Quick References

Things That Are NOT Needed in a Bug Out Bag

trashA few days ago someone posted this thread regarding Things That are NOT Needed in a Bug Out Bag, which perked my attention. Normally, we like to focus our attention on what should be included in our bag but never really consider the opposite question: what doesn’t belong. I know for a fact that my bug out bag is stuffed to the gills with as much as I could fit; certainly, this will include both necessary and (probably) unnecessary stuff as well.

Seeing as though I enjoy being a very organized and thorough person, I realized that this is a big part of what an organizer does, and that is deciding what doesn’t need to be in a person’s house. To make things worse, preppers tend to stockpile more stuff than the average Joe which only contributes to overcrowding. In this case, however, the question is what does and doesn’t belong in your bug out bag?

Let me post a small part of the OP’s comments (I’ll leave out his explanations to save on space):

“What commonly listed items do you NOT include in your SHTF backpack?

Across innumerable backpack/BoB/INCH threads, I see certain items repeatedly included that I consider dead weight and of limited utility.

A couple I’ve noticed:

  • Folding Shovels/Entrenching Tools
  • Survival Manuals and Military Field Manuals
  • Machetes

What say you? Any commonly listed favorites that you can live without?”

I immediately looked at his list and said “Wait a minute… I have those things in our bags!” Others chimed in and said they don’t keep things like:

  • a deck of playing cards
  • toothpaste
  • chemical lights
  • hand warmers
  • precious metals
  • plastic spoons, knives, and forks
  • gill net
  • medical supplies (that you don’t know how to use)
  • a tent
  • D-cell flashlight

I keep most of those things in our bags too… yikes! Am I doing something wrong? And, if you do also, are you doing something wrong too?

I say not at all. My bag is not his bag. Similarly, your bag is not my bag. What you choose to include is your business. Of course, space and weight are huge considerations in any bug out bag build, so I recognize the need to reduce and remove unnecessary gear. In fact, I did just that not too long ago. Seeing as though I couldn’t have unused space, however, I quickly filled it with things like more freeze-dried food. ;)

From my own experience, here’s some examples of personal items…

A Few Things I Used to Keep (but have since removed):

  • backpacking tent – now I just keep a sturdy tarp and paracord to makeshift a shelter if need be (and save loads of space).
  • kukri (sort of like a machete) – it’s a neat toy but I’m not very experienced with one so I choose to rely on a good fixed-blade knife instead.
  • commando (wire) saw – where to start… other than they’re worthless.
  • fishing kit – I’m not planning on heading into the wilderness or even be anywhere I could catch fish in the first place.

Some Things I Still Keep (but probably don’t need):

  • assorted personal hygiene items – we have an entire small travel kit that includes far more than just toothpaste.
  • flask – gotta’ have at least one vice!
  • carabiners – don’t see me ever really using these, especially since I only keep paracord.
  • facial tissue – doesn’t weigh much and I had a small pocket that just begged for them to be there. :)
  • various entertainment – crosswords, deck of cards, kid’s coloring book, etc.
  • emergency mylar blankets – these things are horrible but for some reason I just can’t bring myself to take the last ones out.

In all honesty, there are likely plenty of other pieces of gear that I might not use, it just depends on the situation. So, what about you? Any of these items sound familiar? What did I miss or am I wrong?

10 comments to Things That Are NOT Needed in a Bug Out Bag

  • RGR

    Your goal is to keep your BOB below 25-30 pounds. As a retired Ranger we would carry Rucks that weight up to 100 pounds. For 10+ mile road marches for training 35-40 pounds and even at that reduced weight it would kick you butt. Pack light to get to your cache, 20 miles in 3-4 days. I know that sounds like a short distance but factor in age, OPSEC, traveling partners and kids and you will find this is realistic. When your on foot its about survival with what you have so get rid of junk like playing cards, shampoos, facial tissue, 1000 rounds of ammo etc. My basic list is Poncho w/liner 100rds ammo, 2qt canteen, 2 pair socks, dry sleep shirt, bar of ivory soap, towel, high cal. food bars, small first aid kit, Ranger handbook, map, compass, wpns cleaning kit. God Bless and Keep Your Powder Dry.

    • I know I’m over the 30 pound limit. I’m sure after a solid day of travelling and still not being anywhere near I need to be I’ll be ditching all sorts of stuff!

  • Junipers

    I have taken everything out of my BOB over & over again. The problem for me is being too prepared! For the love of Pete~if you saw my BOB you’d have a hissy fit about my medical BOB. If I were truely honest here, & ok, I will be: If I picked that sucker up and tried to put it on my back I’d topple over backwards. It’s helpful hints that make us stop and think about “what really do I need?” Thank you…once again, I’ll go through my bag and try to eliminate some more stuff. Sigh..

    • T.R.

      My problem is that I’m a gear head , I like “stuf ” . and over think what i would actually need .

    • You brought up a good thought, that I keep a separate medical bag with all sorts of stuff I probably wouldn’t (or know how to use). Guess that’s why I keep it in my wife’s BOB considering she’s a nurse. :)

  • Morris

    Circumstance or situation determines some choices. In city or suburban
    area-cheap’o plastic rain poncho, but if there’s possibilities of going into the woods-a more durable rain suit that won’t rip on the first bush.
    A sample packet of sunscreen might be appropriate for summer exposure and
    bug lotion necessary if possibly venturing into the woods in the spring.

    • That’s absolutely true. So, a big part of designing our bug out bags is to determine what potential situations we expect to reasonably encouter; hence, why I choose to remove my small fishing kit. Granted, it wasn’t very big and didn’t take up much space but it just didn’t fit with my current expectations.

  • T.R.

    Bob/Inch bag are two very different things , and Inch bag ( I’m Never Coming Home again )is a bag that is full of ” unneeded ” items survivaly , but things that are of sentimental value or family heirlooms that you will want to keep or pass down after things calm down ( they always do calm down eventually ) that will be lost forever if left behind .
    Like you said , everybody’s situation and needs are different . No tent ? screw that ! have both . Remember one thing ……take more than you need , if you dont need it , you can simply ditch it later or trade it for something . I pack real heave for five reasons , 1. Im in good enough shape to handle the load 2. I may be equipping the move for more than one person in mind 3. I like to be comfortable 4. I dont like to do without if I dont have to ( better to have it and not need it than the other way ) 5. It will take very very extreme circumstances for me to be dislodged from my home , if its THAT bad ……I know Its going to last a whole lot longer than the minimum benchmark of 72 hours before I can go back .

    just use common sense on this one , everybodys sit wil be different . Yeah , perhaps get rid of the plastic spoons and get a German Army 4 piece utensil kit . They are compact and well made . Things like that .