At this point, I'm guessing that many of my regular readers will nod and say "yep, sure do." A few others will claim that they meant to put one together, or used to have one (get it in gear, slappies...) and the remaining few will ask "what's a bug-out bag?"
Simply put, a Bug-out bag, or BOB, is a day-pack filled with 72 hours' worth of supplies--food, water, medicine, basic of shelter, and whatever environmental gear that you need for your unique operating environment. Small enough to pack in your car or stash at your workplace, it has one purpose--to help get you out of Dodge when things go bad. These "bad times" may come in the form of a severe storm, a major power outage, or what some idiots like to refer to as a "man-caused disaster (terrorist incident). Basically the power's out, your car's not running or the roads are all shut down, and you're either stranded waiting for things to improve, or else you're a refugee on the road. In any case, in times like that, it's nice (crucial, actually) to have access to a few days' worth of nutritional food, clean water, and other essential items that might mean the difference between you making it through the crisis or not.
My own pack is a simple enough one, but it serves as a good example of what you might want to consider in yours, assuming that you don't already have one. For food, I have six Mountain Home dried meals--just add boiling water and I have lasagna, beef stew, or spaghetti. I also use MRE entrees when I can get them--ideally the food should be compact, light, yet high in useful calories. 1800-2000 calories a day is a good guide. Remember, you may be walking a lot. I also have some beef jerky, some hard candy, and some oatmeal, all of which is light, stores for a long time, and serves as a good tummy filler to supplement and stretch out the basic meals.
My bag is built around a worst-case scenario in which bad things happen while I'm away at one of a couple of places that I regularly have to go, each of which is roughly sixty miles from the Lair. If I can't drive home, and if I can't acquire a bike, I plan on walking it and based on a realistic assessment that I can make roughly 20 miles per day, I should be home in three days' max. Ideally Lagniappe will be holding the fort and protecting my main store of supplies and life'll be good for a few months once I get back there.
So I have my food. I also have basic cooking/eating utensils, an Esbit folding stove and heat tabs, and a small single-burner Coleman Peak One stove with a full tank of white gas that will last me for several hours' use. It's heavy, but if the weather's bad or I have to boil more than a cup of water, it'll be worth it. I also have waterproof/windproof matches and a magnesium bar for back-up. I WILL have fire and heat, no matter the conditions.
Speaking of weather, I have shelter in the form of a GI rain poncho (which doubles as a shelter half), a nice poncho liner (makes a great light sleeping bag) and a disposable rain suit folded into a pack smaller than a deck of cards. Being wet sucks. I plan to stay as dry as possible, whether I'm hunkered down or on the move.
There's a pretty decent first aid kit in a pocket of the pack, too. It has gauze pads, assorted bandages for dressings, slings, splints, etc., gauze rolls, tape, trauma shears...even a couple of occlusive dressings and a few trauma pads. I've also packed an epi pen since I'm allergic to things that sting, and some pain meds--aspirin and something a bit stronger courtesy of one of my surgeon friends. Bad times often bring both increased risk of injury and decreased access to medical treatment so you need to be ready to treat yourself or someone else. I'm ready.
There's a Sawyer water filter in the bag (and a camelback which will let me carry 3 quarts) and chemical tabs which will remove the viruses from water that the filter won't get. Face it--you can't carry three days' worth of water (at least I can't, not at a gallon+ a day minimum) so you need to be able to treat and use any water that you come across. And remember--just because it looks clean, that doesn't mean that it is. Treat it, unless you want to go down with a stomach virus.
Finally, there are the misc. items--solid knife (A K-BAR), a small sharp knife, a compass, a whistle, a flashlight, a small hand-cranked radio, 50' of 550 cord, and for me, one set of replacement liners and socks for my leg to replace damaged ones or to quickly rebuild it before setting out on a sixty-mile hike. I keep some ready cash in my bag, too. Just in case.
This pack all weighs less than 12lbs and fits nicely in a medium daypack in the back of my vehicle. Sitting alongside it is a duffle bag with a change of practical clothing, since I never know what I might be wearing when the time comes. Some nylon BDUs and a change of underwear and clean socks are a bare minimum, and this bag can be re-parked as the climate changes to add cold weather/thermal gear, extra rain protection, and other seasonal items. Snugged in between the two bags: a small free-standing two-person dome tent that I can secure to the pack.
This set-up puts anything that I could possibly need no farther away than my vehicle, with one exception of course: defensive armaments. I did not pack weapons into this kit because I don't like to leave such things in my vehicle unattended, and there are times when I have to turn my vehicle over to others--sch as a mechanic or a valet. Besides, I almost always carry a handgun and extra ammo on my person, so one in the bag would be redundant anyway. And whenever I travel long distances or the threat level is high, there's usually a long rifle temporarily added to the vehicle's storage area. A 1911 or a .357 revolver are handy, but not nearly as handy in some situations as an AR-15 or a FAL. Just know that there could come a situation where you wind up walking away from your vehicle but can't carry a rifle openly. In that case, be prepared to disable that weapon by removing the bolt or some other component to prevent someone else from taking possession of it--it would suck royally to wind up on the wrong end of your own hastily-abandoned rifle, wouldn't it?
Above all, and perhaps the most important thing to have with you, is the survivors' mindset. Without that, all the gear in the world is useless. You have to know without a doubt that no matter what happens, you're going to make it. "Do or do not--there is no try." Truer words were never spoken by any muppet.
Now get out there, build up a bag (or check over the one you've got), and prepare yourself mentally to use it. Sad to say, but with Obama and his band of looters running our country into the ground, we may all need such packs one day soon.