Earlier today, Watcher and I were on the Sniper’s Nest YouTube Channel (link below), discussing how to set up a Get Home Bag. We analyzed Sniper’s bag and helped him better organize his gear.
A Get Home Bag is a bag designed to carry the supplies needed to, as the name applies, get home. We spend a lot of our time at work. People are working farther and farther from home. If a disaster strikes while you’re at work and all your cool-guy prepper gadgetry is at home, you need something to bridge that gap and get you home.
Even the Ultimate Tactical Handbook says you need one:
Gather up your belongings to leave the land,
you who live under siege.
The first part is selecting the proper bag. The most common color backpack is black, so I would go with a black bag. Don’t be overly concerned here with “the Gray Man” stuff, a black bag is enough. A lot of guys tell you not to get one with MOLLE webbing, but almost all backpacks have it now, and we aren’t exactly going to let people scrutinize our bag. I chose a Highland Tactical Major bag in black (affiliate link above – this site uses affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase). If you have to walk a long way, make sure that it has a sternum strap to help balance the load.
Consider buying a waterproof pack cover in a different color, in order to change your profile. Keeping with my theory that every piece of gear you have needs to have more than one use, I bought a waterproof cover that is camouflage. The cover can keep it dry and it can also make my bag concealable if I need to enter a wooded area or stash the bag temporarily.
As an alternative, you can put a collapsible duffel bag inside your pack. If you find extra supplies or gear, you have an extra bag to put it in. If someone is following you, you can take your backpack off and put it inside the duffel, and now you look like a different person.
A change of upper body clothing is important. I keep a packable jacket inside the backpack, along with a baseball cap, so that I can change what I look like quickly for countersurveillance. While on that topic, a couple of neck gaiter-type masks can help, and in our post-COVID world, it’s not unusual to wear a face mask.
Shelter is important. For shelter, you need something small and packable that can keep you out of the weather. A tarp is inexpensive and good for shelter. A packable “Life Tent” is a small tent lined with mylar to reflect body heat. It has an emergency whistle attached to the carry case. Sleeping gear falls under shelter as well. My personal choice is the tried-and-true US military poncho liner. It’s warm and very packable. Another option is a “Life Bivy”, which is essentially a survival blanket with sealed sides making a sleeping bag that reflects heat. For the life tent and bivy, I choose green, instead of the standard safety orange for concealment purposes.
The next area is food and water. In a Get Home Bag, we are looking for quick hit, ready to eat foods like granola bars, jerky, and pouch-type foods like chicken or tuna packets, or single-serving SPAM packets. These are foods you can eat on the go while moving, rather than having to risk an open fire. Try to avoid anything that requires a stove or fire in the Get Home Bag.
Some type of water storage, either a Nalgene bottle or a water bladder is needed. I use a Sawyer Mini filter but pick whichever filter works for you. I like the Mini because it can be placed on the end of your water bladder drinking tube and filter as you drink. I also keep purification tablets in all my bags; redundancy is key. I keep a pair of Vapur collapsible water bottles in the bag because they take up no space or weight and I can fill them when I find any water source. A Sillcock key, which opens faucets on the outside of commercial buildings, is absolutely necessary.
Now that we have food, water, and shelter out of the way, it’s time to get on to medical. You need a trauma kit (I recommend the Solatac PTK at http://www.solatac.com) and a smaller “boo-boo kit” with band aids, antibiotics, and other minor aid items. If you are building your own trauma kit, you need a tourniquet, some ABD pads, a pressure dressing, gauze, and some type of hemostatic (clotting) agent. Good add-ons are occlusive dressings for sucking chest wounds (chest seals) and a triangular bandage. Include minor medications like Motrin, Tylenol, Imodium, and Benadryl in the boo boo kit.
You NEED a hygiene kit, but the Get Home Bag one can be smaller. Include things like a travel toothbrush and toothpaste, floss, and wet wipes (field shower). That’s really all you need for the Get Home Bag. Maybe toss in some hand sanitizer, which can also be used to start fires if its alcohol based.
Signaling is next. I recommend some type of radio capable of operating on the unlicensed VHF/UHF frequencies of FRS/GMRS/MURS to be able to reach others. The Channel 3 Project will have like-minded people monitoring Channel 3 FRS, CB, and MURS to help at the top of every hour. If you choose to get licensed, I recommend you do so. In the absence of radio, you need at least a mirror or a whistle to call or signal for help. Some might not want to signal, but imagine if you fell into a large hole nad were injured; a whistle can save your life.
The last thing is all the miscellaneous items. Remember, this isn’t a full ruck, it’s a bag designed to 24-48 hours of foot movement to get home to your supplies. You need something to start a fire, like a fire steel and rod, a lighter, and tinder. You need a good fixed blade knife and a multi-tool. You need gloves and a hat (yes, no matter the season). Observation devices like binoculars are often overlooked. I personally recommend a trench periscope for urban areas.
You also need navigation tools like a map and compass. Too many rely on GPS, which can fail. Learn to use and carry a map and compass. Also, buy a waterproof notebook and pen to keep notes.
This article is longer than I had planned, and this is by no means a complete list. More information can be found in TW-01 Baseline Training Manual. Check out our YouTube Channel as well.
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4 thoughts on “Readiness – Get Home Bag”
I did a “dry run” during the winter and I realized that in cold weather I’ll need to change into warmer clothes and therefore need pack some of my work clothes (coat, shoes, etc) in my bag for the journey home. Do you think the size of this bag is sufficient?
Mine is rather simple. I work at a (somewhat rural) university about 15 miles from home which is very isolated. My get home plan is to jump in my car, or truck depending on what I drove that day, and head home. In the case of an EMP, I figure I’ll take some bolt cutters from my engineering shop, find the nearest bicycle, appropriate it, grab my bag out of the car, and off we go. If that plan fails, well, I’ve hiked further than that.
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I agree with it all, except stealing someone else’s property.