What Contents Make a Great Get Home Bag? Our Beginners Guide

Do you work, have children to pick up, or leave your home on a regular basis? If so, there is every chance that you may be away from home, and all your supplies, when a crisis happens.  In my experience with getting home after tornadoes or hurricanes, a “Get Home Bag” that can be carried anywhere is very important. Even a distance of less than a mile can be impossible to traverse in bad situations. This article will show you how to build your own Get Home Bag and how to keep it ready at all times.

What is a Get Home Bag?

Unlike Bug-Out bags, the Get Home Bag is only meant to provide essentials that will help you get home in the event of a disaster. This pack is meant for fast travel, and should have enough supplies to last for three days and weigh a max of 20 Lbs, while a Bug Out Bag will weight between 50 and 100 pounds.  The assumption behind a Get Home Bag is that when you get home, other supplies will be available to meet your routine needs.

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Make a Get Home Bag Plan

“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.”

Dalai Lama

It is very important that your plan includes creating a Get Home Bag for each member of the family, or anyone else that is part of your survival planning.  The plan should be practiced by all involved and evaluated each year to see if it needs to be improved.  Everyone that has a Get Home Bag should also be taught how to use every item in the bag so that they can do what they need to do if no one else is around to help them.

The plan needs to cover:

  • Where each person will most likely be and how far away from home they will be.
  • How long it will take to get home. An average person in good shape walking on flat to mild terrain can travel about 12 miles a day. If the terrain is steep or other problems occur, it can take much longer.
  • Maintaining the Get Home Bag. If you are going to keep the bag in a car or other location where high or low temperatures may be a problem, make sure that you check your supplies often and replace them as needed.
  • Every item in the Get Home Bag must have an important use. Remember that even small items have weight and that even one pound extra can cause problems when you are trying to move fast.  Pack light without sacrificing quality supplies. You don’t want essential supplies breaking on the way home, however, you must still be able to do more with smaller or fewer materials.

The following Sections Contain the Minimum Requirements for the Get Home Bag

You might also find interesting our article about INCH bags.

The bag

Get home bags

The Get Home Bag should be a lightweight and able to hold 20 Lbs.  Choose a bag with zippered compartments or other smaller storage areas to avoid damage to fragile items, and also keep them better organized.

When the Get Home Bag is assembled, each group of supplies should also be put together in waterproof sealed bags.  Each bag should also have an inventory of what is in the bag and when to rotate the contents of the bag.   This is especially important for food and medical items that can rot, go bad, or become useless in a short period of time.

Food Items

Dehydrated foods are lightweight and offer better nutrition than junk food, candy, or gum.  You can also carry MREs as long as they are in food storage pouches or other lightweight containers.


The average person needs almost a gallon of water for cooking, drinking, and preparing food.  Keep a stainless steel water bottle ( 36-40 oz. Size) or a metal canteen with metal cup can be used to boil water or to use purification tablets in.  Survival water filters like the Lifestraw Filter and water purifying tablets are a must if you need to replenish the water supply before you get home.

Shelter supplies

Mylar blankets, thin plastic tents, emergency ponchos and drop cloths can be used to make lightweight tents.  You should also keep at least 50 feet of paracord, and chemical hand warmers for times when it is not advisable to build a fire.

First aid kit

Even though the Get Home Bag is not big enough to carry many supplies, take a first aid course so that you know how to get the most out of the following:

  • Tea Tree Oil (first aid kit in a bottle) Is a natural antibiotic and will treat other medical problems like burns, soothe sore feet and muscles, and can help reduce swelling.
  • Witch hazel is a natural insect repellent, takes the itch out of poison ivy, and clears up rashes.
  • Anti-fungal spray to help prevent and clear rashes, get rid of athletes foot, and crotch itch.
  • Assorted sizes of bandages, super glue (to seal bad cuts in a pinch), and some quick clotting compound.
  • Small sewing kit to close small cuts and wounds. (You can also use the kit to repair damaged clothing.
  • At least 3 days’ worth of over the counter drugs for pain and fever. At least 3 days of your daily medications and an extra set of eyeglasses if you wear them.
  • Scissors or a small knife are very useful in the first aid kit for cutting bandages and other cutting needs.
  • One time use ice pack to help treat sprains. Try to carry the squeeze type.
  • One tourniquet to control heavy bleeding or a loss of a limb.

Self-defense needs

All defensive weapons and devices should be kept where they can be accessed quickly and safely when needed.

  • A legal conceal carry or open carry handgun with extra magazines and ammunition. Know how to maintain then and use them correctly.
  • If you don’t want to carry a firearm, carry pepper spray, hunting/ survival knife, throwing stars, rope sling, or a stun gun.
  • No matter what you carry you must be well trained to use it and know what you can and can’t do with it.

Spare clothing

  • Carry a complete change of seasonal clothing. Include extra socks and a jacket.
  • Carry a crush style wide brim hat to protect you from the sun and the elements.
  • Work gloves to protect the hands from the weather, while climbing, or crossing rough terrain.
  • A well broken in pair of walking shoes or a pair of lightweight hiking boots.

Maps, communications, and navigation aids

  • Maps Important Part of a Get Home BagThere should be 2 paper maps kept in this bag. Keep a new one folded up in a waterproof bag.  You can use clear laminate to seal the other one off from dirt, water, and other things that might ruin it.
  • A Topographical Map for off road use.
  • A map and list of all possible routes to get home including off road options.
  •  A good compass.
  • A signal mirror.
  • Along with your cell phone, keep a Crank/ battery powered radio in your Get Home Bag. You can purchase small radios for about a dollar. Just make sure they work and can draw signals from local news stations.

We also recommend to read our article about what items to pack in a bug-out bag.

Miscellaneous Items

Note: Each of the following items in this section need to be stored in their own individual plastic bag. Then packaged in a single plastic bag to prevent the items from getting mixed up and contaminated by other items in the bag.

  • Cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly. These cotton balls are excellent fire starters, but they are a little bit messy.
  • Char cloth, an excellent tinder, needs to be kept in a small airtight tin to keep it dry.
  • Magnesium spark fire starters.
  • A small bag of dry tinder to help start fires.  Dryer lint works well.
  • Waterproof matches in a waterproof container and 2 Bic type butane lighters with new flints. Even if the lighters get empty, the flints can still start a fire.
  • Sterno Emergency candles. Each of these candles have a burn time of about 55 hours. If you don’t have any, have at least 6 regular 6” candles for light, heating a small sleeping area, or as a fire starting aid.
  •  Glow sticks.
  • Compact headlamp with extra batteries.
  • Flashlights with extra batteries.
  • Emergency debit card with at least $50 on it and $50 to $100 in cash.
  • Solo Stove ( a small compact wood burning cooking stove), or a MRE heating pack for each hot meal pack.
  • Plastic trash bags ( 2-3 55 gallons)  to be used as extra ponchos, shelter material, or for protecting the Get Home Bag from bad weather. Mosquito netting to keep the bugs off you.
  • A small plastic inflatable swimming pool ring to be used in crossing rivers or streams.
  • Toilet paper and wet wipes for personal sanitation use.
  • A good well-built multi-tool as a compact tool set.
  • Small roll of Duct tape with its 1001 uses.

Have you ever been away from home when disaster struck? What items did you find most useful?  What items would you add to a Get Home Bag?  Please feel free to comment in the section below this article and share your experiences with us.

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