backpack used as a bug out bag hung from a tree

Essential Gear Checklist for your 3-Season Bug-Out Bag

Our bug-out bag checklist can help you build your survival pack. While your climate and needs may vary depending on where you are, this comprehensive checklist will be an invaluable tool. We’ve broken this list down by category: Shelter, Safety, Utility, and Sustenance & Hygiene. 

If you want to learn more, check out our Youtube channel where we do comprehensive gear reviews, survival skill development, and more. This blog is Part 2/2, and you can check out our blog on packing strategy here. 



Which backpack should I use for my bug-out bag?

Choose a bag that is 40-60 litres depending on your strength and needs. Ensure your back has quality stitching, durable fabric, allows for customization, fits your body well, and is ergonomic. We have a large selection of bags to choose from, whether you are opting for a Greyman or tactical style bag. The best way to find a bag that works for you is to use it––take it on your next backcountry camping trip, and learn what it feels like to hike with it fully packed. 

  • Vanquest Markhor 45L

    This tactical-style pack is built exceptionally well, with very durable materials that will last you for decades. All the components and zippers are heavy-duty, and the exterior of the bag allows for exceptional customization.

Category 1: Shelter

Nylon tarp cover for rain and weather during camping
  • Wool Blanket

    Wool is an extremely durable and insulating fabric, making it a fantastic companion for your survival bag. Wool can adapt to your changing body temperature by wicking moisture away from you while it is warm and insulating you when you are cold, even when wet.

  • Emergency survival blanket

    This 52x82” blanket can be used as an insulating component of a makeshift shelter, a camouflage tarp for your tent, or as an extra blanket if the temperature really drops. Folds down to make it easy to transport.

  • Emergency bivvy.

    Emergency Bivvy

    This is a great way to keep warm with minimal shelter. The bivvy is designed to contain your body heat, making it an excellent tool in your survival arsenal.

  • Sleeping mat or cot

    You lose a lot of heat to the ground while you sleep. A mat can keep you up off the ground making your sleep more comfortable and keeping your body warmer. It will also give your body some support leading to better sleep and less physical discomfort overall.

  • Summit mosquito net

    If you’re using a minimal shelter, you will thank yourself for protection against bugs.

  • Waterproof nylon tarp

    This will allow you a quick and easy waterproof shelter that can fold down and be incredibly lightweight. Buying a durable, high-quality tarp is essential. 

Category 2: Safety

  • Bear Flare

    A bear flare is designed to scare away bears, but it can also be used to light fires in a pinch, signal for help, as well in personal defence if necessary.

  • Survival Lilly APO-1S Knife

    Perfect for mounting on your pack’s shoulder strap for quick deployment. This knife, featuring a flat-grind blade that is well-suited to beginners, is an all-around multi-purpose essential.

  • Flare Gun

    Designed for signalling, especially for airplanes and helicopters, from the ground. It can also be used as a personal protective device if necessary.

  • First Aid Kit

    There are different levels of first aid kits, so we recommend building one out to suit your needs. Store first aid items on both the inside and outside of your bug-out bag to ensure you have fast access in an emergency.

  • Tripwire

    This can be very useful for camp security, especially when you are trying to hide or be as discreet as possible.

Category 3: Utility

Silky saw cutting through a tree log in a forest


  • Silky Zubat Saw

    This best-selling, professional, heavy-duty hand saw features a curved 12” mono-constructed blade, and an ergonomic pistol grip style. This will also fit in your bug-out roll, making it a versatile addition to your survival arsenal.

  • Silky Pocketboy

    This nickel-plated blade is durable and designed to cut through heavier branches and logs. The blade is designed to wipe clean and resist damage from tree resin. The non-slip rubberized handle provides a sure and comfortable grip even in the most difficult operating conditions. This is a great addition to your pack.

  • Nitecore tk4 light

    This compact light packs a powerful punch with its 4000 Lumen and 209-metre beam. Don’t let its palm-size package deter you, this LED rechargeable lithium-ion flashlight can cut through the darkness, whether urban or dense brush. You can find more Nitecore products here.

  • Baofeng radio

    This two-way radio allows less experienced users a much more user-friendly experience and features an extensive manual. The radio features multiple power settings (8W, 4W, 1W), a frequency range of VHF: 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx),  UHF: 400-520 MHz(Rx/Tx), and selectable broad (Wide) / narrowband (Narrow) bandwidth. With lithium-ion batteries, it also has long battery life.

  • Knife sharpener

    Carrying multiple types of knife sharpening tools can be useful, especially if you are preparing for long-term survival. We use a small quick sharpening tool for camping or emergencies, but highly recommend keeping a sharpening stone to maintain the health and blade edge of your knives.

-LANSKY Multiangle Quadsharp

-DMT Mini-Sharp Portable

  • Trowel

    A small shovel is easy to pack and has several field applications that make it a necessity. Whether it helps you covertly cover your tracks by hiding your business, or assists you in digging a discreet fire pit (such as the Dakota Fox-Hole).  The trowel is an underrated but highly necessary tool in your bug-out bag.

  • Multi-tool and small Nipix bolt cutters

    While the multitool, such as a leatherman, is essential, the mini bolt cutters can be a handy addition, especially in an urban survival situation. The bolt cutters can assist you with small grates, barbed wire, and more.

  • Lightsaver Max Solar Power Strip and Battery combo

    This integrated battery solar unit has a battery and it has a thin film solar panel attached. Even in minimal sunlight, the solar panel will charge. It has a 16,000 milliamp-hour battery pack and has two USB output ports there so you can charge your electronics. You can attach the unit to the outside of your pack so that you can charge while you are moving.

    Survivor cord black - paracord and fire tinder in one

  • Paracord

    Paracord has multiple survival applications such as hanging food, securing a fire log, securing your tarp to build a shelter, or even building a raft.

  • Cammenga compass

    This is the choice compass for survivalists and preppers alike. We have a great blog on navigation basics if you don’t already have manual navigation as a skill. It will be critical in the event of grid-down, or even an emergency where your electronics are not available.

  • Work gloves

    A thin pair of work gloves can be a lifesaver for your hands, especially when cutting and collecting wood.

  • Monocular or binoculars

    An essential part of your navigation arsenal.

  • Emergency Survival Poncho

    This will protect you and your pack from the rain if you have to be on the move in inclement weather.

  • Shortwave kinetic radio

    Can help you learn the weather or detect signals in your area. The kinetic radio is powered with a crank to recharge. 

Category 4: Sustenance & Hygiene  

nalgene stainless steel water bottle boiling water on a firebox camp stove

  • Nalgene Stainless Steel Bottle

    These are great because, in addition to being excellent water bottles, you can also put them directly on a fire to cook or boil water. This eliminates redundancy and weight in your pack.

  • Ben's deep 30 bug & tick repellent

    This unscented DEET formula will be your best friend in the woods. Ticks and bugs can carry a wide range of threatening diseases, deter them with Ben’s.

  • Lighter and matches

    If you need to start a fire quickly, carrying a lighter and matches will be essential.

  • Mini fishing kit or fishing implements

    Whether you choose to bring a fishing rod or make use of a makeshift fishing rod is your choice. There are a number of options, but carrying a fishing implement of any kind can help you access food more readily.

  • MREs

    xmre packable meals
    MREs are fully-cooked kits of great tasting, hearty food that requires no refrigeration and has a 5-year shelf life. These can be a lifesaver when you need to eat quickly and discreetly.

  • Freeze-dried food

    Freeze-dried food is an excellent item to pack. Not only are they lightweight, but they can be prepared and eaten in their mylar bag, making them exceptionally convenient. Freeze-dried foods have a 20-30 year shelf life, making them a worthy investment in your survival plan. For an emergency kit, freeze-dried foods are one of the most important things you can bring.

  • Ultimate fire tinder

    The best way to have tinder without searching. This can be a lifesaver in a damp environment or if you need to start a fire quickly.

  • Firebox wood stove

    Great for cooking and having a small controlled fire. Lightweight and folds flat to store in your pack with ease.

  • Toilet paper tablets

    These compact tablets are an essential survival item. Take care of your business without harming a leaf.

  • Multivitamins or survival tabs.

    Vitamin deficiency is a real threat when surviving. A supplement can help you thrive even in times of scarcity.

  • Geigerrig water bladder

    This bladder has a built-in filter to protect you from viruses, debris, and waterborne pathogens. It is also pressured to allow you to irrigate a wound, share water without needing to sanitize the tube, and more. 
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