The Best Bug Out Bag – Build or Buy?
For this post, I will be comparing the Prep Store’s Elite Survival Bug out Bag against my Bug out Bag. Personally, I believe that the best bug out bags are the ones you build yourself. However, to be certain, I will use the Essential Survival Spreadsheet, to determine each bags essential score.
Using the spreadsheet will separate the essential value of the contents, of each BoB, in different tasks and environments. So, we’ll see the ‘must have’ things and the things that are ‘nice to have’. For this bug out bag spreadsheet, I will score each item in the following categories:
Essential Score – Survival Task:
- Water (5pts)– score if the item can assist in creating water or finding and carrying water.
- Fire/Heat (4pts) – score if the item can create fire or assist, such as Tinder. Also if the item can provide heat, such as a Heat Blanket.
- Shelter (4pts) – Score if the item can provide shelter, like a tent or Poncho and if can assist with shelter construction. Cordage, would be an example of that assistance, likewise for tools, such as a knife.
- Food (3pts)– Score if the item can be eaten, Rations for example, or assist in obtaining something to eat. A fishing kit or slingshot are good examples of assistance with food.
- Medical (10pts) – Score if the item provides a medical use, such as bandages or even tweezers and knives.
- Navigation (5pts) – Score if the item can show directions, such as a compass and GPS and to a lesser extent, a flashlight.
- Signal (5pts) – Score if the item can provide a method to signal rescuers, like a signal mirror and also fire lighting tools, like matches.
Essential Score – Survival Environment: 1 point for each environment that the item can be used in.
Bug Out Bag – Useful Score
One point for each category that an item scores in, will also be awarded for usefulness. As a result of using a spreadsheet to review each item in this way, you will reveal the true usefulness of your gear. Also, it will identify items with multiple uses, which will help manage your pack weight by eliminating surplus items.
Is Buying Better Than Building a Bug Out Bag?
Several reasons exist for people wanting to buy a pre made BoB, being short on time amongst them. I think it would be unlikely that a pre made BoB would satisfy all of your needs but some do offer a great head start. The Prep Store’s elite Bug out Bag, at first glance looks to be that, a good head start.
We won’t know how good this bag is until will break down its contents for closer examination of their usefulness.
The Prep Store Elite Bug Out Bag Contents:
|Water Filter Straw|
|Water Filter Bottle|
|Micro Water Filter Pump|
|2.5 Liter Water Bladder|
|2 Gallon Water Container|
|One Person Tent|
|Large Mosquito Net|
|10 Piece Cooking Set|
|Hand Chain Saw|
|Folding Solar Charger|
|Power Bank Lamp w/Emergency Beacon|
|Two Way Ham Radio|
|3 in 1 Solar Fan|
|70+ Piece First Aid Kit|
|Survival Tip Playing Cards|
|Pad and Pen|
The Prep Store Elite Bug Out Bag – Survival Items
The first category to look at with any emergency kit, is what gear is included for an emergency! The Prep Store’s BoB is designed around a Hurricane aftermath survival situation and appears to be pretty well packed. So, let’s start with the basic non negotiable survival items, that you need as a minimum to improve your chances.
These are the basic items, I have also shown them as Bold in the contents list above:
- Ferro Rod
- Water Filter Straw, bottle or Pump. If I had a choice of only one of the three, I would take the filtered bottle.
- Skinning knife as a minimum
- First aid kit, assuming that it has a heat blanket in there
- Rescue Whistle
Most experts consider these items to be the bare basics for survival and possibly a few other items as well. As far as these items being useful, especially after a Hurricane, I would say the Prep Store is on track here. Although, their contents list didn’t include a signal mirror, I will assume that the compass has one and add it to the spreadsheet.
The Prep Store Elite Bug Out Bag – Personal Items
Beyond those basic items, the remaining items are mostly for personal comfort, with the exception of the gear for rescue. For example, the Prep Store have included for rescue, a Ham radio and a lamp with an emergency beacon. Also, a solar flashlight and of course a Ferro rod to light a signal fire if need be, is all included in their kit.
So far, all of those basic survival items, don’t take up a lot of room in your bag. Therefore, all the remaining space is for personal gear, such as clothes and any other comforts you desire. For instance, the Prep Store has included a 10 piece cooking set, instead of just a couple of mess tins!
All up, the Prep Store’s Bug out Bag, has personal items specifically aimed at surviving after a Hurricane. And if you keep that in mind when you look over the contents, I would say they got it right. All of those items you would find useful in such a disaster scenario.
Essential Score Spreadsheet
Ok, the results are in, both Bug out Bags have had all of their respective contents added to the spreadsheet:
Prep Store – Elite Hurricane Survival Bug out Bag:
|Total Score||Essential Score|
My Bug out Bag:
|Total Score||Essential Score|
Access to the Bug out Bag spreadsheet is for subscribers to Essential survival only. There are no ads or other offers and annoying emails when you subscribe, as I want to build a community of essential survival experts. So, go ahead and subscribe and enjoy all the spreadsheets for free, thanks.
Essential Score Results
That is a pretty big gap between the two bags and it mostly comes down to the personal items. However, some of the score difference is caused by a lack of backup’s for essential survival items. Things like fire lighting could’ve been covered better. For example, just with more back up options to the Ferro rod, the Prep Store bag would’ve scored much higher.
The inclusion of personal items in your Bug out Bag can hurt the essential score in two ways. One, the items don’t have versatility or offer any benefit to your survival. Two, the personal items are large and take up a lot of packing space at the expense of back up essential items.
It’s a bit of both cases for the Prep Store bag; large items that don’t contribute to your survival. The solar power fan for example. However, to be honest, this bag is just a few items short of scoring up near my BoB, if you can fit them in?
It’s All About the Bag
If you read the feedback section in the Amazon link, you’ll see that the Prep Store bag is packed solid. They do say that there is some room for spare clothing but the bag must be packed in a specific way. Which means getting stuff in and out of this bag would be a nightmare!
In my previous posts on BoB’s, I made it clear that the choice of bag is critical to building a good kit. One of the critical points, was to have a bag where you can easily attach things to it. However, the Prep Store bag seems to lack this ability and they’ve packed the tent and everything else inside the bag.
By doing that, they’ve made it difficult to gain easy access to the contents and repacking would be like a jigsaw puzzle. So, in my opinion, the Prep Store kit’s contents are quite good but they’re all just stuffed into a bag. And for me that’s a deal breaker for a kit, I like things better organized and easier to use.
Built for Storms and Survival
While my BoB was constructed for a wetlands bug out, with some Urban interaction, their bag is built for storms. In particular, after the storm has passed and your life has been blown away with it. And I think they’ve done a good job assembling their bag for that purpose, even though it scored below my bag.
The slant towards Hurricane survival probably cost them some essential points but they are not that far off mine. As I said, a few more items and they would be right up there but even without them, it’s still a kit you can survive with. And if you’re personal survival scenario includes Hurricanes, then maybe this bag is the right one for you.
How to Find the Best Bug Out Bag to Buy?
As well as breaking down and evaluating the contents of pre made kits, make sure you do the same with your situation. Figuring out exactly what it is that you need to survive, will dictate the contents of your BoB. And if surviving after a Hurricane is part of your situation, then pre made kits like this will work.
You can also create your own spreadsheets to compare contents, like I did, or read survival website reviews. Like you are now. However, the most telling information sometimes comes from the feedback and questions section. I find that Amazon do this pretty well and you can find out about hidden problems in advance of purchase.
Options to Build
If you’re like me and have issues with some parts of a bag, like the Prep Store’s kit, you can build your own version. Maybe use their exact contents but find smaller, easier to pack items and a different and more versatile bag. Whichever way you go, always look for versatility in your choice of gear and its essential survival value to you.
The search for Bug out Bag comparisons will continue in future posts, thanks for reading!
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