These winter bug out bag essentials are your best weapons in the cold weather. Scroll down and check out the items you need to include in your bug out bag checklist!
Winter Bug Out Bag Essentials You Shouldn’t Forget
Preparing for a winter bug out bag is a necessary thing to do since we do not really know what can happen during this cold and gloomy season. It is always best to be totally prepared should the inevitable or the unexpected occurs.
The cold and wet introduces a whole new dangerous and potentially fatal consequences. It’s an absolute must to have a bug out bag checklist with all the items you need to survive a disaster.
Here is the winter bug out bag inventory you should consider when packing:
1. Hand Axe or Hatchet
Carrying a small ax or hatchet in your winter bug out bag is advantageous, especially when you need to cut wood for building a fire or shelter. It can also be a self-defense weapon when SHTF.
Choose a hatchet or an ax that has a forged steel head with sturdy and durable handles.
What is forged steel? It is a type of steel made by using both thermal and mechanical energy. In the process, compression combines carbon and iron, hammering it as well to mold the metal.
2. Bivy Sack or Tent
When you’re out for a winter activity such as camping or hiking, having a waterproof bivy sack can guarantee you a warm, good night’s sleep.
It’s basically a slip on cover for your sleeping bag, thus, providing you more warmth and protection from the harsh cold. Other than that, it’s much easier and lighter to carry compared to tents.
But if you’re a bit claustrophobic, then a waterproof tent is more suitable. You can also bring a tarp for additional shelter or cover.
3. Winter Bug Out Boots
A durable pair of boots that will exceptionally hold up in extreme weather conditions should be included in your gear. Protection for your feet is a must, especially if you spend most of the time in snowy places.
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Hypothermia and frostbite are serious threats, and safety should always be the first thing you need to consider. There are plenty of types, designs, and brands you can choose from.
In my opinion, mud boots are great because they can hold up pretty well in the snow as well as in muddy terrain. They are lightweight, easy to wear, and effective protection for the feet when it’s freezing cold.
4. Communication Device
More often than not, when you’re in the backcountry, cell phone coverage is limited or no coverage at all. And one of the best ways to stay connected with your peers is by using a two-way radio.
But if you can get your hands on a satellite phone with GPS and built-in navigation system, that would be great!
5. First Aid Kit
First aid kits should always be included every time you hit the outdoors. It is one of the most important items in your bag, but unfortunately, it is often neglected and doesn’t seem to get much recognition compared to guns and knives.
A first aid kit is a must-have if you’re going to be engaged in an outdoor activity such as camping or hiking.
6. Sleeping Bag and Fleece Liner
Having a good and reliable sleeping bag that keeps you warm and protected against the cold winter nights is a MUST. You can also use a fleece liner to add more comfort.
It can provide extra warmth when you’re out in the biting cold. Choose a sleeping bag that is waterproof and offers exceptional insulation.
Food is fuel to keep us going, so we definitely need it in our bug out bag. During winter, our bodies need more calories to keep us warm. You need to bring food fortified with calories and easy to cook.
MREs (meals ready to eat) or LRPs (long range patrol rations) along with granola bars or power bars, beef jerkies, and dried fruits are recommended by seasoned outdoorsman to give you the calories you need to survive cold weather conditions.
Warm soup, stew, one-pot meals or Dutch oven meals are also advisable to give you comfort.
As far as winter gloves go, you need to look for a pair with sheer cold and moisture-repelling capability. You need to keep your hands dry and toasty warm all the time.
Pick a glove that lets you operate your phone or lets you use your fingers while keeping your hands warm and comfortable.
But if it gets too cold, you can use mittens to make your hands warmer. Don’t leave home without these bug out bag essentials.
9. Snow Goggles or Glasses
The cold can give your eyes a burning sensation and the sun can be blinding when it reflects off the snow. Goggles and glasses can protect your eyes from the harshness of these elements.
They come in different lens tints to match the various weather conditions.
10. Warm Headgear
A full-time and experienced survivalist understands a huge percentage of our body heat escapes through our head. That’s why we have to wear and carry an extra headgear such as beanies and bomber hats during these times.
A warm headwear will help our core body temperature to rise. It will even be better if it is waterproof and has a fleece ear covering and drawstrings to keep it tight against the ears for more protection.
11. Insulated Water Bottles
You need to be hydrated at all times and having an insulated water bottle in your bug out bag is a real boon.
You can drink hot tea or coffee if you want to have a caffeinated companion on a cold winter morning to warm you up and get you going. Having warm water in your pack is absolutely beneficial in a winter survival scenario.
Winter jackets can help you withstand the harshness of the piercing cold weather. It should be made of good materials and insulation so your body can be warm even if you’re not on the move.
It will even be better if your jacket is waterproof and has synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas such as the collar, the cuffs, and areas around the zippers.
You can also add water-resistant fabric to protect against freezing rain and to keep you warm and dry if you have to take shelter in a snow cave or icy canyon.
13. Bug Out Lighting and Batteries
Headlamps, flashlights, and other lighting sources are real life-savers in long and cold winter nights. You need to make sure you have enough extra batteries before you head out into the wild.
Having the capability to see in the dark is an advantage in every survival situation.
14. Mylar Blankets
Mylar blankets are also known as space blankets, thermal blankets, or first aid blankets. It is made of heat-reflective thin plastic sheeting, which can retain or reflects back up to 90% of our body heat.
It can be easily included in your first aid kit because its compact size and weight are great for tight or small spaces and will come handy in the event of an emergency situation.
Though they may be difficult to refold, they are inexpensive enough to have a few in your bug out bag.
15. Navigation System and Maps
In the event you find yourself in an unfamiliar territory, it will be best to have a compass and a map in your hand to find the right direction and location and navigate your way through.
In this age where technological advancement is omnipresent in everything, it is easy to avail smartphones and GPS navigation systems.
But when your batteries run out and satellite signals are unstable, your map and your good ol’ compass will guide you to safety.
Every seasoned outdoorsman and veteran prepper knows the importance of carrying paracords in their bug out bags.
There’s a wide array of uses you can do with a paracord both in survival and in hunting. It can help you build shelters and snare out animals using their internal stands.
You can rig a pulley system if you want to lift heavy stuff, tie things to your bag, and a whole lot more. Don’t forget to include some in your bug out bag.
If you’re going to travel in cold weather conditions where snow covers most of your way, then you need to shovel your way through.
Having a portable or small shovel in your bug out bag will surely come in handy, especially when blizzards hit hard. It is also useful when you need to dig through the snow when you’re preparing your campsite.
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18. Ski Mask
In winter, we are prone to windburn, sunburn, and frostbite. We need protection to prevent these conditions from occurring, that is why having a ski mask is an awesome idea.
It can cover your neck, face, and your head. Fabric and design are the common factors you need to consider when choosing a ski mask.
Look for a ski mask that offers exceptional protection from the cold wind while maintaining its breathability.
19. Swiss Army Knife
A Swiss army knife is one of the bug out bag essentials that should always be included in your gear. Since it was first introduced, it remains a go-to tool whenever you’re outdoors or when you need to do a simple task.
It is a multi-tool which serves a lot of purposes primarily because of the things included in it. There are knives that come with a flash drive, scissors, flashlights, saw and steel combinations.
With this knife, you can repair stuff, start a fire, and use it for self-defense when SHTF.
20. Cooking Stuff
A portable stove and cookware should be included in your winter bug out bag. You need a container where you can boil water and cook food since the required calorie is higher in cold weather to keep you warm and your temperature regulated.
Silverwares such as spoons and fork are also needed to eat from cans and to handle hot food.
21. Sanitation Supplies
In times of distress, hygiene is important. Poor hygiene maintenance may lead you to infections and contamination, especially if you have a wound or a cut.
Your bug out bag should include sanitation supplies like soaps, shampoos, wipes and hand sanitizers. Communicable diseases during the winter like coughs, colds, laryngitis, and pharyngitis are common, so you need to be protected.
Wash your hands and other parts of your body and maintain cleanliness at all times.
22. Winter Bug Out Socks
Extra socks are bug out bag essentials you might not even think about. Protect and keep your feet warm and toes intact.
Good pairs of socks will provide you comfort as you travel and proceed with your journey through the blistering cold. Bring at least three pairs.
23. Signaling Equipment
Winter weather can be very unforgiving and danger is always lurking. When faced with a life and death situation, it will be best if you can call for help immediately.
But when phones signals are down and your two-way radio ran out of batteries, it will be difficult to call out for help. That’s why carrying a signaling device is a brilliant idea.
You may use a whistle or light up a flare to send signals or SOS messages in far distances.
24. Fire Starters
You can always look for dead wood and tinder to start a fire, but carrying reliable fire starters such as lighters and strike-anywhere matches can make the process much easier!
We all know the importance of fire, most especially in a winter survival situation. With fire, you can cook food, boil water, signal for rescue, and stay warm and comfortable.
25. Wool Pants
Wearing wool pants is the best option for clothing whenever you’re outdoors during winter. It provides warmth and comfort.
It is also resistant to flame, so you wouldn’t have to worry about getting close to a campfire. Don’t forget to pack extra wool pants in your bug out bag.
Watch this video from Country Prepper for more cool info on what to include in your winter bug out bag:
To bear the unbearable and come out alive from a survival situation is a mark of a true survivalist. Arm yourselves with the right gears and survival tactics knowledge and start preparing your winter bug out bag essentials now!
Penny for your thoughts? Any bug out bag essentials for winter we missed? We would like to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
- The Prepper’s Guide to Winter Survival
- Winter Storm Survival: How to Stay Warm and Survive the Cold
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.