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.

Conclusion

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,

Creek

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 Amazon.com. 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.

***Update***

The giveaway is closed. The three winners are:

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

 

2101 Patton May 16, 2012 at 9:16 am

Thanks again for another great article.

2102 That Guy May 16, 2012 at 9:34 am

Great article. Thanks for the information

2103 That Guy May 16, 2012 at 9:35 am

Forgot to add what I considered essential- a good lightweight firearm.

2104 Jeffrey May 16, 2012 at 9:40 am

Essential for BOB is plenty of .45ACP.

2105 Jeffrey May 16, 2012 at 9:49 am
2106 cj May 16, 2012 at 9:51 am

A high quality multi tool, such as a Leatherman, is the most useful and practical tools. Essentially like the traditional Swiss Army knife, but on steroids.

2107 Bonnie Anderson May 16, 2012 at 10:00 am

I really enjoy your articles and, while I am prepping a bug out bag, I did not realize a smaller ‘get home’ bag could be just as important. 6 miles isn’t far but heels just don’t cut the distance.

2108 Kevin Keegan May 16, 2012 at 10:07 am

Great idea about packing pepper spray and attaching it (with Velcro) to the shoulder strap of your bag. Hand guns are illigal here in the UK, so pepper spray is the way for me.

As for an essential item, it Has to be a good quality pair of walking shoes/boots.

2109 Joey May 16, 2012 at 10:15 am

When I was working on my Emergency Management degree, some of the MOST important things my instructors told us on this topic was to have a supply of any medications you take, along with a list, copies of your important documents in a ziplock bag and to have a plan of action.
Also, don’t forget any elderly family members, children or pets that may be with you, they have their own special needs as well.

2110 Kyle Lacher May 16, 2012 at 10:20 am

The one thing I feel essential that was not in this article was an item that gives you hope. If you find yourself alone in the aftermath of a horrific event, losing your head will be your downfall whether you have the right gear or not, so it is important to have that hope, whether its an extra photo of your wife and kids, a pocket watch your grandfather gave you, or a copy of Manovationals to keep you, or who you are with, strong and determined to survive.

2111 Travis May 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

Hand crank radio with USB

2112 Jetsam May 16, 2012 at 10:58 am

Pepperspray is a good option to add.

Practical shoes are essential, as are a multitool. These items come in handy in a pinch when you’re not trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, but just need a blade to cut something or your current footwear is failing you.

2113 Steve May 16, 2012 at 11:26 am

Have to add a few goodies mentioned to my GHB!

2114 John Strader May 16, 2012 at 11:53 am

Thank you for that great article! I have to agree that if I were only able to have one item and I had forgotten all others, I’d want it to be my leatherman multitool.

2115 John Strader May 16, 2012 at 11:53 am

Thank you for that great article! I have to agree that if I were only able to have one item, I’d want it to be my Leatherman multitool.

2116 John Strader May 16, 2012 at 11:54 am

Thank you for that great article! I have to agree that if I were only able to have one item, I’d want it to be my multitool.

2117 John Strader May 16, 2012 at 11:55 am

Thank you for that great article! I’d have to say the multitool is essential.

2118 John Strader May 16, 2012 at 11:55 am

great article! I’d have to say the multitool is essential.

2119 Doug B May 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Trail mix! If you never use your bag you can always “refresh” your supply :)

2120 L St. Clair May 16, 2012 at 12:24 pm

For me, an essential is my fleece watch-cap. Always warm and light weight

2121 mark white May 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Great read and full of info. I always have my Four7′s QuarkX in my bag or EDC, I also have my multi tool and knife.

2122 Marcos Council May 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I really like the Wetfire idea and I would like to put together a bag like this one. Great Stuff

2123 Chris May 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Nicely concise. Though guns used by the untrained may well in fact reduce their security. I would recommend a hardwood walking stick. It can be carried openingly; and of course, it’s right at hand. And four-legged dogs tend to respect a stick carrier, too

2124 james newton May 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm

this is realy usefull

2125 George C May 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Excellent article — I will be making one. A firearm is the most essential IMO, as other people would be your biggest threat if the disaster has already happened and is not ongoing. Especially if all the roads are jammed and people are getting desperate.

2126 NTX May 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm

A watch. If you know what time it is you can plan on finding/making shelter before dark. Or just as important if you’ve been there, how much longer you will lay there sleepless until dawn. You can even use an analog watch (the kind with hands for you kiddos) as a makeshift compass

2127 David H May 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Thanks for the emergency radio recommendation. I’d been looking to pick one up.

2128 Beard Man May 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm

This was a great read! I’ve got my trusty BOB but never thought of making a Get Home Bag. Some great suggestions in here that could save your life. The hand-crank emergency radio seems like a good alternative to a solar charger, especially on a cloudy day :) I am left wondering how well they work… Anyone out there put one to the test?

2129 Benjiman Blanchard May 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Great Article…. You have a new reader!

2130 Dan Arias May 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Is “self-defense” really necessary during a “bug-out”. A gun with any stopping power would be pretty heavy. I’d probably carry the extra weight as water.

2131 Dimitris Toumpanakis May 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Nice article… Some means of starting a fire would also be a necessary item in our bag.

2132 kaine lance May 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm

i prefer an actual pocket knife along with a multi-tool as opposed to just a multi-tool. Most blade qualities on a multi-tool are lacking as they focus primarily on the other non-knife tools. Plus the blade lock mechanisms usually leave something to be desired.

2133 Jameson L. Wade May 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm

my wife thinks that I’m crazy for doing stuff like making a bug out bag, going into the woods with only a hatchet and lighter, and eating various insects for fun. But, when snow hit us in the Pennsylvania mountains and the electricity failed, who saved the day by making fire and having a radio on-hand. I love the thought of being self dependent because, when it’s natural for you to be able to depend on yourself, it’s easier help others.

2134 Matthew May 16, 2012 at 3:22 pm

It’s interesting how many things people take for granted.
Thanks for another great article.

2135 JC May 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Nifty concept. Lighter & simpler than lugging a purse or pack with my extra essentials. I do like multipurpose tools but would suggest adding a good solid butter knife & a strong flathead screwdrivers (not too large). In a pinch, these can be a key to pass locked doors and/or repair/re-start (hopefully your own) car.

2136 Hillary May 16, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Woah, really informative, I’ve got my BOB sorted, but the GHB is just as important! Thankyou!

2137 Patrick May 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Preparedness should be emphasized in more venues than just the Boy Scouts and I appreciate the time and effort put into this article to remind us. An item I consider essential for packing in a Get Home bag would be a quality hunting knife. I say this because it has very many, manly real-world applications aside from its obvious use as a weapon, such as; can opener, hammer, crow bar, mirror (dependent upon its finish), and most importantly to defend and provide for your family which is the epitome of manliness. Finally, knives are cool!

2138 Caleb May 16, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Perhaps a micro water filter or steri pen.

2139 Andy May 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm

water & the multi-tool…

2140 Blyth May 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Living in Texas, I would say good light clothes and water. Not much need for winter clothes here. Some sort of water purification system would be good, too.

2141 David May 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Given that I wear dress shoes at work every day, I’d say that a pair of good walking shoes would be essential.

Thanks for a great post.

2142 John May 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm

A pocket book of edible plants for your region. While having prepackaged food stuffs are an essential. If you are stuck longer than your food supply you could be in big trouble.

2143 Guy May 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm

SK-5 Blackbird survival knife.

2144 Dustin May 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm

A full-tang survival knife is one piece of equipment that deserves the highest place in the ‘pecking order’ of what we should pack in a ‘Get home bag’. I would go for a knife with some strategically placed serrations on the cutting side. With such a knife in hand, you can do pretty everthing from building a fire, shelters to executing air to land signalling.

2145 Dustin May 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm

…sorry, i meant ‘land to air’ …. :-)

2146 Kerensky97 May 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I actually made automotive survival kits for when I used to do alot of offroading. The webpage is decaying but still there.
http://xterra101.com/trailgear.htm

I think his list is great the only things I’d emphasize is spare socks! Wet socks give blisters which can be incapacitating.
Also maybe some chicken bouillon cubes. Alot of edible items scavenged from the land can be made more palatable if they taste like chicken soup.

2147 Lu May 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Aside from the usual stuff, I’d add a couple of things more suited to an urban environment:
small solar USB charger (about the size of a cigarette pack, and you can pre-charge it); a USB cable adapter, of course (Micro, mini, standard, male-female etc.); lock pick set (take a fortnight and learn the basics, you’ll encounter plenty of padlocks etc.); a taser for when things get too close for comfort; condoms- many uses including 1st aid. Also, what if the world really does end? Then you can have a last ride…

2148 Jared May 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm

This is a great article. An item that i would consider essential would be the first aid kit. When disaster strikes, more than likely injuries will occur. That alone could save a life.

2149 Paul Graves May 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I’ve been working/tweaking my b.o.b. for a while now. One of the most important and frequently overlooked items is the “Get Home Bag.” Great article, thanks for posting!

2150 Jerrold May 16, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Great article. More for the 72 hour bag, but also good for the 24 hour bag would be water purification tablets. In a significant emergency, running water may be unavailable (or at best the regional purification systems may be damaged and unreliable). Quickly filtering standing water through a couple layers of cloth to get out the sediment and then treating with a purification tablet to kill any pathogens could make the difference between being able to take care of yourself and loved ones and being stuck dealing with a severe diarrheal illness.

2151 John May 16, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Thanks again for raising awareness of this really important issue.

2152 Bret May 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm

The single most essential item would have to be potable water, probably 3 liters worth. The human body can go days without food, and while a suit and dress shoes might not be ideal, they are going to offer some protection. Personal protection is important, but weapons can be improvised, and the best way to resolve a conflict is to avoid it if possible.

Of course, water is not the only item that should be included in such a bag, but the instructions said to identify one item that is essential. Nothing is more essential than water.

2153 Vogie May 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm

This is brilliant. I’m a huge fan of Go-Now bags that we have packed for each member of our family, in case of an emergency or any reason that we have to leave without packing, but having a similar pack at work never entered my mind – and you’re right, we spend so much time NOT at home it should be second nature. Great post, and added to my reader.

2154 Jarrad May 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Food and water! Other stuff is useful, but largely optional.

2155 Ammon May 16, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I keep a Fisher Space Pen in my kit.

2156 GK-10 May 16, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I’ve always been thinking it… I just needed to hear you say it!

2157 Matt May 17, 2012 at 12:07 am

great article, thanks for the help.

2158 pablo May 17, 2012 at 12:13 am

I would add a jumbo marker. that way you can leave a message saying which way you went so no one wasted time looking for you

2159 Pickett May 17, 2012 at 12:22 am

Personal must haves on top of the usual food, water, and light shelter: Paracord/duck tape (with those two things you can fix the world), Woodmen’s pal (supper useful tool), Multi-tool , S&W MP + way to much ammo, Good medkit (not a in the box cvs special), A real (I have a surefire) flashlight + batteries, And on really bad days (zombies): AR-15 + way to much ammo 
This is actually the bag I maintain a keep right next to my gun locker. I’ve actually need to use it once and I have to say, it’s very reassuring to know you’re good-to-go when everything else is falling apart around you. 

2160 Pickett May 17, 2012 at 12:23 am

Personal must haves on top of the usual food, water, and light shelter: Paracord/duck tape (with those two things you can fix the world), Woodmen’s pal (supper useful tool), Multi-tool , S&W MP + way to much ammo, Good medkit (not a in the box cvs special), A real (I have a surefire) flashlight + batteries, And on really bad days (zombies): AR-15 + way to much ammo 

2161 Pickett May 17, 2012 at 12:23 am

Personal must haves on top of the usual food, water, and light shelter: Paracord/duck tape (with those two things you can fix the world), Woodmen’s pal (supper useful tool), Multi-tool , S&W MP + way to much ammo, Good medkit (not a in the box cvs special), And a real (I have a surefire) flashlight + batteries

2162 Kyle May 17, 2012 at 12:37 am

I love these how-to articles. It’s interesting stuff!

2163 Glass May 17, 2012 at 7:32 am

My bag would have at least an extra windbreaker jacket that resists the wind & rain along with the multitool/knife/flashlight set.

2164 don Roberto May 17, 2012 at 8:10 am

I’m only partway through the hundreds of responses, but two things come to my mind (in the unlikely event anyone actually reads this).

First, plan for your own physical condition. Our Esteemed Original Poster is doubtless a serious badass in the physical fitness department, given that he’s an instructor at a wilderness survival school. Most of us are probably more of the sit-at-a-desk-for-40-hours-a-week types, and so perhaps not so rugged. Many of us wouldn’t be G-in H very quickly if we were schlepping fifty pounds of GHB. Keep it as small and unobtrusive as possible: not only do you not need the extra mass, you want to look like just one more frightened sheep.

Second, I don’t know if anyone has suggested a chemical light stick or two. They’re not terribly bright, but for that reason are less likely to destroy your night vision, and can still be seen a long way away. They’re light, small, and cheap: just make sure they are protected–they’re not much use if you grab them and find out they were crushed when you dropped your bag last month and happily glowed all over the inside of your bag.

Oh, and “me, me, me!” for the book please {grin}

2165 don Roberto May 17, 2012 at 8:21 am

Some other thoughts that came to me as soon as I hit “send…” (and no, I’m not trying to improve my microscopic chances of winning the book).

First, many employers prohibit firearms or other weapons on the premises. I’m going to take my chances on not being obviously armed if I have to GH, rather than the much higher chance of getting fired if I’m caught with a weapon.

Second, a maxi-pad or three is worth considering, regardless of your gender. They make excellent improvised wound dressings, and if you’re traveling with someone who finds herself suddenly needing one, you get to be The Hero Of The Hour, which is no bad thing.

Third, while I appreciate some people’s concern for spiritual needs in a disaster, Bibles tend to be heavy and bulky. Carry one if you feel the need, by all means, but perhaps such suggestions could be more generalized–”your spiritual text of choice” or something. Admittedly, we’re supposed to be talking about what *we* consider essential, but the advice is for everyone’s use, and not everyone is a Christian (I’m not, in case you hadn’t guessed). A copy of the Koran, the Baghavad-Gita, the Eddas, or even something by Stephen Covey or Richard Feynman might provide more comfort than a Bible to some people.

And that’s it for me: off to work (where I need to beef up my gear)!

2166 Rodney Sellers May 17, 2012 at 10:07 am

A good knife is essential for a bug out bag.

2167 Eric May 17, 2012 at 10:20 am

For me, as an asthmatic, an inhaler is crucial in my BOB.

2168 youval vaknin May 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

water purifying gear (filters, pills, etc.)

2169 Luke May 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

After being in Iraq when the civil war started I take the idea of civil unrest seriously. Now, living in DC, I think the idea of a “get home safe” bag is an essential for every one. I can literally see the Pentagon from where I work; it really makes you think.

2170 kyle May 17, 2012 at 11:00 am

My modified savage MKII bolt action .22 rifle. I purchased the rifle with a synthetic stock and keep 200 rounds in a dry box located in the rear of the stock. I have also added different sights for greater accuracy in low light conditions, A 550 paracord sling that i made myself, and a saw blade i installed that i got the idea from creek himself in his survival shotgun post, i also attatched a butt pouch where i keep g clewning supplies and fire starting materials. I chose the blot actoon savage over the ruger 10/22 10/2

2171 AdamBlack May 17, 2012 at 11:03 am

I think the most essential item is a full tang blade of any sorts. You can do so much with a knife!

2172 Emily May 17, 2012 at 11:06 am

one thing i consider essential- feminine hygiene products, also advil

2173 Pat May 17, 2012 at 11:10 am

The one thing I consider essential is a small water purification kit. My bag is not complete without one.

2174 Dan V May 17, 2012 at 11:25 am

An essential item in my pack would be duct tape. I like to make my own flat rolls by wrapping a few yards around a square of cardboard (drink coaster work well).

2175 chris vuxton May 17, 2012 at 11:36 am

Don’t forget hand sanitizer. At 65% alcohol it will start a fire.

2176 Adi May 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I pack a small crowbar in mine. It’s about 8″ long and can be used for anything from prying out a nail, to fixing the bent shifter lever on a motorcycle.

2177 SueEllen VanDuyne May 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Contact lens solution and sunglasses!

2178 Scott May 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm

A quality flashlight is absolutely essential! With spare batteries of course.

2179 Scott May 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm

And how about a spare set of car/house/safe deposit keys???

2180 Eric May 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I always pack essential bike tools in my GHB since I live in the city and ride my bike to a lot of the places I go.

2181 modF May 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Even pepper spray can be iffy here in the states at times. As of now in the state I live in, it’s sold behind the counter with ammo, and you have to show ID to purchase it.

2182 Bob Phillips May 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm

For either bag, some type of OTC pain reliever is an absolute necessity. Acetominaphen helps with fever as well, but ibuprofen or naproxin has the anti-inflammatory qualities for those strains, sprains and pulls that might occur in these types of situations. A small bottle of each can be had for around a dollar.

2183 Sam H May 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Not mentioned but important, the bag should be a neon color or have tape on it to easily see if you end up walking in dangerous high-speed areas (i.e. highways)

2184 Rob May 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Along the lines of back-up glasses, I wear hearing aids, so I always make sure I have a package of spare batteries and a small ziploc-type snack bag in the event of heavy rain.

I would also add that a few day’s worth of any necessary medication should be included in a GHB or BOB.

I’ve been interested in this sort of topic ever since the ice storm that paralyzed eastern Ontario and a large portion of Quebec a while back.

Great article!

2185 Math You May 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I’d pack a small container with sunblock. If a disaster hits, the last thing I want to be worried about is the Florida sunshine.

2186 Ryan May 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Number one thing: you’ve got to have water treatment tablets or filter in your BOB. You can’t live long without clean water.

2187 Kevin H. May 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm

In my “every-day carry bag” I keep a small bug-spray bottle – they make them pocket sized. I also keep a boonie hat which lays almost flat. Plus I keep a small roll of duct tape, safety pins, ear plugs, chem-light sticks, and plastic bags, among other things. These come in handy even when there’s no emergency.

2188 Brucifer May 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm

By their comments, methinks thinks some readers are still equating GHB’s with BOB’s here. That said, contents of one’s GHB should also resolve around ones home and work environment. Contents might also be *limited* by such an environment. Ironically, in an environment where I might desperately need some things in an urban setting, I am loath to leave top-shelf survival items in my vehicle. Vehicle break-ins being frequent where I live, I’ve already lost *one* nice GHB and it’s rather pricy contents. Now, I lug the bag in and out of the house. It’s a pain, but. AND, if there is concealed carry allowed in your state, you’d be advised to take advantage of it.

2189 David N May 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm

For me, nothing more important than a good hatchet. You can light a fire with it and a flint, the butt end makes a good hammer, it’s pretty handy as a weapon, pretty much an all around useful tool to have with you in any survival situation.

2190 Chris Kirkland May 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I would pack in my GHB a lock pick set. I realize everyone might not have the means to use it, but if you need to get into a place to bed down in winter, a must. Weighs almost nothing, takes up almost no space. Would love to get a free copy of the book!

2191 Dave S May 17, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Most essential item: 1 liter of water

2192 Lt. Dan May 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Be prepared – we have Eagle Scouts in the house. Great training for this kind of thing…even if the uniforms are kind of geeky, my boys learned a lot of very useful information.

2193 Ted May 17, 2012 at 10:24 pm

A folding trench shovel. A necessity!!

2194 Tim May 17, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Must have a multi-tool for the bugout bag.

2195 Matthew May 17, 2012 at 11:45 pm

This is awesome! I hope I win!

2196 Chris May 18, 2012 at 12:14 am

Bug spray, multi-tool, fire starter, and a rain jacket are sure-fire needs.

2197 Cory Verner May 18, 2012 at 2:40 am

nice post.

2198 Ryan May 18, 2012 at 11:39 am

Flares would be pretty useful right?

2199 Blake Freeland May 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I’d take along a calendar, just in case it’s a real SHTF situation and I’d want to keep track of the days, or months.

2200 Blue May 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm

A cat’s paw would be great — it’s like a miniature crow bar used by framers and could be levereged for a number of uses. It’s small enough to not be heavy or clunky, but strong enough to maximize effect. Also, super glue can be useful — it is small and can definitely add value.

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