I know that ?go bags? are a popular topic on every prepper site, but since radio has become a more prominent factor in my life, I?ve found myself reevaluating the contents of my own bag. Also, I?ve been into the caffeine tonight and can?t sleep, so apologies in advance for a long post.
I don?t have a ?go bag? per se, more of a ?get home? bag. I have a pretty decent redoubt up in the boonies, but I do a fair amount of regional travel for work and recreation. I?m away from home fairly often, but rarely more than about 100-150 miles. With that in mind, I designed my get home bag to get me home on foot in a week or so. I keep it in my Jeep at all times, and change out the contents every now and again depending on the season and the situation. My basic get-home bag is as follows:
The bag itself is a Condor Urban Go-Pack, purchased from U.S. Cavalry. I used it as a school bag for a couple years, as it has a padded laptop compartment, but found it makes a pretty good prep bag as well. It?s a backpack with a supporting belt, and provisions on the pack to attach items via carabiners or ALICE clips. Fully loaded out, it weighs about 20-25 pounds, and has what (I think) I need to get by in my part of the country. Every now and again, I put on the bag while fully loaded (the bag, not me) and take it for a hike, because it wouldn?t do me much good if I ended up in a bad situation and found that I couldn?t comfortably carry it. I try to get the lightest version possible of everything in the bag, and I also try to get as many multi-use items as possible. For instance, my small bottle of rubbing alcohol can be used as a disinfectant or as a firestarter.
There are a few items not listed here, because I have them with me all the time anyway, such as a Victorinox Swiss Army knife, sunglasses, the small multitool on my keychain, etc.
First and foremost, it contains a towel, because a towel ?is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.? (Bonus points if you get the reference :)). Other than that, here are my basics:
FOOD AND WATER:
I always keep a case of bottled water in the back of the Jeep, so if I found myself having to hoof it home, I could do an initial fill-up from those. My bag contains (2) 2-liter water botas, a milsurp plastic canteen and about 2 dozen water purification tablets. I also keep some single-serving packets of coffee, iced tea, lemonade and Gatorade mix.
For food, I have a couple of MRE?s, but they?re pretty bulky so I don?t rely on them. I have a small package of large-sized bouillon cubes, and about a dozen of the super-high calorie meal bars. The taste is what I?d guess you?d get if you mixed honey, blueberries, beef jerky, Worcestershire sauce and cat litter, but they are nourishing and they keep forever. I also keep a small bag of hard candies, for a treat and a little sugar boost.
For food prep (assuming I can scavenge or otherwise obtain some food on the road), I have a Swiss surplus mess and cooking kit and a P-38 can opener. It?s pretty tiny and fits nicely in the bottom of the bag. I also have a homemade Altoids-tin fishing kit (which I?ve used to catch panfish with, just to make sure I can use it effectively), and a week?s supply of multivitamins.
CLOTHING AND SHELTER:
I don?t keep much in the way of spare clothes in my bag - just a shirt, some skivvies and several pairs of socks. Anybody who?s done more than a few miles on the Shoeleather Express can tell you that extra socks might be the single most important item in your bag. Since I?d generally be dressed for the weather anyway, the only additional items I keep in the bag are a rain poncho, a red bandanna and a pair of heavy work gloves.
For shelter, I have a medium-sized tarp that folds up to only about 7?x7?. It makes a good ground cover, or with a bit of rope or a wooden pole, it makes a pretty decent dogtent as well. I keep a 50? length of paracord with the tarp, for this and for any other purpose it might serve.
For firestarting, I?m not much for messing with a flint and steel, so I keep two Bic lighters in a plastic bag, and 2 boxes of waterproof matches. I also have an Altoids tin full of cotton balls soaked in oil to help get things started if need be, and a small squeeze bottle of 91% rubbing alcohol.
Nothing fancy here, no accessorized AR-15 on my back and no tactical .40 on my belt. Keep it simple. My regular carry piece is a snub-nosed .357 Magnum, so it would go with me, of course. It?s small, it?s stainless and I am pretty proficient with it. Sure, it?s not high-capacity, but if 5 rounds of .357 won?t drop it, it ain?t dropping. In the pack, I keep a .22 rifle. Again, nothing fancy. It?s an ancient Remington Model 12 pump-action takedown rifle. My particular example was made in 1930, so it?s been around the block a few times, but it is simple, reliable and dead accurate, so if I miss a shot at a meal, it?s my fault and not the rifle?s. A .22 is more than adequate for get-home needs, and the ammo is small and lightweight. The pack also contains a 30-round box of .357, a couple hundred rounds of .22LR and a small multi-caliber maintenance and cleaning kit.
Right now, my radio selection for the bag is lacking :-\. I have two radios that are packed in layers of foil and cardboard for protection: a Chinese dual-band HT and a Kaito Voyager shortwave radio. The HT is actually a pretty decent little radio, and only cost me about 50 bucks. The Kaito isn?t the most sensitive SWL set around, but it is small and light, it charges/operates on batteries OR hand crank OR solar, and it has a fitting that I can use to recharge both my phone battery and the battery in the HT. I also have a pocket-sized repeater directory.
My plan is to add an HF set of some kind, probably a Yaesu FT-817ND. It?s a tiny little thing, and with the internal battery it can go for quite a while. Not sure about what antenna I?d use, probably a simple wire or a dipole that can be rolled up small and not take up much pack space.
Here are most of the other essentials and non-essentials in the bag: notebook, pencil, Sharpie marker, basic first aid kit, small hand sanitizer, Tylenol, waterproof map of Pennsylvania, space blanket, several Wal-Mart bags, a roll of camp TP, small binoculars, electrical tape, flat-pack duct tape, multitool, crank-up pocket flashlight, toiletries kit, 3 energy shots, Tums, Gerber sheath knife, small sharpening stone, nail clippers, 2 Kleenex pocket packs, Gold Bond powder, baby wipes, folding hand saw, tiny bottle of bleach, compass and $100 in small bills stashed at various places in the pack and on my person.
So, what have I forgotten, what should I eliminate, and what?s in YOUR bag?
My bag is an Elerlestock X3 LoDrag. It has two compartments, top and bottom. The lower compartment I use for items that would not necessarily be used, like a medical kit. I have Datrex emergency food rations for a couple days. The bag has two hydration pouches. I am still building the medical kit. I have a Katadyn water filter. A solar panel will be next. Other than that:
- Small waterproof binoculars.
- Kukhuri knife.
- Cold Steel Master Tanto.
- Leatherman tollkit.
- Magnesium fire starter.
- Streamlight flashlight.
- Fishing kit.
- Medical kit.
- Wire saw.
- Rock-Mite 40 & key.
- 40m end-fed dipole.
- Pair of FRS radios.
- Yaesu FT-270R.
- Change of clothes.
I am probably forgetting things, but that's what I remember right now. It is not finished yet, but getting close. My Elecraft K1 has it's own go-case.
To the bug-out bag I plan on adding a bug-out chest: http://www.emscases.com/pelican-hardigg-al4024-x-large-shipping-case.aspx (http://www.emscases.com/pelican-hardigg-al4024-x-large-shipping-case.aspx)
This case will have the items I would want to have for an extended emergency. It will be stored in my closet...
The bug-out bag goes with me whenever I am further than walking distance from home.
I should add a small bottle of Cointreau and a handful of cigars... ;D
I've been thinking about a "get home to the family" bag. The HF radio go-bag I've already assembled and my love of expensive backpacking gear has been inspiring me to put together an every day carry bag (EDC bag) to serve this purpose. My thoughts are as follows!
No, I don't have the actual bag yet (I do have all the gear to go in the bag) and Yes-> you can consider me prepper-lite... I'm learning though! I do not currently have a concealed carry permit, but I like the idea of having the transport for it. The pistols I currently own aren't going to fit in this bag though!
Since I live in a populated area and work 25 miles from home I'm not planning for more than a 2 day trip, but this EDC bag will be my first level of gear in any SHTF go-bag concept. I'm hoping I can still carry a backpack while having this shoulder slung EDC bag on my hip.
Always on my person:
Smallish Swiss army knife
Smartphone with extended battery
Pen (almost always)
Keyring with USB thumbdrive (Encrypted copys of important papers on the go)
Wallet with HAM license card (Not really considered go bag necessity)
Anklet with emergency cash (almost always)
Heavy leather belt with stout buckle (Almost always- many surprising emergency uses)
Hiking boots (almost always)
In something like a Maxpedition Jumbo EDC shoulder bag:
32 oz Nalgene water bottle (Currently used for water every day!)
Nesting steel cup under the Nalgene bottle
Thick rubber wrist band around Nalgene (Holds a bandana filter and helps having a rubber grip too)
Steri Pen - w/rechargeable batteries (Used daily- never know when the last time the filters at work were changed/sanitized)
(If you use it this often you will need a new steri pen every 2 years or so because the UV filament effectiveness wears out. I think it's worth
Blister pack of backup water purification pills (they take up no room or weight) the nice stuff not the iodine!
Emergency ration bars for 2 days (many options are available)
Extended rechargeable USB battery for phone and Luna light (Used/cycled weekly)
Miniature earbuds for phone (Used often)
(Phone also provides flashlight, books, music, GPS, maps, repeater lists)
Luna light (For task lighting- and it weighs nothing)
UV-5R Radio (FM broadcast, NOAA weather, HAM/Business transciever- I'd keep it with the antenna off)
2 Extra CR123 rechargable batteries (For the Steri Pen)
Local topo maps (primarily to find water)
Survival mini Compass
Small Pencil (with dental floss wound on it)
Camp Backpacking Towel (The super thin/absorbent type- for the hitchiker's guide to the galaxy reference)
Steel Trowel (Hand sized mini shovel)
3 Assorted flat fish hooks
Small duct tape roll
Disposable Lighter (Yes I have other fire making means, but for an EDC bag I think this is sufficient! It also doesn't get cold here very often...)
Folded boonie hat (Sun protection)
Small bug net for the boonie hat
Personalized Mini First Aid kit
Steel camp/signal mirror
3 Ironed flat folded bandanas (bandages, coarse water filter, kleenex, sun protection, sweat rag, signal flag, sun glasses, toilette paper,
Extra Hiking Socks
Leather glove shells (Work gloves)
(One of the first things I'd be looking to get is a stout walking stick- I prefer this to a knife for travelling protection)
-Everything pertinent in ziplock bags with moisture absorbers in the electronic bags!
I do envision a SHTF "I have to walk out of town with my family" go-bag as a different concept. My family already each has fully stocked backpacks that we use semi-regularly, even the 5yr old! Those will be the basis of that next planning level.
In an EMP situation I suppose I'd not have a lot of the niceties... Just have to deal with it though!
Almost nothing. But I work from home 90% of the time, and I'm out in the outskirts where everyone has 1+ acres and there's lots of woods between streets and even more between towns. The zombie hoards from the densly populated areas will have to cover a lot of ground to get to us. So my plan is to bug in place.
Nice reminder to update my to-go bag (meaning rotate food items and water, check clothing, update tools for winter etc).
On my person or dragged along in car: boots, pocket knife, landyard light (its the best), 380 LCP Ruger, CC Licence slipped in tight with ankel holster, extra mag under car seat, $250.00 hidden in car (Presidential dollars).
In trunk of car: two tool box like containersl - one with first aide supplies (I use them often, at least monthly anymore); one with food supplies - use them every few months, unexpected motels stays.
In shop, I keep a month supply of GOOD supplies in the trunk of the Buick. This way, If I had to leave in a hurry for an extended amount of time (ie. see a fire approaching, other evacuation).
Under stairs, I keep a 1 month supply for dry foods for two people. In the basement, there is a one week supply with water too. The basement supply is mainly for tornado supplies, or for drifters that show up here from the highway seeking food and water (yes this kind of thing happened often in the 30's and 40's when my husband was a boy, and is starting up again). This way I don't have to open my door in the night. I do call Sheriff to report a visitor and what their need it. We can help with the urgent stuff if needed in the meantime. Usually, the drifter does not want the Sheriff contacted. I use to keep 1 gal of fuel nearby to, but now keep that locked down. We have helped a few motorists get to town with the gas we had to share -by keeping a small supply of fuel in the unlocked outbuilding, it allows me to stay in the house locked in with my guns. ;D
I keep flares, tarps, and empty coffee cans (to cook with), and metal spoons, etc in food kit. Blankets and Water tablets is also something else I store in car.
I do need to add hand soap santizer to car supplies. The diaper wipes come in very handy also.