> TEOTWAWKI Blog: The Good Idea Fairy: Super-Sized Bug Out Bag Hygiene Kits



The Good Idea Fairy: Super-Sized Bug Out Bag Hygiene Kits

Here's a visit from the Good Idea Fairy, the pudgy gal who enjoys waving her wand and encouraging you to waste money and load your kits down with crap you don't need. If you missed the original post on her exploits, check it out here.

I'm going to try to turn this into a quasi-recurring series where we discuss ideas that sound good but really aren't.

First up are bursting-from-the-seams hygiene kits many carry in their bug out bags. The Good Idea Fairy comes along, waves her wand and the "hygiene is important" idea takes over and, before you know it, you've added a bunch of silly crap to your kit.

Now I'm all for having some very basic stuff - I carry a travel size pack of wipes in my kits and not much else. They're multipurpose and don't weigh much.

You could make an argument for hand sanitizer or soap, and maybe a toothbrush and a travel size of toothpaste as a comfort item. A small container of bug spray or sun screen, potentially, based on your environment. Maybe a tube of lip balm.

But beyond that, you move into the "I'm packing for a vacation" mode versus the "I am running for my life" mode that a bug out bag should be built for.

Here's some examples of crazy hygiene crap I've seen people throw into their packs or recommend others carry:
  • FULL-size tube of toothpaste, in the box!!!
  • FULL-size deodorant
  • Multiple disposable razors and a can of shaving cream
  • FULL-size package of wipes
  • JUMBO-size bottle of foot powder (I don't have anything against foot powder if you need it, but you probably don't need 16 ounces of foot powder)
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Moisturizer
  • FULL-size bottle of waterless wash/soap
  • FULL-size bottles of bug spray
  • Mouthwash!!!
  • Makeup!!!!!!!!!
All of this kind of stuff will add loads of weight to you pack and will do nothing to impact your survivability.

If you want to have this kind of stuff on hand, pack it SEPARATELY from your bug out bag, in a duffel bag or whatever. Ideally, you'll have your vehicle to transport you to safety, and weight is not much of a concern - an extra duffel bag of toiletries and comfort items in your trunk probably won't hurt.

That way, if you've got to ditch your vehicle, grab and run, you won't be weighed down by 10 pounds of mouthwash, toothpaste and moisturizer in your bag.

And--come on--buy the travel/trial sizes and ditch boxes and packaging whenever you can! If you want some toiletry odds-n-ends for comfort, figure out the lightest way possible to carry them.

Anyone guilty of this? We won't judge, much. Any other silly hygiene stuff you've seen?


  1. Part of it I think depends on the concept of use for said 'bug out bag'. A guy who is planning on being able to move dismounted for a week is obviously carrying more stuff than one whose kit is much lighter, closer to what I would call a 'get home bag'. Once we narrow down to similar concept of use there are still significant differences.

    To play devils advocate:

    I could argue for foot powder not so much as a hygiene item but as a functional item to keep your feet in decent shape during a nasty walk. A spare set of dry socks and foot powder along with moleskin can go a long way towards keeping a person moving.

    Some of it I think falls into the realm of choices. Lets say a small percentage of the load of any given kit is allocated to comfort items or wants (vs needs). The stuff that keeps us feeling normal or reasonably content during a stressful time. Maybe it is an extra bag of candy, a paperback book, a couple packs of smokes, a pint of booze, whatever. For some women not having a bit of make up is the end of the world. So if Sally Mae's hypothetical 1 pound of comfort stuff is make up I have a hard time faulting her thinking. Her unnecessary comfort item isn't any more useless than another person's. The problem comes in when people choose everything. The person who has enough hygiene stuff to live normally for 2 weeks, 3 books, 10 changes of underwear, a saw, a tactical type folding knife, a leatherman, a tomahawk, etc. Pretty soon he has a huge bag that he probably can't carry full of stuff that he does not need. Well that is my .02 cents on that.

    Oh yeah, To actually answer the question. I keep it pretty simple. Baby wipes, a washcloth and a toothbrush. There is foot powder in there (along with mole skin) to keep my feet serviceable if needed.

  2. Ryan -

    I am with you on the foot powder if you need it, but a king-size bottle is probably not needed in a pack. I've added a note to clarify that.

    If folks have gotten to the point where they have allocated a limited reasonable amount of weight in their pack for comfort items and can reasonably assess comforts versus needs, then I'm doubtful they'll be guilty of over-packing on toiletry items anyways.

    1. And the dude who plans to "move dismounted for a week" has even more reason to be brutal in his packing choices versus someone packing for a shorter length of time.

      Look at long distance hikers - they trim weight everywhere.

      A week without mouthwash isn't going to kill anyone :)

    2. I have the normal sized foot powder, think it's about the size of a bar of soap. If there are smaller ones readily available I have not seen them in stores.

      Where I was going with a longer concept of use it was more about time. For 5-7 days I would want a washcloth, bar of soap, toothbrush and maybe some floss. For an overnight a couple baby wipes would be sufficient.

      In thinking about this our hypothetical hygiene kit went from tiny to small. I'll pull mine out and take a look at it then get back to you.

    3. Ya, the one I'm talking about was BIG, much bigger than the regular.

      This first video has some examples of what I'm talking about, and is no way unique:


    4. Wow was my reaction too.

      There's been a bit of this crazy amounts of hygiene stuff going around lately.

      Another example: I think on one of James Yaeger's cache videos, one of the comments said he needed to add toothpaste, brush, floss and mouthwash. Yes, every survivalist needs oral hygiene gear cached alongside their FAL and ammo.

      Another - check this out:


  3. A lot will depend on the disaster at hand, circumstances, and the amount of packing time.

    If the 'zombies' are shambling down the street, GTFOOD with what you can grab. If a localized financial meltdown makes your job go away, like the 'dotcom crash' in 2000, and you end up living in a van, soap, deodorant, a hairbrush, a tweed sportcoat, dress shirt, non-tactical pants and a necktie (or female equivalents) could (and did) come in very handy. Layers or preparation. You can't carry it all in one pack.

    Don't get tunnel-vision and only prepare for an 'apocalyptic' disaster. TS Hits TF just as bad, for you and your family, if your employer goes bankrupt, as if "dead Uncle Ernie" comes knocking on the front door. You don't want to end up a TV "Doomsday Prepper" with 8000 doses of H1N2 meds, but only 4 packages of ramen noodles to eat.

    1. Ya, but the dude living in a van is not constrained to a bug out bag. He's got a whole van.

      A bug out bag is a purpose-built kit, and a jumbo size, vacation in the Caribbean style toiletry bag does not have a place in one.

    2. Here's a question that spurned from the van comment. How would you go about packing a full sized pickup as almost a massive bug out bag? Say you wanted to pack a truck so it was still usable everyday, but have enough in it to serve as a bug out bag if you didn't have access to your normal bug out bag.

    3. Basically, I would pack a jumbo BOB. A case of water, some MREs, some large heavy duty tarps, cordage, and tools such as a Knife, axe, machete, the basics.

  4. For me it's the following:

    Toilet paper
    Toothbrush and paste

  5. I keep a "going on vacation" sized toiletry kit in my car and most of the stuff in there gets used up and replaced over about a 6 month period. It's nice to have that toothbrush, floss, mouthwash, and so on around.

    For a bug out-get home bag I'd go with some dental floss, a toothbrush, and a little bitty thing of toothpaste, but that's really I'll I'd take.

  6. AnonymousJune 18, 2013

    You guys have a lot more sense then I do. My car kit hygiene items are a dust mask (NPR type) with bandanna, alcohol cleanser and thats it. The foot care items probably need addressing - the last several years, the longest hike I've done is maybe 4 miles - long distance, it is to laugh. If I HAD to, I'd probably need some extra preps like you suggest above - THANKS for the ideas.

  7. AnonymousJune 24, 2013

    I agree that priorities need to be kept straight. That said, I think it depends on what you plan on using your bug out bag for. I live in the country,so there are less situations that I hope I don't have to bug out for than say, for someone in a major urban area. I did put in food,water,shelter,defense first, and had a little room left for a few basic trial size toiletries. Of course everybody's bag will be different, as they should be.

  8. AnonymousJune 29, 2013

    My "Emergency Toiletries Kit" has one of those disposable Wisp toothbrushes, Listerine breath strips, half a dozen Q-Tips, Band-Aids, nail clippers, tweezers, 2 wrapped toothpicks, two packaged wet wipes, enough TP for one good trip to the bathroom - folded in a small plastic envelope, a folded plastic grocery bag, and a tiny sewing kit (a couple of threaded sewing needles - a small one and a larger one threaded with dental floss, two spare shirt buttons, and two safety pins - in another breath strips case.) It all fits in a 1x2x4" zippered leather phone case that I got at the thrift store for a buck.