Bug-out Buckets, Part 2

In Part One of this post, I covered the rationale behind my idea for bug-out buckets. Briefly, these are buckets for personal supplies that might be needed in a forced, rapid evacuation of the house. The canonical scenario is a house fire – middle of the night, out into the cold with the shirt on your back and nothing else. Each family member gets a bucket stocked with warm clothes, shoes, and lighting, and the buckets will be stored in our designated rally point – a shed not too far from the house, but far enough away to be safe.

Same stuff, not much difference.
Same stuff, not much difference.

I finally got to assemble the buckets today. My original idea was to vacuum seal all the clothes in Food Saver bags, and I gave that a try, but there wasn’t enough space savings to justify the outrageous expense of the Food Saver bags need to ensconce all the clothes. Plus, flat-packing everything didn’t really work well with the bucket form factor – although it would have been OK for the footlocker I originally thought I’d use.

But with buckets, rolling the clothes seemed to be a better approach. It also helps with storing the bulkiest item – the shoes. My son and I both take size 13 shoes, and he’s likely to need 14 or larger before he’s out the door. That’s a big pair of shoes, and precluded deploying boots for everyone – I’d have preferred that, but cheap Walmart sneakers are better than nothing.

Click for larger view.
Click for larger view.

In addition to the shoes, we stashed:

  • A hooded sweatshirt and sweat pants – yes, cotton; I know it’s not optimal, but while watching your house burn it’ll be the least of your worries;
  • A T-shirt (cotton again);
  • Warm wool socks (ah, there’s the wool);
  • Wool emergency blanket (such wool);
  • A towel (because “any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”);
  • A large, heavy-duty plastic bag (ground cover, poncho, salvage bag, etc.);
  • A chemical light stick;
  • And a headlight with batteries.

We considered adding other items, like some sort of quick energy bars, or bottles of water. I didn’t like the pest-attracting potential of adding food, and there’s already water available in the pump house that will be the rally point where these buckets will be stored. Plus, the buckets are all pretty tightly packed at this point.

Another feature is the buckets themselves. As previously mentioned, a bucket is a massively useful thing, if for nothing else than as a seat. I opted to spring for Gamma-Seal lids rather than the usual hammer-on O-ring lids, figuring the screw-top lid is easier to deal with under stress. Unless you’re a bear. And each bucket has a large, reflective letter on it, to identify which family member it belongs to.

Here’s a short video tour inside the buckets:

I’m pleased with how these turned out, and once they’re deployed, I hope to never see them again, except to freshen clothes as the kids grow, and to rotate the light sticks when the expire. Deployment will be a problem, though – there’s still two feet of solid ice in front of the pump house door.


  1. APB

    Paranoia runs in the family…

    My dad had a brilliant idea for the family bucket. He said he always keeps his car keys on his nightstand in case they need to evac. That way, the car can act as their shelter – warm, dry, lighted, and contained. Plus, if the cars can be pulled out of the garage safely, you might at least save them from destruction.

    Genius! Wish I’d thought of it.


    1. I was thinking the same thing the other night while going through an evacuation scenario for the family. The vehicles are ideal especially in these fridged temps plus we have something in the way of provisions in them already. However we need to do more in this area. Question: what area stores do you recommend for prep supplies? I’m thinking Military surplus and the like or do online retailers have better pricing? Maybe you’ve already posted on this?


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