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GetHomeBag

The Prepper Journal

A term you will hear frequently on Prepping and Survival websites is a Get Home Bag. You could also hear this called by other names (Get Me Home, Get Back) and they are all pretty much the same thing. Today we are going to discuss why a Get Home Bag is so important and something you should consider having if you are like most people and have to commute away from home every day for work. A Get Home Bag is similar to your Bug Out Bag but they have different purposes and what you need to put into your Get Home Bag will be different.

What is a Get Home Bag?

A get home bag is simply a bag of supplies you can use if you are forced to walk back home after some disaster or crisis. The assumption is that for whatever reason you are away from home, possibly far away and you can’t simply call AAA or a cab to come and get you. There could be several levels of Get Home Bag and I will discuss those below depending on how far away from home you are which could determine how long it will take you to get back home.

I used to have a job for a short time that had an 86 mile (one way!) commute. It was an opportunity that was too good to pass up but thankfully I found another position much closer to home. Every day I would jump in my car and set out on the highway for an hour and a half drive. Naturally, I never really imagined anything would prevent me from driving back home at the end of the day, but if some disaster struck while I was away, 86 miles would be a pretty long haul on foot.

When I worked that job I didn’t have any supplies with me except an iPod probably. I don’t even think I had water in my car. If something had happened, I would have been in trouble if I had to rely on what I had on hand and a Get Home Bag is the answer to that problem. You don’t have to work 86 miles away from home to need a Get Home Bag because the important supplies you have in there could save your life even much closer to home.

Maxpedition makes excellent bags.

Is a Get Home Bag even necessary?

You may be thinking ‘Hey, I don’t work 86 miles away from home’ so why would I need a Get Home Bag and I will concede that in some cases, the distance you are traveling away from home will dictate what you might need to make it home in the first place. Let’s say there is a disaster and you are only 5 miles away or closer from home. You could probably crawl home if you needed in a day. Assuming you didn’t live in an insect infected swamp, the dessert or in a war zone, you might not need a get home bag.

But there doesn’t really have to be a disaster for a get home bag to help you out. Winter storms are a natural occurrence. Last year, there was a huge traffic snarl in Atlanta when a relatively minor amount of snow and ice shut the city down over night. Your Get home bag could give you the supplies you needed to make it home or just as easily make your overnight stay more comfortable.

Get Home bags don’t have to see the end of the world as we know it. There could be earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, landslides, winter storms and on and on. Just having this backup could come in handy.

Your Get Home Bag packing list

So enough about the purpose of a get home bag, what do you pack in there? I think that we could logically break this down into different tiers or levels for how long the get home bag would need to be called into service to get you home. There will be seasonally adjusted items but I will call those out on the list below.

Assuming the average uninjured adult walks approximately 3 miles per hour we will have three tiers below for distances of 3 to 90 miles. As with everything else in prepping your needs and situation as well as the actual disaster will have an effect on what you will need to use and how your preps would be different. This is just a general guideline but should be enough for the average person in average conditions.

Tier 1 – 1 – 3 Hours away

If you had to walk back home for 3 hours that could mean that you work approximately 9 miles away from home. This is very similar to my commute now and unless meteors hit the ground or we were bombed by someone, I think all things being equal I would be home in a relatively short time. Anything I pack is going to help me along my journey but does not anticipate an overnight stay. I would add some items just in case because I like to be prepared for surprises.

  • A good folding knife – This should be common sense. A knife and actually the first 6 items on this list are part of my Every Day Carry (EDC) so technically I have them wherever I go. I carry the Spyderco Tenacious.
  • Multi-Tool – From pliers to a small saw, there are a surprising number of things you can do with a good multi-tool.
  • BandannaBandanas make a great filter for the first stage of water, a dust mask, bandage, and sling or if you plan on robbing a bank you will be in style. Just kidding on that last part.
  • Flashlight/headlight – I have a flashlight on my belt and a headlamp in my Get Home Bag. You can’t beat a headlamp at night when you need to have both hands free.
  • Water bottle – Ideally a stainless steel water bottle which can be used over a fire to boil water. Even if you don’t have a stainless steel version, something to carry water in.
  • Concealed Carry Weapon – Never leave home without it.
  • Comfortable/Sturdy footwear – I have written about the importance of good footwear before. You don’t want the S to hit the fan and you are in flip flops.
  • Rain gear – Always plan for rain because you do not want to be soaking wet without a chance of drying off. Hypothermia will sap your energy and could kill you at even moderately warm temperatures. An umbrella isn’t a good option because it will require you to hold it and you will just look like a dork if you have to run.
  • Gloves – Sturdy gloves will be a huge advantage if you have to do work you aren’t accustomed to. They can prevent cuts, burns and blisters.
  • Simple First Aid Kit with Blood Stopper – I am not talking about the cheap kind with Band-Aids and some Neosporin. If you have to walk home you can tough minor cuts out, but a blood stopper or Israeli bandage can be used for large bleeds. If things are bad enough you are walking home, you probably don’t want to go to the hospital if you can avoid it.
  • Dust Mask – I have regular dust masks that are really only good for dust and N95 masks which should be used in certain situations.
  • Hat – Good at keeping the rain, sun or snow off your head.
  • Sunglasses – The ideal pair of sunglasses are also safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris.
  • Snack/Energy Bars – Let’s face it you will not die if you have to walk home for a few hours but a little snack bar can lift your spirits and occupy your mind for a while. A little shot of energy never hurt anyone either.
  • Spare Ammo – Make sure you can refill that magazine if it empties out.
  • Lighter – I have a couple of lighters because they are just simpler than using a fire steel.
  • Spare Cash – In a power outage or worse, you may not be able to access the ATM. Credit cards may not be accepted either but cash usually is.
  • Paracord – A million and one uses.
  • Duct Tape – Two million and two uses.

A Stainless Steel water bottle like this Nalgene will allow you to boil water if needed.

Tier 2 – 4- 8 hours away

To walk for 8 hours at the average pace of 3 miles an hour that would put you approximately 24 miles away from home. I would have everything in the Tier 1 Get Home Bag plus the following items.

  • Spare batteries for flashlights
  • Bivvy sack or Wool Blanket – SOL makes a great emergency bivvy sack that will keep you alive in pretty cold temperatures. This or a wool blanket if you have to spend the night outdoors.
  • Tarp or Poncho – Either can be used to keep the rain off of you. A camouflage poncho can also help keep you hidden.
  • Garbage Bags – You can lay or sit on these to keep water off your backside.
  • Spare Medications (if needed)
  • Spare socks – If you are walking for over 4 hours or are sweating a lot you will want to change your socks. Hang the old ones off your Get Home Bag to dry out. As a bonus you may want foot powder and moleskin for blisters.
  • Additional Layer for warmth – Simple base layers are lightweight and take up little space.
  • Wool or fleece cap – Nights get cool even in the summer.
  • Radio
  • Tinder materials for fire – I have seen some people add dryer lint and some WetFire tabs and place them inside their role of toilet paper.
  • Water purification tablets – Simpler than bleach, cheaper than a LifeStraw and take up less room than most filters. Of course if I was going to carry a water filter I would carry the Sawyer Mini water filter because it takes up minimal room and weighs ounces.
  • Toilet Paper – Hey, when the SHTF you might need to take a… well you know what I mean. Also useful for cleaning glasses, blowing your nose or as tinder for a fire.

Tier 3 – Overnight Distance 80 + miles.

Paratus 3 Day Operator's Pack - $65.98

If you are like me and the commute was extra-long or the traveling conditions were hazardous it may take you 24 hours to make it home. This will involve sleeping somewhere overnight unless you just have to plug on and make it all in one shot. For a Tier 3 Get Home bag, I would add to the contents of the first two tiers, the following:

  • Sleeping Bag – Size and temperature appropriate to your climate and season.
  • Large fixed blade knife – This could be used for larger chores like chopping firewood for your fire or making larger holes in people.
  • Spare magazine for pistol – Can’t be too safe.
  • Walking Sticks – If you are walking 80 miles you would probably need a walking stick before it’s all over with. Walking sticks relieve pressure on your knees and can also be used with your poncho to make a shelter.
  • Advanced First Aid – Blood Stoppers, Celox and Ace Bandage
  • Additional Energy Bars or Survival Rations

What is the best bag to use for a Get Home Bag?

That is the million dollar question isn’t it? Well, first it helps to assemble all of your items to see how much space you need. For my Tier 1 Get Home Bag I use a Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack which fits everything I have, minus the shoes very nicely. I haven’t used them personally but am interested in the 5.11 Rush bags that come in three sizes to coincide with the duration of your stay (12, 24 and 72). I know the 5.11 brand and have several of their products, just not any bags and they have been of the highest quality. You do pay for that quality, but I think it is worth it and I want to get my hands on one of these bags for a review.

I have also been interested in looking at the Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack from 3V Gear. The price is certainly reasonable so I am considering getting one of those to review also. At less than half the price of a 5.11 bag, it’s worth considering. There are so many options out there and you don’t have to spend a fortune on a bag to hold your gear. Most likely you aren’t being dropped into hostile territory in Afghanistan so most regular backpacks will do the job for you but your own needs and tastes will decide what works best.

In conclusion, you might be wondering what the difference between a Bug Out Bag and a Get Home Bag is and if you count all of the tiers together, throw in some more food and maybe cooking utensils you are pretty much looking at the same thing. It might be a good indicator that you have too much if you can’t tell the difference. Either that or you work a long way from home.

Hopefully this helped with some information. Any items I missed?

This information has been made available by The Prepper JournalHow to Build a Get Home Bag

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Steps to Take Before Crossing Your Doorsill

By Todd Walker

My bud over at For Tomorrow We... shared with me his article on building an office emergency kit. It reminded me that I should update my kit – and plan. Tip ‘o the hat, my friend!

If you’re fortunate enough have a job in today’s shrinking economy, it’s likely that you spend over a third of your life commuting to and from work. Whether your ‘office’ is a construction site, hospital, toll booth, boardroom, or classroom like mine, you must leave the house to get there.

Having a few preparedness tools stacks the deck in favor of you getting home.

And it all starts…

Before Stepping Over Your Doorsill

I give Dirt Road Girl a hard time about how long it takes her to get ready when we’re leaving the house. She returns the good-natured ribbing *hands on those beautiful hips and eyes rolling* as I start my ritual of loading my pockets and belt with stuff I carry everyday.

I just smile and say, “Ya never know!”

Pockets Full of Preps

The stuff you carry on your person is known in the prepper community as EDC (Everyday Carry). If you work in a victim zone (Weapons Free Zone) as I do, you’ll have to get creative with preparedness and self-defense items.

Ask a prepper if he has a knife on him. You’re likely to hear what my daddy’s says…

“I’ve got my pants on, don’t I!”

But wait! There’s more room for other useful stuff besides a knife.

Wallet (some conventional and unconventional items)
  • Money (stash some so the spouse and kids don’t find it)
  • Duct tape – wrap 3 feet around an expired store card
  • I.D. to prove your residency when local law enforcement have blocked off your neighborhood after a natural disaster
  • Survival Wallet
  • Emergency contact numbers on a card. If your smart phone is lost, stolen, or dead, it’s no longer real smart. I personally don’t have my adult children’s phone numbers memorized. That’s why an old-fashioned paper card is important.
  • Pre-paid phone card. They work if you find a pay phone at a truck stop.
  • Condom. Of the extra-large, un-lubricated variety. Settle down, now! Condoms have more than one use. Creek Stewart shows 11 redundantly resilient ways a condom could save your life – with pictures and videos!
Pockets/Belt
  • Sidearm – This item, along with a spare magazine, is on my person everywhere I go. The only exceptions are places my government permission slip won’t allow me to exercise my natural rights – like my victim zone classroom!
  • Flashlight – I carry a Streamlight ProTac 2L clipped inside my pocket.
  • Reading glasses – LightSpecs go where I go. I use the two LED lights on these glasses far more than any other flashlights I own. DRG can tell you about my flashlight fetish.
  • Cell phone – smart phones are pocket-size, survival super-computers.
  • Swiss Army Knife – tool of my trade as the resident handyman at school
  • Tooth picks – it’s a personal thing.
  • Chap stick
  • Lighter
  • Metal mechanical pencil – for school.

Okay, stop stuffing your pockets! You’re beginning to look like the Michelin Man.

Here’s a place for the rest of your stuff…

Your Man Purse

Guys ~ time to swallow your pride and invest in a good man purse. One peek into the bottomless pit the ladies call a purse will convince you of its utility.

Manly men and only a few metro-sexuals correctly refer to their Man Purse as Get Home Bags (GHB). A book bag, shoulder bag, brief case, or duffel bag will serve the purpose. Keep in mind that a well stocked GHB isn’t built to get you through a sudden zombie apocalypse or end of the world scenario. GHB’s are simply a stopgap measure to get you home safely.

Your family is depending on you – prepare accordingly.

Here’s a look at my GHB ‘man purse’:

Maxpedition Jumbo™ E.D.C. Versipack® – (I have no affiliation with this company).

Steps to Take Before Crossing Your Doorsill

My Maxpedition Man Purse

I’ve owned this pack for a few years and absolutely love its utility! Your ‘office’ environment will determine the type of GHB you carry and it’s contents. If you wear suits and ties to the office, the Maxpedition line of bags will stick out like a man wearing a speedo to a lady-preachers convention. Choose a GHB that blends in naturally.

What should you pack in your Man Purse – GHB?

Personalize your bag to meet your needs (meds, contact numbers, etc.). Outside those personalized items, I recommend these items for every Man Purse – GHB:

Essential Steps to Take Before Crossing Your Doorsill

Your packing list

  • Container: I carry a stainless steel water bottle full of agua. The metal container also allows you to kill nasties in drinking water via boiling method.
  • Fire: A couple of ways to make fire – lighter, storm matches, ferro rod, and tinder. Fire is even useful in an urban jungle. My fire kit is in a self-contained Altoids tin.
  • Self-defense Weapons: If legal at your ‘office’, pack heat. There are many compact handguns on the market to choose from. Less lethal pepper spray should also be included.
  • Flashlight: Ever change a flat tire with a mini Maglite between your teeth? Not fun! Invest in a good headlamp for hands-free operation. Don’t forget extra batteries. I wrap 3 AAA batteries in yellow electrical tape with the packing date written on the tape. This does two things – 1.) keeps them in one unit and 2.) reveals their freshness date.
  • Cordage: 50 feet of 550 paracord.
  • Knife: A fixed blade knife and a multitool.
  • Calories: Energy bars, pemmican, jerky, nuts, trail mix, and sardines. Be sure to rotate/eat any nuts in your GHB periodically to prevent spoilage. If your GHB is exposed to extreme heat inside your vehicle, spoilage can be a major concern. My bag goes inside my classroom and house.
  • Cover: Lightweight poncho, tarp or contractor garbage bags. I also pack an emergency space blanket. A tarp is in my vehicle emergency kit.
  • Compass and Map: Navigational instruments that don’t depend on electronics. Detours happen in disasters. A map of your city and state (states if you’re a traveling salesman) is an essential tool. Practice and be familiar with several routes home before a crisis. Reminder: Keep your fuel tank at least half full.
  • Pencil and Paper: A small note pad for taking notes, leaving messages, and playing tic-tac-toe with your imaginary friend in the passenger seat stranded in a winter storm. Seriously, it’s great to have these items!
  • Paper Money: Cache some cash of different denominations in different places in your Man Purse – GHB. I can roll about 5 bills and stuff them into a metal pill container.
  • Band-Aids: I pack Moleskin, a few Band-Aids, moist wipes, Advil packets, hand sanitizer, and a partial roll of flexible equine bandage wrap. I also pack duct tape and a 100% cotton bandana. These last two items are enough to get you home!
  • Dust Mask: A N95 mask allows you to breathe without inhaling harmful dust particles. They’re cheap, lightweight, and can be MacGyvered for other uses. Remember the scenes from 911 of people running through the streets of NY enveloped by dust and disaster debris.
  • Bandana: Speaking of MacGyvered items, pack a 100% cotton bandana in your GHB.  Makes a cool doo rag too!
  • Whistle: A simple signaling device to alert rescuers – if you want to be found.
  • Bug Spray: A small pen-style container fits easily in my kit.

Note to the ladies: Jane over at Mom With a Prep reviewed her GHB, or Day Bag, just for you. Just so you know, she’s not your typical soccer mom. So don’t call it a purse to her face!

A good Man Purse – GHB doesn’t take into account your vehicle or office kit. You’ve prepared your car and office emergency supplies, right? If not, I’m planning a future post on building these additional kits.

Whether you love your job or not, the fact is that you spend a lot of time away from your safe place called home. The important people in your life are counting on you to get home in one piece. Your Man Purse – GHB fills the gap when you step over your doorsill.

Do you carry a GHB? Add your valuable comments, suggestions, or subtractions from my list of contents. – Survival Sherpa

Keep doing the stuff!

Todd

P.S. ~ As always, if anything from this site adds value to your life, please pass it on. You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and our new Facebook pageThanks for sharing the stuff!

“This article was first published at reThinkSurvival.com.”

Many articles have been written regarding Get Home bags (GHB) but for the sake of providing a different option I’ll share what I use. First-off, one must obviously have the bag accessible to be of any benefit if things suddenly start falling apart.

So, how do we have them accessible? Well, we carry them to work in the car or on the train or subway. After we arrive at work we leave the GHB in the trunk or carry it into our work area where we hang it up or place it in, or under our desk. So let’s review where we’re at, at this point.

In the car. Locked in the trunk. That’s where I used to store my GHB en route and while at work along with some good walking shoes, extra outerwear to accommodate the weather, extra food, a walking stick (to deter dogs and other undesirables), a firearm and ammo and other items I might need.

Problem. What if I can’t get to the car when that bad thing happens? I’m up the creek. So I carry it into work. You may have already surmised that I want to be as prepared as possible so I had a full back pack (day pack size) and filled up with as many emergency supplies a possible, remember two is one and one is none. The difficulty here is that you’re setting yourself up for co-workers to razz you about whether you’re getting ready to go camping in the middle of New York City or “What are you prepared for, the end of the world?” In any event you are standing out or profiling yourself when you don’t want to.

Further, and I am so lucky to live in New York State (Hi Chuckie Schumer, all those other liberals and high taxes, to boot) and have occasion to take a train into, or out of Grand Central Station. Whenever the stuff hits the fan that place is loaded with cops, state troopers and even, when they deem it appropriate, soldiers. Now imagine them on high alert for something and picture me trudging through there with an overloaded back pack jammed full of emergency supplies. Not good. Now, admittedly, many others also wear day packs but they always seem half full and are not anywhere near as conspicuous as mine.

Solution, at least for me. I have taken a neutral colored, un-insulated outdoor or photographers vest, the one’s with a hundred little pockets and filled them up with my multi-tool, powerful LED light, l/t raincoat and other appropriate gear. I fold it up and along with a couple bottles of water and sandwich bars, place them all in a computer carrying bag. It’s got a shoulder carrying strap should I want to keep my hands free at some point. It can be carried anywhere without attracting attention AND, when things starting falling apart I step off to the side, slip the vest on, but under my work or sport jacket and it becomes both unnoticeable and helps provide a little warmth if needed.

I then grab whatever extras I might need from my work area, hallway or cafeteria and stuff them in my now, almost empty computer bag and book out. I’ve accomplished my need for a carrier that I can have with me at all times, that doesn’t attract attention and meets my needs to enable me to get home safely. That firearm that you might want to have? That depends on your local laws.

Good luck.

[NOTE from millenniumfly: I’ve taken the liberty in assuming the type of vest MorrisB is referring to is shown below.]