BOB pack

This is the first of a series of posts where I try to give you some information about Bug Out Bags.  If you want all the information together, sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get a free Bug Out Bag eBook.

I’ll start with the bag itself and then in future posts I’ll talk about each element that should go in your Bug Out Bag.

That’s my first BOB there to your right. —>

Its not an expensive bag, its a back pack I bought at a yard sale for $1.  I made sure it was not torn, stained or nasty when I bought it and I made sure the zippers worked and the whole things was heavy duty. I have a different one now, its still a student bag but it has lots of outside pockets.

The main things to look for in a back pack or other bag that you want to use for a Bug Out Bag are:

1. Is it about “Carry-On” size?

2. Is it at least somewhat weather proof?

3. Is it the right size for the family member you are buying it for? Not too big, not too wide….

4. And then there is that “outside pockets” thing

You can buy really expensive packs out there and there are good reasons why you might do so. If you know you will be using the BOB regularly, like in training exercises or just camping, yes, you might want to get a more sturdy bag. Some of those bags run in the hundreds of dollars. They come in all kinds of materials; plastic, canvas,waterproof. Just do a Google image search for backpack and you’ll see what I mean.  You need to decide what kind of pack will work for you.

It has to be comfortable when you wear it.  And it has to be able to carry everything you want to pack without bursting at the seams or tearing. For $1, I took a chance. Turns out the backpack I bought is very sturdy and comfortable to wear because it has heavily padded shoulder pads. I live in a military town so military families have yard sales and we get lots of cool stuffs. I think this back pack was probably 30-40$ when it was new. Look for heavy duty stitching and heavy duty zippers because you’ll be straining the bag with the stuff you pack and you don’t want it falling apart in use.

One of the important things about the kind of BOB you choose is, “Does it have plenty of outside bags or compartments?” Every time you need something you don’t want to have to stop, take off the bag and dig. Its helpful if the bag has some outside compartments to store things you might need frequently like water, food, gum, maps, first aid, etc.

Here are a few tid-bits about 3 different styles of back packs in case you are thinking of purchasing one. There are some links that take  you to Amazon or other places where you can purchase the items if you want, but I’ve just got them here for your info really. I’d encourage you to look for yard sale packs, first.

alice pack





ALICE packs – All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment introduced during the Vietnam war. Usually needs a frame to carry it with, can sometimes be carried without a frame but its not comfortable and without the frame, you’re not taking advantage of all ALICE can do.  They usually aren’t expensive (I bought one for $9), very light weight. Frames can run 30-40$. Very sturdy and roomy. The caution with using an ALICE for most women and children is the temptation to pack it too full because of all the room and then not be able to carry it. Look on eBay for good used ones or in Army surplus stores. Although, the surplus store here wanted $84 for one!  ALICE packs come in medium and large.

back pack black



Student Back Packs.   There are a lot of student back packs out there. Literally hundreds of thousands. Probably millions. You’d really be hard pressed to find a human being in the western world who hasn’t or doesn’t own a student back pack.  Here is an example of a student back pack that would make a good BOB. It has lots of inside pockets, weather proof. The down side of student bags for me is that they usually don’t have a lot of outside pockets.  Student backpacks are usually the best choice for children and small women.


back pack molle


MOLLE Bags. MOLLE stands for  Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment . They come in medium and large sizes and they have lots of elastic bands on the outside for attaching items you want to carry. The down side for me is that they have no outside pockets, you have to either make or buy containers to put stuff in and then use the elastic bags for attaching those containers to the MOLLE. Some of our family members have these bags. These bags also have a place to attach a tent ot bedding on the outside. This is important to me, because I don’t want to have  to rig something or carry a tent or bedding separately.

Here is a video comparing MOLLE bags and ALICE packs.


So to sum up, I like a bag that has:

  • Padded shoulder pads
  • Lots of outside pockets
  • A place to attach a tent or bedding on the outside.
  • Heavy duty stitching and zippers

The Bag must be fitted well to my body and not too cumbersome to carry, fully packed.


Next time I will talk about what kinds of water and food to pack in your Bug Out Bag.

 Do you have a Bug Out Bag? Are you working on one?