How to Build a Get Home Bag (+Book Giveaway)

by A Manly Guest Contributor on May 10, 2012 · 2,228 comments

in Manly Skills, Survival

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Creek Stewart, Senior Instructor at the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness & Bushcraft

Just over one year ago I wrote a post about how to build a 72-hour disaster survival kit called a Bug Out Bag.  Much of my time between then and now has been spent writing a book on the same subject–a more detailed and thorough version of that post.  The title of that book is Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit (to win a copy, see the giveaway section below).

If you liked the post about how to build a Bug Out Bag, then you are going to like this post as well.  Your Get Home Bag is just as important as your Bug Out Bag.  Look at it as your Bug Out Bag’s little brother.  They are similar in concept and design, but the end goal is altogether different.

I’d like to open this post with an excerpt from my book–actually the first opening paragraph:

You can hear the sirens in the distance. Your electricity is out, and your home phone has no dial tone. When you try to use your cell phone, you get the same message over and over: “All circuits are busy.”  You know a disaster is quickly approaching. And you know that waiting this one out is not an option. In the breath-taking stillness, you can hear the clock on the wall. Tick-tock, tick-tock. The eleventh hour is here.

Now, imagine this… YOU ARE AT WORK!  As you reach under your desk to grab your Get Home Bag (GHB), thoughts of your wife and children rush through your mind.  Then, you quietly say to yourself, “This isn’t going to be my typical commute home today.”

As a whole, we spend surprisingly little time at home.  Between our time in a vehicle, at work, in school, running errands, visiting friends, attending meetings and making appointments, some of us spend more time AWAY from home than AT home.  Many of you are nodding in agreement.  These countless hours away from home must be considered when developing your disaster preparedness plan.

What Is a Get Home Bag?

The name says it all.  It is a survival kit designed to get you home in the event that a catastrophic disaster occurs while you are away.  I sometimes call this bag my 24-hour bag, and you’ll rarely find me away from home without it.  A Bug Out Bag is a much more substantial supply kit (typically 72 hours) and stays at home.  It’s not practical to tote your BOB back and forth to work every day.  Your Get Home Bag bridges that preparedness gap.  Depending on the situation, just getting home can be a survival journey in and of itself.

A GHB can take a variety of forms depending on your personal preference.

My GHB is a small backpack and that is what I recommend.  However, I have friends who use duffel bags, fanny packs, web-gear, sling packs and even spare briefcases.  Ultimately that is your decision, but I prefer the hands-free utility of a backpack.

Is a Get Home Bag Even Necessary?

There is an infinite list of events that could warrant the use of a Get Home Bag.  Many are regular occurrences.  A GHB doesn’t have to save you from TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) to be a worthy investment.  Even if never put to that grave test, a GHB can provide for you in countless other less catastrophic scenarios.  Below is a short list of events from the news headlines in the past few years that could possibly interfere with your immediate and uninterrupted commute home.  I’m certain several people reading this article can account for some of these from personal experience.

  • Severe weather
  • Power grid failure (black-outs)
  • Vehicle Break-Down
  • Terrorist Attack
  • Acts of war
  • Bridge collapse
  • Tornadoes
  • Tsunamis
  • Flooding
  • Winter storms
  • Zombie apocalypse!!!

Certainly, some disasters are more devastating than others.  Millions of people have found themselves in need of a Get Home Bag at some point in their lives.  For some, not having one has cost them their future.

I was watching a documentary the other day which interviewed survivors of the 9-11 terrorist attacks years later.  I was surprised at the severe lung problems people have developed from inhaling the dust, fumes, smoke, and pulverized building material while escaping from in and around Ground Zero.  It was an after effect I had never considered.  An N95 face mask (mentioned later) in a Get Home Bag could have eliminated these ailments.

Assembling a GHB is not a daunting task and can easily be done in one afternoon.  For the investment of time, money, and energy, I know of very few other things in life that can have such a dramatic and lasting effect on your future than a Get Home Bag–should you ever need to use it.

Your Get Home Bag Packing List

Below is my list of recommended GHB supplies.  I fully expect for you to make your own additions and subtractions from this list.  After all, it is YOUR kit.  Different lifestyles, careers, and environments are all factors that will dictate the items in your kit.  These kits are very personal.

1 Liter of Water in a Metal Container.  I suggest a metal container because it gives you the option to boil water and/or cook in if necessary.  I also carry a metal cup that fits snugly on the bottom of my metal Nalgene.

Food + Water

3-6 Energy Bars.  Don’t over pack with elaborate meals.  High calorie bars are simple and sufficient meal substitutes.  They require no heating or preparation–now that’s my kind of meal!

Rain Poncho + Tarp

Rain Poncho.  I personally use a military version with grommets in the corners which can be used as an improvised shelter if necessary.  Being wet is not only miserable, it’s deadly.  Hypothermia is the # 1 outdoor killer, and your vulnerability skyrockets when you are wet–even in temperatures as high as 50 degrees.

Lightweight Tarp.  I pack this to use as a shelter canopy.  It can also be used as a ground cover and many things in between.

Boots + Change of Clothes

Walking Shoes / Hiking Boots. Especially for people who wear dress shoes to work, this is a really important addition.  Pack a comfortable pair of tennis shoes at the very least.  A good pair of wool hiking socks isn’t a bad idea either.

A change of clothes and a pair of leather gloves allows you to change out of your suit and into something that offers more protection and maneuverability.

A Change of Weather Appropriate Clothing.  Trade out your 3-piece suit for a more practical survival outfit.  This should include a durable pair of leather gloves and a hat.

Lighters + Fire Starting Tinder

Fire Starting Tools and Prepared Fire Tinder.  Pick up a couple of bic cigarette lighters.  They are inexpensive and dependable.  Also pack some fire starting tinder.  I prefer the WetFire brand but a quick do-it-yourself substitute is cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly.  If you need to start a fire, these 2 items will get you 98% of the way there.

A quality mulit-tool is an essential.

Quality Multi-Tool.  This tool should have a solid knife blade, a saw blade, pliers, flat head and cross point drivers, and wire cutters.  When you need one of these tools, no substitute will quite do the trick.  Many will add a fixed blade knife as well. (Machete is optional.)

Pack a headlamp along with an extra battery.

Headlamp.  Pack a good quality, hands-free, water-resistant headlamp flashlight.  Toss in an extra battery while you’re at it.

First Aid Kit.  This kit should include basic first aid supplies such as bandages, gauze pads, medical tape, splint, tweezers, lip balm, moleskin, insect repellant, sunscreen, small mirror, and a variety of basic medications–Tylenol, aspirin, antacids, Dramamine, etc.  If you wear contacts, be sure to include a back-up pair of glasses as well.

Hygiene + First Aid Kit

Hygiene Kit.  This kit should include items such as a small towel, toothbrush and paste, bandana (multiple uses), toilet paper, and soap.  A pack of disinfecting wet napkins are perfect for quick “spit-baths.”  Hand sanitizer is always a winner.

Emergency Blanket

Emergency Blanket.  Emergency mylar blankets are cheap, lightweight, and compact.  Not only can they save your life in a cold weather environment, but they can also double as a quickie shelter, waterproof gear cover, and rain poncho.  I prefer the Heatsheet brand from Adventure Medical Kits.

Face Mask

N95 Face Mask.  Whether from debris, dust, or sickness, protect your lungs with a N95 face mask.  Your t-shirt is not sufficient.

Pepper Spray + Pistol

Self-Defense Items.  Disasters are a breeding ground for frustration, desperation, and confrontation.  Violent crimes skyrocket in the wake and aftermath of any large scale disaster.  Ideally, your self-defense items should keep some distance between you and an attacker.  Avoid hand-to-hand combat at all costs.  I pack some pepper spray (attached with Velcro to the shoulder strap of my pack) and a compact Kel-Tec P-32 Pistol with 4 extra clips (28 rounds) in my Get Home Bag.

Paper Map and Compass.  Having a paper map of your surrounding area can be invaluable–especially in large cities.  If you are trying to get home–so is everyone else.  Expect and plan for detours.  Ideally, you will have marked several alternative routes home from your place of work.  Do not rely on your cell phone or GPS system.  Your brain is more impressive anyway.

Map, compass, cash, pencil, and paper

Cash Money.  Cash doesn’t need to communicate with the power grid and it speaks everyone’s language.  Pack small denominations in a variety of places.  Never reveal all of your duckets at once.

Paper & Pencil.  Perfect for recording information or leaving notes.  I use the Rite-in-the-Rain brand.

Paracord and Emergency Radio

100 Feet of Paracord.  1000’s of uses, only a few ounces.  Trust me on this one–just pack it.

USB cell phone charger for radio

Emergency Radio.  Pick up a small Dynamo hand-crank emergency radio.  Make sure it receives NOAA All Hazard Weather Alerts. I picked mine up at Radio Shack for $40.  This could be your only source of disaster-related information in an emergency.  Get a model that has an integrated USB cell phone charger–very cool feature and highly recommended.

Rescue Signal Items. Small signal mirror (mentioned in First Aid) and a whistle.

The weight of my GHB is only 14 lbs.  The items could easily be packed into a smaller bag, but I like the flexibility of more space–especially in cold months when I toss in a heavy fleece, gloves, hat, and shell.


I’d like to close with another excerpt from my book which discusses the importance of preparation:

Clearly, there is more to consider than just a [Bug Out Bag]. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, terrorists, wild fires, plagues and foreign invaders will show you no mercy. None of these disasters will pause while you argue about where to go or whether or not to take Freckles the Ferret with you. Survival is not about guarantees—there is always a gamble and the disaster typically has the house advantage. The only way to increase your odds of living is to plan and prepare in advance.

HOME not only represents safety and security but many of us also have families who depend on our safe and timely return.   When getting home becomes your first priority, reach for your Get Home Bag.  What’s in your GHB?

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit Giveaway

Creek’s new book, Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-hour Disaster Survival Kit, is out now and available on This awesome 200 page book includes 350 photos and goes much more in-depth about building and using your Bug Out Bag. The book covers:

  • A complete Bug Out Bag checklist that tells you exactly what to pack based on your survival skill level
  • Photos and explanations of every item you need in your bag
  • Resource lists to help you find and purchase gear
  • Practice exercises that teach you how to use almost everything in your bag
  • Demonstrations for multi-use items that save pack space and weight
  • Specific gear recommendations for common disasters

The book also includes sections on special considerations for bugging out with children, the elderly, the physically disabled, and even pets.

Creek is giving away 3 copies of his book to three lucky Art of Manliness readers. To win a copy of Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-hour Disaster Survival Kit, just leave a comment telling us one thing you consider essential for packing in a Bug Out or Get Home bag.

Three comments will be randomly drawn as the winners. Giveaway ends May 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm CST.


The giveaway is closed. The three winners are:

Colin S. from Dallas, TX.
Michael H. from Oakland, CA
Scott S. from Islip Terrace, NY


1901 Sebas May 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm

This is awesome! I have never thought of having a bag to get you BACK home.. I will definitely be making my own!

1902 Bailey S. May 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Next I’d like to see one for a bike commute. I already pack 15 or so lbs in computer, lunch, clothes, bike lock, and such. What things are the MOST essential for someone who can only carry an extra 5lbs at most? And don’t forget that I’d need bike equipment, too.

1903 Sebas May 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

This is awesome! I have never thought of having a bag to get you BACK home..

1904 Ben Rockey May 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm

My Victorinox Fireman – lockblade with can opener & screwdriver. Light enough to be portable, but effective enough to get me out of a tight situation.

1905 Jim L May 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm

gotta have my Leatherman & mini-maglite, I literally never go anywhere without them. even if I’m wearing a suit, they are always on my at all times. my leatherman was the 1st & only tool I had for a few years when I moved out & into small apartments.

1906 Matt May 14, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Medicine if you’ve any sort of on going need.

1907 DC May 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Some great ideas here! I have used many of these for my Disaster Bag as a Law Enforcement Officer for some of the emergencies listed above. Thanks for the article.

1908 Brenna May 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

First aid with Quik Clot is a must. First off I don’t trust the structural integrity of the building I work in. Come a natural disaster we will be lucky to get out before it collapses. In that case I always want reliable first aid to patch up so I can start getting home. Plus I work in a biology lab, so I know what microbes are roaming around in my immediate vicinity. But this also means I can’t have certain things with me in the lab if I want to keep my GHB close, and I do.

1909 KingBearSuit May 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Don’t forget any personal medication you might need. In the event of a natural disaster it may take you a day or even a week to get to somewhere safe. If you’re diabetic or have asthema, be sure to have some emergency medication with you. Hope I win the book, it sounds like a great read!

1910 Aaron May 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I keep a linesman pliers in my pack, readily accessible. It can get me through fences that aren’t practical to go around or over and it has a couple of other uses.

I saw at least one comment about a coffee filter for water. I use a woman’s nylon stocking as a prefilter, it’s just as light, works well for the floaties, and lasts a lot longer.

1911 Vince May 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I carry a good length of gorilla/duct tape with my for quick repairs. Speaking of repairs, I also carry a little sewing kit with me as well.

1912 Wes May 14, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I plan to put the Adventure Medical Kits Pockets Survival Pak Plus w/some modifications in my GHB.

1913 Kaleb May 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Probably a condom as well as a survival knife just in case.

1914 Hal May 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Emergency Poncho.

As I was here with the earthquake hit DC and things went sideways, I can attest that these things DO happen and make it tough to get home.

1915 Kyle May 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Living in Texas, the most important thing you can pack besides water is a couple bandanas, sunglasses, and a hat. Any relief from the sun is essential when getting home quickly to you better equipped BOB.

1916 Kaleb May 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm

MRE (Meal Ready to Eat)

1917 Kaleb May 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm


1918 Joel D May 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I keep a small pair of binoculars, among most of the items you describe. I’ll have to add a multi-tool, great idea.

1919 Wade May 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm

One thing that is essential and was left out is water purfication tablets. Never know when you need to get water from a stream.

1920 Paul May 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’ve been carrying my GHB for almost two years now for the hour-long, 26 mile commute from home. The ruck is a Camel Bak BFM, and has lots of nooks and crannies for gear and lots of room for winter and wet weather snivel gear. I have to account for two people in a Get Home scenario, as my father works nearby and hasn’t caught on to the preparedness mindset yet.

I use an Eagle Creek Packing folder to pack my suit the night before I go to work, then I commute in jeans and a button down with hiking boots.

As I have that distance to go, I have two plastic Nalgene bottles, one wrapped with 10 feet of duct tape, and a collapsable Platapus 1 litre bottle.

1921 Brett May 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’m still working on my BOB. Amazon is a great place to sort lists and find cheap deals!! Thanks AoM!!!!

1922 Jason May 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Definitely a way to purify water and I suggest multiple methods to help increase the ability to provide yourself ways to get water!

1923 gabriel pecunia May 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Im a chef and kitchen fires are always a possibility, I keep some burn cream near by. i also always have a small waterproof pack in my car, mini towel, change of clothes with jacket, 50′ rope, duct tape, first aid kit, shoes, knife, machete (i live in puerto rico, everyone has a machete), binoculars, multitool.

1924 benjamin May 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I have a couple of load bearing carabiners they are great for many uses pully rigging, descending, connecting rope, etc… Also
duct tape and extra house/car keys

1925 Zac May 14, 2012 at 2:45 pm

If you live is a wooded area, antihistamines are a must.

1926 Duncan Mc May 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Multitool every time.

1927 Carol Young May 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm

This was very eye opening for me. I would need walking shoes or boots to get me home as I usually wear dress shoes with heels.

1928 Jeremy May 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Can’t go wrong with toilet paper and duct tape :)

1929 Luke Wood May 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Definitely a big bag of Hot Hands for my GHB. They’ll get you home in blizzard conditions without losing any fingers or toes.

1930 Jose May 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm

One thisng that is a must for me would be rubbing alcohol. The need to disenfect wounds is definately an essential. Another thing that would be esential for me is bug spray.

1931 Lucas Oman May 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Nice article. I’d love to get my hands on the book.

I’d say that anyone with a reliable, sharp knife in their pocket already has a GHB or BOB. Everything else is gravy.

1932 Art May 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm

The idea of a radio that could recharge your phone wa a great addition.

1933 Chase May 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I’m seeing lots of suggestions for water purification tablets. For a lightweight piece like a GHB, definitely a must, however I’d had experiences when that wasn’t enough (Cryptosporidium is nasty stuff). Definitely suggest a water filter if you can handle the weight.

1934 Codi May 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm

The KayBar Tac tool is a must have for me!

1935 Justin Feldman May 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I agree with Kevin. You wont get far without a good pair of boots.

1936 Rick G May 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I like to keep a small pack of dental floss in my kit. It can be used for emergency repairs, sutures, small snares, etc. Or for flossing my teeth.

1937 Damien May 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm

It would be a good thing to carry tampons or maxi pads. You’d could be a woman’s hero in a disaster situation, and the maxi pads could be used for large wounds.

1938 Daniel May 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Water…. you can go without food for a few days, but if you are rucking it home for 72 hours hydration will be your best friend, or your worst nightmare.

1939 Joe May 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm

My car always has a first aid kit, at least two emergency space blankets, and a flashlight/signal. Regular blanket in the back can be used for a number of things and there’s always a knife in my pocket

1940 jonathan Lynch May 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer is a must have for my bag. Reading it won’t make you an expert, but when you’re hungry and desperate a little help finding whats safe to eat never hurts.
I dont know why people never think to learn about edible plants.

1941 Christian May 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Water purification a must for me in the desert.

1942 Joel May 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Here is an item I’m getting for backpacking but will also stay in my pack at all times

1943 rantonrave May 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Extra pair of old glasses for those of us with contacts!

1944 slack May 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm

The number one thing that should be in a bad is a good fixed blade knife.. the myriad of uses for this far outweigh anything else. the obvious of water is there too but anywhere I am there is water with me at all times so, the knife wins

1945 Alpar May 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm

A knife, water and rain protection

1946 EGM May 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm

A Swiss Army Knife

1947 Shannon May 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Pleanty of water, at least 2 tarps, Paracord and my Parry Blade. Dont leave home without it.

1948 mattd May 14, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Small LED flashlight. Darkness is an obstacle in iteslf.

1949 Todd May 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm

A picture of who your going home to. motovation !!!

1950 John Stevenson May 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Great Idea! I just moved to a new city and many of these items would be very helpful in an emergency.

1951 Oystein May 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Great article! I would bring a bottle with a water-purification filter. Indeed it’s not quite as good as some alternatives, but much easier and longer lasting. I can’t think of any other things. That book is definitely on my wish-list!

1952 Joel May 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Water Purification, depending on how far you have to go to get home, you may need to refill your water bottle from a questionable source, have some thing with you to purify it.

1953 Paul May 14, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Great post. I keep a bag like this in my car especially when I am traveling a lot in winter. I will have to review this for the other 3 seasons.

1954 Greg May 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm

This was a real eye-opener for me. Had never really thought of having one of these, but it now tops my list of things to do. Like they say, you can never be over prepared. I found this article by way of a tech site.

1955 Ed May 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I’d add a water purification travel bottle from Berkey.

1956 Jordan May 14, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Great idea

1957 McMullet May 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Great post!
I think the one thing that is needed in anyone’s Bug Out Bag or a Get Home Bag is mental preparedness. Going through the efforts of material and knowledge acquisition means nothing if one is not mentally prepared to use those items at an unexpected time. “This isn’t going to be my typical commute home today” cannot be followed by panic, second guessing and general lack of intrepidness.
Get your bag and go. Know your path.

1958 Carl M May 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm

A lightweight Reflective vest for visibility.

1959 Matt May 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm

A sufficient blade.

1960 Dane May 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Many of these are great. I also keep the SAS Survival Guide (pocket-sized edition) in my E and R Bag. It serves as a useful resource.

1961 Zachary Line May 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I read your BOB article and was blown away by its level of detail. This is just as great! Thank you for taking the time to be informative and helpful to us all.

1962 Arthur May 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm

As long as you’re at it, throw a few tea bags in. Reason: If you’re forced to bivouac it’ll give you something to do to occupy and calm your mind. Most people foul up because they stop thinking clearly in emergency situations.

To save the weight of the tarp, opt for a backpacker’s poncho, the kind with a “tail” in the rear for covering the pack that can be snapped out of the way for use without a pack. They’re large enough to serve as a shelter in a pinch.

Be sure there’s moleskin in your first aid kit. You don’t want blisters slowing you down or stopping you.

For the headlamp, you need enough battery for ten hours of light for every 25 miles of travel. You might actually need only four hours you cannot afford to run out of light when it’s needed. One misstep in the dark can end your journey.

1963 Quigath May 14, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I updated my GHB list with some of your advice, thanks.

1964 Daniel May 14, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Paracord and a knife.

1965 misterclear May 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Spare prescription glasses.

1966 Q. May 14, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Living in alaska I’d make sure I had some bug dope and a fire starter. It’s either going to be cold and ugly or full of mosquitos and it’s a 30 mile trek to my house.

1967 Ted May 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm

I have had a bag like this in the trunk of my car for several years. I am always reading and looking for advice. I look like you covered almost everything. I would add the water purification and a handheld light as well.. if you havent covered it, all the posters have

1968 Matt May 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Glad to see these types of articles on this wonderful site. Keep up the good work!

1969 ddc May 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I would just add practice carrying any bag and keep an updated list of contents somewhere in it.

1970 Threepwood May 14, 2012 at 8:41 pm

My must have items would be my Leatherman multi-tool, a good head lamp and fire starter flint.

1971 J. Daniel Robertson May 14, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Great post. I would include a small piece of paper with examples of basic knots as well as have an app for that on my phone.

1972 Ky Fehlbaum May 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I learned so much on this topic at SERE-C, and I pack a small Bible. When you’re in dire straights, sometimes what you need can’t be provided by good gear.

1973 Matt B May 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I actually have a GHB, which is really just an old adidas sling bag with some essentials. I don’t have to worry about clothes, since I’m a process server, and if I wore suit it would really limit my chances of getting someone to answer the door. It would also hinder me if I had to defend myself, which happens quite a bit. Anyway, my GHB is kind of the same but different. Mine contains 50 feet of lime green paracord(for visibility), a zippo firestarter, a first aid kit, extra socks, 2 powerbars, 2 slim jims, and a bag of beef jerky(protein is very important), a swiss army issue canteen with cup, hand sanitizer, latex gloves, face mask, bandanna or doo-rag, a sog fusion tomahawk(extremely handy to have; has more capacity than a knife and is actually quite portable), a life+gear flashlight, caplight, mechanix gloves, and a S&W .38 Special. As for a multi-tool, I carry one on me everyday, including an Opinel No.8, a pad of paper, pen, and hankerchief. I also carry lip-balm, medication, and breath freshener. If I had to pick one essential for my GHB, it’d be the paracord. There are several uses for it, and it can get you out of a jam.

1974 Blake May 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I noticed that I needed an extra survival-bag to have in my commute, but this allows me to define it. I’m blind without contacts, so I’d definitely need an extra pair of glasses.

1975 Robert May 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I would include a small folding knife, while the multitool would be able to do the same job, a small knife just handles better. Fortunately I live just 8 miles away from work, so walking it is a possibility in all but the worst situations.

1976 Doug May 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm

For my BOB I would have a condor machete along with a SOG pup fixed blade. And like the author mentioned, paracord!!! Millions of uses and no weight

1977 Aytek Demir May 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm

My Eton Skorpion radio. it is an emergency radio with a solar panel and a hand crank charge system. it has an am/fm/noaa radio. A flashlight, a phone charger, a bottle opener and even an auxilary jack for an mp3 player.

1978 jahzeel perales May 14, 2012 at 10:00 pm

This is a good read i need this book

1979 Justin May 14, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I would keep a good fixed-blade knife on me, alongside a picture of what I’m trying to get back to. A little motivation can save lives when the going gets rough.

1980 KP May 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Think simple, a flask of Alcohol. This is a quite versatile item, and versatility is essential for light packs. You might use it to disinfect fresh wounds and your hands, if you need to give stiches. Moreover, a small portion could get that stubborn fire started. In a high stress disaster situation, it can calm the nerves of your frantic companion or yourself, and even help you make a new friend (if you have to repopulate the world and all).

1981 Eric May 14, 2012 at 10:34 pm

A million uses for a good knife.

1982 Joe G. May 14, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Sonoran Desert here. So water is a must.

1983 Jerrick May 14, 2012 at 11:20 pm

A good blade is essential. A leatherman wave would be a nice touch.

1984 Mccord May 14, 2012 at 11:23 pm

A good knife

1985 Mike May 14, 2012 at 11:31 pm

I definitely wouldn’t go without my Gerber multitool. I have it with me every day.

1986 Shai Unfiltered May 14, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Sweater, scarf, thermal underwear as part of my extra clothing

1987 Scott May 14, 2012 at 11:49 pm


1988 bobby May 14, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Im kind of a travelling salesman/security guard so I keep most of the stuff in my car anyway.

I would strongly Recommend adding to the kit

-PROTECTIVE GLASSES (dusty Storm, heavy rain, Sun etc.) if young lungs need protection, your eyes will also.

-MORE WATER. One Liter a drop in the Bucket. Even in only 24 hours.
2 better 3 are minimum. forget about the weight. A day without food is not a big deal, but a day on the move without enough water will piss you off.

useless for Camo if Ohio gets invaded by north-korea , but in most SHTF scenarios you want to be seen.
Still more people getting run over by a truck in the dark cold rainy night then be eaten by zombies. ;)
At least people wont get the impression youre a vagrant or a runaway Maniac/Criminal trying to hide .

-maybe to big for a small bag, but if youre in a urban area (Earthquake Risk?) or have to go cross country in the woods a PROTECTIVE HELMET in youre gear might help keeping your brain inside your skull.

1989 Will Berlin May 15, 2012 at 12:08 am

A note from my wife would be the ultimate luxury.

1990 Shawn May 15, 2012 at 12:44 am

Without doubt a breaching tool, such as the Annihilator from deadon. Break through doors, dry wall, 2×4′s that are obstructing passages, breaking windows out of vehicles. Small, compact, broad range of uses, and looks evil. If all else fails you can always use it as a last ditch weapon.

1991 Angela May 15, 2012 at 12:46 am

Thanks, great post. I would add about 4-6 plastic grocery bags to the list to keep my feet dry.

1992 Alex Capps May 15, 2012 at 12:46 am

In my kit I keep a few extra items like 2-3 extra flashlights and extra medical items. Trade is a powerful tool in case you hit a snag and many times these items are worth their weight in gold.

1993 rick May 15, 2012 at 12:51 am

I think a revolver might be a better self defence tool, with a shaved hammer. It’s easier to maintain, less likely to jam, and you can get two different types of ammo such as a 38/357 dual revolver.

1994 Michael May 15, 2012 at 12:53 am

I pack a flask of good whiskey in my Bug Out Bag. Disinfects and if I’ve got a bullet in me, I don’t want to be sober when they pull it out

1995 Adam May 15, 2012 at 1:54 am

No matter where I go or what I’m doing, even if I’m traveling with no bags at all, I always have a lighter, leatherman, lockpicks, and a razor blade.

1996 Dave May 15, 2012 at 1:56 am

I carry a goretex bivy for shelter. In the winter I also carry a sleeping bag. The bivy will keep you dry and up north here that is essential.

1997 Clinton G. May 15, 2012 at 2:10 am

One thing you should have is some form of entertainment for use during down time (examples: very light reading; harmonica; drawing tools)Protecting one’s sanity with a link to life before disaster is essential for survival.

1998 Daniel May 15, 2012 at 2:12 am

all weather firestarter and a water purifier

1999 allend May 15, 2012 at 2:12 am

a good bag to carry it all in

2000 Nathan May 15, 2012 at 2:26 am

Good article and a definite must for anyone who travels (I understand the use of a BOB but I have so much stuff that I think is “essential” that it is rather a pain to bring with me so I rather like the though of a GHB (and will make one tonight before I go to bed). Things I almost always have on me (and in my “emergency kits” to family and friends) is a good multi-tool, first aid kit of some sort (not a store bought band-aid pack, something legit), and an emergency blanket. On top of that I love bandanas and usually have one around my neck or head anyhoo. God-Loves-You-All-And-So-Do-I –Nate–

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter