Packing a Bug Out Bag, Get Home Bag or Rucksack

Packing a Bug Out Bag, Get Home Bag or Rucksack

Andrew’s Note:  I recently took my Get Home Bag / Bug Out Bag for a ruck march and realized I’d forgotten a few basic keys on how to pack it…nothing catastrophic but it’s worth going back to basics periodically…and of course don’t forget to test drive your preps.  The following comes from an Army manual on cold weather operations but is also excellent advice for packing a Bug Out Bag.  I’ve also added some important considerations for selecting your Bug Out Bag or Get Home Bag at the conclusion of the article.


When you load your rucksack for skiing or climbing, pack heavy items at the bottom and next to the frame. This places the weight on your hips, which is necessary for good balance. Place hard or sharp objects inside the load where they will not rub on the bag and your back. When walking or snowshoeing, raise the center of gravity and take more of the load on your shoulders. Articles that are often needed are placed in the outside pockets for easy reach. Keep maps and other flat objects in the flap pocket.

Adjust the straps so that you can move the top part of your body and swing your arms freely. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the lower back straps fit just above the belt line.

Rucksack, Bug out Bag, Get Home Bag


The all-purpose lightweight individual carrying equipment (ALICE) rucksack comes in sizes medium and large. Make sure you are equipped with the large ALICE in a cold environment.

In cold-weather operations, you should follow the packing list set forth in your unit SOP to organize your rucksack. The main consideration is to avoid having to unpack during halts to get frequently needed items. The following illustrates a method of organizing your rucksack:

  • Small external pockets. These contain small high energy foods (candy, cereal bars) to be eaten while on the move.
  • Large external pockets. These contain rations to be eaten for morning and evening meals. Take extra socks, scarves, and a spare cap. The openings behind the pockets can be used for skis or other items.
  • External attachment points. The sleeping pad is attached to the bottom of the pack or under the top flap (wrapped inside sandbags) and other combat items as required.
  • Top flap. It contains camouflage overwhites [snow camouflage] and pack cover.
  • Main compartment. Place the sleeping bag in the bottom of the rucksack. Spare clothes are placed in the upper half of the compartment for easy reach.
  • Camouflage. A white cotton cover is provided that covers the entire rucksack, excluding the shoulder straps. Use it when wearing your overwhites.
  • Care and maintenance. Check your rucksack for damages before and after an operation. Repair damages immediately or turn in through supply channels for a replacement.
  • Emergency quick-release of the rucksack. When quick removal of the rucksack is needed, unsnap the fastener. Pull down on the quick-release fastener on the left shoulder strap, shift the rucksack toward the right shoulder, and let it drop to the ground.
  • Cargo support shelf. The rucksack can be converted to a cargo carrier by removing the combat pack and replacing it with the cargo support shelf. You can carry square, rectangular, or box-type items such as radios, water cans, and fuel cans.


Andrew's Get Home Bag & Bug Out Bag

Andrew’s Advice for Selecting a Get Home Bag or Bug Out Bag:

  • Select a bag with adequate capacity but one you are capable of carrying without undue exertion.  Tailor the size and weight of your kit to what you can carry.
  • Select a bag that gives you the ability to organize small items and easily access frequently accessed items.
  • Select a bag that doesn’t appear too tactical…don’t make yourself a target
  • Select a bag that fits in with your likely surroundings but avoid camouflage for the reasons listed above.
  • Select a bag that has well padded shoulder straps and a waist belt to help you balance the load.

The picture at the right is my Get Home Bag…it does double duty as my Bug Out Bag.  I’ve been through a number of bags over the years and this one just marginally meets my goals for not making me a target (it’s a little too tacticool) but it fits my size and organization needs so well I overlook that (but I still won’t put any molle attachments on it).  I hope this advice on packing a bug out bag helps you successfully pack yours.

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  1. Packing a Bug Out Bag, Get Home Bag or Rucksack by Andrew J. Jackson « Cognitive Snippets - [...] pockets for easy reach. Keep maps and other flat objects in the flap pocket… Read more from Share…

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