What Are The Bug-Out Bag Essentials?

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The Essentials 1

A bug-out bag or SHTF kit is key to get you through a disaster. Do you have yours put together? Here are the on-person and vehicle bug-out bag essentials.

As both a rural law enforcement special operations team leader, hunter and outdoor enthusiast, I spend a lot of time in our nation’s wildlands — usually a significant distance away from large crowds and support services found in urban population centers. For these more remote environments where our team does business, it’s a given that I carry a defensive pistol, various long guns and associated accessories given our mission at work. Like many Americans, I also need to be equipped to defend my family and myself from harm in more heavily populated urban environments while off duty, and I carry a concealed compact pistol for these reasons.

Unfortunately in today’s high-tech world where cyber, electrical, cellular and other essential communication systems can fail — making access to law enforcement, trauma care, banking, food and other essential survival services inaccessible — survival supplies above and beyond a firearm are be needed to ride out any storm.

A pack doesn’t need to be, and shouldn’t be, big and bulky. If it’s too big and too heavy, you’ll likely leave it at home — where it’s absolutely useless. Thinks compact and organized.
A go bag doesn’t need to be, and shouldn’t be, big and bulky. If it’s too big and too heavy, you’ll likely leave it at home — where it’s absolutely useless. Thinks compact and organized.

Ready for this unfortunate contingency anytime and anywhere, I have carried my so called “bug-out bag” effectively for more than a decade now. This satchel — I carry a Maxpedition Remora Gearslinger — is one of the most compact packs of its type, and it sits against my right hip constantly when working plain-clothes covert operations and while off duty.

The piece of mind of having everything I need and easy reach at all times is priceless. And while I’ve fortunately never had to deploy my firearm and engage with it from my bag outside of training, the confidence and comfort of being ready and able to do so is reassuring.

Living in California’s Silicon Valley and maneuvering within the moderate to warm year-round temperatures there, carrying and concealing a defensive handgun and essential survival supplies can be challenging, especially when dressed in shorts and a T-shirt most of the time. Fortunately, the Remora is relatively small and light, given all the essentials I’m able to keep within. It’s also the type of bag that works well with casual wear, making it easy to blend into the crowd while discretely hiding in plain sight.

Organization is key to maintaining a bug-out bag that remains functional when you need it. Here, every item has its place, allowing quick and fluid access to the handgun. If you need a Band-Aid, odds are good you’ll have time to get it out. If you need the pistol, time will matter.
Organization is key to maintaining a bug-out bag that remains functional when you need it. Here, every item has its place, allowing quick and fluid access to the handgun. If you need a Band-Aid, odds are good you’ll have time to get it out. If you need the pistol, time will matter.

Best Starter Kit for Concealed Carry:

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When starting my journey into the law enforcement special operations world 2 decades ago, a Special Forces friend and mentor once mentioned the phrase, “Two is one and one is none.” He was referring to the need to have built-in redundancy for success and carry two of everything essential in your kit needed for duty, battle and survival.

That mantra has stuck with me and my teammates for decades now, ensured mission success and survival many times over … and now it carries over into off-duty life to good effect. As a result, one will see several items duplicated in both my personal carry and vehicle bug-out bags lists in this article.

The Main Bug-Out Bag Essential: Glock 43

The essential items within my Remora Gearslinger starts with my firearm, a compact Glock Model 43 9mm pistol with Trijicon three-dot night sights and a permanently attached Stream light TLR-6 white light and laser combination. The TLR-6 is a featherweight addition to the lightweight G43, and with the laser zeroed at 7 yards and 100 lumens of white light for low-light applications, the compact package is set up for any life-threatening contingency — 24/7.

Coming from a law enforcement agency that’s run Glock Model 22 and 27 .40-caliber pistols since the start of my career in 1992, I favor them for on- and off-duty use. Their reliability and durability through years of training, several gunfights with armed drug cartel members, the adverse conditions we work in routinely (dust, dirt, mud, brush, saltwater, etc.) and their accuracy and lightweight has engendered a 3-decade trust in the Glock system.

The author carries a Glock 43 in his bag at all times, along with 15 rounds (two magazines) of 147-grain T-series 9mm ammunition. In certain situations, he’ll add another magazine.
The author carries a Glock 43 in his go bag at all times, along with 15 rounds (two magazines) of 147-grain T-series 9mm ammunition. In certain situations, he’ll add another magazine.

While the Glock 43 is a very compact 9mm pistol, it handles and shoots like a much larger handgun. Accurate and fast with little recoil from full-power 9mm loads, the pistol allows quick and accurate follow-up shots.

For ammunition needs, I carry two magazines full of Winchester 147-grain T-series bonded hollow-points, a cartridge that performs well in both penetration and expansion through a multitude of barriers — even from the short-barreled and compact G43. With a two-round extension baseplate on my primary magazine in the pistol and a loaded secondary standard G43 magazine in the Gearslinger, I have a generous 15 rounds of ammunition in the bug-out bag system at all times, with room to add additional magazines as needed. The two-round magazine extender from Cage Industries also extends the pistol’s grip’s length an additional inch, making for a much more solid and comfortable purchase on the handgun for large-handed shooters like myself.

Carrying, deploying and engaging with the G43 from the Gearslinger pack is relatively fast after adequately training with the system. The key to deploying the pistol effectively is keeping the gun pouch within the pack clear of obstructions from the other essential items carried within the pack. The pack’s internal layout is well-thought-out, and with the careful placement of all of your survival items inside, accessing the well-concealed pistol is smooth and efficient.


Glock 22

Glock 43

Glock 27


Below is a list of all the items within my Gearslinger. Keep in mind this list is specific to my needs and serves as a template to build your own specific kit.

Maxpedition Remora Gearslinger Bug-Out Bag List (personal):

The Maxpedition Remora Gearslinger is like a clown car: You can fit a whole lot in that little bag. The author’s bug-out necessities consists of 19 hand-picked items that go with him everywhere.
The Maxpedition Remora Gearslinger is like a clown car: You can fit a whole lot in that little bag. The author’s bug-out necessities consists of 19 hand-picked items that go with him everywhere.
  1. Glock G43 9mm pistol with attached Streamlight TLR-6 light laser combination
  2. Two Glock 43 magazines (one with Cage Industries two-round baseplate extender), allowing 15 rounds of Winchester 147-grain T-series 9mm ammunition
  3. CAT tourniquet
  4. Israeli combat bandage
  5. One pair of nitryl gloves
  6. Emergency space blanket
  7. Power bar/trail mix
  8. Checkbook
  9. Small notebook
  10. Writing pen
  11. $200 in $20 bills
  12. Two Band-Aids
  13. Soft earplugs
  14. Bright Strike AAA battery 100-lumen penlight
  15. Two extra lithium AAA batteries for Bright Strike penlight
  16. Two extra lithium CR-1/3N batteries for Streamlight TLR-6 light/laser system
  17. Swiss Army knife
  18. Glock tool
  19. Small Bic lighter (not pictured)


The ‘Iron Buggy’ Bug-Out Essentials
Along with your well-equipped everyday carry bug-out bag is the need for a larger, longer duration survival kit that stays in your vehicle for emergency needs. In the event of civil unrest, environmental disasters, economic collapse or any combination thereof, your vehicle is your Alamo. It serves as an escape vessel and mobile base camp that must be capable of facilitating you and your family’s survival for several days or longer.

For both my agency patrol and personal pick-up trucks, I’ve narrowed down essential carry items that take up relatively little space and can be maintained in most any size vehicle. Below is the list of bug-out survival items I carry in both trucks, in addition to a pack of comprehensive survival essentials. This list is again subjective to my needs and can be used as a guide template to build the ideal vehicle bug-out bag for your vehicle and needs.

Vehicle Bug-Out Bag List:

In addition to an on-person bag, keeping a selective stockpile of necessities in a vehicle is a smart play, should you need it to serve as an escape vessel or a mobile base camp.
In addition to an on-person bag, keeping a selective stockpile of necessities in a vehicle is a smart play, should you need it to serve as an escape vessel or a mobile base camp.
  1. 511 Rush 24 multi-cam daypack (other colors available as needed)
  2. Ozark 5-day insulated cooler (for perishables as needed)
  3. Energizer jump starter/air compressor/remote power supply combination
  4. Case of bottled water
  5. KUIU 30-degree super down sleeping bag
  6. Five Meals Ready to Eat (MREs)
  7. Roll of Duct tape
  8. Comprehensive trauma medicine/first aid kit
  9. Iridium Satellite phone
  10. Handheld Garmin GPS unit
  11. Leatherman MUTT multi-tool
  12. Two Bic pocket lighters
  13. Two Bic fireplace lighters
  14. Chainsaw blade wood-cutting tool and nylon case
  15. Goal Zero solar panel power supply
  16. Ultimate Survival Technologies deluxe survival kit
  17. SteriPEN ultraviolet water purifier and nylon case
  18. Two extra CR123 lithium batteries for SteriPEN
  19. Two Surefire LED 300-lumen LED flashlights
  20. Ten extra CR123 lithium batteries for flashlights
  21. Two Coast LED headlamps (not pictured)
  22. Six extra AAA lithium batteries for headlamps

A Lifestyle Adapted

While putting together comprehensive bug-out bags for both personal and vehicle carry is not an inexpensive endeavor, they are the best investments you can make for you and your family’s survival. Just the peace-of-mind of having both kits ready to go for immediate use should the worse-case scenario occur is worth the investment. Like we say on our tactical team, “Train and prepare for the worst but hope for the best.” And this mindset carries over well for your personal survival preparation.

Fortunately, I’ve never had to deploy my G43 from my Remora pack to protect and survive — and I hope that I never have to. But if that dark day comes, I’m prepared and confident to handle any survival challenge to save my life and the lives of others.



Be Prepared!:

3 COMMENTS

  1. Pretty accurate BOB loadout, but youve forgotten a few things. On your sling bag, definitely a BIC lighter. Also, a hat such as a wool cap or baseball cap depending on the temperature. If your head gets wet, cold, or sunburned, youre not going to be happy. A good pair of sunglasses for eye protection is an absolute must. A set of utencils including some sort of can opener (You can use the one on your Victorinox). Youre not eating with your fingers. Speaking of eating, you need fluids. You can live for days without food, but youre not going to live long without water. Two hydration bladders minimum. One in your carry bag, and one in your big bag. Tissues, toilet paper, and wipes. Youre going to have to “go”, and youre going to need to clean yourself up. If youre on foot, and its 90 degrees, youre not going to be happy with a case of swamp ass. You’ll be glad you had some wipes! Trust me! A few aspirin packs are good to have on hand. And last but not least a good fixed blade knife. Something you can fight with, chop wood, pry a door, etc. Now all of these things weigh next to nothing and take up very minimal space, but if youve ever gotta live off your BOB, you’ll be glad you had them. What I reccomend for everyone is to test yourself. Walk home from your job one day. That will tell you if youve got what you need to comfortably get home. Or, go bug out for 2-3 days on your kit and see how you fare. Its better to do it now when there isnt a crisis, and you can fix your gear so you’ll know what you would likely need in real crisis.

  2. As someone who carries a comparable sized piece (XD sub-compact) I find flaw in carrying only one extra mag, and a compact at that. While I carry a .40S&W, I learned proficiency with the small magazine, even though I find the 1911 diminutive in my hands. I carry a pair of extended mags on the ideology that if the single mag isnt enough, I’m in a world of hurt. The one other suggestion I would make is a small high-quality multitool be added, as not all emergencies require violent action. Nor do they require full-sized tools. I am a bit confused by your choice of keeping your creds in the bag rather than on your body. I realize the front pocket works for this but it still makes it a bit more visible for the con to sight in on…

  3. Thanks for the article. I follow other web sites on this topic, but I missed something in my personal and vehicular. The portable radio.Small or large they can be invaluable. Mine is a a LW, AM, FM, SW receiver that takes up the space of roughly two magazines; and is easy on batteries.

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