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 on you to get home to your family…fast!
Our Get Home Bag Story
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. (CLICK HERE to find out more about creating a 72-hour emergency bag – free downloadable checklist included!)
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.
- Tactical Pen (we’ve since removed this from his kit. He just prefers a permanent marker)
- 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. But we certainly don’t want our pack to scream, “HEY! This dude is prepared, and he’s got the stuff you want!”
We 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.
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.
- Rain Poncho – you 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, backpack cover, rain gatherer, etc.
Other items we want to add to the Get Home Bag
- 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);
- Binoculars (as I was updating this list, I realized that a reader had suggested a monocular or binoculars for the bag, and my husband just asked to put it on the list this week to add to his bag!
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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