Further background: I am nobody's idea of Rambo, a survivalist, a camper, or a Boy Scout. I'm just an old bachelor in his fifties, who lives on a gravel road far out into a remote rural area of flyover country USA, better than half an hour in good driving weather from the nearest small town. I know my own limitations, and am trying to plan realistically, with and not in defiance of those limitations.
That said, the basic bedrock idea for my bugout bag is that Less Is More. I decided to restrict myself to what I could fit into a leather dopp kit, which measures about 10"x6"x5". The end result weighs little more than 10 pounds, and can be carried under my arm.
Here's what the bag contains:
- AM/FM/SW radio powered by two AA batteries, and stored in a cardboard-lined metal box to help protect the radio against EMP
- Ear buds for the radio
- Wire antenna which can be reeled out and clipped to the radio's whip antenna
- Collapsible steel drinking cup
- Folding knife with two blades, clip and spey
- Flashlight, aluminum, Maratac Extreme, powered by one AA battery
- Spare AA batteries, four, in waterproof Delrin battery lockers
- Leatherman Super Tool 300 multi-tool in a leather pouch
- Embassy pen, aluminum, with Fisher space pen cartridge, will write under almost any conditions
- Rhodia notepad no. 12, graph ruled, 4.7"x3.3"
- Deck of playing cards
- Pocket New Testament
- Pocket slide rule, Pickett aluminum, 5" log log duplex (this is my one original idea, I've seen it nowhere else: more reliable and more EMP-proof than a calculator, and hey, I'm old enough that I learned in school how to use a slide rule)
- First aid kit: I kept it real simple, several bandaids of assorted sizes, a piece of moleskin, and four extra-strength Tylenols, in a small resealable plastic bag
- Prescription medications, three-day supply, in a small resealable plastic bag (you really can't have enough of these small resealable plastic bags, like tiny ziploc bags, 2"x3", 1-1/2"x4", whatever; items come in them, and I save the bags)
- Waterproof metal match box holding strike-anywhere wooden matches
- Steel & magnesium fire starter: this is the one boyscoutish item I got, and I oughta learn to use it
- Small stainless steel lighter
- Tinder, alias lint from my dryer, in a small resealable plastic bag
- Small metal toothpick holder with toothpicks
- Fork, knife, spoon, aluminum, compact foldable camping utensils
- Compass, brass, liquid-filled
- Can opener, compact foldable P-51
- Micro widgy pry bar
- Keyring screwdrivers, regular and Phillips
- Tiny, tiny clip light, can be clipped to clothing, leaving hands free
- Cash, several hundred dollars in tens and twenties, stashed in the internal side pocket of the bag
- Emergency Medical ID Card, foldable accordionlike in slipcover, with personal info, emergency contact info, medical info, list of my prescriptions, name and phone of my doctor, stashed in internal side pocket
- House key, spare, stashed in internal side pocket
- Carabiner, aluminum, clipped onto outside leather carrying loop
And I forgot, there are a few other things slipped in there. Instructions for the radio and the Leatherman multi-tool. Spare O-rings for the flashlight and the lighter (packed in an ever-handy small resealable plastic bag). You get the idea.
You'll notice, I'm not averse to redundancy on certain critical items such as knife blades, can opener, or ways of starting a fire. And if I could grab one other item on my way out the door, I'd take along a water bottle I've got, with built-in filter. Second item, I'd grab a fixed-blade knife.
Where did I find these items? Around the house, and various places online, chief among them A.G. Russell, Amazon, Duluth Trading Co., and especially Miles Stair's Survival Shop. YMMV, but those are good places to start.
All this is still very much a learning process for me, I'm a beginner on these matters and nothing more. A simple bugout bag in a leather dopp kit, really intended more as a bug-in bag. I think my next step would be twofold:
(1) On the bug-in front, start exploring the ins and outs of a small portable kerosene stove. I've got plenty of food stored away, but coffee and rice and Quaker oats do require heating, even in the dead of winter with no electricity.
(2) On the bug-out front, start thinking about what kind of items could be included in a weekend bag to go, such as a few day's supply of clothing, food, water; and blanket, and other items I deliberately excluded by sticking to my dopp kit.
Keep at it, and I ought be prepared for ice storms, power outages, flooding, blizzards, the collapse of the euro, President Obama calling a banking holiday and declaring martial law... maybe even the zombie apocalypse!