The Get Home Bag

FILE – In this Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 file photo, people flee lower Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York after a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. (AP Photo/Daniel Shanken) (Credit: AP)

The bug out bag is one of the most talked about bags is one of the most written about bags in the prepper blogosphere; however, the Get-Home Bag (GHB) may be the bag you are most likely to use during a crisis. The Get-Home Bag (GHB) is a survival kit designed to get you home if a catastrophic disaster occurs while you are away. Hopefully you will be able to make it to your vehicle and drive home, even if you must detour, but experience teaches that isn’t always possible. One of the unforgettable images from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 was large groups of people walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with the dusk and smoke blocking the view of the twin towers. Design your Get-Home Bag (GHB) with the assumption you will need to walk home.

Your Get-Home Bag (GHB) may be a small backpack, laptop bag, purse, messenger bag, duffel bag, fanny pack, web-gear, sling packs, or even a spare briefcase. You should avoid anything tactical, bright color, expensive, or big. Whenever you are carrying your get home bag, the bag should not look out of the ordinary because you don’t want to draw attention to yourself and the gear you are carrying in your bag.

The way you decide how much to pack is by knowing the distance between you and home. The farther you tend to travel from home, the more stuff you need. Also, consider the climate you live in, the season, and whether you’re in an urban, suburban or rural environment. It is up to you to decide what to ultimately pack but keep in mind that a Get-Home Bag (GHB) should be as small and as lightweight as possible. You don’t want to overburden yourself.

Here are some things you may want to consider for your Get-Home Bag (GHB).

  1. Water: Water is the most basic survival need and cannot be overlooked. The human body need between two to three liters of water per day minimum to maintain health and function but carrying any more than three or four liters of water is difficult. Survival water filters ($14) and Purifying Aqua Tablets ($7) are light-weight alternatives for any get-me-home bag in areas that water is abundant.
  2. 4-Way SillCock Key: If you will be traveling through urban areas, a 4-Way SillCock Key ($5) may open faucets on the outside of commercial buildings, industrial sites, and even some rest stops allowing you to replenish your water supply.
  3. Food: Keep the food in your Get-Home Bag (GHB) simple. Energy bars ($1) and ($5) trail mixes which provide a lot of calorie should do well, and they can be eaten while moving without being heated up.
  4. Weather Appropriate Clothing: A change of clothes should be in your Get-Home Bag (GHB) for practical reasons, and the clothing should be rotated depending on the season and weather.
    Staying dry and warm is essential when outside in the cold weather, and this can be done by selecting suitable clothing and equipment to protect you from the elements. Clothing should be vacuumed and sealed to save space and keep clothing clean and dry until needed.
  5. Gloves: A situation in which requires a Get-Home Bag (GHB) may inevitably take a toll on your hands. For both safety and comfort, make sure you pack some work gloves.
  6. Shoes/socks: The shoes you wear for work may not be suitable for walking, so for your Get-Home Bag (GHB) include a pair of quality hiking/walking shoes or boots and several pairs of quality socks, wool socks are recommended. Adjust your footwear for the seasons.
  7. Poncho, Poncho Liner & Space Blanket: Many people commute and live far from where their home is located. You may need to spend the night someplace. “Survival Blankets” made from mylar and rip easily, and they are noisy and shiny; therefore, a military wet weather poncho and poncho liner is much better option. When tied together, they offer a weather proof blanket that you can cover up with and get a good night’s sleep. Pairing the poncho with some cordage, you can also make a shelter out of the poncho and still have the poncho liner to keep you warm.
  8. Cash: A little bit of cash, approx. $50 in random bills, can come in very handy if you happen to stumble upon a town or other hikers, backpackers, and so forth, so be sure to make room for it in your Get-Home Bag (GHB).
  9. Printed Maps: Digital maps are great but may unavailable if your device’s battery dies or if access to the internet is unavailable. Internet and communication services seem to be overwhelmed or unavailable during major emergencies. Having a printed map of the area you are most likely to find yourself in your Get-Home Bag (GHB) can make difference between death and rescue. The United States Geological Survey ( offers free topographic maps in PDF versions.
  10. Compass: A normal lensatic compass is going to be the best for true navigation. Make sure you practice with the compass and understand how to use it! When you’re trying to navigate during a bug out situation it’s not the time that you should be first pulling out your compass.
  11. Pen and Paper: A simple notepad and pencil are great for taking notes, making lists, leaving signs of your presence for others to find, and so forth; consider the all-weather tactical notebooks that are waterproof and very tough. A pen, a pencil and small pad paper are perfect for any Get-Home Bag (GHB).
  12. Small Medical Kit: Having a first aid kit is a total no-brainer in any emergency and disaster situation but finding one suitable for your Get-Home Bag (GHB) can be a little more of a challenge. Consider the waterproof, ultralight First Aid Kits includes +/- 48 hours’ worth of various sterile bandages, gauze, antiseptic and pain / itch relief meds, tweezers, and more.
  13. Flashlight: Having an extra small, high-quality LED flashlight in your Get-Home Bag (GHB) , with extra batteries, is must in your Get-Home Bag (GHB). Remember, white light travels long distances at night and gives away your location; therefore, having a red filter is highly advised.
  14. Rope / Cordage: All experts recommend at least 100 feet of 550 paracord in Get-Home Bag (GHB), but another great option to have is twine due to the light-weight and low price. Cordage can be used for building a shelter, carrying items, fire-starting, fishing line, etc.
  15. Fire Starters: Starting a fire is a critical survival need that you must have items in your Get-Home Bag (GHB). Fire starters are usually small and light-weight; therefore, always carry more than one item for starting a fire. Disposable Lighters, Ferro rods, and matches work in your Get-Home Bag (GHB). Other items such as an Altoids tins filled fire starting items such as dryer lint, pine needles, wood shaving, or cotton-balls covered with vase-o-line can help start a fire.
  16. Knife: A knife is one of the most basic and versatile tools you can have. Invest in an inexpensive folding knife that can stay in your Get-Home Bag (GHB). The truth is, no one has any idea when they will need to put their emergency plans into action and you may not have your everyday carry gear with you.
  17. Binoculars: You don’t need large and insanely high-powered binoculars in your Get-Home Bag (GHB). Being able to spot potential threats allows you to avoid certain hazards. The smaller, more compact; the better.
  18. N95 Face Mask: Having a quality N95 face mask will help you keep dust, dirt, sand, bacteria and viruses floating about after some disasters.
  19. Emergency Radio or Amateur Radio: A small hand-crank radio that gets the emergency band is a must have. If an emergency struck, you need to know what’s going on and where it’s happening. Some emergency radios will charge a device via USB. Most handheld Amateur Radios 2-meter radios can listen in to the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) stations.
  20. Wet Wipes: A pack of wet napkins provide a handy and convenient way to help you keep clean during an emergency or disaster situation.
  21. Duck Tape: Duck Tape has hundreds of uses and can be used to repair your clothing, shelter or your bag. It can be used to bandage injuries and prevent blisters.

Remember, your Get-Home Bag (GHB) is meant to help you get home after a very bad situation. Your Get-Home Bag (GHB) shouldn’t stand out in such a way that it attracts bad or panicking people, who may not be acting rationally. It should be small and light to carry. Every item you put in your bag should have only one purpose, “To get you home.” The above items are the very basic beginnings of a Get Home Bag. Obviously, there are many other options, additions and substitutions that you will make. Do you have a GHB? Have you added other time such as personal defense items? Comment below.

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