Urban Survival: The Get Home Bag
Posted on August 16 2016
When disaster strikes, there’s no guarantee you will be home or at a safe location. If you’re employed, odds are good you will be at work. This was true for me on a few occasions and I was faced with the serious suck factor of walking home with no supporting gear or even a basic plan of action. Let’s just say I was young, dumb and “invincible”. I got sucked into the “it can’t happen to me” syndrome. This provides some “comfort” until “it” does happen to you. Now I’m a bit older and wiser, even though I had to learn my lesson the hard way.
After those unpleasant experiences, I vowed to never get stuck unprepared again. To this end, I created a basic functional Get Home Bag (GHB). The concept isn’t rocket science, the idea is to choose a foundation of gear that will support you in the journey from your current location (work, school, etc) back to a safe zone. Sounds simple enough, but it’s a good idea to take a step back and consider some of the big variables that come into play when building a GHB.
The first variable is the distance that you are removed from safety. For me it’s about 20 miles from my work to my house. Since I’m at work 5-6 days a week, it’s reasonable to assume that I would be at work if or when a disaster occurred. Considering the short distance between my work and home, it makes good sense for me to pack a bag for a 24hr time span. A person who travels for their job may have a much further journey, therefore their gear may be different. But I expect for the majority of us, 24hrs is a normal time period to consider when building the GHB.
The next variable is the environment. Will you be traveling in mainly urban areas or will you be outside the city, in a semi or completely rural environment? Maybe you will be traveling from the city, into farmlands and then finally to your safe zone. Whatever the case may be, you need to consider the environments and rate them based on resources. The available resources such as food, water and shelter will help drive your gear selections. In an urban environment, I may not need a shelter since there are many options such as underpasses, abandoned buildings, etc. However in a rural setting, I may want to have some kind of shelter on hand. That’s just one example of how environment helps you to choose the gear you need on hand.
Finally, personal security must be considered. What weapons do you have on hand and how they are stored? What type of threats are you expecting to encounter? What course of action do you take to resolve a hostile situation? Have you planned an exit route, taking in account high crime areas of town? These are all valid questions that must be asked unless you’re planning on walking down Main Street in full battle rattle with the M4 at low ready.
My Get Home Bag takes those questions into consideration with one added requirement. My pack must also double as my Every Day Carry bag. This means weight is a critical aspect. I don’t want to be dragging around a 30lb pack every day, but I still need the basic survival gear with me. I found the best way to hit this goal was to start from the bottom up. First I made sure I had my EDC gear covered, the basic items such as cell phone charger, USB cables, snack food, multi tool, etc. Once I had those items squared away, I moved to the next layer – adding in the survival specific gear. Once complete, the bag weighed in at nearly 18lbs. A little too heavy for EDC, so I took a second look at the survival gear. I removed some of the redundancy, but still made sure to have doubles of essential items. The next weigh in looked better, scale showed a 4lb drop, right under my target of 15lbs.
Choosing A Pack
Of course all that gear is pretty worthless unless you have a proper way to transport it. I think we can all agree that choosing a tacti-cool pack is overkill. Blend in and survive is my motto so I chose a covert backpack that provides me with the functionality I want, but without anything that screaming “I’m a 10th degree Delta Navy Seal. Since there is not a ton of covert urban packs on the market, the options are limited. I previously had the 5.11 Covrt 18, which I beat to death over the years so a few months back I picked up the Diversion pack, made by Blackhawk! This pack provides me with a conceal carry option, tough construction and a no nonsense design. If that’s not quite your cup of tea, check more tactical bags here.
The Diversion following the K.I.S.S principle with large easy to access pockets, a roomy main compartment split into two sections and a discreet conceal carry option at the base of the pack. For the gear geeks, here’s the tech specs:
- Constructed of 420 denier velocity nylon (BKRD, GYBK, GYBL) or 500 denier nylon (RGCT)
- Internal loop panels for attaching hook-back holsters, pouches or accessories
- Padded shoulder straps
- Ambidextrous zipper access to main compartment
- Padded divider to separate contents inside main compartment
- Large front zipper pocket with key lanyard and additional smaller pockets
- Front mesh pocket for quick access to contents
- Slash pocket across entire pack front
- Bottom-front pocket with split design for additional storage
Taking the wide open roomy design into consideration, I used pouches to organize the big ticket survival items and then utilized the various pockets to store the rest. The gear is organized based on the classification of EDC Gear vs Survival Gear.
EDC Gear – Front Pockets
- Dark Energy Poseidon Charger: http://amzn.to/290ybAd
- Charging Cable(s)
- Epic Bison Bars: http://amzn.to/2bihJlk
- Rain Gear & Water Bottle
- Mini Med Kit: bandages, otc meds, tape, etc
- C.A.T Tourniquet: http://amzn.to/2aV7cHI
- Israeli Bandage: http://amzn.to/2b732j6
- Medical Gloves: http://amzn.to/2aV82Ec
- Medical Shears: http://amzn.to/2aV8t1q
- Celox: http://amzn.to/2aV0sZU
- Sillcock Key: http://amzn.to/290ybAd
- Paracord: http://amzn.to/2aWTt5O
- Sawyer Mini: http://amzn.to/2bij9fl
- Katadyn Water Purification Tabs: http://amzn.to/2aV0qRA
- Personal Fire Kit: Lighter, matches, Wet Fire, fat food
- Pentagon Flashlight: http://amzn.to/2b72ry1
There’s a ton more details in the video, including some close ups of these items:
- SOG Flash II: http://amzn.to/2bcof8A
- SOG Multi Tool: http://amzn.to/2b73HRQ
- Rite in the Rain Notepad/Case: http://amzn.to/2aVa2fK
Now is this the “ultimate” get home bag? Of course not, nothing is “ultimate” or final in the world of survival. Kit changes based on the mission, the environment and a host of other factors. The key point to remember when building your own Get Home Bag is to stay flexible and open to change. Just as important is real world experience! Get out and test your gear, do a practice dry run from work to home and work out any flaws before it’s too late!
I’m already considering some changes, maybe adding a two way radio like the Motorola Talk-About or a small hand held scanner. The scanner can be a great asset to gauge the situation around you and of course the two way radio can be use to communicate with persons at your house or in a group setting.
If you can think of additions to the bag, leave a comment below, I’m always open to suggestions!