Keeping a get home bag in the car is a solid plan in case of emergency. Cars break down. Things happen. And so on.
Carrying a gun is something one does to be prepared in case of a particular type of emergency. So is a fire extinguisher.
If one’s goal is to be able to deal with emergencies, you need to be prepared for emergencies that don’t involve shooting someone. Being stranded on the side of the road, with a long walk to shelter or civilizations, is definitely one.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a backpack with some supplies in case you have to hike back to civilization or to your house.
So what are some good items to keep in a get home bag? Here are 6 that are a great idea to start with.
A Get Home Bag Should Have Seasonal Clothing
A get home bag should have some seasonal clothing for being out in the elements. Seasonal clothing doesn’t mean what’s in fashion; it means an appropriate choice of clothing for being outdoors in the climate you’re in.
Winter means layers and weatherproof outer layers. In wet weather, Gore-Tex and other synthetic shells are king.
Spring and fall require light- to middle-weight clothing, with an insulating layer on hand in case. For summer, you want full coverage – expose as little to the sun as possible – with light, breathable, loose clothing.
Throw in a hat to match. If you are getting a lot of sun on foot, get a broad brim.
The best practice is to have a rotation of clothes that go in the get-home bag and change them with the seasons. It’s a good idea to also have clothes for anyone that might be with you, such as a spouse or children.
Food And Water…And Possibly Shelter
Have 24 to 72 hours’ worth of food and water in your get-home bag.
Freeze-dried food (i.e., Mountain House or MREs) is great, but try to avoid also having to pack a cooking system. Remember, the idea is to get home, not to survive long-term.
Protein bars, beef jerky, nuts, and dried fruits can take you a long way and require no cooking.
If you anticipate having more than a few hours of walking to do, you may also need to camp. If it’s a possibility, a pup or pop-up tent and a sleeping bag should also be in the pack or the car if needed.
Portable Phone Charger
If you don’t have a Garmin or GPS device, Google Maps can actually help you navigate even when you’re not in service. Once you GET to service, you’ll probably have to call someone. A portable phone charger can ensure you’ll be able to.
However, if you’re deep in the backcountry, you may be off Google’s map, but you’ll still be on the paper one. So having a map of the area you’re in and a compass as a backup navigation method is a solid choice as well.
Top tip: get one that uses batteries rather than relying on a lithium-ion cell that itself requires charging.
Flashlight And A Headlamp With Extra Batteries
Obviously, you may need to see in the dark. Besides an EDC light in your pocket and/or a flashlight in the pack itself, it’s a good idea to have a headlamp for hands-free illumination.
The same ideas to an EDC light apply; you want all the candela you can possibly get, as well as some spare batteries. They can also be used to signal passing cars or if you happen to spot a county sheriff or other LEO and need to ask for help.
Hiking Boots And A Good Pair Of Socks
If a long walk is in the cards, a good pair of hiking boots with a decent pair of socks will make it a lot easier. Keep these next to the get-home bag in the car. It’s also a good idea to have a pair for anyone you might have with you, such as a spouse and/or children.
Make sure to pick an appropriate set of boots or hiking shoes for the season and terrain you’re in. Lightweight hiking boots are great in the heat of summer or spring, but breathable membranes are a gateway to hypothermia in the snow.
The top tip is a pair of leather hiking boots with a fit that’s roomy enough to allow for thick socks. Having a 200- or 400-gram Thinsulate layer is great when walking through the snow, but you can also double-up on boot socks and still keep warm.
As far as socks, there are those which are merino (or a merino blend), and then there’s everything else. Darn Tough, SmartWool, and Minus33 are good brands to start with.
It’s also a good idea to keep some laces, but better than that is to keep some paracord that’s thin enough to be used as a bootlace if needs be. It’s a great multitasker to have on hand.
First Aid…And Maybe Some Cash
Another essential for a survival or get home bag is to have a trauma/first aid kit. This speaks for itself.
Another good idea is to have some cash on you. You may need to pay someone for a ride or for other services, and not everyone has PayPal or Venmo. Keeping $100 to $200 on you in case you can’t use a card may make a huge difference.