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Go Bag

Updated on February 9, 2014

Go Bag

In the recent years the ideas of prepping and surviving various scenarios has really taken hold in the human psyche. However, there doesn’t seem to be too much of a distinction between a healthy prepared outlook and an extreme doomsday prepper. Indeed, the whole genre is filled with a grey overlap that can confuse most onlookers.

Any rational human being will admit that a certain amount of preparedness is not only practical, but actually just makes sense. What is the right amount of prepping? What separates an individual from wanting to be prepared and seeming like he has gone off the deep end? While this question is largely one of perception on the part of an individual, there is in fact a minimum one can do that will make him feel safer and not like an extremist: Make a Go Bag.

A Go Bag is simply a prepared bag that has some essentials ready to grab and go in case of an emergency. Most people remember the images of the twin towers falling to the ground, but what many people forget is the image of all the New Yorkers having to walk miles out of the city as they evacuated. The vast majority of these people were caught unprepared for such a journey and had to make this trek with only the clothes on their backs.

How many of these people would have benefited from having a bag readily at hand that they could have grabbed as they made their way out of the city. A bottle of water, comfortable walking shoes, first aid items, etc. These could have made a world of difference for people during the mass exodus of the city.

After the tsunami and Fukushima incident in Japan, many of the trains weren't running. A gentleman, who is a business associate I know, had to walk 3 hours from his office to his home. He was wearing his business suit and dress shoes for the entire trek home. The cell towers were down, so he had no way to contact his family to let them know he was ok or call for help.

A Go Bag does not have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to sustain one’s life for an extended period of time. It can merely mean the difference of easing the discomfort of having to flee a dangerous situation.

What Goes In A Go Bag?

If one were to google "Go Bag," then one would see all kinds of lists of items to put into a Go Bag. There was one example where a gentleman had put 10 books of matches, some rope, a knife, some alcohol wipes, bandages and some cotton swabs in a plastic bucket with a 9mm pistol. This was his Go Bag. With all due respect to that person, these items do not seem the most practical of items for those of us who just want to feel a little safer.

The question remains what then should be put in a Go bag? In order to answer this question one has to fist look at his geographical location. Is he in warm weather or cold? Does it rain a lot or is it dry? The next question is what type(s) of emergencies are most common where the individual is living? Are there hurricanes? Are there earthquakes? Are there floods? Are there forest fires? These questions will have an impact on the types of items an individual may want to add to their bag.

Even though there are several scenarios that would dictate specific items are in one’s bag, there are a core list of items that are universal and can see an individual through any situation:

  1. Flashlight – If you are lucky, then you won’t need it. However, a flashlight not only can illuminate your area, but it can be used to signal for help over large distances.
  2. A bottle of water – We often forget to hydrate under situations of great stress so having a ready supply of water is a great comfort.
  3. A first aid kit – This is self-explanatory. However, be careful with store bought first aid kits. Most contain only the simplest of things like Band-Aids and iodine wipes. While these are great, if you have a serious injury, it won’t be enough to help. Look at supplementing what is in a first aid kit with other items (e.g. wound closure strips, blood clotting agent packs, larger bandages and gauze rolls, etc.)
  4. Something to eat – This should be something that will last a long time without refrigeration. A favorite among preppers is the 2400 calorie food bar. This is a highly condensed food in a vacuum sealed pouch. It is not something one would want to live off of for long periods of time, but it would see a person through an emergency to safety.
  5. A fire-starter kit – This would include a quick spark type fire starter as well as some light anywhere matches wrapped in a plastic bag.
  6. Water filter – this can be used in conjunction with the water bottle for refills.
  7. Small knife

These Items are universal and take care of one’s basic needs for water, food, heat if it’s cold. After these items, it becomes a question back to the individual what he thinks he will need.

A business person who has to wear suits and dress shoes to work may want to keep comfortable clothes and walking shoes in their Go Bag.

An individual living in the Pacific Northwest of the US may want to keep a rain poncho in their Bag.

Residents in Phoenix may want extra water and other items to help with hydration.

The point is to look at where one lives, and ask what types of items will help. Obviously, doing anything is better than doing nothing. Indeed, even if you prepared for 100 different scenarios and something totally unexpected winds up happening, the preps one made will still go farther to help then if they had done nothing at all. It is just practical thinking.

Here are some other items that one should consider for a potential Go Bag. This is not an all-inclusive list and may not fit every situation:

Hygiene Items

(1) Toilet Tissue

(1) Travel Toothbrush

(1) Travel size Toothpaste

(1) Travel size Bar Soap

(1) Travel Shampoo

(2) Tampons

(2) Dust Masks


(1) Survival Booklet

(1) Rechargeable Flashlight

(2) Batteries

(1) Hand crank AM/FM Radio

(2) Glow Sticks

(1) Tarp

(1) 2 Gallon Water Bag

(1) Whistle

(2) Hand Warmers

(1) Survival Blanket

(1) Rain Gear

(2) Emergency Candle

(1) Quick-Spark Fire Starter

(5) Cable Tie

(1) Roll Duct Tape

(1) Multi-Tool

(2) Garbage Bags

Again, this is not an all inclusive list, and these items may not fit an individuals specific needs. However, it is a good guide designed to stimulate thinking around this topic, and generally should make one’s life a little easier in an emergency. Hopefully, none of us will ever need such a bag, but today’s world seems to be sending a different signal to us all.


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    • Bob Method profile image

      Bob Method 

      4 years ago from Northwest U.S.A.

      Edwin good read, I agree that everyone should have an emergency kit. One thing I would note is that Go Bag can be a tricky term, many people myself included use this term for a Bug Out Bag or 72 Hour Kit, which generally weighs 25-35 lbs. The Japanese business man you were referring to and the New Yorkers example would probably be better served with a Get Home Bag which is a smaller lighter pack designed to get you home versus the goal of a Bug Out Bag or 72 hour kit which is designed to sustain you (possibly outdoors) without support for three days. Anyway just something to be aware of. Looking forward to more articles from you.


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