Don’t Forget the Small Stuff

Whenever I see lists of suggested bug-out bag items, they are dominated by the “big stuff” – emergency food, water, fire-starters, a knife and cordage. Those items are very important, but what tends to get overlooked is the “small stuff.”

These smaller items can make a big difference and help you avoid a major headache if you remember to pack them, and the fact that you can fit a bunch of them in a bug-out bag with no problem is an added benefit. I’ve listed some of these items below. You don’t need all of them, but you should have room for most of them.

  • Flashlight. Your best choice here is a hand-crank dynamo generator light because their bulbs rarely burn out and their batteries rarely corrode.
  • Compass. A reliable, durable, military-style Lensatic compass should be your first choice. It could help create a map to find your way back to a campsite.
  • First-Aid Kit. Buy a pre-made kit or put one together. Include iodine, burn salve, antibacterial ointment, Band-Aids and Ace bandages, gauze, etc.
  • Emergency Whistle. A sporting goods store survival whistle is loudest, but a coach’s whistle will do. Put it on a lanyard and hang it around your neck.
  • Heavy Trash Bags. These bags can be used as a shelter frame to keep out rain, a floatation device or a small sink for capturing rainwater or washing dishes.
  • Signal Mirror. A small mirror can reflect strong sunlight a long way. A durable military style signal mirror includes a sighting system.
  • Sunglasses. Choose UV/A or UV/B glasses. They are even more important in the winter than summer due to potential snow blindness.
  • Insect Repellant. Choose one with a high DEET content in a tube (not a can). Check the expiration date periodically and replace if necessary.
  • Mosquito Head Net. In addition to head protection, it can be used as a minnow net, carry bag for vegetables or dirty clothes tote bag.
  • Orange Safety Vest. Buy an inexpensive blaze orange hunting vest that’s a couple of sizes too large so it can fit over other clothing, including a coat.
  • Super Glue. You can use it to fix a broken knife grip, plug holes in a canteen and even repair your skin after suffering a small open wound or abrasion.
  • Miscellaneous Items. These would include nails for building with wood, edible plant handbook, first-aid manual, toilet paper, small sewing kit, mini binoculars, small scissors, latex gloves, and game or bird calls.
  • Comfort Items. Some folks may want a Bible or playing cards, others cigarettes and still others a harmonica. The important thing is that these items should be able to comfort you during a stressful time.

The small items you include in your bug-out bag can make or break your bug-out experience. Make sure you have a vast majority of the items listed above, as well as any others you think you might need.


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