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Women of the Woods: Female Bug Out Bag Essentials

Follow this basic rundown on what you need for a female bug out bag and sleep better knowing you’re prepped for anything.

Bug out bags are essential survival gear for a few important reasons, the first of which is that you are preparing yourself and taking personal responsibility for your own well-being should the worst circumstances arrive. Your BOB should be able to last you a minimum 72 hours in the wilderness in the event you have to evacuate your home.

The lady bug out bag list here is honestly gender-universal, but we’ve included some items that are ladies-specific and necessary for survival in the wilderness. In addition, this list is kept sparse because you can live without most essentials for at least three days, but there are must-haves you need to survive. Again, this is the backbone of your BOB.

Remember: bug out bags are a reflection of the user, so what may work for one person may not work the other. Personalize your pack as you wish, these are just the items that I’ve found work best for my lifestyle.


A good marker of a pack is how comfortably it can hold 25 to 30 pounds worth of items. If your BOB exceeds 30 pounds, that isn’t the most efficient pack you have on your back. However, 30 pounds can be exceeded if you have a pack with a frame that will then allow you to store more items effectively and also make carrying it more comfortable.


Hiking in rain. Hiker walking on pine forest path on rainy day wearing raincoat
Hiking in rain. Hiker walking on pine forest path on rainy day wearing raincoat

Since this is a list targeted toward female BOBs, I also recommend looking into packs that are specifically designed for the female body. While gender-neutral packs are great, it’s important to note that men and women carry weight differently. Most female packs will center the weight around the hip region since women traditionally have much smaller shoulder frames, but stronger lower bodies than men. Male-specific packs focus most of the weight on the strap-shoulder region.

My personal BOB is my dad’s USMC pack, LA Police Gear brand, designed for three-day usage. Though it does center the weight on my shoulders, I find it to be the more reasonable pack for my lifestyle until I feel the need to upgrade to a framed pack.


Water is one of the most essential items you must cover in your bug out bag: you need a way to store it and a way to filter it. I recommend a 2 liter water bladder, like a Camelback or Platypus, that you can easily pop into your bag. I prefer bladders, also, because your only option is to sip the water, which will keep you from guzzling too much in too little time.

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A water-filtration system will save your life if you find yourself in the wilderness for a longer period of time. The Lifestraw personal water filter is an excellent option to always keep in your bug out bag because one filter can be used to fill up to 1,000 liters of water. Water purification tablets are also a must-have – two forms of purification will save your life.

I haven’t included a hard water bottle because I always have my Nalgene on me, filled with water. In the event I’ll need my bug out bag, my Nalgene will probably already be filled and on the way with me.


The bug out bag should have two options when it comes to food: cold and hot meals. For cold, I mean sustenance that doesn’t require a heat source to consume, so protein-packed granola bars and quick, inexpensive meals such as bagged tuna. If you’re going to invest money in food, it’s best to invest it in freeze-dried meals.

While Mountain House freeze-dried foods cost a pretty penny, I prefer the taste of their items over other brands. The Mountain House Classic Bucket supplies 12 pouches, which covers more than the 72 hours minimum your bag should be built for. They also require no pots, pans, or heat sources – just water, which you can filter through your Lifestraw. Ditch the bucket, pack the packs in Ziplock bags.


Your shelter will be made up of three components: tent, tarp, and sleeping bag. As far as tents go, your BOB tent should run you no more than $150.00 and be easy as pie to set up alone. That’s why this Kelty Acadia tent is an excellent choice. I’ve used Kelty tents for years and have been able to set up each different style by myself with ease. It weighs about 6 pounds, and though no BOB tent should be over 5 pounds traditionally, I value the importance of easy set-up over than extra pound. Again, personal preference.

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A simple blue tarp from the hardware store or around your garage should always be in your BOB, also. The tarp can be used for so many different purposes, like waterproofing the bottom of your tent, an extra layer to wear, and a makeshift sun shade for during the day.

While some BOB purists will suggest that you only need a combination of blankets because they are lighter than a sleeping bag, I challenge that by saying a sleeping bag is the way to go. Sleeping bags rated to 50 degrees can be increased in temperature by including an emergency bivvy in your pack.

Clothing also, in my book, counts as shelter, but that’s for a separate post next week.

Survival Materials

I separate my survival materials from tools and weaponry. In every BOB kit should be at least two cubes of WetFire Tinder – this kit package comes with eight cubes for $10, which will be monumental in a real survival emergency. Additionally, I’ve had a magnesium fire starter keychain since I was a kid and into my BOB did that go when it was time. In the words of survivalists everywhere, if you have one, you have none – two is one.

Two 55-gallon black contractor trash bags are also lightweight and easily rolled into a tiny tube. They are as functional as the tarp: you never know what you will exactly need them for, but you need them. Six sealable bags, like Ziplocks, are invaluable for storing items that should not get wet, like your maps.

A compass you know how to use and A.O. maps are invaluable. A.O. maps are Areas of Operations maps, basically topographical maps of the area in which you live in or the area you will travel to immediately following a survival situation. Some people believe a GPS locator is useful for a BOB, but I am in the camp that believes reading a compass is the most valuable and accurate resource you will have. Also, any spare batteries you have will go towards a light source.

A headlamp and a flashlight are also must-haves, in my opinion. Headlamps are perfect for hands-free usage and finding one with a red light option, such as the Foxelli MX20. A pocket hand-crack flashlight is also an excellent option have. Remember – when you have one, you have none. Two is golden.

A hand crank radio is my preferred communication device. The Eton Scorpion II has a built-in flashlight and a cell phone charger. Chances are, you’ll have your smartphone on you during this time. It also has a NOAA Weather Band receiver which is invaluable in the wilderness with no source information around. It is chargeable, but also operates using a hand crank function and solar charging.

A first aid kit, zip ties, emergency whistle, travel size toothbrush/toothpaste, baby wipes, bar of soap and SPF chapstick are also key items in my BOB. Ibuprofen and Benadryl are also essential – especially for allergic reactions that could occur. One should have at least $500 in small bills and eight quarters kept safely in a watertight container that you can also store spare matches inside.

As a lady, I also think it’s important to mention feminine products. Maxi pads are the most preferred, in my opinion, because they are typically thin and lightweight. They can also be used as wound dressings. Tampons are tricky – while they are also excellent at plugging puncture wounds, using them for too long puts one at risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome. On top of your survival situation, the last thing you want is TSS. Also, a four pack of condoms is ideal for birth control methods. Let’s not be coy, you don’t know how long you’ll be in the wilderness.


Your knife should be going with you everywhere, always, but if it doesn’t, then be sure to include your trusty pocketknife in your BOB. A multi-tool will be one of the most useful items in your BOB, and I suggest a Leatherman based on the quality of blades in their kits. The Wave is the perfect model as it not only comes with its own carrying case, but it also includes scissors, a large screwdriver, and a wire stripper while also being small enough to only weigh less than 10 ounces.


I find shovels, even foldable ones, are essentially bulky and hardly useful when it comes to a BOB. What will you be burying, anyways? A smaller folding axe is the tool/weapon that I find the most useful for fire purposes, but also for effectively clearing paths.


This seems to be where most BOB-bers get the most excited about all of the options. For my personal preferences, I think the Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic rifle is the best option. Additionally, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown goes a step further because it was designed specifically for compact storage. It is the best for taking down small game and is reliable.

If you want to carry two weapons, which to each his or her own, then the Glock 19 Gen 4 is the best option for self defense. There’s a reason Glock is a household name when it comes to personal defense firearms. Also, in terms of lady use, the Gen 4 Glock’s grip can be customized to the size of your hands before you pack it away in your BOB.

Regardless of choice, any weapon you pack in your BOB should be something you are 100 percent comfortable and confident in using. That means dry fire practice and range time, which one should do if they enjoy sport shooting or hunting, anyways. You should also be adept at cleaning and repairing your weapon in the case of a jam or other unforeseen circumstance. Also, this should go without saying, but ammo for these weapons belong in your BOB, too.



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Women of the Woods: Female Bug Out Bag Essentials