The ‘go bag’

No I’m not a survivalist, I don’t live in Idaho and I don’t hate ‘the gub-mint’. I just take my Boy Scout ‘be prepared’ motto a bit too far sometimes…maybe. But when the zombie hordes come for me, I want to be ready.

So what the hell is a ‘go bag’? Some call it an ‘apocalypse bag’, others may call it a ‘GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) bag’ or a ’72-hr bag’, but basically it’s a short-term supply of stuff that can keep you warm, fed and watered. People who live in tornado-, hurricane- or flood-prone areas may have these (and should), I think it’s become more common after 9/11 and maybe the recent recession has prompted more folks to consider it.

Anyway, this is what I have, and stuff I’m getting to complete the supply. Feel free to suggest things I may be missing. I usually carry a shoulder bag so I keep a couple things in there, plus I have a small Swiss Army knife on my keychain, etc. I keep some water and a thick wool blanket in my car already, and I also have a backpack for walking in my car, where I keep a Moira bushcraft knife, flashlight, Mylar emergency blankets, survival and edible plant books, etc. – basically, what you might need if you get lost for a night or two while backpacking. The bulkiest stuff will be kept in a bag at home.

in the MAN BAG
small mirror
refillable lighter
solar flashlight
duct tape (wrapped around a short pencil)

in the CAR
wind-up/solar flashlight
emergency sleeping bags (basically thick huge garbage bags)
wind-up radio
warm waterproof jacket
large scale atlas – UK (substitute your state, province or country)
folding map – county
full street map – city

in the CAR (backpack)
wind-up flashlight
long knife
fire rod starter/sparker
glow sticks
Mylar emergency bags
water bag (Platypus)
book – SAS survival guide
book – edible wild plant guide
refillable lighters (2)
survival cards

water filter
fuel tabs
shredded paper (for tinder)
Kelly Kettle
refillable lighters (3)
hard plastic or metal canteens (Sigg bottles)
bandage wrap
light sleeping bag
flask of whisky
warm clothing: thermal underwear, gloves
water bags (Platypus)
waterproof bivy
book – Ray Mears bushcraft
Trekker tarp
water purifier tablets
covered metal pot
plastic bowls
plastic utensils

shortband wind-up radio
freeze-dried meals
£££ and €€€ (I live in the UK)

You might notice the total lack of guns and ammo, which many survivalist types have in their go bags, this is because I live in the UK and also I think a complete collapse of society won’t be happening any time soon. At the moment I have a distinct lack of food as well, I’m slowly stocking up on stuff online. MRE’s are pretty damn expensive, so a few freeze-dried backpacking meals and maybe some tins of Spam-type meat will have to do until I can get a few MRE’s.

The books are a somewhat poor substitute for the knowledge required of what to do in a real emergency. I’m no bushcraft or survival expert, but reading through the books once or twice and storing them where they’ll be most useful is maybe the next best thing.

So, for anyone who thinks this is a bit mental, is it? Not necessarily, there have been stories even in the UK (which doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of ‘wild’ places as North America) of people stranded on motorways for many hours and even overnight. Having a car crash in the middle of a rural area could mean you’re miles from help with no cell phone reception. In the US, there used to be frequent power outages in rural areas, and I’ve already mentioned tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding, plus I remember the story of a woman who drove off the road in a massive blizzard, emergency crews had to track her down over a few days by her cell phone signal. An even more extreme but recent example was the story of CNET’s James Kim and his family missing in late 2006. So it isn’t entirely unreasonable to think you might need emergency supplies in your car or backpack.

I don’t stockpile food, which is kind of an extension of this preparedness mindset, but it’s not that hard to store up a supply of rice, beans, water, powdered milk and powdered drinks.