3 vital elements for your Bug out bag or Get home bag
Over the past few years, I have read many articles on various websites concerning “Bug out bags” (BOB) and “Get home bags” (GHB). Everyone has an opinion on what you should or should not pack. What you will or won’t need.
Because everyone’s situation is different, I cannot tell you what all you should have. You should know better than anyone what you will need to pack. But what I can tell you is that there are 3 VERY important elements that EVERYONE’s bag should have. And these elements are often overlooked.
The biggest element is mobility; the ability to move quickly and safely to whatever location you choose. Your bag should be designed for movement, ala speed. The lighter your load, the faster and further you able to travel. This is CRITICAL if your mode of transportation actively involves your feet!
Your bag, regardless of your conditions, should be packed with swiftness in mind. Ounces = pounds, pounds = pain. The more pain you have, the slower and less effective you become.
You are more vulnerable while on the move. And I’m not talking about roving bands of marauders that so many people envision. I’m talking about being susceptible to the elements, to fatigue, to stress; being vulnerable to the unknown.
At home (or bug out location) you are not as exposed. You will hopefully feel safer and more secure in familiar surroundings. The more rapidly you can get there, the better off you will be.
So with all that in mind, look through your bag, and ask yourself “Do I HAVE to have this item to get home? Should I sacrifice swiftness for this piece of equipment? Is this item ESSENTIAL for my journey or could I go ahead and store it at my bug out location?”
After you decide, “Yup, all this must be in my bag!” you need to put that bag on and travel with it. And I don’t mean around the block. Can you carry it a mile? 5 miles? A full day’s march? If not, go back through your bag and start asking yourself those questions again.
I walk about two miles with my pack 2-3 times a week. After the first few days of packing it around, I quickly re-evaluated what was vital in my bag and what I could do without.
I’ve read/seen people pack things like a few weeks’ worth of food, camping stove and fuel, tent, sleeping bag, multiple changes of clothing, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, etc. It’s like they are going on an extended camping trip. If you need all of that to safely reach your destination on foot or live for 72 hours, maybe you should consider a different locale?
If you can drive, then the weight won’t be an issue. But what if you can’t drive? What if the car breaks down, or the road ways are clogged and you have to abandon your vehicle?
I pack fairly light. I will sacrifice some comfort for speed during my trek. I’ll give up some luxuries for haste. I don’t have to cook my food to get where I’m going. I can make do with rope and a tarp as opposed to a tent. I’m not bugging out through Afghanistan, so I won’t need to carry 200 rounds of ammo.
YOU should know best what you need. Just make sure that the items you carry are crucial, and are worth theirweight in your bag.
Blend in/Go unnoticed
The next element I want to stress is the ability to blend into your surroundings. While the milspec, camo framed back pack you carry may look great and hold a lot, how sensible is it? It will certainly draw the eye and get noticed. Nothing stands out more than a guy carrying one of those during an urban crisis. Becoming the “Greyman” is something to consider when picking out your bag.
Also, how “quiet” is your bag? Hopefully you are not a “one man band” that people can hear coming from a mile away. Make sure your bag is not unnecessarily noisy. I don’t hang anything from the outside of my bag. This helps reduce the possibility of noise and reduces the chance of my bag getting caught on something…like a low hanging tree branch.
And finally, do you have the ability to keep your bag dry? If you believe in Murphy’s Law, then you know that when all else fails and you have to walk 15 miles home, it will be in the rain! And trust me, all the time and effort you put into building your bag will be wasted if half your gear is ruined because it got soaked.
I used a silicone water-guard spray on my bag. In addition, I keep an extra poncho in my bag that I could use to cover my bag and keep the rain/water/moisture out. And finally, any gear that is sensitive to moisture I seal in gallon Zip lock storage bags inside my GHB.
In addition to helping keep items dry, those zip lock storage bags could also serve other purposes in an emergency. Like helping to gather and store water, etc. I believe in redundancy!
It is my sincere hope that we never have a situation where we have to use our BOB or GHB. But if we ever do, these 3 elements will help make our trek a safer one!
Check out our recommendations page to see what sort of items we have in our GHB!
Stay safe out there!