I grew up in Florida, where we were all told to prepare for hurricane season. June through September, and sometimes but rarely in May, people in the Gulf Coast and Atlantic States are at risk from hurricanes. My family were not anywhere near “preppers” and we never talked about emergency preparedness. The extent that I can recall from childhood of being prepared is that my Grandmother urged us all to have a suitcase packed that we could grab and go with if we needed to. I never packed a suitcase and I don’t think my mother ever did. And looking back, I’m pretty sure the only thing in my Grandmother’s suitcase was a nightgown and a change of clothes.

Well, now that I’m an adult, I take emergency preparedness much more seriously! Not only do we have supplies at home, each driver in the family (two adults and a 19-year-old) have their own cars with emergency gear bags in each car. We all work in different places across town and live a bit out in the country, so having a car bag is the minimum that I feel we need. I feel good about this, but I also have some random supplies that are in different places.

For instance, in my car’s glove box is a glassbreaker multitool and an LED flashlight. In a cabinet in our laundry room is a crank lantern and two Luci solar lights. These we keep accessible in the house in the event that the power goes out. My partner has medications that we don’t have backups of, that are on our dresser in the bedroom. (Emergency prep lists always tell you to take backups of medications, but insurance doesn’t pay to fill most medications more than once a month, so having extras of expensive meds is not likely for most people anymore.)

I also have sleeping bags in a closet and an envelope with a little cash. In the laundry room is a stash of candles and lighters. Does your bug out bag have a hairbrush and toothbrush and toothpaste in it? I’ve met many people over the years who focused on just the emergency supplies in their bug out bag and not little things like hygiene. If there was an evacuation call or some other emergency where I needed to leave the house quickly and take as much as I could in my car, I might not remember all of these things since they are all in different, separate places. While I could get by without them, if I had these things they would serve as backup gear or extra peace of mind.

Therefore, I recommend that you all take stock of the things you have around the house that might not be in your proper bug out bag but that you would want to have with you in the event of an emergency. Here’s a list of things that I would want to have with me that go beyond my basic bug out bag that I’d like to grab if I have time. What does your list look like? Print your list out and keep it in a handy place where whoever is at home can find it.

Extra lighters from candle closet
Magnifying glass – for fire starting (my kid likes to play with this so it’s in a drawer in the living room)
Glassbreaker multitool from car
Knife from desk
Complete change of clothes, with gloves, hat, jacket, scarf, etc depending on the season
Toothpaste, toothbrushes for everyone
Playing cards – there are some in my bug out bag but why not take another pack?
Notebook and pen/pencil
Phone and charger
Luci lights
Paracord – there is some in my bug out bag, but we also have some extra in the laundry room where the candles and other in-house emergency supplies are
Bug out bags from in the house
Water jugs
Sleeping bags and pillows
Hair comb
Lotion – I like soft hands, ok?
Sunscreen and lip balm – these are in my medicine cabinet but not in my bug out bag
Snacks – jerky, granola, cheese sticks, peanut butter, crackers, cans of soup, etc., that you may have at home that you can grab quickly.
What else?

It’s a pack I see a lot in airports across the country and for a good reason. The S.O.C Bugout Bag (ours is in the foliage green color) is a big backpack that can carry a lot of gear and take a beating. While it’s a popular option, there are some things to take into consideration before pulling out your wallet. We got this bag from Brownells, a company that has guns and ammunition along with gunsmithing tools and emergency and survival gear.

Construction: This bag is quite hefty, weighting in at 5 pounds 5 ounces. The construction is 600 denier polyester and canvas blend. Some of that weight also comes from the aluminum back-stays that give support while carrying heavy loads. The shoulder straps are connected by metal clips and can be stored for using the bag as a carry-on for air travel. While the pack is comfortable to carry and durable, there are some improvements that could be made to keep the pack in competition with more modern designs. That’s coming later.

Organization: The front pocket of the pack opens to reveal a light grey organizer panel, which helps identify smaller items. There are two mesh zippered pockets for storing small items as well as a pouch for a phone. There is also a document/map slot that is closed by a strap with loop Velcro. The second pocket has zippered organizer pockets that are ideal for storing cords or supplies that need dedicated storage. There is a hydration compartment that can store up to a two-liter bladder, but no laptop compartment. The main compartment can expand by opening a zipper that runs along the outside of the pack, increasing this pack’s capacity from 47 liters to 54 liters. While that gives you more room for your gear, it will change how the pack sits on your body, so pack wisely.

Needed Improvements: The hip belt was a big failure point for me. It loosened itself several times while walking on flat ground with a 25-pound load, and it became annoying quickly. Second, the metal clips on the straps should be replaced with quick release buckles for easier use with gloves. I also believe that the weight of the pack can be reduced while keeping the same level of durability. Using a light rip-stop nylon on the interior pockets will help lighten the load along with thinning out the aluminum stays. Using a plastic frame sheet with the aluminum stays can help maintain rigidity while cutting weight out. For me, the jury is still out on whether I think the pack needs the ability to store the straps for suitcase-style carry. I’ve never seen anyone traveling with this pack use it as a suitcase.

Ideal Uses: This bag is designed to fill several roles, but it is best suited as its namesake: a bugout bag. This bag would be best used as the bag you grab and toss into your car when you get an evacuation notice or when you need to leave home in the case of an emergency. It can easily hold and organize three days worth of supplies. But due to its heavy weight, I would not make this a long-range pack for those traveling on foot.

Check out the S.O.C. Bug Out Bag, and purchase it for $99.