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BUG OUT BAGS vs INCH BAG: Do You Really Need Them?

A person in a red shirt sits on a wooden picnic table next to a black backpack in an open field under a blue sky with clouds. Text above reads "Bug Out Bag vs. INCH Bag.
Do you have a Bug Out Bag or an INCH Bag. In this video and article I break the 2 down and explain why you only really need one of the two.

Question: do you have a bug out bag? And if you answered yes to that, then the next question would be, do you really need it? I may surprise you when I say probably not, but it’s not as simple as that. In this post I’ll discuss a bug out bag as well as an inch bag and the differences between the two. Let’s dive into why I said you probably don’t need it.

Obviously, I’m a prepper, so there’s more to it than just saying, let’s forego prepping. First off, let’s start with terminology.

Understanding Terminology

What is a Bug Out Bag?

A bug out bag is a simple bag you can quickly grab when you need to evacuate, usually from your house to a safer place. This bag should be equipped with a minimum of 72 hours of supplies to meet your basic survival needs. It’s pretty simple and a pretty basic thing. In the military, we always carried an overnight bag with us during training or missions. That bag was essentially a bug out bag. It had base layer clothing, MREs, snacks, a survival kit, first aid supplies – just some of the basic needs to ensure we were never without essential items.

What is an INCH Bag?

Now, let’s talk about an inch bag. INCH stands for “I’m Never Coming Home” bag. This is essentially a bug out bag +. Think of it as a bug out bag on steroids. It has all the same things that a basic bug out bag would have, but it’s plussed up with the assumption that you might not be able to come back.

This might not be a 72-hour venture; it could be longer. Whether you’re heading to a bug out location or just don’t have one, the INCH bag covers more ground.

My INCH Bag Setup

This is my INCH bag/bug out bag. I don’t believe in having both. My INCH bag has a lot of stuff in it and weighs in at 32 pounds, including water, so it’s not extremely heavy. I have all the same stuff you would have in a bug out bag, plus more.

What’s in My INCH Bag?

Here’s a generic breakdown:

Bug out essentials: Base layer clothing, MREs, survival kit, first aid supplies.

Additional items: Lock picking tools, evasion gear, basic disguise items, proactive tactical equipment.

Survival & shelter: More robust survival equipment and shelter supplies to provide a better shelter for extended durations in the wilderness.

Food: High-calorie protein bars and an MRE. Food isn’t plussed up much because you can go a long time without it.

Do You Really Need a Bug Out Bag?

Understanding all the above, I don’t really believe you do because the INCH bag serves as both a bug out bag and an INCH bag. You could have both, but do you need it?

I’ve spent a good bit of time trying to figure out why anyone would need just a bug out bag. Here are the scenarios:

Proactive Missions: Kind of like my days in the military where it’s a 72-hour bag for missions. However, as a civilian, even with a grid down situation, it’s unlikely though not impossible

Emergency Bug Out: If you need to quickly evacuate due to an emergency, cases such as a crisis weather event, or even a rapidly evolving threat.

In either of the above cases you can quickly reduce the INCH bag to what’s needed, or if need be move off to a safer location and then reduce it.

Conclussion On Bug Out and INCH Bags

In general Bugging Out is very low in my prepping scenarios. Bugging out is not the first option. There are scenarios such as a meltdown or an invasion where I would certainly leave my home base, but even then, a vehicle bug out would be the first choice negating the heavier bag issue. Additionally, I have vehicle loadout kits as part of my prepping plan. In the worst case scenario where we’re forced to ‘Quickly’ leave the house via foot I can still easily move out with the weight of the INCH Bag. At some point where I’m offset from the danger I can then determine if it makes sense to downsize and drop some of the gear off in a cache site. It is for all the reasons above that I just don’t consider the BOB necessary any longer at least for our family.

I will add one slight caveat. Our children’s bags are for the most part closer to a Bug Out Bag than an INCH Bag. This is primarily for weight. Everyone carries their own gear. At the end of the day they are just terms and it’s not really a huge deal what you want to call it. I’m writing this article so we can better delineate between the terms and (ideally) establish a common language in the prepping culture. The term Bug Out Bag is so heavily ingrained in use, even when it’s really an INCH bag, I see it a challenging term to break, but worth working towards.

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