The Perfect Bug Out Bag Weight

how much should a bug out bag weigh

One of the most debated questions among the preparedness community is “how much should a bug out bag weigh?” This is one question that I asked myself while building my bug out bag.

You will see widely varied answers from modest responses like 15 pounds up to 75 pounds.  The commonly accepted answer among experts is in the range of 25 to 45 pounds.  But the right answer is not always that cut and dry.  There are a few variables that you should consider when deciding how much a bug out bag should weigh.  On top of that, I will share some tips on how to reduce bag load and optimize it for survival.

How Much Should a Bug Out Bag Weigh?


Bug Out Bag Weight Factor #1 – How much you can physically carry?

As I said, the rule of thumb is 25 to 45 pounds.  However, I’ve heard of some preppers and survivalists that recommend carrying up to 75 pounds.  That is fine if you are physically able to carry it.

However, not everyone is in the physical shape to carry that much.  On top of that, some people are not able to carry that much due to disabilities or other complications.  Now being fat and out of shape is not an excuse to carry a light bug out bag.

Get In Shape to Maximize Carry Load

If you are fat and out of shape like how I used to be then you need to make that your first priority.  You need to be focusing on your own physical health first before determining how much your bug out bag should weigh.

Bugging out is a dangerous situation that many preppers over fantasize about.  However, if you look at refugees in the Middle East or even in South America, then you see that it is a very real danger.  Refugees trying to flee economic collapse in Venezuela are risking their lives.

Refugees flee from armies that are probably forbidding them from fleeing.  Then on top of that those refugees then fight others living in the countries that they are fleeing too.  Finally, you also have refugees fighting among themselves for survival. Ultimately, you want to be able to carry as much as you need in your bug out bag on top of surviving the elements of the scenario.

Bug Out Bag Weight Factor #2 – How much can you carry comfortably

When you are building your bug out bag (click the link to read more about how to pack a bug out bag), you don’t want to start off with the mindset of packing a certain weight.  You need to start by determining what you need to carry first. Once you figure that out, then you should find a bug that can properly carry those items and then practice.

If you are able to comfortably walk twelve miles with the amount of gear and supplies in your bag then you are set.  If you are not able to then you need to lighten your bag weight. That means you need to review your bug out bag contents to determine how you can save some weight.

Ideas for lightening your bug out bag weight

Utilize Multi Tools

Maybe there are some items that are just meant for comfort and not really essential for survival.  Another thing that you need to do is determine if you can find comparable items that weigh less. One way that you could do that is by packing gear that can serve multiple purposes.

For example, you could pack a multitool instead of packing a big ass toolbox.  My bag is packed with the Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier because it can serve many purposes. You can check it out over on Amazon HERE (Amazon Affiliate Link).  Another idea is that you could pack a poncho that can serve not only as a jacket but also as a shelter.  

Look for ultralight camping gear

Luckily, ultralight camping has become more of a trend lately.  As a result of that, many outdoors companies are building ultralight gear for that sector of the market.  Typically, campers that pick up this type of gear hike long, multi-day trails.

So you can actually find tents that weigh less than 2 pounds.  Along with that, there are pocket stoves that can be used for cooking food.  The downside of having ultralight gear is that you are sacrificing comfort in exchange for less weight.
For example, there are trekking pole tents that weigh less than 2 pounds as I mentioned earlier.  This tent only requires one or two poles to pitch instead of multiple poles like traditional tents. As a result of that, the tent is flimsy.  So may spend more time trying to prop up the tent in windy weather.

Prepare Survival Caches Along Bug Out Route

Another way that could help lighten your bug out bag weight is to prepare survival caches along with your bug out route.  Now, this could get expensive. Because you should have multiple bug-out routes in case one is not an option when SHTF.

These survival caches should be secure locations that you can place survival items.  Some good survival cache options are:

Storage Locker

Depending on how much you have to store, you can get a storage locker with a small monthly fee. A lot of these lockers have climate control which is especially helpful if you plan to store food in the cache as well.  Along with your extra supplies you can pack an extra bug out bag at this location as well.  (Click HERE to learn about where to store bug out bags.)

One main concern to consider is the security of such a location.  Most cheaper storage lockers are outdoors and guarded only with wired fences.  They are easy to jump especially if you have a strong motivation.

These types of lockers tend to get broken into from time to time.  If an SHTF scenario hits, then the likelihood of losing your shit is going to be high.

One way to mitigate this threat is by renting a more expensive indoor storage.  To access most of these units you need to have a code or card access to the facility.  However, the monthly fee is going to be significantly higher. You will also have to worry about losing access to a grid-down scenario.

Underground Caches

A cheaper alternative to this is to dig an underground cache.  These should only be dug in remote locations. It shouldn’t be near hiking trails or campgrounds.  The cache should be no closer than a mile to trails or campgrounds.

You will want to use airtight capsules to store your gear and supplies.  Don’t go with anything cheap either. You will want one that is made of high-quality materials.

Then you can use a GPS  tracker to save the location.  You will want to keep the tracker in a faraday cage in the case of an EMP attack.  These GPS trackers use satellites in space which most likely wouldn’t be affected by an EMP blast.  So as long as they don’t get fried you should be able to use them.


Wrapping everything we will say that the recommended bag out bag weight should ideally be between 25 to 45 pounds.  To find the right weight you will need to get in shape, practice bugging and continue to optimize your bug out bag weight.

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