Preppers have a thing for bags: bug-out bags, get-home bags, go-bags, and every variation thereof. If you are into preparedness, which is likely if you are reading this blog, then you are probably swimming in a sea of bags. The “bug-out bag” gets the most press and usually involves a backpack with everything needed for sustainment over the course of several days to get the individual from point A to point B during a crisis that forces one to bug out. The “get-home bag” is, in my opinion, even more important, and is essentially an emergency pack kept in the vehicle to get you home in the event of a crisis that may put you on foot for your journey.
The problem with both the bug-out and the get-home bag solution is that they tend to be all-encompassing packs that will stay in your vehicle, or at home, but not be utilized daily because they are typically too large and/or too heavy to carry around in routine life. While such a bag is fine to keep in your vehicle for a grid-down scenario, the bag does you no good if you need something that it contains while walking around in the mall or elsewhere in an urban or suburban environment. Most bug-out or get-home bags contain tools for daily convenience, self-defense, and medical, that may prove necessary when in a public place, but the wilderness survival tools such as water purification, fire starting, and shelter items kept in these bags for a bug out scenario are certainly not needed while walking around in a shopping center.
For this reason I have abandoned the all-encompassing bug-out and get-home bag approach for a solution that allows me to carry the things that I need for daily use in an EDC bag, but add the wilderness survival items if needed in such a get-home scenario. I have adopted a sling bag as my EDC pack that contains the daily essentials, defensive, and medical tools that I want with me at all times. Should a grid-down scenario play out and force me to make it home on foot, in which situation I might need the wilderness survival items, I simply add them by slinging an additional messenger style bag that is kept in the car. While a backpack works best for carrying heavy loads for long distances, the EDC sling bag and separate messenger bag are each light enough that I can carry them for long distances without issue, each slung across-body on opposite shoulders from one-another. This system is far more versatile and useful.
The EDC pack:
In this primary, go-everywhere-on-person pack I carry routine and useful things like a pen, checkbook, phone charger, a multi tool, medicines needed, spare corrective lenses, a water bottle, sunglasses, and some other useful, small items. Also in this sling bag is two spare magazines for my carry gun (the gun is on me, I don’t practice off-body carry), a full trauma kit (in addition to the tourniquet I keep on-body), a spare light, and a panel of soft body armor that adds hardly any weight or thickness, thus providing ballistic protection against all handgun rounds. The sling pack can be quickly drawn to the front of your body, thus providing armor, quickly. This pack is light enough to go everywhere comfortably and I always carry it.
The Get-Home Messenger Bag:
In this pack I keep a thermal underlayer of clothing (vital for survival in cold weather), hat and gloves, a poncho and bivvy, a fire kit, navigation kit, water filter, and two day’s worth of food. This messenger bag is so light that slinging it across the opposite shoulder from the EDC pack adds little weight but much wilderness survival capability. These items are not needed for walking about during regular life tasks, and moving them to their own bag makes carrying the EDC pack realistic. This get-home bag stays in my vehicle.
Now, for another bag that is essential for preparedness:
The Go Bag
I have, for quite a few years now, maintained at all times a packed go-bag that is a larger duffle bag ready to be put in the vehicle with everything I need in case I must rapidly “go” somewhere. While this “go-bag” would be one of the first items loaded into my vehicle should I need to bug out and leave the home for an emergency, the go-bag is very practical for many other reasons. I have family scattered all over the eastern United States and there have been several occasions where a medical emergency, or some other issue, has resulted in a call in the night of “we need you now.” Instead of needing to spend an hour getting things packed to get in the car for an eight hour drive, having the go-bag pre-packed at all times makes leaving instantly viable.
In my go-bag I have several changes of clothing, a pair of boots, toiletries, spare corrective lenses, medicines, and the usual things that one would pack for a several-day trip. Beyond this, however, I have a small pack within this larger bag with survival items: a spare handgun, mags, spare ammo, a light, a knife, a water filter, a fire-starting kit, and space blankets. So, my go-bag has all of the typical stuff needed for travel, but also adds the “get-home” survival items. Therefore, if traveling, or if bugging out, my EDC pack goes in the vehicle, along with the go-bag, and I have everything needed.
The Home Defense Bag
Had enough bags yet? Well, here is one more that I propose is quite important: a dedicated home defense bag. While a sling bag or backpack is usually associated with carrying gear while outside of the home, a dedicated sling bag for home defense makes perfect sense. The EDC bag discussed earlier can serve this role, in conjunction with a pistol in hand, but I find that my home defense tools tend to be independent from my daily carry tools, so along with a dedicated home defense handgun I keep a dedicated home defense bag. This pack is also armored, so worn forward on the body it provides significant coverage of the vitals. This bag houses reloads for the gun, a spare light, knife, and a full trauma kit. also of importance, this bag is designed so that the carried home defense pistol can be quickly holstered within the bag in case I need to answer the door or respond to someone who I don’t want to startle with a gun in hand, such as police officers knocking on the door in the event of an emergency.
I think an EDC pack that allows you to carry a more complete set of defensive and medical tools is in order these days. Using a sling pack and adding armor to it makes it that much more useful still for defensive use. I believe the EDC pack that goes with you everywhere is well worth it and using this daily carry pack is a sound decision that enhances your capability.
With the addition of the get-home bag in the car and the go-bag and home defense bag that you keep at home, you should have the core of your defensive and emergency needs covered with this selection of packs. While different circumstances in the future might dictate different needs, I would offer that this system proves the most useful and practical solution for current 21st Century demands, at least for those who live in, or often navigate, suburban and urban life.