keep an extra in your bag.

  • Some cash and quarters

This might be the most versatile thing you can keep in your bag, as there might be a situation that comes up in which you’d think “It’d be nice if I had…” With some cash in your bag, you’d be able to buy it. Whatever amount of money you decide to keep in your bag, it helps to keep it in denominations that are reasonable, as some stores don’t accept one-hundred-dollar bills. Quarters can come in handy if you’re in a place where the laundry is done in a laundromat.

  • Toothpaste and toothbrush

Where you go might not have an extra set of dental hygiene products.

  • Body wash, trial size

When we’re talking about limited space, it’s a good idea to consider versatility. Body wash can be used as soap, and can be used to wash hair. If you can find it in a trial or travel size, that would make it even better for your bug-out bag. Some stores have a section for travel-size items, so it might be a good idea to add some of those to your kit, as well.

  • Bottled water

It might take a little time for you to get where you’re going. It wouldn’t do for you to get dehydrated on the way there.

  • A little shelf-stable food

It wouldn’t do to starve, either. What you add is your choice, but mind the expiration dates. Also, be sure that the food is either ready to eat or you have the means in your bag to immediately open, prepare, and consume it. To pack canned food but no can opener would be self-defeating. If you need a dish or utensils and don’t bring them, eating your food might be a challenge. But something requiring no preparation like granola bars would usually do just fine. Beef jerky is also a great choice.

  • A notebook and writing utensil

If you’re in an emergency situation or getting situated in new surroundings, you’ll likely have a lot of information to take down. If you have what you need to write down things like addresses, appointments, and contact information, you’d be well-off. You’d also be glad that you packed it if you happen to like sketching or journal-keeping.

  • A replacement laptop and charger

In the event of a fire, you probably won’t have time to get your expensive gaming rig out the door. Wherever you end up going, it’s likely to have wi-fi and you’d probably benefit from using it. A laptop would be great if you stay wherever you end up going long-term. If your laptop has important files such as a copy of your resume, you’d be pretty well-prepared. If a laptop seems a little expensive to add to your emergency kit, or you’re running out of room, you can at least keep a flash drive with some important files in there.

  • A mini First Aid kit

Emergency situations are usually highly-dangerous, so it’s not a bad idea to have the means on hand to tend to minor scrapes and bruises.

  • Rain gear

It might be raining when disaster strikes. Having a poncho or umbrella in your bag can keep you and your emergency kit dry.

This bug-out bag should be easy for the average person to assemble, because it consists of items that people usually have around the house, and it’s relatively easy for a person to head to a store and pick up a few items to complete it. This is the kind of bug-out bag that people would benefit most from having, as it concerns the most realistic emergency scenarios that a person can face.

Is there anything you’d add to this bug-out bag?

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