Worst-Case Scenario

The Ultimate Survival Bag for When Disaster Strikes

Buying Guides By Photo by Chase Pellerin

That crazy guy on the street corner howling about the end of the world might be onto something. Think about it for a moment. Every morning it seems we read news of some horrifying, unprecedented event. People are scared, and they have good reason to be: According to a recent UN report, last year 98.6 million people were directly affected by natural disasters, and with imminent climate change, the disasters are expected to become bigger, badder and more frequent. Governments are struggling to cope with millions of political refugees. What will happen tomorrow?

No one can say for sure. But whenever and wherever the shit hits the fan, you should be prepared, and one of the best ways to do this is to assemble a survival bag. Typically, a survival bag (a.k.a. “bug-out bag” or “GO bag”) is defined as a backpack or duffel loaded with one to five days’ worth of survival essentials — food, water, clothing, shelter, miscellaneous tools and, if necessary, a weapon for self-defense — stashed away in a safe place and grab-able at a moment’s notice. Having one means you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to throw together a few things you think you might need, whenever a disaster occurs — and who knows what disaster it could be. Jason Charles, head organizer of the NYC Preppers Network, a group that teaches city-dwellers how to best prepare for unexpected disasters, says survival bags aren’t only for citywide emergencies like earthquakes, floods or nuclear attacks: “They can also be for smaller emergencies like home fires, evacuations or broken-down vehicles.”

Disaster preppers like Charles aren’t always the kooky bunch of paranoid weirdos that reality TV makes them out to be. They simply want to be ready for the event that everyone hopes will never happen; indeed, the event that many people, to their disadvantage, believe never will. Charles, himself a survival bag expert, taught us how to best assemble a great survival bag. Here’s the one we came up with — let’s hope you never have to reach for it.

The Pack

Bombproof Carry-All

bug-out-bag-gear-patrol-bag-1 You know how seemingly every doomsday blockbuster has a token ex-Spec Ops badass who’s always heroically rescuing people? This is the pack he’d wear. Made in the USA and backed by a lifetime warranty, it’s built to stay strong in the harshest, most dangerous environments and holds several days’ worth of gear (as well as everything on this list).

GR1 (26 liter) by GORUCK $295

Food and Water

Can’t Live Without ‘Em

When preparing for a disaster scenario, always assume that food and water will not be readily available. Consequently, the amount of food and water in your pack is the single most important factor for determining how long you’ll be able to last on your own. Three days of food and water equals three days of relative safety. Once your stockpile runs dry, you’ll need to start scavenging. Put that off for as long as you can.

Gourmet Dehydrated Meal by Good To-Go $6+
LifeStraw Personal by LifeStraw $20
LiteMax Stove by Snow Peak $60
Micropur Purification Tablets by Katadyn $15
Pocket Water Filter by Katadyn $370
Protein Bar by RXBAR $24+
Trek 900 Cook Set by Snow Peak $53
Wide Mouth 40-Ounce Water Bottle by Klean Kanteen $14+

Clothing and Shelter

Warm, Water-Resistant and Rugged

bug-out-bag-gear-patrol-clothing This is not a style contest. In a disaster scenario, the only things that matter about your clothing is that they keep you warm and dry, and that they don’t fall apart. You won’t have time to make repairs. As for shelter, hammocks are easy to set up, quick to take down and pack small enough to leave room in your bag for everything else.

Capilene Daily Boxer Briefs by Patagonia $29
Phase SL Crew by Arc’teryx $49+
Scout Jura Half Zip by Ibex $175
Skeeter Beeter Pro Hammock by Grand Trunk $82
Yukon Rain Jacket by Kuiu $350


When the Power Grid Fails

bug-out-bag-gear-patrol-hardware You have food, water, clothing and shelter, which is great — but none of that matters if you don’t have a way out. Making it to safety is all about communication. One way to do this is to spell out a massive “SOS” using rocks and fallen tree branches. The other, easier way is to call for rescue by simply pressing a button.

Tactikka+ Headlamp by Petzl $45
Scorpion II Digital Radio by Eton $47
Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger by SPOT $150
Powerstation Pro by Mophie $100


MacGyver Your Way to Safety

Things will break. Other things will need to be broken. Cans will need to be opened, fires will need to be lit and wounds will need to be healed. Having the tools necessary to do these things, in a disaster scenario, could mean the difference between life or death. So, don’t pack the cheap stuff that’ll break after being used twice — invest in tools that are sturdy, multi-purpose and dependable.

Adventure First Aid Kit 2.0 by Adventure Medical Kits $16
CRKT 2-Stage Compact Tactical Knife by Ruger $70
Hobo Knife by Best Made Co. $32
Insect Repellent by Natrapel $6
Match Safe by Best Made Co. $12
MC-2/360/D/CM/IN/NH Compass by Suunto $56
Orange Metal Clicker Pen by Rite in the Rain $17
Organic Liquid Soap (4 oz.) by Dr. Bronner’s $5
Pocket-Sized Hardcover Book by Rite in the Rain $19
Surge Multi-Tool by Leatherman $100
Titan Stormproof Matches by UCO $10
Utility Cord (50 feet) by PMI $5
Ultralite Towel by Packtowl $35

The Finer Things

One Final Indulgence

bug-out-bag-gear-patrol-extras Because you might as well enjoy your final moments.

Birthday Bourbon by Old Forester Learn More
Powerband Cigar by Camacho $12+
Titanium Curved Flask by Snow Peak $125