Posts Tagged ‘Preparedness’

The “go bag” is an essential part of any preparedness plan. I keep mine in my vehicle and transfer it with me when I switch vehicles for work or when I ride in my wifes vehicle. Some people may say it is a sign of paranoia, it’s a waste of money, or even that it’s not practical because the odds of needing it are so low. Ultimately, it’s not up to anyone else whether or not you carry a bag, it’s your decision. I also can’t tell you everything you should have, or even necessarily how much of something you should have, this list is not comprehensive and is merely a suggestion based on how I see things.

The bag itself:
3 Day Assault Pack.
Price: $40-$100+

This pack is the perfect size to keep in the trunk or backseat. Typically available in black, olive drab, or camouflage. I suggest buying a bag that has the MOLLE system, they are ideal for accessorizing your pack and not eating up space inside that pack. I would also suggest getting a bag that has a space for a hydration pouch (camelback).

I got my wife a Red Rock assault pack off of eBay for $40 with free shipping. Its a good little bag, but it was advertised as a 3 Day pack and there is no way it is, it is far smaller. It’s well made and has good compartmentalization.

Keys to a successful Go Bag


What good is the stuff in the bag if you don’t know what you have? Or if you can even find it?

Lists – I suggest maybe a small note card sized laminated (for waterproofing) list of what is in your bag and where it is located in the bag. I suggest another list, most likely printer paper sized and laminated that summarizes what everything in the bag can be used for.

A good tip for the order of listing the contents is in the categories of Critical, Crucial, and Necessary. Everything in this bag has a purpose, some items are of higher priority.

Critical Items- (Items that you are more likely to die without) Ex: Water and water purification, Food, First Aid, Fire Starting Tools, Protection, Shelter Items

Crucial Items- (Items that are complimentary to critical items or are crucial to survival just not of the highest priority) Ex: Containers, Compass, Signaling Items, Cutting Tools

Necessary Items- (Items that are of the lowest priority but are still valuable for survival or rescue) Ex: Space blanket, hand tools, duct tape

These 2 lists will save you time, frustration, and possibly your life.

Color coded bags – extremely useful for streamlining organization. Each bag is a different color, sometimes vary in size, and are typically waterproof.

Example of use: all first aid supplies in the red bag.

Your organization list should then read something similar to

First Aid-Rear Compartment-Red Bag

It is easy to see the advantages of compartmentalizing your equipment and listing it for easy access. Little things like this can save you critical time in a survival situation.


This is a go bag, not a sit bag. The objective is not to have everything you need to set up a permanent encampment, the objective is to cover your basic survival needs and keep you capable of traveling to another location and easily transfer those basic necessities with you.

Weight– We are trying to get the most bang per pound. If items have a specific purpose and are critical there should be at least one back up, in my opinion, 2 back ups. If items are not critical they should be able to be doubled or tripled for other purposes. I also love items that are multiple items combined into one. This saves space and weight. We want the lightest pack that can do the most.

Size– The bag should not be too large for your body, not just in weight but in dimension. Get a bag that properly fits your body shape and height.


The most expensive is not always the best. In some circumstances cheaper items are of equal quality, in others the difference in quality is not worth the savings. Water purification is an example of something that should not be skimped on, but not all 3 options for water purification need to be expensive. I will cover that a little more later.


The key strategies of successfully employing your go bag are:

Speed and Efficiency– quickly and efficiently implement the contents of your bag into whatever situation you are in

Accessibility– your bag should be easily accessible during vehicular travel, and the contents should be easily accessible while on foot or bike.

Manueverability– your bag should be easily carried while walking, running, riding a bike, or driving in a car.

Hideability– a bright pink bag will be seen for long distances, and easily spotted in your backseat. Think of concealment in your vehicle and on your person, don’t let your bag give you away.

Weatherization– the more water proof the better. All zippers should be completely closed and the pulls should be down toward the bottom of the zipper to prevent water leakage during rain and snow. Try not to include items that are damaged by freezing, or items that will melt.

* when something is described as being for emergency use it is not a primary means for that particular method

1.) Critical Contents

Water and Water Purification (carry the means for at least 3 methods)

– 2 bottles of purified water (does not count as a method)
– Water filtration and purification pump (Katadyn Combi)
– Bleach
– Items for Boiling Technique
– Water Purification Tablets
– Betadine (doubles as water purification and antiseptic)

Fire Starting (carry the means for at least 3 methods)

-Magnesium fire starter (best for damp and/or windy conditions)
-Waterproof matches and striker
-Fire Starter Logs with match striking end and striker
-Windproof lighter
-Several BIC cigarette lighters
-Mirror (doubles as fire starter and signal)
-Cotton Balls (doubles as emergency fire tinder and first aid)

Food (short term supply, not intended to live off of, but to sustain you while you find more permanent sources)

– Beef Jerky Sticks individually wrapped (Slim Jims)
– High Protein Bars
– Freeze dried fruits and vegetables


-Small tarpaulin (doubles as shelter and poncho)
-550 Cord (uses include: strapping, tying, cinching, lifting, dragging,etc.)
-Bungee Cords
-Hammock (optional)

First Aid

-Basic first aid kit (band aids,tape,gauze,wraps,etc.)
-Betadine (doubles as antiseptic and emergency water purification)
-Alcohol (doubles as antiseptic and emergency fire starting)
-Cotton balls (doubles as first aid and emergency fire starter)
-Clotting Patches (for excessive bleeding wounds)

Protection (carry the means for at least 3 methods)

-Hand Gun (optional, only suggested for those trained in using a pistol)
-Rifle (will not fit in your bag obviously, but is a nice addition,also optional for those with rifle experience)
-Pepper spray
-Stun Gun (doubles as personal protection and can be used for fire starting)
-Ammo for any firearm that you may choose to carry
-Knives (carry at least 3) Below is a short list of the types to carry

1.)Bowie Knife and sheath (get one that has one piece of steel for the blade and through the handle, the handle can be clad in wood, plastic, or rubber) I carry 2 of these.

2.) Machete (used for chopping firewood, clearing brush, defense, etc.) Difficult to carry but possibly one of the most useful tools for wilderness survival.

3.) Folding knife with clip or caribeener (keep this knife in your front pocket, or hanging from the shoulder strap of your bag) I carry one in my pocket at all times, surprisingly handy.

4.) Multitool Folding Knife (equipped with 1 long blade, 1 short blade, file, screw driver, can opener, pliers, etc.) I carry 2 of these. Leatherman brand are more expensive but are high quality and built to use.

2.) Crucial Contents


Compass- carry 2 different types of compass: magnetic and lensatic

Maps- maps of your area of travel, maps to get you home, maps of your typical area (maps should ideally be foldable and laminated, keep a dry erase marker to use on laminated maps)

Binoculars or monocular- the smaller the better, from a high vantage point you can see long distances and look for resources, threats, and topology

Water Repellent Gear

Poncho’s- I carry 2 of the cheapest ponchos available, your tarp can also be fashioned into a poncho.

Rain Suit- (optional) I suggest Frogg Toggs, they are light, fold virtually flat, and work very well

Tarp- used as poncho, shelter roof, wind break, sleeping mat

Clothes-take up a lot of space, I don’t suggest much clothing in your bag, but there are a few key pieces. Ideally you are dressed for the season. I keep a spare coat and coveralls in my truck during winter, we keep blankets and spare coats in our car trunk as well.

Socks- wool socks in the winter, cotton socks in the summer, keep at least one extra pair in a waterproof bag, dry fresh socks can help prevent blisters and frostbite

Hat- wool cap in winter, shade creating wide brimmed hat in summer

Gloves- heavy leather work gloves for use when working, mittens or insulated gloves for winter

Underwear- for comfort and hygiene, gives you an opportunity to wash and dry another pair, can prevent rashes and discomfort, store in waterproof bag

Signaling (at least 3 methods should be carried)

Mirror- (uses include: signaling, fire starting, sight assistance, first aid)

Whistle- (uses include: rescue assistance, defense against wild animals (not much), long distance communication)

Flare- (used for signaling, emergency fire starting, torch)

Strobe- (flashing firecracker) short life, prone to ruin, not a good primary signal but can be used at night to augment a better signal effort

Flashlight- (covered more in flashlight section)

Flashlights (at least 3 lights in at least 3 different types)

LED Torch– about 5-6 inches long, metal construction, on and off only (a light that has multiple dims requires you to click the switch 3 or 4 times for each use, this will wear out the switch quicker and render your light useless)

Solar LED – I have a good one that my sister got me from LL Bean, hang it panel side out on your pack and let it charge during the day, you can switch to a backup battery whenever the solar charged battery is down.

Dynamo LED – most hand crank lights come attached to a radio, and have flashing red lights as well, the major downside is size, but no sun or charged battery is required for use.

LED Cap Light or Miner’s Light – cap lights attach to the brim of a ball cap and illuminate wherever you turn your head, miners lights have an elastic strap and can be worn on your head regardless of what type of hat you’re wearing.

Glow Sticks – Minimal illumination, one use, but are waterproof. Great to throw into a puddle to gauge depth. Also great for illumination without giving off a light that can be seen for long distances.

Survival Manuals (kept in waterproof bag)

– SAS Survival Guide – available in a small easy to stow size, comprehensive, easy to read, has pictures for demonstration, great educational and reference tool

– Book of local plant and animal wildlife for the region you are in

– First Aid Field Manual or Basic First Aid Guide


Waterproof bags – zip lock, or vinyl drawstring bags
Water bottles
Condoms – easy storage, good for water proofing, also good for carrying water
Waterproof match holder (I found one at Bass Pro that has a compass, whistle, and mirror all in one, probably available on eBay)

Cutting Tools

– Machete – as mentioned earlier
– Small camping axe – available at Wal Mart
– Knives
– Scissors – first aid, utility
– Box Cutter/ Utility Razor Knife
– Cable limb saw

Food Collection

– Fishing line – used for fishing, snares, trip wire, utility
– Fishing hooks
– Netting for trapping or saning a body of water

Health (carry all of the listed items)

– Chap stick and/or lip balm
– Vaseline (wind protection, protects burns from getting infected)
– Sunscreen (High SPF)
– Healing Diaper Cream (use on chaffing or chapped skin)
– Anti Diarreheal tablets
– Bug Spray
– Spare Eyeglasses in hard carrying case
– Sunglasses
– Toothpaste and/or floss (dental problems are painful and dangerous, keep up on prevention even in a survival situation)
– Saline solution to flush eyes
– Prescription Medications
– OTC Medications (Acetamenaphine, Ibuprofen, Antihistamine)

Necessary Items

Hand Tools

– Pliers
– Wire Cutters
– Screw Drivers
– Hammer
– Saw


– Duct Tape
– Bailing Wire
– Electrical Tape
– Reusable Cloth Shopping Bag (good for gathering fruits, berries, tinder)
– Bungee Cords (shelter use, potential for weaponry)
– Ratcheting Tie Strap (shelter use, lifting heavy objects, lashing)
– Caribeiner Clips
– Fanny Pack (use to make space in your back pack)
– Spare Batteries
– Soap
– A motivational book (read if you become discouraged or complacent, I suggest reading your survival manuals during any down time not used for sleep, water purifying, food gathering, fire starting and building, or shelter construction)
– Crossword puzzles, problem solving games (something for occasional entertainment, pick activities that keep your mind sharp)
– Manual can opener
– Mess kit
– Hobo Eating Utensil
– Bottle opener, cork puller
– Stainless steel flask
– Salt and Garlic

As I stated earlier this is not a comprehensive list, or even a list that you have to stick by, add and subtract items based on your skill set, comfort level, and individual necessities. Climate, season, and weather should also play a role in what you carry in your bag.


Periodically take your bag out and look through it. Practice with it. Think about what should and shouldn’t be in it. Go for a hike with it on, determine whether it is comfortable to carry or if you need a different pack, also determine if the pack is too heavy for you.

Comment below if you have anything to add. I applaud and thank you if you managed to read this far, I was VERY long winded on this one!