Common mistakes people make when putting together a “Get Home” bag.

Hello my friend and welcome back!  Today’s post is about the common mistakes people make when putting together a “Get Home” bag and how to avoid them.  Grab yourself a cup of coffee and have a seat while we visit.

First let me clarify what I mean by a “Get Home” bag just so we are on the same page.  A get home bag is a bag or backpack that you keep with you in your car at all times to help ensure you will be able to make it home in case a disaster strikes while you are on the road and away from home.   I have written a few articles about them on different occasions and I feel they are a necessity for anyone who works are travels away from their home.  I once met a man who insisted he didn’t need one because he only worked about 5 miles from home.  I began asking him questions about what he would do if this or that happened while he was at work?  Well, to make a long story short, he now carries one in each vehicle that he owns.  If you don’t have one ,  you need to get one but be smart about what you put in it.

One of the most common mistakes that I have seen is for people to assume that because they work a short distance from work, they will need only a small amount of supplies.  This can actually be a fatal mistake depending on what the disaster is.  Let me give you a few examples:  Let’s say the disaster is a Tornado that rips through your town leaving it devastated and in shambles.  In this scenario, the streets will be blocked in many cases and you will have to detour around them and this can be a painstakingly slow process.  You would also want to try to stop and help some of the survivors where you can which would only add to the time it would take to get home.  Your 4 hour walk has just turned into an all-day affair and if it occurs in the afternoon, then you could find yourself in need of a place to spend the night.  It could also be raining which would only add to your misery.  If however, you have a small tube tent and a sleeping bag of some kind even if it is the little SOL disposable ones then your night will be spent much drier and warm.  So in this case, food would also become a concern.

You would be surprised how many people don’t include food in their get home bags.  They just don’t think they will be on the road long enough to need any.  Of course you don’t want to over load your pack with heavy food that you might never need, but you still need to have something just in case.  In this case, I would recommend the S.O.S. Ration bars that they sell on Amazon.  They are actually pretty cheap and provide enough calories for 72 hours.  The ones I have don’t taste bad either and they are small and light. If you work over 10 miles from home however, then you may want to consider packing some homemade MREs consisting of power bars and crackers with a few small cans of meat of some kind such as Spam or other types.  Just remember to check the expiration dates on the cans and change them out before they expire.

Another big mistake that many people make is loading their get home bag down with bottled water.  Water is the most critical item but all things  should be packed in moderation.  You will want to add a few bottles for sure if for no other reason than to have the bottles when they are empty.  Just remember that water is very heavy and it will add up quickly.  A good way to get around this if you live in a place with plenty of water sources (not in the Desert) is to pack a “Life Straw” or other water filter so you can filter your water on the way home instead of needing to carry a case of water in your pack.

Other items that you need to be sure you have, regardless of how close you are to your home are: a good fixed blade knife, a rain poncho, good walking shoes and thick socks, a dry set of clothes, and a way to start a fire. These items along with the ones we discussed above will make your trip home a much safer and happier trip.  Now, if you are going out-of-town or work over 20 miles from your home, then you may just want to bring your bug out bag instead.  The idea here is to have what you need and as few things as possible that you will not need.  The single biggest mistake that so many people seem to make is to overload their get home bag with items that could be replaced with items weighing much less.  When you pack your “Get Home” bag, think carefully about each and every item you put in it and ask yourself if there is a lighter alternative available.  By the same token, you should plan for the unexpected because old Mr. Murphy never rests and you can be sure to see him on your trip home when the time comes.

Well that is it for today’s post and I hope you have found it interesting.  Until next time, stay safe, stay strong and stay prepared.  God Bless America!

-The Sargent-

10 thoughts on “Common mistakes people make when putting together a “Get Home” bag.”

  1. I’m not understanding the difference between a “get home” bag and the BOB. Leaving a situation or disaster zone, going home should have the exact same protocols, gear and security concerns as a situation or disaster leaving home going somewhere else.

    “Bugging out” is “bugging out”. You’re leaving point A, (disaster zone) to point B (safe zone).

    For argument sake, you have your BOB and get home bag at home. You grab the get home bag as you leave for work. Do your thing, leaving work SHTF , 4 miles from home EARTHQUAKE! Roads impassable, debris, fires – ditch the vehicle , grab the get home bag, goal is to get home. . .

    Bing bang boom, you survived 24 hrs, reached the goal, back home, that was destroyed by the earthquake. You returned home, to a smoldering ruin. Nothing left but debris, smoke and ash.

    Luckily, you chose the smaller, lighter,less equipped, “get home” bag?!?

    That smaller,lighter,less equipped “get home” bag, is now your bug out bag, minus any provisions used, making it lighter stil, and even more less equipped.

    Hmmm…..having a hard time understanding why there was 2 separate, differently equipped bags to begin with.

    That’s 1 of the biggest mistakes, preppers make,time and time again. Over thinking the possible scenarios, possible needs and trying to make preparations for each 1. You usually end up shooting yourself in the foot.

    That’s like having a bag for tornado disaster.

    Another bag for flood disaster.

    Yet another bag for riot disaster.

    Why not, let’s throw in a separate bag for economic collapse

    And for good measure, a different bag for WW III, invasion by the ruskies like the movie “Red Dawn”. Gotta be prepared, right?

    Stop over thinking. 99% of this prepping mayhem ,everyone puts themselves thru is common sense.

    When you catch yourselves over thinking every detail, every possibility, each variable, STOP and remember K.I.S.S


    Or, kiss your ash goodbye. 😉

  2. I’m often more than 100 miles of desert away from home. I keep ‘layers’ of kits from the 20 lb backpack to the lightweight cart and box of ‘long walk’ provisions. The cart is lightweight with large wheels for rougher terrain:

    and will accommodate a couple of plastic boxes with bungie cords. Because of the water issue, I have 2 gallon bottles and a katadyn filter to get me between cattle tanks. I figure worst case I’ll need up to 10 days of light provisions to get home and can jettison whatever stops making sense along the way. It won’t be fun in the summerespecially traveling at night, but if I keep the railroad in sight, it’s do-able.

  3. Great advice Sarge, I would only add 2 suggestions. Number 1 first and foremost, don’t throw that pack in your vehicle and forget it. Pull it out at LEAST monthly. Take EVERYTHING out and put it back in. Inspect, test, put it back. I’ve been on fire trucks for 25 years and still forget sometimes everything that’s on it and EXACTLY where it is. That’s why I inventory my fire truck weekly and my GHB weekly. Number 2, this is the tough one. Throw that pack on your back once in a while and hike around the block 5 or 6 times with it. I do a 6 mile hike with mine once a month. If I’m going to get blisters, back or shoulder pain, or hot spots from a strap rubbing I want to find out now and address it. Thanx again for a solid read.

  4. To my way of thinking Murphy is an optimist. There is NEVER a time when only one thing goes wrong… At least not in my world. ; )
    I like the pepper spray for a number of reasons. It is silent, non-lethal and can be used without a lot of potential legal problems.
    My problem is the heat and humidity in this area. Those two things kill any shelf life on a lot of items. In a car trunk temps can easily reach 120+.
    I’m thinking about going with a modular system. Items that can take the temperatures I’ll have in the trunk and then have a smaller strap on bag that goes in and out of the house when I travel.
    Throw an extra back pack in your ride in case someone else happens to be traveling with you. It would be nice to be able to take extra water or food that you alone could not carry.

  5. The only reason I don’t pack food is because I work in a commercial kitchen…I plan on raiding the fridge before I head out…I also have traps in my pack

  6. I’ve given the subject of “getting home” much thought because I travel every week. I’m always from 120 to 350 miles from home.

    Early in my prepping I packed a large backpack with way too much stuff – over 50 lbs – and carried it with me. After a while I realized that was too much and I went on a get-home-bag “diet”.
    Now my pack is much smaller/lighter.

    The items I refuse to be without are –
    – My G21 Glock (.45) and extra mags. Yes, it’s heavy.
    – Fire making eqpt. This is a Bic lighter and a small jar of cotton balls covered in Vaseline.
    – Knives: Machete with sawtooth back, a large fixed-blade knife, a Swiss Army “Tinker”, a Leatherman Supertool and a small pocket knife. Again, yes, I know that’s a lot of weight but what can I say, I like knives.
    – Good heavy poncho. Also a wide-brimmed hat for rain/sun.
    – Toboggan/gaiter, wool socks and gloves in case it’s winter.
    – LED flashlight and headlamp.
    – Lifestraw water filter.
    – 20 ounces of silver.

    All this is carried in a small backpack and a Range Bag with a shoulder strap. I have a leather holster for the .45.

    I used to carry a small tent and sleeping roll but, reluctantly, I gave them up for the sake of weight. I figure if I’m going to have to walk 350 miles home I’m going to have to barter and beg to get there anyway. I believe that I can make a reasonably comfortable lean-to or debris shelter if I need to.

    FWIW, whenever I reach my overnight destination, the first thing I do is fill my gas tank in case I wake up and gasoline’s unavailable.

    • I’d suggest you carry all the stuff you rejected for you GHB in your vehicle anyway. Depending on the emergency you may be glad you have it. You can always leave stuff behind.

  7. A “Get Home” bag or a Bugging-back home bag would need a few more things.

    1. bug repellant (homemade is best.); dusty roads or shortcuts through the fields are not fun.
    2. led flashlight (those who work 2nd or 3rd shift).
    3. pepper spray or mace for dogs along the way.
    4. if possible, get one of those foldable bikes.

    • Not to down play the pepper spray but sometimes cheap “doggie” treats from the dollar store work very well on 4 legged critters. Come to think of it a 12ga. works best on 2 legged critters. I’m old and my mind wanders.


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