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


2001 Gary May 15, 2012 at 2:42 am

Awesome, i will definitely make one of these

2002 Jono May 15, 2012 at 2:49 am

If looking to save weight and space, you can substitute the tarp with a plastic tablecloth (you can get such in supermarkets with the party stuff). Durable enough to last 24h, and will only cost a dollar or two.

2003 Jono May 15, 2012 at 2:50 am

If looking to save weight and space, you can substitute the tarp with a disposable plastic tablecloth. Durable enough to last 24h, and will only cost a dollar or two.

2004 John Nause May 15, 2012 at 6:27 am

These are all great ideas. A flask with an adult beverage could be used for many purposes – cleaning/sanitizing, etc. Additionally, having some extra cash, or something to barter would be helpful.

2005 Turbojoey May 15, 2012 at 6:57 am

A picture of your loved ones. Wife, kids, dog…whatever gives you the intestinal fortitude to overcome the hardship you are facing at the moment.

2006 Matthew May 15, 2012 at 7:22 am

I always carry a bandanna or handkerchief with me. So many uses and so little weight.

2007 Heather May 15, 2012 at 7:33 am

Pictures of loved ones for motivation!

2008 Joe Brodie May 15, 2012 at 7:37 am

I don’t think I’d add anything. The list looks great already. I would like that book though!

2009 Jeremy May 15, 2012 at 8:54 am

I think the most important thing to have on a GHB is some form of reminder of the last time I was in there. Some of the items may have expiration dates or as mentioned in the article at certain times of year different gear is not required (won’t need that parka in July but having double the fresh water might be nice)…

2010 Chris May 15, 2012 at 9:18 am

I have a small (I think 8″) set of bolt cutters. Not much extra weight and will easily cut through chain link fence, unlike even the best multi tool. If you are in an urban setting a lot of time and effort can be saved if you don’t have to go around a fence, especially if you are too old or out of shape to go over it.

2011 Aaron May 15, 2012 at 9:19 am

I would say that, if possible, it would be wise to have a waterproof tear resistant map rather than the paper map.

2012 Jonathan Yochimowitz May 15, 2012 at 9:40 am

I’m a fan of having a water disinfectant such as the prefab’d tabs or a small amount of bleach in case you have to drink from a natural water source.

2013 David May 15, 2012 at 9:48 am

I think the most essential thing to pack is the multitool. It’s always important to have the right tool for the job and God knows what you’ll run into when shit goes south.

2014 Bob May 15, 2012 at 9:58 am

Awesome list, I’m definitely going to tweak my bag. One thing I never leave home without is my multi-tool. It does so much and doesn’t attract attention to itself. Please enter me to win the book. Thanks for the great info!

2015 Claude May 15, 2012 at 10:11 am

I was lucky to grow up in the 80′s, i guess. We always felt very safe and if anyone talked about stuff like this, we would’ve thought they were crazy. I’ve come to learn we were probably just very naive. Anyway, this is a great article and looks like a very useful book.

2016 Alex Cline May 15, 2012 at 10:28 am

I really want to make one of these bags now! I would include a small length (6′) of webbing for securing things and making handles for larger objects.

2017 Butcher May 15, 2012 at 10:29 am

I don’t know if anyone mentioned it but eye protection is a good inclusion. I like the protective eyewear – wrap around sunglasses I bought for $5 at home depot. Super light, cheap enough to have multiple pairs around, and dual purpose.

Remember you don’t have to carry a full roll of duck tape. Ditch the roll and carefully wrap some around a 6″x2″ piece of cardboard. I actually prefer gaffer tape instead of regular duck tape.

While many may dismiss this idea, a light colored compact umbrella may be a good idea, not only for rain, but shade from the sun and helpful as a signalling device. Throw a few sunblock wipes in the bag as well.

And adjust your bag for your environment, many of us wouldn’t be passing through the wilderness to get home.

2018 Brett May 15, 2012 at 10:40 am

I’m not sure about carrying water around for a long length of time. Would it save space and time to pack the Nalgene and a water purification device to fill on the go?

2019 Nancy May 15, 2012 at 10:55 am

Gum, to keep your mouth moist and ward off thirst.

2020 Rick Weber May 15, 2012 at 10:58 am

Here’s an essential and one that may or may not be a bad idea (both probably more applicable to a BOB than a GHB):

Good idea: Water treatment tablets

Questionable: A flask of bourbon. Yeah it’s dehydrating and probably not of any use for first aid (but then again, maybe it’s Wild Turkey 101), but if you get trapped somewhere it could a) stay your nerves with a reminder of civilization, b) make you very good friends at low cost.

2021 Tommy May 15, 2012 at 10:58 am

In considering a first aid kit, the items to handle annoying minor injuries are important (e.g. bandaids, moleskin, ibuprofen, tweezers, etc.) as you stated. I also recommend 1 Israeli combat dressing (can be applied with one hand), a packet of Quik-Clot (will stop major bleeding), and a commerically prepared tourniquet. In a disaster situation you could die from blood loss before help finds you. All things being equal the right materials and know-how to apply a field expedient dressing could be a life-saver.
Also, toss a roll of 100 mile-an-hour tape into the sack. 1000s of uses, and should be an essential!

2022 Drew May 15, 2012 at 11:08 am

I’d definitely take the flask of Scotch from my briefcase along with my inhaler. Great list otherwise.

2023 Dave May 15, 2012 at 11:23 am

Definitely a couple tea bags or instant coffees, a cuppa can be a great stress reliever.

2024 Curt May 15, 2012 at 11:34 am

I would add a DO (Drive On) rag. It has a ton of different uses including head cover, Dust mask, camo, and a bandage or sling.

2025 Dave May 15, 2012 at 11:43 am

Perhaps not necessary, but some instant coffee or a couple of tea bags can be a great addition. Taking a few minutes (once you are in a safe place) for a cuppa is a good way to lose some stress.

2026 Kevin May 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I always like to carry a deck of cards to pass the time should I be stuck for awhile. I also carry water purification tablets should a disaster occur that would make drinking water unsafe.

2027 Joe May 15, 2012 at 12:05 pm

a multi tool.

2028 Kevin May 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I always like to carry a deck of cards to pass the time. Water purification tablets could be invaluable should a disaster occur that would make drinking water unsafe.

2029 Kevin May 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Water purification tablets could be invaluable should a disaster occur that would make drinking water unsafe.

2030 Benjamin May 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Picture of someone you love. Gotta have motivation.

2031 Nate May 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm

The Bible

2032 Seth Ballard May 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm

A Swiss army knife will be essential.

2033 Chris May 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm

A SteriPEN or the like…

2034 Colin May 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm

A straight multitool is not always enough. My current multitool is a Gerber 600 series scout. A feature not seen on any other multitool outside of Gerber is one handed opening. It has been invaluable when I’m holding something in one hand and need to open my multitool in a hurry. I’ve recommended mine to everyone I’ve met and recommend it to anyone here. Personal preferences for multitools not withstanding I think a gerber multitool is necessary for everyone’s GHB.

2035 Jan May 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I would suggest having a written list of important information such as phone numbers, land lines may work when cell phones do not and who memorizes phone numbers anymore? An inexpensive, ie: free, fire starter material is dryer lint inside an empty toilet paper tube. Dryer lint is super flammable and practically weightless. Pack inside a zip lock with a book of waterproof matches.

2036 Jason May 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Water purification tablets are a must, but a little bit of hydration aid would be crucial in my area. Even if I were to stop to clean some water up for drinking, straight water doesn’t do a whole lot to help with a fair amount of exposure in a place where summer is easily 105F.
More space could also be made available inside the bag by storing your paracord more efficiently. Personally, I always store my paracord on the exterior of my pack, to the MOLLE webbing, using a sinnet loop and velcro straps. Whenever I need paracord, I can reach back, rip it off the pack, pull as much cord as I need to, then close the knot back up and keep on keepin’ on. It should be noted, however, that this isn’t for my GHB, it’s for my 72-hour BOB, which is an LA Police Gear 72-hr pack.

2037 Fred Austin May 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I would suggest 3 methods to start fire such as a firesteel, Magnesium bar, and or waterproof matches in a match safe along with your lighter. In addition, I would include a lightweight water purifier such as a Sawyer Squeeze filter. Very lightweight, easy to use and even screws onto a typical bottled water bottle. Lastly, if you’re on any medications, include 3 days worth in a waterproof container along with a pair of spare glasses if you can’t make it without yours should they become lost or broken.

2038 Larry May 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I would pack some basic medicines and antibiotics – they can be bought and replaced periodically at a very low cost over-the-counter at drug stores. These medicines and antibiotics can mean the difference between simply an annoying “flesh wound” or a debilitating infected laceration that can cause fever and eventually lead to death.

2039 Pat May 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

The headlamp is a wonderful tool to see where your head is pointing. But nothing can replace a good flashlight in your hand, especially if you are in a tactical situation. Great Article, well worth the read

2040 Chris Deering May 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm

The most important tool for me is a knife. I almost ALWAYS have a knife on me, whether camping, at work, or even church. Infact people around me ask to borrow mine without a second thought of if I have it or not. My B.O.B. has one plus I carry a pocket, lock-back style regularly and a multi-tool to work. Trying to be ready.

2041 Rob Flax May 15, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Great post once again! It’s hard to justify buying some of these tools if I spend 99 percent of my time in an urban setting, though. I wonder if preparing such a bag would encourage me to camp more…

2042 Edward Adamsky May 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm

For those of us a little older, a pair of reading glasses is an essential tool.

2043 Chris May 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Very help Fill list, as I am putting my GHB together now I like to see what other use.

2044 brian May 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm

never hurts to have some items to barter with as well.

2045 Patrick May 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Few items I would add. Eye wear, small and compact, will help with flying debris and sun glare. Ear protection, last thing you want to do is fire off a few rounds in an enclosed urban space and make yourself deaf. Lastly, sounds dumb but a usb drive that has all of your legal info and documents scanned onto it and is encrypted. You don’t know if this disaster is going to last a few days,months, or years. Having your id, ss card, birth certificate, car title, property title, will, and almost anything else you can think of on you in a usb back up can save you a whole lot of trouble if you ever have to rebuild your life after losing everything.

2046 Richard May 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Awesome kit and great advice! I will have to add a few items to my current bug out bag.

2047 Alex C May 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I like what you have!! I also like to carry a smaller fixed blade knife, other than the machete, maybe a Buck 119. Thanks for the info!

2048 Jess H May 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Great write-up; I’m going to have to build a kit. I think one of the most important things I would have to pack is a high-quality fixed blade, Cold Steel would be my choice.

2049 Kevin P May 15, 2012 at 3:26 pm

The list said a pair of wool hiking socks, but I’d say at least two pairs. A trick I learned in the Army was to put wet socks next to your body when walking to use your body heat to help dry the socks. But extra socks are a life saver

2050 David May 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I prefer not to sleep on the ground. An Edge hammock from Wal-Mart ($24.99) is in my bug-out bag. You can hang them very high (not recommended but if needed very sweet indeed) for security. Buy two hammocks, waterproof them both and use one as shelter – - very light weight.

2051 Zack May 15, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Water purification tablets. Or just a pistol

2052 Stephen May 15, 2012 at 3:54 pm

One thing that seems to be forgotten while packing and planning if/when a disaster happens is making arrangements with trusted friend(s) beforehand. A 10-mile hike to a buddy’s house, staying overnight, then walking 15 miles back home the next day is preferable to trying to go 20 miles all at once. Otherwise, great list!
“Better a friend nearby than a brother far away”-Solomon

2053 shane Richardson May 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm

a pocket Bible, staves off boredom, and is a comfort, as well as some sort of antiseptic

2054 Gabriel Preston May 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Water purification tablets in the event you’ve somehow managed to run out of what you prepacked.

2055 Cam May 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Great article. I’d add a secondary firestarter to the list such as a ferro-rod or some flint and steel. Even a small lens would work.
I’ve had lighters stored in bags only to find out that the lever was depressed when I crammed everything in. Needless to say I was out of butane.

2056 Mike Abernethy May 15, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Another essential set of items would be copies of identification and a list of allergies, blood type, and medication you are currently on. The identification will be necessary if you have a run in with military/law enforcement (especially if you live on the southern U.S. border like I do). The medical information will be essential if you get injured/incapacitated and found by medical services. Both of these can possibly get you home in the end.

2057 Chris A May 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm

With the side arm and the pepper spray, make sure that you check with the laws in your area. In most places carrying a firearm in a bag with out a cc card is a felony, and the same goes for pepper spray in some areas.

2058 Kai Simon Fredriksen May 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm

My small format SAS survival guide! tells me all my father should have taught me.

2059 Mark May 15, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Instant coffee/tea bags. Water purification. Boiling works, but you might not have time.

2060 -Vince May 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Certainly love this idea. My next weekend project. Any suggestions for an URBAN GHB? I live in Baltimore.

2061 Stan May 15, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I echo the duct tape, and if your first aid kit doesn’t have them, a pair or two of latex or nitrile gloves. You’re likely to run across something nasty or someone injured. GHB is a great concept. I have a lot of these items in my truck tool box, but don’t have a ‘grab bag’.

2062 Nolan May 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Great article! I have a bag in my car that I call my “Get out of Dodge” bag. I believe I got the idea from an earlier AOM post. I would make matches or a camp stove with gas tank a must as well as a solar powered battery charger.

2063 Barbara May 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Hearing aid batteries if you use hearing aids. Never thought of a GHB but my husband has talked about how would he get home from work (across bridges that may be out, etc) if disaster struck while he was at work. This sounds like a great book to prepare for that! Thanks!

2064 Cody May 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm

One thing I consider important to include in both a BOB or a GHB is one or two large, thick garbage bags. High-quality garbage bags are small, low-weight, and provide a big payoff in their multitude of uses. Always be prepared.

2065 Trent May 15, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I always have a hand pump water filter. I’ve used it to clean some pretty nasty stuff and if you get one with a very fine filter it should take all the bacteria out without boiling. It’s a great time saver when you’re on the move.

2066 Thomas May 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm

A good knife and 550 cord are a must for any bag

2067 Markell May 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I would make the machete a definite. Never hurts to have a huge knife with you

2068 John S May 15, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Cash is always a good option.

2069 john May 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Got to have duct tape.

2070 john May 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Got to have duct tape

2071 Timothy Ackerman May 15, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Certainly, the essentials have been named again and again and water, fixed blade, or leatherman could easily do. For me personally, however, I would add a pocket bible, for all its uses.

2072 Jon May 15, 2012 at 7:41 pm

A Bible.

2073 Jacøb Smith May 15, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I would say the most essential items to bring are a light-weight waterproof shelter material, like the rain poncho, or the or the heat blanket… and your brain. If you have those two things, you can do most anything else.

2074 Toni May 15, 2012 at 8:20 pm

I like all your ideas. For me, one of the most important things to pack would be an extra pair of glasses.

2075 Ja May 15, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Definitely a camera, I know you can’t spend all your time taking photos but documentation is important.

2076 Kevin May 15, 2012 at 8:43 pm

One item I found to be useful is a deck of cards. It isn’t something you think about often, but if your bag is packed right then you won’t have much to do (no food/water procurement or spending hours trying to light a fire). Also Pepto Bismol (tablets, not liquid) can be a literal life saver.

2077 Skull May 15, 2012 at 9:06 pm

A decent quality flashlight, plus spare batteries.

2078 Marc N May 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm

A pocket knife for sure; especially if you don’t actually carry one in your pockets.

2079 Carlos May 15, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I’d add in a small USB power backup. Nothing like a small way to carry some power with you.

2080 Don May 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Duct tape and a couple of zip ties. Multiple uses to fasten/fix many things.

2081 dbbbbb May 15, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Because I commute via train to work in a city and often don’t have space for a true bag, I keep a get home keychain with a little Gerber multi-tool, a mini Bic lighter attached with a little bit of paracord and duct tape, a small LED light, and one of those metal pill cannisters in which I keep a ziploc bag, water purification tablets, a $20, a book of matches and a xenadrine tablet. You can carry that keychain almost anywhere, put one in each car, and it has the basics. The duct tape serves numerous purposes including, among other things, being able to tape up a wound. The bag can be used to hold water, and the xenadrine tablet will give you energy while cutting your appetite. Should be just enough to keep you moving for a couple of hours and get you home. It also comes in handy for everyday uses as well.

2082 K May 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Great list. I always try to have a flashlight and a good pocket knife or multitool.

2083 dbbbbb May 15, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Because I commute via train to work in a city and often don’t have space for a true bag, I keep a get home keychain with a little Gerber multi-tool, a Bic lighter attached with a little bit of paracord and duct tape, one of those whistle/compas/magnifying glass tools, a small LED light, and one of those metal pill cannisters in which I keep a ziploc bag, water purification tablets, a $20, a book of matches and a xenadrine tablet. You can carry that keychain almost anywhere, put one in each car, and it has the basics. The duct tape serves numerous purposes including, among other things, being able to tape up a wound. The bag can be used to hold water, and the xenadrine tablet will give you energy while cutting your appetite. Should be just enough to keep you moving for a couple of hours and get you home. It also comes in handy for everyday uses as well.

2084 Forbes May 15, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Because I commute via train to work in a city and often don’t have space for a true bag, I keep a get home keychain with a little Gerber multi-tool, a Bic lighter attached with a little bit of paracord and duct tape, one of those whistle/compas/magnifying glass tools, a small LED light, and one of those metal pill cannisters in which I keep a ziploc bag, water purification tablets, a twenty dollar bill, a couple of strike-anywhere matches and a xenadrine tablet. You can carry that keychain almost anywhere, put one in each car, and it has the basics. The duct tape serves numerous purposes including, among other things, being able to tape up a wound. The bag can be used to hold water, and the xenadrine tablet will give you energy while cutting your appetite. Should be just enough to keep you moving for a couple of hours and get you home. It also comes in handy for everyday uses as well.

2085 Dan Lombardi May 15, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Great idea. I have my essentials almost ready. I would include a cable saw for cutting wood for fires.


2086 Don May 15, 2012 at 11:26 pm


2087 Cameron May 15, 2012 at 11:29 pm

I know it adds weight, but I would pack a small crowbar. You may well need to get past/through an obstacle or free yourself/another in an emergency. It could also be used for self defense (as a last resort, of course).

2088 Dustin May 16, 2012 at 12:08 am

My trusty Leatherman PST has never let me down yet.

2089 Sam May 16, 2012 at 12:30 am

I always have a flint on me. Great addition to the bag. More dependable then a lighter or matches (will work in the rain).

For a bug out bag, something to pass the time, a harmonica works well. keeping your spirits up is always important.

2090 miguel May 16, 2012 at 12:40 am

i like to pack a small paperback book (usually rip off the covers to save some weight), short stories are best, for if you get stuck and bored and need to distract yourself (or others) – a good story can be a comfort. you can use the paper to start fires if needed as well (after you’ve read the end, of course).

2091 William May 16, 2012 at 1:33 am

Duct Tape or something similar is a must, 101 uses.

2092 Billy Zavos May 16, 2012 at 4:25 am

I think it would be a great idea to pack a checklist of easily forgettable (especially when under stress) pieces of vital information. A small write-in-the-rain notebook could be filled with anything from how to verify and purfiy natural sources of water, to how to recognize, and prepare local, edible p plants. Various first aid techniques, common and useful knots, different ways of making shelter– literally a world of useful information in a light weight, compact, waterproof, energy independent, medium.

2093 Jeff May 16, 2012 at 6:18 am

Superb list!

I’ll top it up with swiss army knife!

2094 Evan May 16, 2012 at 6:21 am

What about adding condoms to the list? There will be women who survive the disaster too. There will still be a need for safe sex. Additionally, condoms can be used to transport water or keep small items dry.

2095 Stephen May 16, 2012 at 7:02 am

A get home back is not a bad idea, but I think a lot of what you have included (dependent on how far from work you live) is a bit much. But being prepared is obviously very useful.

In conjuction with having a bug out bag, a few gallons of fuel and my military expereince I feel quite prepared. I work 4 miles from home with multiple routes to get me back. My primary concern would be getting to my son at school, again only a mile from home or my wife. Who works across the country and often relies upon trains or planes to get her back. She would be the one who most requires this, but she would also be the one most inconvenienced by such a bag.

2096 Mike May 16, 2012 at 7:03 am

I keep a good bit of saftey gear around since my area flooded a few years ago. I realize the importance of having something that you can eat in a second and on the move, but I always have a couple of MRE’s as well as the heating tablets in my emergency kit. Also, even though I don’t smoke anymore, I keep a pack of cigarettes as well. I’ve found you can get a lot out of a person for giving them a smoke, including getting them to help you push your car when you have a flat and don’t have time to change a tire because by the time you do, the flood water is going to reach your car door.

2097 Patrick May 16, 2012 at 7:42 am

Good advise thanks for the post

2098 John May 16, 2012 at 7:53 am

I see your tarp is a poncho

2099 Chris A May 16, 2012 at 9:04 am

Most of you are going overboard with your sugesstions. Your gearshould fit in the bag that you bring to work on a normal day. For most people, your bag only needs the things that you need for a max of 6 hours. You dont need a crowbar, an ax, a machete. All that gear just weighs you down. You need to be pratical about it and carry only what you would need.

2100 Aj May 16, 2012 at 9:06 am

The Bug Out Bag was definitely useful. I’m in the process of making one for each member of my family. :) I must say, that emergency radio idea was really neat. This Get Home Bag will be useful when natural calamities happen. My country is prone to disasters like these and I agree that the bag will be essential in times of emergencies. :)

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