Man wearing bug out bag

Your 2024 Bug Out Bag Gear Guide

by Matt Collins

The bug out bag is an enduring staple for survivalists and those who want to stay ready for potential disasters.

The concept itself is simple—a backpack equipped with enough gear, food, and water to keep you alive for the next seventy-two hours. It doesn’t have to contain everything. It doesn’t need to last forever. Just long enough to help you “bug out” of disaster zones and make your way to safety.

Building the ultimate bug out bag isn’t easy, either. With each new year comes new gear, new ways to optimize your loadout and tilt the odds in your favor. And over the last few years, a series of game-changing new PPE releases have truly transformed what you can do with a simple backpack.

So today, we’re diving deep into the perfect bug out bag build.

We’ll cover all the standard elements you already know about, and we’ll look at some of the cutting-edge additions that can help take you further than ever before.

Let’s get started… 

Table of Contents

  • 01

    Dispensing with the Basics

  • 02

    Mask On

  • 03

    The Best New Bug Out Filter

  • 04

    Full Body Bug Out Protection

  • 05

    Upgraded Threat Detection

  • 06

    Next-Gen Bug Out Bag Build

  • 07

    Bug Out Bag Frequently Asked Questions

Dispensing with the Basics

You can already search up a million articles on the basics of building a bug out bag.

Almost every single one will give the same advice, which is mostly good (even if it’s a bit obvious to bring bug out bag essentials like first aid kits and a compass).

Some of these articles come with useful bug out bag checklists, too. 

We like the bug out bag list below to cover the basics:

Comprehensive Checklist for Essential Bug Out Bag Items

A great checklist for bug out bag essentials. (Image courtesy of The Dyrt)

We specifically like the modular approach used in the checklist above. That’s because breaking down your preparation into individual “modules” (survival essentials, communication, navigation) makes things easier to manage and plan. 

If you’d like even more detail on bug out bag gear, we recommend checking out this article.

For today’s article, we’re taking a slightly different direction.

Instead of covering general checklists or preparation, we’re going to focus specifically on the PPE element of your bug out bag, since that’s our specialty. Members of our team have been deploying cutting-edge MIRA gear in the field for years now, and they’ve got some helpful insights to share.

But before we dive in, a word on the bag itself …

In the past, bug out bags have almost always used a standard backpack to remain both discrete and large enough for most of your needed supplies. But now, many bug out bag builds are starting to include armor plates.

This obviously adds a whole new dimension to your build. By using a special armor-carrying backpack and a plate insert, you can build a bug out bag that doubles as an armored shield in a pinch. With the MIRA Tactical Level IV Armor Plate, you can sustain multiple shots from large caliber rifles without worrying about penetration or spalling.

Of course, adding an armor plate is not without its downsides.

The MIRA Tactical Level IV Armor Plate weighs in at 6 lbs, which can be a substantial addition to an already loaded bag. And depending on the bag itself, it isn’t always easy to get the plate situated in a way that covers your vital organs.

Nevertheless, armor plates are a truly transformative upgrade that can take your bug out bag to the next level before you even put anything else in it. Body armor can be a tremendous asset in many disaster survival situations.

Mask On

Respirators and gas masks are a crucial component of any bug out bag.

The risk of exposure to smoke, toxins, airborne chemicals, or even nuclear fallout is something you’ll always want to prepare for when packing your bag. You’re going to want a full-face gas mask, and the new CM-8M is an outstanding choice.

MIRA Safety's CM-8M Full-Face Respirator.

The CM-8M essentially combines the best of both worlds, giving you an even wider range of vision than the CM-6M combined with the optics/rifle compatibility of the tactical CM-7M mask. It’s the first completely original gas mask design we’ve ever deployed, and it’s already getting rave reviews from users in the field.

All three MIRA Safety gas masks provide level 3 protection, all three are compatible with the same 40mm NATO filters, and all three come with the same features (integrated hydration system, voice diaphragm, etc.).

That means the CM-8M is a direct upgrade from either previous MIRA Safety gas mask, while maintaining compatibility with the accessories and upgrades you may have already purchased.

In general, the size and dimension of all three masks are roughly the same. They all have a twenty-year shelf life, and you can’t go wrong with any of the three. The CM-7M still has the best eye relief, and the CM-6M is arguably the most widely-used of the bunch.

If you need something smaller, there’s the Tactical Air-Purifying Respirator (TAPR). 

But since the TAPR is a half-mask, it won’t protect your eyes or the upper part of your face like a traditional gas mask. As such, it’s more ideal for purse/satchel carry. A TAPR would also be great as a backup respirator if you have the room for it.

In terms of respiratory protection, we recommend sticking with a full-size gas mask like the new CM-8M.

But what kind of gas mask filter is best for your new CM-8M?

The Best New Bug Out Filter

The VK-530 gas mask filter has been one of MIRA Safety’s best-selling new products, and with good reason.

MIRA Safety VK-530 Smoke / Carbon Monoxide Filter Cartridges.

Because in addition to protecting you from a wide range of toxic industrial chemicals, smoke, and particulates, the VK-530 can also filter out smoke and carbon monoxide—effectively allowing your gas mask to do double-duty as a smoke hood.

This is a massive upgrade for bug out bags where space is often at a premium. Having a single respirator work both for chemical threats and smoke can instantly expand your options.

Another frequently-overlooked option are our compact filters, like the NBC-17 SOF. 

The NBC-17 SOF offers protection from low concentrations of common CBRN threats, all in a compact package that can tuck into a side pocket of your bug out bag. These filters use the same 40mm NATO standard interface as all the rest, so they’ll work with your MIRA Safety mask just fine.

We still recommend the NBC-77 SOF as the best filter when you’re dealing with unknown threats. It’s rated for high concentrations and comes with a completely unrivaled twenty-year shelf life, so it’s an outstanding investment in personal protection.

But if you add a VK-530 and a pair of NBC-17 SOF filters, then you have a bug out bag-friendly set that can provide 48 straight hours of respiratory protection if needed (all without taking up much extra space).

If you’ve still got room, then a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator like the MB-90 PAPR is another great addition. 

This battery-powered blower takes all the hard work out of using a gas mask, allowing you to breathe freely and minimizing fatigue during long hours of use. A PAPR can be a serious performance enhancer for just about anyone. And if any members of your party are young, old, or dealing with respiratory diseases, then the assistance provided by a PAPR might be absolutely necessary.

(The standard rule of thumb is that if someone can’t inflate a balloon with their breath, they won’t be able to handle the breathing resistance of a gas mask.)

The MB-90 runs off AA battery packs and can provide all-day power when you’re bugging out. We’ve also got a MOLLE PAPR harness that can be used to affix the PAPR to a backpack or plate carrier.

Full Body Bug Out Protection

Of course, a gas mask can only protect your face and respiratory system from CBRN threats.

To protect the rest of your body, you’ll need something like a hazmat suit, gloves, and boots. And most hazmat suits are engineered using what’s called “impermeable” fabric. It’s a critical part of the way these suits work, since they’re impermeable to CBRN threats. But they’re also impermeable to air.

As a result, wearing a traditional impermeable hazmat suit for longer periods of time can be difficult depending on the environment. If it’s an especially hot day, you might experience a small greenhouse effect within your suit, leading to rapid fatigue and dehydration.

The new MIRA Safety MOPP Suit was designed to address that specific challenge.

Man wearing MIRA Safety MOPP Suit and CM-8M Full-Face Respirator.

It’s constructed using what’s called “semi-permeable” fabric, which allows some small amount of air through the suit while keeping CBRN threats out. So you can wear the MOPP suit for longer periods without worrying about the same levels of fatigue you might get with a traditional hazmat suit.

Additionally, our M4 CBRN Poncho is another recommended addition for full-body protection.

The M4 looks like any standard poncho, but it’s constructed using a unique tear-resistant fabric that can provide protection from even the most toxic CBRN threats. It won’t cover your entire body, but it can be a great upgrade to an existing hazmat suit or MOPP Suit setup.

Another critical consideration is the addition of Kappler Chemtape, which is vital for sealing up the junctions between your suit, boots, and gloves to ensure nothing makes its way inside.

Upgraded Threat Detection

Another new upgrade to the standard bug out bag comes in the detection department, where bug out bag builds have traditionally lacked in the past. But now a handful of new upgrades could keep you ahead of the curve and away from some of the deadliest CBRN threats.

First, there’s the Geiger-2 dosimeter.

MIRA Safety Geiger-2 Dosimeter / Geiger Counter / Radiation Detector.

The Geiger-2 starts with the proven SBM-20-1 Geiger Muller tube used by military Geiger counters for decades. Then it adds a microprocessor with a color LCD screen, giving you “iPhone”-style functionality and access to a wide range of tracking features, alarms, and data on exposure.

The Geiger-2 is sensitive enough to detect even background radiation, and it’s powered by a rechargeable integrated battery (with supplementary solar power).

Meanwhile, the new DETEHIT CWD-3 Nerve Agent Detection Strips can be used to detect nerve agents in the atmosphere in a matter of seconds. Simply expose the strip and wait for a reaction to gauge the presence and concentration of deadly nerve agents.

The same CWD-3 strips can also be used to ensure you’ve been successfully decontaminated before removing your PPE.

Finally, there’s CWD-1 CBRN Detection Paper.

As the name implies, CWD-1 is similar to CWD-3. But CWD-1 testing paper can distinguish the difference between three different families of nerve agents including G agents (sarin, soman, tabun), V agents (VX Gas), and H agents (blister agents like mustard gas) in liquid form.

Nerve agents and radiation are among the most instantly deadly CBRN threats, and survival is often about detecting these threats early and avoiding them as much as possible while you make your way to safety. 

Next-Gen Bug Out Bag Build

As you can see, most of our bug out bag’s contents are the same—but a few upgrades can go a very long way.

With a VK-530 gas mask filter, you get instant protection from smoke inhalation, adding a whole new dimension to your PPE. With a PAPR, you can enhance your range on foot or make it possible for someone to wear a mask when they otherwise couldn’t. 

A MOPP Suit will also take you further than you’d get otherwise, and the right detection gear can make all the difference when you’re navigating the aftermath of a disaster or a terrorist attack.

Man wearing MIRA Safety MOPP Suit and CM-8M Full-Face Respirator.

Most of these upgrades would only replace existing gear or take up minimal extra space. So you’d still have plenty of room for food, water, first aid, and other essentials. There’s practically zero downside.

Armor plating, on the other hand, is an upgrade where you’ll have to weigh (pun intended) the costs vs. the benefit. An extra 6 lbs. isn’t too much, but if it makes you want to leave your bug out bag at home then you should probably skip it.

On the other hand, if you can bear the added weight then the improved survivability will be well worth it. As with each of the upgrades we’ve covered today, it could make all the difference. 

What other upgrades have you recently made to YOUR bug out bag? Sound off and let us know in the comments below… 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a bug out bag?
What’s the best bug out bag?
What should be on my bug out bag list?