Bug Out Bag

25 Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Need To Survive

If you are looking to prevail and be successful through anything mother nature throws at you, preparation is the key. Being prepared can make the odds of coming out alive be in your favor especially in a survival situation accompanied by extreme weather conditions. But are you really prepared? Do you have the essentials in your bug out bag when SHTF? With that being said, check out this list of items that you need to include in your winter bug out kit.



Feature | Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Need To Survive | military bug out bag

These winter bug out bag essentials are your best weapons in the cold weather. Scroll down and check out the items you need to include in your bug out bag checklist!

Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Shouldn't Forget

Disaster Preparedness

Preparing for a winter bug out bag is a necessary thing to do since we do not really know what can happen during this cold and gloomy season. It is always best to be totally prepared should the inevitable or the unexpected occurs.

The cold and wet introduces a whole new dangerous and potentially fatal consequences. It's an absolute must to have a bug out bag checklist with all the items you need to survive a disaster.

Here is the winter bug out bag inventory you should consider when packing:

1. Hand Axe or Hatchet

Carrying a small ax or hatchet in your winter bug out bag is advantageous, especially when you need to cut wood for building a fire or shelter. It can also be a self-defense weapon when SHTF.

Choose a hatchet or an ax that has a forged steel head with sturdy and durable handles.

What is forged steel? It is a type of steel made by using both thermal and mechanical energy. In the process, compression combines carbon and iron, hammering it as well to mold the metal.

2. Bivy Sack or Tent

When you're out for a winter activity such as camping or hiking, having a waterproof bivy sack can guarantee you a warm, good night's sleep.

It's basically a slip on cover for your sleeping bag, thus, providing you more warmth and protection from the harsh cold. Other than that, it's much easier and lighter to carry compared to tents.

But if you're a bit claustrophobic, then a waterproof tent is more suitable. You can also bring a tarp for additional shelter or cover.

3. Winter Bug Out Boots

A durable pair of boots that will exceptionally hold up in extreme weather conditions should be included in your gear. Protection for your feet is a must, especially if you spend most of the time in snowy places.

Winter Bug Out Boots | Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Need To Survive | military bug out bag

Hypothermia and frostbite are serious threats, and safety should always be the first thing you need to consider. There are plenty of types, designs, and brands you can choose from.

In my opinion, mud boots are great because they can hold up pretty well in the snow as well as in muddy terrain. They are lightweight, easy to wear, and effective protection for the feet when it's freezing cold.

4. Communication Device

More often than not, when you're in the backcountry, cell phone coverage is limited or no coverage at all. And one of the best ways to stay connected with your peers is by using a two-way radio.

But if you can get your hands on a satellite phone with GPS and built-in navigation system, that would be great!

5. First Aid Kit

First aid kits should always be included every time you hit the outdoors. It is one of the most important items in your bag, but unfortunately, it is often neglected and doesn't seem to get much recognition compared to guns and knives.

A first aid kit is a must-have if you're going to be engaged in an outdoor activity such as camping or hiking.

6. Sleeping Bag and Fleece Liner

Having a good and reliable sleeping bag that keeps you warm and protected against the cold winter nights is a MUST. You can also use a fleece liner to add more comfort.

Sleeping Bag and Fleece Liner | Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Need To Survive | military bug out bag

It can provide extra warmth when you're out in the biting cold. Choose a sleeping bag that is waterproof and offers exceptional insulation.

7. Food

Food is fuel to keep us going, so we definitely need it in our bug out bag. During winter, our bodies need more calories to keep us warm. You need to bring food fortified with calories and easy to cook.

MREs (meals ready to eat) or LRPs (long range patrol rations) along with granola bars or power bars, beef jerkies, and dried fruits are recommended by seasoned outdoorsman to give you the calories you need to survive cold weather conditions.

Warm soup, stew, one-pot meals or Dutch oven meals are also advisable to give you comfort.

8. Gloves

As far as winter gloves go, you need to look for a pair with sheer cold and moisture-repelling capability. You need to keep your hands dry and toasty warm all the time.

Pick a glove that lets you operate your phone or lets you use your fingers while keeping your hands warm and comfortable.

But if it gets too cold, you can use mittens to make your hands warmer. Don't leave home without these bug out bag essentials.

 9. Snow Goggles or Glasses

The cold can give your eyes a burning sensation and the sun can be blinding when it reflects off the snow.

Goggles and glasses can protect your eyes from the harshness of these elements.

Snow Goggles or Glasses | Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Need To Survive | military bug out bag

They come in different lens tints to match the various weather conditions.

10. Warm Headgear

A full-time and experienced survivalist understands a huge percentage of our body heat escapes through our head. That's why we have to wear and carry an extra headgear such as beanies and bomber hats during these times.

A warm headwear will help our core body temperature to rise. It will even be better if it is waterproof and has a fleece ear covering and drawstrings to keep it tight against the ears for more protection.

11. Insulated Water Bottles

You need to be hydrated at all times and having an insulated water bottle in your bug out bag is a real boon.

You can drink hot tea or coffee if you want to have a caffeinated companion on a cold winter morning to warm you up and get you going. Having warm water in your pack is absolutely beneficial in a winter survival scenario.

RELATED: Winter Outdoor Gear For The Woman Survivalist Beginner

12. Jacket

Winter jackets can help you withstand the harshness of the piercing cold weather. It should be made of good materials and insulation so your body can be warm even if you're not on the move.

 Jacket | Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Need To Survive | military bug out bag

It will even be better if your jacket is waterproof and has synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas such as the collar, the cuffs, and areas around the zippers.

You can also add water-resistant fabric to protect against freezing rain and to keep you warm and dry if you have to take shelter in a snow cave or icy canyon.

13. Bug Out Lighting and Batteries

Headlamps, flashlights, and other lighting sources are real life-savers in long and cold winter nights. You need to make sure you have enough extra batteries before you head out into the wild.

Having the capability to see in the dark is an advantage in every survival situation.

 14. Mylar Blankets

Mylar blankets are also known as space blankets, thermal blankets, or first aid blankets. It is made of heat-reflective thin plastic sheeting, which can retain or reflects back up to 90% of our body heat.

It can be easily included in your first aid kit because its compact size and weight are great for tight or small spaces and will come handy in the event of an emergency situation.

Though they may be difficult to refold, they are inexpensive enough to have a few in your bug out bag.

 15. Navigation System and Maps

In the event you find yourself in an unfamiliar territory, it will be best to have a compass and a map in your hand to find the right direction and location and navigate your way through.

Navigation System and Maps | Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Need To Survive | military bug out bag

In this age where technological advancement is omnipresent in everything, it is easy to avail smartphones and GPS navigation systems.

But when your batteries run out and satellite signals are unstable, your map and your good ol' compass will guide you to safety.

16. Paracord

Every seasoned outdoorsman and veteran prepper knows the importance of carrying paracords in their bug out bags.

There's a wide array of uses you can do with a paracord both in survival and in hunting. It can help you build shelters and snare out animals using their internal stands.

You can rig a pulley system if you want to lift heavy stuff, tie things to your bag, and a whole lot more. Don't forget to include some in your bug out bag.

17. Shovel

If you're going to travel in cold weather conditions where snow covers most of your way, then you need to shovel your way through.

Having a portable or small shovel in your bug out bag will surely come in handy, especially when blizzards hit hard. It is also useful when you need to dig through the snow when you're preparing your campsite.

18. Ski Mask

In winter, we are prone to windburn, sunburn, and frostbite. We need protection to prevent these conditions from occurring, that is why having a ski mask is an awesome idea.

Ski Mask | Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Need To Survive | military bug out bag

It can cover your neck, face, and your head. Fabric and design are the common factors you need to consider when choosing a ski mask.

Look for a ski mask that offers exceptional protection from the cold wind while maintaining its breathability.

19. Swiss Army Knife

A Swiss army knife is one of the bug out bag essentials that should always be included in your gear. Since it was first introduced, it remains a go-to tool whenever you're outdoors or when you need to do a simple task.

It is a multi-tool which serves a lot of purposes primarily because of the things included in it. There are knives that come with a flash drive, scissors, flashlights, saw and steel combinations.

With this knife, you can repair stuff, start a fire, and use it for self-defense when SHTF.

20. Cooking Stuff

A portable stove and cookware should be included in your winter bug out bag. You need a container where you can boil water and cook food since the required calorie is higher in cold weather to keep you warm and your temperature regulated.

Silverwares such as spoons and fork are also needed to eat from cans and to handle hot food.

21. Sanitation Supplies

In times of distress, hygiene is important. Poor hygiene maintenance may lead you to infections and contamination, especially if you have a wound or a cut.

Sanitation Supplies | Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Need To Survive | military bug out bag

Your bug out bag should include sanitation supplies like soaps, shampoos, wipes and hand sanitizers.

Communicable diseases during the winter like coughs, colds, laryngitis, and pharyngitis are common, so you need to be protected.

Wash your hands and other parts of your body and maintain cleanliness at all times.

22. Winter Bug Out Socks

Extra socks are bug out bag essentials you might not even think about. Protect and keep your feet warm and toes intact.

Good pairs of socks will provide you comfort as you travel and proceed with your journey through the blistering cold. Bring at least three pairs.

23. Signaling Equipment

Winter weather can be very unforgiving and danger is always lurking. When faced with a life and death situation, it will be best if you can call for help immediately.

But when phones signals are down and your two-way radio ran out of batteries, it will be difficult to call out for help. That's why carrying a signaling device is a brilliant idea.

You may use a whistle or light up a flare to send signals or SOS messages in far distances.

24. Fire Starters

You can always look for dead wood and tinder to start a fire, but carrying reliable fire starters such as lighters and strike-anywhere matches can make the process much easier!

Fire Starters | Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Need To Survive | military bug out bag

We all know the importance of fire, most especially in a winter survival situation. With fire, you can cook food, boil water, signal for rescue, and stay warm and comfortable.

25. Wool Pants

Wearing wool pants is the best option for clothing whenever you're outdoors during winter. It provides warmth and comfort.

It is also resistant to flame, so you wouldn't have to worry about getting close to a campfire. Don't forget to pack extra wool pants in your bug out bag.

Watch this video from Country Prepper for more cool info on what to include in your winter bug out bag:

Winter weather can be pretty unforgiving, not to mention deadly. We preppers must be ready and have sufficient supplies. You can never be too sure what the winter season will bring.

To bear the unbearable and come out alive from a survival situation is a mark of a true survivalist. Arm yourselves with the right gears and survival tactics knowledge and start preparing your winter bug out bag essentials now!

Penny for your thoughts? Any bug out bag essentials for winter we missed? We would like to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 1, 2019 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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  1. Pingback: 25 Winter Bug Out Essentials | Survival Tips | Survivalist Basics | Be Prepared For Anything!

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  4. Mark

    December 11, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    I wonder why no paracord?


    • paul

      December 5, 2017 at 11:18 AM

      I don’t know what list you read number 16 was paracord . with all this gear you may need a sled more then a backpack.

  5. Michael Mixon

    December 11, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    This one would make a good #26. Adds value to your bugout plans as a way to get clean water for yourself and family or as a barter item. http://www.emergencywelltube.com

  6. Loki-23

    December 13, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    I get the snow sled; however, I feel that more practical is a good backpack. A good pack carries your gear and is (should be, at least) ready to go, whether from your vehicle or from your house or cabin or wherever you may be. I like to be able to pack my essentials into the bag as well attach any necessaries to the exterior as needed.
    Then snow shoes, depending on your particular region/climate. I happen to be in the midwest.

    I like to carry some decent socks, polypros and back up foot wear as well as snow pants. I also like to have extras for hat, face cover and gloves.

    • joe blow

      January 27, 2015 at 10:42 PM

      You dont know much about backcountry hiking in winter then. A sled expends much less energy.

      • paul

        December 5, 2017 at 11:35 AM

        A pack is good for keeping things together . But with a sleeping bag ,food, extra socks, extra wool pants , and all of the other stuff it would be hard to carrie so sled is better.

        • Mike

          November 8, 2018 at 2:39 PM

          How does a sled work if there’s no snow to sled it on?

  7. jimLE

    January 21, 2015 at 9:55 AM

    good points there..i like the snow sled idea.but yet.id rather go with a snow sled and backpack combo setup..this way id be able to go with the one that works best at the time.then there’s snow shoes for attaching to what boots your wearing..

  8. Richard Chastain

    January 29, 2015 at 6:11 PM

    Some peoples bug out stuff is silly. This article has some silly stuff in it. I have never had to use a “First Aid Kit” and I have been “bugging out” as it were since I was 15 years old when I was no longer allowed to live with my parents. I rode my bicycle twice to Florida and have lived outdoors for some several years and I have not needed a first aid kit. A balaclava helmet or a head liner and face mask work well. Gordini mittens block the wind like nothing I have had before. I am not going to give away all my bug out secrets in this comment.

    • Faye

      May 25, 2018 at 3:01 PM

      Why not share. It would make it nice to know other things that could help and you would be the hero for suggesting it, especially it they had their own and didn’t want to use yours. Just saying. “Pass it Along” is the motto to help others. You may even feel good about it for helping someone else out. Thanks, Faye

  9. David Rice

    January 31, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    I ran down your list and made mental “check-offs” as I told my self, “got that etc..” vs, ” I need that “. Where I live I probably won’t have to worry too much about extreme snow, but it does happen. As I came to the end of the list and saw the boxes of tinder, my immediate thought was all the dryer lint I have stock-piled. Folks, it burns like gangbusters with just a few sparks. Thought I would pass that on.

    • Anonymous

      December 3, 2017 at 5:22 PM

      Thank you

      • Meledie Knopf

        November 10, 2018 at 7:29 AM

        Cotton balls with vaseline worked into them are also killer fire starters. They! last a relatively long time so wood that may be damp will light. Keep stored in an old prescription pill bottle to keep the vaseline out of everything else in your bag.

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  20. grinnie

    January 14, 2017 at 2:14 PM

    My Dad always stored his batteries in the frig. I’m still using them from 2004, as he always dated them. Is this still a good thing to do, or have they changed the way they used to be?

    • CA

      November 18, 2018 at 8:53 PM

      Not knocking your dad’s idea, but I’ve always seen batteries die faster in colder weather? My phone drains faster in the cold, car starts harder, even batteries in the remotes for the garage door seem to die in the colder weather. Just my observation.

      • Douglas Echternacht

        January 1, 2019 at 12:27 PM

        storing batteries that are brand new in a cool location used to be the best way, newer batteries are made better. CA, yes alkaline batteries and some lithium ones do not do well in the cold “while being used” With alkaline batteries it is better to store them with; not in what they will be powering. Chemical lights love the cold (I did a test with a 12 hour yellow in the winter in Alaska and was able to read a newspaper (closeup) at 3 days) I keep them on top of my gear and can use them to see to install batteries.

  21. Alan

    January 16, 2017 at 10:12 AM

    So you mention wool pants, and then speak to them getting dirty.
    In fact, one of wool’s great features is it’s natural ability to reject dirt & mud.
    Well made wool pants, such as those that were Mil issue from the northern block Euro countries, are well suited to survival due to their great durability and excellent quality.

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  41. Meledie Knopf

    November 10, 2018 at 7:14 AM

    It seems advisable to have a rain proof shell/jacket and pants large enough to fit over a bulky winter weight parka and wool pants. When keeping dry is critical to staving off hypothermia, these two items are light, and easily packed out of the way, if not needed. A good quality poncho is likewise a good investment. I have one with a hood that can keep me dry, or double as a tarp to keep my gear out of the snow. The one I use is made to go over my pack as added protection against rain and snow. Both can be quite effective in keeping the wind from blowing clear through you. One can’t stay too dry, especially in the winter! I also wear Polartec long underwear with a second pair in my BOB that keeps an extra pair of warm socks company. It’s easier to cool down than to warm up when it’s bitter cold.

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