Saturday, September 8, 2012

Is Your Get Home Bag a Joke?

We carry two types of bags.  There's the Get Home Bag and the Bug Out Bag.  These two bags should not be the same.  If they are then you are just playing.  Or perhaps, you should have several Get Home Bags.  Your Get Home Bag is what you should always have on you if you don't plan on bugging out without your family, or other things from your house.  I think most people have the mindset of get home, then bug out.  Right? 

If this is true, and it certainly is in my case, then I need to make sure my get home bag will do the trick and get me home.  The first thing that came to my mind is a mini-helicopter so I can fly from here to there  That being impossible to stuff in my backpack, or my budget, what should be in a get home bag? 

It all depends on how far away from home you are going to be, doesn't it?   Every get home bag that I pack is a little different depending on how far away I am from home and what season of the year it is.   It's always a given that I am armed.  I have at least one firearm and at least one knife (unless I travel by plane).  I always carry cash on me.  I always have the cell phone.  I always have 25-50 feet of paracord. 
  1. 10 miles or less from home.  Assuming that I can drive home, all I'd need is gas.  But let's pretend that the vehicle won't work.  Doesn't matter if it's an EMP or the road is blocked.  I'm on foot.  I need a good pair of shoes.  For a walk from one end of the city to the other a good pair of tennis shoes will work.  And make sure there's a pair of socks.  I only need one pair of socks, it's won't take that long to get home.  I'd also want to pack along some water bottles. 1 pint per mile if it's hot. Otherwise I can go two miles on a pint. 10 miles means 10 pounds of water on a hot day.  I'd also want a few snacks.  Jacket and hat, depending on the weather.  That's all that's required.  I was thinking about my sister's in-laws during the San Diego power outage.  They had come into the city but had left their car about 20 miles outside the city and hopped on the public transportation.  They didn't have a get-home bag on them.  So, instead of just walking back to their vehicle, or to my sister's house to get a ride back to their vehicle, they were stuck in down town.  Most people were stuck.  Why?  Because they refused to walk home.  They didn't want to get separated from their vehicles.  Instead many spent the night in offices or their cars.  Didn't make sense to me.
  2. 50 miles or less from home.  Again, easy drive.  I can get around most traffic jams without too much trouble.   I know every country road because I've driven it.  All of them!  How do I know?  I have a map that I mark with a highlighter once I've gone that way.  I make notes about the road, the houses, the people.  I actually have a four foot long state map in my office with all the roads marked on that too.  I always try to take different ways home.  People are always surprised when they come into my office and see the map.  Yes, in 15 years of mapping just about every road on that map is colored.  If I'm walking I'd want more food and water.  Instead of trying to pack a lot of water I'd make sure the water filter is in the bag.  This is still a one day walk so needing something to sleep in or on isn't needed in this bag.  Second pair of socks perhaps?  Mole skin!
  3. 50-100 miles from home.  Now things get a little more difficult. I always have enough gas to get home if the vehicle works.  If you are on foot you aren't going to make it home in one day.  Instead of tennis shoes I'd have my boots packed.  There's more of a chance of hiking up and over or going around rather than staying on roads.  More food, water and filter.  A space blanket or two. I would have to crawl under some bushes to sleep for a few hours.  How cold is it going to get at night?  Do you need extra clothing?
  4. 100-300 miles from home.  This is the distance I am at most of the time that I'm "out in the field".  Again, I always have enough fuel to get home.  Between what's in the gas tank and in the fuel containers in the back of the truck I don't have to stop for gas.  There's enough to get off the main road and head on the backroads.  If I'm 300 miles from home I will be going through some large cities on my way back.  This can mean very slow going - especially if you can't use the vehicle.  It could take weeks to get home.  Do you understand that?  Weeks.  Why is 100 miles so different than 20?  After all, if you can go 20 or 30 in one day then why can't you go 100 in 3 or 4?  It all would depend on what you would encounter along the way.  The first day of any crises you shouldn't really have chaos in the streets.  At least if you stay away from the areas that you wouldn't normally want to go through anyway.  But day two, three, four...each day will get progressively worse.  You may not have the opportunity to walk openly for hours on end.  Here's where the serious packing needs to come in.  If it's that slow getting home, how are you going to feed yourself?  How are you going to keep hydrated?  Where will you sleep? You will have to sleep or you will not keep your wits about you.
As you can see, this really isn't a list of what YOU need to have in your get home bag.  You need to come up with your own scenarios of what situations you will encounter.  You need to know the terrain, the number of days you expect to be trekking home, the weather, the types and numbers of people you may encounter. 

I actually have several get home bags.  I have my main bag that's in each of the trucks - that bag is always in the truck.  I don't need anything else if I'm not going far out of town.  If I'm going further away I'll put in my get home bag prior to leaving home.  It's sort of redundant because each truck has enough stuff packed into it to keep me fed and bed for several weeks. 

I guess the whole point of this post is to have you think about what you have in that backpack that should always be in your vehicle, if you aren't too far from the vehicle, or in your possession if you are away from the vehicle.  If you are anywhere at all, how will you get home?  That's the question that only you can answer by presenting  yourself with a bunch of scenarios.


  1. Great outline of the concept. The details should be us to us individually. We are in the process of putting these together and many discussions about what to put in each of the packs for each of us. Seems to me it should vary depending on which person in the family will be carrying the bag.

  2. Ten miles out and fifty miles out can turn into "overnight" real fast depending on the time you start your trip home.

    1. You are absolutely correct. Thanks for pointing that out! I suppose I need to think about a close to home overnight out.