bugging out in wilderness near a fire

Budget Item Checklist for your Survival Bag: Beginner Emergency Planning

If you are completely new to preparedness planning and are looking for a budget-friendly bug-out bag, this checklist is for you. For under $200USD there’s no excuse for not being prepared for any emergency situation. 

This beginner-level survival bag can save your life! 

When you pursue something new, it is critical to jump in. However, many can’t afford to immediately invest in higher-priced items. This bag is intended as a starter bag that can be used to save your life. Our budget bag specifically uses items that are durable, but widely available, to save you money while you build your advanced preparedness gear over time. 

While this budget bag is effective, if you’re ready to upgrade your kit, check out our three-season checklist for a comprehensive list of everything we recommend for your pack. We go through our advanced preparedness bug-out bag in detail as well as detail our strategy for packing well. 


Top bug-out supplies to buy on a budget. 


emergency survival backpack near lake



Find one at a thrift store, Walmart, or in your house already. Avoid ones that have all the extra molle webbing and plastic clips, as you’re often not getting the quality you might expect.  Some tips for finding the right pack?
  • When you pull at the seams, there are no gaps. If the pack has bad stitching, you can guarantee it won't last very long. 
  • The material is heavyweight.
  • The backpack has high-quality heavy-duty zippers.

  1. Nalgene Stainless Steele Water Bottle

    Stainless steele water bottle

    Durable, lightweight, and portable. This water bottle can go directly on the fire or cooking implements of your choice. It can cook food and boil water, making it an all-around beast. Ensure you remove the cap while cooking.

  2. Paracord (survivorcord)

    Paracord diagram - survivorcord

    Whether you opt for a cheap and straightforward cord or the Survivorcord this is an essential tool for every prepper. Can be useful in a variety of situations such as hanging your food, towing, or even in a medical scenario. The cheapest option is the 550 paracord, and we usually keep at least 50’ of it.

  3. Medical Kits

    Medical kit supplies

    This is absolutely essential. Being out in the wilderness without being adequately prepared for injury or illness is a rookie move in our books. Instead of dying from an infected cut, build or choose a medical kit that will suit your needs.

  4. Life Straw

    Lifestraw used in a river

    A life straw is a small but powerful water filtration tool. It has no shelf life, is easy to clean and store, and will protect you from bacteria, parasites, and microplastics, as well as filter out dirt, sand, and other micro debris. It does not filter viruses, however, so consider that if you’re drinking from a heavily contaminated source.

  5. Emergency ultralight bivy sack 

    Emergency Bivvy zip up sleeping bag

    The Bivvy sack is very similar to an emergency blanket, however, it is thinner and therefore best for an emergency only. It's a mylar blanket that is designed to reflect your body heat, so it can help preserve your body temperature and prevent thermogenesis.

  6. Esbit stove

    esbit stove

    The Esbit stove is a tiny stove that can be used when you’re unable to start a fire. Ideal for backpacking as it completely folds and can fit in a pocket. The solid fuel cubes make starting a fire incredibly easy. Best for use in calm conditions where you can get a nice constant flame and you can keep that flame close to your pot because these don't produce a lot of heat.

  7. Maps

    Maps of your local area with local and up-to-date declination information are invaluable. Learning how to navigate manually is an essential survivalist skill. When you no longer have access to GPS or power, having a map and compass can help guide you.

  8. Hultafors outdoor knife

    Hultafors knife for emergency situations

    This great little knife is inexpensive but extremely durable. The Hultafors outdoor knife features a friction grip that allows you to maintain control while using it and can be easily attached to your belt loop, pocket, or survival bag. The pocket doubles as a firestarter, and the Japanese steel blade has a durable scandi grind.

  9.  Emergency phone charger 

    zendure emergency phone charger

    These are pretty cool and very cost-efficient. These charge tabs can give your phone 4 hours of talk and text or about a third of a charge on a modern smartphone. 

  10. Headlamp

    Finding an LED headlamp is great for navigating close-up tasks at night or in the dark. Many can last for a long time and have emergency flashers to alert people to your location.

  11. Vaseline

    This do-everything product can be used as lip balm, moisturizer, skin protector, diaper cream, as an emergency candle, leather conditioner, stain remover, lubricant, bug bites care, wound care, skin cleanser, for rust prevention, as shaving cream, to protect pet paws, as a fire starter, gas mask seal, to unstick zippers, and as blister prevention.

  12. Compass

    You can find several kinds of compasses, but choosing one with a base plate that contains things like declination info, rulers, and a magnifying glass is going to be a lot more useful than the button-style compasses you can get in a kinder surprise egg. Learning how to use a compass is as important as having a compass, so ensure you learn and practise basic navigation skills.

  13. Emergency blanket

    A heavy-duty emergency blanket will last longer than a bivvy bag and can also be used as a makeshift tarp or ad a heat reflective barrier in a makeshift shelter.

  14. Cards

    Don’t forget leisure when you’re thinking about survival. There will be a lot of time alone and that can be overwhelming. Pack something to occupy your mind.

  15. Duct tape

    Limitless uses, including shelter repair, first aid, and more.

  16. Jute twine

    In combination with vaseline, you have an emergency candle, but you can also use twine for numerous applications. Twine is durable and inexpensive, making it a no-brainer to have on hand.

  17. Silky f-180 Saw

    Budget Silky Saw

    The Silky brand features a number of products, but the F180 saw is the least expensive. This compact saw with fine teeth is perfect for storing in your toolbox or glove compartment, and it will be a good first saw to have in your kit. Having a saw will help you process wood more efficiently, using fewer calories and time.

  18. Toiletries

    Having extra toiletries is important for hygiene, comfort, and safety. We recommend

  • DEET based bug spray 
  • Tylenol or other NSAIDs
  • Soap
  • Dental Floss
  • Aqua tabs 
  • Toilet paper tablets
  • Cheap bandanas 
  • Toothbrush & paste 

  1. Matches & Lighter

    Waterproof matches and lighters are definitely an essential asset for survival. They are easy to find and cheap to buy, so stocking them is easy.

  2. Axes

    While the cost of an axe can greatly range, and you get what you pay for, purchasing a low-cost axe will do the job while you save for something more sturdy.

  3. Rubber gloves

    These can really come in handy, especially if you’re mixing water filtration chemicals.

  4. Emergency radio

    Emergency radio with crank power

    While this will be one of the larger ticket items in this list, it has enough features that make it more than worth the investment. The Kaito KA600 allows you to hear near (FM) and far (AM, NOAA, shortwave) clearly. The NOAA broadcast will automatically alert you to hazardous weather when set to ‘alert’ mode. It can be charged in multiple ways, two of which don’t require a generator or power access––with a built-in solar panel and a crank charge system.

  5. Emergency Rain Poncho

    Cheap and easy to find. These are useful if you have to be outdoors in heavy rain, as you can cover yourself and your pack. You can also pack some garbage bags if you don’t want to buy the ponchos and they will work just fine.

  6. Mesh market bags

    These bags are inexpensive and can be used to harvest wild plants and mushrooms, or even as a rudimentary fishing net. Because they have several uses and they are widely accessible, they are easy to stock.

  7. Safety vest

    Can be useful in an emergency if you’re able to help, or need to be seen.

  8. Cloths

    Whether you choose dishcloths or chamois, these will be handy for cleaning yourself and any cooking utensils.

  9. Glow sticks

    Cheap and can provide a small amount of area lighting which is less visible than fire or a lamp.

  10. Tarp

    You can get tarps for very little, and they can be a lifesaver if you need to build an emergency shelter. Check out this video for how to set up a tarp.

    Video: 4 Knots To Set Up A Tarp

  11. Wool blanket

    A wool blanket is a powerhouse for survival. It will keep you warm, even when wet. Natural animal fibres provide the best insulation from the elements and are an essential tool in your survival. Depending on how itchy you find wool, you can opt for a blanket that blends fibres to make it more comfortable. It is important to still have at least 80% wool, however, to make use of its warmth and durability. 
Budget emergency supplies

Be prepared for an emergency, even on a small budget. 

Even with a small budget, you can begin to build your bug-out arsenal. Many of these items can be found in your home, or are widely available, and you just need to put them together so that you can access them in an emergency. Preparedness is about more than planning for an apocalypse, having an emergency kit is critical for your family in the event of a natural disaster or grid-down. Being prepared isn’t difficult, it’s necessary. 


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