TIPS: How to Pack a Bug out Bag


This is part 3 of a 4-part article. (Read part 1 – part 2 – part 4)

Man with packPreviously, we have addressed why and how to use a bug out bag. In our last article we talked about what to look for in a pack.

Now that you have you pack, it will be important to pack it properly. This can save you time, keep you from hurting yourself and create an efficient, easy-to-use pack.

Packing basics
The first thing you’ll want to do is divide your content into weights. Place all the heavy items together, the light items together and the mid-weight items together. This will help you pack more efficiently.

When you’re packing your bag, you’ll want to keep heavy items close to your spine and near your hips. If you have an external frame pack, try and place the heavy items higher up on your pack – closer to your shoulders.

Also, be conscious of your contents opening up. This may cause damage to other items inside the bag. For example, you don’t want to pack a gas burner above a water supply in case it leaks.

Incorrect Weight Positioning ImageHeavy core
Keep heavy items in the middle of the pack. If you have too many heavy items, consider breaking them down. For example, if you  have a tent, you can store the polls, tent and rain-fly separately.

Mid-weight packed around the core
In order to distribute the weight evenly, pack mid-weight items around the heavy core. Remember to keep the weight near your spine and middle section to maintain balance while carrying the pack.

Outside pockets full of light items
Keep light items on the top of the pack. They can also go inside the outer pockets. The outside pockets should contain items that you’ll be needing a lot – identification, small snacks, navigation material, etc.

Adjusting the pack
After you’ve packed the bag, you’ll want to make sure that it fits OK. Be sure that the pack isn’t too heavy, that you’re not going to tip over and that you’ll be able to use the pack for a long duration.

REI’s Expert Advice column recommends that you adjust the pack every time you put it on. They recommend that you adjust them in this order:

  • 1. Hipbelt
  • 2. Shoulder straps
  • 3. Load lifters
  • 4. Sternum strap
  • 5. Stabilizer Straps
  • 6. Tweek everything as needed

Here is a video to explain how to adjust all these straps:

Part 4 of this series will cover what to actually include in a bug out bag. Be sure to read about that!

Read part 1 and part 2.

Read the rest of this article and find other worthy stories by visiting

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Updated: June 4, 2014 — 8:49 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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