Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bug Out Bag built on Ultra Light Weight Equipment

In some previous articles I have discussed some possible ways to approach the subject of Bug Out Bags from a light weight perspective. In this article I will focus on Ultra Light Weight Equipment and what type of gear you can go for if you want to build an Ultra Light Weight pack for outdoor activities or as a BOB. The Ultra Light Weight Hiking movement has become very popular and new equipment becomes available all the time. In this article I will give some examples of equipment that is available.
All Bug Out Bags must be adapted to the person that uses the setup, the local climate, seasonal variations and terrain. One Size Do Not fit All and this article is only intended to provide the reader with some inspirations for their own setups. For some of the considerations that should be included see the article Building the right Bug Out Bag for You.

Suggestion for an Ultra Light Bug Out Bag

Weight: 4,155kg without water, 7,235kg including water (around 16 pounds including 3 liter of Water)

Backpack 0,891kg
[ ] Terra Nova Voyager 55 Liter 891g

Shelter and Clothing 1,33kg
[ ] Terra Nova Ultra 1 Tarp 2,5m x 1,5m 70g
[ ] 20m (5 x 4m) meters of Dyneema cord 30g
[ ] Montane Light-Speed H20 Jacket 155g
[ ] Montane Atomic Pants 200g
[ ] Western Mountaineering Summer Light Sleeping Bag (180cm length) 525g
[ ] Thermarest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad 350g

Survival Knife 0,107kg
[ ] Mora Companion MG Fixed Blade Knife 107g

Fire 0,021kg
[ ] FireSteel Pup 7g
[ ] BIC Lighter 14 g

Light 0.082kg
[ ] Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp (Including 3 AA Batteries) 81g

Pocket Survival Kit 0,1kg
[ ] Zip Lock Bag
[ ] Fishing line, hooks and sinks
[ ] Snare Wire
[ ] Safety Pins
[ ] Sewing Kit
[ ] Wire Saw
[ ] Anti Diarrheal Tablets
[ ] Water Purification Tablets
[ ] Pen
[ ] Vargo Titanium Whistle 3g
[ ] Fällkniven U-4 Folding Knife 22g

Water 3,080kg
[ ] 2 1,5 liter Soda Bottles (40g+40g + 1500g+1500g) 3080g

Food and Cooking 1,215kg
[ ] Jetboil SOL Gas Stove 300g
[ ] Jetboil Pot Support and Stabilizer 57g
[ ] 100g Gas Bottle 198g
[ ] 6 Freeze Dried Meals from DryTech 660g

First Aid and Hygiene 0,25kg
[ ] Lifesystems Light + Dry Micro 114g
[ ] Compact bottle of Soap
[ ] Tooth Brush, Dental Floss and Tooth Paste
[ ] Half a roll of Toilet Paper in a Waterproof Bag 100g

Navigation 0.123kg
[ ] Topographical Map 100g
[ ] Compass: Silva Ranger SL 23g

Other 0,036kg
[ ] Rite In The Rain 3x5 Notebook 36g


In this Ultra Light Weight setup there is still clothing and shelter included to help shield you from the elements in the form of a Ultra Light Rain clothing, a Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Matress and a Tarp. The Tarp is extremely light with a weight of only 70 grams and made from the same material as the ultra light tents from Terra Nova; it is however very expensive. A light weight tarp in the same size from a hardware store has a weight of around 200g-240g and price of only a few dollars. In this setup instead of paracord a cord made of Dyneema was included; this cord is lighter than paracord and has a strength than can hold around 300kg.

If you are looking for a light weight tent I would recommend looking at the Hillberg Akto, Helsport Ringstind Superlight and Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1. The Ultra Light model from Hennessey Hammock can be another alternative worth checking out.

The Survival Knife in this setup; The Mora Companion is a light weight alternative that does not have a full tang; but I would argue that this knife is one of the absolutely best knives that can be found for this price; cheap, very sharp and sturdy enough for most tasks in the outdoors. The knife can also be found in a number of colors; from forest green to safety orange. If you want a Mora Knife with a sturdier blade you can check out the Mora Bushcraft Triflex. As a secondary knife the super light weight folding knife Fällkniven U-4 is included in the Pocket Survival Kit; this knife is also excellent for Every Day Carry (EDC).

Two tools are included to start a fire; a compact Fire Steel from FireSteel.com and a simple lighter from BIC giving you two reliable options to get a fire going. If you want to have more options you can include some tinder like cotton balls soaked with Vaseline and some matches in waterproof bag.

The Tikka 2 Headlamp from Petzl is a headlamp with one red and one white LED; the red LED can be useful in situations when you don’t want to attract attention or preserve your night vision. A headlamp many advantages over a flashlight since they allow you to perform repairs, first aid, raise tents and other work during the night and low light conditions and still use both of your hands. If you want a compact Flashlight instead the Fenix LD-12 or 4Sevens Quark Tactical QTA provides a high amount light in a compact and light format.

Normally Pocket Survival Kits comes in a relatively heavy metal or plastic container; in order to save some weight you can simply pack a small kit by yourself in a waterproof zip lock bag like an AlokSak.

Water is one of the most critical aspects of survival in any climate and the access to water in combination with the climate must be a central aspect of your planning and setup. Water is very heavy so if the access to water is good you can get along with carrying just a little water; but if not you must adjust accordingly. For water normal Soda Bottles that can you clean carefully provides one of the lightest alternatives you can find even if they are not as sturdy as a bottle from Nalgene or Klean Kanteen. If the water in your area is relatively clean in your area you can get along with just brining Water Purification Tablets, but if the quality of the water requires more treatment a compact filter or a water bottle that has a filter included can be worth considering.

For cooking a light weight Gas Stove provides a method of cooking that is fast, effective and light weight. The JetBoil SOL is a suitable system for one person that includes the burner and a pot. All small gas stoves really benefits from having a stabilizer that is attached to bottom of the stove; this makes the stove more reliable and reduce the risk that you accidently tip the stove over and spill boiling water over yourself or lose a meal. A 100g container of gas provides enough heat to boil around 10-12 liters of water. Freeze dried food is an excellent source of food in combination with a gas stove if there is access to water in your area since its light weight and has a long shelf life. There are many different companies that make freeze dried food; find the company that you personally like the best. The rations from the Norwegian Company Drytech are used by military units in Scandinavia; they are vacuumed pack to reduce weight, increase shelf life and reduce the amount of space they take up in your kit.

The First Aid Kit is quite basic and minimalistic; just intended to deal with minor cuts and problems like blisters. For hygiene a tooth brush and some tooth paste is included; in order to save a few grams you can cut the handle of the tooth brush making it a little shorter. For hygiene a little soap can help you stay clean and avoid infections. Normal soap in the size you can find from hotels provides a light weight alternative.

The Backpack in this setup is relatively big for a light weight pack making it possible to add a little extra equipment like a few pieces of clothing, documents like and ID-Card, Immunization Card, Passport, navigation tools like a GPS, Snacks and Tea Bags etc. The lightweight packs from Osprey, the Jam 50 or Jam 70 from GoLite and the Mariposa 2012 can be alternatives to the suggested pack.


This setup is centered on different types of Ultra Light Equipment but still provides a comprehensive setup with a weight of around 7 kilograms including 3 liters of Water. Some personal equipment and clothing would most likely have to be included as well but the weight of the pack is still low. A Bug Out Bag does not have to consist of only Ultra Light Weight equipment as in this setup; but by incorporating some Ultra Light Items you can reduce the weight of regular setup or a regular hiking pack.

Since Ultra Light Weight Equipment does not provide the same amount of insulation and protection from the elements as thicker fabrics the clothing you carry is extra important in order to avoid hypothermia. In cold weather settings this approach is not as effective since it leaves you vulnerable to the elements; an Ultra Light Approach can however be a successful concept during the summers even in Northern Regions. The critical aspect is that you know the limitations of the gear and adapt accordingly; experience, knowledge and skills becomes extra important and you must handle the gear with more care.

• A lighter pack makes it easier to move around; especially if you are suffering from problems with your back or knees.
• You can generally move faster and longer distances with a lighter bag; something that can be crucial during an evacuation if you have to move by foot.
• Carrying as light bag helps to conserve energy and allows you to stay more alert and can thereby help avoiding dangers and injuries during travel.

• Ultra Light Equipment has thinner fabrics and is less sturdy than regular equipment making them more likely to break and be affected by wear.
• High Quality Ultra Light Equipment tend to be very expensive making it a big investment; especially if you don’t intend on using the equipment for your regular outdoor activities
• Ultra light sleeping bags and sleeping mattresses tend to be less comfortable and not provide the same amount of insulation and comfort as thicker and sturdier models. Knowing your equipment, your own terrain and climate is extra important for this type of equipment; you must know how to utilize it and what limitations your gear has. In general I would not recommend the ultra light approach for settings with very cold or extreme weather.

Also see
Light Weight Bug Out Bag
Light Weight Bug Out Bags - Examples of Setups
Building the right Bug Out Bag for You


  1. Nice blog.

    The backpack is quite heavy, but maybe a more sturdy one is beneficial in some situation when you do not carry your backpack, but you have to use some public transport, etc...

    For ultralight setups the question remains if you want meals to cook or if you can go with meals that you can eat without preparation. Food like emergency rations (BP-5), fish in oil, dried meat, snickers bars, nuts, etc... also have high calories to weight ratios.

    If you want to cook maybe removing the pot and using one aluminium bottle instead of a plastic bottle could be an alternative. You can also heat that bottle filled with water and you have some "bedpan" for cold nights.
    Many freeze dried foods can be "cooked" by just adding boiling water into their aluminium package. Keep those used aluminium packages with you and you also have a pot to cook soup or tea in them or similar things. Some soup bullions weight next to nothing.

    As a headlight I use a Zebralight 501. Weights just 20g without batteries, uses only one AA cell (+17g if you use LiFeS2 + some more g for the headband if you use it) and has 4 modes with different lumens incl. a moonlight mode that is good enough to read in the dark but will last weeks on one cell.

    I wouldn't take the neo air with me. It's a nice lightweight camping setup that takes very little volume if you can stand the sound it makes while sleeping on it, but for survival I prefer a foam mat. Not as comfortable and takes more space in the bagpack, but a thousand times more robust and it doesn't weight more.

  2. Great information about ultra light weight, Your information is really informative for us.......

    Emergency Lighting Requirements

  3. Hey I think you're absolutely right about the weight issue. There is no use making a BOB when it's impossible to carry it in an emergency. Ofcourse there is no point doing that and that's why I think your article is informative and practical. I had been thinking of maintaining an emergency kit at home just in case we would be facing some natural disaster like a tornado or a quake or something of that sort. I wanted it to be practical and not like carry all the things in the world and thanks God I came across your blog!

  4. Nice post! This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to more times this year! Thanks for informative post. bug out bag