My Bug Out Bag

Bugout bags are constantly discussed on the Internet and YouTube. Fema recommends being ready to survive for three days without modern infrastructure in a natural disaster. The zombie Acropolis bag is the other side of bug-out bags, which usually includes a firearm.

A tech podcaster (Patric Norton) did his urban bug-out bag years ago. The video is long gone, but it was a much more realistic take. Instead of a bug-out bag, his was a get-home bag. The claim was that his family bug-out bag was more about throwing food, family, and camping gear in an older (IE, no computer) vehicle and driving away from the Bay Area. But to get to that point, he needed to be able to hike from San Francisco to the East Bay. My bug-out bag is a take on this idea; I need to get from Sunnyvale to Dublin 40 miles. Or drive away to a known meeting location that my family will also head toward, which is an entire state away.

My survival set is different from those pre-purchased kits. I have substituted in a lot of gear around the house. If you do any camping, you probably have half the needed gear and, in reality, need to fill some gaps. Most of this stuff gets used throughout the year, so anything that does not age well is used and replaced naturally. The last thing you need is an emergency kit that is so old everything falls apart. While my kit is expensive, once you remove everything I already owned, it’s about a hundred bucks worth of extra gear, most of which are water filters and a few other odds and ends.

Where is my bag ?

In my daily commute vehicle.

What is not in my bag?

These two items are discussed in almost every bug-out bag video and do not reside in mine.

First, a firearm: My car is parked in a school parking lot in California. A secured firearm in my vehicle is a felony, and if someone found out, instant termination. While no case law on felony involves a school employee, there have been terminations even in union environments.

Second, two to five thousand dollars in cash. If you are bugging out even in a car due to a disaster, it is safe to assume electronic money access may be down in the area. You need enough paper money to purchase gas or food at inflated prices. I am not keeping that in my car in a school parking lot or any Parking lot in California.

What is my bug-out bag?

My bag is an old, comfortable backpack stored in a Pelican Air 615 case in the back of my car. The bag is not packed, instead I have “kits” in the pelican case that can be quickly grabbed and tossed into the bag to hike away. This is done for two reasons. First, I keep way more stuff than I plan to walk away with, and Second, I want to force myself to slow down and think for a few minutes about what I need to walk away. There is a great saying in emergency work: “Slow is Smooth, and Smooth is fast.” I may need to return to the office, grab something I forgot, or fill up my hydration pack. Forcing myself to add a few minutes of thinking before leaving will pay off later.

What is in my bag?

My system consists of modular kits, which I use when traveling. It’s much more efficient to keep these in the car for emergencies than to take them apart and store them between vacations only to put them back together for the next trip.

Pelican Air 1615 (Holds everything, is also my vacation luggage) Back Pack Hydration Pack ( I can take just this or pull the hydration part and put it in my backpack, which has a spot for hydration systems.

What is the case?

Dopp Kit (doubles for use at work. If I am walking away, I am just grabbing soap, toothpaste, and toothbrush) This is my actual vacation kit by keeping it in my bug out bag setup it is always ready to go and stuff that expires gets used on a regular basis. I also dont have to find a place to stor it as it lives in my car.

First Aid Kit (never be without) Just like with the Dopp kit, this is the car first aid kit and the travel first aid kit.


One week’s worth of any medication you and your family are on.

Clothing Kit

This should all fit easily in a packing cube. Again, I would not hike away with all of this. The list covers just about every possible situation at work and on the side of the road.

  • Work Shirt (this is for emergencies at work)
  • Work Pants (emergencies at work)
  • Pair of Microfiber Underwear (washable and quickly air dry)
  • Swim Suit (doubles as underwear and or hiking shorts. Guys get a square leg or jammer style hiking in a traditional swimsuit is not pleasant)
  • Socks (2 pairs keep your feet dry)
  • Hiking shoes (unless that’s what you wear at work)
  • Shorts
  • Jeans/Sweat Pants/Leggings
  • Gloves (not work gloves)

Emergency Equipment

  • Emergency Radio
  • Emergency Survival Whistle

Electronics Kit

  • Power Bank (Noco JB40, jump starts cars and can charge a phone 10 or 15 times)
  • USB to Lightning cable (iPhone)
  • USB to USB-C (Most new electronics)
  • USB to MicroUSB (Most old electronics
  • USB-C to USB-C (charge stuff from larger laptop battery)

    Water Kit

  • Good water bottle
  • Collapsible Canteans (bring your total up to a gal)
  • Water Filter (I use the Sawyer Mini Water Filter)
  • Water purification tablets (If you do not want to purchase a filter)
  • 4-way sillcock key (or utility key): This opens every hose bib and building water lockout cabinet in urban environments.

Shelter Kit

  • Survival Blanket (UST Survival BLanket 2.0)
  • Sleeping Bag (in the car) or a Thermal Bivvy, a heavy-duty survival blanket that works as a sleeping bag.

Tool Kit

  • Matches, self-strike in a waterproof kit
  • Lighter (I’m lazy, but this needs to be in addition to matches just in case it loses its charge while stored)
  • Heavy Duty Garbage Bags
  • Work Gloves
  • Respirator mask
  • Good flashlight with extra batteries (do not store batteries in the flashlight)
  • Leatherman / Multi-tool
  • Paracord (100 feet)
  • Duct Tape
  • Can Opener (If Multi-tool or Leatherman lacks)

Special Items

  • Folding Shovel
  • Knife (I have an old Survival K-bar from the 80’s that has been sharpened and placed in a new safety sheet)
  • Small Axe
  • Toilet Paper roll (in a 1 Gal zip lock bag)


Six thousand calories (3 days for the average person). Clark Bars or something similar works very well for this.


If you are fleeing fire, flood, Earthquake, or Florida, you will probably need these documents if you cannot return to your home or if it is lost in the disaster.

  • Copy of the Deed to your home
  • Insurance Policy # and contact information
  • Color Copy of Passport
  • Color Copy of Drivers License

Kit Maintanence

Everything that has an expiration date needs to be noted and rotated. I recomend a 3 x 5 card listing item and expiration date on the outside of the kit. One of the advantages of using your standard travel stuff is you will go through it whenever you pack for a trip. Since My setup is in my luggage, I reset and rotate everything when I return from a vacation. It only takes a few extra minutes to unpack.

Medications Need to be replaced at least every year.

Food Even those emergency rations, have expiration dates.