This post may use affiliate links which may earn a commission for purchases made at no extra cost to you. Learn more.
To be prepared when you’re away from home during the work week, you need to have the right gear on hand to allow you to get home in any situation. That’s where a get home bag comes in.
Learn what gear to carry, what constitutes a great pack for it all and recommendations for how to organize it all. Let’s get into how to build a get home bag with all your survival essentials.
What Is A Get Home Bag?
What is a get home bag? It is a bag that carries the essentials you need to get home to your family as soon as possible. A get home bag is particularly useful in any disaster, emergency or collapse scenario and the reason people like myself carry one daily. It is very similar to a bug out bag but built with a different purpose in mind.
“Bugging out” refers to your decision to abandon your home in response to an unexpected emergency situation. Whether that be a natural disaster or any sort of societal collapse, having a get home bag and a bug out bag are going to be essential in your prepping plans. Especially if you plan to abandon home like you potentially would in an urban survival setting.
Get Home Bag and Bug Out Bag Uses
So what are bug out bags and get home bags used for?
A get home bag is typically carried daily with the intention of getting home to your family and other means of preparedness regardless of the emergency scenario. As with any survival pack, its contents will vary greatly based on your own personal needs, distance from home, climate and setting and so on. This bag should be able to sustain you for at least a day and give you the means to communicate with your family and get home within a reasonable amount of time.
A bug out bag is a survival kit filled with essentials that can help you get through a variety of emergency scenarios for a few days or more. Bug out bags are backpacks that contain the essential items you’d need to survive for at least 72 hours with nothing else at all. Each person in your household should have their own and should be able to carry it comfortably. Here’s how to build your own bug out bag.
Bug Out Bag Or Get Home Bag? Which One to Carry?
To be frank with you, it is best have both staged and ready to go. What I do is carry a complete get home bag with me everywhere I go and then it merges with my other supplies once I get home.
However, my personal emergency preparedness plan, whether I am out by myself or with my family, is going to be to get home ASAP regardless of the situation. I have off grid communications devices in place (and tested to work) that I will rely on to communicate with family in the event phones go down. For our area we have multiple locations that can be considered “home” or “safe” to better assess the situation before making our next move.
Your own situation and location will dictate whether you carry a bug out bag, a get home bag or some sort of hybrid bag. Or do what I do and have both. Assess your area, and your preparedness plans and create a bag/s accordingly that you can manage to carry for longer periods of time.
This article will focus solely on constructing a get home bag.
If building a much bigger and more involved bug out bag is what you’re after then you can read that here.
Why Should You Even Consider A Bug Out/Get Home Bag?
Disaster can strike at any time, and without proper preparation, you leave yourself and your loved ones with nothing to help them in a disaster. There’s never been a bigger need than now to prepare for the worst. Adding a bug out/get home bag will help you provide the essentials you’ll need to sustain you and your family’s lives when things take a turn for the worst.
Preparedness is the key to surviving any disaster. According to FEMA, more households (81% of the survey) have begun to collect emergency preparedness supplies since the “pandemic”. However, most of those people just bought a generic “survival pack” and said they were prepared. Just because you buy a cheap pack and a jumbo pack of toilet paper does not make you prepared. This means a large portion of the population won’t truly be ready when disaster comes, unfortunately. That makes for desperate and dangerous people when things become really scarce.
In the present, we have numerous threats in front of us that present a danger to our normal ways of life. We have rumors of war, government tyranny, supply chain issues, fertilizer shortages and production failures, food crop shortages, livestock illnesses/extermination, and a whole host of other issues I can list. With all of these in mind, preparing a get home bag to get home and bug out bag to bug out seems like the least you could do, and the truth is, it is. It is a small part of really getting yourself prepared but it can be the difference of life or death.
Constructing Your Get Home Bag
The list of items you’d like to have in an emergency is always longer than what you can actually take. The most experienced and skilled preppers building bug out bags and get home bags have to make tough choices about what to pack as well.
Here’s my humble opinion: There’s no such thing as the ultimate get home bag. There are just too many variables to allow for a universal answer that is perfect for all people in all situations. So the good news is you don’t have to stress over being perfect compared to some YouTube prepping expert.
However, packing a get home bag properly and strategically is essential. When building your get home bag you’re probably going to want to bring everything you can cram in it. While carrying as much useful stuff as we can is the goal, just ram-packing your bags with a bunch of heavy stuff isn’t going to serve you well.
Most people justify creating a super heavy bag with the idea that they will have their vehicle to travel in. This may be the case for everyday living and even some emergency scenarios, but the roadways can very easily become blocked, destroyed and gridlocked. Especially if you live in a heavily populated area.
For these reasons you need to pack your get home bag for the possibility of traveling on foot in an emergency event. That means bringing essential gear to help you do so as safely as possible and having your get home bag be manageable to carry.
With these thoughts in mind, let’s move onto actually putting your get home bag together.
Preparing A Get Home Bag
Like I had already mentioned, this is the primary emergency bag I carry with me most places. For my location, situation and emergency plans, my primary goal is going to be to get home or to my wife and kids as soon as possible to reassess the situation and go from there. This bag will help me serve that purpose and should help sustain me for 1-2 days if needed. Knowing I could get to my family within a number of hours on foot in my area determines what I include in my own bag. I will share contents of my get home bag but it only serves to be an example to help you with building your own bag.
A get home bag isn’t intended for an extended off the grid/survival setting, though it will certainly be better than nothing. A get home bag is essentially the starting point to a lower level bug out bag in my opinion. It serves to give you the tools you need to get to your home base, supplies and loved ones within a day or two regardless of a natural disaster or a zombie apocalypse.
The primary areas to cover are:
- First Aid
- Light Nourishment/Sustainment
- Protection from the elements
- Miscellaneous tools/items
Notice how these areas only cover minimal essentials and not necessarily convenience? There isn’t a shelter, sleeping bag or camping stove mentioned. That’s because this particular bag is only meant to get you home in an emergency and, unless your scenario is different than mine, I am not going to stop to sleep before getting home in my case. However I do plan on getting home no matter what scenario I am faced with, so certain supplies are key.
Get Home Bag Essentials
This is a general list of some essentials that you should consider for your get home bag. Need something else? Add it if it makes sense just refrain from adding anything that isn’t essential.
First things first, you’re going to need a solid pack to carry everything. For a get home bag I recommend something in the size range of your standard backpack with multiple compartments and attachment options. Having a concealed carry pocket for a pistol is also a huge benefit. Here are some recommendations:
- Primary Arms Expandable Back Pack. It’s not your top of the line pack, but is useable for the budget conscious person and has lots of room to store your gear. Get it here.
- Viktos Perimeter 25L NIGHTFJALL Backpack. Purpose built as a get home bag, this has a pocket to carry a pistol, rifle mags, ballistic armor panels and plenty of room for all you’re gear while remaining durable and somewhat discrete. The perfect pack. Learn more here.
- Vertx Gamut 2.0 Back Pack. Deluxe backpack with many features and compartments to hold a pistol, armor panels and all your gear. Learn more and save 5% with my discount code “STRENGTH” here.
The sky is the limit here. Choosing a pack that is somewhat discrete, is durable and can carry all of your chosen gear is what you need.
Medical Kit/First Aid/IFAK:
I am a huge believer in carrying quality medical gear to take care of any injuries you sustain or in case of an emergency, especially if you carry a firearm. Training to save lives with that gear is also essential. You should carry a well thought out and high quality kit to handle some minor and life threatening injuries. Here are a few suggestions and discounted resources I have for you:
- MyMedic TFAK (Trauma First Aid Kit) Use discount code: “Strength15” for 15% off
- MyMedic MyFAK (General First Aid Kit) Use discount code: “Strength15” for 15% off
- Blue Force Gear Medical Kits
- Dark Angel Medical S.P.E.A.R. Trauma Kit
- Refuge Medical Use code: “STRENGTH” for 10% off
Having medical supplies on hand is essential to your survival and safety. If you or someone gets seriously hurt, you will have supplies (and hopefully the know-how) to save a life. It is also good to have because someone else can use your supplies to take action if needed.
Even though your get home bag is not intended to last you for more than 1-2 days, it is still important to carry some water and means to purify more to drink. You never know what could happen or if you’ll be left alone for an extended period of time. Having water and emergency survival food will go a long way. I would add something similar to the following:
- Stainless Steel Water Canteen (for carrying and potentially boiling water)
- Portable Water Filter on Amazon or save 15% here with my discount code “Strength15”
- Water Purification Tablets
- Emergency Food Rations Bars for dense, easy to carry calories. Use discount code “Strength15” for 15% off these ration bars
- M.R.E.’s (Meal Ready to Eat)
- On the go emergency food and save big with code “STRENGTH15”
You just need to make sure you pack light when it comes to this section. Ideally you wouldn’t even need food or water to get home but you can never be sure how long it will take you, especially if you work far from home.
“Comms” is probably one of the most important sections for your get home bag. When things go south the first thing you’re going to do is call your loved ones. Obviously using your phone will be the first option and depending on the scenario it will probably work for a while. However, many disasters will take out the power grids and/or cell towers leaving your phone useless. In that case, you are going to want to have a couple of backup solutions in your get home bag. Here are some suggestions for communications gear to put in your get home bag:
- Cell Phone/Smart Phone
- Handheld Radios (Two-way and HAM compatible)
- Satellite Phone (Very Expensive)
- Turn your smartphone into a satellite phone for an inexpensive price. (Bivy Stick)
Keep in mind that these methods will require some knowledge to make work and using HAM radio requires a license to legally broadcast except for in an emergency.
Adding tools to defend yourself in your get home bag is necessary. People will eventually become panicked and some will take advantage of the ability to commit crimes without any law enforcement present. Carrying weapons of different types is essential in my get home bag. Consider your own personal situation and check out these options to include in your get home bag/on your person:
- Concealable handgun with magazines and ammunition
- A Machete has multiple uses
- A Tomahawk has multiple uses
- Fixed blade knife (My personal recommendation)
- Folding knives
- Whatever guns and weapons you want to carry. This is completely your choice.
Obviously carrying all of these is going to weigh you down, so you’ll have to choose what makes sense to you. Some of these tools can be used for other tasks like clearing a path and starting a fire if needed. Be smart and make sure you train with your desired tools of defense.
Now that we have covered most of the items that go into a get home bag, and a lot of bug out bags as well, lets list out some other miscellaneous items that are smart to include to help you get home back to your family. This list will assume that you already have on reasonable clothing/footwear. Applicable discount codes you can use for savings will be listed with each item:
- Outer Shell/Rainproof Jacket or get 5% off here with discount code “STRENGTH”
- Extra Merino Wool Socks or emergency survival socks (Strength15 for 15% off)
- Shemagh or Balaclava/Neck Gaiter (Use discount code “STRENGTH” for 5% off)
- Good Multi-tool and/or Swiss Army Knife (Use discount code “STRENGTH” for 5% off)
- Bic Lighters
- Emergency Tinder
- Fire Starter Kit (Use discount code “Strength15” for 15% off)
- Best Fire Starter Kit around
- Paracord for cordage (Use “STRENGTH” for 5% off)
- Emergency shelter/blankets
- Headlamp or Headlamps on Amazon
- High Quality Flashlight/Headlamps
- Important Documents/IDs/Cards
- USB charging cord for phones/rechargeable items
- Portable Solar Charger or get one for 15% off here
- Waterproof Notepad/Pen
- Compressed Toilet Paper
- Nail Clippers
- Bolt Cutters
- Respirator/Particulate/Gas Mask
- Ziploc/Storage bags
- Contractor Trash Bags
I know it looks like a lot of stuff to carry, but most of these items are extremely light and small and will easily fit into a solid backpack that has plenty of space and pockets. You can pick and choose what to carry. These things all add up so be prepared to spend some money on higher quality gear. You will appreciate it when your life depends on them. I’ve worked hard to be able to provide my readers discount codes to various different websites so be sure to take advantage of them!
Now that we have covered some of the items to include in your get home bag, I want to share some considerations when choosing what gear to add. You need to be thinking about as many possible scenarios as you can and prepare your get home bag accordingly.
Too many people just add all the essentials and call it good. While that is not necessarily bad, I want to make sure my readers broaden their mindsets to be as safe as possible in all scenarios.
It helps to plan out what you would do in any given event when you take as many scenarios as you can possibly think of into consideration. That way you can pack your get home bag as efficiently as possible.
Get Home Bag Weight:
For example, water is pretty heavy coming in at 8.3lbs per gallon. Do you really need to carry 10 pounds of it for your get home bag? For some that may be necessary. For others maybe not.
Are there rivers and lakes all around you and just a water filter/water purification will suffice? Are you within a reasonable distance to getting home to more water? These are all things to consider when packing your get home bag. For the record I still think you should have water stored in your vehicle no matter what but I think you catch my drift.
Something else to keep in mind is the routes and options for getting home/to your family. Do you have multiple routes planned in case one or more become impassable? Are you familiar with the area and alternate routes? Do you have the wilderness as a hurdle? A bad side of town to be weary of?
Being aware of the hurdles between where you could be and your home will definitely dictate the priorities of your get home bag.
You will notice that when creating a bag, whether that is a get home bag, bug out bag or both, you will need to haul it at some point. This will require a decent level of fitness to sustain especially if it is for long-distance travel on foot.
I preach physical fitness to men and anyone who is preparing themselves for the times ahead and becoming fit is a paramount aspect of becoming a prepared man. If you are unfit and unhealthy how can you expect to perform when it is needed most?
The fact is, you can’t. That is why I have created The Fundamental Pillars of Building Muscle eBook to help men get in shape all on their own and naturally. Check it out to learn more.
I want to thank you for reading this far and I truly hope this guide has helped you with constructing your get home bag, as well as helped you brainstorm your preparedness strategy altogether. Being prepared for as many scenarios as possible while acquiring the best gear we can sets us up for increased survival when the going gets tough.
If you enjoyed this guide then please feel free to share it on your social media platforms and with friends and family to help them become better prepared!
If you’re looking for more then read my article Urban Prepper 101. It will be particularly helpful if you live in a city or suburban area but also serves to help others become better prepared overall.
I believe a part of preparedness is also being physically capable of any possible scenario. Being out of shape won’t survive through rigorous events. If you need help getting in shape and with your nutrition, I have plenty of free guides to help you with that. I also offer a complete fitness and lifestyle eBook titled “The Fundamental Pillars of Building Muscle” that you may find helpful.
Follow me on Instagram and join my Telegram channel/private group to chat with me and like-minded men!