Now, at this point I'm going to say something. In my mind there is a HUGE difference between a "bug out" (natural disaster that may take several days or a week for the government to stabilize) and an emergency (we need to get out for at most a day) "go".
Here is what I think should be in a full "bug out" bag:
- a quart of bottled water
- iodine tablets to make more water drinkable
- 3 days of freeze dried meals
- Food prep (pan, pot, spoons ... easily found in camping supplies)
- Plate, spoon, fork, knife
- At least three ways of making a fire AND a couple boxes of matches (which would make 4 ways of making fire ... and you should be capable of making fire every way that you carry)
- Clothes for three days (error on the side of the clothes being for weather colder than you will probably see ... if it's hot, you can take clothes off, if it's cold you only have what you have and that's it)
- Walking stick (tied beside the bag so it can't be forgotten)
- Some kind of hunting quality knife
- A firearm and ammunition for it (personally I keep a .22 pistol IN the bag which in the event the thing is needed I would wear and a .22 rifle tied to the outside)
- A small pup tent
- a sleeping bag (I live where it's cold so mine has a -30 comfort rating), and pad (I use the texalite pad, it's thin, light, improves comfort and keeps you off the ground)
- A shovel (breaks down and goes into the bag, the shovel head also has saw teeth)
- A small hatchet
- 20 feet of good quality rope
- Fishing pole and lures (ONLY if you know how to fish and your bug out location has a place to do it)
- First aid kit that includes the ability to sew up a bad cut ... AND YOU SHOULD KNOW HOW
- Pictures of loved ones printed from my color ink jet and placed into individual ziploc bags
Also, notice how I structured the list, and this is basic survival. Think about water needs first, next came food, then food prep, then fire, then self defense, then shelter, and finally the shovel (human waste disposal) and the hatchet and rope in case the bug out ends up needing to take longer than expected you can create more "permanent" structures. I also have ways of catching more food (fire arms, fishing, and snaring). Then I also have pictures in there for a little mental sanity.
There should be one of these bags for every person in your household. If you have young children (less than 10) you'll have to add some of their things to your bag, but if they can talk, they should have to carry some things on their own, at least clothes, food, and water.
Here is what I think should be in a "go" bag:
- A quart of water
- freeze dried food for 1 day
- A pistol and ammunition for it
- Walking stick
- Tarp large enough to make a lean-to or fold over shelter
- Sleeping bag and pad
- Hunting knife
- At least two methods of making fire and a box of matches
- a pair of underwear, a shirt, and a hoodie type jacket
- The camping shovel I mentioned above with saw teeth on the shovel pan
- 20 feet of rope
- Fishing pole and lures (I like to fish obviously ... again, only take IF APPROPRIATE)
Again, notice how the list is structured: water, food, self defense, shelter and finally contingency items in case it takes longer than a day.
The idea with a "go bag" however is to make it really easy to grab, go, and not look strange walking around with it. If you're like most of the industrialized world and you live in a city, walking down the street with a huge backpack on your back will get you noticed.
In a "go" situation (e.g. civil unrest) being noticed could be a bad thing.
Again, everyone should have their own bag!!!
Further, to be honest, in a full "bug out", I would grab my "go bag" as well.