Because you never know where you’ll be or how far from home you will be when a disaster strikes, I have ten extra shopping bags in my bug out bag. If I am able to hit a grocery store but then have to walk home, I would rather have sturdy re-usable shopping bags rather than trying to get home carrying plastic bags that are prone to ripping, especially since I would try and get as many canned goods as possible.
I have multiple kinds – some are stronger but are heavier and take more room in my Bug Out Bag, so I added 4 lighter (but larger in capacity) mesh bags with sturdy handles. Yes, people can see what is in them, but the benefits of possibly having 4 extra bags outweighs that, and I could always line them with a store’s plastic or paper bag, if that is an option.
Heavy Duty Bags
Two are the large heavy polypropylene bags in dark green (it wasn’t as easy to find a neutral color in these, kept coming across bright orange, pink and blue bags). These have a reinforced bottom and are extra tall. They fold closed with a snap (it was important that they have some sort of way to store them easily in my BOB without them being scrunched in a lump in the BOB and getting in the way if I need to find something quickly. If I find another version of these that fold slightly smaller, I will get those too, but the space these take up is significant.
Four are nylon type bags. They are larger (21×15) and also have a small bag with a snap to store them in. They are just the typical nylon reusable shopping bags you see at checkouts that are in a small pouch/bag to toss in a purse. Finding neutral colors in these was a huge pain! In the end, I got bags that have a neutral beige/green/brown design. They also have a snap clip on the bag if I want to hang it off something.
Four are the large mesh bags with reinforced handles. Because these didn’t have its own carry pouch, I have kept them in the original plastic packaging. As I said before, I realize the fact they are mesh is a bit of a problem, but the benefits of having extra bags outweighs the negatives for me.
I also generally have a stash of reusable shopping bags (like the ones you buy at grocery stores) in my car at all times, so i would also have those to fall back on, and could shove more into my BOB at the time. But I didn’t want to get into a habit of taking stuff in and out of my BOB, so the ones I use daily for shopping stay in the car, but not in the BOB.
Another bonus of the bags is that in a EotW situation, I can fill the bags right in the grocery store, then I don’t have to worry about people snatching items out of my cart as I am loading up.