As part of the prepping exercise in 2014, I built myself a “get-home-bag” to keep in my car in case something occurred while I was at away from home that required me to either shelter in my car for a period of time, or hike home. No part of this planning included bugging out of the area so the resulting pack was small. In the past two years I have reviewed backpacking blogs and site, mapped out my various routes home, and had some experiences that have changed my perceptions. While my initial attempt was solid for what I knew, I see the pack now as wishful thinking and probably would not have helped me as much as I would hope.
My mistake was I underestimated the amount of time it would take me to get home from my work-site. My initial prediction was I would be able to get home in 2 maybe 3 days maximum. Having spent some time mapping out various routes, I came to realize that even if I had good weather (unlikely) and nothing impeding my travel (naive), all routes home would require me to travel 20+ days to get home in 2 days. I am an average American male, that doesn’t do much walking or running. I am more likely to make 10 miles a day, placing my hike home at around 5 days from my office. Further experiences via other hobbies made me realized that my clothing and shoe choices were poorly made. All of which would have just made me more uncomfortable and making the trip longer.
First thing I did was replace my generic military style pack with a High Sierra Access backpack, a 45 liter bag with good padding and a sternum strap. I chose this bag because I intend to split my get-home-gear up between the backpack and compartments in the car. This allows me to use the same backpack to haul work items but hold the items stored in the car should I have to abandon it on the side of the road. It has a waste strap that I have been able to adapt to hold my sleeping bag.
For simplicity sake I have continued to use a 2-day disaster kit called the Lifeline 1 Person 48 Hour Essentials as the core of my kit. I chose this kit because it is a self-contained unit with 8 drinking water pouches, 2400 calorie food bar, a poncho, a space blanket and a few other items that may come in handy. To this I added LifeStraw Go Water Bottle so that I can collect water at any stream, or the two rivers I have to cross. Food is more problematic now that it will be nearly twice as long then my original, so adding high calorie bars to the pack and being sure to rotate them to keep them fresh is important. I may or may not be able to scrounge for food depending on the circumstances of the disaster so can’t rely on that.
For shelter and sleeping, getting home will take me past many abandoned buildings. Given the circumstances breaking into empty buildings for shelter is something I am willing to do, and if you are in a similar situation you should be as well. Staying in a building will also help you stay safer from other people and animals, but I suggest you sleep in a closed closet. For sleeping I am using the US Army Patrol Bag stored in a waterproof case. My prefabricated 2 day disaster kit also contains a myler blanket and a tarp, should I need more warmth or have to build a shelter.
Clothing is another major change. I covered the basic reasons why in the first part of this series “Getting out of Dodge” but it bears repeating. I have a pair of ripstop cargo pants, 4 pairs of compression shorts, 2 long sleeve shirts, a hat, a belt, hiking boots, and 4 pairs of hiking socks; all stored in my vehicle. I chose these items based on my experiences in the woods for another hobby and found that protecting myself from insects, the sun, and protecting my feet are nearly as important and water, food, and shelter. Bad feet would mean I would not be getting home.
No go-bag can be complete without a first aid kit. For this I went with a 2 person hiking first aid pack. This comes with all the basic types of bandages, ointments, wound cleaners, gloves, and even has some ibuprofen and acetaminophen included. You can also go to any pharmacy and build your own kit, but I have found that having pre-packaged kits at the start is the best foundation, and you can simply add more of the type of item you want.
Other necessities I threw into this pack are an LED flashlight with batteries, a Swiss army knife with a locking blade and can opener, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste and a fixed bladed hunting knife. Hygiene is often not something regular people think about when planning for a disaster, but hygiene not only makes us feel better but keeps us healthy. Feeling clean and healthy on our trek will help us stay focused on the task at hand; getting home to our families.
As for how this is all packed, most of the items are in compartments in my vehicle. The only items I keep in my backpack are the water bottle, the first aid kit, and the Lifeline kit. This leaves the bag empty enough to carry my work supplies, and it not too heavy to be taken into the office. If I do have to trek home, my work stuff can be destroyed or left at the office.
I hope this helps other non-preppers, non-survivalist types prepare for an emergency that calls for evacuation of your work or vehicle. While it is unlikely you will not have some warning of an emergency that requires you to get home to your family, having this pack will help you should the event occur while getting home.
Just in case you missed anything, here is the complete list of items:
Get Home Kit Check List
- (1) 2400 Calorie Food Bar or 4 ready made meals
- (8) 4 oz. Drinking Water Pouches
- (1) canteen
- (1) Water filtration straw/system
First Aid Items
- (1) First Aid Guide
- (1) Scissors
- (1) Tweezers
- (2) Vinyl Gloves (1 Pair)
- (3) Sting Relief Pads
- (6) Antiseptic Towelettes
- (14) Alcohol Prep pads
- (1) Triangle Bandage
- (1) 5″ x 9″ Combine Dressing
- (20) 3/8″ x 1 1/2″ Bandages
- (10) 3/4″ x 3″ Bandages
- (10) Butterfly Closures
- (1) Knuckle Bandage
- (2) Knee/Elbow Bandages
- (1) 4″ x 4″ Sterile Gauze Pad
- (2) 3″ x 3″ Sterile Gauze Pads
- (4) 2″ x 2″ Sterile Gauze Pads
- (1) 2″ Conforming Gauze
- (1) 1/2″ Adhesive Tape Roll
- (1) Shoes/Boots
- (1) Jeans
- (1) Belt
- (1) Hat
- (1) Emergency Poncho
- (4) Pairs of socks
- (4) Pairs of underwear
- (2) Brassieres (women)
- (1) Water proof stuff sack for socks and underwear
- (1) Sleeping Bag
- (1) Stuff Sack (for sleeping bag)
- (2) Quick release straps (to attach sleeping bag to pack)
- (1) Survival Blanket
- (1) Dust Mask
- (1) LED Flashlight
- (2) AAA Batteries (for flashlight)
- (1) Emergency Whistle
- (2) Hand Warmer
- (1) Quick-Spark Fire Starter
- (1) Manual Can Opener
- (1) Swiss Army Knife
- (1) Roll of Toilet paper (in a waterproof sack bag)
- (6) Pads/Tampons (women)
- (1) Toothbrush
- (1) Travel Toothpaste