Zombie Apocalypse Bug Out Bag Essentials

bug out bag

***UPDATE 7/2013: The list below is comprehensive, but it can also be daunting. I’ve received many emails asking for an easier solution, and after comparison shopping I’ve found this – Executive 72-hour Kit – As seen on CNN! This is the best pre-built kit I’ve seen in terms of cost, value, and items covered. I hope this allows you to stop making excuses, and take the preparedness steps you know you need to take.***

Bug out is a military term meaning that camp needs to get packed up now so you can move on.  So a bug out bag would be designed to get you the same result, but you can have it ready to go in advance.  At first zombie sighting you can grab your bag and be on your way.

If you’re gonna put the effort in to building a zombie survival kit, you’re gonna want to make sure you do it right.  This isn’t to say there’s one right way to build your bug out bag – it should absolutely be tailored to your particular tastes and needs, but there are some essentials that need to be included.  It’s not likely that you’ll find some “survival packs” on your travels, like the ones you see in video games – so you need to have the basics covered.

Let’s break it down into parts.  Keep in mind, a typical bug out bag is a 3-day kit – designed to keep you alive until you find suitable resources elsewhere.

Survival Food and Water

  • Clean drinking water – 1 liter per person, per day (3 liters, minimum)
  • Emergency food bars / MREs / other shelf-stable food source (suitable for a 3 day pack)


  • Pack warm clothes for cold nights
  • Extra socks
  • Full change of clothes in case you get wet
  • Rain jacket / poncho


  • Tent or tarp to sleep under
  • Ground tarp to sleep on
  • Sleeping bag / bedroll (or at least a good, heavy blanket) to stay warm

Emergency supplies

Sanitation / Personal hygiene

  • Toothbrush / toothpaste
  • Toilet paper
  • Bleach


This is a personal decision that depends what you’re comfortable with.  We will explore this in more detail in another post, but to get an idea check out Gerber’s Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit.

Don’t forget, you also need a great bag to carry it all in!

Please note that the Amazon links are affiliate links, and I get a small commission if you buy the products through them.  Please don’t buy something you’re not comfortable buying or isn’t a good fit for you, just because I recommend it.

This is a pretty good list, but it doesn’t cover all situations.  If you have a baby with you, remember they have special needs that you need to account for.  The same goes for any pets you will take with you.

Personally, I would bring along something to write with and a notebook, and a deck of cards to keep me sane.  That’s why this needs to be personalized to your tastes.

If you’d rather take a shortcut and buy a ready-made kit, such as this one here, that’s a valid strategy too.  Just remember to tweak it and tailor it to you.

Want a printable version of this list?  Just sign up for the ZSG newsletter and I will email it to you!

5 thoughts on “Zombie Apocalypse Bug Out Bag Essentials

  1. I would add a towel and gloves.
    Towel is self-explanatory and multipurpose. Even the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has that as a requirement 😉
    Latex/Surgical Gloves are protection a if you have to handle nasty stuff or move double tapped zombie bodies or treat potentially contaminated humans.
    Working Gloves are protection. If a zombie bites or scratches your hand, they have to get through that tough working glove. Difference between missing fingers/zombiedom and severely bruised hands.
    The change of clothes should take zombies into account and not be a tank top and shorts or the like. If you are trying not to get bitten or scratched, then long sleeves and long pants are in order.
    A jean jacket would be good too. Denim is a pretty tough material to bite through and could mean the difference between a nasty bruise and a fatal scratch or bite. I am always amazed when I watch The Walking Dead and other zombie movies and the silly meat pasties are running around in crop pants/shorts and short sleeved shirts. It is like they want to be bitten *shakes head* Long sleeves and long pants! Preferably denim or other tough fabric. Leather could work too if it is not too thin. You want teeth not to go through it easily.
    And when running through woods or busted broken down houses and rubble and such, denim is the difference between bleeding cuts, gangrene, flesh eating bacteria and bloody human crumb trail vs. a bruise.
    Jeans and a jean jacket and your survival odds just went up by a lot.
    Cover that tasty skin! Don’t be human chum for zombies!

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