Disaster can happen anytime, including when you are at work, running errands or traveling. This leaves you vulnerable as most of your emergency supplies will be at home. However, having a get home bag can provide you with necessary gear and supplies that you can use to make it home safely. In this post, we are going to talk about the essential get home bag contents you should pack today.
Before we get into that discussion, I have to make some disclaimers. Not everyone’s get home bag contents are going to be the same. Some people may have longer distances to travel to get home safely. So in this post, I will be sharing my recommendations for the essentials that everyone should have. From there, you can build upon this list.
Just like building a bug out bag, you would need to build the contents of your bag around the rule of 3’s of survival. Anything beyond that are survival multipliers. However, do keep in mind that gear and supplies alone will not save you. Your survival will be dependent upon your skills to use the gear and supplies.
So in this list, I will be beginning from the foundation of the rule of 3’s. From there, we will discuss options above and beyond the three rules.
Essential Get Home Bag Contents
You may be wondering why this is my very first recommendation. No, I don’t keep an extra pair of clothes to stay fresh for the ladies or in the case that the clothes that I’m wearing get stained. That is a by product of that.
The rule of 3’s tell us that you can only survive 3 hours in extreme weather conditions. This can include disasterous winter storms or extremely hot days. I make sure to cycle through my clothes in the get home bag whenever the seasons change.
Extra Clothing for the Summer
In Florida, we get some extremely hot weather where you can risk having a heat stroke and dehydrating along with other health problems. If I have to walk home during an emergency, the last thing I want to be walking in are my work clothes.
Most of the time when I am at work I am wearing pants with a polo and dress/casual boots. These are not ideal for walking home in especially in 95+ degree weather. So just in case this happens I have light moisture wicking clothing that I can wear to walk home.
Extra Clothing for the Winter
For the cold weather seasons (which is like 3 weeks of the year in Florida), I pack my winter survival layers which I’ve written about in another post. If you live up north then I would highly recommend reading that HERE.
In freezing weather, you risk hypothermia and frostbite in extreme scenarios. So it is recommended to have a base layer that will wick away moisture, an insulation layer to keep in your body heat and a shell layer to block the cold weather from infiltrating your body.
When it comes to cold weather survival clothing I highly recommend Under Armour’s Cold Gear. The last time I was in Ohio for the winter the temperature was 12 degrees as a high. Despite that I felt cozy while wearing the Under Armour gear. It kept me nice and warm while everyone else was shivering and trying to run back inside. You can check out Under Armour’s Cold Gear HERE.
Regardless of what season it is, if you are walking, or in some extreme cases, running home then you are going to be sweating. During freezing cold temperatures this can be life threatening. When its hot, you don’t want to be covered in sweat as this can affect your morale.
You probably wonder why I started with clothing before firestarters. Well you can’t keep your body warm in cold weather without the right layers on. So starting a fire for warmth would be counter productive at that point.
Having a source of fire is one of the pillars of survival. I typically carry a couple sources of fire with my get home bag contents. As the saying goes, you need to have back ups to your back ups. Redundancy is the key.
I have a simple BIC lighter along with a feral rod. Not only is a fire helpful for keeping you warm but also with cooking food. However, in a get home situation you don’t want to build a huge fire unless you are far enough from potential danger.
Fires Can Blow Your Cover
If you need to build a fire then it should be just enough to keep you warm without giving away your location. For this type of situation I would recommend an underground fire by digging a small hole in the ground. That way the brightness of the fire can’t be seen by others. The only thing that you would need to consider is the smoke that is emitted from it.
If you don’t want to build a fire, then you could pack hand warmers. When I go cold weather camping I like to have some in my socks, under my armpits along with being in my hand. You would be amazed how warm these things keep you.
Having shelter is another tool of protection from harsh weather conditions. Depending on how far you have to travel in order to make it home you may not need a shelter in your get home bag contents. However, it is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
My journey home from work would just be a few mile hike. So in that situation I may not need shelter. However, if I’m outside of my town doing business or recreation then having shelter becomes helpful.
Now when I talk about having shelter packed that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to carry a big ass tent around with you. You can definitely go minimal depending on how many people you may have with you. Tarp shelters are a great lightweight option.
Another option is having an emergency space blanket. Even though they are super flimsy, it could provide you with more warmth in cold weather. When I go cold weather camping I like to pair my tarp with the emergency blanket underneath. If you are sitting close to a fire the heat is going to reflect off of it giving you extra warmth in your shelter. Just be sure that your shelter is not too close to the fire.
Steel Water Container
If you have read my previous posts about the Vertx Gamut bag, then you know that I utilize the bag as not only my EDC bag but also my get home bag. This carries my essentials but I also have another bag packed in my Jeep that is a little more thorough.
One thing that I keep packed in my bag at all times is a full steel water container. Everyday I try to make sure that the container is full before leaving for work. If not, then I will fill it once I get to work.
Having this gives me a guaranteed source of water. Plus I can easily fill it up on my journey home from a spicket or local natural resource.
Go With Steel Over Aluminum & Plastic
I recommend having a steel water container over a plastic or aluminum bottle. Yes, this may add some extra weight to your get home bag contents. However, the steel insulated containers keep your liquids cold. If you have a long journey home, it is refreshing to have some nice cool water to drink.
The containers that I recommend are the Hydro Flask Insulated Steel Water Bottles. I have these in all of my bags and always take them when I go camping. They are surprisingly lightweight and doesn’t have that metallic taste when you are drinking from it. You can find the kind that I use over on Amazon HERE.
Portable Water Filter
Depending on your route home, you may come across some natural sources of water. But just because they are natural doesn’t mean that they are always safe to drink from. The water could be contaminated with chemicals and potentially harmful bacteria.
The last thing you want to happen during an emergency situation is to be shitting your pants and dealing with stomach pains. This is why it is important to not only filter your water but also purify it. You could build a fire to purify your water if you have time, otherwise pack some purification tablets.
Go With a Sawyer Water Filter
I actually recommend using the Sawyer Water Filter because it is light, easy to use and compact. It also comes with a bag to help you collect water. You don’t want to be drinking from the same container that you collect your water from. There could be leftover bacteria or contaminates on the container.
Instead, I recommend using the collection bag to collect the water. From there, filter the water using the Sawyer Water Filter. Then transfer the filtered water into your stainless steel container or pot where you will purify the water.
With a bug out bag you typically want to pack enough food to last you up to 72 hours. This should be enough to get you to your bug out location. However, in my opinion, how much food you will need with your get home bag contents will vary.
How much food you will need packed is going to be dependent upon how long it will take you to get home. If you are able to make it home within a few hours then you won’t necessarily need a full day’s worth of food. You should pack enough to keep you energized. In this case I recommend packing energy or protein bars.
MREs For Longer Get Home Journeys
If you have a long journey home then you will need more than just a snack. You will be burning more calories which in turn is going to require more calories. For longer distances I recommend packing some MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).
Yes, you could pack some dehydrated food like Mountain House. However, dehydrated food is going to require you to have hot boiling water so that it cooks. In comparison, with MREs you just need water. MREs come with a packet that will cook your food after water is poured in.
Maps with Pre-planned Routes
No matter where you are going you should always have an emergency plan for getting home. You should of course plan to have multiple routes instead of relying on one route. That way if one route is inaccessible you will have 2 or 3 more options.
I even do this when I am traveling. A week before my trip I will research the area where I am staying at. Typically you want to research high traffic as well as high crime areas. That way you know to avoid them when SHTF. You can use similar planning that I talk about in my video about How to Bug Out of a City which you can watch below.
Gas Mask & Goggles
When SHTF there is always the possibility of social unrest. This means that the authorities could be shooting tear gas and spraying people down. If you have the misfortune of getting lumped into these crowds then having a gas mask and goggles would be beneficial.
You could even have one packed for the extreme case of a nuclear fallout. However, if a nuclear attack has happened in your area, then you need to bunker down wherever you are. A gas mask is not going to save you from the radiation that could eat through your bones.
Instead, you will want to get underground or in the middle of a large building. The walls can stop a lot of (but not all) radiation from seeping through. Do keep in mind if you are close to the blast radius then those walls could get blown out.
If the grid is down during your get home scenario then you won’t be able to use your cellphone to communicate. Now you could rig it to use as a form of radio if you know how. But I actually carry the Baofeng UV-5R Portable HAM Radio as a precaution.
If cell phone towers go down then you may have the ability to communicate with other HAM radio operators. Unless there is an EMP that fries the radios and repeaters. Otherwise, I would recommend giving your family and survival group HAM radios.
Communicate Longer Distances With HAM Radios
You could use walkie talkies, but they have lower ranges of reception. A basic HAM radio can give you the ability to communicate with others that are up to 5 or sometimes 10 miles away. If you connect it to a repeater then you can communicate with people at even further distances.
The great thing about the Baofeng UV-5R is that it is able to pick up radio stations as well. Then there are emergency frequencies. Some police and emergency scanners can even be picked up if they are not encrypted.
Having a radio is important for communication. You want to know the situation around you. (You can pick up one over on Amazon HERE.)
Self Defense Weapons
Having backup defense weapons are important to have in your get home bag contents. Of course, you should have some weapons for self defense on you at all times. But by having some extra in your get home bag gives you redundancy.
I recommend the Vertx Gamut bag as your get home bag. The best part about the bag is that it comes with a concealed carry compartment that you can lock. Along with that the bag provides you with a slot where you can place body armor to give you added protection. (You can typically find a good deal on this bag over Amazon by clicking HERE.)
You would think having a flashlight packed with your get home bag contents would be self explanatory. Of course, flashlights will help you see in the dark. “Yea, no shit,” says the keyboard commando reading this post. However, did you know that they could be used as a self defense weapon as well?
If you have a bright enough flashlight you could potentially temporarily blind an attacker if done correctly. It is also useful to use as a blunt object while striking an attacker.
Now of course, you probably won’t reach for a flashlight if the attacker pulls a gun. But it can be paired with your gun. In fact, a lot of handguns and rifles are able to be modded with a flashlight. By shining a flashlight on an attacker with a gun makes it harder, but not impossible, to aim at you.
First Aid Kit
This is another suggestion that should be self explanatory. However, the type of first aid kit you can have packed can vary. I’ve seen some turn an altoid container into a mini-first aid kit. You could also go to the extreme with a full blow out kit.
During a get home situation you could get cut up by elements or become the victim of a fight. Regardless, you want to have alcohol and santizer to clean any wounds that break the skin and of course bandages. Another suggestion would be to pack a torniquet for more extreme scenarios. This can be used to stop excessive bleeding until you are able to get the proper medical attention.
Other Suggested Get Home Bag Contents
As I mentioned earlier, this post is not meant to be an exhaustive list of items to have. Your get home bag should be built around the essentials from there. Since everyone’s get home situation is going to be different you could have a lot more to pack. So below I’ve included some additional suggested items that you could pack
- Work gloves
- Rain poncho (could also be used as a makeshift shelter)
- 50 feet of paracord
- Physical cash
- Toilet paper tablets or wet wipes
Altogether, these would be my suggestion of essentials to have packed with your get home bag contents. As I mentioned earlier, this is not an exhaustive list. But you would be foolish to not have these items packed.
If you have any suggestions or comments please leave them in the comment section below. Your feedback helps the community prepare the smart way now so that we can thrive later.