What is a GO Bag? It’s a pre-packed provisions and gear knapsack, and it is a core element for disaster and emergency preparations. Whether you are forced to evacuated from your home due to a storm, or you have made the choice to flee due to civil unrest or some other cause, you need a pre-packed GO-Bag (sometimes referred to as a GOOD Bag — Get-Out-Of-Dodge, or BOB — Bug-Out Bag).
A pre-packed GO-Bag makes it possible for you to instantly flee in a disaster or emergency situation If this is the kind of situation that you encounter, at that point it is too late to pack. It’s literally too late. You will either throw things into a bag and leave, with only a few of the things you actually need; or you will take the time to do it right, and the window of opportunity will close and it will be too late to get to safety. Either way, you will expose yourself to unnecessary danger. A GO-Bag, pre-packed and ready to use, is an essential component for disaster and emergency preparedness.
Advice from the Experts: A suitcase or duffle bag is inadequate for use as a GO-Bag. You need to be able to carry your GO-Bag on your shoulders, comfortably, perhaps for an extended period of time and considerable distance if you end up on foot.
You may flee from your home or work in your car, but you may end up on walking. Anticipate this situation. You may have more supplies in your car but you may be forced to leave almost everything behind. If this is the situation, a pre-packed GO-Bag may literally be a life saver.
A GO-Bag is a knapsack containing 10-15 lbs of essential supplies. For most people, a knapsack is a better choice because a large backpack can be ungainly if you need to move quickly. And, if it’s too heavy you might be tempted to leave it behind, and a large bag may make you more of a target for criminal assault or unwanted attention.
Keep your emergency supplies and your GO Bag protected inside a duffle bag, and store it in your car’s trunk. The colors of your clothing and GOOD Bag should be subdued and similar to the color of the terrain, but not camo or military-like. Don’t store batteries in flashlights or electronics. Frequently replace water and other items susceptible to quality or safety degradation. Check your kit regularly. Storing your GO Bag in a plastic trash sack may keep it clean, but it may encourage mold or other problems. Excessive heat or cold will damage some of your GO Bag provisions, so storage must be appropriate to your environment.
Young Children, Elderly, and those With Physical Limitations
Each member of the family or group that is bugging-out (fleeing), who is physically able, should carry their own GO Bag, even if it’s small. Young children, elderly, and physically feeble individuals may not be able to carry everything they need, but they should at least carry the important items that are unique to their personal needs. This will include essential clothing, their medicines, their spare eyeglasses and other personal-needs gear, plus at least some water and Power Bars (food). You may shutter at the thought of becoming separated from them, but if that does somehow happen, or if you need to transfer them to the care of another, you’ll want your loved one to have those things they actually need.
Seasonal Clothing / Needs for Environment or Conditions
In addition to your GO Bag, you need to have a seasonal bag containing such items as warm/cold weather clothing, rain/sun/heat protection, boots and durable clothing to immediately change into when an emergency situation occurs. Having multiple changes of clothing is overrated. What you need are the right clothes for the situation. Change into your situation-appropriate clothing early, and leave the impractical items behind. More about clothing will be covered later. The point we’re making here is that these items should be in a separate bag, but stored with your GO Bag.
What to Get? / Where to Buy?
Though a sporting goods store may offer a good selection of suitable clothing items, their “camping” or “backpacking” departments are often stocked with goods that are of insufficient quality. Shopping online from a trustworthy vendor such as REI (http://www.REI.com) and Brigade Quartermaster (http://www.BrigadeQM.com) are usually a more reliable resource. REI has stores nationwide which offer training and product-comparison materials, and sales staff who are better informed than those found in most stores.
On this website, brand recommendations (italics) are made only when quality or specifications are highly important. This doesn’t mean that these items are your only choice, it just means that you need to pay particular attention to the specifications and quality.
Specific Provisions & Gear
You can’t have all of the below items in your GO Bag as it would become too large and heavy. But if you have a number of people in your family or Bug-Out Group, all of these items can be included.
As finances allow, you need to stockpile as much of this as possible. Again, the below list is a place to start as you develop your own emergency preparations. This list needs to be revised according to your own needs, your financial ability, and your own geography and environment.
Remember to remove unnecessary packaging from all items, and compress clothing in Ziplock-style travel bags. Everything should be stored together, and protected from excessive heat/cold, moisture, insects, and other things which might cause damage.
Your Emergency / Disaster Supplies List
Below is a basic list of provisions and gear to create a 2-Week Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Kit, and a GO-Bag (Evacuation Supplies). The items selected for inclusion in your GO-Bag knapsack will be only a small portion of this list, and the contents of your GO-Bag should be selected based on your location and situation.
This list of provisions and gear is provided only as a place to start, to help you develop your own list of supplies. We hope that you will find this generic list helpful, but it is not intended to take the place of personal planning for your own circumstances and situation. Be sure to add, remove and make changes to this list as appropriate for the number of people being served, the special needs of children, elderly and infirm, and for health, weather and other environment conditions where you will be operating.
GO-Bag: Use either a medium-size internal frame backpack or a stout knapsack as your bag. It should be equipped with a 100-fl. oz. water bladder, stored empty until needed; and your bag needs to be constructed of waterproof materials and designed to be carried on your back using padded shoulder straps. If finances are tight, go to a Good Will store and buy an old school-bag knapsack.
The decision to use a medium-size backpack vs. knapsack should be based on the fitness of the individual who will be carrying it, environmental conditions, and terrain. For most reasonably-fit and healthy people the weight of the fully-packed GO-Bag (weight of bag and contents) should not exceed 20% of their body weight.
In an emergency situation, always keep core essentials with you in your pockets, or in the pockets of a vest or fanny pack which is worn constantly, even while sleeping. The GO Bag is for essentials, but the critically important “core” essentials such as a small flashlight, lighter or fire-starter, water purification tablets, a collapsible water container, face-covering scarf, self-defense pepper spray, and a pocketknife, should always be kept on your person.
A change of clothing for an emergency situation can be stored in a separate bag and kept with your GO Bag, but be sure to change into these clothes as soon as practicable when an emergency strikes. Hand carried items reduce mobility and increase fatigue.
Again, the following list is only a place to start. It is provided to help you develop your own a GO Bag, and your 14-Day Emergency Provision Kit (for home use, office use, or transport in a vehicle). Personal needs, environmental conditions, health, children, pets, and the need to assist others must also be considered when developing your personal supply lists.
If you are new to this, and just getting into preparedness, this list will be daunting. So start by purchasing the most important items first, and add to your emergency provisions as finances allow.
Assembling your GO-Bag, a sufficient quantity of drinking water, food, emergency medical supplies, and preparations for shelter (protection from cold, rain, sun, etc.) are your first priorities. Concentrate on these supplies first.
– Hiking Boots; made from waterproof but breathable material, and tops which extend above the ankle for lateral support and protection (wear these).
– Water shoes or lightweight tennis shoes.
– Moisture-wicking liner socks, 3-pair (wear 1-pr).
– Backpacking socks , 3-pair (wear 1-pair).
– Underpants (3-pr); and for women add a sports bra.
– Gloves (work gloves AND surgical/latex gloves).
– Wool watch cap.
– Boonie or full-brimmed hat with retention strap.
– Bandana, cotton or water- wicking synthetic.
– Ripstop BDU pants, 2 pair (wear 1-pair).
– Polyester long underwear (1 pair).
– Long underwear shirt (1).
– 2 Polyester T-shirts, one w/ long-sleeves (wear 1).
– Gore-Tex rain pants or snake-proof gaiters.
– Heavy-duty belt with strong buckle.
– Polar fleece long-sleeve pullover (1).
– Shirt (long sleeve, roll-up sleeve style (wear).
– Gore-Tex shell or parka.
– Camouflage GI poncho or Gore-Tex poncho (can also be used as shelter, or to hide unattended gear).
EMERGENCY SHELTER and FIRE
– Disposable butane lighters (3+).
– FireSteel or Ultimate Survival fire-starter tool (2).
– Fire Nuggets, Tinder Dust, or combustible tinder.
– Strike-Anywhere or Storm-Proof matches in a watertight plastic container.
– Magnifying glass (small size, for starting fires, etc.)
– Space All-Weather Blanket or SOL Thermal Bivy.
– Tarp (6 x 8’ fiber-reinforced plastic tarp).
– 750 Paracord has a break strength of 750 pounds, yet it is thin, lightweight, and remarkably strong. It’s what is used for parachutes. In an emergency, if it is essential for you to ascend or descend a stairwell or cliff, wrap your paracord around something solid, that isn’t sharp or abrasive. Do not use knots. Knots weaken rope by 30-50%, so avoid using them if your paracord will be used to ascend or descend. Remove nonessential weight, like your GO-Bag, before ascending or descending. This will limit the stress on the paracord. Don’t jerk the rope when your weight is on it. Lower gear first, then lower yourself.
– Sleeping bag, foam pad and nylon bivvy sacks are valuable, but may be too large or heavy if using a H.A.W.G. or other knapsack-size GOOD Bag.
WATER & FOOD
Of the two, pure water is more important than food. You can live as long as 3-4 weeks on almost no food, but your body and brain will start to suffer greatly after just one day without pure water.
Water and food supplies should be sufficient for 14-days, but you will probably not carry more than 200-oz in your GO-Bag, so water purification tablets or a purification filter is essential. Prepare for extra people, too. (Some equipment can be shared, but water supplies and food, shelter, and related supplies must be on a per-person basis.
A 14-day supply of canned food per-person may be difficult to store, but it may be impossible to transport in an average car. Even a 7-day supply of military meals (MRE – Meals-Ready-to-Eat) would be unreasonable to carry in a GO-Bag knapsack. So for your transportable supplies, be sure to include quantities of dry goods such as pasta and instant rice to create a more lightweight and compact food supply.
Practice loading your supplies into your vehicle, to make sure everything fits.
For your GO-Bag, pack food such as MRE Entrees (just the meal, not the entire package) or dehydrated meals made for backpacking. Freeze-dried prepared food, such as those made by “ Mountain House,” are the lightest weight and most easily packed. And since you only need to add hot water to prepare these freeze-dried meals, it’s an easy and practical way to eat when you’re on the go. However, keep in mind that when the product label indicates “Serves 2,” it is generally only adequate for one active person. Power Bars, and lifeboat survival rations (available at a marine-supplies store), can augment these MRE or freeze-dried GO-Bag meals.
Low Cost, Easy to store long-term, and sufficiently lightweight to pack in a GO-Bag, are such things as:
– Peanuts or trail mix (dried fruits, nuts and seeds), ideal in foil packaging.
– Power Bars (8+), and Beef Jerky (4+ packages).
– Gatoraid or similar powder to add to water, to provide carbs and electrolytes.
– 1 -gal Ziplock bag of oatmeal, and a 1-gal bag of rice.
– Raw honey, cinnamon, salt & pepper, plus a small bottle of Tabasco sauce or other strong seasoning to help make any food more palatable.
– 1-quart Nalgene bottle, filled with some of above.
– Drinking water (minimum of 100-oz) of pure drinking water should be in your GO-Bag, plus the capability of purifying water. Water filtration is not enough. You need to purify other sources of water. This can be accomplished by boiling it for at least 5-7 minutes, or by using using purification tablets, or using a water purification system that filters to at least 1-micron.
– “MSR” water filter (1-micron filtration) or similar is fairly expensive, but can be a life saver.
– Potable Aqua Iodine water purification tablets (2 bottles, even if you have a water filtration system).
Cooking at home: Propane camp stove with at least 7-propane bottles, or a one full 5-gallon propane tank. (Keep in mind that you may be without electricity or natural gas, so your kitchen stove and conventional cooking methods may not work).
Cooking equipment for an extended-duration GO-Bag:
– “MSR DragonFly” multi-fuel stove, full fuel bottle.
– Pot w/ lid and heat exchanger (store stove inside).
– MSR windscreen and heat reflector for cooking.
– Insulated mug with lid and handle (Size: 16+ oz).
– Stainless steel spoon, plus sturdy plastic or aluminum spork (fork/spoon combination).
– Dish/pot scraper and brush.
* Use Hefty OneZip Click plastic bags to organize by category and to protect items as appropriate.
– Small, strong plastic backpacking spade (small shovel).
– Backpacking saw (blades for wood and metal).
– Pry bar, 15”+.
– Leatherman Wave multi-tool knife/pliers.
– Knife sharpener or stone (pocket-size).
– Topographic map GPS receiver (expensive), or
– NSGS map of bug-out location and route alternatives, laminated or sealed in slide-lock plastic bag.
– Heavy duty Dacron sail-maker’s thread and needles, or upholstery needles and thread.
– Insect repellent – 98% DEET (in slide-lock bag).
– SPF 50 sun-block and Chapstick.
– Polarized sunglasses, rated also as eye protection, with protective case and floating retainer strap.
– Molefoam Padding, tape and blister relief items.
– Cortisone cream (sm. size; poison ivy & bug bites).
– Benadryll (travel size, for insect stings).
– Epipen (for severe allergic reactions to stings).
– Medication for both diarrhea and constipation, as well as for upset stomach.
– Ibuprofen and aspirin (20 of each).
– Field guide to edible plants (region-specific).
– Photocopy of ID (driver’s license / passport / medication prescriptions).
– Cash, plus items to barter.
– P-51 military (pocket) can opener.
– Swiss Army Explorer-model pocket knife.
– Sheath Knife 4+ inch stainless steel blade.
– 750 Paracord (braided, 11-strand nylon, made to military specification).
– Nylon fishing net (9 x 3’ min, 1” mesh).
– Toothbrush and baking soda.
– Wilderness concentrated soap (1-3 oz plastic bottle).
– Safety razor, comb, backpacking toilet tissue.
– Signal mirror (metal, lightweight; protect surface).
– Greatland Laser Rescue Flare (or a laser pointer).
– Flashlight: Mini Maglight w/ extra batteries.
– Petzl or Black Diamond LED headlamp.
– Rechargeable batteries and solar battery charger.
– Heavy-duty duct tape (20’ minimum).
– Gun Oil: Royal Purple or Militech-1 (1-oz size).
– Super Glue (6-small tubes, store in Ziplock bag).
– Sharpie and Fisher Space pens (black ink).
– “Rite in the Rain Outdoor Journal”- 5 x 3” notepad.
– Portable radio with hand-crank and cell phone charger / adapters (operates on AM-FM-NOAA weather bands). Or, an ultra-small radio such as Kaito KA1121, plus a hand-crank battery charger.
– Suunto (or similar) backpacking compass.
– Plastic whistle, with lanyard.
– Trash Bags (2) 3-mil, 42-55 gal. construction-grade plastic garbage bags for: shelter, raincoat, to bury gear, for water collection and many other uses.
– Lightweight mesh bag (food foraging and carry).
– Bible, New Testament w/ Psalms & Proverbs small-size. (Even non-religious people will find this a source of comfort and wisdom during difficult times).
HUNTING, FISHING, and FORAGING:
For information on firearms and ammunition, see article: “Firearms & Tools for Defense and Hunting.” For training on hunting, and hunting education for children, contact Trinity Oaks: www.TrinityOaks.org.
Supplies for Hunting, Fishing, and Foraging:
– Selection of fishhooks, lures, flies, bobbers, line-weights, and a spool of mono-filament leader.
– Wire snares or traps suitable for small game.
– Wrist-Rocket slingshot (or, 5’ surgical tubing to make a slingshot, and for siphoning fuel, water, etc).
– Binoculars (small & lightweight, 8 x 25 or greater).
As you develop your list of supplies, remember that there are at least 4-levels of equipment and food/water preparations that are required:
a) Home and Work Preparations (for yourself and co-workers);
b) Vehicle transported supplies, and/or
c) Mountain Bike or Motorcycle Carried Supplies (Optional). These extra items will be in addition to your GO-Bag;
d) On Foot Bug-Out (Go-Bag for each individual, required in addition to the above). Note: GO-Bags, also referred to as GOOD Bags (Get-Out-O-Dodge) or BOBs (Bug-Out Bags), can be either a pack as used for backpacking, or a knapsack which is more convenient to handle, run with, as well as lighter in weight if you find yourself in the situation of having to walk for a long distance;
e) Pocket-Kits. (Items carried in your pocket, purse, briefcase, everyday/always— just in case).
Recommended Retailers for These Products:
REI: www.REI.com REI specializes in quality backpacking and camping gear, and these compact and transportable items can form the basis for emergency and disaster preparations.
Brigade Quartermaster: www.BrigadeQM.com Brigade Quartermaster is a prime supplier of goods to the military and soldiers serving overseas. Many of these items are also useful for emergency and disaster preparedness.
Note: 36ReadyBlog does not have a relationship with these retailers, nor do we receive any compensation from them as a result of our making these recommendations.