My 72 Hour Disaster Bag AKA “Bugout Bag”

People use many names to describe this type of bag. Some call it a “bugout” or “shtf” or “72 hour” bag. It
goes by lots of names but the bag is the same: everything you need to survive for several days, and I do mean everything. I usually call it a “disaster bag” myself.

There’s some obvious basics that should be in every kit like food and water, flashlight, knife, and so on. I have friends and family who have taught me about these types of bags, and I have given great thought to mine as I have slowly put it together over about the last year and a half.

Teton Explorer 4000 Hiking BackpackBelow I am going to divide the contents of my bag into different, hopefully obvious categories. In my mind, I try to think of it like a mini home. Most of it I got from Amazon because I’m addicted to Prime 2 day shipping, but I also wanted to keep it as off-the-shelf as possible. It also needed to stay on a budget, which is why a few of the items came from places like Walmart and even sellers in China for a couple of the high end flashlights and headlamp you can’t get here in the USA. I put the gear first, and have tested and evaluated just about every bit of it.


First off, I’m no expert in hiking type backpacks. However, the requirements are straightforward. It has to be as light as possible, as durable as possible and keep your stuff as dry as possible. The rest (at least to me) is all fluff.

Weight: My requirements for a bag were obviously first and foremost the weight, and this one seems like it’s a good compromise between weight and price. A $200 or $300 backpack was out of the question for me, but your mileage may vary.
Durability: This one looked durable in the pictures and got good reviews, and after owning it a while I can see why. It’s well made and that’s very important to me. When life has gone so wrong that you are living out of a backpack, it’s one of the things that can’t fail.
Waterproof: Most the hiking type backpacks in this class do what they can to keep your gear dry. Not all of them come with a built-in rain fly, and that was one of my requirements.
Sizing: It’s much easier and more comfortable to carry a backpack that fits your body size and frame. Some backpacks like mine would be too big for a small-framed person like my wife to carry any distance. She has a smaller pack.
My bag has been camping a few times just to have in case something goes wrong and I need any number of things for it, such as the first aid kit. So far this bag performs well on the road. I have not hiked long distances with it, but I like the feel so far. Overall I have been very happy with this bag, even though I always seem to be fighting with the zippers.

Teton Explorer 4000 Hiking Backpack With Solar Panel: Front View


Teton Explorer 4000 Hiking Backpack With Solar Panel: Side View

Food & Water

2 2400 Calorie Food Bars
2 Packets Dry Chicken Noodle Soup
1 6 Oz. Pack Planter’s Trail Mix
Collapsible Water Bottle

5 1 liter bottles of store-bought water (rotated monthly)

Sawyer Mini Water Filter2 Mini Water Kits

  • 1 quart freezer bag
  • 1.5 Square Feet Aluminum Foil
  • 6 Water Purification Tablets
  • Coffee Filter
This is one of the most important aspects of the kit but probably the least exciting. My bag has some water but ultimately relies on being able to boil, treat or filter it. There’s an emergency water container in one of the water kits, as well as a bunch of 1 gallon ziploc bags which could be re-purposed to carry water, as well as the 1 liter stainless steel bottle.

ERBar 2400 Calorie Emergency Food Bars


ERBar 2400 Calorie Emergency Food Bars 2
Sawyer Mini Water Filter
Water Filter / Treatment Kit with Purification Tablets and Sawyer Water Filter


Water Filter / Treatment Kit with Purification Tablets and Sawyer Water Filter 2
Chicken Noodle Dry Soup For Emergency Bag
Just like Grandma used to make?
Cheap water bottle but I’ve tested it


This pack is over 2,000 calories total


Kitchen / Fire

Esbit Cook Set (With Goodies)

  • 4 solid fuel pellets
  • 8 small candles (“tea lights”)
  • 2 packs of regular matches
  • 1 pack of waterproof matches
  • 1 disposable Bic lighter
  • 2 fuel gel packs
  • 1 army surplus Hexamine solid fuel bar
  • 2 P-38 army surplus can openers
  • 4 ounces of alcohol stored in the burner
  • 1 pack of 10 tinder
  • Ziploc bag with a couple paper towels and some tin foil

1 Liter Stainless Steel Bottle
1 Aluminum Spork
1 Quart Denatured Alcohol

Cooking Kit with Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Stainless steel bottle can be used to boil water if needed


Esbit Trekker Cooking Kit
This is a good little cooking kit


Denatured Alcohol for Brass Stove


Boiling Some Water with My Esbit Cooking Kit


Brass Alcohol Stove for Esbit Cooking SetEsbit Cooking Kit Packed with Extras 2Esbit Cooking Kit Packed with Extras 2



Ozark Trail Hiking Tent (seam sealed)

8 x 6 Foot Tarp
100 Feet Rothco Paracord
100 Feet Mason’s Line
60 Feet Generic Nylon Cord
Emergency Bivvy
2 Small Bungee Cords

Ozark Trail Hiking Tent 1 of 4
This tent is one of the few items in my bag that I bought from Wal-Mart. The reviews looked great so I bought it.


Ozark Trail Hiking Tent 2 of 4
Without the stakes and guy lines, it looks about half the size it really is


Ozark Trail Hiking Tent 3 of 4
I sealed the tent in several sessions over a few days. At the end of the world, I’ll be dry!


Ozark Trail Hiking Tent 4 of 4
I read in one of the reviews that the tent compresses to the size of a football, and it’s the truth


6 by 8 Foot Tarp for Emergency Bag
A tarp is a good backup shelter or to augment the tent in case it leaks. I can also be used as a footprint for the tent


Lots of Nylon Cord and Twine for Emergency Bag
With all the nylon cord and mason line for guy lines, I’ve got the rope/cord covered I think



2 Bars Hotel Soap
1 Roll Electrical Tape
2 Mini Rolls Duct Tape
1 Emergency Fishing Kit
1 Pair Shoelaces
1 Pair Reading Glasses (2.0 strength) in Oakley Pouch
4 Painters Masks
12 Expandable Camp Towels
1 Light Stick
3 Travel Packs Kleenex
4 Mylar Emergency Blankets
4 32 Pack Diamond Wood Matches
4 Hotties Hand Warmers
1 Tall Kitchen Trash Bag
1 Extra Gallon Freezer Bag
2 Oz. Ground Coffee
25 Foot Cheap Nylon Cord
25 Foot Nylon Twine
Plastic Whistle
Aluminum Whistle
4 small candles (“tea lights”)
1 Bandanna
1 plastic orange safety flag/marker
Cheap Firesteel with StrikerHome is where your camp towel is. This eclectic mix below started by combining some of my sister’s survival kits until it took on a life of its own, and I adjusted the contents over time based on what I think my needs are.

Misc Items for Emergency Bag 1 of 5


Misc Items for Emergency Bag 2 of 5
Above you can see one of my sister’s mini-kits. She puts a lot of time and effort into her kits


Misc Items for Emergency Bag 3 of 5


Misc Items for Emergency Bag 4 of 5


Misc Items for Emergency Bag 5 of 5


Emergency Sewing Kit
I took out the smaller sewing kits and upgraded to a fancier one


PackTowl Camp Towel


1 Notepad
1 Large Marker
1 Sharpie Marker
1 Disposable Bic Pen


Mesh “Stuff Sack”
4 Emergency Rain Ponchos
1 Pair Fabric Gloves
1 Pair Haynes Crew Socks
1 Pair Nectar Sunglasses
Old Man Sun Hat

Mesh Bag for Emergency Apparel Kit
Emergency Apparel Kit
Lightweight Sunglasses for Emergency Apparel Kit


Mora Light My Fire Knife
Victorinox Explorer Multi-Tool
IDL T7 Multi-Tool
4 Generic Carabiners
2 Nite-ize CarabinersAs a knife and multi-tool collector, I have put a lot of thought into my tools for the bag. The machete is a little heavy but it splits wood better than other models and also makes a better self-defense tool. And what can I say about the Moras other than they are legendary. I have much more expensive (and heavy) bushcraft type knives like my Tops BOB knife, but I can’t say definitively that any of them are superior to the 20 dollar Mora, so I just put the Mora in there.

For the multi-tools, I decided to mix it up and make the kit a little lighter, but it was tempting to throw my Leatherman Wingman in there instead. I think the Explorer is going to be a little lighter and more functional.

Tools For Emergency Bag: Ka-Bar Kukri, Mora Light My Fire, Victorinox Explorer and More
I’ve tried to go with robust, field-proven tools


Mora Light My Fire for Emergency Bag
It’s hard to find a survival knife with a better reputation or more hours in the field than this Mora
IDL Multi-Tool for Emergency Bag
It was a bold choice going with this tool and a Victorinox instead of a Leatherman, which saved a little weight


Ka-Bar Kukri in Action for Emergency Bag
This Ka-Bar Kukri is a machete, axe, shovel, pry-bar and can take out zombies in a pinch


Victorinox Explorer Glamour Shot 1
The Explorer is well made and lighter than a Leatherman


Victorinox Explorer Glamour Shot 2
Victorinox is the gold standard for utility knives


L3 Illuminations L10 1xAA Flashlight (clipped to bag)
Crelant CH-10 2xCR123A Headlamp
Olight I3S 1xAAA flashlight (clipped to bag)
EagleTac D25LC2 1×18650 Flashlight (clipped to bag)
2 Pack USB Night Light Widgets
2 Diffuser Wands
For flashlights I have purposely chosen models with high efficiency circuits. You may not care about squeezing a couple extra hours of light out of a battery around the house, but in an emergency those couple extra hours of light could save your life.And yeah, I know that my bag is overkill with the flashlights. But hey, I’m a collector with old eyes. We spend half our lives in the dark.

Flashlights, Headlamp, Batteries and USB Charger for Emergency Bag
I’ve tried for a mixture of long shelf-life and rechargeable batteries


Crelant CH10 Head Lamp for Emergency Bag 1


Crelant CH10 Head Lamp for Emergency Bag 2
A headlamp is a must for every bugout bag, and this Crelant CH10 is light, well-made, powerful and efficient
EagleTac D25LC2 Flashlight for Emergency Bag 1
One the smallest 18650 lithium-ion flashlights and the superb quality EagleTac is known for


Olight I3S AAA Flashlight Clipped on Ball Cap
The tiny, efficient and functional Olight I3S takes a common AAA battery and can go 30 hours on medium


L3 Illuminations L10 1xAA Flashlight, with Nichia 219 and Cree XP-G2 LED Emitters
Ultra -compact, ultra-efficient, and takes a standard AA battery


Fenix E12 1xAA Flashlight for Emergency Bag
A backup to the L10, Fenix is well known for their quality and efficient circuitry
USB Night Light Widgets
I just picked up these USB night light widget thingys. They weigh practically nothing!


EagleTac D25LC2 Flashlight for Emergency Bag 2
With the diffuser, the EagleTac D25C2 is a superb lantern


Miller USB Power Pack / Charger with USB Night Light Widget
These USB night light widgets turn any USB power pack into a nightlight / lamp

Battery/Device Chargers

Levin Sol-Wing 13 Watt Solar USB Charger

Originally I was just going to use long-storage primary batteries, but in the couple years I’ve been building this bag, solar technology has gotten much better. Newer panels are a fraction of the weight, much more powerful and durable compared to older generations.With this setup, I can pretty much run my devices indefinitely. The 72-hour bag is obviously intended to keep you alive for just a few days, but I very much doubt that disasters are going to run on schedule. So where I can, I’ve made this into a “live off the grid” bag.

Levin Sol-Wing Solar Panel 1 of 3


Levin Sol-Wing Solar Panel 2 of 3
This solar panel is flexible and durable, and can charge most Android devices as fast as a wall charger


Levin Sol-Wing Solar Panel 3 of 3
Unlimited power in an emergency!


WakaWaka Solar USB Charger and Lantern 1 of 3
The WakaWaka also adds another lantern that can give 2 hours of light for every 1 hour of sun


WakaWaka Solar USB Charger and Lantern 2 of 3
The WakaWaka Power makes a good backup to the Levin solar panel


WakaWaka Solar USB Charger and Lantern 3 of 3
The WakaWaka is also designed to ride on a backpack and charge while you are on the go
Miller Charger / Power Pack
The Miller charger on the bottom is both a charger and a power pack. Here it is charging my phone at about an amp


4 AA Lithium Batteries (10 year shelf life)
8 CR123A Lithium Batteries (10 year shelf life)
4 AA Eneloop Pro NiMH Rechargeable Batteries
2 AA  Eneloop NiMH Rechargeable Batteries (inside flashlights)
1 10,000 mAh USB battery pack and charger
8 AAA Eneloop NiMH Rechargeable Batteries (inside walkie talikies)
My bag has a mixture of primary batteries with a long shelf life, and batteries that can be charged from my solar panels. The lithium primary batteries are superior to alkaline, which are affected by temperature variations and almost always leak over time, destroying your devices. This is why I tell people never to use them for long term storage in a device, ever. Seriously, don’t use them.
For rechargeable AA and AAA batteries, I’ve always been a fan of the Sanyo Eneloop batteries, now owned by Panasonic. The newer ones I believe store 90% of their charge for a year and can be recharged over 2,000 times. Coupled with the cheap USB charger, I can charge my AA and AAA batteries from any USB device, including my solar panels and power packs–the same ones I use to charge my phone and tablet.

Other Electronics

2 Audiovox Walkie Talkies

These walkie talkies are probably 12 years old but I don’t think much has changed in that time. And even if I don’t use them, the charged Eneloop AAA batteries in them will run my little Olight I3S on medium for something like 100 days straight. Not bad for a last-ditch backup.


My first aid kit it is homemade and contained in a men’s toiletry bag. I found this bag a couple years ago, traveled with it and thought that it would make a good first aid kit bag, so I bought another one. I’ve been steadily filling it over time. Sometimes I’ll be in a store and I’ll see something that looks like it would belong in my bag, and so it steadily grows. It’s a work in progress.

EMT Shears
1 tube super glue
1 tube hydro-cortisone cream
2 Disposable Scalpels
2 Pair pointed stainless steel tweezers
1 bottle Advil x25
1 blister pack Benedryl x25
1 tube triple antibiotic ointment
Large assortment of band-aids.
Medical tape
8 Gauze squares, individually wrapped
4 Gauze sponges, individually wrapped
1 cardboard thermometer
1 battery powered thermometer
1 Zantac antacid tablet
2 Extra LR41 batteries for thermometer
2 Hard candies (for low blood sugar)
1 Tube Blistex
1 Small Pack Q-Tips
1 Travel size pack of Kleenex
8 Packs Alcohol Wipes
1 Packet Burn Cream
2 No-Doz
2 Tylenol
2 Pseudafed
1 Ace bandage
1 Small Roll Gauze Tape
1 Extra Pair Reading Glasses (2.0 strength)
2 Small Sterile Pads
1 Extra Bic Lighter
5 Pair Surgical Gloves

First Aid Kit for Emergency Bag: 1 of 4
This toiletry bag is well made and lightweight


First Aid Kit for Emergency Bag: 2 of 4


First Aid Kit for Emergency Bag: 4 of 4


First Aid Kit for Emergency Bag: 4 of 4


Self Defense

The primary self defense tool for my build is going to be the machete. The Kukri design has traditionally used for combat, but it also makes a great machete. I’ve always said that I’m not a big fan of knives for self defense, but if I’m living out of a small bag, I might want that option. Also, a machete can’t jam, or run out of ammo.
But what’s a machete going to do against a bear? Or an armed attacker? Or multiple attackers? Since my kit does not have a firearm, I have the next best thing. OC pepper spray–a large can. Whether it’s a Moose or a guy named Moose, pepper spray will hopefully give me enough time to get to safety while they are hopefully re-evaluating their interest in hassling me. But like a firearm, it can fail or be turned against me.


Aluminum Whistle
Lambda Lights Nano Marker Light“Fix it kit”

  • 22″ duct tape
  • 2 cable ties
  • nylon shoelace 60 inch
  • 1 cord lock
  • 4 twist ties
  • 3 safety pins
  • 2 paper clips
  • 3 rubber bands
  • 1 bobby pin
  • 1 mini sewing kit (needle, thread, buttons, safety pin)
Another little fix-it kit
  • 4 rubber bands
  • 3 safety pins
  • 4 paper clips
  • 2 twist ties
  • 1 tube super glue
  • 1 small pencil
  • 20 sheets of post-it note pad
Sewing Kit, Pepper Spray and Glovebox Survival Kit for Emergency Bag
My sister’s “glovebox survival kit” is its own emergency kit with all manner of useful stuff
Glovebox Survival Kit Contents for Emergency Bag
It duplicates some valuable items I already have in my bag, and adds a few new ones like compass and pocket knife
Lambda Nano Marker Lights for Emergency Bag
Sadly these Lambda Nano lights aren’t being made anymore

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