Your Bug Out Bag is WAY Too Heavy – Here’s Why…

Is Your Bug Out Bag Too FatAre you serious? 55, 80 or 100 pound bug out bags!? It’s crazy, insane and sometimes stupid how much weight some folks think they are going to be able to carry in their emergency kit, backpack or bug out bag – on foot – if they have to flee for their life.

So I did some research (added in some personal experience) and came up with guide to show how much you might expect to be able to carry if you are on foot, on mild terrain, in a mild climate, for a moderate distance of 5-10 miles per day (provided you are well fed and have plenty of water):

How Much Gear Can You Carry?

So to get a starting point for how much you may be able to carry (for an extended distance), simply take the percentage that I listed for each fitness level and multiply it by your weight.

Poor – 10% of Body Weight (Pack Weight for 160 lb. Person = 16 lbs.)

Average – 15% of Body Weight (Pack Weight for 160 lb. Person = 24 lbs.)

Excellent – 20% of Body Weight (Pack Weight for 160 lb. Person = 32 lbs.)

Elite – 30% of Body Weight (Pack Weight for 160 lb. Person = 48 lbs.)

For instance, if you weigh 160 pounds and have a fitness level of “Average” – multiply 160 x 0.15 (or 15%) to get 24 lbs. This may not seem like much weight, and you may be able to carry more, but this is a good, wise and realistic starting point.

How to Carry a 100 Pound Ruck

Most mortals can’t – and not for any distance. But there is no doubt that some can and do carry over 100 lbs. in a rucksack for insane distances in less than ideal situations. But these folks are the exception and are often among our elite Special Forces.

So if your goal is to carry a 100 pound pack day after day – the Army or Marines may be your ticket to happiness. Ooh Rah!!!

How Much Can You Carry – For Real?

Well, the best way to accurately know what you can carry is to pack your BOB and get out there are hit the road or the trail and test yourself under different loads in different conditions.

Grab a simple hanging scale to weight your pack or bag. I recommend ones that go up to at least 75 lbs.

It’s Good for You – REALLY!!!

Regardless of the outcome of your weight carrying experiment, you will learn something about yourself… enjoy being outdoors and will probably be looking for ways to ditch weight out of your bug out bag AND get in better shape. And that’s all good stuff!

Happy Trails!

18 Responses to “Your Bug Out Bag is WAY Too Heavy – Here’s Why…”

  • Larry

    The average Joe should have no more than 50lb of bug out bag. I’ve. carried lots of packs and found most people can manage this weight but when you get above this you need to be seriously fit.

  • Andrew

    I just finished checking my bug out bag to make sure everything was up to date and functioning properly when I found this article. So I strapped on my B.O.B. and hopped on the scales. My bag came out to be just a few pounds under the recommended weight. Now I just need to improve my fitness level. Thanks for another great article.

  • Jonathan Yee

    I’ve seen lots of BOB’s on YouTube and they pack close to a kitchen sink and mention that their pack will be in their car. I can honestly say, 50lb rucksack marches with all your combat gear suuuuuuuucks! I don’t know how these survival experts that don’t look like they could pass basic plan to carry that pack when they run out of gas!

    This was an excellent breakdown of weight per person based on physical fitness. Also I noticed that there is a lot of emphasis in the prepper / bugout community about stuff you can buy or make but not about physical fitness and what exercises are best in a bugout situation.

    • the oncoming storm

      funny thing is a pack size like you described just goes to show that the person who put it together really doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

  • the oncoming storm

    you just reinforced what i already knew. although i do have to say i was never aware of the fitness level percentages. personally, my p.e.r.k. (personal emergency relocation kit for those who don’t know) weighs 17% of my body mass. for me, that’s 13 kg. even in a trapper nelson pack, it’s comfortable to carry for up to 20 miles a day at an almost continual moderate marching pace. then again, i’m no stranger to walking.

  • I would not even consider carrying more than 20 pounds. That’s with military training AND being fit. First, gear does not make up for training. Second, the heaviest stuff you carry is all the “just in case crap.” You can bring a kitchen sink… just in case.

    The fact is there is a core of stuff you should bring, maybe a few things for comfort, but at the end of the day, the goal isn’t to do field surgery, set up a fire base, and survive for a year…

    I have made 72 hour kits that weighed in the single digits, then went out in the field and used them.

    If you are really going to require 75 pounds of junk to last a week, you need some serious training…

  • Hi David,

    I am also a firm believer in packing light. After reading Ray Jardine’s book “trail life”, I decided to go with more of an ultralight mentality. I would much rather have a 10-15lb pack than to lug around a 50lb pack. Nice job with the article!

    • Thank you Matt. Age and just not being able to keep up fitness wise with where I used to be has aided in deeper appreciation of carrying less. Thanks for the comment!

  • survivalistexprt

    I have a 25 pound bob I have stripped it to where I can use it and I lost a lot of comfort items however I never felt comfortable anywhere so……

    • David

      So my 3 day bag weighs in at 38 lb, and that is what I carry hiking. Most day hikes are 10 miles and I hike with poles. Poles dramatically improve weight distribution and balance. Throw in a weapon, some ammo and that total climbs to 50 lbs. increased weight then decreased distance.

  • The Norwegian

    I have had anywhere from 13 kg (28 lbs) to 24 kg (52 lbs) packs. The old man showed me som tricks to how to pack and what you really need on a trip. And the military showed me the opposite..

    food was mostly Drytech from Real turmat, it reduced the weight considerably.
    I have redundant firekits, i should probably cut that in half.

    the one time i carried a 50 lbs pack was on a glacier trip was at least 20 lbs in team gear (fuel, rope, glacier related, harness, etc). i struggled with the extra weight.

  • James Francis

    All you need is an MSK-1 system and a way to attach it to your loin cloth lol. In all seriousness, don’t forget the weight of what you carry on your body in addition to your pack. A firearm or 2, knives, chest rig? Plates? What ever your set up, you will have to carry it.
    Great article David this is often overlooked.

  • Erik Whitney

    Hi. I would like to know how to attach knives to a bug out backpack.

    I’ve seen moli lok and blade tech but are those based on size?
    I have esse 6 and falknivan a1 and a REI traverse 70 backpack

    • Carin

      Check the websites for those systems you asked about and they should have the info you need and be able to tell you if they will work with your knives. Good luck!

  • D. Austin

    Bugging Out? Really to where? Read this book -One Second After. You will learn a lot and really rethink about bugging out. You are better off staying in place and securing what you have.

    • Carin

      Hi there! David would totally agree with you and believe bugging out should be a last resort. Think of having a Bug out Bag as an emergency bag packed and ready to go – which is always a good idea.

  • Joe Baggga

    Here’s a thought:

    Pack what you want- food, snivel gear, stove, etc, etc.

    Throw it all in the truck and leave for The Great Shining Happy Survival Place.

    If you get to where you’re going, great. You have all your nifty camping stuff.

    If it turns out you have to walk, then you can winnow out the Andean string hats and pedicure sets and just take what you really need to stay alive- ammo, water, shelter, food (and if you’re in the Air Force, a latte machine…)

  • Chimp Masters

    Very true. Most folks pack BOBs using their imagination, not their experience. There are many observations about a BOB but the most important is – where are you bugging out to? Amazing how many people just imagine they’ll hit the road and start humping when in fact, the actual routes you can take are probably pretty limited. Develop those probable routes and then actually get out and walk them. Well placed caches are far more useful than a BOB.

    Folks . . . . The only good thing about the big BOB you intend to carry is that it will supply people like me with the goodies I will need. LOL

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