What is a “Bug out binder”?

Glad you ask. A bug out binder is a binder (or book of some sort. It doesn’t have to be a binder) that contains all of the information that you believe you would wish you had access to in a SHTF situation. In most SHTF situations there will be no electricity or internet access. It would be wise to try and mentally put yourself in that situation and ask yourself, “what would I google if I had access to do so right now?”

bug-out-bag, Bug Out Binder

What you should include in your Bug Out Binder:

The information you keep in your bug out binder is completely dependent and customizable to you and your needs. It’s based on your knowledge. It’s important to be 100% honest with your own abilities. If you already know how to tie 100 knots then I think it’s safe to say you can exclude “how to tie different types of knots” from your binder. Include knowledge that you plan to obtain in the future. By doing this you will be able to remove the things you’ve learned as you go. This also kind of creates a list of skills for you to learn.

Let’s face it! Our brains are like computer hard drives. We can only retain so much information. Try to keep the more difficult things to memorize in the bug out binder. For example, edible and medicinal plants that are in your area or along your bug out route. It would be wise to keep this information available in case you need to double check.

Bug Out Binder

Topics to include in your bug out binder:

Different ways to start primitive fires is a skill set that you can practice. Most people will probably retain that type of knowledge easier than identifying plants. Here are some examples of skills that you could refine and eventually remove from your binder once you’ve practiced and learned them:

  • Primitive fire starting techniques.primitive-skill-bug-out-binder
  • Different types of shelters and how to build them.
  • Multiple land navigation techniques.
  • Hunting & Trapping.
  • Tracking.
  • Different types of knots and how to tie them.
  • Booby trapping.
  • How to build different types of primitive weapons.

Some examples of topics you may want to make permanent in your bug out binder include:

  • Plant identification.
    • Eatable plants.
    • Medical plants.
    • Poisonous plants.
  • How to field dress and butcher multiple types of large and small game along your bug out route.
  • First-Aid for different types of injuries.
    • Including emergency surgeries.
    • Stitches.
  • As many ways of purifying water that you can find.
  • Copies of birth certificates. Any other important documents.
  • Photos of loved ones.
  • A copy of the U.S. Constitution.

united_states_constitution in bug out binder

The list is endless and completely up to your imagination. I find that I am constantly thinking of new things to add. I’m also taking topics/skills out as I learn them. I believe that is very important. You need to make sure you are learning these skills and removing them as you go. Otherwise, you will be left with a 20-pound binder that you don’t want to have to haul around everywhere you go. The saying stands true in this situation,

“The more you know, the less you have to carry.”

Depending on your bug out plans you could also break the binder down into two smaller/lighter binders. If a vehicle is a part of your bug out plan you can keep a larger binder with more advanced and difficult skills included (vehicle mechanics for repairs, basics to electricity, more in-depth medical procedures etc). If this is an option for you then you should keep a lighter weight binder in your bug out bag. The one in your bag will include the very basics for survival. Similar to how the purpose of a handgun is to give you time to fight your way to your rifle, your bug out binder should be able to get you back to your bigger binder.

How you go about this is completely up to you and your imagination. It is better to be overly prepared than to not be prepared enough. I would hate to be in a situation where my life or my families life depends on me making a decision where if I had access to the information it wouldn’t be life-threatening. Survival and prepping are all about increasing the odds in your favor. In an age where all the information you want is at your fingertips, there is no excuse for lacking the knowledge in something you want to learn.


I’ll end on this: Beware about keeping details of your routes and bug out plans within your bug out binder. If the wrong person got their hands on your plans how much would the odds of survival turn against you? Keep that in mind. If you do include your plans, make sure they are included in a way that only you could understand them. Whether it be some sort of coding or limiting the details.

Keep on prepping!

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell


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