A term you will hear frequently on Prepping and Survival websites is a Get Home Bag. You could also hear this called by other names (Get Me Home, Get Back) and they are all pretty much the same thing. Today we are going to discuss why a Get Home Bag is so important and something you should consider having if you are like most people and have to commute away from home every day for work. A Get Home Bag is similar to your Bug Out Bag but they have different purposes and what you need to put into your Get Home Bag will be different.
A get home bag is simply a bag of supplies you can use if you are forced to walk back home after some disaster or crisis. The assumption is that for whatever reason you are away from home, possibly far away and you can’t simply call AAA or a cab to come and get you. There could be several levels of Get Home Bag and I will discuss those below depending on how far away from home you are which could determine how long it will take you to get back home.
I used to have a job for a short time that had an 86 mile (one way!) commute. It was an opportunity that was too good to pass up but thankfully I found another position much closer to home. Every day I would jump in my car and set out on the highway for an hour and a half drive. Naturally, I never really imagined anything would prevent me from driving back home at the end of the day, but if some disaster struck while I was away, 86 miles would be a pretty long haul on foot.
When I worked that job I didn’t have any supplies with me except an iPod probably. I don’t even think I had water in my car. If something had happened, I would have been in trouble if I had to rely on what I had on hand and a Get Home Bag is the answer to that problem. You don’t have to work 86 miles away from home to need a Get Home Bag because the important supplies you have in there could save your life even much closer to home.
You may be thinking ‘Hey, I don’t work 86 miles away from home’ so why would I need a Get Home Bag and I will concede that in some cases, the distance you are traveling away from home will dictate what you might need to make it home in the first place. Let’s say there is a disaster and you are only 5 miles away or closer from home. You could probably crawl home if you needed in a day. Assuming you didn’t live in an insect infected swamp, the dessert or in a war zone, you might not need a get home bag.
But there doesn’t really have to be a disaster for a get home bag to help you out. Winter storms are a natural occurrence. Last year, there was a huge traffic snarl in Atlanta when a relatively minor amount of snow and ice shut the city down over night. Your Get home bag could give you the supplies you needed to make it home or just as easily make your overnight stay more comfortable.
Get Home bags don’t have to see the end of the world as we know it. There could be earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, landslides, winter storms and on and on. Just having this backup could come in handy.
So enough about the purpose of a get home bag, what do you pack in there? I think that we could logically break this down into different tiers or levels for how long the get home bag would need to be called into service to get you home. There will be seasonally adjusted items but I will call those out on the list below.
Assuming the average uninjured adult walks approximately 3 miles per hour we will have three tiers below for distances of 3 to 90 miles. As with everything else in prepping your needs and situation as well as the actual disaster will have an effect on what you will need to use and how your preps would be different. This is just a general guideline but should be enough for the average person in average conditions.
If you had to walk back home for 3 hours that could mean that you work approximately 9 miles away from home. This is very similar to my commute now and unless meteors hit the ground or we were bombed by someone, I think all things being equal I would be home in a relatively short time. Anything I pack is going to help me along my journey but does not anticipate an overnight stay. I would add some items just in case because I like to be prepared for surprises.
To walk for 8 hours at the average pace of 3 miles an hour that would put you approximately 24 miles away from home. I would have everything in the Tier 1 Get Home Bag plus the following items.
If you are like me and the commute was extra-long or the traveling conditions were hazardous it may take you 24 hours to make it home. This will involve sleeping somewhere overnight unless you just have to plug on and make it all in one shot. For a Tier 3 Get Home bag, I would add to the contents of the first two tiers, the following:
That is the million dollar question isn’t it? Well, first it helps to assemble all of your items to see how much space you need. For my Tier 1 Get Home Bag I use a Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack which fits everything I have, minus the shoes very nicely. I haven’t used them personally but am interested in the 5.11 Rush bags that come in three sizes to coincide with the duration of your stay (12, 24 and 72). I know the 5.11 brand and have several of their products, just not any bags and they have been of the highest quality. You do pay for that quality, but I think it is worth it and I want to get my hands on one of these bags for a review.
I have also been interested in looking at the Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack from 3VGear. The price is certainly reasonable so I am considering getting one of those to review also. At less than half the price of a 5.11 bag, it’s worth considering. There are so many options out there and you don’t have to spend a fortune on a bag to hold your gear. Most likely you aren’t being dropped into hostile territory in Afghanistan so most regular backpacks will do the job for you but your own needs and tastes will decide what works best.
In conclusion, you might be wondering what the difference between a Bug Out Bag and a Get Home Bag is and if you count all of the tiers together, throw in some more food and maybe cooking utensils you are pretty much looking at the same thing. It might be a good indicator that you have too much if you can’t tell the difference. Either that or you work a long way from home.
Hopefully this helped with some information. Any items I missed?
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