Instead of hauling a huge bug out bag in the back of your car if you work and travel within a few walking hours of home, consider a Get Home Bag. Not quite as much to pack, easier to carry, and makes it easier for you to get home to your family…fast!
Dad’s Get Home Bag Story
My husband works about 15 miles away from home. In the event of a regional or national disaster, it might mean that he couldn’t be home in 30 minutes as his normal routine has it. And if that regional disaster meant that no transportation was working, he’d have to walk home. Fifteen 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. Unlike a Bug out bag that is gared to last for days and maybe months, the Get Home Bag 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 6-8 hour hike.
• Learn to create your own 72-hour kit for longer emergencies or evacuations
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 (you can read more about one here).
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.
While Sootch’s bag is a great idea, the type of bag you use also will make a difference in how you pack, lending itself to different organizational ideas based on its structure. The following is a rundown on my husband’s new Get Home Bag.
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.
- 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)
THE GET HOME BAG
is a nondescript black 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. But we certainly don’t want our pack to scream, “HEY! This dude is prepared, and he’s got the stuff you want!”
UPDATE: We have upgraded his backpack to the one above. We found that with normal wear and tear in the car, that small, nondescript backpack wore out after awhile, so I upgraded him to this one which we purchased from Amazon for less than $30.
• Want to get a peek at my EDC? Check here.
Organization of the Get Home Bag
We originally took Sensible Prepper’s Zone idea and built our bag with Zone 1 to start, and expanded as we could to create a full bag for my husband. We’ve packed close to this need, as well, so that the things really needed the most would be the easiest to grab. However, my husband has worked with it awhile and reorganized it to fit this model for him, because he thinks this way, so it makes more sense for him to immediately know where to go to get the item he needs. It’s something you’ll want to play with a few times to use the best model for your own needs.
Tip: I will link to some products that you can grab quickly from Amazon, but know that you can get most of this gear at local stores, too, if you’d prefer to shop around. These are Amazon affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small commission if you purchase through these links, but it doesn’t cost more for you.
Get Home Bag Zone 1 – Quick Safety
- Flashlight – this small, portable flashlight is in his bag at all times, but he would also grab a larger one he keeps in his car.
- Headlamp – he wants to be hands-free if he’s walking at dusk or in the dark. His hands can then be carrying other tools that are necessary, and still be able to defend himself. He chose this one for himself.
- 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.
- N95 Mask
GetHome Bag Zone 2 – Defensive Gear
- Gun Cleaning Kit
- Extra magazine
Get Home Bag Zone 3 – Tools
- Knives: Utility knife, combat knife and folding serrated knife;
- Rain Poncho – you could easily use a trashbag for this, but we’ve opted to go a full rain poncho to cover man + pack if need be;
- Binoculars (or a monocular if you’d like). This is for being able to view head if you see what might be danger (large crowds, etc.)
- Trash Bags – kept for ground cover or shelter;
- Cash – small denominations and coins
- Paracord – he keeps 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.
- 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.
- Eating Tool – probably never neeed, but it’s one of the very first kit items we bought our yars ago, and he loves keeping it handy.
- Zip Ties
- Duct Tape
- Striker fire starter, waterproof matches and lighter
- Road Flares
- Chemical Light Sticks
Get Home Bag Zone 4 – Life
- 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. It’s just a small roll, not a full-sized one.
- 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.
- N95 face masks
- 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.
- 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)
- Lifestaw Water bottle
- Protein bars, trail mix
GET HOME BAG ZONE 5 – Outside the bag
- 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.
- Carabiners a few of these are on the outside of the bag to carry things like a collapsible water bag, his water bottle, and anything else he may find along the way to use.
- Hatchet – again, more of a ‘comfort’ item for him. He wants the added protection and tool for cutting firewood if necessary. there is a designatd paracord loop built in to carry this.
- Sturdy Shoes (socks stored inside)
Other items we want to add to the Get Home Bag
- Ham radio – while operating a ham radio to transmit, without a license is illegal, listening in is always okay. And if it is a real emergency, transmitting is allowed. *This has been purchased and on the way!
- 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 lightweight at just over 16 pounds at this time. It will increase as we add a few more things to it, but it is still well within the 25% body weight limit you should observe. He wants to be light on his feet.
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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