Get Home Bag: The Definitive Guide

 Most of us can recall the horrific events that transpired on that fatal day of September 11th.  It happened quickly and without warning. Tens of thousands of people in Manhattan instantly became evacuees and were made to flee the chaos that gripped the city.

"A Date Which Will Live in Infamy" - Franklin Roosevelt

“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” – Franklin Roosevelt

Every attempt was made by emergency responders to evacuate as quickly as possible those trying to leave the island not knowing if further tragedy would befall them. Luckily many injured and hungry people were able to leave Manhattan by foot or boat.

But what if circumstances would have been direr and people were forced to stay where they were and not able to reach home? Thus, the importance of having a ready to use Get Home bag (in conjunction with everyday carry [EDC] gear) providing you with needed emergency supplies to use during a potential immediate life threatening event becomes self evident.

Check here for 5 Top Ready-Made Get Home bags 

Defining the Get Home Bag

paragraph 1.3It is easy to get confused between a Get Home Bag and Bug Out Bag.  In fact, they are often used synonymously.

Conceptually a get home bag is meant to be used if an emergency or disaster event takes place during the day or night when you are away from your home or bug out location.

Typically the bag or container is kept at work, school or car stored in a safe location (ex. locker, workstation drawer, filing cabinet, car trunk etc…) near you to be grabbed at a moment’s notice.

All of the items contained in the bag should appropriately address all your needs until you arrive to your safe destination (in other words your supplies and gear should last long enough to get you from your evacuation site to your safe designated location).

Your Get Home Bag Contents   

I developed a well researched comprehensive Bug Out Bag List in which general categories of items are listed.  Whether you have a Every-Day Carry (EDC) kit, get home bag (Go bag) or bug out bag (72 hr. BOB)  the types of items you should have is the same.

The selection of specific items should however be appropriate for each one of the specific ready-made bags (mentioned above) you are purchasing or assembling. Those categories (in order of importance according to expert sources) are listed as follows;
1.  Documents/Informational materials
2.  Shelter/Clothing,
3.  Fire/Light
4.  Signaling/Communication
5.  Navigation
6.  Water
7.  Food
8.  First Aid/Personal Meds/Hygiene Products
9.  Safety and Protection
10. Miscellaneous

Below,  I provide a Comprehensive  Get Home List for you to view


How Much Should I Have in my Get Home Bag?

In most cases, I think the amount of items one should carry in their Get Home Bag would probably be less than that found in a typical 72 hour bug out bag. Outside of doing an unusual trip or excursion, planning for a day or two should be reasonable.

However there are other factors to consider:

  • The route you must traverse to reach your destination. Is your route urban or rural? Is it densely or thinly populated along the way? Are there potentially safer rest stops?  Are there sources of water or food on the route?  It is easy to say I will stop along the way and purchase bottles of water and food because there are gasoline stations or convenience stores on the road. But what if the crisis situation is so critical that stores are closed and the ones open are mobbed by people trying desperately grab at everything in sight!
  • The distance you travel to work or school on a daily basis. According to a 2013 Washington Post article, the average commuter travels about 25 miles.
  • The distance you can walk with relatively little difficulty. The average walking speed is 3.1 mph. Keep in mind, age and current health concerns affect the distance you are likely to travel. Although, in an article in, stating the average American adult walks 2-3 miles a day, 8-10 miles is probably doable by most with relative ease if the situation warrants it.
  • The season and weather effecting quantity and gear selection.  If it is hot or cold, the amount of water or types of supplies may play an important role on how much to carry.  It would not be unheard of to carry on hand 1 liter of water per hour of walking during a hot summer day.
  • The amount you can carry and for how long.  American soldiers are often expected to carry about 100 lbs. of gear for up to 6 to 8 hours. Keep in mind they are trained and in great physical shape.  For the rest of us, doctors suggest when selecting an appropriate bag or backpack, the total weight should not exceed 15% of total body weight for children and young teens. Adults in good physical condition should not exceed 30 %of their overall weight while those not in not so great shape, no more than 25%.  Using these guidelines and backpacking info provided by the Boys Scouts Backpacking book, one should be capable of covering 30 miles comfortably in five days carrying a 20 to 30 lb pack.

So determining how much to carry to reach your destination should be well thought-out and planned.  Thus, you will be sure to get all the necessary supplies to make it home safely and soundly.