Here are more details for each item on the BOB list. As with all things, you may need some, all, or more depending on your situation. Your mileage may vary.
Note: Various merchant links (…) are listed after the item.
- Cell phone – A cell phone will come in very handy if you have to leave the area or local lines are down. A prepaid phone will be adequate for that. You might need to call motels, friends and family or an employer if you’re having a situation. Did you make a list of potential numbers?
- Car charger or windup charger – This will be convenient to keep things juiced up. An automotive power inverter uses your car battery. Some hand wind LED lamps have multiple connectors to charge an mp3 player or cell phone. (automotive inverter)
- DC to AC inverter – If you need to run something small that doesn’t need heavy start up amps like a washing machine, you can use an inverter to run your AC appliances. The battery source could be your car battery. (inverter)
- Cash – If checks and cards can’t be processed, you’ll be on a cash only basis. You may be dealing with individuals rather than merchants.
- Clothes – You will want seasonal clothing, the type of which will also depend on where you end up and what you have to do. You will want to consider the three layer approach if you will be outdoors. The “Base” layer is wicking. This will usually be synthetics. Not cotton. Second layer is insulation. Wool, down, and synthetics. Third layer is weather proof. Wind and rain, while breathable. The vacuum seal bags made for clothing will reduce the size considerably, maybe to half depending on how much loft each item has, and keep them dry and dirt free. A fluffy jacket will get lots smaller whereas maybe a stack of T shirts not so much. (space bag)
- Water – one gallon per day – Water is hard to store and carry. Remember that you’re only about 3 pounds of minerals and the rest is water. If you can carry it, a gallon a day per person. An empty container might be easier if water will be where you’re going. If not, it’s 8 pounds per gallon. Still, it’s necessary, so bring what you can. Bring resources to sterilize it as needed. (water bottle & filter)(tablets)(water container)
- Ice chest (small) – For only a couple days, a small foam lined plastic cooler will get you through. Even an all Styrofoam cooler will be great. It can keep things cold or from freezing, depending on the time of year. The soft coolers can be flattened for storage. (soft cooler)
- Toiletries – soap – Toiletries can be stored pretty small if you get the travel size and bag them up. Soap will be good for cleaning wounds if necessary, so stick a couple unscented travel bars in there also. Chop off a piece from a big bar if you need to. A sealing plastic baggie can keep them waterproof. (toiletry kit)
- Feminine, men’s, baby’s hygiene – Don’t leave anyone out for the more essential items. You might not need deodorant, but you don’t want to leave the baby sore and uncomfortable. Think about younger and older women’s needs and cover the spectrum.
- Prepared/dehydrated foods – You can pre-bag several meals worth in a soup mix format and have one bag per meal. This will save time and thought if you’re already busy.
- Cooking resources – A mess kit or larger will work, depending on the size of the family or if you expect to run into friends or strangers. At least something metal to cook in. One pot cooking goes with one bag food. (small cook set)
- Cook stove (small) and fuel – You can keep things simple with the alcohol based fuel, or go large with propane or white gas. Each of those fuels will store indefinitely, but it’s a two part system of fuel and stove. The backpack size is pretty small. (propane stove)(multi-fuel)
- Can opener (non-electric) – Any mechanical type will do from the military type the size of a half dollar to something that cranks. It doesn’t have to be big, since it’s for emergency use only.
- Bowls for preparation – This may be in your mess kit, or if you have a family, the kind that nest inside each other will be good. The less the better, but enough. How many will you need and how many can you heat at once?
- Paper plates and cups – You will want disposable everything for the three day jaunt. Don’t use extra water to clean things if you can help it.
- Silver/plastic ware – Maybe one big spoon for mixing could be metal, but for personal use, disposable plastic ware or the camp type of all in one spork will be handy.
- Matches – in a metal tin – Ideally bring three types of way to start a fire. Matches, a lighter and magnesium will work just fine. A metal tin will keep mice from ruining your day by lighting your matches. It has happened. Don’t put the striker inside. Glue it to the outside. Only get the strike anywhere type and not the strike on box type. Plastic waterproof containers are good also. Waxed paper is great for a firestarter. A few feet of that folded up will be waterproof and light weight and will get some tiny kindling going if needed.
- LED lanterns and flashlights – The LED type use the least amount of electric and the bulbs have a long lifespan. One on a headband is great for freeing up a hand, so you can hold your own light in just the right place. Some flashlights have a windup handle for recharging and some have a button/lever for recharging. (LED lantern)(LED flashlight)(LED headlamp)
- Radio – That could be one of two kinds. One type for communication and the other for listening for information. (crank radio)
- Rain suit – This is the outer layer garment that could double as a ground cloth if you had to wing it under the stars. There are heavier and lighter sets. (rain suit)
- Medicines – Don’t forget the prescriptions. They will be where you usually blank them out.
- First aid kit (small) – Hopefully, you won’t need splints and such in a few days, so something small for cuts and burns. (first aid kit)
- Glasses, contacts, case, solution. Travel size.
- Sleeping bags – What time of year is it? Where are you going? Do you need a lightweight tarp for a groundcloth or a bivy for two? They can be very small. (sleeping bags)(bivy)(tent)
- Blankets, pillows, mats – Campers have pillows that come with their own stuff bag that you can cram them into. Some are inflatable. Surprising how much you will miss one. Extra clothing works too. (stuff pillow)(inflatable pillow)(camp pad)
- Multipurpose tool (multi-purpose tool)
- Important documents – Insurance, titles, deeds.
So, the lid came off. You’re out there. You’re homeless. The fire came through. The hurricane flooded your house. At least you didn’t try to ride out the death sentence. Too many times people are walking their things out of their house in waist deep water, because they thought they could ride it out. If only they brought a spoon and a cup. Time to dust off the package of paper plates that sat around for months or years and experience the cracks in your plans.