Building a Bug Out Bag is a great survival strategy for a variety of emergency situations. A BOB could support you if you were forced from your home by a disaster and had no guarantee of shelter, food, or water during the crisis. Or the bag could give you the support you need to get back, if you’re caught away from home in an emergency. But what if money is tight and you’re not sure what to buy to build this survival safeguard? Don’t say “I can’t afford it” or “I’ll do it later.” You can afford it, and the time to build it is now. See how I built a versatile Bug Out Bag for under $100.

The Bag: An inconspicuous backpack is a great foundation for your budget BOB. Catch a “back-to-school” sale and pick up a bag that looks durable and contains many pockets. With hunting season drawing near, you might even find an affordable bag that is designed to blend into the landscape. The bag I chose for this project is a hunting backpack I paid $30 for at a big chain store.

Shelter: This is a little tricky to cover on a budget. If money were no object, then an ultralight backpacking tent, sleeping bag, and pad would be great choices. But thrifty shoppers will have to make do with some very basic shelter elements. Space blankets are commonly available and reasonably effective, though the cheap ones are often small and flimsy. The same store where I got the backpack also sold space blankets. I bought two for $3 apiece. My shelter gear is rounded out with a $5 plastic poncho that will provide passable protection from rain, wind, and cooler temperatures.

Water: Almost as important as shelter, water is a key factor in the game of survival. I bought two one-liter bottles of water at $2 each for factory-sealed hydration that should last for a year; the bottles will serve as re-fillable containers when they are empty. A $6 bottle of iodine purification tablets completes my bug-out water needs.

Food: A few boxes or granola bars or some other ready-to-eat/no-cook food is perfect for a budget BOB. Each box of granola bars is about 600 calories and costs $3. Trail mix is another winner, offering more calories but a shorter shelf life. A 24-ounce bag has approximately 3,200 calories and runs about $6 each. Two bags of trail mix and three boxes of granola bars will provide more than 8,000 calories (a 4-day food supply) for $21.

Tools And Defense: An inexpensive fixed-blade knife can be both a survival tool and a means of self-defense. For about $20 you should be able to buy a knife that will perform a variety of tasks for several years under normal use. Other handy tools are a butane lighter ($1), and a multi-function survival tool like the UST 5-IN-1 Survival Tool ($2), which features a compass, whistle, signal mirror, fire starter flint, and match safe.

The Total: So far, our gear plus sales tax should put us right under $100. To complete the kit, we can grab a few things from home that we already have, and call our budget kit complete. Consider adding a few days’ worth of prescription medications you may need; a change of clothing appropriate to the season; some first-aid supplies, and sanitation and hygiene supplies. Pack everything in zip-top bags to prevent water damage.

Keep this BOB by the front door, or build multiple ones to keep at home, at work, and in your car. And let’s hope that none of us ever needs to use it.

What’s in your budget BOB? Tell us in the comments how you built your kit.