Survival Bag

February 11, 2015

in Tools

Here is a description of a survival bag (or bug-out bag) designed for general purpose use with a total cost of just under $300. Most of the contents were packed into three mesh bags and the mesh bags packed into the backpack with the Mora knife and the water bottles in the side pockets. Everything fits into the backpack and the backpack fits into the bucket. Alternatively, the food can be packed into the homer bucket with more room left there for food, water, clothing or whatever else is needed.

Everything in the bag

Everything in the bag

The bag and food

The bag and food

  • 1 High Sierra “Stretch” backpack, cost $27, selected by size and cost
  • 2 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), (est cost $10)
  • 3 Mountain House freeze dried meals, (est cost $15)
  • 1 Datrex 3600 Emergency Food Bar, cost $10, 3,600 calories in a block of condensed bars
Fire, light, guide, knives

Fire, light, guide, knives



  • Moldex 2730 N100 Respirator Mask, cost $5
  • 1 Lightload Towel, cost $2
  • 1 Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Lip Moisturizer, SPF 15, cost $3
  • 1 Travelon Toiletry Sheets (50 hand soap sheets), cost $4
  • 1 No-Ad Spf 30 UVA and UVB Ultra Sunblock Lotion – 8.5 Oz, cost $4
  • 1 Repel HG-406T Lemon Eucalyptus 4-Ounce Insect Repellent Pump Spray, $1
  • 1 Padded Aluminum Splint, cost $6
  • 1 small tub containing: (est total cost $15)
    • 1 small piece moleskin
    • 5 wound closure strips
    • 5 bandaids
    • 10 Q-tips
    • 1 finger splint (small piece of SAM splint to practice with)
    • 3 Bacitracin w/pain relief packets (anti-biotic cream)
    • 3 alcohol cleaning packets
    • 3 rolled up pieces of assorted stretchy, sticky bandages
    • 1 ZipFizz drink powder w/electrolytes and vitamins
    • 1 liquid bandage
    • Ziplock bag containing – 10 green tablets of loperamide chloride (Immodium) – anti-diarrhea
    • 1 pillbox containing:
      • 10 red tablets of diphenhydramine chloride (Benedryl) antihistamine – allergy/cold-flu
      • 10 white tablets of extra strength acetaminophen (Tylenol) – pain relief
      • 10 blue tablets of naproxen sodium (Aleve) – longer pain relief
      • yellow tablets of aspirin (81 mg child strength coated) – pain relief and heart attack
Cooking, shelter, fishing

Cooking, shelter, fishing

  • 1 Polar Pure Water Disinfectant With Iodine Crystals (for 2,000 quarts), cost $20
  • 1 Texsport Stainless Steel Mess Kit w/pot and cup, cost $18
  • 1 coffee can (with holes punched in top edge for suspending) containing – 1 roll toilet paper, 2 tube ZippFizz electrolyte drink w/vitamins, 2 tampons, 5 coffee filters (est total cost $2)
  • 1 Coleman Camper’s Utensil Set w/knife blade, cost $10
  • 1 Platypus PlusBottle 1 liter, cost $17
  • 1 ER Emergency Ready Thermal Mylar Blankets, cost $2
  • 2 large plastic garbage bags, (est cost $1)
  • 2 25′ lengths of 550 paracord, (est cost $3)
  • HeatMax EverCool Cooling Bandana, (est cost $2)
  • 1 pair gloves, (est cost $2)
  • 1 wad duct tape, (est cost $1)
  • 2 small bundles of velcro straps, (est cost $1)
  • 1 Lightload Towel, cost $2
  • 1 small tub w/fishing kit containing – 30′ of 100 lb test line, hooks, lures, weights (need floats), (est cost $5)

Finally, all three of the above collections (fire/light/guide/knives, medical, cooking/shelter/fishing) were packed into 3 mesh bags, cost $5.

The following items were added:

Bucket, bottle, mesh bags, mora knife

Bucket, bottle, mesh bags, mora knife

A 10′ by 10′ piece of plastic sheeting was added (only in top pic) and the following instruction document was included:

Survival Bag Instructions


Bag: medium size High Sierra backpack
Food: 2 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), 3 Mountain House dehydrated meals, 1 Datrex blue block of 72 hour food rations
Bucket: Home Depot “Homer” bucket #2 food grade storage bucket with lid
2 bottles: 1 stainless steel, 1 RubberMade (Mora sheath knife inside)
plastic sheet (for solar still or shelter)
1 survival book
Tools mesh bag:
folding knife, multi-tool in ziplock bag
2 LED flashlights, 1 headlamp in ziplock bag (may have plastic tabs protecting batteries)
2 light sticks
2 butane lighters, 1 box matches, 1 firesteel, 2 wet tinder cubes, 1 magnifying lens in ziplock bag
1 compass
First Aid mesh bag:
1 SAM splint (orange foam w/aluminum core)
1 respiratory mask
1 large tube sunscreen
1 insect repellent (non-DEET)
1 lip balm chapstick
1 container 50 hand soap sheets
1 dry towel washcloth
First Aid tub: moleskin, wound closure strips, bandaids, liquid bandage, stretchy sticky bandage
Q-tips, ZipFizz drink powder, finger splint (a small piece of SAM splint to practice with)
3 Bacitracin w/pain relief packets (anti-biotic cream), 3 alcohol cleaning packets
10 loperamide chloride (Immodium) green tablets in ziplock bag – anti-diarrhea
pill box:
aspirin (81 mg child strength coated) – pain relief and heart attack
10 extra strength acetaminophen (Tylenol) – pain relief
10 naproxen sodium (Aleve) – longer pain relief
10 diphenhydramine chloride (Benedryl) antihistamine – allergy/cold-flu
Camping mesh bag:
1 mess kit (w/small pot and cup inside)
1 eating utensil (with knife blade)
1 Platypus collapsible water bottle
1 Polar iodine (read instructions)
2 25′ lengths of 550 paracord
1 pair gloves
1 space blanket
2 black garbage bags
1 wad of duct tape
1 dry towel
1 wet bandana (soak for several hours for cooling effect on neck)
2 small bundles of velcro straps
1 tin can w/roll of toilet paper, 2 tampons, several coffee filters, and 2 ZipFizz drink mix
1 fishing kit tub: 30′ of 100 lb test line, hooks, lures, weights (need floats)

Add yourself:
Clothes: shoes, hat, warmth related clothes, complete change of underwear and outerwear
Maps, contact list, money, cell phone, more water…

INSTRUCTIONS: [become familiar with the survival book, know what’s in it and where to find it, but this may help also]

1: Know the rule of Threes – you can survive about three minutes without air, you can survive about three hours without shelter (under extreme conditions, but this is highly variable depending on conditions and protections), you can survive about three days without water, you can survive about three weeks without food. Adapt this rule according to your situation, but it helps supply a good baseline of awareness for critical needs. Air Shelter Water Food; is the general sequence, but it can change. Most of the time, we don’t think too much about air and shelter, just taking them for granted until that is challenged. Remember that shelter includes the protection offered by clothing. That leaves us mostly concerned about water and food until air or shelter needs change.

2: Water – is generally your top concern. Under extreme heat and exertion, water can become critical in less than three days, but it WILL become critical in three days under normal conditions and as you approach the critical level, your ability to function and reason and think clearly will drop off quickly, so it’s important to stay as far away from that edge as possible. Stay hydrated when possible. Water is more important than food and you should not eat much if you don’t have water. Always note where your possible water sources are and remember them. You can find water in and under damp sand. You can find water in condensed dew in the morning. You can extract water from plants or from impure water sources using a solar still if you have some plastic sheet and know how to do it. Green plants show the presence of water and animal trails usually lead to water.

Rapidly moving, cold water is usually the best, but pay attention to any obvious contaminants such as dead animals or chemical sludge. Retrieve the best quality water you can. Use a coffee filter to remove rough debris from the water. This is mostly cosmetic. It takes very fine filters (down to .2 microns) to remove microbes like giardia and cryptosporidium. Boil the filtered water to kill biological pathogens and viruses, or use the iodine disinfectant for the same purpose. You don’t need to do both. If you have time, you can disinfect water with ultraviolet light by exposing it to strong sunlight for 6-8 hours. Use a clear container, no thicker than a 2L soda bottle. Any water that has been disinfected should be stored in a clean container and care should be taken to not contaminate it by contact with dirty water. The tin can has holes drilled in the side to use cord to suspend it over a fire. It can also be placed directly into a bed of coals. The stainless steel bottle can be used the same way.

Finding water in extreme conditions – follow the greenness of vegetation to find water sources. Follow animal trails to water sources. Collect impure water, vegetation, or anything that is damp and use a solar still to extract clean water from it (see survival book). Put a bag over a branch of leaves to collect condensation. Overnight, spread out a plastic bag or anything flat at an angle with a collector at the bottom to gather condensed dew.

3: Fire – Fire is important for many reasons: it can offer warmth against cold when shelter is inadequate, it can be used to boil water to purify it for drinking, it can be used to cook food, it can be used as a signal for rescue, it can be used to make a variety of tools. Know what it takes to build a fire: a combustion source, tinder for combustion, kindling, and then main fuel. Matches or a lighter are the easiest combustion sources, but you can also use flint and steel, a fire bow and drill, sunlight magnified by a lens or mirror, a fire piston compression device, electricity and steel wool, and some chemical reactions. But you need to know how to perform these techniques and most likely will have to practice them before being capable of using them in a survival situation. Some of them require specific tools and knowledge and most of them require a great deal of patience (often several hours of effort, which may not be worthwhile).

Fire starters = matches and butane lighter. Wet tinder for extreme conditions. Try to save this until you really need it. Swedish Firesteel – an easier to use version of flint and steel. Practice with this until you have the hang of it. Collect your combustion tinder first, then place it where it can best catch and burn. Point the firesteel rod down into the tinder, then begin scraping the rod with the steel striker, sending a shower of sparks flying down
into the tinder, causing combustion. Don’t strike at the rod, a slower scraping motion works best. If you need extra help, scrape some magnesium filings off the rod onto your tinder, then spray sparks into it to ignite.

The magnifying card may be used to focus light from the Sun to cause combustion and start a fire. Hold the magnifier in the path of the sunlight so that it focuses the light on some target. Move the card toward and away from the target and notice how the focal point shrinks and grows. When the focal point is smallest, the heat will be most intense. It should be when the card is about 7 inches or so away from the target.

There are instructions on making a fire bow/drill in the survival book, and while this method is good to know when you have nothing else, it takes a lot of practice to learn and persistence to accomplish even once you know how to do it. Use all other means first or practice this a lot if you want to be able to use it.

4: Knife – Your knife may be your single most important tool (other than knowledge) because you can use it to get everything else if you know how. Protect your knife with your life. The Mora sheath knife is the primary knife for most jobs. It is not big, but is light and sharp and made from carbon steel. There is also a folding knife and/or multi-tool with assorted cutting edges on it and another small knife blade in the fold out eating utensil unit.

5: First Aid – Band aids, alcohol packets and stretchy/sticky tape are for wound protection. Steri-strips are good for holding wounds closed. Mole skin gets attached directly to the area of skin that needs protection from blistering. Tampons make excellent blood absorbers and also double as fire tinder. The Bacitracin packets will help prevent or fight infection and contain pain relief medication.

Pill box: aspirin for pain relief and heart attack, acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief, naproxen sodium (Aleve) for longer pain relief, diphenhydramine chloride (Benedryl) is an antihistamine for flu/cold and allergy relief, loperamide chloride (Immodium) is an anti-diarrhea medication, which is important to prevent because of fluid loss when water is not available.

SAM splint: the splint is an aluminum core covered with orange foam padding. It bends easily, but becomes quite strong when it is curved. Don’t practice too much with it, because I don’t know how often it can be re-bent. I have cut off a small piece (using normal scissors) to create a finger splint that you can practice with. Take it out of the little tub (bandaids) and bend it to surround an injured finger. You can pinch one end closed if you like. Use the stretchy, sticky wrap to hold it on your finger. Remove it and straighten it out.

6: Shelter – 550 para-cord is supposed to hold 550 pounds, but don’t trust that number with your life. It has an external sheath and 7 distinct cords inside. The sheath can be stripped away and the smaller cords used for small tying jobs that require less strength. Every foot of whole para-cord supplies 7 feet of smaller cord inside.

7: Fishing/Hunting – The fishing line is 100lb test and doubles as material for making snares for trapping small animals.

GENERAL: Once you’ve gone through all the stuff, think about what you want to add (clothes, more water, more food, maps…) and how you want to repack the bag and bucket. Everything I’ve included should fit into the bag alone, or you could relocate food and water into the bucket and pack clothes in the bag. The two water bottles fit in the mesh bags on the outside of the backpack.

Mostly, I hope you never need to use this bag and hope if there is an emergency that you can use the “hunker down” at home option instead of bugging out. But I hope this helps you to think about you might need to do and how to do it. This bag would also be helpful for staying at home in most emergencies but you should think about more things you can do. [fill a bathtub with water, drain the water from a hot water heater…]


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