Prepping can be as easy or hard as you make it to be. In whatever situation you may be in, any experienced prepper will tell you that it is your mindset that counts for survival. If you think building a bug-out bag (BOB) is going to cost you a lot of money, well, it will. This isn’t to say that everything is all magical and that just wishing for something will make it appear. You still require a certain amount of mental discipline and foresight to succeed. That being said, there are simple ways to make life a little bit easier, and less expensive. Here are some tips to consider on building a BOB on a budget.
First: There is no such thing as the perfect BOB. We’ve written a lot of prepping articles on what should be included in an ideal BOB, but what is ideal for us may not be ideal for you. Your BOB should be carefully designed to suit your needs, situation, and area. If you have a physical disability or medical condition, for example, you must stock up on the items that you’d need.
This is the most important thing to consider because it will help you determine what items you really need to survive at the bare minimum. Do you have a bug-out location in mind? Is it fully equipped for long-term survival? If so, your BOB need not carry so much. If you do not have a bug-out camp, and are deciding to bug in, your BOB should still reflect that. You may also want to consider other options, like your car. You can get away with a less-equipped BOB if your vehicle is already properly stocked.
Now, you may want to look at the stuff you already have. One misconception about prepping is that you have to build everything from scratch, but nothing could be further from the truth. You can easily save money by looking around your house or apartment and packing items that you already own. Try to look for more versatile items, such as a Swiss Army knife or rope. You can also pack “basic” items such as cloth, needles, and thread you have lying around. This is where sewing skills will come in handy. Not only will these materials take up less space in your BOB, but they are a lot cheaper bought as separate items, rather than as a “finished” product which you can easily make yourself.
The next thing you should do is make a list of the items that you’d need. Look for – or be aware of – the various sales around your area for prepping items. Prices for backpacks, for example, typically drop after school starts or during holiday sales. Use these to your advantage to pick quality pieces at more affordable prices. You can also ask your neighbors for items that they no longer need but can be reused in a survival situation. One great example of this is asking for leftover crib blankets which can be re-purposed into various things (again we emphasize the importance of knowing how to sew when SHTF).
You may also want to drop by your local dollar store. A lot of these stores carry a variety of items that are incredibly cheap. The quality may be so-so, but they’ll do during an emergency. It’s a good idea to buy these items in bulk, or in the bundles usually offered by the store. For example, a $6 “female travel kit” would already contain shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, comb, and a bag to keep it all in. Not bad for a few days of cleanliness.
We also suggest being a little bit more creative on where you go shopping. Your local arts and crafts store may have items that can be useful in a survival situation.
Lastly, set a budget on how much you’re willing to shell out for your BOB. Try to adhere to this plan as much as possible, and again, be as creative and ingenious as you can be to choose versatile items.