While we live a relatively laid-back life here in the Big Country, we recognize that disaster is never truly that far away. Whether you’re anticipating the next natural disaster such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake, a serious event like a power grid failure or attack, or even a disaster that occurs on a personal scale like a car wreck in the middle of nowhere—it’s essential to be prepared.

If you’re a self-proclaimed prepper or survivalist, you’re likely already prepared for one—or all—of the above events. If you’re like the rest of us, however, you probably haven’t prepared much beyond tossing a first aid kit in the trunk of your car. Unfortunately, a few bandages and some gauze wraps will only get you so far; for that reason, we suggest building a bug-out bag you can take with you in case of an emergency.

What’s in a Bug-Out Bag?

It can be tempting to stuff your bag full of any and everything you might need on the go—however, a good beginner’s bug-out bag contains just a few essentials and is not designed to sustain you indefinitely. With that in mind, here’s our list of the most essential items to include in your first bug-out bag:

  1. Water. Humans can only last about 24 hours without water before dehydration—and the associated fuzzy thinking and poor decision-making—start to set in. Try to carry at least four one-liter bottles at a time—alternatively, you can include filters or purification tablets to add to your stash and increase your access to clean water.
  2. Medications/first aid supplies. If you take daily medications to manage diabetes, heart disease, or other chronic conditions, these are an absolute must. In addition, add common OTC meds, bandages, and antiseptics. You can even purchase a pre-made first aid kit and toss it into your bag—just don’t forget your prescriptions.
  3. Food. To survive for more than a day or so, you’ll need an adequate stash of nutrient-rich, hunger-curbing food supplies that are easily stored and shelf-stable. In most cases, jerky is a great option. Also, consider adding energy bars, packages of nuts, even small, pre-packaged MREs (meals ready to eat).
  4. Knife. Pack a sturdy knife with a good, sharp blade. You’ll benefit most from a compact, folding variety that stores easily in your bag and doesn’t pose an injury risk while not in use.
  5. Firestarters. You never know what conditions you’ll experience, or what materials you’ll have to light a fire. For that reason, include a variety of methods, including matches, lighters, and strike sticks.
  6. Flashlight. Unless you’re an experienced torchbearer (unlikely), you’ll need a much easier source of light in the darkness. Choose a bright, durable flashlight and toss in some extra batteries for good measure.
  7. Shelter. While a tent just isn’t a feasible item to carry with you, you can construct a decent shelter with a small, waterproof tarp and some cord. Pack both in your go-bag and spend a few minutes researching simple shelters.

Build Your Bag the Big Country Way

When you’re building your bug-out bag, choose a sturdy, medium-sized bag you can carry easily. To help ensure you always have necessities available, consider creating one bag to keep in your car and another to keep within reach at home. Gather the above supplies, then set aside an afternoon to fill your bug-out bags with your survival essentials.

While you’re stocking up, be sure to gather a variety of jerkies and snacks, so you’ll stay full and continue to tempt your taste buds on the go. Big Country Smokehouse has you covered with a broad selection of the finest jerkies and meat snacks either side of the Mississippi. Order your favorites today, and always be prepared for what’s next.