Get Home Bag List – 36 Key Items Plus Do’s and Don’ts

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Preparing your own get home bag is an important part of preparing for emergencies. In this guide, we have detailed the items you should consider including in your bag depending on a number of factors. We also list what not to include.

Get Home Bag List
Jason with his Get Home Bag walking down a road to get home to his family
Jason with his current Get Home Bag

I have made my own get home bag in various forms for the past 30 years. In addition to reviewing the items in my own get home bag, I researched what others usually suggest also. I find that making my own bag is an important part of being prepared to get home to my family in an emergency. I customize it for my specific situation, which is an important part of mental preparedness.

This guide will explain how to make your own get home bag and customize it for your needs. We will discus the most likely scenarios, our favorite items, and how to be prepared mentally to use it in an emergency.

Table of Contents

What is a Get Home Bag?

A get home bag is a collection of items to help me get home to my family during an emergency. Keep in mind this doesn’t have to be “home” but could be an alternative meeting location like a family or friends home. While similar to a bug out bag, it is not the same (although my get home bag supplements my bug out bag.)

Your bag should be designed based on your specific needs. It should include the items you need if your normal transportation back home becomes unavailable.

Since the sole purpose of this bag is to get you home, it should not be built to sustain you for days. I like my bag to be as light as possible since I will probably be forced to walk home. Typically, a get home bag should be in each family member’s vehicle if they all travel separately away from home each day.

Since I take longer trips in my vehicle and it is always nearby during the day, my get home bag is designed along with the emergency items I need in my vehicle.

Why Have a Get Home Bag?

Most people spend more time away from home than at home, especially during the day. If an emergency happens and everyone tries to get home all at once, there will be traffic problems – even in small towns.

Various unexpected scenarios can happen, such as severe weather, my vehicle breaking down in a remote area, civil unrest, a terrorist attack, or a widespread power outage. I have a friend living near Atlanta who had to walk home 10 miles during a snowstorm a few years ago. The roads were blocked with traffic, and he had no choice. While severe weather and breakdowns are more likely scenarios, anything can happen.

When a large-scale emergency occurs, traffic will soon clog the roads and make them impassable. If people abandon their vehicles, the roads will be impassable for days. If something like an EMP event occurs, my vehicle could be disabled. So, I must be prepared to walk home.

A road full of cars that are not moving
If traffic comes to a stop, walking may be the only option

If you live or work in an urban area and rely on public transportation systems, these could be shut down in an emergency. With thousands of people trying to get out of a city all at once, chaos will certainly ensue. Having a get home bag ready to go will make your emergency trip home much easier to survive. 

Consider that most people walk between 2 and 3 miles per hour. If I am 10 miles from home, it could take 5 hours to walk home. This could take even longer, depending on my route and the conditions.

As you build your get home bag, think about what you would need if you had to walk home from work or school. For people who are only a few miles from home, their bag will look considerably different from someone who commutes 60 miles daily.

Because of these factors, we consider a get home bag an essential part of our prepping checklist.

Let’s review my list and discuss what to consider for your bag.


Get Home Bag List

As mentioned, my get home bag is built for me and my lifestyle. While there are other generic one size fits all checklists that you can download, doing so would result in a huge and impractical bag. As you go through our suggestions below, consider if it makes sense for you and your situation.

Before you start, keep in mind a few things:

  • How far do you travel each day? Will it take more than a day to walk home?
  • How do you travel? Do you drive, ride a bike, or take public transportation?
  • What do you normally wear? Can you walk home in what you normally wear?
  • Where can you keep your bag?
  • What is the current season and weather like?
  • What areas do you travel through to get home?
  • What is your fitness level? Do you have any medical conditions?
  • How much can you comfortably carry for a long distance? Of course, lighter is better.

Type of Bags

This is your first big decision; what do you put all this stuff in? As a guideline, you want something that is easy to carry and doesn’t make you stand out from everyone else. In an emergency, you don’t want to become a target of someone who did not prepare.

Jason showing all of the Get Home Bags and Packs that he has tested and used
Some of the bags and packs that I have used and recommend for a GHB

Think of something that you normally see people carrying every day. In general, some type of backpack is the best since you can carry the most weight in a backpack, and it frees up your hands. The cool looking tactical backpacks with all the patches on them probably aren’t the best choice.

The type of bag you choose will also depend on the distance you have to travel. Someone that has 10 miles to travel is much different than someone who has 60 miles.

For short distances, I like sling bags like the 5.11 Rush MOAB or the LAPG Terrain Stealth sling pack. Both of these have a hidden concealed carry pocket and I can easily access items in the bag without taking it off (don’t underestimate this advantage.) Make sure to get a darker color, specifically black for the 5.11 bag so it doesn’t stand out.

If I have more than about 10 miles to travel, a more substantial backpack is needed. I like the Mystery Ranch Gallagator 20 for medium distances. This is a discrete 20L backpack that is comfortable to carry and has a unique expandable design. It has a waist belt so the weight is not all on my shoulders.

For extreme distances, I recommend the backpacking backpacks from Ampex gear. They are lightweight and built to carry long distances. They have various sizes from 25L to 65L and are affordable as well. See my full Ampex Gear Review for more.

Another option could be a duffel-type bag. These are not as easy to carry as a backpack but may be better if you already carry a laptop backpack. If you don’t have far to travel and normally take public transportation this is an option to consider.

I like the Rockgator Mammoth waterproof duffel in this case. It is waterproof and collapses down around the items I put in it.

Also, consider where you will store your bag. Does it make sense to leave it in your vehicle? If you car pool or take public transportation, this may not be an option. Keeping your bag at work in or under your desk may be a great place. If you work in the city and have a gym membership nearby, your locker at the gym may be a good place. Is there another place nearby where you could keep it that is on your way home? 

Also consider that in a big city having multiple bags in a few different locations may make the most sense.

Summary of my favorite Get Home Bag backpacks and packs:

Shoes

Good shoes are important, especially if I need to walk a fair distance. If you wear dress shoes or high heels to work every day, boots or decent hiking shoes are a must-have.

Jason showing his favorite get home bag socks
These are my favorite socks with my get home bag

Don’t forget a couple of pairs of extra socks. My favorites are merino wool hiking socks. They wick away moisture and are durable and warm.

Clothes

Pack extra clothes, especially if you wear dress clothes every day. They are not very practical to wear during an emergency and could make you stand out in certain areas. Pack something practical, suited for the weather, and discrete.

Jason showing his favorite pants for his get home bag
My favorite pants for getting home

Full, tactical outfits aren’t the best option in an urban environment. I like to wear a pair of low profile cargo pants so I can carry critical items with me in case I am separated from my bag. My favorites are the 5.11 Tactical Taclite Pro Rip Stop Pants. Our list of the best bushcraft pants has a few good durable options as well.

Hat

I always include a hat that will shield me from the elements. A simple baseball cap is fine to keep the sun and rain out of my face. It also helps to keep me warm in the winter. My full guide on the best survival hats includes my favorites.

Wazoo Cache Cap
My Wazoo Cache Cap

I like hats that have hidden pockets so I can store small items like keys or cash in an inconspicuous place. Again, If I am separated from my bag, this allows me to retain some of my resources. The Wazoo Cache Cap is one of my favorites.

Extra Coat

If the weather is cold, a durable warm coat is essential. I usually keep a spare in my vehicle during the winter with my bag. I like a heavy coat with a hood that is an size larger than I normally get. This allows me to layer clothing to stay warm even in very cold conditions.

Gloves

I like to keep a pair of leather utility gloves in my bag. They are great for keeping my hands warm and protecting them.

Jason showing his favorite get home bag gloves
My favorite utility gloves that I keep in my bag

Stay away from the “tactical” gloves as I feel they stand out too much. If it is very cold, also consider waterproof winter gloves (I just keep them in my extra coat.)

Poncho

Ponchos are great since they don’t take up much room and can be used for various things other than keeping me dry. I have used them to collect rainwater or as an emergency shelter in bad weather. Go for the heavier military-style ones – not the cheap disposable ones.

Jason showing the poncho he keeps in his get home bag
My favorite military style poncho

Metal Water Bottle

A stainless steel water bottle is better than a plastic one. I have used mine on a fire to purify water and to warm water for cooking. Make sure to get one that is not insulated.

Jason showing his get home bag canteen
This Kleen Kanteen is my favorite water bottle

I like the Kleen Kanteen 40 oz Stainless Bottle or something similar. Go for one around 40 ounces, which will hold enough water for one day.

Water Purification

You can only survive around 3 days without water. However, you’ll lose water faster if you’re moving a lot. Your mental state will also decline far before you hit the three-day mark. 

During an emergency, I may not have access to clean water and may be unable to start a fire since it draws attention. A method to purify water is a must have.

There are two basic methods to choose from here. Chemical purification (tablets) or a water filter. I prefer a water filter since they are quicker and easier to use.

The sawyer mini is the most compact option. I simply store mine inside of my water bottle.

Grayl Water Purifier and Nesting Cup
The Grayl Geopress and the Patherfinder Nesting Cup

For an easier water purification system, The Grayl Geopress water purifier and the Pathfinder nesting cup is my favorite. I like this setup since there is no messing with tubes and separate bottles. The cup provides a way to cook as well. Both of these nest together so they take up less room.

See our guide to the best survival water filters for more on these filters.

Fire

I like to keep some sort of survival fire starting kit in my bag. Fire is essential for warmth, cooking, and purifying water, so this isn’t something I want to skip. However, I don’t intend to start a fire as I travel home unless I just have to.

While I like to carry a full fire starting kit like the Blackbeard fire starting kit when I am camping, I really don’t need it for my get home bag. If you have a long distance to travel, you may want to carry a full kit, but I like to avoid the bulk and weight.

A Bic Lighter, waterproof tinder, and a ferro rod take up little space and is a great basic fire starting kit.

Jason showing his basic get home bag fire starting kit
My basic fire starting kit that I keep in my bag

I like the Fire Flute from Outdoor Element since it has a ferro rod, waterproof compartment for an emergency fire plug, and a whistle. It is a great multi-use item that is lightweight (plus you can save 10% with our code.)

Survival Stove

I like to carry a small, collapsible, wood-burning survival stove since they are lightweight, take up little space, and make it easy to start a fire quickly. They also make it easy to set my stainless water bottle on top to boil water. I find that I can warm and boil water much easier with one of these versus just starting a fire on the ground.

Jason using a Survival Stove
My Outdoor Element Stove on the left

I like the Outdoor Element Titanium Stove since it folds flat and weighs very little. See our guide on the best emergency stoves for more on this stove. It is also a great way to boil water without electricity at home.

Emergency Shelter

Shelter is important in extreme weather. The survival rule of 3 has this as the second priority after air and injuries.

What I carry in my get home bag really depends on the distance I have to travel. If it is only a few miles, a poncho is all that I need. If I have a long way to travel and can expect that I will have to spend the night outside, something more substantial is needed. This is especially true in winter.

Jason showing the emergency tent that he keeps in his get home bag
This emergency tent is compact and light, perfect for my get home bag

I like to at least carry an emergency tent. They are compact, lightweight, and only intended for temporary emergency use. They are typically not very durable, so it is not something I plan to use for multiple nights.

Jason showing his emergency tent
The emergency tent that I keep in my bag

A lightweight survival tarp is the next step above an emergency tent. Combine this with a few survival tent stakes and some paracord and I can make a more substantial shelter.

See our full guides for more on building shelters:

Summary of my favorite shelter items:

Survival Blanket and Bivy

In very cold conditions, a sleeping bag or wool blankets for camping are best. However, they are bulky, and storing a sleeping bag or blanket in my get home bag is not practical. (Although I do like to keep extra blankets in my vehicle in the winter.)

A survival blanket is a great compromise. They are lightweight and don’t take up much room.

Jason showing his survival blanket and bivy that he keeps in his bag
My Arcturus survival blanket and my tact bivys

Instead of thin foil blankets, go for something like the Arcturus Survival blanket. It is waterproof and has a reflective layer on one side. I can lay on top of it to protect me from the cold, wet ground or use it as a blanket. The reflective layer reflects my body heat or the heat from a fire. It can also be used as a signal.

Another good option is a emergency sleeping bag. The Survival Frog Tact Bivy is small and unfolds into a full sleeping bag. I keep four of these in my vehicle so I have one for any passengers as well.

Paracord

Some type of cordage is needed to construct a shelter. Paracord is strong, lightweight, and has a ton of other uses. It hardly takes up any room in my bag. 50 feet or so is plenty. I use the Paracord planet 550 paracord, it is available in many different lengths and colors. Other types like Survivor Cord have fishing line and finder tinder built in.

Jason showing the paracord that he keeps in his get home bag
The paracord that I carry in my bag

Paracord bracelets are an easy way to carry cordage as well. I like the Outdoor Element Kodiak bracelet. It even has a built in fire starter and fish hook. Plus, I can put it on in an emergency and if I am separated from my bag I still have it on me.

Food

The survival rule of 3 tells us that we can survive 3 weeks without food if we have water and shelter. However, hunger significantly affects your mental state, so much so that it can cause you to make bad decisions, even after just missing a few meals.

Jason showing some of the food he keeps in his get home bag
Some of the food I keep in my bag

While keeping a bunch of food in my bag is unnecessary, a few ration bars, MRES, or some dehydrated meals are great for my peace of mind. The main thing to pay attention to is the weight and shelf life in extreme conditions. Some are prone to melting, for instance.

I prefer to keep Millennium meal bars in my bag. They are good for 5 years and stand up well to temperature extremes. MRE entrees are another good option. See our full guide on the best MREs to buy for more on when to consider them.

When I have farther to travel, I prefer carry a few dehydrated meals from Nutrient Survival. They have single serving packets that are lightweight and easy to carry. They do require preparation, but all I have to do is add water. I simply heat some water in the Grayl nesting cup mentioned above or my water bottle and I have a hot meal in a few minutes.

See our full Nutrient Survival Review to find which meals taste the best and other options that are available. You can save 10% at Nutrient Survival with code “SS10” at checkout!

Flashlight and Headlamp

I always keep a flashlight and headlamp in my bag. Trying to find my way in the dark is dangerous. I never know when I will need to travel, and it could be at night.

Jason showing the light options he keeps in his bag
Some of the light options that I like

A headlamp frees up my hands and will light up the area where I am looking. I still carry a flashlight in my bag as a backup, plus my EDC flashlight. 

Petzl Tactikka headlamp

For headlamps, I like the Petzl Tactikka headlamp. It is affordable and is both rechargeable and uses AAA batteries. The Eveready LED headlamps are super affordable and another option I like.

I also like the Hybridlight Journey 300 Solar Flashlight. It has a built in solar panel for charging and I can use it to charge my phone or other USB devices.

First Aid

While the typical first aid kit is obvious, I don’t need to carry a bunch of band-aids and ibuprofen. Instead, I want a trauma kit. 

The goal of this kit is to stop any severe bleeding as quickly as possible. I carry an IFAK (Individual first aid kit), including a tourniquet, nitrile gloves, quick clot gauze, and a compression bandage.

Jason showing his favorite first aid kits for his bag
Some of the first aid kits that I like

There are a few different pre-made options to choose from, and our guide to the best IFAKs is a good place to start. I like to keep an IFAK in my vehicle anyway, and it only makes sense to keep it with my get home bag.

I like the pre made kits that My Medic and Mountain Man Medical have. They have multiple options and kits specifically for trauma.

I prefer the MyMedic MyFak mini Pro. It has items for trauma plus more that I may need when traveling. You can check out our full Review of MyMedic First Aid kits for more options and also save 15% at My Medic with Discount code “SURVIVALSTOIC15” at checkout!

For a more compact option, I like the My Medic Sidekick, Dark Angel Medical EDC IFAK, or the Mountain Man Medical Tracker kit. It really comes down to weight and what you carry in your vehicle already. If you have a large kit in your car, go for a smaller one that is easy to carry.

Also check out our How to Choose the Best First Aid Kit for other options and expert tips. Our Redi Roadie Emergency Kit review has some of the best first aid kits we have found to travel with and keep in our vehicles.

Medical Considerations

If you have any medical conditions and require medicine, always have extra with you and in your bag. If you are diabetic, keep some candy in your bag. With limited food and a lot of walking, studies have shown your sugar could drop to unsafe levels.

Spare Glasses

If your eyesight is poor and you wear glasses or contacts, keep a spare pair in your bag. If you are traveling unexpectedly for a few days, being unable to see is a huge disadvantage.

Self Defense

During an emergency when law enforcement is spread thin, people will take what they need. You need some sort of self-defense device. This is one of the benefits of concealed carry, I will be ready when an emergency occurs. Depending on the law where you live, this could just be your normal concealed-carry handgun. In this case, keep some extra ammo in your bag. 

See our complete concealed carry guide for everything you need to know, from guns and holsters to mindset and training.

Jason showing his CCW and Pepper Spray that are in his get home bag
My CCW and Pepper Spray

We don’t recommend keeping a handgun in your bag if your bag is kept at an office, gym locker, or other third-party location. While there are some good portable gun safe options, you don’t want to leave it unattended unless it has a security cable attached.

I also carry pepper spray in my bag, even though I do carry a handgun. It can deter people and animals without making noise. When getting home is my priority, I want to draw as little attention as possible. See our guide on the Best Pepper Sprays to see all of our favorites.

Multitool

A survival multitool is a must-have for my bag. A great choice is the Leatherman Wave. It has a built-in bit driver that has exchangeable bits. The bits are compact and are contained on a small card. With these, it is almost like having an entire toolbox in one small package. It also has a saw and a can opener.

The Swiss Army Swiss Champ is also a great option. With is, I can start a fire with just this knife using the saw and the magnifying lens. See our guide on the best Swiss Army knife for more options as well.

Jason showing some of the tools he keeps in his bag
The Leatherman and Swiss Army Knife that I keep in my bag

With so many tools in a compact design, it is ideal for my bag. It prevents me from needing to carry many bulkier tools, saving space and weight.

Knife

I like to carry a good fixed blade knife in my bag (only do this if it is legal in your area!) I can use a knife for many different purposes is an essential survival tool. It should not be a huge Rambo survival knife, but rather a decent 3” or longer folding or fixed-blade knife. One of our best bushcraft knife picks is a good choice. This would be in addition to the one you carry every day.

Jason showing the knives that he keeps in his bag
These knives are lightweight and compact

I carry the Mora Companion HD knife and the Outdoor Element Phoenix Feather knife. They are lightweight and durable and will take care of everything that I need to do.

Compact Folding Saw

If I have a large distance to travel through a rural area, a like to carry small folding saw. I can use one to quickly cut through smaller limbs and trees for a fire or a shelter.

Jason showing the saw that he keeps in his bag
My favorite folding saw

Folding saws are compact and much safer and easier to use than a hatchet or axe. See our full guide to the best survival saws for our favorites. I personally like the Bahco Laplander saw and take it almost anytime I am out in the woods. This is optional though since my leather and SAK have smaller saws.

Paper Map and Compass

If you have to travel more than a few miles, a paper map of the area and a mirror sighting compass are great – especially in a large city. If you have to flee to an unfamiliar area and your phone doesn’t work, these will get you headed in the right direction.

Jason's navigation tools, GPS watch and compass
Some of my navigation tools

They are also handy if you take an alternate route around a hazard. Another great option is a GPS survival watch. I just save my home as a location, and it gives me a bearing and distance back home. I wear it daily, so I don’t have to remember to pack it. See our Best Survival Watch guide for more on these.

Extra Cash

I keep a few $20 bills in my bag and in my vehicle as great insurance if I lose my wallet. During a major power outage, credit cards won’t work. If I need gas or supplies, I will need cash. Don’t keep it all in the same place, and don’t show it all to someone when you are paying.

Jason showing cash inside of his Wazoo hat
This is a good place to stash cash…

The Wazoo Cache Cap is a great place to hide cash. It is “hidden in plain sight.”

Vehicle Emergency Kit

I don’t want to walk home unless I just have to. While I don’t keep these items in my bag, they are great for getting my truck on the road again.

I like to carry a tow strap so I can use it to pull my vehicle out of mud, snow, or the ditch. I can also pull downed trees or possibly other vehicles out of my way.

A portable tire inflator and a tire repair kit can also get me out of a stranded situation if I can’t change my tire or have two flats.

Jason showing the vehicle tools that he keeps with his bag
Some of the tools I like to keep with my bag

A jump start power pack is another item I always keep in my vehicle. These little power packs can jump off my vehicle, charge my phone, and have a flashlight. Mine also has an SOS signal built in to signal for help. If I decide to abandon my vehicle, I could take it with me if I have space.

I personally have the Fanttik T8 2000 Amp Jump Starter. I have jumped started multiple vehicles with it over the span of three months and still had about 50% charge.

Cell Phone Battery Backup

A small backup battery for my cell phone in my bag gives me a way to charge my phone. If I have more than a few miles to travel or there is a major power outage, I may not have access to power to charge it.

Jason's cell phone chargers that he keeps in his bag
My QuadraPro and Battarix card chargers

I like Survival Frog QuadraPro Solar Charger. It has built in solar panels for recharging the pack and also has wireless charging for my phone so I don’t have to worry about cables.

As an emergency option, I find the Battarix SOS Charge Cards are a great option. They have an 8 year shelf life and can provide up to 3 hours of charge time in a credit card size package. They also have built in cables for Iphones and Androids.

I also mentioned the Hybridlight flashlight above. It can also charge my phone but must have the proper cable.

Radio

This is a big one that most miss. Information is invaluable to me if I am from home and a major emergency occurs. A small GMRS radio that has FM and NOAA weather radio receiving capability will allow me to get information on what is happening. This is critical if I am away from my vehicle.

Jason showing the radio he keeps in his bag
Information is king

It could be that the area between me and my home is being evacuated, and I am headed straight for it. It may also give clues about where your loved ones are going or if your home is safe. I can also use it to communicate, although the range can be somewhat limited depending on the landscape. My wife keeps one with her and we have a set channel to communicate on.

Hand crank radios are an option, but they do not give me the capability to communicate with others.

Jason's radio that he keeps in his bag
My GM-15 Radio being charged with the Hybridlight flashlight

I like the Baofeng GM-15 Pro Radio. It is compact, has a built in flashlight, and I can charge it via a USB cable with my portable charger. Many other radios require a desktop charger with the standard wall plug. This doesn’t do me much good away from home.

Wet Wipes

When you gotta go, you gotta go. While I could add toilet paper to my bag, a package of wet wipes is much more useful and takes up less space. I can use them to wash my face and hands and clean anything else.

Jason showing the wet wipes he keeps in his bag
Some of the wet wipes that I keep in my bag

You want to use wipes instead of plant material to clean up after doing your business. You never know what plants could be irritating to your skin. Being irritated in those areas is not something you need when in a stressful situation!

I find the brand doesn’t matter as much here. I have used both the Klean Freak and Combat wipes.

N95 mask

This may not seem like something that would be needed. But we have all seen images from New York on 9/11. An N95 mask would have been invaluable to escape the dust and studies have shown them to be more effective than other masks.

If you work in a large office building and there is a fire, it could save your life. They can also be useful for rural travel if there is a wildfire. You can succumb to smoke inhalation even in your car.

Jason showing the N95 masks that he keeps with his get home bag
These are important for smoke or hazardous air

If you are caught in civil unrest and tear gas is released, a mask plus some swimming goggles will help you escape the area. They are small and lightweight, so there is no reason not to have one or two.

You can also keep a 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda in a small spray bottle in your bag. Mix it with some water and spray it on your face and skin to help neutralize the affect of tear gas and pepper spray.

For full protection, our gas mask guide and best gas mask review has more info, plus a 25% of discount code.

These black BNX N95 Masks are a little more discrete than the typical white ones.

Duct Tape

Duct tape is one of those utility items that is very versatile. You don’t need a full roll, but a few feet wrapped around a small plastic object or folded up on itself doesn’t take up any room and can be very useful. Go for the stronger Gorilla tape over the cheap stuff.

Jason showing the duct tape that he keeps in his bag
A small roll of duct tape has a bunch of uses

Duct tape also can be used as a fire starter. Check out the video in our best survival fire starting kit guide.

I prefer the 1″ Gorilla Tape. I find I don’t need the standard wide tape, and these rolls take up less room.

Emergency Whistle

If I need to signal for help, a small emergency whistle works much better than just my voice. They are small and weigh almost nothing. Don’t forget the emergency tent, emergency bivy, and the fire flute I mentioned above all already have built in whistles.

Sunscreen, Insect Repellent, Medication

These are much more useful in the summer since I will likely be wearing short sleeves and the bugs are active. While not a requirement, I keep a couple of small packages in my bag just in case. Some of our first aid kit options above include some of these items, so check before you buy extra.

My Medic has a few mod packs that are useful here if they are not already in your first aid kit. Don’t forget you can save 15% with our code “SURVIVALSTOIC15”.

Sharpie

I like to keep a sharpie so I can write things down. They can write on almost everything, allowing me to make signs or leave notes behind as necessary. Therefore, they’re better than a pen or other writing utensil. Be sure you change your sharpie out regularly, as they can dry up.

Bags and Zip Ties

A few ziplock bags, a trash bag, and some long zip ties are great additions. They take up little space. A zip-lock bag can store water or food.

Jason showing the zip lock bags that he keeps in his bag
Ziplock bags are great for organizing and other uses later

I also use them to help organize my gear. Zip ties and trash bags can help me carry items or help build my shelter.

Survival Field Guide

With all of the great info in a small survival field guide, there is no reason not to have one for reference. I have studied mine but can’t remember everything. Even though I like to practice my survival skills ahead of time, I like to have this so I can quickly reference it again.

Jason's survival field guide
My favorite survival field guide

The Get Home Mindset

Without the proper mindset, all these items in my get home bag doesn’t have much use. Fear, anxiety, anger, and helplessness can cloud your thinking when you suddenly find yourself in a survival situation away from home. These emotions are amplified if it is a major emergency and you don’t know if your family is safe.

Stoics remind us not to dwell on things outside our control. Thinking about why this is happening to me? Why did they do that? Who is responsible? This is all just your mind taking away your attention from what matters: getting home.

Donald Robertson wrote, “The Stoic tells himself that although the situation may appear frightening, the truly important thing in life is how he chooses to respond.” Think about that statement. No matter what happens, it is your choice how you respond. Write that down on paper and put it in your bag as a reminder.

The will to survive is a powerful tool. If you are far from home and must walk through weather and possibly hostile areas, it may seem impossible. Remember: your will to survive and drive to accomplish your goal is your greatest asset. The saying “where there is a will, there is a way” is very true.

Setting smaller goals can be helpful. First, establish your direction of travel. Next, find some water. Then, find a place for shelter. Take each step as the current goal. Live in the moment, not worrying about the past or future, and just focus on the next goal.

As you build your own get home bag, you are improving your survival mindset. Using the stoic principle of preparing and visualizing what you need in your bag and how you will use it will reduce your anxiety when the time comes. This is why you need to make your own list. If you follow a checklist blindly, you are missing one of the most important steps: mental preparedness.


What Not to Pack In A Get Home Bag

It is important to keep in mind that a Get Home Bag is made to get me home, and that is all. It is not intended to be a suitcase full of items that I can live off of indefinitely.

Weight is also important since I am likely to be walking. Often, my get home bag doubles as my survival kit for hikes. This allows me to test it at the same time. I want it as light as possible while still being able to sustain me overnight in the woods. (For more on how I build my survival kits, see my Survival Gear List guide.)

I have seen other get home bag checklists with a huge amount of items that really make no sense. It is not practical to carry so much, and these items are not focused on just getting me to my family as quick as possible.

Here is a list of items I would not put in a Get Home Bag.

  • Machete
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Soap or Deordorant
  • Hand Sanitzer
  • Pillow
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Glow Sticks
  • Knife Sharpener
  • Fishing Kit
  • Survival Underwear (what even is this?)
  • Antibiotics
  • Can opener
  • Mess Kit
  • Signal Flares
  • Sewing Kit
  • Super Glue
  • Portable Bidet
  • Bleach
  • Snare Wire
  • Fire Extingusher
  • Axe (although I like a smaller camp axe, I don’t need it to get home)
  • Pry bar
  • Binoculars
  • Shaving Supplies
  • Gold or Silver Coins
  • Dish Soap

Get Home Bag Printable Checklist

Just right click on this list and save it to print or refer to later.

Get Home Bag Printable Checklist custom made by Jason and the team. It shows all items that are needed for a Get Home Bag.

Next Steps

Now it is your turn to make your get home bag. Consider all the items I use, and don’t forget to mentally prepare.

I often receive great items for my get home bag from Battlbox. Check out our full Battlbox review to see if it is worth the money. It is a fun way to get prepared.

Be sure to read our other guides for preparing at home, including our Prepper Guide, Civil Unrest Preparedness guide, and Survival Food guide.

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Jason has an engineering and problem solving background. He is an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, and competitive shooter. He enjoys researching the best and most practical solutions for the problem at hand, studying stoicism, and finding innovative ways to be prepared.