Build A Bug Out Bag For Kids

Do you have a Separate Bug Out Bag for your kids?

During a crisis or disaster situation, one of the most important jobs you will have is to help your child feel as safe and secure as possible. Most people greatly underestimate the physical and emotional toll disasters can have on people, especially on young children.

Something that I’m a big supporter of, and something that I think helps give children a sense of security, is involving them in your preparedness planning as much as possible. That means talking to them in an age-appropriate way about what you expect of them, what they should expect during a disaster, and also involving them in preparedness drills and training.

Build A Bug Out Bag For Kids

One great way to make them feel like they have a voice, and a sense of power during times of crisis, is to give them their own dedicated bug-out bag.

Having their own child-sized Bug Out Bag, filled with familiar items and comfort foods, can be a real, lifesaver during an emergency. Just remember that a child’s survival bag is going to be much different than the bags that you have prepared for yourself and your family.

With children, you’re going to forgo most of the traditional survival gear you would think about when preparing an adult bag, and instead, comfort items will become a top priority in selecting items to fill the bag with. Having a backpack filled with comforting and familiar things can help ensure their overall mental health during a crisis or disaster.

Keeping weight in mind, and for training sake, there should be some useful items they can actually use though.

Let’s start with the bag itself.

Don’t go crazy here; remember this bag is a supplemental bag for your kids so don’t do crazy buying fancy military bags or hiking backpacks.

For Younger Kids:

We really like Deuter backpacks for kids. They are a solid company that makes adult hiking packs, so you will find that hiking quality construction in their child’s line. Plus, they look like something a younger kid would like to carry.

For Pre-Teens and Teenagers

For pre-teens and teenagers, I recommend going with the classic JanSport Student Pack. They are solid bags that will hold up,  plus I don’t like kids walking around looking like they are carrying gear. These discrete bags are awesome, they can hold plenty of useful items but don’t look like a bug-out bag.

What Items Should Go Into A Kid’s Bug Out Bag:

What goes into the bag really depends on your child’s age and maturity. While the needs of each child are going to be a little different, there are some things you should consider when building an emergency bag for your kid.

Basic Survival Gear to Pack

While comfort items are the top priority, it is a good idea to give them a couple of survival items. It will not only help them feel important like mom and Dad, but it also introduces them to skills that will keep them safe throughout their lifetime.

A child’s survival gear be lightweight, age-appropriate, and if you can make it fun then that’s always a plus. Heavier items and gear should always be in the adult’s bags. Here are some items that we recommend adding to your kid’s disaster backpack.

All Ages:

  • Laminated emergency contact list with name, home address, and telephone numbers.
  • Pre-paid cell phone
  • Poncho
  • Extra socks, pair of gloves, and knit hat or bandana (depending on your climate)
  • Dust masks
  • Goggles
  • Band-aids & wipes
  • A small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Canteen or water bottle.

Young Children and Pre-teens:

Flashlights: We like the Dorcy Waterproof Light: It’s colorful, child-friendly, and it lasts for over 8 hours on 3 double AA batteries. Yes, you can find better survival flashlights, but the point here is making it less stressful on your child, so this is a good solid light that also feels like something they can play with.

Emergency Whistle: Clip one to the outside of their bag. First, it’s good for scaring off bad guys and animals, but it also will help you find them should they become separated from the family. It’s also another one of those survival items that are also fun in a child’s eyes. We like the Fox 40 Sonik Blast CMG Whistle, it comes in a bunch of colors, kids will think it looks cool, and it’s loud with a sound power of 120 dB!


For most teens, I recommend starting to add gear that you would add to your own bag. The only caveat that I would add is to make sure they are trained and know how to use the items you store in their bag. Their first time using a pocket knife shouldn’t be during a disaster!

Here are a couple of items that we really like for Teens:

Flashlights: For a teenager, we like the J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight. It’s relatively cheap, takes a single AA battery, and is a good solid light that many adults choose to keep in their bags.

Survival Knife: For a teenager, or even a younger kid who has the maturity and training to use one correctly, we LOVE Moraknives! I bought one for my son, so he could start learning how to use a knife. We recommend the Morakniv Craftline Spark w/ fire starter. They are extremely affordable, I would trust them like a knife that I carried as an EDC, it has a safety guard which I think all kid knives should have, and it’s an important piece of gear to have and know how to use as they get older.

Comfort Items to Pack

When building a bag for a child, comfort and mental stability are the primary purposes of the bag. Don’t overlook the importance of entertainment and comfort; during a disaster, the last thing you need is a kid who is overly stressed out and anxious.

  • An iPad to play games, read, watch movies, etc. I’m not usually a fan of kids spending large amounts of time staring at a screen, but during a disaster, this will be a welcome distraction. Just make sure you include a portable solar charger in your bag.
  • Stuffed animals
  • A couple of small light-weight toys
  • Pack of playing cards, Uno Cards, or travel-size games
  • Baseball or small Nerf football
  • Harmonica
  • Hard candy
  • Bubblegum
  • Sugar packets
  • Trail mix
  • Drink mix packets

Remember, a kid’s bug-out bag is not meant to be an adult Bag. Its primary purpose is to provide comfort during a stressful situation and give your child a sense of control. With younger children, comfort items are a top priority and will help ensure their overall mental health.

Make sure you customize the bag for your child’s age, personality, and overall fitness level. As they become used to the process of survival, with the understanding of their age and maturity, the items may progress and become more useful. easing into teaching them what they really should know about survival.

I Will Leave You With That Thought

I am doing this to help people understand what it would take to survive without all of the conveniences we have today. Furthermore, I would like to teach as many as I can so survival does not become a completely lost skill.

To help with that I have put together Your Survival Plan.

Check it out!


4 Replies to “Build A Bug Out Bag For Kids”

  1. I love the concept;  I think it’s wonderful to give children that kind of responsibility.  What age do you think is the earliest for a child to even comprehend?  Or, rather, how old you think do you think a child would have to be held responsible for keeping a mobile phone turned on?

    • Hi Rene, 

      I think the process can start as early as a toddler. They will not understand the concept of needing to survive because Mom and Dad take care of that for them. But the exercise is a good building block for fundamental abilities. They would have the comfort items like toys and such, maybe a drink or some sort of snack. Kids love flashlights too! As they age you would add more useful items and help them practice using them to develop skills that they will have for the rest of their lives. 

      It is really simple and fun, I know my kids were backpacking and fishing as soon as they could walk. granted I did most of the work for them but they were able to do it on their own at a very young age. 

      As far as being responsible with a phone depends on the individual maturity level of the child. I would recommend starting and practicing with a walkie talkie which is a good item to have in any survival kit or bug-out bag. For real wilderness safety, I would always attach a whistle to their bag. They can easily understand if you can’t see me blow the whistle so I can find you. (Tip – when you are hiking in the woods, hide until they realize you aren’t there and see if they blow the whistle. It may scare them a little but I would rather have the fear out of the way under my control rather than when they really need to respond)

      You have to remember, this is for kids, this is educational, and the sooner you start the sooner they know.  

      Keep it fun, keep them involved, and they will know without knowing they were taught. 

      Be Ready Before You Have To Be!


  2. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article Chad and I think it’s a great idea. We have had some pretty awful times in Australia recently with drought, fire, and floods and many families had to evacuate. It was easy to see that the stress was very high for the adults but the children were really upset too. This is a great idea to help them feel in control and comforted and I agree that a little practice with the whistle in a controlled situation would be a good idea.

    Definitely pack a teddy bear.

    • You are absolutely right Lily! 

      I am not one of those gloom and doom preppers, I just want folks to be ready before they have to be. It could be anything like what you had mentioned, a wildfire, or even a simple house fire where you would have to grab and go. 

      It will always be easier to deal with tragedy if you have a few items that you could count on. That plan should include the kids first!

      Thanks for stopping by!


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