What’s in YOUR bug out bag? (A book giveaway!)

This giveaway is now closed.  The winners were Debbie F. and Mindy.  I’m leaving the post here because there were so many great ideas for what should be in a bug out, or emergency, bag.  Thanks, everyone, for participating.

Creek Stewart, author of Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag, donated two signed copies of his book and asked only this:

In order to win a signed book, my readers should share the top 3 items they would include in their own bug out bag.

Simple enough!

To enter, simply leave a comment and include those top 3 items!

This giveaway will run through Sunday night, May 27, and the winners (chosen at random), will be announced on Monday!

Good luck!

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2012 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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  1. Stuart says

    Living in the desert I have to include water. I would also include my Leatherman Wave and a First Aid kit.

  2. Katie says

    My top three:

    Water/water filter
    1st Aid kit

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  3. Jeremie Wade says

    My top three items include:

    1) Water – bottle w/ purification tablets
    2) Food – energy bars to last a 2-3 days
    3) Firecraft tools

  4. Michael Martin says

    1. Fire starting tools and Tinder
    2. Shelter (even if just a big tarp)
    3. Water

  5. Tim says


    I have a lot of stuff things that you’d normally find in a BOB in my vehicles already (fire-making stuff and first aid)….

  6. says

    1. Knife
    2. Para-Cord
    3. Stainless cup.

    If you have the skill you can make fire, you must have a knife, cordage and a way to purify water. Food is an after thought. If you can’t make fire consistently swap the cord for a fire starter.

  7. CouponCook says

    Top 3 is hard to say. We live in a wet hot climate for most of the year so..
    A sturdy poncho is a must, good for ground cover or just putting over my head.
    A good knife. By that I mean one that fits my hands. I have small hands and not every knife is suitable for me. I’m still searching for one that I can comfortably use.
    Sturdy pair of shoes because I don’t always wear shoes. Ok ok so I do wear them at fancy places like the Walmart, but usually its no shoes for me.

  8. Naomi says

    Water (in camelbak)
    Food (energy bars)
    Cell phone (lol, crossing fingers it would work)

  9. says

    Food, first aid kit, pics of my kids and pets. I know the last sounds weird but I want something to comfort me and keep me pushing forward if I ever get into a situtation where I need my bag.

  10. Ben VanDortrecht says

    The same in all four including the kids is:

    1. Mountain House Dehy food packs (72 hour kit)
    2. Katadyn portable water filtration
    3. Flashlight

  11. Mike grizzard says

    1) firestarter “ferro rod and tinder”
    2) good quality knife “preferably fixed blade”
    3) Gun “handgun or rifle or both”

  12. MikeM says

    Up north in winter its:
    1. Ice (I can only rely on having “water” 7 months or less a year)
    2. Big candles (heat light fire)
    3. Blankets / sleepingbag

  13. larryl says

    1. Water purification tablets
    2. Fire starting items
    3. Steel water container / cup

  14. Cisco says

    Multitool (Gerber), Fire(magnesium stick), Water (Metal Canteen filled with Water)

  15. Chrissey says

    My top three must-have items are:

    1 – Water
    2 – Multi-purpose tool (Swiss Army Knife)
    3 – First aid kid

  16. says

    So for xmas this last year i made my younger brother a utility belt (think a bug out BELT) that included what i consider the neccessities of any given circumstance.. along with this belt I designed a simple website that explained not only WHAT i included with the belt.. but WHY.


    The most important items were (in no order): A knife, A lighter, A flashlight.. and a handkerchief
    I know thats one more than 3.. but the kercheif could be replaced with any article of clothing or fabric handy.

    Hit the site for details.

  17. cynthia says

    1- water/bottle/filter (this should be the most, most, most important
    2- food
    3- way to start fire

  18. Jean says

    It’s really tough to narrow it down to 3, but I’d probably take:

    1. water purification system
    2. food
    3. fire kit

  19. MrApple says

    I could choose the usual items such as a knife, means of fire-making, and some sort of water purification system but I think that I should go a different direction. The three items that I would make sure are in my Bug-Out bag would be: 1) a small book describing edible plants, 2) several pairs of good quality socks, 3) a Polartec Jacket (very warm, dries quickly, can be used as pot holder as well as a pillow).

  20. Varian Wrynn says

    Think rule of 3’s that kill you: 3 min without oxygen; 3 hours without shelter (see #2 and #3 below); 3 days without water (see #1 below); 3 weeks without food (which I can get with #2 and #3 below); and security (see #2 and #3 below):
    1. Water filtration/purification system
    2. Kabar knife
    3. Rifle scope

    No need for string – with knife, rocks and a stream, I can make cordage to bind sticks and make shelter.

  21. Daniel says

    1. A way to carry water ( collapsable bag)
    2. A way to make fire (fire steel)
    3. Some type multi use field knife

  22. Andy says

    Cold Steel Survival Knife, includes fire starter, water puification straw, 50′ paracord

  23. Melissa says

    I would take a loaded gun for protection, water purifier and food. I’m panicking here already just thinking about all the stuff I still need but I find things daily inmy house until I can afford to buy more. My worries for our future prompted me to really downsize all then on essentials in our home. I’m having a yard sale soon and will use most profits to buy bob items!

  24. Lori says

    1. personal water bottle w/filter
    2. high protein/carb food
    3. fire starting kit

    very hard to pick only 3

  25. Cindy Hairston says

    I would make sure I had:
    1. water purification ability such as straw or small portable purification system (considering weight of water)
    2. my knife, which has a built in magnesium stick to start fires
    3. Paracord

  26. Resa says

    I’m such newbie that I can see from other comments what probably SHOULD be my top three, but this is what popped into my head: 1. Glasses (since I’ll have to pitch my contacts) 2. Water 3. Cozy Jacket

  27. says

    1. Blast Match ($20 -) Easy reliable way to start fire with one hand – in all kinds of weather conditions.

    2. Kindle – (The $79- Basic Model) I carry my entire library with me of Survival Books, Scanned PDF copies of important identification documents (ie. Passports,License, SS Card, etc.)
    Advantages include: Access to valuable reference information -that my failing memory can’t always remember!, entertainment, and incredibly long battery life. Plus weighs less than 6 ounces!

    3. Eton FR160 Weather Radio ($30 – $35) – Weighs less than 8.5 ounces, AM/FM ,NOAA weatherbands, powered by solar cell and (or) manual crank,includes a light source, and a USB port to keep my Kindle and smartphone charged!

  28. Gaberiel Keway says

    Of course I have ‘the essentials’ like everyone else in my BOB – that’s kind of the core purpose, isn’t it? But I think the question at hand is more of what three items may set my BOB apart from anyone else’s? To understand this is to understand that I am preparing for as many Bug Out situations as possible; from a flood, tornado, local chemical spill to total apocalyptic societal melt down – quite a broad range.

    #1. An external hard drive filled with family photos and important scanned documents; passports, deeds, titles, birth certificates, SS cards, insurance policy, etc. Granted, in an apocalyptic event an HD is just a brick but in less than end of the world events, it’s nice to have the information to sort your life back out.

    #2. A wind-up radio. Yes, it has a weather band feature, but it also has AM/FM. I figure if I am ‘buggin out’ then I gotta keep informed as to where to go and where not to go. Not to mention some music could be calming in high stress circumstances. Add to that a flash light feature, flash beacon, and 12v charging capabilities and you have quite the little ‘multi-tool’.

    #3. Map. I keep a few maps in there. From trail maps to a US atlas I can route us where we need to go and get around trouble spots or bottle necks. My favorite atlas I carry is my statewide county by county map which details all the back roads, two-tracks, ponds, and streams.

    Last, I would like to share one simple item that is also attached to my BOB… a laminated checklist of everything in each of my BOB’s (I have a family so everyone has their own BOB and we also have a “hunker down” bin for stay at home emergencies). A checklist provides a good reminder in complex situations of all the tools you have at hand.

  29. hedgehog mom says

    water filter bottle
    lifeboat ration bars
    (I’m thinking hurricane or natural disaster bug out)

  30. Dagny says

    AM-FM portable radio
    Petzl Zipka head and wrist lamp

    (My assumptions include: 1) this is not TEOTWAWKI; 2) my key chain is a given and upon which there is a firesteel, Leatherman multi-tool, whistle, mini pry-bar and mini-light); 3) wallet (containing ID) is a given but ample cash is not; 4) cell phone is a given (a virtual appendage these days)

    In a non-TEOTWAWKI event, cash and communication are king.

    In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, it’s back to shelter-water-food and probably not at a hotel-restaurant.

  31. Jason says

    If I can pick only 3 I would have to choose very carefully, and think a bit beyond short term.

    Kelly Kettle (cook and boil water)
    Fire steel

  32. says

    1. water
    2. Food
    3. firestarter kit

    An often overlooked, but vital part of our kit is toilet paper! You really miss it when you don’t have it!

  33. karla says

    With only 3 items, the “bob” sounds like my purse: water, snacks, day-planner with phone numbers, maps, copies of important papers.

    • SingleMom says

      I apologize for going off topic, but it’s incredibly important. Are you by any chance in FL by way of Tinker?

  34. Mary Campbell says

    Water purification kit
    and my first aid/ medicine kit

    Knowledge but you can’t put that into a bag

  35. shirley says

    Water filter, fire kit and lined poncho/blanket for waterproof warmth. It rains a lot where we live.

  36. John says

    My choice in this order:

    weapon of some sort (preferably a hand gun)

  37. SingleMom says

    BOB (leaving from home): enamel kettle, fixed-blade knife, 3 ways to make fire (if I only get to pick one, I’ll take a fire steel)

    GHB (getting home from wherever): water bottle w/filter, ready-to-eat food, simple shelter (rain poncho, emergency blanket, or garbage bag)

  38. Dustin says

    1) Knife
    2) Metal vessel (I have a GSI cup, but canteen cup, SS water bottle, etc.)
    3) Fire steel

    Many things can be made – just go with the ones that are hardest to make well enough to rely upon.

  39. liz says

    1. My aluminum water bottle and a steripen
    2. Wind-up radio/flashlight/phone charger combo
    3. bear guard pepper spray since getting a carry permit is next to impossible in my state :(

  40. Luke n. says

    I would need:
    1) a source of water/filtration
    2) light source
    3) personal protection

  41. Cassandra says

    So tricky….

    1) Kelly Kettle w/pot(warmth, heat food, purify water, morale)
    2) Heavy Duty waterproof poncho/groundcloth (could use for tent if needed)
    3) Full tang bush knife with firestarter in handle (construct shelter/traps, skin animals, dig roots, defense if necessary)

  42. Stealth Spaniel says

    Only 3 is hard-but here goes:
    1-A way to purify water+ a container
    2-My dogs-early warning +protection,and they can score a birdie (food)
    3-A silver blanket or tarp

  43. Robert in SF says

    Comfortable walking shoes
    A whistle (for long distance alerts)
    protein bars for snacking

  44. Greg Stephens says

    Three it is:
    1. Water & water purifier (counted as one, since they both have the same result)
    2. A good fixed blade knife. A 4″ blade is about right…heavy enough for most chores, small enough to dress game or do other tasks requiring precision.
    3. Fire starter – magnesium stick, waterproofed matches, a BIC, etc.

    With these, I could stay warm and dry, hydrated, and forage necessities for myself, at least in a short-term emergency.

  45. Denise says

    1.) A roll of quarters inside a sock. To be used as currency and as a weapon.
    2.) A fold-up shovel
    3.) A wind-up combination flashlight, radio and cell phone charger.

  46. John blaze says

    1. Emergency food n water kit is #1 priority in any survival situation.
    2. Knife, any is better than none, but a good quality collapsible blade is versital for many situations, eg. Defense, skinning animals, cutting.. But also safer to carry than open blade.
    3. Pictures of family… Motivation and will to survive & rescue if necessary!!!

  47. AWFord says

    1 – flashlight
    2 – FRS / GMRS radio w/ extra batteries
    3 – 3 day supply of food

    I debated back in forth between the radio and a firestarter. Ultimately, I’m familiar with a wide array of improvised fire starting methods, but the thought of not being able to communicate with (or find) the wife and kids terrifies me beyond measure – so the radio won out. Thank God we aren’t limited to only three things in our BOBs!

  48. Lee from La says

    1–Food and water
    2–Fire starter (Zippo lighter is my first choice)
    3–Extra clothes

  49. says

    Just to be a little out of the box…

    Potassium Permanganate
    A Long Scarf (I’m up to 78 uses for scarves; some naughty, some nice!)
    A Wire Saw (in Florida, with a wire saw you can always get food)

    And all three are things I really do have in my Get Home Bag.

    ~ Sandy Taylor

  50. Dustin says

    1. USB with Photos, and copies of important documents
    2. A small homemade book of survival tips and first aid
    3. As much cord as I could find inside and out of the bag
    I know it is top 3 things for your bag. I feel that some people forget the small things. You may not be able to get photos and documents back. You can never remember every survival tip. And paracord you can never have too much. I am sure that is you have a BOB you have ways to purify water, food for 3+ days, and more than one way to start a fire.

  51. Julie says

    Unfortunately, I am just starting to get prepared. I do not have a B.O.B., yet. I always thought the important items you would take with you in an emerency would be scrapbooks, photos and medications. The more research I do, I realize we would not survive very long. I would really benefit from having the additional knowledge in the book. I think the b.o.b. should include water, heat source, food. Thanks Julie

    • says

      Hey Julie; the fact that you are here, learning how to be better prepared for yourself and your family IS going to help your family survive longer. Don’t ever think that you’ll just kick the bucket or go in the first wave (of whatever it is). You’re going to be fine; that’s why you are here. :)

      ~ Sandy Taylor

  52. amanda says

    1.antiseptic ointment or spray for injuries.
    2. pain relivers and or bandages, ace wrap for sprains
    3. sope and hand sanitizer to keep wounds from infection also for hygein
    4. always always, water, water purifier taplets( easier to store than big bottles and hydration tablets

  53. countrygirl says

    Something to start a fire, something to cut with, something to put water in.

  54. says

    My top 3 would be

    1. A really good knife
    2. Strike anywhere matches in a waterproof container
    3. Water purification tablets

  55. james says

    1. a trusted knife (sharpened and ready)
    2. water purification (filter or tablets)
    3. fire starter (firesteels)

    And if possible, I’d always have a backup for these in another bag or location.

  56. Caroline says

    Essential oil of lavandula off. Good for stress, again bug, antiseptic…
    A whistle
    A knife

  57. Janet says

    1. Katadyn Water Purifier
    2. Collapsible Platypus bottle
    3. Bear Grylls Survival Blade by Gerber with attached firesteel

  58. says

    good ideas, people!
    #1-water bottle Plus purification tablets for when you drink the water out. replenish & stay hydrated!
    #2-fire starters (we made little kits and keep them in old prescription bottles to stay waterproof
    #3-medication needed for my son to be able to eat (he needs enzymes for digestion)

  59. Kenda says

    A Water Flask w/purification tabs
    My Mom-purse
    Comfortable Shoes

    I can do anything as long as I have those 3 things

  60. Mary Ungruhe says

    1. fire starter
    2. 3-day supply of food
    3. tarp

    Live next to a spring that is pure and we’ve been drinking it for years, thankfully
    that was already taken care of.

  61. Sean P says

    1) A means of water collection/purification/storage
    2) A well made tarp for shelter
    3) A reliable means to start a fire

    You can go without food for 72 hours if you absolutely must, but the 3 things above are needed in all environments to survive for 3 days.

  62. Devin says

    Thanks for all the great posts
    1. Katadyn Vario water filter
    2. Magnesium fire starter with flint and steel
    3. Fixed blade knife

    May your family be safe, your gardens fruitful and your aim true.

  63. Matt Conrad says

    Gerber Multi-tool
    couple Cliff bars
    bottle of water

    Three things is hard to list. Want to put so much more. But thinking about it I have these things on me constantly, so they had to go in the post for the contest. Good luck to all. Keep up the good work here.

  64. Jody says

    These comments are filled with wonderful ideas. My 3?

    1. water/purification
    2. knife with firestarter
    3. waterproof poncho (doubles as shelter)

  65. angie says

    1. Berkey water filter sports bottle.
    2. Bible……man doesn’t live on bread alone!
    3. Knife with fire starter.

  66. Steven Bowers says

    I don’t have any bobs set up yet, but off the top of my head, I would include:
    First aid kit
    Space blanket
    Emergency rations

  67. says

    1. Three days of food & water with extra filtering straw for purifying water, including a camp cup
    2. Five-in-One Tool
    3. A one-gallon ziplock bag that contains: 1 pkg plastic sheeting, 1 set of aluminum tent stakes, 4 space bags, 150 ft of nylon cording, a box of wind-proof matches (in waterproof container), a small bottle of rubbing alcohol and a alcohol stove made from a soda can

    Shelter, Water & Food – the Three’s of Survival!

    • says

      A cat? Giggle.

      I get it though. Cats are useful. Just wasn’t expecting that as I was reading through the other entries!

      ~ Sandy Taylor

  68. Letty Torres says

    I would definitely have water, some protein bars and my trusted weapon, LCP Ruger for protection!

  69. Tonya S. says

    I would include food, water purification and a really good knife. I can use the knife to procure more food, defense if it came down to it, and with the right stuff… Start a fire. It’s hard to pick just three things.

  70. Liz C. says

    My top 3… that’s tough… so many things…:-)

    Water purification of some kind (tablets or maybe a portable purification system in a bottle perhaps).
    Sanitation system (maybe one of those ones in a bucket?)