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How to Pack a Hiking Backpack or Bug Out Bag [With Infographics]



Half-turn portrait of bearded backpacker hiking in countryside admiring landscape | How to Pack a Hiking Bug Out Bag or Backpack | featured

When packing a Hiking Bug out Bag or Backpack, it can be tempting to pack our bags with every survival item we can find to feel fully prepared. However, we must remember that we need to remain light and fast-moving on the trail. Make sure to consider the weight of your gear and how heavy your BOB will be. Check out this Guide on How to Pack a Hiking Backpack for a Lightweight yet Effective Bug Out Bag (BOB)!

RELATED: Building A Bug Out Bag

How to Pack a Hiking Backpack for a Lightweight yet Effective BOB

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Step 1: Organize the Contents of Your BagEmergency-backpack-equipment-organized-on-the-table-in-the-living-room-Bug-Out-Bag

Although there are standard prepper supplies, there are no strict rules when it comes to the items you’ll bring. In the end, it will really depend on what you need and your personal preferences.

If you are new to this though, you can narrow it down to a few basic groups of essential items. Check out this list of Bug Out Bag Essentials.

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Once you’ve decided on what items to carry on your bug-out bag and consider other essential factors, it’s time to get organized. Allow you the easiest access possible to supplies inside your backpack.

The key here to get your pack organized is to arrange your bug-out bag list according to importance and use.

Items that are more likely to be used should be easily accessible. These include:

  • Tools
  • Navigation devices
  • Utensils, and the like.

Stuff that you will not be using most of the time could be placed further down the bag.


Again, bug-out bag contents will depend on your particular location and situation. We cannot stress this enough. Your kit should be tailor-made based on whether you will be heading to an urban or rural location.

If for instance, you are bound to stay in the wilderness, navigation devices, as well as tools and shelter, should be prioritized.

Aside from this, weather and climate also need to be considered. A backpack full of items designed for dry location would be useless in an area prone to snowing and rain. Customize and organize your bugout bag with these factors in mind.

Step 2: Start at the Bottombackpack shoes and forest of sun light-Bug Out Bag

First off, you need to consider that the bottom of your bag is for non-immediate items. This means that this spot is reserved for things you don’t have to unpack with urgency.

These include:

  • Tents
  • Sleeping bags
  • Cooking equipment

Strategically position these items to give way to gears that you usually use when bugging out.

The majority of hiking bags are designed with lower compartments to accommodate bulkier items. It is advisable to invest in this type of backpack. It would save you a lot of hassle during unfavorable situations where you have to unpack your entire cargo just to get smaller items like flashlights or knives.

Step 3: Go Heavy in the MiddleAsian woman traveler with backpack holding hat and looking at amazing mountains-Bug Out Bag

There’s a logic why the heaviest items should go in the middle of your bug-out bag. Heavy gears when placed at the bottom of your backpack tend to feel heavier.

To counter the pull of gravity, place back-breaking stuff somewhere in the middle section of your bag.

There are two main advantages of this hack:

  • By manipulating your bag’s center of gravity, you can make your load lighter.
  • This technique allows you to balance your backpack with greater ease. This would be of great advantage when treading treacherous terrains.

Step 4: Go Light at the TopRear view shot of young woman hiking on summer day-bug out bag contents

After taking care of the bulkier and heavier items, you can now pack lighter items at the upper section of your bug out bag. Most of the time, lighter items are also stuff that you reach out for often.

These include

  • Water canteens,
  • Hunting knives
  • Flashlights
  • Fire-starters
  • First aid kits
  • Navigation tools
  • Communication devices

Important Note: Avoid stacking up too many gears in the upper part of your backpack. This will defeat the purpose of going light at the top. Smaller items when combined in bulk will way as much as heavier gears reserved in the middle.

Step 5: Test Your Bug Out BagSide portrait of african american man hiking in mountains with sunset in background-Bug Out Bag

The final step is to road-test your gear. Once you are done preparing your bug-out bag, go out and try it. Spend time with your backpack under normal conditions to get the hang of it.

By doing this, you can identify the flaws of your hiking backpack. This will help you improve your pack and add or remove items based on your test.

Testing your equipment also helps you get better at using it. As a result, this will make you more prepared in times when you will be using your bag for real.

RELATED: The Ultimate Bug Out Bag List For Every Survivalist

Basic Bug Out Bag Checklist

If you are just getting started on this bug-out bag preparation thing, you might want to check this list out. This list may not be the ultimate but it will help you have an idea of how to organize your survival kit.

  • Water – You can survive for weeks without food but die like a fly in three days without H20.
  • Food – Choose food options that can last for days during long bugouts. Canned goods, dried veggies and fruits, instant noodles, and pickle meat are cool. Choose ready-to-eat but nutritious edibles.
  • Medicine – Getting sick in the wild is a difficult predicament. In the absence of hospitals and clinics, the chance of dying fast is high. Never forget to pack a well-provisioned first aid kit. It will spell the difference between you surviving and not surviving.
  • Shelter and Clothing Items – Invest in a high-quality foldable tent. Apart from this, choose clothing articles that are durable yet easy to wash and dry. For cold-weather clothes, go for a light yet heavily insulated options.
  • Navigation Devices – Navigation devices like a compass, GPS tracker, and radio are essential gears when going out in the wild.
  • Survival Tools – Stainless knives, fire-starters, and flashlights are basic tools you’ll need in your bug-out bag.

How to Pack a Hiking Backpack Infographics

Check out this bug out bag for the Apocalypse vid by Wired:

Preparing your bug-out bag is a breeze as long as you know what you are doing. With these simple tips, you can start packing your survival kit in no time. It could be the end of the world as we know it but you could feel fine as long as you are always ready. Cheers!

A natural disaster is about to strike in 12 hours and you can only carry three items in your backpack. What items would these be?

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Do you have any cool survival bag packing tricks to share? We would be glad to know your thoughts in the comment section below!

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  1. Gary R Randell

    September 22, 2021 at 3:47 PM

    You forgot the most important thing in the bug out bag. Where’s the GUN???

  2. Toni

    September 28, 2021 at 4:33 PM

    Needle and thread in your first aide kit, with a few long strips of material for cuts or tourniquet.

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