Dad’s Get Home Bag – So He Can Get Home to Us!

What do you do when you're away from home, and a regional/national disaster strikes and you have to walk home? Here's what Dad carries in his Get Home Bag so that he can get home to us! READ MORE srcset=>>” width=”600″ height=”400″>

My husband works about 25 miles away from home. In the event of a regional or national disaster, it might mean that he couldn’t be home in 40 minutes as his normal routine has it. And if that regional disaster meant that no transportation was working, he’d have to walk home. 25 miles is a long way to go, especially if you aren’t prepared with a Get Home Bag.

A Get Home Bag (read more about emergency bags here), is a bag specifically packed to get you home. It has enough in it to help you for a day or two, and not much more. In his case, the bag is designed to get him home from work, assuming a very conservative 8-10 hour hike. While he should be able to get home in that time, we do plan for variables and pack a little more. This bag stays in his car at all times. His car is in an open parking lot, so he weighs leaving it in the car to taking it inside every day and chooses to leave it. He has a small kit in his office under his desk.

If he’s going to be traveling farther for some reason, he grabs his BOB (bug out bag) to throw in there, as well. He also has a small car kit, so he’s covered for a lot.

When we first began preparing, all the different designations of bags confused us, and made us feel like we were just doing bag on bag on bag of the same stuff. Then I saw this video on Youtube by Sensible Prepper (sootch) and so much made sense, and we were able to begin creating bags for their purpose. As an FYI, because my travels rarely take me more than ten miles from home, I have a car emergency kit on steroids plus a few extra empty bags thrown into the trunk that we can pack if need be. If we are going to be farther, we throw in our bags. We don’t travel big distances too much during the day, so we’ve made the system work for us.

So, we’ve adapted his Yellow/Green/Red alerts to fit what my husband wanted to do with his bag. Many of our items are the same, and we’ve added just a few for his comfort and needs.

Dad’s Get Home Bag


This is what he carries his person at all times. You’ll see a few of these items duplicated in the bag for redundancy.

  • Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Tactical Pen
  • Multitool
  • Lighter
  • Phone
  • Pistol
  • MP3 player – while this might be considered a security issue for some, for DH it is a big comfort if he needed it in an emergency and it still worked. He’d keep one ear open, though.
  • (various other geeky things that needn’t be posted here – gotta love him)

Want to get a peek at my EDC? Check here.


The Bag is a nondescript backpack. We keep many of the small items in little bags we’ve found along the way to keep them from getting lost at the bottom of the bag. It has a few straps on it, so we can hook things or tie things to it if need be. One day, we’ll upgrade to a nicer hiking backpack.

Zone 1 – 1-3 hrs from home

  • Sunglasses – We actually have purchased a pair of sun glass safety goggles from the local DIY store. They’re bigger than normal sunglasses, so they fit my husband better, and will be safer for a use like this. He’ll also have his regular sunglasses that he keeps in the car.
  • Bucket hat – This is a collapsible hat that will cover more of his neck.
  • 2 Bandanas – one for draping across the back of his neck to tuck under the hat, the other for use as a sweat rag/dust mask if needed.
  • Flashlight
  • Knife
  • Rain Ponchoyou could easily use a trasbag for this, but we’ve opted to go a full rain poncho to cover man + pack if need be.
  • First aid kit – This is a relatively small kit. It’s got a variety of adhesive bandages, ace bandage, antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, a few rag strips, pain reliever, acid reducer, topical allergy cream, super glue (for small wounds), scissors, fishing line (plus needle), and a small roll of duct tape.
  • Sunscreen & Bug Spray – Being in the South, there are only about 6 days a year when you might not need either of these.
  • Cash – small denominations and a few coins
  • Paracord – we keep a small length of paracord tied to the outside.
  • Extra batteries – this is just for his flashlights. He carries the exact same flashlight in his EDC that he has in his Get Home Bag so that he doesn’t have to pack multiple kinds.
  • Chemical Glow Stick (2) – He prefers having one handy to keep from having to carry and use his flashlight constantly. The flashlight does get hot from extended use, so this glow stick can be enough to see in front of him, and so that he can use the flashlight less sparingly.
  • Head Lamp – Hands-free light!
  • Magazine – An extra magazine for his pistol, plus the one he grabs from the car.


Zone 2 – 3-12 hrs from home.

  • TP – Because you never know when nature will strike. And like Sootch, we keep the core full of tinder to start a fire, and keep it in a zip-top bag. And sure, he could use newspaper or leaves or grass or even sacrifice a bandana, but it’s a comfort thing.
  • Map – While he knows his route if he’s relatively close to home, if he happens to travel to a part of the area he doesn’t know well,  the map will come in handy.
  • Compass – Same as above.
  • Gloves – Who knows what he’ll have to do from climbing a fence or moving debris. If it’s winter, an extra pair is handy to keep warm.
  • Sturdy shoes – These aren’t in his bag, but in the trunk with it. He most likely will not carry them if he’s close, but if he’s got a way to go, he’ll switch.
  • Extra socks – Rainy or wet terrain calls for this.
  • Lighter & Fire Starter – We duplicate here because rain may be an issue. While he may not need these because he’s close to home, he keeps them just in case. Plus the kids made him an extra fire starting pill bottle, just in case (they wanted to make sure he was well taken care of)
  • Water – Emergency Water Bag (2)
  • LifeStraw  – Most of the year, water will be an issue because of our temps. 2 small water bags won’t be enough, so my husband wants to cover his bases.
  • Aquamira Water Bottle – Same as above, this one is for both water safety and portability should he need it. It easily attaches to the outside of his pack.
  • Protein bars, trail mix – while most can go without food for long periods of time, for the husband, a blood sugar issue would be bad, so he carries a little extra food with him that is easier to get to.


ZONE 3 – 12-48 hrs

  • Sleeping Bag – He carries an SOL Bivvy sack. He also has a blanket he can grab if he knows the weather is going to be bad.
  • Hatchet – again, more of a ‘comfort’ item for him. He wants the added protection and tool for cutting firewood if necessary. This fits into a loop on most of his pants.
  • Duct Tape – a collapsed roll goes with him, just in case.
  • Trashbag – 2 thick mil black garbage bags rolled together and can tie at the bottom if need be. They can be used as shelter, as a poncho, as ground cover, etc.

Things we still need to add – small, portable radio (HAM if we can); pepper spray (he wants this for animal control more than people control); collapsible hiking pole (both as help for walking and weapon. He knows he can get a stick or branch most places, he’d just rather have something he can grab in the beginning);


Even though it seems there’s a lot here, the bag is fairly light weight.

NOTE: Of course, if you’re expecting weather that is going to be harsh, be sure to adjust your bag to what you’ll need in your situation!

Share Your Thoughts: What do you carry in your own Get Home Bag? Have you created one, yet? Do you have an emergency car kit?

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Dad's Get Home Bag....because we want him to get home to us safely! // Mom with a PREP

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  1. Linda says

    We also have vehicle boxes, EDC, a mini zip kit (like an Altoids tin kit), I have a small office kit, a GHB (get home Bag) in my car plus BOB’s at home. For just my GHB that stays in the car I have a 22 oz metal water bottle, an aqua straw (that came out of my BOB when it was replaced with a LIfestraw), a lighter, a magnesium striker, a para cord bracelet, an emergency blanket, a LED headlamp and a LED flashlight, a folding knife, a multitool, an extra large heavy duty draw string trash bag, a plastic drop cloth, my home made maps showing the area, work is 20 miles from home, with all three of my normal routes well marked, disposable rain poncho, 5-6 feet of para cord on a carabiner, 1 package of Raman, a pack of gum, 2 packs of peanut butter crackers, 2 containers of Jif on the go Peanut butter, a Millenium bar, a pair of rubber palmed work gloves and a cheap ball cap, (in the winter I add a knit cap and fleece gloves), a pair of heavy socks, a shamwow towel, a microfiber cloth and an old pair of tennis shoes stay in the car next to the bag. Things in my car I would add to the bag my 9mm Ruger with extra clip, my gun clip holster, my goal zero phone charger, the mini zip kit, a UV stick that hangs from my rearview mirror, two aquafina bottles of water, the reflective sun visors (at least one of the two if not both), my GPS that is always charged and can work 6-8 hours on its battery, one of the extra umbrellas if it was raining.

  2. JayJay says

    Edited by me; Testimonies:
    I live in West Georgia, about 40 miles from Atlanta. The surprise storm
    caught everyone off guard, and driving became brutal. I saw absolute bedlam
    and panic. People pounding on car windows demanding water or food, fights,
    people hollering and screaming…insane. My youngest was crying and afraid.
    Thank God the boys were with me and not trapped at a government school.
    What would have happened had the event lasted 3 days? Or a nuke? Terrorism?
    It was so insane, that my wife who scoffs at prepping, saw the light. Once
    she got home (after 13 hours to drive 20 miles), she hugged me and said
    “you were right all along. I want a gun.” I am an 8th generation Georgian,
    and I could not believe the actions of other “southern” people. When the
    veneer of civilization goes, sanity goes.

    Ice storm in Birmigham AL area hit by surprise yesterday. Announcements
    from schools went out at 11AM that they were sending kids home but it was
    too late. Buses couldn’t run. Hills everywhere around here started
    accumulating ice. Crashed cars and trucks everywhere and in ditches near
    every hill and some in streams. I walked 2 hours to pick up daughter at the
    high school. I got there faster walking then many did sitting stuck in
    traffic. She has a 4×4 truck and we were able to help others get home. Many
    stuck in schools, stores, churches, and in cars. Surprised at the number of
    folks who don’t travel with coats. Many walking without them back home even
    in high heels in 17 degrees. Daughter now understands why I fuss to always
    keep the gas tank full and keep blankets and more in the car. Deep freeze
    to continue until tomorrow.

  3. JayJay says

    Do you know what a Ford Tribute looks like? I have 2 totes and other supplies in the cargo space in the back. There is no room for anything else. Nuff said.

  4. says

    I have a high visibility vest that will fit over what ever I need to have strapped to me; Last thing I need is to get hit by a car.
    Also, because my dogs travel with me often– I have leashes (special hands-free ones), special collars, Turbo Pups (high calorie meal bar for dogs), I even have boots & a weather proof coat for them.

  5. Kris P says

    I carry my entire BOB in the car everytime I go somewhere. Although it’s too heavy for me to carry very far I have it divided into sections somewhat like your zones. I also have a big game cart in the car 24/7 in case I have to leave with the entire thing, or be comfortable in the car until help arrives. I change this out some in the summertime.

    • Cindy says

      @ Kris P, Your back pack should be no more than 25% of your body weight (weigh yourself and divide by 4) to keep from injuring you if you’re hoofing it. If you weigh your BOB and it’s more than this weight, see if any objects can be replaced with a “combo” object; for instance, instead of carrying a separate compass, whistle, magnifying glass (fire starting) mirror for messaging, I found a 7-in-1 compass with all these things plus some and saved space and weight. I also carry water purifying tabs and an extra empty water container (collapsible) so I can avoid carrying the 4# for 1/2 gallon of water.
      My backpack also has a padded hip strap which totally takes the weight off of my shoulders so my heavy BOB feels much lighter b/c the weight is distributed so much lower on my frame.
      Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  6. Jack says

    It’s indeed GREAT to have EDC, as well as a bug-out-bag, PLUS a “get home” bag. The EDC indeed covers multiple “base” roles. The BOB and the GHB both have somewhat unique purposes. Since this article is headlined about GHBs, I’ll focus my reply on GHBs (not BOBs.)

    You are 100% correct that our GHBs should be purpose-built for our local climate, and our expected travel distances. We should even update their contents when we know that our needs/distances will change.

    Dad’s GHB: If this is indeed the SOLE purpose (e.g. to ONLY service Dad,) then the contents are pretty accurate. e.g. the goal is for Dad to travel light & fast — and indeed get home ASAP (safely.) SPEED (and safety) are most important. Creature comforts and such take a back seat to SPEED.

    So, I would suggest adding a pair of decent/quality wool socks, and some all-terrain (fast/safe) hiking shoes. (e.g. tennis shoes on steroids.) Skip the heavy boots, they take too much room, and they are too heavy. Make sure to pre-wear the hiking shoes, to ensure that they indeed fit, and are well broken-in.

    If you have two bandannas AND a hooded poncho — you can skip the bucket-hat. What is it going to offer, that the bandannas and/or the hooded poncho don’t offer?

    Also skip the extra magazine, and the glow sticks (for the 1-3 hours from home.) You say that he already has a loaded pistol in his EDC. That should be MORE THAN ENOUGH firepower for an incidents he MIGHT have to encounter. He should be running around/away from trouble — not confronting it. He should only have to shoot a couple of rounds (in self defense as he fleas the scene) — NOT engage in some sort of armed conflict.

    The glow sticks are also redundant to a decent flashlight (e.g. headlamp that he can wear, while running in the dark.) I’d even opt for a second (lightweight) LED headlamp, before adding glow sticks. You can’t turn glow sticks back OFF when necessary. You can get equal (or more) lighting and duration from a quality HED headlight, than you can get from a glow stick.

    I would also upgrade GLOVES from zone 2, to your zone 1. Gloves have SO MANY uses!!! They can provide his with warmth, and also protect his hands if he needs to make “field repairs” to the car. They also provide protection from the sun, and protection from bugs. If he doesn’t need them, he can always ditch them along the way to lighten his load, and make more space. I used to carry mechanics gloves. They were lightweight, and offered great finger dexterity and decent protection/cleanliness when working on my cars. I then carried leather work gloves for awhile. I’ve since opted for military-style “glove liners” — which are tight-fitting wool gloves. They are a decent “happy medium” in that they are light-weight, and also provide decent warmth.

    I would indeed suggest a BRIGHTLY-COLORED poncho (blaze-orange, or yellow.) If he needs to make roadside repairs (especially at night, and in the rain,) you will want him CLEARLY SEEN by others!!! Or, to use it to signal his location, or signal for help. If you indeed prefer a dark/black/tactical poncho, then make sure you add some sort of reflective vest to his bag, too.

    I would also include ONE standard-sized plastic bottle of water. Keep it simply, and light-weight, and disposable. But, it could ALSO be refilled along the way via a drinking fountain, or tap water as needed. No need to keep a GALLON of water in his get-home bag (that’s too much weight to carry.)

    I also like to include one of those “energy shot” drinks. They are small, and light-weight. You never know when an emergency is going to happen? It could occur at the end of what was already a VERY LONG day?… Or, midway on his trip back home, he might benefit from just a little extra “boost” of energy to keep him going?!!!

    All of the above having been said, I still think too many people take a SOLO focus on this stuff. e.g. what if Dad has one or two kids with him? Or, the WHOLE FAMILY? What if the WHOLE Family needs to get back home to safety, or to regroup for a follow-on bug-out?

    Thus, I kinda feel like the get-home bag should have enough to support AT LEAST two people. Our own GHB is more like a zone 3 or zone 4 bag. We prefer to have MORE than we need — and the ability to ditch whatever we don’t need. Or, we sometimes help OTHER stranded motorists — and we don’t want our generosity to put US at risk. So, instead of just ONE can of fix-a-flat, we carry two; etc. This way, if we gift one to help someone else, we still have one left over for ourselves.

    We can’t keep thinking “me, Me, ME!” We have to think about get our WHOLE FAMILY home safe. We have to think about helping others — even complete strangers.


    • Mom with a Prep says

      Well, considering that each of our kids have their own bags, plus we store stuff in the car (as I mentioned), we do have plans for more than SOLO, but considering that my husband spends about 95% of his time solo in his car on his commute to and from work, that was the focus of this particular article. These are also HIS choices for his bag. He’s experienced enough with things and has tried things out and knows what he wants for his own bag. You have to make things work for your particular situation.

    • Mike says

      I think the second mag is more than warranted. You never know what the nature of an emergency will be, you may have more than one encounter with bad guys, and we should all know that most stoppages and malfunctions in semiautomatic firearms are magazine related, followed by lubrication and cleanliness, then ammo. Also, any time you discharge a weapon, it should be at a target. Either for hunting or defense, we shouldn’t be throwing lead around with “warning shots”.

      The glow sticks are also a good idea. They generate no heat, neither do they have minute arcs in switches or other contacts, providing a safer option if there is gas leaking or other fire danger in the immediate area that needs to be evacuated.

  7. says

    We all have get home bags in our vehicles and I have one for my daughter as well in my car as she is usually with me. I do plan to add a few more things to them but I already feel better that we have them. Thanks for sharing with us at The HomeAcre Hop!

    Please join us again Thursday at:


  8. crystal says

    We always have Non clumping kitty litter in our car!!! Wether the car get stuck in snow or mud we have the litter to help the tires grip if needed

  9. Deena says

    Aloha Jane,

    I enjoyed reading this article about the β€œZone” method of organizing a Get Home Bag (GHB). Most importantly, I learned new ways to view certain situations a bit differently.

    This method has helped me order my thoughts, as well as my Carry-On (CO). I use the airlines term because I travel by plane often. You provided reasons for packing certain items with which I agreed. Thus, I decided to include them in my CO.

    I particularly appreciate the tips about the following:

    1. Sun glass safety goggles – I had not considered this option.
    2. Full rain poncho to cover man + pack – I always packed a disposable rain poncho that always failed miserably.
    3. Carrying the exact same flashlight in his EDC that he has in his Get Home Bag – I only carried flashlights that used the same size batteries. However, the other parts, such as bulbs, could not be traded so easily.
    4. Life Straw – I did not think this was necessary before.
    5. Aquamira Water Bottle – I did not think this was necessary before, as well.
    6. SOL Bivvy Sack – I had not heard of this product before.

    I plan to research these items to determine what will fit my personality, lifestyle, and budget. Mahalo (thank you) for posting the article.

  10. James says

    Thanks for the article. I work 400+ miles from my home, therefore my get home bag has too be a little bigger. The possibilities of me walking the entire way home, (as the crow flys) is also a possibility that I have to prepare for. Luckily I drive a big enough vehicle to carry this stuff without taking up all the room. Winter time my supplies get a little smaller, but not much. As far as ammo, food, shelter, first aid, boots, etc… for my trek, during an emergency, it could turn into a deployment type scenario pretty quick. Must be prepared for the worst, pray for the best.

  11. Ellis says

    I may have overlooked it but one item missing in all these GHBs is a small pair of binoculars or a small telescope. Let’s say your walking along heading home and there is a crowd or you hear yelling or even gun shots ahead. Before you walk into this situation a closer look might be advised from consealment. I keep a pair in my truck. Where I live there are lots of birds and wildlife so I use them a lot anyway.

  12. Jason says

    I need to make one of these. I drive for a living and every day I go 150 miles from home. All I bring is my lunch, pistol, extra boxers (my wife made me in case I poop myself while driving. Even though I never have), and basic hand tools for repairs. My biggest obstacle on my trip is the 10 mile drive over a mountain twice a day at the halfway point. 5 miles to the top then 5 miles back down. Any tips for a trip like this?

    • says

      His get home bag is for a trip he can make home in a day or two. Yours sounds you’d need a bit extra for a few nights on the road, and maybe a foldable bike? That might get you more ground covered in a shorter time.

  13. Doug says

    I carry in my wallet a credit card sized fresnel lens and flimsier than card but works fine either for fire starting on a sunny day or emergency glasses for fine print I also bought at the dollar store 2 very large ones for 1$ each which REALLY boost the fire/reading capability, one i carry in the pack! also a cheap folding credit card knife which isnt good for much but its something to cut cordage with but dulls quick. I try to have backups for most things but then i rarely am far from home and work is maybe 6 miles at the most so walking it wouldnt be a problem but i have the bag and gear should I have to.

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