The Bug Out Roll: Should it Replace Your Bug Out Bag?

A Packed Bugout Bag

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that time is the most precious commodity in an emergency situation. A bug-out roll can mean the difference between getting out of a nasty situation and getting caught in one. As I’ve learned through the years, emergencies wait for no one. Preparation is key. Part of being prepared is being organized; a bug out roll is nothing if it isn’t organized.

A bug out roll is a bug out bag that uses modular compartments to organize your survival gear neatly. It is made with durable materials that can theoretically withstand punctures from sharp objects, is flame resistant, and won’t crack in sub-zero temperatures.

The bug out roll was developed and is sold by a company called Canadian Preparedness. The company touts that it has been developed by a prepper with longevity and durability in mind. You can see their full selection here.

The differences between a bug out bag and a bug out roll

I am new to the concept of bugging out even though I’m not new to preparing for emergencies.

On a high level, I’ve learned that a bug out bag is similar to the emergency bag I leave near my front door. I keep one loaded with insurance documents, clothes, and other essential items in the event our home is suddenly unsafe.

A closer look shows that a bug out bag is packed with enough gear to survive for 72 hours or while evacuating your home to a safer place. The term “bug out” is borrowed from military jargon, where it essentially means to leave an area immediately without looking back.

A bug out roll is similar to the travel organizer found in your suitcase, but much higher quality and with more thought put into it. From what I can tell, it won’t necessarily replace your bug-out bag, but it will definitely pack well alongside one.

The bug out roll’s creator says that it’s designed for use primarily at your basecamp since most of your time will be spent there.

Materials and variations

The bug out roll comes in three main styles—the Original Bug out Roll, the Lite, and the PackRoll.

The original and lite versions use durable fabrics made by Cordura. These fabrics are extremely tough and can handle a lot of wear and tear. Lighter weight Cordura with a rubberized layer is used in some variations for extra water resistance.

The PackRoll is made from a different material called TearMaster, but I can’t find any manufacturer information. The description given by Canadian Preparedness is that it’s a PVC material used in dry bags that contains a RipStop layer to stop any punctures from ripping.

All versions of the bug out roll include the use of thick, clear vinyl for the pockets. It’s not cheap vinyl that ages quickly, but the 30 gauge heavy-duty stuff they use as boat windows. This type of vinyl is rated for temperature extremes and is far more puncture resistant than most other types of vinyl or clear plastic.

Other components include heavy-duty zippers, rubberized handles, and high-quality, quick-release buckles and straps.

The Original and Lite bug out rolls have panels that will give you more storage. These panels attach with a thick piece of Velcro. I think this would come in handy when you want to unload some of your stuff at your basecamp or leave it in specific areas like the food prep area.

Original style:

  • has extra material that wraps around the sides and buckles to the front
  • durable fabrics made by Cordura
  • has one full-width pocket, four half-width pockets, and three third-width pockets
  • Comes with two removable mod panels, one with three vinyl pockets and one with two Cordura pockets
  • extra mods, or panels, available

Lite style:

  • does not have a roll flap, which leaves the ends exposed but makes for a lighter bag
  • durable fabrics made by Cordura
  • has two full-width pockets, four half-width pockets, and three third-width pockets
  • Comes with one removable mod panel with one full-width pocket and two half-width pockets
  • all pockets are vinyl
  • extra mods available
  • available in several colors

Packroll style:

  • has extra material that wraps around the sides and buckles to the front
  • No additional panels, not modular, and extra mods won’t work with them
  • tear-resistant fabrics and are more water resistant

What can I put in my bug out roll?

I noticed that some of the pockets are smaller than I expected, but these pockets expand. After seeing many YouTube preppers loading up their rolls with tiny camping stoves, water filters, bottles, and more, I’m satisfied that the pocket sizes are acceptable. Everything you need to carry out, from camping stoves to water filters, will fit into a bug out roll. Some pockets are big enough to hold a regular-sized hatchet with room for more items. Concerning yourself with the total weight of your loaded bag is more important than what can go in it.

Best uses

Get Home Bag: In the comments of one video, someone suggested that this could be used as a “get home” bag for college students, but after some thought, I realized anyone could have one in their vehicle or at the office. Prepack with enough supplies to get you home on foot in the event of a civil breakdown.

Vehicle or Motorbike Bug Out Bag: This one actually makes the most sense to me, as the weight of the bug out roll when packed is less of a concern.

Medical/Trauma/First Aid Kit: Using the bug out roll as a medical kit might be overkill for most, but it can be the ideal solution for many. People who would benefit from the roll this way could be large families or groups, first responders, those who live in high-risk disaster zones, or those who want a well-stocked home first aid kit.

Camping: The bug out roll is best used as the hub at your basecamp. Unroll and hang it up, and now you can see your flint striker that might otherwise be lost in the bottom of a regular bug out bag, had you chosen it.

Whether we’re camping or practicing our survival skills, a bug out roll is best used at basecamp. This is where most of your stuff needs to be accessed. Cooking, hygiene, building fires and shelters, and entertaining are more readily completed with items that can be packed in.

Foraging/Hunting/Fishing Trips: Especially in combination with vehicle camping. Pack basecamp-only stuff in the removable bottom panels to leave behind to take the rest of the roll with ammo, bait, emergency supplies, and other tools. Don’t forget the snacks.

Bugging Out on Foot: This is not ideal for bugging out on foot, but packed lightly, it could easily be used as such. The roll itself is not designed for lightweight backpacking. I imagine the decision to create a hardy and durable product was necessary. It could easily be used in tandem with a regular bag.


Bug Out Rolls are expensive. Keep in mind that these are incredibly high-quality bags that are built to last. Keeping the production in Canada is also more costly, but I like that they are trying to create jobs and help the local economy.

Bug out rolls do not have shoulder straps. Finding a comfortable way to strap them to you or strapping them to another bag would be necessary if any real amount of hiking needs to be done.

Concerned about your noise footprint? The big strips of Velcro used to fasten the modular sections create a lot of noise when removed. This isn’t a problem unless you’re hunting or trying to avoid detection and, for some reason, need to pull a panel off.

They are not waterproof, but some are water-resistant. Some of the Original and Lite versions use a PVC-backed Cordura to make it repel water. The PackRoll versions use waterproof material, but the seams are not waterproof.

Similar products

If you want a DIY version, you could use a roll-up makeup bag or travel organizer like this one. They cost a lot less, but they’re also made of inferior materials. Using a tool roll as a bug out roll is an option, but there is a risk of losing items out of open pockets.

I also found this Emergency Medic Roll, which appears to be a little closer in function but smaller.

Featured/Top Image of the Bug Out Roll credited to u/deleted @