Bug Out Backpack for Women – Everything but the Kitchen Sink!

Everything but the Kitchen Sink?
or a well planned Bug Out Backpack for Women!

Let me begin by saying that the confusion set in at this point. All the YouTube videos and blogs seemed to be talking about this “bug out backpack for women” and what should be in it, and what you can do with it, and where you should stash it, and how much it should weigh, and what color it should be, and…well, you get the picture.

Once I was able to determine WHAT it was and a general idea of the purpose for one, I was even more confused. To add to the problem, more tips were given wherein we were instructed to ALWAYS HAVE CERTAIN ITEMS ON OUR PERSON…AT ALL TIMES, carried in our “cargo pockets” or our “day vest”. (huh?) I don’t have cargo pockets…I carry a PURSE!

So, back to the “B.O.B.” (aka Bug Out Backpack). It seems that an essential part of our survival plan must include one. (Are you serious? I thought prepping meant planting a garden.) Definition: Bug Out Bag. – a suitable bag/backpack/bucket that contains a minimal amount of food, water, clothing, and other essentials with which one person can survive for at least 72 hours. The thought here is that when “The Event” happens, and you have to flee/leave your home/office/school etc., you should be able to reach your Bug Out Location/Destination (aka B.O.L.) within a 72 hour time-frame.

Let’s stop right here. You see, men don’t think like women. Am I right? Their idea of essentials is a knife and a tarp, with a little duct tape and a para-cord bracelet thrown in for good measure. It would appear that with these few items, one could easily build a SHELTER in the woods. Throw in a little lint from your pocket and a mirror and, voila! FIRE! Add some sand and grass and a little charcoal from your fire and, you guessed it…CLEAN WATER! And I’m sure all of this absolutely works…for THEM. But it’s a known fact that women are notorious for bringing MORE than they usually need.

Needless to say, all of this information produced a “brain overload” for me. The problem was I wanted to pack too much stuff! However, after several days passed and with much prayer, I was finally able to wrap my female head around it by using this more familiar analogy. (Maybe this will help you, too.)

Pretend you are flying to your vacation destination; you pack your main suitcases with everything you need for the trip (NOT everything you own). These are checked at the airport with the assurance that they will arrive at the same destination at the same time you do. But just in case, you pack a “Carry-on” bag with enough items to get you through in case the luggage you checked gets LOST or you get stranded at the airport during a hurricane or ice storm.

Your bug out backpack would contain a few clothes, toiletries, medicines, some snacks, etc. This is the female equivalent of the 72 hour Bug Out Kit. Using this same analogy, the absolute essential items that must be carried on your person at all times are, you guessed it…in your PURSE or waist/day pack. (make up, hair brush, cough drops, passport, money, etc.) TA-DAAA! Make sense?

Now that we understand the reasoning behind the Bug out backpack and the waist-pack (which is the reasonable equivalent to the cargo pockets/day vest), we can begin to focus on what to put in them.

Let me begin by saying that there are as many lists available as there are preppers/survivalists. (My gratitude goes out to the amazing “guy” preppers who thought of all this stuff.)

Since no two lists were identical, I looked for the “common denominators” found in most of the bug out bag lists and grouped them together. Then I eliminated items that were “out of reach” for the average woman. Finally I “tweaked” the list until I understood the purpose for the item.

I will be posting the “ingredients” to our Bug Out Backpack list so you can get started. Some of the stuff I had around the house, and some of it I was able to buy at the local dollar stores and Walmart. The main thing to focus on Ladies is…THIS IS DO-ABLE!

bug out backpack for women

Wow, I have never been very good at packing – let alone packing a bug out backpack!  I have a tendency to bring way more stuff than I need, you know…just in case.  Multiply that by the number of people for whom I am packing…and you get the picture.  So when faced with the predicament of packing for an unknown situation, of indeterminate duration, (sounds like a song, smile) the pressure is ON!

What to bring????  As I mentioned, I have spent a great deal of time researching the  infamous “Bug Out Backpacks for Women” or “Get Home Bag” (aka G.H.B.) depending on which direction you’re going.  Finally I was able to wrap my female brain around it by putting myself into a real life situation.  I live in a small rural community 35 miles from the nearest Walmart, hence, my grown daughter and I spend a great deal of time THERE…in the city…35 miles from home.  Usually we are dressed for the CITY, not for hiking/camping.  (She frequently wears beautiful high heeled boots, or flip flops depending on the season of the year, and I dress similarly, except for the high heels.)

Picture this…we are in the city and “IT” happens!  Oh no, we will have to walk home…in high heeled boots and without a jacket (since the car is heated).  Think!  First of all, I can’t walk 35 miles without stopping to rest/sleep.  No way.  So we would need some kind of shelter, and something to keep us warm.  (I insist she adhere to the “no man left behind” motto). We need water, food, a fire, flashlights, etc.  And unless we have a bug out bag, or in this case a get home back in the car, we are in big trouble.

Therefore, in response to this scenario, I have put together a survival backpack kit list containing the following items. Believe it or not, it all fits!  woo-who…

  1. Shelter:  I actually put this up to see if it works.  It does.  You have to crawl in, but if it’s raining or you’re cold, who cares.  Tie one end of the para-cord/rope to a tree or “something”, and the other end to a tree or “something”.  Then drape the tarp over the line and set rocks or logs/sticks along the edges.  Don’t poke holes in the tarp if you can avoid it.  Then spread out the plastic drop cloth inside your tent, and crawl in.  (Awww…kinda reminds you of all those tents you made for your little one betweem the dining room chairs.)An 8×10 blue tarp from Walmart (approx. $5) or similar
    About 50′ of para-cord sold wound on a piece of cardboard for about $3, or some rope
    Package of clear plastic sheeting (sold as a drop cloth in paint dept.) (approx. $2)Tip: Take the tarp out of the package and roll it up as small as possible.  If it won’t fit inside your back pack, use carabiner hooks or bungee cords to attach it to the outside.
  2. Warmth/Fire:  Since you will be carrying this back pack, it needs to be as light as possible.  A blanket is fairly heavy, but they make a “space blanket” that reflects body heat.  It’s not soft and cuddly but it will keep you warm, and it weighs almost nothing.Space Blanket  (You can buy one at Academy or Walmart for about $3, and it is folded into something the size of a playing card.)
    Bic Lighters (have two and be sure they’re Bic; the cheap ones don’t light)
    Waterproof matches
    Cotton Balls coated in Petroleum Jelly – each one can be lit with a lighter or match, and will burn for about 4-5 minutes to get your fire started.  Get the cheap petroleum jelly at Dollar Tree for $1 and cover the cotton balls with it using a spoon.  Put 5 or 6 in a small zip lock baggie inside your backpack.
    The lint from your dryer screen will light very easily.  Put it in a zip lock and stick inside your back pack.Tip:  Be sure to place your fire so the smoke and sparks won’t come inside your tent.  A pile of rocks immediately behind your fire will help reflect the heat towards you.  (Of course we live in rice country and there are no rocks to be found round here.)  Start your fire with kindling (cotton balls or dryer lint) then little bitty twigs, then little bit bigger sticks, etc. setting them into a tee-pee shape so air can get through.  Clear off the leaves and stuff from immediately around the fire so it won’t spread.  (I know I’m stating the obvious, but who knows…?)
  3. Water:  Even when it’s cold, your body needs water to survive.Small bottles are easier to carry.  Bring as many as you can stuff into your backpack, but remember that water is heavy.  At least 4-6 for each person, which isn’t enough, but may have to do.
    Water purification tablets
    Coffee filters (put several in a zip lock – use to filter water before using tablets)
  4. Food:  This is a no-brainer for those of us who live in Hurricane-prone areas, because we know it’s way easier if you don’t have to cook anything.  Go for pouches over cans if possible, since they weigh less.  Remember that salty food makes you thirsty.Vienna Sausage
    Peanut Butter/Crackers
    Energy Bars
    Tuna in pouches
    Dried fruit
    Trail Mixes
    Dried cereal (crunches) in zip locks
    Gum (helps keep your mouth moist)
    Hard Candy (Jolly Rancher’s melt so be advised)
    Pork and beans and small manual CAN OPENER
    Fruit Roll ups
  5. Clothing:   It’s obvious this is dependent upon the season of year and climate, but think “layers”, that way if you get hot or cold you can add or remove layers as needed.Comfortable Shoes meant for walking

Socks (2 pairs in case one gets wet)

Long pants

Long and short sleeved shirts

Under garments



Hat (stocking or sun)

Tee shirt

Flip flops for use in the tent or while your others are drying


Tip:  Don’t worry about what you will look like or if it will “match”.  The operative words here are comfortable and functional.  Pockets are an added blessing.  Also, most Preppers agree it’s best to not stand out from the crowd, so don’t do all “Camo” and put black paint on your face (smile). Remember, the object is either to “get out of Dodge”, or “get home” so blend in.

First Aid:  A medical emergency is even more pressing than the need for shelter.  Quality first aid kits are available online and in stores everywhere. You can also buy individual components from dollar stores and, you guessed it…Walmart.  Start with the basics and add as you go.

Prescription medicines (have at least 3 days of each one stashed in your pack)


Gauze and tape

Anti-bacterial cream



Calamine lotion



Lip balm



Toiletries:  We’re talking bare necessities here, so think small and light ladies.

Wet wipes (small travel size)

Toilet paper (remove cardboard tube and mash flat; place in zip lock)

Hand sanitizer

Toothpaste/toothbrush (travel size)

Hair brush/scrunchies/hair clips

Feminine products (enough for 72 hours)


Insect repellent

Contact solution/case (if applicable)

Deodorant (travel size) (optional, but nice to have)

Special Needs:  If you have a baby or young child  please plan on bringing items that are unique to them.  Children will benefit from a small toy (doll, car, etc.)  Babies will need formula, diapers, etc.

A pet will need food, a bowl and extra water, a leash, etc.


Flashlight and batteries

Glow stick/LED headlamp (from Academy or Walmart really cheap)

Battery or hand crank emergency radio with extra batteries

Map showing streets and side roads in your town and neighboring areas (in case the major roads are blocked with traffic, or you want to go another way)


Paper and a pen

Large Leaf/Trash Bags (can be used to sit on, or to cover your backpack if raining, or as a poncho)

Walmart sacks (good to put dirty/wet clothes in)

Knife or multi-purpose tool (if you don’t have one, put a sharp kitchen knife in your pack until you can get one)

Heavy duty aluminum foil (multiple uses – a bowl, signalling, etc.  Tear off a sheet about 18″ square and fold in half again and again until it’s about 2′ square or so.)

A deck of playing cards (FEMA recommends this after Katrina)


Optional:  I know you’ll think of other things that will be of help, but don’t overload yourself to the point where you can’t carry your pack.

Small stove with fuel tablets (they have one at Academy for about $7)

Mess Kit (Academy or Walmart for about $7) (pan, dish, lid)



Fishing line/hooks (you never know, and they are small and don’t weigh anything)

Current pictures of all your loved ones for identification purposes.  Place in zip lock baggie so they don’t get wet.

CASH $20 or so in ones and fives.

Tips:  If you bring a stove, be sure to add some Ramen Noodles, hot chocolate, tea bags, instant coffee, cup of noodles, etc. and a little extra water.  Also, salt and pepper, soy sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce, jams, etc. that you get from fast food places are ideal.  Put them in a zip lock baggie, and stash them in your backpack.  You can put all your first aid stuff together in a zip lock, and all of your toiletries, etc.  Keep things organized. Just remember to keep the stuff you will use the most in the easiest place to get to.

In closing, I know I haven’t made a complete list, and there are things you will need that I haven’t thought of.  Everything is highly individualized, but I would love to hear your comments.  I’m adding a list of blogs and websites that have been a source of information to me.  I encourage you to visit them and research for yourself.  If you can afford to buy the kits, that’s wonderful.  But if not, you can put one together relatively inexpensively.  In either case, hopefully I have given you food for thought.

The main thing, however, is this…GET STARTED!  PACK YOUR BUG OUT BAG!  Look around your house and start with what you already have.  Then make a list of things you will need and start putting it all together. If you don’t have a backpack yet, use a duffle bag, or a 5 gallon bucket, or put it all in a tote or a box, but get it together.  PLEASE DON’T WAIT.

Homework Assignment:

Look around your home for a gym bag/backpack/stuff sack, etc…one for each person, including your children, and one for your family pet (they gotta’ eat, too). The thinking here is that If you don’t have to buy the required number of bags, you can spend your money on what goes IN the bags instead. You can switch out to better “bags” at a later date if desired. Right now the important thing is to HAVE A READY BUG OUT BAG.

Wanna dive into more bug out stuff? Here is another very detailed “should have bug out bag list” I put together.

What should be in a bug out bag?

Don’t pack your Bug Out Bag. Yet!

Your “bug out bag” preparations are the last you should set up, after every day, getting home, and staying home. So, since you are reading this post, please bear in mind that you really should be pretty far down the road on the first two and a half plans and kits before you start seriously tangling with “Bug Out” prep.

Plan Before Kit

The other cart-horse thing to keep in mind is that, for each of the three and a half preps, you need to plan first and assemble a kit second. Before building a “bug out bag”, you need to plan where and how you intend to bug out. If you live out in the country already, you may well be planning to bug out to the wilderness. If that is the case, your preparations will be fundamentally different from mine. If you live in a heavily urbanised area – just a couple of miles away from a big city – Starting from here, it would take serious effort to get to a patch of wilderness, and much more effort to avoid the millions of other people in this area that may have the same idea.

Since this thread will be looking at a family’s bug out plan (make sure to take a look at my survival hygiene post for family as well) and kit, remember that this is an urbanite’s look at things. We will be figuring on running away to another building somewhere, not to the woods. There may be some time spent camping out in the open, but that will be the exception, not the standard.

That being said, the needs you will have to satisfy with a bug out plan/kit are the same regardless of the situation; the difference will be in how you go about meeting those needs.

Kit Before Bag

I highly recommend that you assemble the stuff you want in your kit before you select a bag or other container to hold the kit. If you buy a backpack or other bag first, you will find yourself selecting items based on whether or not they fit in the bag. It would be much better to run through your list of needs, select items that will meet those needs, set them aside somewhere, and then get yourself a bag that fits them.

Many Names, Many Purposes

Bug out Kit.
Get Home Bag.
Get of of Dodge Kit.

Bug out Bags have many names, and can serve many purposes. The key element is it contains key supplies that can be carried somewhat easily that will enable someone to reach pre-positioned supplies over the first 24-72 hours after a disaster. For the suburban survivalist, these pre-positioned supplies will be at either home, a remote storage location or at a remote country site.
Often these items are assembled in a backpack.

General recommendations found on the internet are that all items be in one bag. However there are some advantages to having kits divided up into multiple bags. One such possibility is having a “Primary Bag” that is stored in the back of the car, and then a second bag containing items needed for an NBC enviroment. This solves two problems:

  1. If there is an NBC event, having all NBC gear in one location will speed up the ability to access the equipment faster,
  2. In an event where NBC is not a factor nor expected to be a factor, it leaves a easy way to shed weight for food-based travel.

So Consider either:

Single Bug Out Bag System, or
Dual Bug Out Bag System with a Primary Bag & NBC Bag

What you should have  in a “Single Bag” Primary Bug Out Bag?

(weighs approximately 17 Pounds)

Military Goretex Jacket
Two T-Shirts
Two Pairs of Underware & Two Paris of Socks
Two 20oz bottles of water
Ten Dollar roll of quarters
Silver Liberty Half Dollars (16)
Silver Dimes (10)
Bar of soap in ziplock bag
1oz Off! (100% DEET) in ziplock bag
Hand Sanitizing Wipe (Set of 12)
Three lighters
15-Days of Potassium Iodite / Iodate
Set of Single Edge Razor Blades (Approx 25)
Ear Plugs
Mini LED Flash Light (AAA)
Small LED Flash Light (AA)
Gerber Multi-Tool
42″ Mini Umbrella
Canadian Gas Mask
M-95 Filter (New & Sealed)
Israeli Filter

What you should have  in a “Dual Bag” Primary Bug Out Bag?

(weighs approximately 22 Pounds)

In addition to this bag, there should be a carry bag that contains all the NBC equipment needed.

Assembled in a Backpack:
Pair of Khaki Shorts
Pair of Blue Jean Shorts
Details Map Book of your area
Hand Towel & =Wash Cloth
Underware (3 Pairs)
Socks (3 Pairs)
Good T-Shirt
42″ Mini Umbrella
Binoculars 16×32
Liter Water Bottle (2 Bottles)
Jack Links Ground Beef 10.6 oz (2 Packages)
FM 21-11 First Aid for Soldiers
PVC Rainsuit (2 Piece w/ hood)
Basic Toiletry Bag
250ml Listerine (never opened), in a Ziplock
4oz Gold Bond Foot Powder, in a Ziplock
Bar of soap in container
Cotton Swabs (30)
Tootbrush in travel carrier
Tootbrush un-openedw
1oz Hand Sanitizer, in a Ziplock
Triple Antibiotic ointment
Blistex Lip Medex
Dental scraper
Razors (3)
Small LED Flash light (AA)
Small LED Flash light (AAA)
Mini LED Flash light (AAA)
Lensatic Compass
Ten Dollar roll of quarters
Silver Liberty Half Dollars (16)
Silver Dimes (10)
Set of various fishing hooks & weights
Set of Single Edge Razor Blades (Approx 25)
Box cutter that uses Single Edge Razor Blades
Emergency Poncho
15-Days of Potassium Iodite / Iodate
Cheap China-Trash folding knife w/ 3″ blade
Good folding knife w/ 3″ blade
Bar of soap in zip lock bag
Travel size mouth wash (sealed) in zip lock bag
1oz Iodine Tincture (sealed) in zip lock bag
1/2 oz eye drops (sealed) in zip lock bag
Emergency drinking water tablets
Bottle of Vitamin C
Bottle of Garlic pills
Travel size hand lotion in zip lock bag
Tube of Orajel in zip lock bag
Set of plenty of band-aides
Folding letherman type tool
watch and/or stop watch
Four lighters
Eight AA Batteries
Four AAA Batteries
Small Brush
Hand Sanitizing Wipe (Set of 12)
Hair Ties (Package of 20)
Good fingernail Clipper
Backup fingernail Clipper
Toenail Clipper
Cuticle Sissors
Fingernail file
Ear Plugs

What you should have  in a “Bug Car Tub”?

Keep a box or plastic tote with some critical spare parts in the trunk of each car. All items should be emergency items specific to the car.

Set of Spark Plugs (new and gapped)
PCV Valve
Set of fuses
Set of light bulbs (parking & break)
Set of head lights
Air Filter
Belt Dressing
Slick 50 Grease (Tub)
Radiator Sealer
Bottle of Oil Fuel Stabilizer
Small bottle of water
Zip Strips (Several sizes)
Duct Tape