Assuming you have your adult-sized bug-out bag packed and ready to go, it’s time to start putting together a bag for each child or grandchild in your life.
Children come in many different shapes and sizes, but a general rule of thumb is that the bag’s weight should not exceed one-quarter of the child’s weight.
Depending on whether you use an existing kid’s backpack or purchase a new one, the two main keys are wide and cushioned shoulder straps and a reinforced bottom. Right behind in importance are a strong waist belt, outside gear straps and buckles.
Just because this bug-out bag will be customized for a kid 6 years old or older, that doesn’t mean it should be filled with “kid” stuff, such as video games, toys and candy bars. This isn’t a picnic or vacation you’re preparing for here. It’s all about survival.
Once you have all of the essential survival items packed in your child’s bug-out bag and the weight isn’t too much, you can squeeze in a few comfort items.
And now for what should go inside a child’s bug-out bag. I’ve purposely included more items than you will have room for in order to give you some choices.
- Emergency Whistle. This is a crucial item for anyone, but especially for a kid because it’s a safety net for them. If the child is mature enough to not blow the whistle for fun, he or she can wear it on a lanyard around the neck. If children or grandchildren get separated from you while gathering wood or another activity, they can use the whistle to alert you to their position.
- LED Pocket Flashlight. Kids will feel much more secure having their own flashlight, although again it’s important to make sure they understand that it’s not a toy. A hand-generator light is your first choice here, but a younger child may be better off with a smaller palm-size LED. Make sure to pack extra batteries as well.
- Water Bottle or Canteen. Like adults, children need to stay hydrated if they’re going to maintain their strength in a survival situation. Younger kids can get by with a water bottle, while older children will appreciate a canteen.
- Water Purification Tablets. Hopefully you won’t run out of the water you take with you when you bug out. But if so, water purification tablets will come in very handy. A lightweight Survival Spring, which removes 99.99 percent of waterborne bacteria and parasites, would also be a great addition to a kid’s backpack.
- Mess Kit. Each child should have a complete mess kit in his or her bag, including a plate, cup, bowl and utensils.
- Emergency Space Blanket. Because they take up so little room when folded compactly, put two of these emergency space blankets in your child’s bug-out bag. It could get very cold if you have to sleep outdoors or in a car overnight.
- Poncho or Raincoat. Keeping the kids’ regular clothing as dry as possible is very important. A poncho or raincoat should accomplish that task. This is another lightweight item that will take up very little space in a backpack.
- Bandanas. Several brightly colored bandanas will fold up nicely in a bag and serve a wide variety of purposes, including as a signal, pot holder, sling, sun block, sweatband and washcloth, as well as for cleaning glasses and other lenses.
- Extra Socks and Gloves. Pack at least two pairs of warm socks for each change of clothing you’re including in the bag, as well as at least two pairs of gloves or mittens. Your child’s extremities will get cold, especially if they become wet.
- Hat and Wool Knit Cap. Kids can wear a baseball hat during the day to keep the sun off their heads and a wool knit cap at night to stay warm.
- Winter Coat and Windbreaker. Even in warmer climates, it can get pretty chilly at night. Make sure the jacket has a warm hood. A warm sweatshirt could also do the trick.
- Footwear. In addition to the sneakers they’ll probably have on when you leave the house quickly, pack a pair of hiking boots or waterproof boots in a tote within the bag.
- Mosquito Net. There may be areas where you have to walk in which mosquitos or other bugs will be plentiful, and this item will keep the annoying flying creatures off the kids’ faces.
- Towel and Wash Cloth. Your child can use these items to wash their faces and/or wipe sweat off their brows.
- Toilet Paper. Rolls of toilet paper are nice and light, but unfortunately they’re bulky. Still, you don’t want your child to be without this essential item, so include at least one roll per child. Wrap rolls in a plastic bag to keep moisture out.
- Pocket Knife. This is an item you’ll only want to include if your child is old enough and mature enough to handle a knife.
- Food. As a general rule, kids should eat the same survival food you and your party are eating after bugging out. Below are some other items they might enjoy:
- Hot Chocolate Mix. A soothing, warm beverage may be just what they need after a time of walking. It will also provide them with the energy they need to go on.
- Energy Food. This could include granola bars, trail mix and hard candies. This is not the time to worry about your kids’ sugar intake. They’ll need the calories. You can return to healthier eating patterns later.
- Dry Breakfast Cereal. Single-serve cereal boxes are a handy way to get a meal into your kids. The boxes serve as “bowls” and then can be used as tinder if necessary.
- Powdered Milk. This is something they can use with their dry cereal, or just as a drink during meals. They’re a little on the bulky side, but necessary for your kid’s contentment.
- Single-Serve Packets of Power Drink Mixes. Kids love them and they last for years.
If your children or grandchildren are old enough to carry a backpack, they will be happy to do it. It will make them feel like a vital part of the team during a survival situation.