Keep Your Bug Out Bag Organized

I recently upgraded by Bug Out Bag to an ILBE military surplus bag.

The good news is that it holds everything I need. The bad new is I now need to have a system to keep it neat and ready. It’s very important to Keep your Bug Out Bag Organized!

My new ILBE rucksack is 4500 cubic inches of awesome (6000 cubic inches with the assault pack connected). If I’m not careful I’ll end up needing to empty the entire bag just to find the item I need.

I have a combination of methods to keep my gear organized.

I like to separate my contents into logical groups and keep each group in a dry sack, inside the my bug out bag.

This will keep my items dry and keep them organized. I can then identify the contents of each dry sack by color, or if they are all the same color, I can label them with some type of permanent maker (or other method).

I also load out my bug out bag from top to bottom:

  • Sleeping bag goes in the very bottom of the bag. I use the Military 4 piece sleep system, which gives me flexibility to sleep in any temperature, down to -30°F. The bivy sack covering is waterproof and can be used instead of a tent for shelter. Make sure to get the genuine surplus (See our post: Beware of fake military surplus)
  • Tent goes next, on top of the sleeping bag. If you don’t carry a full tent or if you use a military poncho, for shelter and/or rain gear, you can skip the tent. Your military poncho shouldn’t go in this position as it will always rain when you bug out (really, why wouldn’t it), so you’ll want it towards the top.
  • Food and Cooking gear is the next item that goes in the bag (on top of tent or sleeping bag, if you are tent-less). I put my food in a separate dry sack, from my cooking gear (and fire starting).
  • Clothing (wool socks, non-cotton (wool, nylon) shirts and pants, wicking undershirt and under garments)
  • Cordage, tent stakes, maps, compass, headlamps, flashlights, additional fire making tools in another dry sack.
  • First Aid Kit, right on top, in it’s own dry sack (usually a Red one).
  • Military rain poncho on top (because it’s going to rain, trust me). I don’t put the rain poncho in a dry sack.

Tent poles and really big maps can be inserted down the side of the gear inside the pack. Foam sleeping pad can be secured outside the pack, since they are typically water proof material.

Essentially your gear is in 5-7 bags, nice and dry. I know what’s in each bag.

Obviously my knife (Becker BK2 Campanion) and radio are already on my belt, my cold steel shovel, machete, and tactical tomahawk (or camp axe) are strapped to the outside of the pack.

It’s essential to Keep your Bug Out Bag Organized! If you keep items sorted into quickly identifiable dry sacks, you can quickly find the items you need, when you need them, keep items dry and will allow you to load and unload your gear fast.