11 Smart Tips to Make Your Bug-Out Bag Lighter and Smaller

Editor’s Note: Your Bug Out Bag needs to be light enough, on one hand, so you can travel quickly and you need to have as many supplies as possible, on the other hand. Keeping a good balance between those two is the key to a “smart” B.O.B.

But smaller (in volume) is better at all times! Here are some tips to help make it smaller and lighter for your B.O.B.

#0. The Only Clothes You Really Need in Your B.O.B.

From a grooming point of view, you can just care about an additional set of underwear, socks and t-shirts. Find the clothes you wear when you leave the house to be the only collection for you (so dress in weather appropriate clothing BEFORE evacuating). Just one-two SKIVVY ROLLs can be packed if you like. Or you might use Ziploc Space Bags (#1) if you want to pack more clothing.

Here’s how to pack a skivvy roll with your clothes:

I’m not silly enough, of course, to pack such colorful clothes. My BOB clothes are completely black or camo, so from the photo it would have been hard to understand.

It’s no secret that the lighter the bug-out bag, the longer you can walk with it. And every drop of energy counts when you are compelled to walk or even run for your life. You will really wear off those extra pounds, but most preppers don’t even know it….

Many fall into the pit of believing that if they walk with a completely packed BOB on their back for a few seconds, they can do it in a SHTF scenario for hours on end. There could be nothing farther from the facts. These people will have the shock of their lives when they know that they are barely going to be able to walk half a mile on their back with that thing… at best.

Heck, even for veterans, marching with a completely packed bag is difficult, let alone for untrained preppers, most of whom are still a little overweight. The best advice I can give you, of course, is to get in shape, but… we can make it lighter as well as smaller with a little bit of creativity.

By the way, you can find a complete list of all the things you could probably put in your BOB right here, but let’s see what we can do to shrink it, assuming you already have your bag jam-packed with stuff.

1. Use Ziploc Space Bags

Space bags allow you to save up to two thirds of the space used by your backpack’s spare change of clothes. The method is simple: you fold the clothes like you usually would, place them inside the pockets, close the zipper, and then suck the air out through the opening of the valve using a standard vacuum cleaner.

Unfortunately, you can only use these bags for cotton, wool and linen clothing. Leather, fur or food can’t be kept inside. You can get these very cheap Space Bags from Amazon; they come in 10-15 packs, and they end up costing you less than 2 bucks a piece.

2. Use AAA batteries instead of AA

Why not use AAA batteries instead of the heavier AAs, because every ounce counts? Approximately 23 grams (0.81oz) of alkaline AAs, 0.53oz (or 15g) of lithium AAs, 0.4 ounces (or 11.5 grams) of alkaline AAAs and just 7.6 grams of lithium AAAs (or 0.26 ounces).

Obviously, your devices would need to be replaced with new ones that use these types of batteries.

3. Opt for Freeze-Dried Foods

This unique food preservation method is great not only because the resulting food has amazing shelf-life but also because it is lightweight. Reason? 98% of the water is eliminated.

4.  Use Uncoated Titanium or Anodized Aluminum Cookware

If you have the money, uncoated titanium cookware is as lightweight as it comes. It costs more, but if it’s really necessary for you to cut weight, you might as well pay the one-time fee.

Another great alternative for your lightweight cooking utensils is aluminum, but there’s a caveat. It interacts with alkaline and acidic foods, which means you should expect some of it to end up in your food! Anodized aluminum is a good solution that solves these issues, but this would also mean that you would have to pay more in order to get them.

5. Pack a tarp instead of a tent

Okay, so tarps provide little protection from mosquitoes, bugs, and cold temperatures, but they’re super lightweight, and they could be just what you need for certain individuals. They do a really good job of shielding you from sunlight, rain and wind.

Ultimately, choosing which one you need is up to you. Consider your location, the temperatures you’re going to have to face and, last but not least, how qualified you are when it comes to wilderness sheltering.

6. Cripple your toothbrush…

Simply remove the handle by breaking it. You’ll do fine without it, don’t worry. It doesn’t make your BOB that much lighter but, in a survival situation, every once counts.

7. Use the space inside your boots or shoes

This is an obvious way to save space, but some people never heard it. It’s worth mentioning.

8. Do NOT buy a lighter backpack

This may sound counterintuitive, but since they do not have a frame, lighter backpacks may actually feel heavier! A frame helps to keep the weight closer to your back and the things inside would begin to shift away from your back without it and make you feel awkward.

9. Find smaller versions of each item in your BOB

For example, opt for the pocket edition that is smaller and, obviously, lighter instead of packaging the entire SAS Survival guide. Get a smaller toothbrush, a smaller cup, an opener with a smaller can, all smaller!

Next, try packaging less amounts of the stuff you already have. Less toothpaste, less duct tape, less paper for toilets, etc. Yeah, this could mean that you’re going to run away from that particular object, but don’t forget the initial risk: that you’re going to get exhausted by the weight of your BOB while bugging out.

10. Put medicine in Ziploc bags

A neat little trick is to take all the pills out of their prescription bottles and put them in Ziploc bag to not only save weight but also space. Don’t forget to label them, of course.

11. Remove unnecessary items

In the end, I left this because it’s really up to you what BOB products you’re going to remove, keeping in mind that and one of them is a tough decision. There are many people packing things in there thinking it’s better to have it than not to have it. In their bug out pockets, who wants spices or caffeine pills or a gun cleaning kit, anyway?

Maybe you’re doing it, and maybe you’re not, but what I suggest you do is empty your backpack and then look at it and ask yourself as you put every thing back in it: do I really need it?


As you can see, in order to shed weight from your bug-out bag and make it as light as possible, there is one thing you have to do: compromise. You may need to invest in new gadgets, you may need to give a full rotation to your BOB food stockpile, and spend some extra cash on a tarp.

It is really up to you if you think your current bug-out bag is light enough, but I highly recommend you take it out for a test drive before you draw that conclusion for yourself. Packed fully. Go hiking for a couple of hours with it on your back and see how you feel.