Every able bodied human being needs to have a go bag in case of emergency. Your go bag will contain everything you need for at least 72 hours including some gear for long term survival. Let’s explore the elements of a go bag with a basic packing list of survival supplies.
The Go Bag Itself
You’ll need a decent bag to grab in case TSHTF. Maybe you were thinking about using that ratty old Jansport you’ve kept since college. This is fine if that’s all you have but consider making an investment into something that isn’t going to bust the moment you crawl under a barbed wire fence. The go bag carries all your gear and I recommend looking into a quality pack. Read my post on the best Molle packs. Long story short, the 5.11 Rush 72 is a perfect go bag and features tactical elements not seen in other bags.
The Go Bag Survival Gear List
Here’s a quick and dirty list of the essential gear you need in the go bag. I’ll go over each of these items below the list.
- 72 hours worth of food and water
- Critical documents (ID, Passport, etc)
- $100 spare cash
- LED Flashlight
- Camping cup
- Multi Tool
- Light poncho or trash bag
- Duct tape (not a whole roll)
- Lighters and fire starters
- Water filter (either a Lifestraw or Sawyer squeeze)
- Drinking canteen
- Basic first aid
- Emergency radio
- USB charging bank for smartphone
- Chargers for electronics (Micro USB or Iphone)
- Change of clothes
The logic Behind The GO Bag
A lot of the bug out bags (go bags) I see are completely overloaded. They include tents, sleeping bags, compasses, and a bunch of other crap you don’t need. You see, the go bag isn’t designed for the end of the world. It’s there to assist you in getting to a safe destination. Maybe your car broke down in a storm or your house got flooded. Perhaps a fire ripped through your area and a mandatory evacuation was issued. The go bag in these cases will see you through a temporary situation. In most cases you won’t be camping in the woods or living off pigeons in the city like some of these apocalyptic crackpots will have you believe.
GO Bag Tips
Food and water will be your number one priority here. While true that lack of shelter will kill you faster in some environments, in most cases you’ll just be hungry and thirsty. This can lead to you making wrong decisions or even death in some extreme cases. A solid GO bag has 72 hours worth of food and water. Think about food you would take hiking. I like the Mountain House packets because they’re easy and they taste good. You can also include other non-perishable items like dried fruits and nuts, peanut butter, tuna packets etc.
Documents and cash are crucial to you not getting hassled by cops and paying for things when there might not be any electricity. You should always keep things like your passport and a spare ID in your GO bag for situations where the originals are at risk for getting destroyed. Your documents give you access to services and can verify your identity to the authorities and possible medical personnel.
Electronics will of course come into play. A spare prepaid burner phone is a good idea along with all the chargers you need. A battery bank to recharge a dead cell can be a life saver. You have surely felt the fear of a dead cell phone in normal circumstances – only imagine the level of fear in a full blown SHTF situation!
Basic survival gear like the stuff they give to the boy scouts. These include pieces of gear used to make fire and purify water. With fire you can stay warm and cook food. With water you can cook and also keep yourself hydrated. Also having a method to purify dubious water sources is crucial. I like the Lifestraw as a cheap option but prefer something more robust like the Sawyer squeeze. Added to this section of the list is a knife, a multi tool, a first aid kit, and a good LED flashlight.
The Enhanced GO Bag List
It’s easy to go beyond what is on this list and overload your pack with useless junk. For instance, most people don’t even know how to use a compass but pack one anyways. Why? In most cases you need a map and general sense of where you are for a compass to be reliable. Tents and sleeping bags sound like solid “shoe ins” for the go bag but only weigh you down. Like I said, the likelihood of you having to bug out to the woods is very unlikely if you live in the first world. These are nice to have just in case but they serve little purpose in a go bag.
However, if you’re one to go all out I can recommend some “advanced” pieces of gear not needed but nice to have.
- Map of your area
- Fishing kit
- Trapping kit
- Ham radio
- Tent / Sleeping bag
- Sewing kit
- Tactical gloves
- More food than 72 hours worth
As you can see the pack is starting to get very heavy at this point. Think about the likelihood of you ever needing any of these things. Firstly, who knows how to fish and trap game in the modern world? If you have the skill than obviously include these things. But for the average Joe, the reality is that even with the best fishing or trapping gear it’s very unlikely you’ll catch anything more than a hook to your own lip.
Same goes for the compass and ham radio. These are all items requiring a certain level of skill to be effective. If you don’t have these skills than do your back a favor and don’t add them to the GO bag.
Having a GO bag around might just save your ass one day. If anything you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you’re prepared to make a long trek across town or through a storm and survive. With a good GO bag you’ll have 3 days worth of food and water and the gear required to secure more. It’s very easy to filter water if you’re in a pinch. Put one of these together as soon as you can to ensure your safety during an emergency