Get Home Bag Essentials: The Ultimate 2022 FAQ Guide

Last Updated on August 24, 2022 by John Martin
Get Home Bag Essentials

The real reason why you need a get home bag…

Unexpected disaster will happen to you. That’s not paranoid, it’s realistic. But what if the inevitable happens at work or in your car?

Your life may depend on having get-home bag essentials near you.

Don’t lean on “luck” to survive. Billionaire businessman Richard Branson explains luck this way:

“I have not been any more lucky or unlucky than anyone else. The difference is when luck came my way I took advantage of it.”

He’s referring to the countless choices and opportunities you and I have every day.

By reading this (and packing a small, carefully-thought-out bag), you have the choice and opportunity to prepare now… so you’ll stay warm, hopeful and well-fed instead of cold, stranded, starving or worse.

Stack the deck in your favor. It’s all up to you. Keep reading to learn how.

You may also want to check out some thoughts on building a get home bag on a budget. (There’s a general list of common items here too.)

What is a get home bag?

It’s a modified go bag or bug out bag.

Now some people say you just throw 3-days worth of survival items in a bag and call it done. Wrong!


Why do people think disasters will only last for 3 days?

But your get home bag should not be an INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) bag either. Getting you back home should require far less gear and supplies than a go bag or INCH bag. Good thing too, because you may have to carry your get home bag a long way on foot.

How is a get home bag different from a go bag?

Go bags don’t have all the comforts of home. They have just enough to get you to more help or until you can begin more long-term survival efforts.

Get home bags have even less in them. They have just enough to get you back home.

What exactly does this mean for you?

You’ll need to do some planning like this:

  • The furthest I usually drive from home for work/fun is X miles.
Planning Essential Get Home Bag Contents
  • If I had to walk that distance back home, it would take Y hours/days.
  • There are Z hazards (rivers/mountains/etc.) on the way back home.
  • Do I have family members to meet/check on along the way home?
  • Could I get help from this friend or that one along the way?
  • Does my usual travel route away from home go through rural or urban areas?

If you’ve already prepared a go bag, the kind of planning above can help you know what you can leave out of your get home bag.

But whenever you leave home, do a quick assessment. If you’re going further ..or away from the usual… pack your go bag instead.

What should I put in my get home bag?

Good question. We’re all different. Mainly the answer boils down to your fitness level. How much can you really carry? Long distance.

Especially if you’re wounded, tired, traumatized, etc.

Your Get Home Bag Must Be Lightweight

Even the Marines are changing their thoughts about those not-so-manly (but really more foolish) 70- and 80-pound packs of yesterday.

“Blood is the price for carrying too much.” That’s the name of a recent study this branch of the armed forces is paying attention to.

Countless experiences prove this truth: most people grossly overestimate how much they or someone else can carry. And it’s costing lives.

Those percent-bodyweight answers often don’t work either.

The simplest rule-of-thumb answer? Aim for a 25-pound pack. Or less. A super stripped-down, basic, minimalist bag.

And then try to get your physical stamina up to where it’s ok to carry this much for the distance. And there are a lot of things you CAN’T put in a 25-pound pack, so plan this carefully.

Check out this full list of what you could put in a get home bag.

Physical stamina?

Okay, this is where lawyers would tell me to tell you to check with your doctor.

But here’s a true story I found inspiring in Darren Hardy’s book “The Compound Effect.

Physical Stamina Needed To Get Home

A very overweight lady (we’ll call her Ann) had a friend who was running a half marathon.

Ann (sadly): “I sure wish I could do that!

Wise coach (who happened to overhear): “Why would you WANT to run a half marathon?

Ann: “Oh, I could NEVER do that.

Coach: “But if you COULD, then WHY would you?

Ann (after some thought): “I want to look good for a class reunion coming up. I never could lose fat after giving birth to my second child.

Coach: “Now THAT’S a great reason to help you take action.

NOTE: You ALSO need to find a great reason why to pull you through tough challenges – like forming an exercise habit. So what means a lot to you? Family? A bucket list life goal? Something you’re fighting for?

Reasons Why Help Pull You Through Challenges

And then the coach laid every milestone out in easy, doable steps for Ann:

  1. Get in the car and map out a one-mile loop from your home
  2. Resolve to walk that mile 3 times in 2 weeks
  3. Walk that mile 3 times in one week
  4. Jog only until slightly winded then walk
  5. Aim for jogging 1/4 mile, then 1/2 mile, then 3/4 mile, then a whole mile
  6. Try extending the jog 1/8 mile (about 300 steps) further each time

Ann reached step 5 in 7 weeks. And in 6 months, Ann was running NINE miles with no discomfort.

And after 9 months? She ran half marathons (13.5 miles) regularly each week.

Today Ann runs full marathons. Her work and family life are 1000% better. She’s stopped hanging out with her “Debbie Downer” friends who only wanted to eat junk food with her. In fact, she no longer craves junk food.

Moment-to-moment good choices plus a habit with tiny steps like this… can help you do the “impossible” too.

Should I keep a bag in my car?

If you have a car, you should keep survival items in it. A well prepared car includes your EDC (Every Day Carry) backpack plus an extra duffel.

The backpack travels with you when you leave the car, perhaps for work. It has about 25 pounds of absolute necessities (including maybe work items and your lunch.)

In an emergency where you’d have to leave your car behind, you have all of your get home bag essentials right on your back.

But if it’s the type of crisis where you’re stranded with the car, you have a duffel with extra supplies like bottled water that you don’t have to purify. Extra food and clothes. Extra blankets for cold weather. Perhaps a mini shovel and tools.

What Should I Put In My Bag for the Car

What is the best bag to get?

Try to get something ordinary looking – not the military I’m-ready-for-anything and my-bag-is-valuable look.

When a crisis happens, there will be a lot of people looking to steal from others who have the supplies they want. Don’t encourage them to target you – by having a valuable-looking bag.

Yet your bag should be quality. Some people say 1000 denier nylon is the way to go. I say this is too heavy and you can get by with 600D just fine.

Double or triple stitching in the important areas, like shoulder straps are helpful, though. So are YKK zippers – they last virtually forever.

Should you get a two-strap backpack or a one-strap sling bag? Each have pros and cons. The one-strap is great for the everyday ride on public transportation. Easily shift the bag to carry in front of you and avoid those pickpockets. But your back and shoulders will get super tired of carrying one of these for any distance.

Two straps with extra sternum and waist straps are the way to go for the distance.

Just make sure you get a bag that helps you organize your stuff. When you have to take contents out of the bag, you want this to be simple and easy. One big compartment won’t help as much as the right sized multi-compartment bag.

Organized Backpack

Make sure the bag fits your larger items, like the laptop you carry for work.

Are you starting to see you have to be very selective about which survival items you bring along? Especially if you already have your lunch and work stuff?

The best bag is the one you will actually use. Countless bags on the market touted as “best” are impractical, very difficult to use or worse.

Don’t choose gear that makes your survival even more of a question mark.

For example, those “super tough” 1000 denier nylon bags that weigh 3 lbs might be endorsed by some military person or say “tactical” but they are WAY too heavy! Buy a tough 600D nylon bag. They only weigh half as much! You NEED to save the extra 1.5 lbs for packing life-saving essentials!

Final Thoughts

Learn survival skills. Read and take notes. Practice. Invest in you and your family’s future.

The more you know, the less you need to carry. This will have the single biggest impact on what you carry and your chances for survival.

Learn Survival Skills

I’m sure I missed something in this discussion. After all, even the most seasoned experts argue about what to pack in their bags while keeping it lightweight. So please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Then we can both be right.

And without a doubt, more people need to learn this vital subject. So please share this article and help me spread the word.

The most important thing you need to know? Learn how to personalize so that you have all of the get home bag essentials for you – and no more than this. Learn why something is essential (or not) for you personally. And then mercilessly exclude the nonessentials. If you’ve ever had to carry a bag long distance, you’ll see why this is true.