Choosing a commercial bug out bag

Choosing a commercial Bug Out BagA bug out bag should be loaded with all the essentials that enable you to survive for more than three days.  Since making a bug out bag requires some serious thought and planning, there are those who prefer buying a pre-packed, commercial bug out bag. If that is the case here is what you should know before making a purchase.

Although I prefer to customize my survival bag, based on my skills and needs, there are people who prefer to buy a pre-packed bug out bag to avoid the struggle of planning every single detail of their bugging out plan. I somehow understand this and I think that going this way is still better than not being prepared at all.

If you plan to buy a commercial bug out bag, here are my recommendations based on the items I’ve seen on the market. Before you buy the bag you assume would be ideal for you, make sure it covers the following essentials.

Commercial bug out bag essentials to look for:

1. The bug out bag you plan to buy should cover all the majors needed for survival. It should contain items for each of the following survival categories: water, food, shelter and fire. All the items included should meet a minimum 72 hour requirement. This is a must for every survival bag and if the model you picked is missing something or it is short packed, you should look for something else.

2. walmartThe bag itself should be durable and made from tough fabric. Make sure you examine the bag since a detailed look can reveal many imperfections that will become a hustle under continuous use. Weekly stitched seams, bad zippers, poorly sewn strap connections are all details you should look for as they will reveal the quality of the bag. If you don’t want to go wrong with your commercial bug out bag, make sure it is made from tough fabric, that it has double-stitched seams and all components are high quality.

3. Check the number of items and make sure it has all the necessary equipment, not fillers. If you buy online, you should ready carefully all the items that are included in the survival bag. Some sellers will list every match or every bandage as individual items, and you may have more than 100 items listed for the bag. In reality, you will have only about a dozen necessary main groups of products.

4. The total weight of the commercial bug out bag is an important factor and you need to pick one suited for you. Exceeding the recommended carrying weight for your physical build is not recommended and it will cost you more than a few supplies being left behind. Keep this in mind when choosing your bag:

  • For on-trail, the recommended body/carry weight ratio should be between 30 to 40 percent.
  • For off-trail, the recommended body/carry weight ratio should be 20 to 30 percent.

To put it simple, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should never exceed 72 pounds of weight for your on-trail bug out bag and 54 pounds of weight for off-trail.

5. Try to comfort-test the commercial bug out bag when fully filled as it will help you understand what works and what doesn’t. You will have to carry this bag with you through all possible types of terrain and it needs to be comfortable. If it feels like a part of you, chances are you will be able to make the journey. If not, try to identify the rough points affecting your stance and check if you can reconfigure the items within your bag. After re-configuring the items, if the pain is still there, the bag itself must be the problem. You should try different packs until you find the most comfortable one for you.


Related reading: Step by step guide to make your own first aid kit


6. Is there additional gear space? You should check for this as I can guarantee that no commercial bug out bag has everything you would possibly need. You may have your own survival gear that you want to put in, so you would need the extra space. If you chose a bag that is already stretched to its limits, you don’t have any room for customization. I recommend finding a bag that has around 20% of empty space. It should be more than enough to add your own survival items.

7. Make sure to check the expiration date on the items contained within your commercial bug out bag. You may find one on sale, but it would become useless if the items expire in less than a year. Check the expiration date for the medical supplies, food and any other items that have a limited shelf life.

8. If possible, test the quality of the included items. You should try out the components included in your commercial bug out bag. Check the equipment for ease of operation, weight and durability under normal and extreme conditions. Taste the food and use the tools and if they meet your expectations, you made the right choice.

9. Correctly identify each item and know how to use it. The items included in your commercial bug out bag should have no secrets for you. If your bag contains items that are mystery for you, the smart thing would be to learn how to use those items before disaster strikes. Don’t pick a survival bag just because it has state of the art survival gear. If you don’t know how to use that gear, it will do you no service during an emergency situation.

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10. Check the reviews. An unsatisfied customer equals ten satisfied ones, so make sure you read the reviews for the commercial bug out bag you intend on buying. You will be able to find out what other customers experienced and it may provide you with answers for the questions you haven’t thought of. This is an important step to follow and it will provide you with all the details you need to make the purchase.

A commercial bug out bag is a good alternative for all the people that need to be prepared, but don’t have the time and dedication to become a prepper. A pre-packed survival bag may not be ideal for everyone, but it will sure make a difference when the brown stuff hits the fan.

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8 thoughts on “Choosing a commercial bug out bag

  1. I actually groaned out loud when I read this post. Anyone who is so ignorant or unmotivated (lazy) that they would resort to purchasing a so-called commercial bug out bag will almost certainly lack the necessary skills to survive 72 hours after they strap it on. The only interest served by these companies is profit derived from suckers who think that owning one is an easy solution to a problem they are too lazy to think through.

  2. Buying “commercial bug out bag” is silly, lazy, and borders on being stupid. The internet has hundreds of well written articles by experienced backpackers and survivalists about what is needed to prepare a bug out bag. I strongly suggest you begin by reading from backpacker web sites to better understand the necessity and importance of owning a quality well designed back pack, then after making that most important purchase, begin to research and purchase the items needed to build your bug out bag. After researching the back pack and other items you will understand their use and why you should own them. After 40 years of hiking, camping, and living in the jungles of Central America and the forests and swamps of America, I can assure you, there are no commercial bug out bags currently available that will meet your needs for long term self sustainable survival. You will need to build one yourself using many different sources of quality product manufacture.

    • Well said. My bug out bags and additional survival gear are based on the terrain and climate conditions of the Southwest deserts and mountain ranges. While the bags and their contents certainly contain items that would be owned by a prepper in northern Wisconsin or south Georgia, my gear is tuned to the environment that is unique to me, and it is tested by years of trial and error.

      I’m sure the article is well intentioned, but it poses a real danger to ignorant, gullible and lazy people.

  3. Ben, same here. I enjoy diversified hiking and camping regions, from the Louisiana swamps, to the southern half of the Appalachian Trail, the jungles of Oaxaca, the ocean front of Michoacan, and the mountains of Colima and Jalisco. Some of the items are interchangeable from one or more locations, but there are also particular pieces of equipment that will not work in all environments. E.G. sleeping on the Michoacan or Oaxaca jungle floor in my bivy sack is a good way to wake up with guests in my bag, such as scorpions, tarantulas, and even those damned Jumping Pit Vipers. The bivy is put away and we use Clark Jungle Hammocks to sleep above the creepy crawly things that go slither in the night. But, my bolo machete is one item that goes to every location with me, I keep it in a leather scabbard on the outside of my backpack, with the handle grip located in easy reach over my right shoulder at all times.. Some park rangers stateside have a problem with it and I’ve even been threatened with arrest by one city cop in north Georgia for carrying a “knife” (the machete) over the legal length . His supervisor came on the scene and told him, “that is a tool, not a knife”. I’ve not hiked the SW deserts yet.

    • Ditto for me on carrying a machete in my pack, only it is an Ontario Knife (12″ machete with the “D” handle). Great for clearing brush and overhanging branches, and if all else fails, it makes a great defense item if you run out of ammo.
      I don’t see very many “commercial” bug out bags that include this.

      • Ben, I’ve never owned an Ontario Knife, but have seen them up close, I sure appreciate the quality they put into their product. I bought a good bolo machete in Mexico and had a metal worker shorten it, sharpen the top side of half of the blade, and add a new and bigger handle with rubber grips. Been using it to clear trails, cut fire wood, flatten scorpions, and backhand the heads off of snakes for many years now. I forgot it trail-side once, walked 2 hours round trip to retrieve it. Can’t do with out it. It’s propped up here next to my desk right now. Makes for quiet home security. I’m currently at our house in the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico. I can walk the village streets or into stores with my machete in my hand, nobody even notices… it’s a common tool here.

  4. I can see the use of these for people like my ex and her new man. I had bob’s made up for her, our daughter and myself, and other gear, but of course smart her sold it all for $40 after we broke up. And her new man wouldn’t know the first thing about a bob.

    • hey, Rev, she sounds like she suffers form normalcy bias, “why should I need a BOB, nothing will ever change, we’ll always live happily among rainbows and unicorns”. But, Rev, count yourself lucky that you can now call her your EX. Having a wife like that would be a serious burden post shtf. BTW, does she have any more of your gear for sale? And if so, what’s her email address? LOL

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