HomePosts Tagged "Get Home Bag"

In a disaster our first instinct is to move as quickly as possible to safety or to the closest approximation we have to our ideal of safe. For me, if anything happens my goal is to get back to my home as quickly as possible. I have supplies at home specifically designed to help me and my family handle the aftermath of almost any emergency and logically this is our first/main rally point in any crisis. No matter where I am if something happens I will be working immediately to make it back to reunite with the rest of my family. My get home plan is my first priority if I am away unless there is something that prevents me from reaching home. This is less of an issue if I am with my family and we are together, but I like most of you spend a good part of my day away from home.

We like to speak of the ideal of heavily stocked survival retreats located on hundreds of acres of land in the boonies only accessible via a dirt road and after crossing several water hazards. That is the ideal maybe, but almost none of us, when you start looking at the numbers live anything near that type of lifestyle. Are there people who live in remote areas? Of course, but for most of us, our survival retreat is our home in the suburbs or semi-rural areas still easily accessible by plenty of roads with a Walmart within a short drive. Even more live in the cities where our neighbors are practically on top of us. Most of us who call ourselves preppers do not live year round at a retreat taking care of livestock, building barns and furniture from trees we felled and wood shaped with hand tools. Most of us work a job for someone else in an area that is anything but remote and that is almost always away from home. I personally want the retreat, but unless my life changes drastically that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. For me right now, I am where I am so I plan to make the best of it. If something happens I will be heading to my home.

There are multiple strategies for travel needed with the unexpected emergency but the variables start adding up when you consider all the permutations of what the emergency could be and where you are at the time. Today I want to talk about how you can begin to prepare for a situation where you are at work and your goal is to get back home to your family, your supplies and your castle. In a lot of cases you have to plan for situations that are out of the norm. The first plan of course would be to simply hop in our cars and drive home, but what if the roads were blocked? What if you couldn’t even reach your car? You should make a plan now for getting back home in alternate ways and plan for travel that isn’t ideal.

My Get Home Bag of choice right now.

How will you get home?

Before we can really start discussing how to get home, you have to take into consideration how far away home is. For the purposes of this article, I will use the example of a typical work day. For most of us that means we leave home in the morning, go to work and return home the same day. I have written articles on getting home from much further distances, but for this article we’ll assume you aren’t on the other end of the country, you are at your regular day job.

One of the first things I recommend thinking about is a Get Home Bag for anyone who works more than a few miles from home. I personally use the Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack right now pictured on the right. A get home bag has been called by a lot of other names, but it is simply a bag with basic supplies that you might need in order to walk back to your home. This is not the same as a bug out bag, but the concepts are related. All of these bags are simply containers for some essentials you might need in an emergency situation. My Get Home Bag is stored in the trunk of my car and has very basic items because on an average day I am not more than 15 miles away from home. I have spare water, some food in the form of a Mainstay bar, work gloves, lighter, paracord, ammo, multi-tool, headlamp and dust mask along with some blood stopper bandages. Could I pack more in there? Of course but I try to lean toward the minimal side on these bags and focus more on what I really could need versus what would be nice to have. For example, I don’t have a compass because I know my town and where my home is. I don’t have hand sanitizer because that is the last thing I am going to worry about. I don’t have a radio because I should be home in a few hours tops but I do have a ham radio in my car that is mobile. Your get home bag should have what you would expect to need on your trek home.

But what if my car is blocked or I can’t get to my car? What if the parking deck that my car sits in all day is shaken to the ground by an earthquake or an explosion? That is when the absolutely prepared person would grab their back up bag from their desk. I don’t have a bag in my desk and really I don’t live far enough from work that I don’t think I could make it back even without a bag. Couldn’t I leave my Get Home Bag in my desk at work and eliminate that problem? Sure but what if my office is closed or blown up or for some other reason I can’t get back to my desk? For me, the trunk of my car is the safest bet that will be with more more often than my desk drawer and if that doesn’t work out I will adapt. One thing you don’t want to have to adapt to are the elements though. I carry rain gear on days when there is a chance of rain even if I don’t plan on going outside. Cold weather is the same thing. Its easy to leave home and think that you will just be in the car, but what if you are forced to walk? Dress for the weather outside, not the weather inside.

Another aspect of making it back home is to have footwear up to the challenge. I have written before about how so many people wear flip-flops everywhere they go now and I shudder to think about what it would be like in a real disaster to have virtually no protection on my feet. As well as my Get Home Bag I have a pair of sturdy work boots in my car. I never wear flip-flops but if for some bizarre reason I have a John McClain moment and am caught with my shoes off I will have a backup.

Carry your Every Day Carry – EDC

Another aspect of my preps is my EDC or Every Day Carry items that I have on my person at all times when I am away from home. For me, my EDC consists of a concealed handgun, handkerchief, multi-tool, flashlight, knife and water. My water bottle is in my backpack with my computer, but I always have that with me. These items augment what I have in my Get Home Bag and I try to religiously make sure they are on me. If I am walking out the door to work I have an almost perfect track record of taking all of my EDC gear, but it is the odd times where my outfit choices are different when this falls down. Going to the pool for example, I have been known to change things up due to necessity and some of my gear stays in the car as opposed to poolside.

With my EDC gear it is always in my pockets or my bag, but how many of you have gone to the bathroom without your cell phone? How many have run down to the corner store without your car keys? What if something prevented you from getting back to your desk or work location and the only way you had to get into your car was several floors up, or under rubble? I try to take my keys and cell phone with me anytime I leave my desk so that I will have this option if needed.

Plan more than one route back home

Where I live, there isn’t a tremendous amount of traffic so I routinely take the same route to and from work. This is the quickest way for me to travel, but in an emergency, roads could be blocked and impassable. If needed, I can take alternate roads, but in some cases that might make my trip longer by taking me further away from home to route back to a good road. Alternately you could cut through the woods or neighborhoods but this isn’t always faster. In some situations, it might be a bad idea to cut through someone’s yard and you could find yourself in an altercation you didn’t need to get in. What if your travel takes you through a rough part of town? You would necessarily want to avoid those areas at this time so that you don’t become the victim of a predator. It helps to know the area you live in well enough and in some cases to perform what I call Neighborhood Recon to scope out alternate routes and identify obstacles ahead of time. Could you make it through the swamp that is in the woods? Maybe, but would you want to?

Have a communication plan with your family

In a disaster, cellular communications might be down and who has land lines anymore? You used to find a phone booth on every corner but now they are nonexistent where I live. My communication plan is really meant to address a lack of communication I can foresee in a disaster. My family knows what my plans are and that is to come home. I might be delayed but I will stick to the plan. In the event that some crisis hits and my family is not in immediate danger from staying put at our home, they are supposed to wait for me to arrive. Depending on the crisis this could be several hours to a day, possibly overnight. Does your family know what your plans are? More importantly, do they know what to do if you never show up?

What are your plans for making it back home in an emergency if your trusty vehicle isn’t available?

In a disaster our first instinct is to move as quickly as possible to safety or to the closest approximation we have to our ideal of safe. For me, if

A frequent topic in Preparedness and Survival circles is the subject of Bugging Out and more specifically the question of whether you plan to Bug Out or will you Hunker Down. This simple question easily elicits all manner of responses and you will rarely find consensus on which is the better option. The only good thing about this question is there are only two options and one of those has to be the correct one in someone’s eyes. A 50/50 shot of getting this right isn’t too shabby if you are looking at odds, but there will be those who maintain an absolute position on one option or the other.

To Bug out or not bug out, like most questions that we must ask ourselves as we prepare for emergencies is an individual question and there is no universal wrong or right. This question is probably only second in notoriety to “What caliber is the best defensive round”.

If you can imagine going into a big underground bunker full of Preppers who are getting ready for the next Emergency and shouting that question; you will get as many answers as you have people. In reality, there are only a few common calibers but each person will have their own reason, preference or bias toward one and they will tell you in a very matter of fact tone, their choice and more importantly why you should take their word as the Gospel. Actually, it is probably simpler but just as much fun to pose this question in a survival forum and watch the sparks fly.

The factors that drive each person to reach their own personal decision are too numerous really to discuss in detail, but I will attempt to add my own opinionated two cents to the (already well covered, I know) argument and in doing so, completely invalidate everything I just said above. The reason is that I believe there is only one real answer to this question in almost any situation and my way is the right way. Most of the time.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, you may be asking “What the heck is he talking about?” so a quick definition is called for here. “Bugging Out” is the act of packing up your supplies and leaving home to go to another location. This may or may not coincide with the belief that you will never come back. A common example for Bugging Out is people who are forced to leave town due to a natural disaster like flooding or a Hurricane. They pack up their cars and get out of dodge. This is one of the reasons FEMA and other places recommend having a Bugout Bag or BOB with supplies that will keep you alive for 72 hours so that you can leave at a moment’s notice.

 

 

Bugging In or Hunkering Down is the complete opposite of Bugging Out. When you Bug-In you are staying put in your home with your supplies intending to ride out the storm or chaos that is coming. Thus the question is asked in preparedness circles usually in the context of political, biological or terrorism types of chaos: “Will you Bug out or Hunker down?”

To answer this for yourself, you have to ask several questions to determine which is the better option for you in your circumstance. The questions are pretty basic and revolve around:

  • Your Situation – What pushes your button internally that says “We have to leave”?
  • Your Location – This can apply to both where you are and where you plan to go
  • Your Health – Are you physically able to leave and possibly walk the distance
  • Your Dependents – small children or old relatives. Pets?
  • The Threat – What is the threat we are planning to leave for?
  • Your Destination – Where is the place you are going to?

 

Your Situation – can greatly affect the decision to Bug-Out or not and you have to decide when you will actually make the choice to go. If you are planning for an economic collapse, what events will trigger you leaving home and heading somewhere else. How bad would things need to get before you made that call. What if you are away from home? In that case you will be more concerned with getting home. What will your family do until you arrive? Is it the middle of winter and there is 2 feet of snow on the ground? Do you have a means of defending yourself and your family?

Your Health – Are you physically able to get up and strap a backpack to your back, walk out the door and never come back? Would you be able to run if needed? Do you require medication that must be refrigerated or taken daily? In some cases you simply won’t have a choice, you will need to Bug-In and plan accordingly.

Your Dependents – Do you have smaller children who may not be able to travel long distances. Are your children still in diapers or do they have special needs? Even healthy children below the age of 10 would have a tough time coping with a Bug-Out situation if the event lasted a long time and there was no stability. Are you pregnant? Do you have pets that you would never leave in a million years or that you would not be able to transport?

Your location – Are you located in a major city or a rural area with miles around you and nothing to look at. Do you live in a place that would allow you to live if the grid came crashing down tomorrow? I am not discussing whether or not it would be difficult, but could you plant a garden or do you live in a high-rise apartment in Chicago? Would you possibly need to walk with millions of other people out of the city? If this is the case, where would you go?

The threat – This one may be the easiest to answer but you will most likely have more than one answer given the specific threat. If we are talking about a flood or natural disaster and you have plenty of notice you may decide to leave. If we are talking about a viral outbreak or Mutant Zombie Bikers from Mars you may decide to stay. Has your city descended into chaos with riots and fires and mobs of people looting?

Your destination – Where are you heading? Do you have a place to go with a survival kit filled with supplies to last you? If the threat is a natural disaster like a hurricane and you have time, you can probably go stay with relatives for a few days. This may be one of the first things you should think of. Will you pack up the family, load down the car and hit the highway? Where will you go? For me I think this was the first factor I built all of my other choices off of. I do not live on a retreat in Idaho with 50 acres of land and an underground bunker complete with livestock and solar power. I do live near a large pond in a relatively small city with enough land to have a garden that would feed my family. I don’t have any retreat property (yet) so I don’t know where I would go. I would not go driving off into the sunset to try and live off the land unless I was desperate. This may be the circumstance that you are facing too and when the time comes you have to decide.

 

 

 

One factor I really like about the Preparedness and Survival community is the wealth of knowledge and experience we have out there. Just like me, everyone has an opinion. Some are based upon experience and others have made decisions after much reflection. Regardless of the experience one has you have to ask yourself questions when making a decision like this as it could affect everything you have and/or love. No expert can tell you what will work best for you and your family in your situation.

Taking all of the criteria above into consideration, I think for the average person with no place to go Bugging in is the best option. You will not be able to walk into the forest, kill deer and squirrels and live like a boss. That simply isn’t happening for the “average” person. For one thing you wont be alone. There could be millions of others with you too.

I have thought long and hard on this question and I know that if circumstances in my life were different I would most likely have a different answer. As it stands now, my vote is for Bugging In. I have all of my supplies here and we live in a relatively rural area. I am not naïve to believe that we would be insulated from the chaos but I think we would have a better chance here with some shelter as opposed to walking in the woods sleeping under a tarp. As much as I like camping, a home is a better place to defend.

Could that change tomorrow? Sure it could. I am constantly evaluating my situation and when things change, my plans change. Who knows, I might update this site before it’s all said and done with one last message.

“So long folks! I am outta here.”

A frequent topic in Preparedness and Survival circles is the subject of Bugging Out and more specifically the question of whether you plan to Bug Out or will you Hunker

I sometimes have to go out of town on business just like millions of other people each year. The distance and locations all vary with the need, but in a lot of cases, I am unable to be as equipped as I would normally be around my home town. In some cases, I travel internationally, but that is rare. Sometimes I only travel an hour or two by car so I opt to drive. In this type of situation, I can take my Get Home Bag and usually a firearm (or two) with me. Most often it is several hundred miles away from home and to cities where firearms are not allowed. On business trips, it is harder to pack your survival supplies in sufficient quantities to last if some disaster happened and you needed to get home.

I started to consider what a person would need to think about and could possibly face if they were in a situation where an EMP was exploded over the US, total chaos ensued and you were forced to make it back home over a considerable difference. In my scenario, the distance would be about 700 miles and the assumptions with an EMP would be that there were not many electrical devices working. All cellular communications would be down as well as landlines were out of commission. TV and Radio networks had been taken offline even if some of the TV sets and radios themselves still worked. I don’t imagine every single electronic device in the world would go out forever, but it would be enough to create massive confusion, fear, and panic.

In addition to communication and access to news all access to money was cut off. Banks would slam shut and a bank holiday would be declared. Hospitals would quickly fill with the sick and injured and you would be on your own. How would you get back home and what would you need to consider if your home was 700 miles away and you had no survival supplies and no way to procure them.

Plan before you travel

The average, healthy person on level terrain can comfortably walk about 20 miles in a day. In our scenario above, with no issues whatsoever, it would take you about 35 days to walk back home if you didn’t stop anywhere to take pictures. That is a very long time to be walking. There are a myriad of issues to consider in even starting a challenge like that. Most backcountry hikers, who have plenty of gear and some expectation they are going to be roughing it, rarely set out on trips that long. Even backpackers, who hike the Appalachian Trail stop into towns, eat hot meals and pick up packages of goods they have stored along the way.  How will you with minimal supplies even begin to hope to make it home alive? There are some items that I think you would need to have squared away in your mind first.

  • Should you stay in place or set out on foot?
  • What gear will you need?
  • How will you eat?
  • What route will you take?

 

Should you stay or should you go?

This will be the first mental challenge that you will be faced with and could determine if you will live or die. In all seriousness, the plans you make and more importantly your actions affect the situations down-line that you find yourself in. We have all probably heard stories about travelers who had a “gut-feeling” that they shouldn’t get on a plane and the plane ended up crashing. Similarly, your “gut” is going to be screaming at you in a disaster. It is the well-known fight or flight response and you will need to figure out for yourself what you will be capable of doing mentally and physically before you set out on any expedition.

Hiking for over a month is a very monumental task that not a lot of people (including me) have any experience with. In days long past, a travel plan like this wasn’t so far out of the norm. We haven’t always had cars, trains and wagons to get us around and people walked. This is certainly doable, but for a lot of very good reasons, people didn’t live as long back then. Journeys of this scale take time, planning and skills.

Deciding whether or not you would even consider a trek like this is something you can do now. I know that I personally would.  I don’t know if I would make it, but I would be on the road somewhere. In my situation above, I would stick around a couple of days most likely to procure supplies, get any information I could, plan and prepare. I think that a couple of days after an EMP attack everyone will be in shock, but that won’t last long. Eventually, people will panic and that is when you don’t want to be around. My wife already knows that if something like this happens, I am headed home but it might take me a while.

What gear will you need?

As I said in the introduction, if I am driving anywhere, I pack a lot of supplies that would help me get back home in a disaster scenario like this. If you weren’t able to pack your Get Home Bag or any firearms, what would you do?

It helps to consider the journey back home and the different factors that you will encounter. Is this winter or summer? Will you have extreme temperature that needs to be planned for. What will you use for shelter? Security?

A good exercise if you find yourself in a scenario like this is to take stock of what you have. Empty your pockets of everything and conduct a simple inventory. When I travel, regardless of where I go I always have a bandanna, flashlight, multi-tool and small hank of paracord. These items can really come in handy, but they wouldn’t be the only things I would count on to get me back home over 700 miles away. Depending on the season, I would try to acquire additional clothing if I needed it, but usually, I pack appropriate clothes for wherever I am going. What I don’t normally pack are clothes designed for living out in the woods for a month. Some modifications might have to happen.

A simple tarp and rope/bungie cords will provide shelter for you and will keep the elements off your head while you sleep. A big sheet of plastic would do the same. Is it the same as a nice backpacking tent? No, but it works and is lighter and speaking of lighter… You need an easy way to start a fire also.

Great walking shoes that are already broken in would be a huge advantage. Actually, I think sturdy leather boots would be the perfect choice, but some people might have to hike back in dress shoes. If possible, I would look for boots as quickly as you can after deciding you are walking.

For security, you have to take what you can get if the grid crashes like this. At a minimum, I would find a large stick or pole. Baseball bat would be my second choice but may be harder to find than a good old wooden stick. This needs to be sturdy enough to use as a walking stick or club to crack someone’s head open with if necessary. Additionally, it can be used to support your tent.

Money could either be worthless or crucial to you getting supplies in an EMP event. If you have your head screwed on tightly and have cash on hand, you may be able to run down to the sporting goods store and buy some needed supplies before you make your trip. When I travel I always try to have cash in my wallet. It isn’t enough to buy out the store but could get me some crucial supplies.

I would caution you though to try and maintain a low profile. If you are all set up for a big backpacking expedition with the latest bag, gear, and clothes you may be a target. Someone might want what you have (because they can’t get it) and try to take it from you. It’s better to keep a low profile and low weight will help the trip too.

I would try to fit everything I needed into a standard size backpack that most everyone has. This way you will look just like everyone else headed home.

How will you eat?

This will probably be the toughest part about a journey like this in my opinion. I think most people can walk long distances. Most people will be able to carry or find some relatively decent source of water, but most people won’t be able to find food. What do you do?

There is no way you could ever pack enough food to last you your entire journey. You more than likely won’t be able to set up traps like Bear Grylls and catch rabbits or fish from a stream with your pocket survival kit, but I could be wrong. I think a lot of people are going to be going several days at a time without food. Could you hole up somewhere and catch wild game? Of course, you could and I am not knocking those skills. What I am going to try to do though is to get home as quickly as possible.

This may be where timing comes into play. Food from grocery stores will be wiped out in days. You could be one of the early birds and grab enough food to last you a week or so and set out. After that week, you will need to find food along the way. Will people have any to sell you or will there be some form of bartering set up already? I don’t know, but I think the sooner you can get home the better. As the realization that the power isn’t coming back on hits, people will be stingier with their food I imagine. The old rule is you can go 3 weeks without food but I don’t want to try and put that to the test.

What route will you take?

The final item to consider is how will you get back home. What route are you going to take to get there and this is where having maps will be invaluable for a couple of reasons. First, you want to plan your route and make sure you know which way you are going. I have on more than one occasion gone the wrong way and had to turn around and backtrack. It’s easy to do this for twenty miles in a car, but if you are walking and realize you took a wrong turn, that could waste a day.

The second reason is I would use secondary roads as much as possible and not highways. I would also try to steer clear of major cities in my path. A highway is faster if you are traveling 70 miles an hour, but it might not be the most direct route you can take. Maps that show the secondary roads to your home will be good to have. Some may even be able to help you determine good places to stay. I would personally camp outside of cities and avoid people as much as possible, but I would want the flexibility to change that plan if needed. Everyone’s circumstances will be unique.

Hopefully, this was useful and gave you something to think about as you plan for your next trip. Please let me know if you have other suggestions in the comments below.

I sometimes have to go out of town on business just like millions of other people each year. The distance and locations all vary with the need, but in a

There are numerous concepts used in the Prepping community and the concept of a Get Home Bag is one of the easiest to understand because the rationale is very obvious and could potentially affect most anyone. The practice of assembling and using this tool is another matter. A Get Home Bag (GHB) is just what it sounds like. It is a bag that contains supplies to help you Get Back Home. Pretty simple, right?

The next obvious question is what do you put in the Get Home Bag? This is when the answer becomes more complex. Not because it is hard, because I do not believe constructing a bag with the basic supplies you need is difficult, but we frequently want a list of items we can go purchase because its easier. Actually, it would be better if we could go down to Wal-Mart purchase our get home bag along with the latest DVD and some chips and be done with it. Either give me simple instructions or make it easy for me to acquire it and I’m there.

The Get Home Bag is often grouped in with its larger sibling, the Bug-Out-Bag or bugout bag, but the two are vastly different tools and should have two distinctly different uses. While the bugout (BOB) usually contains the same items from situation to situation, this doesn’t necessarily make sense in a get home bag. Let me explain why.

The scenario for a bugout bag is that you are forced to evacuate your home and you are heading somewhere else for an extended period of time. You may or may not be coming back. Your bug out bag carries the basic necessities for living away from your home for an extended time. The bug out bag is usually pretty closely aligned to your Survival Kit List and the bags are larger because you have more stuff that needs to go in there. Most people would share the same necessities (food, clothing, shelter, security) so the general contents of the bag would be similar regardless of location. You would need some type of shelter, but the type of protection from the elements you need may be different for someone living in Alaska as opposed to Mississippi.

The Get Home Bag is not something you should be packing to live off of. This bag’s contents depend largely on how long it will take you to get back to your family and the obstacles you envision facing on your journey. If you are traveling away from home, your GHB should take a completely separate state of scenarios into consideration and it should be packed accordingly. If you are right down the street at a party, would you need the same equipment?

How far will you have to travel?

According to data I was able to get from the US Census Bureau website, the average commute time in the US was about 25 minutes. I know this is an average and some of you out there drive an hour each way. Uphill. In a car made of cardboard… Actually, I used to do that myself for a month. There will always be situations that are on the outside edges and I can’t take all of them into consideration so we will just take the average as our baseline and work out from there. So taking that amount of 25 minutes into consideration we can assume if you jump into your car and start driving at 60 miles an hour right away the average distance would be 25 miles. I know this isn’t the case, so I am knocking this in half for traffic, public transportation, etc. 12 miles away from home for the average person.

OK, now that we have our base distance of approximately 12 miles and knowing that all things being equal, the average person (I am going to use that term a lot) can comfortably walk a mile in 20 minutes. 12 miles X 20 minutes is about 4 hours. If you are being chased by Zombies, that amount of time goes down and you could make it home much quicker, but the average person should only need about 4 hours to get back home. But wait you say, this is a grid-down type of scenario and you don’t know what could be involved with actually trying to get back home. What if I am not at work and I am visiting relatives? That’s correct so we will take another set of assumptions.

What could cause me to need my Get Home Bag?

For the purposes of this article, some emergency has happened, your normal method of transportation is not available and the location you are in (maybe it is a visit to friends) isn’t going to work so you must get back home. We’ll take that one step further and say in order to realistically need your GHB, NO method of transportation is available and you are using your LPC’s to transport you back to home. For those of you who don’t know, LPC stands for Leather Personnel Carriers – shoes. If we had a situation like 9/11 where a catastrophe happened, no public transportation was available but the basic infrastructure was in place, walking is perfectly reasonable. Again, this is your average person, not someone who is in a wheelchair or injured. If this is the case, what needs to be in your GHB? That depends on what you think you will need for your 4 hour (or so) walk home. Do you need a complete first aid kit, cutting torch, welding gloves and hazmat suit? Probably not.

Let me pause right here and say that I am not poopooing the idea of a Get Home Bag. I have one and it is with me daily in my car. I am just trying to put things into perspective. If you work 3 hours away or are on vacation, your bag’s contents need to be adjusted.

OK, back to the scenario where a disaster has happened, no public transportation is available and you are forced to walk back home. There are a ton of factors that could influence what you carry.

  • Is it Summer or Winter?
  • Is there snow and ice on the ground?
  • Do you work in a high-rise office and wear high-heels to work?
  • Are you a lifeguard and only wear a bathing suit?
  • Is it evening time when you are forced to get back home?
  • Are you likely to be in a situation where you are trapped inside a building and need to escape?
  • Could you possibly be trapped underground in a tunnel?

All of these factors start to influence what we pack but they should individually be evaluated against the percentage of likelihood that you would encounter a situation like this. Could you possibly be in a car that is plunged into an icy river and you would need oxygen tanks to survive until you can swim up to the surface? Sure, but is that very likely? Nope.

OK, I think I have circled the wagons long enough here and if you have been like me and scrolled all of the way to the bottom until you see a list of bullets, here you go. I keep all of my stuff for my get home bag in a Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack because it has more than enough room for what I need to carry.

  • Walking shoes – these may already be on your feet.
  • ball cap or boonie hat to keep the elements off your head
  • Jacket – to knock the chill or rain off depending on season
  • Gloves – work type gloves would be better in this scenario
  • Knife (but this should already be in your EDC)
  • Multi-tool (again, you should already have this on you)
  • Headlamp with spare batteries
  • Dust mask or handkerchief
  • Water – amount depends on your situation
  • Basic blood stopper bandage
  • Spare ammo (you are carrying right?)
  • meal replacement bar X 2
  • energy booster – 5 hour energy
  • Lighter
  • Pen/paper
  • 25 feet of paracord
  • 10 feet of duct tape (I prefer Gorilla tape)

 

Your mileage may vary.

Do you need this many medical supplies to just make it home? Probably not. This is a good emergency medical kit for your family though.

Is this going to be enough for you to chisel your way out of a collapsed parking garage, fight the mutant hordes, set up a shelter to weather the meteor storm and feed a group of individuals you have met up with after the disaster for a week? No, but this will get the average person home in a day or two without dying in most situations.

Can you add more water and food? Of course and if you live in hotter climates or have further to go, you should absolutely do that. For me in my every day use though I don’t believe this is necessary. I have reviewed other Prepper’s bags and they account for a lot of situations mine doesn’t. For example, I have seen some that suggest rope (to rappel out of your office window) and bolt cutters and topographical maps and compasses and pry bars and lock pick sets. My belief is that if you can’t figure out how to make it back home without a map, you are very likely to not know how to use a map in the first place. Perhaps you want to take this so someone else can tell you how to get home?

What about a more substantial first aid kit? That’s a great question, but what are you planning for? Most every first aid kit I have seen comes with 250 Band-Aids and a lot of aspirin tablets for the most part. If the world around you has collapsed so completely that you are forced to walk home 12 miles are you really going to stop and put a band aid on a boo boo? No, but you may be injured more seriously so I recommend a basic bandage to stop larger blood loss and patch a bigger cut.

What if you are vacationing and are several hundred miles away from home? That would require you to change the contents of your get home bag. For instance my normal EDC firearm is replaced with a full size Glock and two spare magazines. My water is increased and so are my food preparations. I also have clothing appropriate for walking in whatever weather is forecast. If I am traveling with others, the get home bag starts to look more like a bug out bag but that’s fine.

What about the roving hordes of mutant zombie bikers? Again, if the world has gone to crap like that, carrying more stuff isn’t necessarily going to help you. Your mileage may vary, but this is the basic list of items that can keep you from starving, dehydrating and safe for a day. You may be tired and hungry, but you aren’t going to die.

I am curious to hear what others have packed in their get home bags.


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There are numerous concepts used in the Prepping community and the concept of a Get Home Bag is one of the easiest to understand because the rationale is very obvious

A Bug Out Bag is something that most of us are familiar with even if most of us do not have one loaded by the door or in the trunk of your car, ready to go at all times. For the uninitiated, the Bug Out Bag’s purpose is to give you everything you should need to live for 72 hours if you are forced to evacuate your location suddenly. A bug out bag should be pre-packed with all of your supplies so that you can grab it, throw it on your back and walk or run out your car, or head for the hills.

I have written a couple of other posts about Bug Out Bags and one dealt specifically on the subject of the contents of your bug out bag or BOB. My contention is that there are too many people that are throwing everything but the kitchen sink in their packs and I feel that there is something of an insane rush to get everything humanly possible into your BOB without much thought as to the why or the weight.

 

A bug out bag is not a U-Haul. It is not a Bug Out Suitcase even though I swear some people pack more into a Bug Out Bag than they do for a week down in Cancun. I have another post lined up to rehash this concept under a different theme, but I have heard others talk about packing 50 to 70 pounds in their Bug Out Bag and they plan to walk for hundreds of miles if necessary. 70 pounds???

I won’t get into weight or the absolute foolishness (in my opinion) of packing anything remotely that heavy in this post. I will talk about intelligently packing what you do have because regardless of whether you have an ultra-light pack or some behemoth weighing as much as a 4th grade boy, you need to pack this in a way that will make it as comfortable as possible to carry. We are going to talk about how to pack your bug out bag to take the most advantages of weight distribution and tried and true backpacking tips as possible. Backpackers have been bugging out for a long time and it pays to take a lesson or two from people who have more experience than the average Doomsday Prepper fan when it comes to packing everything they need for 72 hours on their back and living to talk about it.

 

 

Packing a backpack and packing a bug out bag are virtually identical. I would argue that you could just as easily bug out with a back pack as you could with any military looking pack from Blackhawk, maybe even easier. There are 4 simple rules to packing any pack you are going to carry on your back.

  • Heaviest gear goes close to your back
  • Light gear away from your back
  • Frequently used items go on top
  • Less used items go on bottom

The Basics of Pack Loading

Packing a backpack or packing your bug out bag are pretty similar. To be successful, you want to pack the right gear, but you need to pack it the right way too and that means keeping your center of gravity as close to you as possible. The last thing you need is a big pack that keeps you off balance and puts unneeded stress on your back.

Sample Bug Out Bag loading diagram.

Items like water and food usually weigh the most unless you have some really heavy gear in your bug out bag. A lot of people have moved to carrying water bladders like a Camelbak and most new packs have a place right inside the back next to your spine for carrying this. Keep the heavy stuff as close to you as possible and low as opposed to above your shoulders.

The Bottom of the Pack

Using the guidelines above, I pack the items I am going to need to get to least,  at the bottom of the pack. My pack has a compartment in the bottom for my sleeping bag so that goes in first. Additionally, having your sleeping bag on the bottom gives you a nice soft cushion when you set your pack down. I have my sleeping bag in a compression sack, but if I have any fear of rain I would add a waterproof bag instead. Running out the door isn’t the time to worry about this, so it may make more sense for you to pack your sleeping bag in a waterproof sack regardless.

Next, I add my tent or hammock gear. I still prefer the tent and it is one of the last items I need so It goes in the bottom of the bag. Depending on the trip I also have a tarp that is attached at the bottom.

The Core of the Pack

Once I have my sleeping bag and tent in the bug out bag, I pack most of my spare clothes, then food and cooking gear. I say most of my clothes because depending on the weather I will carry a fleece or windbreaker too and I want this where I can get to it easily. My main food isn’t going to be eaten until I am at camp or stopped most likely.

I also carry a JetBoil that takes up about as much room as my food and I have my fuel in that same container. My jetboil can boil water for drinking, cook food or quickly heat my water for coffee in the mornings.

The Top of the pack

The top of your bug out bag or the pockets on the outside depending on what you are using should have the gear or equipment you are going to need the most. My pack has a compartment that is waterproof and that is where the lighters and fire kit go along with my headlamp and snacks. This way if I get hungry, I don’t have to dig in my bug out bag, just unzip the top compartment. On the backside of my pack, I have a zippered pocket for tp and spare cordage. I will also carry maps and maybe a camera.

 

 

 

What’s on the sides?

The sides usually hold the water filter, maybe some additional items depending on what I am carrying like spare water bladders. I carry two spares so that when I get to camp I can pump plenty of water for washing up, cooking and even breakfast in the morning. When they are empty they weigh nothing.  My pack also has side pockets for my water bottles too and those work nicely because I can easily reach water while I am walking. One of these days I am going to pull the trigger and get a Camelbak so that I don’t have to carry it, but I still think the good old bottle is easier in some aspects.

That’s how I do it. How do you pack your bug out bag?

A Bug Out Bag is something that most of us are familiar with even if most of us do not have one loaded by the door or in the trunk

 

Be ready for your workday.

Like many other preppers all over the world I find myself in daily situations where I feel less than fully prepared. While you can never be ready for everything, and yes this includes when you are hunkered down in your bunker with the Fort Knox of dried foods and more guns and ammo than the Israeli army, there are some things that we can do to help minimize this. One of the biggest holes in my preparedness plan is work. Like almost everyone else I spend the majority of my time at work, specifically a school. While the school does have standard emergency provisions such as emergency blankets, medical supplies and enough salvageable materials and resources to at the very least, coupled with my EDC (everyday carry), put me in a very good position to head home to re-evaluate the situation. However, it could be better. As preppers we also have a moral responsibility to aid others when we can. Having an emergency bag, or preferably several, at work could make the difference for not only you but for the unprepared as well.

So what would this emergency bag or kit contain? In this article we will look at several points of consideration and areas that will need to be explored for you to make your own at work emergency bag. This is by no means a how to guide or my own personal opinion, more an aid in helping you, the reader, evaluate and create your own kit specifically tailored to your situation and the legal requirements and regulations in your area.

Some Big Questions

The first thing to ask yourself is what is the purpose of your kit? Is its purpose to get you to a specific place? To manage the immediate situation? Or to equip you and your co-workers with the means of effecting self rescue. If you are looking to get to a specific place you will be needing something lightweight and comfortable to wear even if you have sustained injury. If you are staying put you will be more concerned with medical supplies and provisions. Also, you will require materials and ways to secure your surrounding area. I.e clearing debris and checking for immediate threats like water, gas and electrical lines. If self rescue is your goal then a means of reaching help quickly and safely will be your main points of concern.

Mini bolt cutters can be carried easily and cut though locks or metal in an emergency.

The next big question is how many people will be in your group and how many kits will you have? While safety in numbers and the additional manpower can be a big advantage, will everyone share your point of view or plan for survival? Will you have a set hierarchy or chain of command in place if an emergency does require it? An emergency situation is only made worse with the chaos of panic. Looking into or addressing these situations now will directly affect your gear and plan of action.

Let’s say you will go it alone or with a very small group. This will mean you will need gear that is lightweight with more weight and space being taken up by necessities such as water or medical supplies. On the other hand, if you go with a larger group you will be able to transport more gear and will have more options for what you can do in your situation. For example, you could carry a range of tools that could help you bypass obstacles easier, such as a crowbar or bolt cutters. You may also have more chance of people having access to a functioning vehicle or medical/emergency training.

Finally, and in many ways the most important question and without an answer to this, even your best laid plans will never leave the drawing board. How will you fund and start this endeavor? Can you get permission from your boss to store gear at your place of work? Will your co-workers be on board or just go with it when the time comes leaving you with stressed out, unprepared, possibly dangerous people to have to handle? Training or including others in your preps is a necessity if you plan includes others.

If you have a single kit you will limit options for space and weight, if you have several the storage space and price may go up, one for everyone it certainly will. So before reading further these questions need to be answered.

Gear, Gear and More Gear for your Emergency Bag

Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack has a lot of features for less than $100.

Onto the matter of the gear. Like all good BOBs (bug out bags) a good emergency bag relies on the same principles. With that in mind let’s look at the first aspect: the bag itself.

You have a wide variety of options to consider here. You could go with durable military bags with ample padding, strapping and webbing for gear or a more discreet civilian bag that doesn’t draw attention. Others prefer high visibility bags with attached lights and whistles for easy access similar to the design of airplane life jackets or flame retardant bags that while not all too well designed will ensure your gear remains safe from fire and is partially waterproof. Each has their pros and cons and should be chosen when and only when the rest of your kit has been assembled. One of the golden rules of BOBs: buy the bag to fit the kit not the kit that will fit in the bag.

Next, clothing and protective gear. Most everyday office buildings, schools or company work spaces are built of similar materials, concrete, re-bar, steel (possibly corrugated) and plywood. These materials while dependent on size can be moved if blocking an escape route. However, doing so without adequate hand and eye protection would be a mistake. Strong work gloves, goggles and masks can be extremely useful. Be sure to take in mind the amount of protection verses dexterity you will need. If working with wires and fine tools is what you expect bulky industrial work gloves may not be the best choice. In regards to goggles and masks the standard N95 mask and standard full eye and nose goggles should suffice for keeping dust or smoke at bay.

Onto the case of footwear. While work boots are preferable don’t underestimate a comfortable pair of dress shoes. Try yours out on a long distance walk in the city or on a short jog. It may sound strange but it could save you time, money and space on gear you may not need. While helmets may be unnecessary they are a fair consideration depending on your place of work, but be sure to make sure you can wear it with your goggles and mask with good visibility.

The next main concern in any kit is signalling and communications. For this aspect of your kit you should be looking at mid/long-range ham radios, solar/kinetic emergency radios, flares and glow sticks. The reason for this is that you can keep in contact with whoever is in the area, keep track of emergency broadcasts and signal for rescue. Replying on cell phones and land line communication is a gamble in a survival situation and should not be relied upon. If you are going to rely on ham radio then you first have to learn how to use it and all the relevant emergency frequencies.

Now let’s move onto medical matters. If any of your party are injured leaving them untreated can only make matters worse. Having a basic knowledge of first aid can prove invaluable and as the saying goes: Knowledge doesn’t weigh anything.

A small axe can make survival in many situations much easier.

However basic supplies don’t hurt. Having a standard trauma kit in your pack can provide you with. A kit I would recommend is the Bighorn Sportsman Medical Kit, or at least one which contains similar provisions. That said, the best medical kit is always one you put together and tailor yourself.

The last but by no means the least important is food and water. While having a store at work for several days a head would be great it unfortunately isn’t possible most of the time. Having cooking gear and fuel, while they double as a heat source are, for most, quite unnecessary. Dried long life foods such as Datrex bars which are well suited to a small lightweight kit. While they are by no means gourmet but they will get the job done of sustaining you until rescue or self rescue occurs. Water, like food, does not need to be stored in great volume. A one liter bottle of water per person should be sufficient for 1 – 2 days. While glass containers will allow you to store water for longer periods of time and should be considered for at home stores, plastic is the best choice here due to its weight, durability and flexibility. Cooking equipment and food that requires such should be avoided to save weight and space. That said if it is within your capability to do so a hot meal can go a long way in regards to boosting moral.

Locked and Loaded

The last aspect of a kit to talk about is weapons and tools. While carrying a small axe, firearm or full tang knife is something that most, if not all, survivalists consider essential it may not be safe nor permitted in the work place. While it is tempting to simply conceal these items from people in your personal belongings it is also worth talking to your boss or manager about these things with the aim of having all your gear approved. Depending on where you work you may be faced with different rules, restrictions and regulations for what you can carry. Always make sure that you have the right permits and documentation. Who knows you may even make a Prepper out of them.

  Be ready for your workday. Like many other preppers all over the world I find myself in daily situations where I feel less than fully prepared. While you can never be

 

You are at work. You are 60 miles from your home and have one major obstacle (river) in between your house and work. Your work location is an office cubicle with a couple of file cabinets and a desk in a mid-sized city and you work on the second floor of the building. Your home is on 8 acres in a rural location about 30 miles outside of the closest urban built up area and there is a major city about 1 hour away that does not affect your routes home but can become an issue if the overall situation worsens. Choose any crisis situation, EMP, Civil Disturbance, Riots, Major Natural Disaster or total collapse. It does not really matter what happens, but you need to get home as fast as you can due to the deteriorating situation. The power is out at your office and people begin panicking.

You gather your level 2 kit (Get Home Bag) from under your desk. Double check that you have your Level 1 kit (EDC) on your person and you make your way to your Toyota 4Runner out in the employee parking lot. It is on the ground level of a parking garage attached to your building. You arrive at your vehicle and place your GHB (Level 2) behind your seat on the floor. You open the back of your vehicle and get some water and food to place up in front for the drive home which you think will be longer due to the traffic and detours. You also do a quick visual check of your Level 4 kit (Vehicle) you have in a small action packer container. Also, inside your rear cargo area is a tool kit with repair items for tires, hoses etc. Including an air compressor, extra tie downs (ratchet straps and 1 inch tubular nylon), a case of bottle water, another smaller container (food) with protein bars, tuna fish packets, etc. You added some tools to your kit in the last few weeks, a set of bolt cutters (small and large) and a Stanley fat max utility bar. On the back of your SUV you have a spare tire with 1 x 5 gallon fuel can.

alley

Your Get Home Scenario Begins

As you start your SUV and prepare to drive out of the parking garage you realize that everyone is trying to exit and there is a small traffic jam on the first floor. You adjust your planned exit to use the entrance instead and it looks like some already have done the same since the drop arm barrier is broken off. You exit the garage and begin to take the most unused side streets to make your way north out of the city. Lucky for you it is not too far until you will have a couple of route options for the drive home. Since you planned your routes based off your Area Study you did when you moved out in the country, you are prepared. You have your Garmin GPS working along with a good city map and compass to keep you going in the right direction as you make detours to avoid being stuck in congestion. You decide to take a risk and use an unknown alleyway between two tall buildings. You take it cautiously, as it makes a left hand turn and you realize that the way is blocked by a 7 foot wooden fence just short of an empty side street. You stop and cut the engine, look and listen for a few minutes. Exit your vehicle, you get out your Fatmax utility bar and a folding handsaw, move to the fence. You pry off the 1 x 6 sturdy boards that make up the fence and cut the cross 2×4’s and the 4×4 post supporting them. You don’t want to pound on them to attract unwanted individuals or ram through it with your vehicle and maybe damaging your radiator. You know the width of your SUV and in 5-10 minutes of prying and cutting you have an opening. You exit the alleyway onto this side street which is on the outskirts of the city but you still need to go north to get closer to home.

You look at your map and make a decision to get away from the city as soon as possible but it will take you a little out of your way from your planned routes. So you adjust your plan accordingly. You need to make a security halt and do a good map check, so the first chance you find a concealed location in the country you take an old logging road that is overgrown and pull off into the trees. Again you look and listen after you turn off you SUV. You get out and do a quick look around your immediate area. Now you need to plan another route to one of your planned routes home. You noticed there is a power line easement that will lead you to the rail road tracks and the train bridge that crosses that river on your primary route. Good, so now you take a look at your vehicle to make it is good, tires, no leaks etc. While drinking some water and eating a protein bar you make marks on your map as reference points. You then take a quick look down the logging road where you came and are going to make sure no one is there, then start your SUV and head north to that power line easement.

oldloggingroad
As you come closer to the easement you decide to drive slower and through the woods to enter the easement not at a known junction just in case people are in that area. As you are driving through the pinewoods you hear an audible pop and stop. You noticed that you have a puncture in your tire now. It is a solid stick poking into the sidewall near the tread. You shut off the engine and look and listen. You get out the air compressor and tire kit and plug the hole with 2 large plugs. You add air to the tire and continue on your way. Since the easement can be a natural line of drift for people walking or even driving like yourself, you take precautions by stopping before this danger area and taking a look. It looks clear and you are hoping most people are still stuck in the city or on the roads. You drive more aggressively along the established dirt road along the power lines. This road has been used by the power company’s maintenance vehicles so it is some what maintained. You notice you have to cross a hardball paved road up ahead, so you take the necessary security precautions. But as you approach the paved road on foot, you noticed it has a cable across the dirt road on both sides of the hardball road. This cable is attached to wooden posts and prevents you from easily bypassing it. So when you return to your vehicle you get out your large bolt cutters and have them ready. You cut the cables on both sides of the paved road before you cross it with your SUV. You again drive aggressively to make as much distance you can from that paved road.

You approach the railroad tracks cautiously and move up to where you can see the train bridge. You use your binoculars to see the other side and notice it is identical to this side. No obstacles to prevent you from driving across it. You scan the area for people or threats. None, so you adjust your vehicle straddling the left track and drive across the bridge. Once on the other side you look in your rear view mirror and noticed some movement in the trees behind you. All of a sudden your back window is shattered as you hear several gun shots. You drop off the tracks onto the side of the railroad embankment to avoid more rounds. You see an opening in the trees on your side of the tracks and noticed it is another dirt road. You immediately turn left onto it and drive fast to put distance between you and the ambushers. You also try to maintain your location on the GPS and map. It seems you are now in one of the many state game lands that stretch between your work and home.

Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator

Your vehicle is having issues and you realize your fuel is almost empty. So you turn off the dirt road and pull up in a security halt and take a look at it. You come to the conclusion that a round pierced your fuel tank. As you look through your Level 4 gear and repair tools you realize you don’t have a plastic fuel tank repair kit yet. So you begin to improvise a plug out one of the thick branches, but no luck. You take in your situation by determining your location and the distance to home. You realize it should take you until tomorrow night to get home if you have to walk. So you begin to prioritize your gear/kit. You have your Level 1, your Level 2 (GHB) and your Level 4 (vehicle). You know need to take items from your Level 4 kit to augment your Level 1 and 2 Kit. You adjust the items in your GHB to accommodate the extra items from the Level 4. Primarily food and water, then Medical and Technical. You also take into account that there is a threat to your rear and want to make sure you have the extra mags for your EDC pistol. As you are getting this all together, you hear noises and movement back on the road where you turned off. So you expedite your departure from your vehicle. You move out quietly but rapidly to continue to put distance between you and the ambushers. You regret leaving your vehicle and some gear back there to be found but your family is the priority and you have extra gear at the house.

As you move, you look for a good defensible hole up site to work out your routes. You find a thickly vegetated knoll above a draw you just crossed and decide to hole up here for a short rest. As you look at your Garmin Etrex you pulled out of your GHB and the USGS Topo maps you packed in it, you calculate you have little over 30 kilometers to home. You know you can walk 4 MPH on dirt roads with 50 lbs, so if you did this walk accordingly, it would take you 5 hours on a straight line. But this is not on a road and it is not a straight path. When you include the possible threats and known threats you have to reduce your speed, move slower, take more security halts, use different directions, etc. You look at the time and it will be about to be dusk or EENT (Early Evening Nautical Twilight). As you plan the route, you know you can stay off any roads and natural lines of drift from here on out. You determine you should be home after dark tomorrow night. You check your signal devices in your GHB, you have a section of VS-17 Panel, a strobe light with IR cover, GMRS radio with extra batteries, Red lens flashlight and your cell phone. You already made your initial text to the wife when you departed from work. She received it and marked the time you departed. Knowing your plan and how long it should take to drive, she would expect you to be home in a couple of hours. But that is not going to happen. You try another text to update on your movement plans, but no signal. You are too far to use the GMRS so you turn them off and save the batteries. She knows to begin checking the cell phone and radio on the hour for 15 minutes once you fail to make your arrival time. You continue to move toward home.

Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ Night Vision Goggles

You pick up and move out to the north avoiding all danger areas as much as possible. For the first couple of legs you do extensive counter tracking to make sure the ambushers do not follow your route. It is pretty dark tonight since the illumination is low. The moon is waxing so it will increase each night. You planned your route using as many hand rails as possible. Making sure you establish a good attack point and backstop for your RON positions. You arrive at your first RON position just after midnight, it took you about 6 hours to move almost 4 miles closer to home. You moved at a tactical pace of 1 kph through the woods under the cover of darkness. You hole up for the night and plan on moving out before first light. You have about 16 more miles to get home and you want to get there in just as many hours. At a pace of 1 kph you know you won’t be able to make that distance in 16 hours, so you plan on moving at a faster pace for part of your movement tomorrow.

It is 4 a.m. And you are ready to move out before it gets light. You replenished your water last night from a small creek about 300 meters from your hole up site. You travel the rest of the day without any more problems from people or terrain. You managed to gain time on your route by using handrails along a railroad track that was heading in your direction. You made sure you stayed off the tracks a good 100 meters but maintained visual of it as you moved rapidly through easy terrain with less under brush. It is getting dark now and you know you are a few miles from your house. So you stop in a security halt and try to establish communications with your wife, your cell is not working still so you give the GMRS a try. You broadcast a couple of times at the top of the hour. You wait and hear her respond and you let her know how far you are out, from what direction you are coming and that you will give here a night-time signal for link up. She acknowledges it all. As you approach the clearing that is behind your house, you observe it for anything unusual. Seeing it is clear, you turn on your radio and establish common again with her. Your primary night-time signal, an IR strobe light for her to acknowledge. You have one set of NVGs and she has them at the house. You wait for her to acknowledge what she sees. But nothing….So you switch to the Alternate, a red lens flash light with 3 flashes. She sees that and comes across the radio with what she sees. You confirm and you arrive at your door. After the greetings, you realize you never taught your wife how to turn on the NVGs. But she defiantly knew the alternate signals.

Conclusion: As I try to detail in this scenario, you must have a flexible plan. Be prepared to change and adjust it according to the situation. Your kit levels aid you in maintaining the flexibility and ability to adjust and resupply on the go. Continue to maintain forward progress and avoid having to double back unless you have no other choice. You are dealing with time, distance and contingencies so having a good PACE plan to help you is crucial. The other part I try to emphasis is not everything goes according to your plan. If you rely on other people in your plan, make sure they know and understand it thoroughly. When it comes to special equipment, make sure everyone knows how to use it. Las note I want to make, ensure you cover all possibilities with your vehicle. Now some things you won’t be able to fix, but leaks, hoses, fan belts, etc are fixable on the road if you have the right things on hand.

  You are at work. You are 60 miles from your home and have one major obstacle (river) in between your house and work. Your work location is an office cubicle

 

This is my stab at a Get Home Bag after reading endless posts and recommendations, as well as experimenting with my camping gear. The total weight of my personal get home bag, minus water and handguns is 13.7 Lb.

There are a number of criteria I considered during this exercise:

  • Distance – how far will I likely need to travel?
  • Why – why am I’m being forced to walk home anyway?
  • Terrain – lakes, streams, rivers, roadways, built up areas, residential areas and sub-divisions.
  • ClimatePiedmont area of the Carolina’s, although I travel through the Appalachians and further south on occasion.
  • Flora/fauna – what sort of natural resources are available?
  • Most importantly – My own aching back.

Distance – Daily commute is 32 miles each way, although straight line is significantly less.

Why – The only reason to be hiking home would be due to some regional or larger disaster. This area takes hurricanes in stride, although an inch of snow will bring the place to a standstill. So WHY implies the roads are down for the duration, IE: I can’t just camp out and wait for the government to unscrew whatever has been screwed up. We don’t get earthquakes, and snow does eventually melt. And those are pretty much the only thing that can shut down the road systems here. So it has to be something very bad, probably due to external forces, and most likely dangerous, with curfews, checkpoints and the like.

Terrain – Since my assumption for the reason to walk home is that there’s been a SHTF event of some sort, (See WHY), the terrain aspect becomes one of how to avoid contact with anyone else as much as possible. This in turn means avoiding as much as possible all roadways. This in itself has a problem: we have lots of waterways of various sorts, and waterways imply bridges to get across, and that’s where the roads are. Which I want to avoid.

So I acquired the best maps I can lay my hands on. In this case they’re aerial photo, aka, Google maps, with topology superimposed.

These allow me to chart a number of routes out of the semi-suburban area I drive to every day using non-road paths. The power line and pipeline right of ways show up clearly on photo maps, and typically avoid high density population or dwelling areas as much as possible. The companies that build these things know that getting a grant for a right of way costs money, and right of ways through built up areas are especially costly. They use legions of surveyors to plot the most cost efficient routes, which just happen to match up with my goal: minimal possibility of contact with others.

Climate – Seasonal variance of ~ 20F to 100F+, sometimes colder, but rarely. So my clothing load-out changes somewhat on a seasonal basis, but that’s primarily changing the outerwear I carry in the car anyways. In summer I always have a relatively light, IE; down to 40F jacket, in the winter it’s much more substantial with heavier backup garment.

Flora/fauna– there is a ton of usable and edible stuff wild here. Just need to know what it looks like, and if it needs special preparation to be edible. Think burdock root, or Jerusalem artichoke, and small game.

My aching back – I assume, based upon my current hiking/camping trips that I’m good for roughly 8 – 10 miles in broken country per day without killing myself. So I judge seven miles per day given my security concerns.

So a minimum of four days of cross-country hiking, while avoiding everyone, at the same time everyone else is either trying to get out of the city, or into the city, along with an unknown, but probably poor security situation.

Breaking out my standard camping gear gives me an immediate starting point, but I want to:

  • A – Lighten it up
  • B – Make it fit inside my car spare tire, IE; out of sight.
  • C – Add some security items.

What I’ve come up with is described below, with the various items grouped roughly by purpose. This set of equipment goes far beyond the basic needs of a four-day walk in the woods: I explicitly decided to expand the resources under the working assumption that Murphy never takes a vacation, and if worse came to worse, I wanted the ability to live off the land for a while if need be, due to injury, or possible adverse government or militia control. Thus the radio and binoculars for comms and surveillance, and the specific planning for travel off maintained paths. Am I a TEOTWAWKI paranoid nut case? No, but having been in NOLA during Katrina, I have somewhat less than inspired faith in the government, and am a firm believer in the Boy Scouts motto.

Also note that I have a static car kit that includes a woolen watch cap, gloves, flash light, head lamp, fixed blade knife, my best hiking boots, wool blend hunting socks, MOLLE first aid kit, and a couple liters of water.

From my camping kit I’ll subtract the sleeping bag, ground pad, tent, stoves, propane canisters, cooking gear, and sub my rucksack for the full size pack. I’ve also made heavy use of a Food Saver to vacuum pack as much stuff as I can.

Categories in no particular order:

Fire stuff: a bit on the overkill side, but it weighs virtually nothing:

firestuff

Food and refreshment cache:

  • Three MREs – packaging removed, sealed in vacuum bags. A bit on the heavy side, BUT: They heat themselves without fire and are calorie heavy.
  • Four dehydrated chicken soup packets.
  • 1 dozen packets of good dehydrated coffee.
  • Two plastic sporks. No biggee if lost or broken: a spoon or chopsticks can be whittled from wood.
  • I’m thinking I should add a few packets of Gatorade powder too.

food

Protection:

My daily summer concealed carry: Kimber in .380. This weapon lives with me no matter what else I may have with me. Small enough to fit in my front jeans pocket in a soft pocket holster.

gethomebagprotection

My routine camping/hiking weapon: Ruger long barrel MK III in .22. It’s far more accurate than I am out to 50 yards or so. Lives in the rucksack now with 50 rds and an oiled leather holster.

gethomebagprotection

Health & Comfort – 1

Didn’t know what else to call this group…..

health

Health & Comfort – 2

  • Sanitizing wipes
  • TP
  • Lotrimin: if you use your feet a lot and stay in your boots for days on end, you want this stuff. Just believe me.
  • Tooth paste and mini brush
  • Three specific meds:
    • Ibuprofen- 30
    • Benadryl – 20
    • Immodium – 6

health2

Water is critical, right up there with warmth.

water

Knives & Tools – 1

I carry a folder at all times: not shown here, it was in my pocket. Browning survival knife with self-sharpening sheath and a ferriconium stick on the sheath. This knife is well made, full tang, four-inch blade. I wouldn’t be real keen on banging on it to split wood, but for everyday camp uses it’s fine. The handle is a bit small for my paws, or if wearing gloves.

My longtime friend the M-7 bayonet. It’s much heavier than the smaller knife, and doesn’t have the fire stick attached, but after years & years of being abused its my favorite over a bunch of traditional hunting/camping/survival blades I own. I could probably kill a bear with the thing too.

The bayonet lives in the get home bag, and the Browning in the center console of my daily driver.

  • Fifty feet 550 para-cord – no explanation required.
  • A few 10 hour glow sticks.
  • A mini pry bar. Lowes calls it a trim bar; at seven inches long it’s quite capable of opening ordinary windows or doors.
  • Folding camp saw. Works far better than the wire or chain “survival” saws. Weighs in at 4 ounces so I don’t mind.

survival

Knives & Tools – 2

  • Sharpie – leave messages, or mark an area for surgery.
  • Mini razor
  • Pencil with 25 feet of duct tape
  • Fishing kit – Plastic container with: 50 ft. 50 lb. line, 6 small hooks, 3 swivels
  • Can use the line for snares as well.
  • Twist ties – light repairs, etc.
  • Tie wraps – repairs
  • Orange surveyors tape – mark trails, etc.
  • Mini tool
  • Four feet plastic tubing – use w hydration kit, siphon fuel, etc.
  • P-38 can opener
  • Bunch of safety pins

survival2

Electrical stuff

  • Baofeng hand-held. Programmed with the local HAM, EMS, sheriff, state police frequencies for use as a scanner, I also programmed in the FRS, CB, GMRS channels for two-way comms.
  • Headlamp
  • Extra batteries.
  • Micro LED light
  • Solar battery with adapter cable. 5000 mAh output. Will recharge the radio or my cell.

electronics

Navigation

Tools to get from here to there, and to see where you’re going and who’s around.

  • Mini binoculars 7X
  • Tradition lensatic compass
  • Wrist compass
  • Maps not shown, but a set of satellite maps with topo overlay for the entire area I tend to travel through.
  • I’ve also pre-planned a few off-road routes to get from work to home or other “safe houses”. If one looks closely there are pipeline and power line right of ways that cut through everywhere, and mostly avoiding residential areas.

navigation

Shelter and such like

  • Two 35 Gal contractor bags. Cover your pack, flotation, rain poncho, ground cover, etc, etc.
  • Rain poncho
  • Single person bivi sack.

shelter

The ruck

Amazon grade, 15 liter, MOLLE compatible ruck sack.

The most important features are: having a bazillion compartments, pass through holes for the camel-back hydration tube, and both sternum and waist straps. I like the MOLLe feature as well. I’ve a surplus combat aid kit, that’s been expanded to accommodate lesser problems than combat injuries. Also a water bottle carrier. Both use the MOLLE attachments.

rucksack

  This is my stab at a Get Home Bag after reading endless posts and recommendations, as well as experimenting with my camping gear. The total weight of my personal get

 

There are a lot of articles out there about building “budget” bug out, GOOD or get home bags, but this one actually provides some alternate sources that anyone can tap into, and builds the complete bag (less EDC items) for under $50.

I was out roaming around the neighborhood, stopping at garage sales a couple of Saturdays ago, and ran across a US Army medium Alice pack with frame for $5. Courtesy of Uncle Sam, I have many miles carrying and quite a few days and nights of experience in the field with Alice packs. While I don’t think they work as well as higher end commercial packs that I use backpacking, they are still decent bags, especially if you keep your load down to 35 pounds or (preferably) less.

The Alice pack was introduced right at the end of the Vietnam War. It is made of heavy nylon, with a divided main compartment, three exterior pockets and a cover flap that has a flat pocket for copies of orders, maps, etc. It also has external attachment points for other Alice gear or for the older style gear with the wire bails that dates back to WWI and for strapping on a sleeping bag at the bottom. It can be carried with or without a frame. With the frame, it has a quick release shoulder strap so you can drop the pack in a hurry in a combat situation or if you get into trouble crossing a stream.

usedmediumalicepack

Military Surplus Alice Packs are the first Bug Out Bag for many because of cost and durability.

At $5, this was a great buy, the problem was that I already have a couple of them as well as a large Alice pack, and that’s after I gave away two other packs to my son. I am trying to be a bit pickier when it comes to bargains, and was going to pass on this one until I thought it might make a good starting point for an article on putting together a budget Get Home Bag for the Final Prepper picked up two US surplus canteens with carriers at the same sale for $1 each, one of them was a WWII vintage 1943 Stainless canteen. They also came with one canteen cup, stove for the cup, and an unopened bottle of water purification tablets.

The budget get home bag challenge

I decided to sit down and make some “rules” for my challenge.

  • Minimize costs, if this gets stolen from my car trunk I don’t want to be out much.
  • This bag needed to support three to five days traveling by foot
  • It was OK to include footwear, underwear and socks I already own, but I would try to purchase or find whatever else I needed, rather than rely on stuff I already had
  • Cost of food would not count against total
  • Should be more grey man than tacticool
  • Quality stuff
  • Cheaper the better, but reliability trumps price
  • Minimize on-line purchases
  • Bag should support three seasons — spring, summer, fall. May do another article on winter additions
  • Need to be able to shoot, move, communicate, eat, water, shelter

Places I would try first to look for bargains are:

  • Dumpsters
  • Garage sales, estate sales, tag sales
  • Thrift stores (goodwill, Salvation Army, DAV, St Vincent De Paul, etc.)
  • Bargain stores (Dollar stores, Harbor Freight, etc.) I normally don’t shop at these stores, but have seen some folks talk about prepper bargains they got on Facebook
vintage

Yard sales are tremendous sources for cheap, gently used gear. You just have to be willing to look.

First, I took stock of my EDC (Every Day Carry) items, so I would know what I had and what I needed to supplement.
My edc includes:

  • Key ring with Photon micro lite, p-38 can opener that I got in basic training back in 1976, Swiss Key folding scissors/knife, and Craftsman four in one screwdriver
  • Gerber Applegate covert automatic tactical knife (legal in my state, if I am traveling in another state, I switch to a different lock blade non-automatic knife, non-gravity knife)
  • Sig P229 DAK in .40 S&W with spare mag. (My carry permits are valid in most states, however if I am driving through somewhere like the socialist republic of Illinois, I unload and store in a locked case in the trunk)
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Wallet with emergency cash, ID and credit cards
  • Sunglasses
  • Bandana
  • Laptop and bag including small first aid kit (bandages, tweezers, triple ointment antibiotic, needle, hand cleaner), aspirin, and pseudo-ephedrine, Maglite 2AA cell flashlight (doubles as impact and compliance tool, like a kubotan), cell phone external battery pack (free at a trade show), sewing kit, glasses repair kit with screw driver and spare screws (also free), pens, pencils, notepad, Password protected thumb drives with various files including scans of important personal papers and “survival” manuals

EDC stuff kept in-car that would help with getting home

  • Case of water (replaced every three months)
  • Box of breakfast bars
  • Magnesium flares
  • Tool kit
  • 50 feet ½ inch rope
  • Highway maps
  • GPS

Building the get home bag

I gave myself a month to put this kit together and decided to try to keep it under $50 all told, less than some preppers pay for a knife. Here is what I picked up from each source:

Garage sales $20.25

  • Alice pack and two canteens $7
  • Surefire flashlight (CR123) $1
  • Package of four plumbers candles $.25
  • Frog Toggs rain gear jacket and pants $2
  • 8×10 plastic green/brown tarp $1
  • 2 – One liter water bottles (in free stuff box)
  • Boy scout compass and signal mirror $1
  • Army mountain sleeping bag $5
  • Ski poles $3 (make great trekking poles)

Dumpster / Free $0

  • Broken sledge-hammer handle (use as self-defense baton)
  • Strip maps of route (print out free from Internet)
  • Tooth brush/paste (free from dentist)
  • Old stained tennis shoes (put them in the bag instead of throwing them away)
  • Ball cap from a local business
  • Soap (free from hotels)
  • Duct Tape (wrapped about 15 feet around one of the water bottles)
  • Two pair underpants
  • Three pair wool socks
  • Two wicking t-shirts
  • Hiking boots
  • A couple of books of matches (free from store)

Estate / Tag sales $13.50

  • Older Plumb hand ax $2 (handle was loose, but easily fixed)
  • Folding pruning saw $1
  • Pack of 5 new Bic lighters $1
  • Hand cranked Eton AM/FM/weather radio with cell phone charger and light $5
  • A dozen hand warmers $.50
  • First aid kit $2 (various Band-Aids, gauze pads, triangle bandages, burn ointment, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, scissors, scalpel, alcohol wipes, surgical tape)
  • Two bath towels $2

Thrift stores (goodwill, Salvation Army, DAV, St Vincent De Paul, etc.) $10.69

  • Finnish hunting knife $.50 (it was mixed in with the kitchen knives)
  • Zip up fleece shirt/jacket $1
  • North face windproof jacket $4
  • Columbia hiking pants (Polyester to dry fast) $2
  • Watch cap $.50
  • REI two person three season tent $2.99 before veteran’s discount, $2.69 final price

Bargain stores $4.50

  • Work gloves $1
  • Magnesium fire starter $2.50
  • Toilet paper $1

So excluding the food, total cost for the Get Home Bag was $47.94. It is well within the abilities of almost anyone to put together a bag like this.

Food $20

  • Two pounds rice and two pounds dried beans (stored in one liter water bottles) $5
  • Bouillon cubes $1
  • Three packs tuna $6
  • Two cans Spam $4
  • Misc. spices and salt $4

Weapons

Although beyond the scope of this “challenge”, I also checkout out some local pawn shops, a gun show and some Facebook firearms buy sell trade pages to see how cheap I could pick up guns to leave in the car. The best deals I picked up in each category during this time frame were:

  • Center-fire rifle – Refinished Spanish Mauser in .308 for $100 (I also picked up a “sporterized” Spanish Mauser in 7mm for $50, but it had no sights, and would have been more that $100 total after adding the sights)
  • .22 Rifle – Marlin/Glenfield model 60 spray painted green – $45
  • Defensive handgun – S&W 909 with two magazines and holster — $125
  • Backup handgun – WWII Nazi marked Mauser HsC in .32 Auto — $35 (it was in rough shape, and I had to straighten the frame, but it shoots great now and is also the ugliest gun I have)
  • Stevens 12 ga. pump with barrel cut off crooked at 20 inches and spray painted black stock $75 (I cut the barrel back to 18.5 inches and added a bead)

What bargains have you found for your Get Home Bag and how far were you willing to go to save some money?

  There are a lot of articles out there about building “budget” bug out, GOOD or get home bags, but this one actually provides some alternate sources that anyone can tap

Imagine it’s 1:15 on a Thursday afternoon. You and some friends at work have recently returned from lunch and you are settling back into work. As you are going about your daily responsibilities, the Emergency Broadcast System starts to blare over a coworker’s radio. Normally you would ignore this, but you also get an Emergency alert message on your smartphone. Funny, you could swear you had disabled those but it says that there has been a terrorist attack in Los Angeles and urges calm and promises more information soon. You start walking out of your office towards the break-room and notice everyone crowded around the TV when the power goes out. Looking down, you notice your phone isn’t working either.

Making for the nearest window, you notice that vehicles on the road have stopped, seemingly right in their tracks. Could this be an EMP? Not wanting to overreact, you take the stairs and walk out to the parking lot. You try your key fob but that doesn’t work either so you use your key. A quick check of the ignition and you realize your car isn’t going anywhere either. Slowly your co-workers validate the same with their cars and you start looking at the possibility that you will have to walk back home. Unfortunately for you, you work 72 miles away from home.

It’s one of the more common problems us preppers try to figure out. What is the best way home as quickly and safely as possible when SHTF and you are far away? I had a reader ask me the following question:

My husband works 75 miles from home. My greatest fear is that disaster or SHTF will happen while he is at work. I would like to start planning for how he might get home, but don’t know how to begin figuring out what is the best route. Most posts (here and elsewhere) on the subject are about get home bags and what equipment to have with you, but not so much about planning the actual route, other than to stay off major highways. Would like to hear the pros and cons of sticking to roadways, crossing private property, what type of maps to consult, etc. – Zendelle

emergency-alert

I always appreciate questions from our readers and I will try to give my thoughts about this subject as I have considered this myself. So without any further ado…

What is the best way home during a SHTF event?

There are so many factors that come into play when you are talking about a situation like this. How far away are you? What is the weather like? What region will you be traveling through? Are you in an urban environment or rural? What type of shape are you in? Do you have other people, like children you have to consider? Are your two youngest in school or daycare? What type of clothing and footwear are you wearing? What time of day are you starting out?

Each person is unique and our situations are also unique so there are no firm and set rules for anything but I have given this some thought. At one point in my life I commuted 90 minutes each way to work. It was 77 miles’ door to door and getting home in that type of scenario I mentioned above would be no picnic for anyone. To be really prepared, you have to imagine walking home in the heat of summer or the bitter cold of winter.

For this hypothetical, we will assume that there really has been some type of national catastrophe. Maybe an EMP attack from a rogue nation or terrorist cell has disrupted all modern electrical appliances. Virtually everything electric has shut down and you have precious little time, a couple of days tops to make it back home to your family before the chaos really starts.

road

To be really prepared, you have to imagine walking home in the heat of summer or the bitter cold of winter.

Before you take the first step: What gear do you need to consider?

I know our reader mentioned that most people only talk about Get Home Bags when this topic comes up but it is worth spending a few sentences here on how best to equip yourself before this even happens.

  • Get Home Bag – Having a get home bag in your car will be an important step in the right direction so to speak. I won’t get into what you should pack in your get home bag, but we do cover all of that in several articles on the subject. You can read our post about putting together your Get Home Bag.
  • Proper Footwear – Flip flops belong at the pool people! My children are guilty of this too, but if you are forced to walk home, what are you going to wish you had on your feet? Sturdy footwear like hiking boots or at least good athletic shoes should be one consideration.
  • Dress for the elements – Dress like you will be spending all day outside not sitting in a cubicle. Regardless of the season, have appropriate clothing on that will protect you from the elements, especially if you are going to be further than an hour’s walking time from home.
  • Food/Water/Shelter – You should have at a minimum, a container that will hold water, a way to filter water, some form of emergency shelter and food. You don’t need a four-course meal to survive, but something to keep your energy up. Think power bars or protein bars. Survival rations work too and won’t go bad in the car.
  • Protection – Do you have some protection from two-legged animals? I always have a personal firearm, but Tasers and bear spray are options too that are better than nothing.
  • Maps – And the knowledge of how to read them. These can be simple street maps, you don’t have to have topo maps of the entire region. You can grab the road atlas out of your car before you head out.

Planning your route and the alternate route home

For the commuter who drives to work, I would imagine that each of you have already mapped out the most efficient route to your place of business that you use virtually every single day. We get into a routine because we found a way that works. It’s usually the most direct, fastest way to get where you need to go. I even go into autopilot some days on the weekend and start driving my work route even when I am not going that direction. These habits can be a good thing in one respect.

specialreports

each of you have already mapped out the most efficient route to your place of business that you use virtually every single day

Commuters who use trains or buses follow a similar route. The trains go into central spokes normally that would mimic a commute via car. None of us should really worry about the normal route we take back home as long as we know the roads we would take if public or personal transportation was down. With few exceptions, the highway system is going to be the quickest way we can get back to our home city. Highways level out hills and go around natural obstacles. However, what if the route you normally follow has been blocked? What if you travel through less savory parts of town that you wouldn’t normally want to be walking down the street?

Identify your primary, secondary and tertiary routes home – In my case, working 77 miles from home, I was likely looking at 2 to 3 days of hiking to make it back assuming I did not encounter anything that made me need to alter my course. Most of my commute was interstate highway so I would have simply followed that route. However, if that didn’t work out, I could cut back on a smaller highway that would have taken me on a much more rural track to the South back home.

Depending on how people were reacting you could run into rioting or looting in some areas. I would have been walking on the highway through several major population centers that might be best avoided. I don’t think I would ever cut across someone’s property unless there were strong benefits and low risks that I perceived from doing so. Going cross-country, without the benefit of a road can slow you down and may even bring on injury more quickly as you could have to navigate natural obstacles like streams, dense underbrush, rocks, etc. The last thing you want to do is injure your self and make walking more difficult or even impossible while you try to shave 20 minutes off your trip.

alternateroute

Having more than one route back home can help you avoid dangerous areas.

Rather than having a specific route I am taking, I would consult the maps I store in my car to decide which ways I would alternate if needed. I would go to the south of the major urban areas if I sensed any danger but I would still be staying on paved roads that were common thoroughfares.

Pros and Cons of various routes

In the example above, does your normal route take you through urban areas you would rather avoid? Has the disaster already started to make people act irrationally? I think that most of us even in the scenario I described above will be able to count on average people thinking that nothing is wrong. The power will come back on because it always does. Food will still be available and there will still be items on store shelves. You should be home way ahead of any actual panic, but sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry with your route. I don’t think anyone would be barricading streets the first or even third day after the lights go out.

Are you carrying three days’ worth of water on you or are their sources you can tap into along the way. Assuming you have cash on hand you will likely be able to purchase it from stores who are likely still in operation as the Normalcy bias takes over for most.

What factors do the weather play?

Adverse weather could seriously impede your progress. Walking on snow or ice or even extreme heat would sap your energy and could cause injuries. You first have to plan for those extremes if they are common to your area.

If you are facing a walk home and you live in the deserts of the Southwest, you could be forced to walk only at night when the temperatures are cooler and find shade to rest during the day. You understand the weather factors that could influence a trip like this so you have to plan accordingly.

For most of us, walking home is not incredibly difficult with a decent fitness level and some simple preparation. We may never be forced to use our get home bags, but it makes sense to prepare now like we do. You will be more able to react quickly and make the right decisions if you do.

Imagine it’s 1:15 on a Thursday afternoon. You and some friends at work have recently returned from lunch and you are settling back into work. As you are going about

Prepping for a large majority of us involves analyzing the risks we see inherent with situations we could be faced with and taking steps to mitigate those risks. For a lot of risks, the answer is simple. To avoid starving due to a disruption with our food delivery system you can grow your own food, you can plan to increase your storage of long-term foods by canning or purchasing quantities of extra foods, freeze-dried foods or bulk food items like wheat, beans and rice. Other aspects we prepare for involve a similar process but usually the place where we are best prepared is home.

Sure we can plan for bugging out if needed. Our bug out bags extend our abilities to leave our castle in the face of impending doom and move to a safer location. We can outfit bug out vehicles with additional capacity to move overland and carry extra supplies but nothing really replaces a strong, stable location where we have systems in place to help us survive. As well has having all our stuff, we know the land, usually have some relationships with neighbors or friends to further build-out our potential survival group. Our home base has incredible advantages that we might not miss unless we are away when some disaster happens and you are forced to make it home with only what you have on you and what you are able to scrounge or scavenge along the way.

I think of this subject at least once per year because I travel on business. My family travels to see relatives or to vacation in some nice place if we are lucky. When either of those things happen and I am hundreds or thousands of miles away from home, I feel less prepared for anything than when I am sitting in my suburban (non)bunker with all of my support systems surrounding me. However, I have learned that just because your man-cave isn’t within arm’s reach and all your weapons and gear aren’t as easily available, you can and should still prepare. There are some lessons I have learned and rules that I try to follow as closely as I can when I travel that could keep me alive and help me make it back home if disaster struck and I was away from my family. Today I want to talk about how to travel like a prepper so that you aren’t left with nothing if faced with disaster.

I have discussed in the past how to pack like you are never coming home. That article captured some of my thoughts around what you should consider if you were traveling with family via car somewhere away from home. Today I will focus more on the scenario of a trip where you are going to be traveling alone perhaps on business and need to plan for getting back home and surviving should some emergency occur.

Do your homework before you travel

Naturally, where you are traveling to, what your reason for traveling is, who you will be with and the method of travel all factor into decisions you have to make before you start throwing the first pair of socks into your suitcase. If I am headed an hour or two away, I would not plan the same way I would for a trip overseas. If I was traveling in my car, I would have different items than if I was traveling by plane.

Here are a few things I think about:

  • How far away from home will I be?
  • Is the destination a major urban center or more rural?
  • How will I get there?
  • What restrictions if any are there on what I carry or how I dress?
  • Can I make it home if needed on foot from this destination?
  • What is the best/safest route?
  • How long would it take?

The goal is to consider my travel destination within the context of what I am traveling for and take with me items that appropriately could mitigate my situation if some emergency happens. These emergencies can scale from minor travel disruptions to a complete grid-down mess.

What prepper tools can you bring with you on your travels?

Many of us leave the bug out bags and our go-to war chest rigs at home when we travel and that makes sense. If you leave town for a business trip, you simply won’t be able, without an inordinate amount of headache, take many of your prepping supplies with you.

There are some staples that I bring with me whenever I go that are multi-use and offer me several advantages that the casual traveler won’t have. Before I get into those, make sure your situational awareness doesn’t take a break when you are out-of-town. Know where the exits are at all times, especially in a strange place. Do you know the route back to the airport? Where are the major freeways? Are you watching the news for current events? Keeping connected to what is going on around you is advantageous too.

EDC items packed in the suitcase

Many people who fly these days pack all their luggage in a carry on. This has some advantages but many more drawbacks in my opinion. First, you can’t bring anything on the plane that could be construed as a weapon so that rules out knives and firearms obviously. Yes, I know people will say that you can never lose your luggage if it’s with you in the overhead compartment, but I would rather take my chances with that than to not have some defensive measures with me. Actually co-workers have looked at me strangely when they saw I was carrying a knife on a business trip because the idea is so foreign now. They even said, “How did you get that through security” because the idea of checking luggage is so foreign to them. Oddly enough another co-worker. when they saw I had a knife and a multi-tool said, “I know who I am hanging out with if anything bad happens”. They could see I was thinking ahead.

41iqJTqUPvL

CamelBak Arete 18 Hydration Pack – Day pack for carrying essential gear plus water bladder

  • Knife – I bring along my tactical folding knife whenever I travel because the utility and advantages of a knife in a survival situation are too great to ignore. Yes, I assume that there might be some way for me to purchase one at my destination should all hell break loose, but who wants to take that chance?
  • Multi-Tool – Another force multiplier that goes with me. My Leatherman Wave has 17 tools that I could use if needed during an emergency. Some will say that since you have a knife on your multi-tool you could leave the other knife at home. Yes, you could, but I have a backup.
  • Headlamp – I have extolled the benefits of a great headlamp many times in the past and you don’t even have to worry about sneaking this past security. Being able to see with the added benefit of hands-free is a great advantage in a lot of situations. Need to get out of the hotel at night because of an earthquake? Wouldn’t you want to slap your headlamp on your head before you move out?
  • Bandana – Cheap multiple use items. The ubiquitous bandanna can offer protection from contaminants in the air, can be used to shield you from the sun, as a bandage, a sling and many other tasks limited only by your ingenuity. Carry more than one because they don’t weigh anything or take up space. You can have one in your carry-on luggage.
  • Source of fire – Pack a couple of Bic lighters and some dryer lint or a few WetFire packages to get a blaze going when you need to.
  • Firearm – If I am traveling any place that has a reciprocity agreement with my state on concealed carry, I am flying with a firearm. Flying with firearms is perfectly legal and relatively pain-free. I also carry a spare magazine, a holster and at least one box of ammo. If the worst does happen and I am forced to deal with a horrific situation, I want something more than harsh language as self-defense.
  • Bag/Backpack – I won’t pack anything large, but a small bag to carry items is another useful thing if you have to walk. Many travelers already have a backpack that they throw their laptops in. If you have one already you are good. I don’t have a backpack though so I carry the Camebak Arete 18 which does two things for me. First, it is a simple day-pack that can hold a modest amount of gear and supplies. I can throw all of my EDC items in this pack if I need to plus some shelter options and maybe some food and hit the road. Additionally, it has a water reservoir so I can carry water to drink at the same time. You can never have too much water capacity though so I also pack a 48 Ounce Nalgene Wide mouth canteen. This rolls up to about the size of a small deck of cards when I am not using it, but allows me to double my water capacity. I throw in a Sawyer Mini Water Filter too. For its size, it is phenomenal and gives me the ability to filter more water than I can probably drink in a couple of years safely.
  • Watch – My Pathfinder watch is solar-powered and it has a compass so if I get lost, this could help point the way.
  • Backup power – I also carry a battery backup system. The RAVPower 16750 Battery pack can charge my cell phone 6 times. If you are delayed somewhere or the power is out but cell service is still working, this can keep you talking with family. Also makes long overseas flights better when your devices don’t crap out on you mid-way across. Bonus feature, this has a light on it.
  • Cash – Always fly with cash because your credit cards or ATM cards may not work where you end up. How much cash should you carry? That depends on what you are comfortable with. I generally tend to bring enough to get me out of minor jams, but not so much I could buy a car. A couple of hundred dollars could go a long way.

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You could be forced to make it home on foot. Will you have the right supplies to do that?

How will you make it back home if the worst happens?

So the EDC items above give me some advantages. I can cut things, shoot at bad people if they try to harm me, light my way and know where I am going. These tools above can help you anywhere you are, but what if you are forced to try walking home? What can you bring with you to assist you on that journey should you be unfortunate enough to have to make it back to your family.

Consider your clothing

I love sitting in airports and observing the outfits that people fly in. I imagine something tragic like a crash landing on a remote mountainous region and visualize how these people in their flip-flops and short shorts will fare.

For starters, I always fly in good laced up shoes just in case I have to make it out over sharp or hot surfaces but I also pack a walking outfit that fits the climate and terrain I will be traveling through if I have to make it back home. This isn’t anything fancy and I am not bringing changes of clothing but I do have some basics.

  • Long pants – Preferably some that are a little more durable. Hiking pants that convert to shorts would work too and pack down small. Extra pockets give you the ability to carry more and make sure they have loops for a belt.
  • Long Sleeve Shirt – Yes even in hotter climates I pack a (lightweight) long sleeve shirt. I can roll up the sleeves if needed, but cover up if the sun is an issue. Longer sleeves also help with mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Hat and Sunglasses – Seasonal. For warmer weather Hats offer a break from the sun and you always need to protect your eyes. In colder weather, the hat would be a toboggan.
  • Rain Gear – A jacket at a minimum even if there is no rain forecast for where I am staying. A rain jacket also doubles as a windbreaker. Colder locations I would bring other layers and a fleece.
  • Good walking shoes – These don’t have to be hiking boots but something that you can comfortably walk in all day. For many days potentially.

Know your route home

Sure you might be able to pick up a road atlas at a store before you leave, but know the route you would take back home just in case. One business trip I was on put me on the other side of the country. There were several routes home, but most passed directly through large cities. It may be necessary to avoid these in a really bad collapse.

Discuss plans with family

My family knows that if something happens when I am away that I will be coming back as long as I am alive. Cross country trips on foot could take months so they know it may take some time. If communication is open, then likely the emergency isn’t so wide-spread that civilization has failed. They know where the supplies are and what to do in order to stay safe. Make sure your family knows this too.

The items above only scratch the surface. There are so many other ways to stay safe when you travel that aren’t mentioned here but I find that the items above are the ones that most people leave at home. I could go on and on with other items that are useful, but I thought that this list covers most bases. What do you pack when you travel?

Prepping for a large majority of us involves analyzing the risks we see inherent with situations we could be faced with and taking steps to mitigate those risks. For a

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.

What is a Get Home Bag?

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.

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Maxpedition makes excellent bags.

Is a Get Home Bag even necessary?

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.

Your Get Home Bag packing list

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.

Tier 1 – 1 – 3 Hours away

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.

  • A good folding knife – This should be common sense. A knife and actually the first 6 items on this list are part of my Every Day Carry (EDC) so technically I have them wherever I go. I carry the Spyderco Tenacious.
  • Multi-Tool – From pliers to a small saw, there are a surprising number of things you can do with a good multi-tool.
  • Bandanna – Bandanas make a great filter for the first stage of water, a dust mask, bandage, and sling or if you plan on robbing a bank you will be in style. Just kidding on that last part.
  • Flashlight/headlight – I have a flashlight on my belt and a headlamp in my Get Home Bag. You can’t beat a headlamp at night when you need to have both hands free.
  • Water bottle – Ideally a stainless steel water bottle which can be used over a fire to boil water. Even if you don’t have a stainless steel version, something to carry water in.
  • Concealed Carry Weapon – Never leave home without it.
  • Comfortable/Sturdy footwear – I have written about the importance of good footwear before. You don’t want the S to hit the fan and you are in flip flops.
  • Rain gear – Always plan for rain because you do not want to be soaking wet without a chance of drying off. Hypothermia will sap your energy and could kill you at even moderately warm temperatures. An umbrella isn’t a good option because it will require you to hold it and you will just look like a dork if you have to run.
  • Gloves – Sturdy gloves will be a huge advantage if you have to do work you aren’t accustomed to. They can prevent cuts, burns and blisters.
  • Simple First Aid Kit with Blood Stopper – I am not talking about the cheap kind with Band-Aids and some Neosporin. If you have to walk home you can tough minor cuts out, but a blood stopper or Israeli bandage can be used for large bleeds. If things are bad enough you are walking home, you probably don’t want to go to the hospital if you can avoid it.
  • Dust Mask – I have regular dust masks that are really only good for dust and N95 masks which should be used in certain situations.
  • Hat – Good at keeping the rain, sun or snow off your head.
  • Sunglasses – The ideal pair of sunglasses are also safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris.
  • Snack/Energy Bars – Let’s face it you will not die if you have to walk home for a few hours but a little snack bar can lift your spirits and occupy your mind for a while. A little shot of energy never hurt anyone either.
  • Spare Ammo – Make sure you can refill that magazine if it empties out.
  • Lighter – I have a couple of lighters because they are just simpler than using a fire steel.
  • Spare Cash – In a power outage or worse, you may not be able to access the ATM. Credit cards may not be accepted either but cash usually is.
  • Paracord – A million and one uses.
  • Duct Tape – Two million and two uses.
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A Stainless Steel water bottle like this Nalgene will allow you to boil water if needed.

Tier 2 – 4- 8 hours away

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.

  • Spare batteries for flashlights
  • Bivvy sack or Wool Blanket – SOL makes a great emergency bivvy sack that will keep you alive in pretty cold temperatures. This or a wool blanket if you have to spend the night outdoors.
  • Tarp or Poncho – Either can be used to keep the rain off of you. A camouflage poncho can also help keep you hidden.
  • Garbage Bags – You can lay or sit on these to keep water off your backside.
  • Spare Medications (if needed)
  • Spare socks – If you are walking for over 4 hours or are sweating a lot you will want to change your socks. Hang the old ones off your Get Home Bag to dry out. As a bonus you may want foot powder and moleskin for blisters.
  • Additional Layer for warmth – Simple base layers are lightweight and take up little space.
  • Wool or fleece cap – Nights get cool even in the summer.
  • Radio
  • Tinder materials for fire – I have seen some people add dryer lint and some WetFire tabs and place them inside their roll of toilet paper.
  • Water purification tablets – Simpler than bleach, cheaper than a LifeStraw and take up less room than most filters. Of course if I was going to carry a water filter I would carry the Sawyer Mini water filter because it takes up minimal room and weighs ounces.
  • Toilet Paper – Hey, when the SHTF you might need to take a… well you know what I mean. Also useful for cleaning glasses, blowing your nose or as tinder for a fire.

Tier 3 – Overnight Distance 80 + miles.

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Rush 24 by 5.11 Tactical

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:

  • Sleeping bag – Size and temperature appropriate to your climate and season.
  • Large fixed blade knife – This could be used for larger chores like chopping firewood for your fire or making larger holes in people. I carry the Gerber LMF II.
  • Spare magazine for pistol – Can’t be too safe.
  • Walking Sticks – If you are walking 80 miles you would probably need a walking stick before it’s all over with. Walking sticks relieve pressure on your knees and can also be used with your poncho to make a shelter.
  • Advanced First Aid – Blood Stoppers, Celox and Ace Bandage
  • Additional Energy Bars or Survival Rations

What is the best bag to use for a Get Home Bag?

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?

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)