26 Bug Out Bag Mistakes: Protect your LIFE and your STUFF

Most newbie preppers and survivalist make one critical bug out bag mistake. They quickly fall in love with the process of having the best escape plan, considering every SHTF scenario and having everything perfectly designed in their head.

Yet, they often neglect the BOB basics.

Having a fully operational BOB is the key. A bag that is practical, well organized, personalized, durable, and stocked with the right gear and supplies.

Don’t know where to start?

Here’s the ultimate list of the 26 bug out bag mistakes most people make.

Mistake #1: You Have One Bug Out Bag for Every Season

Why This Matters?

If you haven’t heard this before you are not alone – Your BOB changes with the season. You can’t put items for every season inside one bag which is limited to a certain weight and available space. Your spots are reserved mostly for food and water, and what’s left is where you put your PPE, first aid kit, and personalized gear and equipment. As season and weather changes, so should your BOB.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Either have different BOBs for every season, or rotate your supplies and gear just before the new season kicks in. You’ll notice that some items stay intact but some switch based on the weather condition. In case you live in an area that’s mostly hot or cold you can probably pass with a single bug out bag. BOB that could be fully functional during the entire year.

Mistake #2: You Got Yourself A Stupidly Designed Bag Out Bag

Why This Matters?

There’s nothing worse than having a bag that’s not very practical and user-friendly. While it might look good on the outside, ask yourself – do you really need this extra fancy phone pocket? Can you grab your first aid kit easily? Is it flexible and easy to stash? Does it have proper weight distribution?

How to Avoid This Mistake?

You need to take full advantage of your planning, organizational, brainstorming and survival skills. Put yourself in various SHTF scenarios and consider your current skill level. Is that bag designed to save your life in case of an emergency?

Can you trust the design? Can you run with it? Duck with it? Jump with it? Bottom line do your research and due diligence. You need to protect your life and your stuff. That bag might be your only friend. We chose our friends wisely, so chose your bug out bag wisely.

Mistake #3: You Have Uncomfortable Shoulder Straps and Back Panel

Why This Matters?

This is one of the most common overlooked bug out bag mistake.  Carrying a weighted bag can be brutal to your legs, back and shoulders. While your brain, your adrenaline, and your survival instinct are here to help there’s a breaking point each survivalist must face.

Remember, this is only the beginning of your pain. I’m not talking about physical pain, but the well-known fact that most people break out mentally first.

Having rough shoulder straps and back panel where you feel every single item scratching your back will make things much worse.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Get yourself a bag out bag that’s comfortable, durable and doesn’t put extra pressure to your back and shoulders. Do a test run, consider looking into various brands, product recommendations and lastly, incorporate legs, shoulder and back exercises into your fitness regimen.

This can help reduce the pain that’s coming.

Mistake #4: You Forgot to Measure Your Torso Size and Now You Have the Wrong Bag Size

Why This Matters?

There’s no one size fits all bag size. On the second thought, yes there is. But do you want to put all your energy into incorporating ninja techniques and figure out how to handle the bag? Or you want to raise your situational awareness and focus on one thing only – how to make out alive?

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Learn how to measure your torso at home. There are various how to’s online, here’s just one guide to begin with. Please, don’t skip this step, it is super important.

Mistake #5: Your BOB Doesn’t Have Enough Storage or It Has Way Too Much Storage

Why This Matters?

The truth is, you can go wrong both ways. You can end up with super heavy and not functional BOB or too loose that’s just bouncing around and doesn’t fit snug. If there’s not enough storage, you need to cut on supplies. So, which one will go out and which one you’ll stash?

A million-dollar prepper’s question. We’ve all been there.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Check the weight and the capacity of the bag and calculate the total weight and the space your 72 hours survival kit will consume. Calculation weight is easy, you just check the labels, or you use a kitchen scale, right? But the volume and the space of the supplies?

That’s a serious problem.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy plug and play solution. However, just being aware of this common problem can help you avoid this mistake. You can use a cheap bag you have at home and see what fits and what needs to go out.

Mistake #6: You Just Figured Your BOB Is Not as Durable as You Thought

Why This Matters?

Among the obvious, one issue that commonly occurs is assuming that in 72 hours y0u’ll be back inside your warm house or cozy apartment watching Walking Dead. If your primary strategy is to get a cheap bag that should probably withstand and not wear and tear in a few days, then you need to reconsider the “What If”?

Can you imagine a situation where you are alone, hungry, injured, tired with zero supplies? Having all the necessary survival kit and not being able to carry them is not fun.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

You can’t just rely on online reviews and recommendation. First, turn on your fake spot detector. Second, even the best quality bug out bag can have one bad sample in its product line. Chances are minimum that you’ll be that person who just didn’t have luck. But remember, survival is about skills, prepping, testing and minimizing errors.

Take your BOB on a multiple test runs until you feel comfortable and start trusting your bag.

Mistake #7: You Are an Attention Seeker and Now You Look Like A Billboard Ad

Why This Matters?

You want to fly under the radar, maintaining a low profile, blend into the crowd and disappear altogether. Basically, being the gray man. Walking with a flashy bag that can we easily spotted miles away, and driving attention is not your exit strategy. In every different scenario, the color of your BOB doesn’t matter, but this time, it does.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Stick with fairly neutral colors, nothing bright. Right color is black, brown, dark blue, and army green — preferably not much tactical, bush craft, military or camouflage alike. Remember, you want to blend in, not stand out. There will be folks walking next to you entirely unprepared and looking you as a prey.

Don’t make yourself a target.

Mistake #8: You Picked A Bouncy BOB

Why This Matters?

You know those vests runners use? Well, they offer a minimum storage option, with a capacity of 3-12L. So, they are out of question, but they exist for a reason. There’s literally no bouncing, or just minimal. While weighted bug out bag is heavy, and you assume there’s no chance this bag to bounce, think again.

If the bag doesn’t fit tight your shoulders will be sore, you are more prone to injuries – hips, back, knees, feet, ankles. The more stress and bouncing there are the harder and riskier it becomes to run.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Find a bug out bag that has additional straps, pads, fits perfectly and disperse the load better. That’s why measuring your torso is of utmost importance, as well as the quality and the tightness of the bag.

Mistake #9: You Bag Is Not Build with Waterproof Compartments

Why This Matters?

Can your bag float in water? Hurricanes, heavy rain, crossing a river if the bridges are cut off, water accidents such as falling, sprinkles and pipes blasting water all over you, water leaking inside your bag, you name it. Soaking wet bug out bag is a serious problem.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

The first thing you want to do is to consider securing your supplies and minimize possible water damage.  Second, buy a bag that’s waterproof and water-resistant.

Mistake #10: Your BOB is Over-Packed with Too Much Gear

Why This Matters?

Over-packing for emergency disaster preparedness is probably the number one mistake newbies make. “Just in case” approach is not the one you want to take. Do you really need a pair of playing cards in an evacuation situation? No seriously? Are you sure you want to carry that extra load of unnecessary items that adds up more weight?

Probably not.

Think of it this way – you’ll always need extra supplies, one more blanket, additional pair of batteries and so on, but you are limited to bringing one bag with you. Sure, it’s always good to have additional supplies, but it is what it is, so you need to be picky and practical.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Don’t do things other people are doing. You are different from the crowd. You might have less or more strength, different genetics, sensitive stomach or skills than no one else has. Aside from the basics, pack the gear that’s most useful to you.

Lastly, pack the bag reasonably.

Stick with the weight you find most comfortable, according to your current fitness level, age, the miles you need to walk, run or the destination you plan to reach. Your BOB has to portable, good rule of thumb is to have a bug out bag that weights up to 10% of your body weight.

Mistake #11: You Were Busy or Lazy and Haven’t Done A Test Run

Why This Matters?

I should have probably put this mistake up at the top, since it’s one of those things’ preppers tend to ignore. Learn from the military training, or your favorite tv show or movie. You need actual field training. Getting to know the terrain, testing your bag quality, durability, walking that hill with 24 lbs. on your back are just a few things to consider.

You might walk that path in your head every single day, but without a test run, it’s all just assumptions and theory. Just because you bought the most expensive and heavy-duty bag, doesn’t mean that your job is done. Have you tried to walk for hours on rain and windy weather with 30lbs on your back? I thought so.

Be honest to yourself and don’t ever skip this step.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Start with small distances and testing your bag at home. Turn on the stopwatch. How fast can you pick up your respirator dust mask? Organize and familiarize with each compartment, know your BOB inside out to that level when you’ll be able to grab a piece of gear with your eyes closed.

How does the bag feel to your shoulders, back, or knees? Are the pads protective enough? Does the BOB show any signs of tear and wear? What about cold weather hot weather, rainy days, is the BOB and your body up to the task? Can your run with it, duck with it, take on that hill in front of you?

Which leads us to the next common bug out bag mistake.

Mistake #12: You Neglected Your Skills and Drills

Why This Matters?

Don’t underestimate your survival skills but also don’t be full or yourself. If you lack confidence, or you always feel that you are not prepped sufficient enough, just stop and hit the pause button. That can drain you mentally and physically. If you look back at what you’ve done so far, I’m sure you’ll figure that you are probably more prepared than 90% of the people.

If not, stop prepping now and do bug out drills more often.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Work on yourself mentally and psychically. Practice self-talks, make a list of all the survival skills you have learned, look at your cardiovascular fitness, coordination skills, speed, balance, and strength. Bottom line, your skills will determine your supplies.

Mistake #13: You Are Out of Shape and You’re Not Working Out

Why This Matters?

If you are one of those folks that go everywhere on foot, you are probably in the safe spot. The truth is people prefer or are forced to use their car or trunk to buy groceries, go to work, pick up the kids, so they regular day is all about transportation using public transport of your vehicle. If you aren’t the guy or a gal that has a fitness regimen at the place you may be out of shape.

You may have all the survival skills, but if you are out of shape, it’s a struggle, both for you and your family.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Get on your feet, stop relying too much on your car, stop finding excuses and start working out (yesterday). Get yourself a bicycle, do some basic exercises at home, put yourself on a protein-rich diet, take your vitamins daily and improve your conditioning and immune system.

Train different ways eat different ways and get back in shape. You can incorporate sandbag training perhaps, or any other form of unconventional training exercises.

Mistake #14: You Didn’t Calculated Your Daily Calorie Intake

Why This Matters?

This is an issue that happens more often than you think. People are relying way too much on other’s people “expertise.” The problem is, each burns different number of calories. Calories are fuel for your body. If you are exposed to cold weather, and you are out at the open, your body turns on its protective system.

And guess what? You burn more calories.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

You need to take a stock of what you eat every day and how much calories you eat. You can’t just calculate your regular day where you just lying on your back or sitting on you chair watching your favorite program. Sorry that isn’t going to work.

In an emergency scenario you may need to walk for 12 hours, or even worse for days. Sure, you can survive and make it with minimum calories, but rest assure, food and water are essential. Grab a pen and paper and do the math.

Check how you much calories you need on a rest day, and how much you need when being physically active or working out. Take the average of both and you’re good.

Lastly, don’t buy food per serving size but per calories. Stick with granola bars, protein bars, crackers, peanut butter and various calorie-rich foods.

Mistake #15: You Just Grabbed A Pre-Made Kit and Called It A Day

Why This Matters?

Pre-made kits are not bad per se, but the brands selling them might be. Basically, the way they put them all together is to be appealing to the masses. If you don’t fall in their target audience binoculars, then you have a problem. I can’t emphasis this enough – your skills, your age, where you live is what will determine your supplies.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Prepare your personalized supplies and gear, find the best items that fit your needs. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it’s easier to get the right bug out bag afterward, and you’ll learn a bunch of stuff on the way. It’s a win-win scenario.

Mistake #16: You Are Relying Too Much on Technology

Why This Matters?

Have you experienced or imagine a world without electricity? Cell phones are off, there’s no internet, there’s no fuel, no air conditioners, toilets don’t work, there’s no clean water, and no light. Your cell phone must go, do yourself a favor and forget you have them for a moment.

You will be left with your hand crank radio, flashlight, batteries, water purification tablets, filters, and no technology that works.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Get off the internet, live for a day without electricity, learn how to use your compass, grab some survival books off the shelves and do some reading, learn how to start a fire. Literally, anything is better than staying at the same safe place and thinking nothing could go wrong.

No one is coming to the rescue, and you are left alone.

Deal with it, make it through, and end up as a new man or a woman. One that knows how to survive in a world without electricity.

Mistake #16: You Are Carrying Water in One Container

Why This Matters?

People that are unprepared make this mistake all the time. But since you are reading this you are not one of them. You can live for days without food, even weeks, but without water you have less than a week. Water is much more essential than food.

Our body is 60% water.

Add to it excessive sweating or hot climate and it’s life and death emergency. Be prepared, enough water is the number one thing you need to have in your bug out bag. You can calculate your daily water intake here.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

It’s simple – do not carry water in one container, and do not carry water in one type of container. What do I mean by that? Get survivor filter collapsible canteens, emergency water pouch for disaster or survival , water bottle with a filter for emergency preparednessmilitary water storage bladder bag, and stainless bottle such as this one.

But when it comes to water and its importance while bugging out, there’s one more thing we need to address. What to do when the water runs out? So, let’s get right to the next item you need to prepare and put on your emergency list.

Mistake #17: You Forgot the Water Filters and The Purification Tablets

Why This Matters?

Carrying 72 hours of water is great, but the situation you are facing could go out of control fast. You may lose one water container, or your bug out buddy can get in trouble, the 72 hours may turn into a week, you get the idea. In the SHTF situation that may be magnified. You need to be prepared for every possible realistic scenario.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

There are different ways of and types of water purification filters and tables. You can stock purifiers such as Survivor Filter PRO, Mini Water Filtration System, or these MP1 Purification Tablets. Remember, a steel water bottle is a must have so you can boil and purify your water.

Mistake #18: Your PPE Is Missing Important Items

Why This Matters?

Personal protective equipment varies from one SHTF event to another, but for the most part, there are dozens of items which are a must have for every prepper and survivalist out there. Water and food are always at the top of the list, PPE comes next. You need to have the right equipment stocked to protect your eyes, ears, mouth, head, hands, knees and feet.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Consider stocking dust or surgical mask (look for a mask with N95 rating such as this one), safety glasses, ear plugs, mouth guard, poncho, rain paints, waterproof jacket, gator neck, tactical gloves. You get the idea.

Mistake #19: You Haven’t Done A Proper Storage of Important Paper Documents

Why This Matters?

Printed documents must be stored properly. They can easily be damaged if exposed to water for example. Let’s put aside your personal IDs, birth certificates, a handgun carry permit, and insurance. Think about medical records or blood type in case of a severe injury? Important paper documents must have a reserved spot in your BOB.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

You need a printed and a digital copy of all the important personal documents. Print them on acid-free paper and put them into heavy duty plastic binder. Get a waterproof USB flash drive to keep a digital copy of your documents and protect it with a metal box container.

Mistake #20: Not Enough Cash – Remember Even When SHTF Money Does Matter

Why This Matters?

No ATM nearby, no electricity, no shelter, you prepped for three days, but you are still out on the open. So, what you are going to do? Remember, in most realistic SHTF scenario money can buy you a ticket for more food, water or even a warm bed. For more severe disasters money will do jack.

Yet, you never know. Gold and silver are always a great addition, but cash comes first.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Stash enough money for you, your family and your loved ones. Don’t forget that in case of an emergency and disasters prices could easily exceed 10x their regular amount. Some people will try to profit even in the entire world starts collapsing.

Mistake #21: You Are Exposing Sharp Objects

Why This Matters?

You can damage your gear and supplies, your BOB, or even worst, hurt and injure yourself. Knives, knife sharpeners, needle-nose pliers and various blades could cause severe damage, both to your bag and to your body.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Keep sharp objects to a minimum, wrap the edges properly. Make sure each is safely secured inside an appropriate locked container. Don’t put sensitive supplies such as water, food, first aid kit, gloves, masks next to a sharp object.

Check if your BOB has additional safety inner layers to separate your gear and supplies. Place soft clothes, blanket, or anything that you can use as a first layer of defense at the back side of your bug out bag.

Mistake #22: You Didn’t Stock Up BOB Repair Items and It’s too Late For A Refund

Why This Matters?

No matter the quality and durability of your BOB, accidents could happen. Especially in all that chaos, you may be forced to pass different obstacles, debris, water, crowded places, running, climbing, and all sorts of craziness you can imagine. Your BOB and your survival instinct and skills is all you can rely on.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Pack some BOB repair items in case of wearing, or any kind of damage. Protect your BOB as you protect your life. Your water and food are the two supplies you can’t survive without. Don’t even forget that when SHTF. Threat your BOB with respect and get in a routine of inspecting your BOB every time you have a chance.

Check the sewing, the pads, the inner shell, see if there’s any water leakage, strap breaks. If not use your sewing kit. Is everything secured and safe? Good move on.

Mistake #23: You Forgot the First Aid Kit and Diarrhea Remedy Medication

Why This Matters?

Most casually in a natural disaster, when there’s no electricity and water, happen when simple infection doesn’t get treated. Gems and bacteria spread with the speed of the light. One some of the most common problems that occur are diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation.

While you might have all the skills, all the gear, and you intelligently prepared for every single scenario don’t forget that your body will be exposed to the deadliest viruses and bacteria in no time.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Double check if you have prepared all the necessary first aid kit, remedies, or anything that you can live without. Remember, your worst enemy is diseases, gems, and bacteria. Don’t forget the toiletry items, sanitary supplies, and other necessities and hygiene and personal care products. Make sure you don’t expose your body and keep your distance.

Mistake #24: You Didn’t Have Your Bug Out Bag Pre-Prepared and Now You Are Stuck in Traffic

Why This Matters?

You are running on a clock. You never know what kind of emergency you’ll find yourself trapped into. Don’t make this rookie mistake that unprepared people are doing all the time.  You don’t want to run out of your house just with your cell phone, your credit card, and your pajamas.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Always keep your bug out bag prepared and easily accessible. If your office is far from your house, you can keep it inside your car, so you can reach it in less than 10 minutes. This mistake happens all the time, some folks are prepared but they keep the BOB at home.

You don’t want to get jammed in traffic.

While others are running you are rushing into the wrong direction to grab your BOB. You may find yourself in the middle of the chaos where you can’t go in any direction. Don’t wait until the SHTF.

Mistake #25: You Didn’t Test Your Bug Out Bag Gear

Why This Matters?

Just because you bought the most expensive gear and supplies, it doesn’t mean that your job is done. Have you tested your equipment? Picture yourself reaching your final destination opening your communication gear, and it doesn’t work. Or worse, your dust mask has holes all over it, and it’s the only item that you can make it thought the day?

How to Avoid This Mistake?

You must test every single piece of equipment and gear ahead of time and before you throw it inside your BOB. Don’t leave anything to chance, and don’t check it just once. Test your gear several times. If you can afford it get an extra item of each piece of valuable equipment and use it in your daily life.

Learn the pros and cons of every gear first hand.  How it works, how to maintain it, how to clean it, and lastly how to replace a broken part if necessary and double.

Mistake #26: You Didn’t Take Stock of What You Plan to Carry First

Why This Matters?

While there are Bug Out Bag recommended community “standards,” each person is different. One might need more food supplies; other is more skilled and prepared. We live in a different area – urban, suburban, or rural. Different weather conditions and environment applies – hot weather, cold weather, rainy, windy, humid.

How to Avoid This Mistake?

Start with a priority list and built up from there. Ask yourself when, where, and how you are going to use each item on your list.  You need to take stock of your supplies first. Just take everything you can think of into account and only then opt-in for the right bag out bag. Be strategic and plan up front.


Remember, there are always additional things you need to consider and mistakes to avoid. Having enough food and water is vital. Only then you can start looking at extra gear and supplies that you need to stash. Please leave a comment below and share your worst bug out mistakes that people often make.

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