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Prepping tips: 16 Alternative containers for your bug-out gear
By Zoey Sky // Nov 05, 2021

Before SHTF, you need to pack a bug-out bag with items that will help you survive the trip to your bug-out location when it's time to evacuate.


Most preppers will store their bug-out gear in a sturdy backpack, but you can also use alternative containers like a duffel bag or even a wheeled suitcase. (h/t to TheSurvivalMom.com)

Backpacks are popular among preppers, but there are no fixed rules about storing your bug-out gear in one. If you're planning to bug out in a car when SHTF, it makes more sense to store your items in something bigger, like a duffel bag.

Bags for your bug-out gear

Most of these options are ideal for bugging out, especially if you're going to walk to your bug-out location.

Compression bags

Use compression bags to store soft items like blankets, coats, jackets and pillows that may take up space in your car when it's time to bug out.

Diaper bag

Diaper bags are perfect for bugging out because they have many compartments and pockets that you can use to organize your gear.

A fisherman vest or photo vest

A fisherman vest, or photo vest, is technically not a bag, but it has several pockets that you can use to store small items. A vest isn't as spacious as the other bags on this list, but it can be used to keep essential items on hand when SHTF.

Flexible plastic tote bags

These square, plastic tote bags are light and cheap. Flexible plastic tote bags are great for storing blankets and seasonal clothing in your car or RV. Note that they're not heavy-duty so avoid them if you plan to carry heavy gear while bugging out.

Heavy-duty black trash bags

If you're organizing supplies in your bug-out car, you will need heavy-duty black trash bags for soft items like bedding, clothing and sleeping bags.

A messenger bag with shoulder strap

Use a messenger bag with a shoulder strap if you want to keep both hands free while bugging out. This is also a great option if you have back problems and are unable to carry items in a backpack.

Military duffel bag

Use a military duffel bag if you need to hide your kit behind or between the seats of your car while bugging out. Duffel bags are also available in several sizes, so choose something that's roomy enough for all your gear.

Wheeled suitcase

If you're eyeing a wheeled suitcase, buy something sturdy so the wheels don't break off while you're traveling. Some suitcases also have backpack straps so you can carry your gear if the ground isn't smooth enough to drag a wheeled suitcase along.

Containers for your bug-out gear

The containers listed here can be used to organize supplies in a large vehicle like an RV or a camper since they can be stacked or can store more items than a backpack.

Five-gallon buckets with lids

Use a sturdy five-gallon bucket to store the items in your emergency kit or bug-out bag if you're driving a long way to your bug-out location. Once you reach your hideout, you can use the buckets to store more supplies after you settle down.

Camping cooler

Camping coolers are waterproof and they're big enough to store many items. If you're trying to blend in when SHTF, a camping cooler won't be as conspicuous as a tactical bug-out bag.

Metal bucket with lid

Metal buckets are multi-purpose containers. Use a metal bucket with a lid for your bug-out bag if you want to build a rocket stove once you reach your destination.

Milk crates

Milk crates may seem like an odd choice for a bug-out container but you can stack the crates. Best of all, they're free if you ask around at grocery stores.

Plastic storage bins

Plastic storage bins are heavy-duty and waterproof and some bins can also be locked. However, some plastic storage bins don't have wheels so they're not suitable for bugging out if you're just walking.

Use plastic storage bins if you have a bug-out car like an RV so you can bring more supplies.


Use a toolbox to store fragile items that you may need at your bug-out location.

Trash can with wheels

You probably don't want to drag around a trash can when SHTF even if it has wheels, but it's a solid option if you're bugging out in a truck with a trailer.

Store a packed trash can with wheels in your trailer and use it as an actual trach can after you settle down in your hideout.

Under the bed storage container

If you have an SUV, use an under the bed storage container to organize your bug-out supplies in the back of your car.

Selecting a bag or container for your bug-out bag or emergency kit

Consider these factors when choosing a bag or container for your bug out supplies:

  • Colors that blend in; no bright colors or patterns
  • Choose durable fabrics
  • Bags with sturdy construction
  • Heavy-duty zippers, snaps or other closures
  • Containers must have tight-fitting lids

How to organize the contents of your emergency kit

When planning for an emergency evacuation, try to divide the contents of your emergency kit or bug-out bag into two or more different types of containers. Next, get a compression bag for sleeping bags and cold weather clothing. Lastly, bring a large backpack for other supplies.

If these items are too heavy for you to carry, make sure you prep your car for bugging out. (Related: Prepping checklist: Camping essentials to pack in your survival bag.)

When choosing bags or containers for your bug-out supplies, consider the age and physical condition of the family members carrying them. Younger kids can carry small backpacks so the teens and adults can carry more supplies.

Choose and prep a bug-out bag that suits your needs before SHTF.

Sources include: 



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