Practical Prepping Part III: The Bug-Out and Get-Home Bag

Bags seems to get all of the attention in the world of preppers.  To some extent it is a bit over-done but the reality is a big part of being prepared is having certain bags already packed and ready to simply grab-and-go.  The bug-out bag is a theme that gets a lot of press, but likewise the get-home bag is exceedingly important and is in many cases different than a bug-out bag.  If part of your preparedness plan is to evacuate in a crisis by vehicle then your actual bug-out plan should account for a lot more than a single bug-out bag, of course.  In the next article we will discuss that but for now we will look at the bug-out bag and the get-home bag.  Both of these items are actually useful for daily life as well as in the event of a disaster.

The bug-out bag is in concept a single pack that you can grab and it will provide three days’ worth of supplies for a situation in which the only provisions you will have is what you have in the pack itself.  The traditional bug-out bag is generally intended to be a backpack that you will carry while on foot.  If you put together a bug-out bag that is indeed built for this purpose you will be looking at carrying 72 hours’ worth of food and water as well as survival gear which is going to focus on wilderness and outdoor survival.  Fire building, shelter, water purification, and other standard survival stuff will be in this pack.

Modifying the Theme

Keeping a traditional bug-out bag intended to be carried for a long duration on your back in the wilderness may make good sense depending on where you live and what your survival plans are.  I have found, however, that my primary bag has morphed into more of what I consider a “go-bag” which is a single pack that is always kept loaded and ready to go.  This pack can fit into your regular life rather than just a pack that awaits the apocalypse.  For example, get a call in the middle of the night that there is a family emergency and you must jump in the car and drive several hours to aid a relative ASAP.  Do you want to have to pack a bag beforehand or would you rather have the go-bag ready?  I have found that my preferred all-around go bag combines survival items with more of a focus on practical travel items.

I like an actual high-quality duffle bag that also has shoulder straps in case it must be carried.  If you want a bug-out bag that is intended specifically for outdoor survival then a backpack is the only way to go, but for myself my primary bag is one that is ready for any emergency and that is most likely going to be something that travels by vehicle.  I keep a couple changes of clothing and the usual travel toiletries in this bag.  Beyond this, however, I actually keep a smaller pack within this larger duffle bag that contains the primary assortment of survival items including a spare handgun and magazines, knife, light, fire kit, water purification tablets, emergency space blankets, medicine, trauma kit, and a few other items.  The reason I keep the survival gear stored in a separate smaller pack is so that I can sling just the small pack if I must, or so I can put the small pack in other luggage, making it more modular.

With this system my go-bag acts as my single bag that I can grab and have everything I need.  It also is my bag that I use for my regular luggage when traveling by vehicle, I just change the clothes based on season.  This allows me to have my survival items always with me if traveling.  If I can’t take the whole bag due to luggage capacity constraints I will take the small pack from within at least and put it in whatever other luggage is manageable.  The traditional bug-out bag still makes sense, especially if you live in an environment where you may need to travel on foot, but the modified go-bag will no doubt prove more practical for many.

The Get-Home Bag

A get-home bag can be a traditional bug-out bag but very often it is designed differently to serve a different purpose.  The get-home bag is most likely kept in a vehicle, or perhaps carried if you commute by public transportation, that contains the items you may need to make it home in the wake of an emergency.  As with the bug-out/go-bag the get-home bag is not just for the proverbial apocalypse, but is something you may need at any time.  Get stuck in a blizzard?  Get stranded due to storms or floods?  You may need the proper gear to get home on foot or some alternate means.

The get-home bag is something you are more likely to need than the bug-out bag.  How many of you commute to work at an office job?  You probably wear formal business cloths and dress shoes.  How well do you think that will service you if you need to walk 20 miles home with snow on the ground and it is 20 degrees out?  You should keep necessary clothing and footwear for survival in your environment in your vehicle, it does not necessarily have to be in the get-home bag itself.  The bag should contain what you need to get home, based on your personal distance that needs to be covered, and based on your own physical abilities to cover it.

In my own vehicle I keep warm winter clothing and a good pair of walking boots.  In my get-home bag I keep an emergency food bar, a canteen, and a couple additional bottles of water.  I also keep a fire kit, emergency sleeping bag and poncho, knife, light, and other useful survival gear.  I keep the pack relatively light, obviously, since it must be carried.  The gear you keep in your get-home bag will be a personal decision, obviously, since we are all working in unique circumstances.  Analyze your own route to and from your work or other destinations you frequent and consider what may be needed for your trek, both best and worst case scenarios.  Know the main route and alternate routes for your trip.

So these are some thing to consider for the bug-out and get-home bags, two items that are not only essential for grid down scenarios, but may prove invaluable right now.

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