Help! My Bug Out Bag is too big!

There are a lot of different schools of thought as to what exactly you should have in your BOB (Bug out bag).  If you listened to some of them it would take 2 people to carry one bag, in some cases.  In this post, we are going to look at what it would take to survive for 72 hours and how to pack your BOB so that you can still carry it.

I read an article the other day where the author recommended carrying 1,000 rounds of Ammo for each firearm you will have with you and 72 hours’ worth of MREs.  Even if the only weapon you have with you is a 22LR, you are looking at several pounds a weight and at 3 meals a day you are looking at 9 MRE packages.  Where on earth are you supposed to put everything else they say you are supposed to have with you?  Then you add the 2 liters of water they suggest, and you wind up with a BOB that most people just can’t carry.  I have a rule of thumb about the weight of a BOB.  If you can’t walk with it comfortably on your back for 5 miles, then it is too heavy!

While the general list of items that you should have with you are somewhat agreed upon, exactly what those items should be is widely debated.  Just remember that if it is too heavy or doesn’t have what you need then it is useless.   There are ways where you can still have them and yet reduce their weight considerably.  Let’s look at a list of items and see what we can do to reduce the weight of your Bug Out Bag.

Food – It is generally agreed upon that you should carry 72 hours of food in your BOB.  However, you do not need to carry 9 pouches of MREs.  That is a lot of wasted space and additional weight you don’t need.  Consider instead, packing things like Power Bars and S.O.S Emergency rations. At only 1.6 pounds for 72 hours’ worth of food and a foot print of only 4.5 X 2 X 5 inches they can easily fit in a BOB without taking up a lot of space.  A single MRE pack weighs 1.4 pounds so you will save 11 pounds in your pack right there.  You have to remember that when you’re bugging out, that you are not going to eat like a king.  You will want light meals that will keep the hunger away and still give you the energy you need to continue.  Power Bars are also an excellent source of nutrition for when you are bugging out.  Think light meals and you will be on your way to having a lighter bag.

Water – Water is a vital necessity for BOBs to contain, however a liter of water weighs about 2 pounds. They say that you need a minimum of 3 liters of water a day to drink plus an extra liter for washing your hands etc. So 10 liters of water weighs about 20 pounds.  WOW!  That is a lot of weight!  There is no way to make it weigh any less, but there are ways to reduce the load on the body.  Try using a canteen or water bottles that attach to your belt.  By doing this you will lower the center of gravity of the weight on your body.  This will give you more room in your bag and make it easier to carry.  While you will still be carrying the same amount of weight, you won’t have it pulling down on your shoulders and will make carrying it easier.  If you must keep it in your bag, then I suggest using the water packets because they will allow you to distribute the weight more evenly.  You may also want to consider carrying a small pack of handy wipes instead of an extra liter of water for your hands. This too will reduce the weight, if ever so slightly.

First Aid – First aid is a necessity when bugging out.  It is critical that you have an emergency kit for things like cuts, burns and twisted ankles.  While there are hundreds of first aid kits on the market, get one that you can carry easily on your belt or on the outside of your BOB,  This will leave more room in your bag while still allowing you to have what you need.  Some people go overboard with these and try to pack everything under the sun.  You don’t need a large kit, just one with a few items that you might need on your way to your Bug Out Location.  It is only 72 hours not a lifetime.  Be sure you have things in it to handle Blisters on your feet and sprained ankles.  Those will be the two most likely items to make you need it.  I know my wife has 3 or 4 large bags of medical supplies and is prepared for anything.  However, they are kept at our Bug Out Location for emergencies once we arrive. Saving space and weight in your BOB will help you insure that you will arrive at your location and not have to abandon some of your supplies on the side of the road because your bag is too heavy.

Guns and Ammo – We all agree that if you have to bug out,  you should carry some type of self-protection.  Be a gun, knife, or both.  The trick is not to get too carried away with it and not to pack more than you may need.  The type of crisis that has caused you to bug out will determine what you will need to carry with you.  If it is a full on terrorist attack or a Chinese invasion,  you might need to have more ammunition with you than you would if it was an economic collapse.  If you don’t wait till the last-minute to go, you will probably need less ammo.  OK, let’s say you have one pistol and one rifle, how much ammunition should you carry?  While opinions vary greatly, I would recommend caring no more than 200 rounds for each weapon.  Why do I say that?  It’s because 200 rounds of 223 and 40 caliber ammunition adds up to quite a bit of weight when you are walking.  If you feel comfortable reducing that amount based on the current situation then I would recommend it.  Remember the goal is to reach your Bug Out Location safely, not get into a running gun battle.  If you have little ammunition with you, then you will be less likely to get involved in things you shouldn’t.

By reducing the weight or changing how you carry these few items you will be well on your way to reducing the weight of your BOB and will have a much better chance of making it to your destination when the time comes.  Other things to consider are getting rid of that bar of soap and using soap tabs instead.  You can also go the wash cloths that have been dehydrated and pressed into small tabs that take up much less room and weigh less than normal wash cloths.  Seek out alternative items for what you plan to carry and look for ways to reduce the overall weight of each item in your BOB.  Be sure you have what you think you will need and don’t do without things that you know you will have to have.  Be smart when your pack you’re BOB and you will end up with a BOB that you can safely carry to your destination.  Well, I hope I have given you something new to think about and maybe even a few new ideas for packing your Bug Out Bag.  Until next time, just remember that prepping is a direction not a destination.  Happy prepping!

11 thoughts on “Help! My Bug Out Bag is too big!”

  1. I have a couple of heavy duty garden carts with big wheels to use if I need them. The carts also fold up flat for storage under a bed.

  2. hello people, If you decide to carry a weapon,(as I believe you should} then you should also be apprehensive and knowledgable in it’s use. If you let your situation get to where it is used , then you will be at a point where you have lost and are dead, or you have won and now own more weapons and ammo. I believe that you pack light with the very basics of sustenance, one extra clip, one knife etc. If your world gets to where you need more than that, you will survive by finding what you need or you won’t. See you there, Haggy

  3. All of those did look good, but are they made for the long haul post teotwawki world? Our dolly has to carry about 200lbs. Those mass produced products don’t appear to be able to handle that much weight. Correct me if I’m wrong please. We as successful preppers have reached a quagmire, haven’t we? We have the tons of preps and no way to transport them after shft! There has to be a way.

  4. Well……..I carry enough to start over again quite easily, and do not think in terms of 72 hours…but I’m also a faithful p90X gal and bench 235 now at 61 years old….I use all of the following as well and even designed one myself….Cabelas deer hauler with double wheels on (I’ve pulled these all over the Rockies and took this to Sandy disaster site with me with a geo dome 18 foot span shelter), Ben Packer, Monowalker,Radical Design, Jeff Spate made his own if you can stand his mouth (you tube)…..Seriously I carry on foot enough food for 2 months, FD (using Harvest Right Freezedryer,, tools enough to start over again, and I carry a couple of big guns, a Mathews bow, etc….sometimes you need a little extra equipment to carry….Here’s some sites…something to think about:
    must be abe to get clear of your pack to fight…what the heck, here ya go:

    SOK (Start Over Kit)Carry
    You’ve got your SOK, bug out equipment, but now, how are ya gonna carry it?????
    DIY-Jeff Spate-(beware of the occasional potty language…turn off sound)

    radical Design

    Cabelas Deer carrier

    google hiking trolly

    Dixon Pack
    The Dixon Rollerpack is an old concept brought back to modern days. One hundred fifty years ago the plain Indians used a device called a travois. This was a frame slung between trailing poles and pulled by a dog, horse or sometimes humans. They used it to move their goods and belongings as they looked for better hunting grounds and warmer weather.


    • It’s good that you can carry that much, but most people can’t. If all you have time to grab is your Bug Out Bag, then you need to be careful about what you have in it. These are some very good ideas though! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Unless there is no other water source available on your bug-out route, a small water filter the size of a cigar will save all sorts of weight and room.

  6. I find it impossible to carry as much as will be needed in a single backpack while bugg’n out, and I’m not leaving it behind, never! If necessity is the mother of invention, then desperation is the birth pains. That said, we were absolutely desperate to find a non-motorized transport for preps. Our best luck so far has been with an oversized dolly truck with larger tires. We stack four five gallon sealed buckets on the main frame and have built a two gun gunrack on both sides. We have extra tire tubes, patches, and a good quality handpump in case of flats. Enough dehydrated food can be carried to last 90 days, plus all the ammo we need, medical supplies, etc. We readily admit this is not a travel fast mode, it requires more energy than a backpack, is sometimes cumbersome, but it works and gives us great peace of mind. We are not here to advertise for anyone, but we purchased one from Tractor Supply Company for $134 and have been well pleased. Remember, get the largest one you can find. Do not drill holes in the frame. Use clamps, C bolts, or whatever you desire but do not weaken the frame by drilling. We will probably purchase another one to extend our food supply to 6 months. Compared to a Dually it is the pits, but compared to carrying all this on your back it is a workable, viable alternative to leaving your hard earned preps at home for someone else to enjoy. Please keep in mind that we live in flat country; will the dolly work in the mountains; we don’t know. Also if anyone out there has a better mode of nonmotorized transport then please comment and let us know. thanks and Blessings.
    PS: Place the heaviest bucket on the bottom and work your way up with the lightest weight on top. PS2; We still carry our backpacks.


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