First of all: A Bug Out Bag is a tool. It provides you with some equipment that can make it easier to deal with emergencies and disasters. But You matter more than Your Bug Out Bag and Your Equipment. A Bug Out Bag is not very useful if you lack the skills and experience to use the items that you carry in it or the strength and physical fitness required to carry it.
Health and Physical Fitness
Women in general have less muscle mass and a higher percentage of fat on their bodies compared to men. Some experts make the general assessment that men should not carry more than one third of their body weight and women no more than one forth of their body weight. Women in general have a harder time to build as much muscles as men, this does not however mean that women cannot improve their strength to a high degree; you can improve the load that you can carry and the distance you can carry it drastically with the right training and diet. I suggest that you try to find forms of training that both increase your strength and stamina. There are also large individual differences; there are women that can carry heavier packs for longer distances than most men could. Women in general needs less calories per day than a man; but this is also affected by other factors like age, metabolism, muscle mass and weight.
Skills and Experience
When it comes to skills and experiences only your own interests and desire to learn new skills is the only limit. Women can learn the same skills and get the same experiences as any man could. This is as I view it the most critical aspect of your efforts. Your Pack and Equipment can get lost or may not be with you when you need them. Your skills and experience is always with you. Here knowing your strengths and weaknesses is also critical; if you can’t walk ten miles without a pack you won’t be able to walk 20 with a heavy pack.
Equipment designed for Women
Basically all survival equipment works just as well for as for men. There are some pieces of equipment that are designed for women. One example is the Fällkniven WM-1 is a Compact Fixed Blade Survival Knife. The WM-1 is designed to be used by women and people with small hands. Some other companies have simply taken products that they already make and changed the color of the handles to pink in order to market them to women. Just like changing the color of cover of computer or iPhone it does not change the performance of the product, even if a knife with a pink handle is much easier to find in the terrain if you would drop it compared to a knife with a black “tactical” handle. Some examples of knives that are available with pink handles or blades are the Benchmade Mini Griptilian, SOG Flash 1 Pink, Kershaw Scallion Pink, Spyderco Native Pink and the ESEE Izula.
Merino wool is one of the best materials that you have when it comes to survival and crisis situations. It does not cool your body like cotton when it gets wet, it dries quickly, it’s resistant to odors and it does not melt and burn like base layers made from synthetic materials. The only disadvantage as I see it is that products made from merino wool are relatively expensive. Some companies like Icebreaker and Smartwool actually has more products available for women than men, and they also have products that has a design that makes them a good alternative to carry on an everyday basis and not just for Bug Out Bags. In short: You do not have to sacrifice comfort for looks, something that is not as easy if one is a man and wants to buy products from these companies. You can find all types of products made from merino wool like tops, socks, base layers, underwear, dresses and caps.
Your clothing must be adjusted to you particular climate, terrain, setting and season. A set of clothing that works well for an Urban Desert setting does not work very well in an Arctic Wilderness setting. Shell Clothing provides a good shield against wind, rain and snow and also “breathes”. If you have a shell jacket and shell pants you can often make do without rain clothing. There are however extreme situations when rain clothing may be better than shell clothing. Shell clothing lacks insulation so you must get base layers and mid layers as insulation. This concept makes it possible to vary your clothing according to season, weather and temperature by simply changing how many layer you use. A poncho can be good but it can be good to get a pair of light weight rain trousers as a complement.
Your footwear is a critical aspect if you have to make an evacuation on foot or if you have to walk long distances. Get the best hiking boots that you can afford and high quality merino wool socks in combination with a pair of thicker wool socks. Breaking in the boots is also critical; otherwise you risk getting blisters after walking only a short distance.
Suggestion for Clothing:
[ ] Shell Jacket
[ ] Heavy Duty Pants or Shell Pants
[ ] Gloves
[ ] Scarf, Shemag of Buff
[ ] Cap or Hat
[ ] Short Sleeve Base layer
[ ] Mid layer
[ ] Thin Merino Wool Hiking Socks
[ ] Thick Wool Socks
[ ] Hiking Boots
Bug Out Bag for Women: Suggestion For a Setup
Total Weight Bug Out Bag: 9,723kg (21,4 pounds)
Shelter and Clothing 2,78kg
[ ] Buff Slim Fit 30g
[ ] Haglöfs Ozo Q Pullover Jacket 155g
[ ] Haglöfs LIM Q Pants 265g
[ ] 2 Pairs of Icebreaker W Hike Lite Merino Wool Socks
[ ] Exped Downmat 7 S 780g
[ ] Sleeping Bag: Mountain Hardware W Wave III 1550g
[ ] Camelbak Antidote Reservoir 2 liter (2000g+200g) 2,2kg
[ ] Water Purification Filter: Camelbak Fresh Reservoir Filter 28g
[ ] Water Purification Tablets: Lifesystems Chlorine Dioxide Tablets 50g
[ ] 6 Mountain House Freeze Dried Rations (108g per ration) 648
[ ] 3 Maxim Femiline Protein Bar (40g per bar) 120g
[ ] Honey Stinger Energy Chew (50g per bag) 100g
[ ] Vargo Titanium ULV Spoon / Fork / Knife Set 36g
Hygiene and First Aid 0,431kg
[ ] Pierrot Oral Care Set 154g
[ ] Sea To Summit Light Toiletry Bag Small 80g
[ ] Metolius Hand Repair Balm 14g
[ ] Sea To Summit Body Wash 90g
[ ] MSR Medium Packtowl Personal Medium 50g
[ ] GoGirl 43g
Navigation and Other Equipment 0,247kg
[ ] Cammenga Phosphorescent Wrist Compass 37g
[ ] Topographical Map 100g
[ ] Fisher Space Pen Bullet 20g
[ ] Rite-In-The-Rain Notebook 4” x 6” 90g
[ ] Passport
[ ] Immunization Card
[ ] Cash (Some bills and coins)
Summary Suggestion for a Setup
The total weight of this setup land just under 10 kilograms. Both the sleeping bag and sleeping mattress are designed to withstand rather low temperatures. Other equipment like the Shell Jacket, Shell Pants, Flashlight and the Fire Starter Kit is chosen to minimize weight. Combining the Fällkniven WM-1 and the Victorinox Climber you get the strength and reliability of fixed blade full tang knife in combination with the versatility of a Swiss Army Knife. The Pocket Survival Kit from SOL contains some critical items that you can keep on your person at all times in case you would be separated from your pack. The Hygiene Kit contains some basic items and could be complemented with other necessities, The GoGirl is an urination tool for women so that they can go anywhere they like, cutting a soda bottle just under the neck of the bottle can work as a low budget version.
This suggestion, like all other suggestions for setups is simply intended to give you some ideas and inspirations when building your own Bug Out Bag. There are an almost unlimited amount of items on the market to choose from; choose items that fits your needs and budget.
If you are planning to Bug Out together with others as a Group you will also have to find solutions for shelter and cooking for the Group. If you are just building a Bug Out Bag for one person you might want to consider a light weight tent like the Hilleberg Akto (1600g) or the Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1 (581g). A Hennesy Hammock could be another alternative. Multi Purpose Shelters like the Fjellduk from Helsport (775g) and Bivanorak from Hilleberg (520g) can be used both as bivi-bags, tarps and ponchos.
If you are looking for a light weight stove I would recommend that you get a compact gas stove like the Soto OD-1R Micro Regulator Stove (78g), MSR Pocket Rocket (86g) or Optimus Crux Lite (72g) in combination with a wind shield, light weight cooking vessels and a 100g or 220g gas tube. A Gas Stove is very easy to use and regulate the temperature, but for winter settings a multi fuel stove works better. Other equipment that can be good to include is an extra pair of footwear, GPS, a SPOT for signaling for help, trekking poles or a compact radio.
How Long Must You Be Able To Support Yourself?
A Bug Out Bag is often referred to as 72 hour kit being designed for limited amount of time designed to get you from point A to point B. If a Disaster would strike that would force you to leave your Home there is no way to know how long you will have to support yourself. It can be a question of only a few hours if you have the access to vehicle and the roads are clear, but it can also be a question of an extended period of time. Large scale disasters like an Earthquake, Hurricane or Tsunami may destroy infrastructure and the roads can be blocked by thousands of cars when whole cities are evacuated. Having an extra ID-Card / Passport, Insurance Information and your Immunization Card may also be critical during travel and in the aftermath of disaster.
A Bug Out Bag may end up being used for other tasks than this; purifying water in your Home or cooking food if the electrical grid would go down, search and rescue or other tasks. It is fully possible to build a Light Weight Bug Out Bag with much less equipment, a Bug Out Bag for an Urban Setting or Building a Bug Out Bag on a Budget.
The Bug Out Bag is only a small part of being prepared of Disasters or Crisis Situation. The Most important aspect of preparedness is your own knowledge, health and physical fitness, skills and experience and your will to survive. If you want to be prepared for an evacuation planning ahead and making a Bug Out Plan is also a good start. Choose products that you want and need for your everyday life, hiking, camping and other outdoor activities; you should use your equipment; not just keep in a pack just in case. This way you can enjoy the investment you made; learn the skills you need and find out what works and what doesn’t work for you.