Minimum BOB Weight Created 07/10/00 Anozira
Updated 01/24/02

Some lower limits on the possible weight of a bugout bag

I think about bugout, camping, and home living in the same categories. In order of immediate importance - light, medical/sanitation, warmth/clothing/shelter/fire, water, food, travel, weapons/security/defense/hunting, rescue/evasion, communications, and tools. If you want to re-order this, feel free.

Most people advise keeping the carry weight below forty pounds (18 kg). Actually you may need to keep it below that as packaging can eat up a lot of the total.

A few essential items are heavy and are not open to much variation in choice. Let's take them first.

Shelter and sleeping options

In good weather, shelter can be as simple as a few ounces of plastic to keep wind or rain off. Otherwise a selection must be made between tarps, tents, emergency blankets, ponchos, poncho liners, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads. Five pounds (2.3 kg) is Spartan and it is not hard to get to ten pounds (4.5 kg) if preparing for bad weather, insects, or critters that like to share warm cozy sleeping places.


Water weighs two pounds per quart (liter) and you should carry at least two quarts maybe four. This weighs four to eight pounds (1.8-3.6 kg). I live in a desert, so maybe you will risk finding your water at every step of the trail.

You need some sort of container to hold water during treatment. Course sediment can be removed via cloth or coffee filter. Otherwise you need two containers, one to allow settling and the other to decant into. Iodine is small and light but there are limits to capacity and some people have health concerns. An alternative is boiling - which means that at least one container must be metal. The final choice is a commercial filter. The only light weight solution is cloth filters, plastic bags, and iodine. If any other choice is made, add one to three pounds (0.5-1.4 kg) for equipment plus the weight of the carry water.


For food, count on at least a pound (0.5 kg) a day. If you select freeze dried food, the weight of your water and fuel requirements increase, making carry weight comparable to other food choices. Some foods, like oatmeal and rice, have a lot of calories per pound but require more fuel and they take time to prepare. For the short term of a bugout, overall nutrition is not as important as calorie content. An exception to this is that quality protein is needed to repair the damage caused to muscles during a few long days of walking.


For hunting (and defense) the best basic all-round choice is a rifle. This weighs at least 5 pounds (2.3 kg) and a cleaning kit and a limited supply of ammo adds another pound or two. A sturdy higher caliber rifle can easily weigh ten pounds (4.6 kg). Adding a pistol and its accessories can add another five pounds.

Add up the heavy weights

Adding up my least practical weight for each need:

TOTAL - 25 pounds/11.4 kg

You may well disagree with any one weight in this list but for every item you lighten, you will probably make a heavier choice in another. For example, you may think my shelter is too heavy but you decide to carry a pistol or bigger rifle.

Now for the light weight stuff

That takes care of many of the heavier items. Recognize that a good backpack weighs five pounds or more, a many-pocket vest weighs two pounds empty, and a simple web belt with suspenders weighs a pound before you put anything on it. The over-organized should watch how much weight they spend on stuff sacks, bags, cases, and holders within the overall bag.

Light, medical, sanitation, clothing, fire/fuel/cooking, travel, rescue, evasion, and tools must now be added to the total.

The rest of the stuff

Tools include knives, sharpeners, cordage, shovels, saws, axes, etc. and add weight quickly.

The challenge is to put a careful selection of all this into a kit that weighs no more than forty pounds (18 kg) and the less the better.

Copyright 2000, Anozira All rights reserved.