Bug out Bag Part 2: A Practical list of Food & Water items to Include in your Bug out Bag

I am covering the below points from the following perspectives:

  1. You are going to be unable to get help from anywhere else but from the bag.
  2. You are going to need to live out of it for three days (72 hours) before any help arrives or you are able to arrive at your evacuation destination. 

Using these perspectives as a base-line, a bag can be scaled up to your desired size by increasing the amount of food by the desired amount of additional time.  That being said, I do not suggest on planning for a lesser amount of time if for no other reason that this is considered the bare minimum amount to be prepared for by most disaster organizations –  three-day supply of food and water, per person, and pack as if you will have NO access to refrigeration or time for cooking.

  1. Food items to consider packing:
    • 3600 Emergency Food Rations
      • Brands:  S.O.S. Emergency Rations, Mainstay, Dantex
      • Pro:  high calories, small package, long shelf life
      • Con:  They are not known to taste great ,and they can be heavy.
      • My Bag:  Mainstay (lemon flavor — I really do not like lemon flavored bars, but can eat them.  I am less likely to eat it "just because" and be without it when I really need it.)
    • MRE’s or freeze dried meals (3 days rations)
      • Brands:  MRE, Mountain House, Eversafe, Sure-Pak
      • Pro:  a full meal in a bag, enough calories to keep a person going
      • Con:  They need water to heat them and/or rehydrate the meal & can be bulky.
      • My Bag:  MRE Main course, side, and dessert with the heater bag.  I only include these items because the other items are too bulky versus the calories they provide.
    • Protein/Granola Bars
      • Brands:  anything that you would normally eat from your local grocery store
      • Pro:  They are inexpensive & provide a large # of calories for the space taken.
      • Con:  The dry bars crumble easily, and soft ones are easily crushed.
      • My Bag:  Cliff Bars – I like the way they taste; they fill me up, and they hold up well to having heavy items put on top of them.
    • Hard Candy/Gum
      • Brands:  anything that you normally would eat from your local grocery store
      • Pro:  They keep the mouth busy so the stomach will not think about how hungry it is. Helps produce saliva so that the mind does not think so much about your thirst.
      • Con:  If used in large amounts, they will accelerate dehydration.
      • My Bag:  Jolly ranchers and atomic fireballs – they hold up well to heat and freezing temperatures and take a long time to dissolve.
    • Canned Meats:
      • Brands:  anything that you normally would eat from your local grocery store
      • Pro:  Protein keeps the brain working well, & canned meats are inexpensive compared to other meal options.
      • Con:  Cans are easily dented and/or leak.  They usually require a separate tool to open, & they weigh a lot for the calories carried.
      • My Bag:  Leaks in the past keep me from putting any in my bag now.
    • Trail Mix/ Dried Fruit/ Dried Meat
      • Brands:  anything that you normally would eat from your local grocery store
      • Pro:  They are easy to eat on the go & give you a quick boost of energy.
      • Con:  They do not store for long periods of time.
      • My Bag:  Peppered Beef Jerky — I like the taste ,and the protein helps keep me feeling more normal.  I know that this increases my thirst but I plan accordingly.   Without water I would not recommend eating large amounts of any food.
  2. Water and Drink Flavorings
    • Filtration
      • Brands: Aquamira, Seychelle, Sawyer, Katadyn, MSR,….
      • Pro: They can keep you on the move without carrying as much weight.  They can be compact.
      • Con: They can be expensive (especially for reusable ones).
      • My Bag: I have a few coffee filters to pre-filter the water and a Aquamira Frontier Emergency Water Filter System (a fancy way to say a filter with a straw.) Be warned that this carbon-based filter does leave some carbon in your water which makes it look dirty, but it is not. The other straw filters that I have used are the Aquamira Frontier Pro Ultralight or a Seychelle Straw Water Filter Purifier Drinking Straw. I have used all three of these systems, and they have all worked well for me. I personally like these systems because they are small and a relatively inexpensive item for a go bag. If you are going to be using this bag often, I would go with a Sawyer or Katadyn system that is reusable.  These reusable filters do not pass trace carbon into the filtered water. That being said, the straw filters are under $20 each, and a good quality Sawyer or Katadyn will run at least $100. The straws are a one event item that can filter water up to the listed amount on the package. Storing them after they are used runs the risk of getting impure water the second time around.
    • Purification tablets
      • Brands: Katadyn, Potable Aqua, Coleman, etc.
      • Pro: They take up next to no room, they can treat everything that you do not see in the water (dependent upon the brand).
      • Con: They take a long time to fully treat the water – usually around four hours.  Once the seal has been broken, you have only thirty days to use the items before they start to lose their strength.  After sixty days, they are basically ineffective.
      • My Bag: I have Katadyn Micro Purification Tablets. They treat all types of containments in just four hours (yes, it takes planning ahead.) They are also individually wrapped and treat one liter per pill which means that I can use what I need and save the rest for later, if need be.
    • Hot Drink Mixes (for breaking the routine of drinking only water)
      • Brands:  anything that you would normally drink that comes individually packaged    
      • Pro:  It helps keep caffeine withdrawal at bay, & just holding a hot cup of something to drink can give you a sense well being and warmth.
      • Con:  Caffeine will accelerate becoming dehydrated
      • My Bag:  I have hot chocolate as well as chicken and beef bouillon.  I do not drink coffee so I do not have it in my bag.  If you do, plan ahead and have some.
    • Cool Drink Mixes (for breaking the rotinue of drinking only water)
      • Brands:  anything that you would normally drink you can get in individual packages
      • Pro:  They can make clean but unpleasant tasting water palatable, & certain brands can replace electrolytes.
      • Con:  They are easily punctured & can attract bugs if they leak in your bag.  If they are stored a long time, they break down and become a solid block.
      • My Bag:  Gatorade — it is a good boost of energy, and the lemon -lime flavor seems to really cover the taste of iodine water purification pills (at least for my taste buds).
    • A side note on packing the drinks for your bag — stay away from soda and alcoholic beverages!  Both of these will dehyrate you extremely quickly, and in a disaster situation, you certainly do not need to be ingesting anything that will impair your mental abilities.
  3. Non-Food items
    • Can Opener (non-electric) — Pack it with the food bag, but pack it so that it will not puncture anything.
    • Utensils (are provided in MRE’s)
      • An inexpensive solution is to save three disposable sets from a restaurant and include them with each day’s bag of food.
    • Water Bottle, collapsible water bag, canteen, collapsible cup
      • A space saver is to get a water bottle that nests into a cup that you can use to heat up food or drinks if you have a source of heat.

How I pack my bag:  I sort each day of food into its own Ziploc bag, and then put all three days’ worth of food into a larger bag.  It is easy to pull out an individual day’s worth of food without sorting through a large bag on the fly with no repacking necessary.  Also, I know that once I have eaten all of the food in that bag, I have nothing else for the day. This helps keep me accountable and less likely to over eat due to stress.  (It's a great way to prevent a food shortage!) 

Any other ideas or comments are welcome.

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