Get Home Bag, What Do You Need?
When it comes to a Bug Out Bag (BOB), Go Bag or Get Home Bag (GHB) many people get confused. This mainly happens cause we live in a confusing time as far as terminology is concerned. Some people say bug out bag and mean Get Home Bag, some say Go Bag but mean Bug Out Bag (BOB), etc. In this article we will be discussing the Get Home Bag and why having one in your car is just plain common sense. Firstly what scenario's might a Get Home Bag help you get through? Well, it could be as simple as breaking down in a cold climate, or a hot environment. Could be a natural disaster has hit and now you are SOL and having this pack with some essentials will get you that much further toward the next step in your survival. I think that is the one thing people miss is we are surviving everyday, but it is just overlooked. We go get food at the grocery store or at a restaurant cause we are hungry, so we go eat. That is survival at it's basic point. But for some reason, maybe cause of the Y2K scare and people seeing nothing happened, people have grown slightly if not completely ignorant about their own survival. Shows like Dual Survival and Survivorman are watched with intensity, yet most of the people who watch the shows see them for entertainment and do not apply the lessons learned, what small amount from some of the episodes if anything at all, to everyday life.
Give the fact that we live in a consumer based society which is the polar opposite of our society of even 40 years ago, there is no excuse with all of the products and knowledge available not to have a Get Home Bag or even a Emergency Bag setup. Does a Get Home Bag or Emergency Bag for the vehicle have to be something extravagant? Not at all, in fact it is not meant to be. It is meant to sustain you for a day, and provide the tools to support you for a few days in dire emergencies. We will be discussing in this article cold weather Get Home Bags and hot weather Get Home Bags. Obviously the cold weather setup will be slightly larger than the hot weather, so let's get down to the details.
HOT WEATHER GET HOME BAG/VEHICLE EMERGENCY BAG:
For warm weather the needs are going to always be water, particularly desert environments. So having a few bottles or a bladder of water in a BPA free non-leeching container is the way to go. I personally have a Platypus Plus flexible bottle, in a 1 liter (32 ounce) size in my bag. This bottle has a silver-ion based anti-microbial inside to it which will keep the nastiness away, especially during storage of your water in a Get Home Bag like we are discussing today. Now is 32 ounces enough in a desert environment? Maybe or maybe not, but to play it safe having two of these on hand would be the best situation. Now remembering to store this bag in an area of shade in the car is a need, even though doing that will still not stop the water from getting hot. But, survival is not about having everything perfect, it is about having the supplies you need at hand, and having warm water is a trade off between living and dying I will take. I do not recommend a water filtration device, like the LifeStraw which I recommend in the cold weather bag, due to the chances of finding water in a hot or desert environment as not that good. Although, you could certainly have one in there if you do not mind the bulk and weight.
Having water on hand is great, but having some hydration solution packs, like Drip Drop, RecoverORS or even Gatorade, on top of the water is all the better. I have two packs in my Get Home Bag, and with a 32 ounce bottle I will drink it down half the way, then deploy my hydration solution for the remaining half of the water that is left. I do not believe in constantly drinking hydration solution, but having it on hand can be a life saver, literally. This is really the only medical product I have in my Get Home Bag. As the reason for this bag is speed and getting to where you are off too, not setting up a house and playing Suzie Homemaker.
Having a shemagh or some sort of bandanna on hand is another top priority. This helps shade you from the sun, and wetting this with some water and draping over your head will provide an air conditioning feel through the powers of physics. This also when dry can act to keep you warm buy wrapping around you neck and head during the cold nights in the desert. While not perfect as compared to a nice say goose down cap, this will get you through some cold nights. Now in line with the wind and sun protection discussion, you should also have lip balm in the bag. This protects from the sun, wind and even can be used as a firestarter. So the versatility of a tiny stick of lip balm/chapstick is amazing for under $2 most everywhere. n top of all that, having a poncho or tarp, even a garbage bag, to keep you out of the elements if your area is possibly wet, is a fantastic idea and a emergency blanket or space blanket would fit the bill here.
As far as food goes, you want high calorie food, but you want items that will withstand being in a car, if that is where your Get Home Bag is located. If you have your bag at work, then the sky is the limit due to the controlled environment not breaking down the food as much. But using things like peanut butter singles, spam singles low sodium, MRE snacks like cornbread and lemon poppy seed snack cakes are all good options to consider. People will say energy gel is something you want on hand, but I disagree with most of them as they have too much caffeine, which leads to dehydration in just the situation you would find yourself in. Stay away from caffeine. Remember that food is not the top priority and that you need water to digest the food you eat. So do not place eating food over drinking water, or you will have a big belly ache or even worse die.
Now having a few tools is going to help your cause, but you do not need a huge Snap-On tool box at your disposal. One of the easiest tools to recommend is a multi-tool, and for good reason. Given it's name, multiple tool, you are getting the best bang for your buck and in a great package. Even something as cheap and smaller in size like the Leatherman S2 Juice would be great to have in a Get Home Bag. If you are in a dire emergency and need to take parts off your car to survive, say it broke down or ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere, this $20 tool is going to get you that much farther to the side of living versus dying. Multi-tools usually come with a few normal tools, like pliers, knife, flat head and phillips screwdriver, can opener, etc. So get yourself a multi-tool for the Get Home Bag or Emergency Bag. Other than that you have to think about something that can be used in the fix and in the improvise arena, and that is duct tape or Gorilla Tape. I like Gorilla Tape as it is amazingly strong compared to duct tape. Fixing a leaky radiator hose in the high heat could save your life, just as much as taping up a blister while walking to your next point of interest during a emergency is going to be a life saver. Wrap some Gorilla Tape around a old credit card, etc. and throw it in your bag.
Having some sort of cordage on hand is a must. Grab a hank of 550 paracord and call it a day on the tools end of things. Something again that is cheap but priceless is a lighter. The uses are endless and for under $1, throw it in the pack. Having a knife of some sort is a need, it could even be a knife you carry everyday. It does not need to be some crazy expensive surival knife either. Just one that will last and hold up. I finish out the tools section with a flashlight. Now this could be a handheld or headlamp, personal preference really. A headlamp is great, cause you can go hands free which in an emergency something that is a huge bonus. I like Princeton Tec headlamps, as they are good lights and made in the USA.
Medical supplies for this Get Home Bag is going to be super small. Something to stop bleeding is a must and you could buy a box of Maxi-Pads and throw one in your bag or just one or two normal blood stopper bandages. I think having some Steri-Strips on hand is a must, given they are weightless and could close up any nasty cuts you get.
So let's go over the details:
Bag: Any bag at any price that fits the gear in it. Does not have to be special. The JanSport Katahdin 20L is a good option or something to base another pack off.
Hydration: Two flexible water bottles (Platypus Plus Bottle), two hydration solution packs (Drip Drop, RecoverORS, Gatorade)
Clothing: One shemagh and a ball cap of some sort
Food: Stuff that will last in the heat like peanut butter singles, Spam singles low sodium and MRE snacks like cornbread and lemon poppy seed snack cake
Tools: Multitool, Gorilla Tape wrapped around a credit card about 20 times, lighter, flashlight w/ spare batteries, a small compass, knife and a hank of 550 Paracord
Medical: Blood stopper bandage, steri-strips, chap stick
COLD WEATHER GET HOME BAG/VEHICLE EMERGENCY BAG:
For colder weather thinking about warmth and hydration are your needs. Starting a fire, adding a layer to your clothing and having some water on hand is where you start. Now I am not going to go over the reasons for duplicate things from the hot weather bag as much here. Firstly lets talk hydration. In a colder environment you usually will have access to snow and even streams and creeks, so having something like the small and lightweight Life Straw water filtration product is a good idea. I have one water bottle one me, not two like in the hot environment. Something else you can do that will be a big upgrade, but increases weight is to have one metal bottle versus the flexible plastic one. Coupled with the fire starting capability you would give yourself a good ability to make water safe to drink by being able to put the metal bottle in the coals of the fire to boil it for 2 minutes to provide safe drinking water. I suggest something like a Kleen Kanteen, single walled stainless steel bottle. They are cheap at around $20.
Clothing for the cold weather Get Home Bag is obviously going to differ, with the cold weather bag holding an extra layer of clothes and a nice wool cap. I like military surplus wool hats, particularly the Canadian Turcs. These can be had for under $10, and will keep your head nice a warm and out of the elements. Along with the hat for warmth, you should throw in a pair of gloves. These do not have to be too fancy, could just be a set of wool or lightweight surplus gloves from outdoor research. Just something to again, get your skin out of the elements. To finish out the clothing section, having a fleece 1/4 zip top is priceless. Now this is not going to do super well by itself in the elements of rain or snow, but I am assuming that in a cold environment you already have a jacket of some sort for which this fleece could go under for a layering effect. A great example is the blue Victorinox fleece (pictured) I picked up recently at a goodwill for $7! Also having a poncho or vesitile tarp is a need to keep you out the elements, even a space blanket will suffice. You do not need to but brand new state of the art gear for a Get Home Bag, just practical gear.
Now when it comes to food in a colder environment, sky is almost the limit. Snickers bars, protein bars and all those foods that would not hold up to a hot environment can be used here. Remember, high calorie food is the way to go, as you will be burning it off, trust me. The tools you need on top of the ones from the hot weather Get Home Bag as straight forward. One thing that could be a lifesaver in the cold is a fire. So bringing tinder along of some sort, along with a lighter and matches is a must. Grab some dry wood off the top of a dead tree and you are in business. Throwing some hand warmers in this bag might be a comfort item, but for under $2, and weighing barely anything why not have it on hand. On the medical side, nothing changes from the hot weather bag.
So let's go over the details:
Bag: Any bag at any price that fits the gear in it. Does not have to be special. The JanSport Katahdin 20L is a good option for under $50 or something to base another pack off.
Hydration: One flexible water bottles (Platypus Plus Bottle), two hydration solution packs (Drip Drop, RecoverORS, Gatorade)
Clothing: One shemagh, ball cap or wool cap, gloves, fleece top
Food: Pretty much anything, as most everything does well in colder weather and the inside of the car will be warmer than the outside. Protein bars, peanut butter singles, Spam singles, trail mix, etc.
Tools: Multitool, Gorilla Tape wrapped around a credit card about 20 times, lighter, tinder of some sort, flashlight w/ spare batteries, a small compass, knife, hank of 550 Paracord, hand warmers, Life Straw and matches
Medical: Blood stopper bandage, steri-strips, chap stick
So there is what I recommend and how a Get Home Bag should be looked at as far as concept goes. A Bug Out Bag is meant to leave for good your house or an area, with a Get Home Bag being a stop gap between getting home, getting to your Bug Out Bag or even just getting to the hospital in an emergency situation. Remember to rotate out perishable items like food, etc. every 6 months to a year and verify your gear is good to go. Doing all this will ensure that when you need your Get Home Bag or Emergency Bag it will be there for you and it's contents fully operational.