Bug Out Bags: BOBs for the Bobless

The first step for most preppers is to assemble a personal Bug Out Bag (BOB), so I don’t need to convince my loyal readers, both of them, of the importance of a BOB. With 20 people to plan for, some of whom don’t even know they are in my MAG, making sure everyone has a BOB is a priority.

We all have BOBs for our immediate families, whether we call them BOBs or Get Home Bags (GHBs) or something else. I am going to call all of these bags BOBs for simplicity. I put a lot of thought into my immediate household’s BOBs, and spent a fair amount of money on those bags. However, I now have 16 more people to consider, who may show up with BOBs, or not.   They may not have a BOB, or lose their BOB, or fill their BOB with stuff that isn’t what they need, or have some other problem. Even though I know some of my MAG have BOBs, I believe I still need another dozen BOBs.   These can’t be expensive. The cost needs to be kept in check or some other aspect of my preps will suffer.

Now you might think that the first thing you need to worry about when preparing a BOB is water, or shelter, or security, or toilet paper. However, your real first priority is the actual BAG! You can find nice backpacks like the ones shown in the picture, but a dozen or more of them will cost you hundreds of dollars. I did this for the immediate family, but I am not doing it for another dozen folks. I’m including them in the MAG, but like everyone else, I have budget limits. As a result, I have chosen to go with drawstring bags.

These are cheap, in fact you may have a couple kicking around the house that were giveaways at some event you went to. One of these will cost you something on the order of $5 if you have to purchase them.   Just make sure you get larger bags as there are a lot of small drawstring bags around that may not be adequate size.   It’s okay if it is pink and says “Hello Kitty”. 😊

Next, we need to worry about water. Each time I have had to Escape from New York (9/11, the 2003 blackout, not to mention every day I go in there) I wound up needing water. Walking will make you thirsty. If you use bottled water you can simply take one case, $3-4, and toss a couple bottles in each drawstring bag. The bottles are not intended for reuse, but nothing prevents reuse, so everyone now has a couple of cheap, but full, water bottles.

For food, we are talking 3 days, not more. Longer term will be from your main food stores. As a result, I just use MayDay or similar bars.   This is not intended to be a balanced diet. This is intended to give someone calories for 3 days. It also eliminates the need for utensils, or mess kit, etc. The result is extremely compact sustenance to keep you alive for 3 days. They are also cheap, . . . and they fit in a drawstring bag.

Hygiene was my next concern.   I decided to take a zip lock bag and fill it with a really cheap tooth brush, travel size tooth paste (my dentist gives me a tube of this stuff every time I visit, along with a trial size floss), a bar of soap, a disposable razor, etc. Don’t forget TP! If you are feeling generous, toss in an old towel. Repeat a dozen times. 😊 BTW:   Since the draw string bags do not have the pockets and organization of a real backpack, zip lock bags really help with the internal organization. In fact toss in some extra zip lock bags in various sizes for anything the user might want to add.

For a personal first aid kit, use another zip lock bag. You can find a $5 first aid kit in any drug store. Some will say that these aren’t adequate as they don’t have supplies for serious injuries, but the fact is you will have plenty of small cuts, etc. and these little kits will save you from having to break out the major first aid supplies just because someone scraped a knee. Ibuprofen comes in 10 pill travel sizes. Still insisting on a better kit? You just blew your budget. ☹

Toss in some obvious items like a BIC lighter, a bivy sack of space blanket material, a bandana, a button compass, a pen and paper, a $3 or less flashlight, and before you know it you have a dozen cheap BOBs. You can get Swiss Army knives that were confiscated by TSA on eBay. Clean, sharpen, and toss into the bags.

While I am not stocking a full change of clothing for all the bags, I can toss in some “one size fits all” items like a pair of socks and a watch cap, plus a cheap pair of gloves.   I suspect gloves will be needed, but will not be in the supplies of several MAG members, even if they have bags.   Gloves will be an overlooked item.

While you can set your own budget, I set a limit of $30 per bag. To meet this sort of target, you need to avoid any item that costs a significant sum. For instance, my main BOBs contain wind up radios, some batteries, etc. A $15 radio destroys a $30 budget, so no radios go in these budget bags. Everything in the regular bags is of higher quality than in the budget BOBs. While these BOBs may seem like cheap junk compared to your personal BOB, for someone who shows up with nothing, they’ll really be a help.

Too much money!

Now at this point some of you may be wondering about firearms and expecting me to say something about conditions in The Peoples Republic of New Jersey. I’ll just point out that firearms will not fit within a $30 budget, so firearms are not an oversight. Besides the firearms live in the 900 lb. safe and not in a bunch of cheap drawstring bags. 😊

If there is never a SHTF event, or people don’t show, the cost is minimal. If people show and have their bags, the contents can be used for restocking, or filling gaps in their main bags. They can also serve as backups for lost bags. If you want to cache a bag someplace, these will work.

These bags were my first effort to accommodate my large MAG. I’ll probably tinker with the contents over time, possibly upgrading some of the contents, but for now these will do.

Should I acquire 9 of these for the Jersey Boys?

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Paranoid Prepper


  1. Be interested to see what your main bug out bag/bags have in them. Also, what do you carry when you are in NYC?

  2. I haven’t written anything on the main bags, which are GHBs in our cars, but that is a thought for a future post. I also have some parachute bags ready to be tossed into the BOVs that contain a bunch of camping gear.
    Next week’s post is going to be about what I carry in NYC, so I’ll cover that one. NYC presents some common challenges to other cities and some unique challenges which I think will be clear. The week after will be about getting out of NYC after 9/11, and after the northeast blackout that occurred two years later.
    Stay tuned! 🙂

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