How To Turn Your Bug Out Bag Into A Minimalist Backpack

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The reality is that you can’t always take your bug out bag wherever you go, especially if you’re in a hurry. Instead, have a minimalist backpack you can carry in a jiffy. Here’s how to prep that.

Prepping Your Minimalist Backpack

In Prepping, there’s a lot of “more is better” mentality, especially when it comes to food, water, and supplies. But when it comes to the rest of your life, it’s important to simplify; when SHTF, you probably won’t go back to choosing between 15 pairs of shoes each day.

It’s easier to start the process sooner rather than later, especially if a day comes where you have to leave your house and most of your possessions behind.

Becoming a minimalist can be a long process for some people. We assign meaning and significance to the things in our lives.

Determine Want vs Need

To begin the process of cutting down on material belongings, you have to get in the mindset to do so.

You can start by going through each room in your house and determining if all of your stuff is a “want” or a “need,” and donating or throwing away as much as you can bear.

Repeat the process until you’ve cut out most of your non-essentials.

The same process can be applied to your Bug Out Bag. Often, the packing lists you find online are long, and don’t account for multi-use items.

Depending on your SHTF plan, you may end up with quite a bit more at your disposal than you expected, especially if you band together with others or if you have a well-stocked survival shelter ready to go.

Basic Minimalist Backpack Packing List


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Even our basic Bug Out Bag list can be overwhelming at first glance:

  • Small first aid kit
  • Water & canteen
  • Water filter, purification tablets, and/or LifeStraw
  • Ready-to-eat Food
  • Lighter
  • Flashlight or lantern
  • Knife & multi-tool
  • Twine, cord, or rope
  • Small tarp
  • Waterproof pen and paper
  • Cash & important documents
  • Toilet paper
  • Soap & sanitizer
  • Nail clippers
  • Practical clothing: hat, socks, shirt, pants, underwear, jacket, bandana
  • Respirator
  • Bags: both trash and Ziplocs of different sizes
  • Photos of family members

But when you start to read each item one at a time, you will realize just how small each one can be, and what a simple life you will be leading with these items on your back.

Noticeably Absent Items

Items that are noticeably absent are anything that has to do with physical appearance, entertainment, and duplicate items with similar functions. Our society has trained us to always want more and to overbuy items with little variation. (Do you also own more than one size of Post-It note?)

You can certainly overdo it on the clothing, but our advice is to stick to two of everything, carefully choosing moisture-wicking options in neutral colors, and pants with utility pockets.

You may want to consider a few small items that will bring you comfort or some sense of normalcy, like shampoo and a book. Keep this list short and the items small.

Buy and Use a Smaller Bag

Small 30L Rucksack Pack for Outdoors, Hiking, Camping, Trekking, Bug Out Bag, Travel, Military & Tactical Army Molle Assault Backpack With US Flag Patch

  • APPEAL: This backpack is amazing! You can use it every day for school, carry on for travel or a military tactical assault rucksack. It is completely versatile for any backpack situation. You will love having so many different places to put all your stuff to keep it all separated. It even has a hydration compartment. Included one US Flag Embroidered Patch (White Border) 3.5″ x 2.5″.
  • EFFECTIVE: There’s plenty of compartments to store and organize your life. The pack holds 3 days worth of clothes along with toiletries and other essential gear. A solid multifunctional backpack for combat, range, survival or hunting. It is water resistant keeping everything dry in a storm.

The first step in minimizing your Bug Out Bag is to buy a smaller bag. If you have space, you will find a way to fill it.

Do your research and choose a bag that you believe you can wear comfortably for hours, with enough pockets to organize your belongings. Ideally, it will be at least partially waterproof. A backpack is generally preferable to a duffel bag.

Better Prepared Than Sorry

And now that you’ve determined what you need in your minimalist backpack, just fill your bag and put in a place where you can easily get it.

As always, have your Bug Out Bag packed and ready to go in case you need to leave in a hurry. This bag should sustain you for 72 hours without outside help.

How do you pack your minimalist backpack? We’d love to hear tips from you in the comments section!

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