What is a Get Home Bag?

A get home bag is a backpack that is fully stocked with everything you would need to get back home if you found yourself stranded for a up to a 24-hour time period. Typically get home bags are kept in the trunk of your vehicle and only used in emergency scenarios. By keeping a get home bag in your car, you will maintain a peace of mind that if you were to ever find yourself stranded with a broken-down car, you have everything you need to get yourself back home safely. When you do get home, you should have a much larger supply of items you would need for emergencies beyond 24 hours. Next up is the most important question people have about get home bags – what are you supposed to put in it? Below is a list of the most important get home bag contents.

Get Home Bag List

1.MRE Packs or granola barsMRE for Sale
2.2-3 bottles of waterEmergency water bottles
3.$100 cashHundred Dollar Bill for Emergency
4.First aid kitFirst Aid Kit
5.Hiking shoes/bootsHiking shoes or boots
6.Plastic rain ponchoRain poncho
7.Work glovesWork gloves
8.Clothes for current weather seasonEmergency Clothes
10.Multi-function toolMulti function tool
11.Tactical Flashlighttactical flashlights
12.Wet wipesPack of wet wipes
13.Extra medication if necessarymedication
14.Self defense item(s)Self defense items

The above table is a basic guideline for the most important items that should be in every single get home bag. Of course there are dozens of other items that are also suitable for a GHB and we would advise everyone to customize their bag to fit their lifestyle. This includes any special medication that you can’t go more than 1 day (or longer) without. Along with medication there are surely other personal items that would be absolute necessities for your own personal bag like an epipen or inhaler if necessary.

Breakdown of Must Have Get Home Bag Contents

The Bag

You’re going to want to go with a backpack of some kind – it’s just easier to carry than any other type of bag. Being stranded and walking home could take several hours plus depending where you are, so you will want something light and water resistant. Any unused backpack could be fine, but if you’d like to purchase a bag just for your GHB, go with a tactical, lightweight backpack. We recommend a brand manufactured by any of the best luggage brands, who know a thing or two about making various types of bags.

1. Food

Obviously you want to go with something with a decent shelf life which is why we recommend MREs or granola/energy bars. In a 24-hour period this is all you would need to survive and also the easiest and quickest way to get nutrients on your system.

2. Water

Much more important than food is water. Staying hydrated is a big part of surviving emergencies. We suggest that you keep multiple bottles of water in your bag. Even though they can add substantial weight, storing multiple water bottles can be essential if you are stranded with other people.

3. Money

A prepaid credit card or blank checks could be a good idea – but the universal form of money is cash. In the event of an emergency credit card processors can go down and transactions would be cash only. We suggest including $100 in your bag. If you are stranded and can’t get home, finding the nearest hotel could be key, and you will need to have the cash to be able to pay for one night’s stay. There are countless other necessities that cash will be able to buy you in an emergency, so if you are able to, we suggest maybe even keeping more than $100 in the bag.

4. First Aid Kit

This one’s pretty obvious. Things can happen and wounds need to be addressed big or small. You also may want to throw in some travel sized over-the-counter pain-killers or stomach relievers.

5. Footwear

An emergency can strike at any time and you could be wearing improper footwear. You could be wearing dress shoes or sandals, so having a pair of boots or shoes in your bag or even your trunk could be crucial. An emergency could mean that you have to hike through a wooded area, snowy terrain, or very wet grounds, so a good pair of comfortable hiking boots or shoes are very important.

6. Plastic Rain Poncho

A practical addition to your bag is a plastic rain poncho to guard you from the elements. Being stranded with cold and wet clothes can cause more problems than just being uncomfortable like hypothermia in cold temperatures. If your poncho is big enough, or if you have more than one, you can even use your poncho as a makeshift tent/shelter.

7. Work Gloves

A good set of work gloves can also come in handy in several ways. In colder temperatures even thin work gloves are better than nothing if you don’t have winter gloves or mitts nearby. If you find yourself needing to work with your hands during an emergency a quality set of work gloves will help you get a better grip on everything and also protect your hands from a few scratches or cuts.

8. Clothing

Just like with the footwear mentioned above, you aren’t always in ideal clothing for emergencies. Make sure to have a change of clothes in your get home bag and keep it appropriate to the current season. Schedule a time at least 2-3 times per year to reevaluate your bag – especially the current spare clothes.

9. Lighter

Even a cheap lighter can be crucial to aiding in survival, at the least you should have a simple cigarette lighter in your bag. We would even suggest going above and beyond and including some tinder/paper or even special tools for lighting fires that even work in wet conditions.

10. Multi-function Tool

A good multi-tool is the new Swiss army knife and needs to be in your bag. Most multi-tools will have the important features, but make sure to grab one that isn’t too small. Your multi-tool should have a good set of plyers, scissors, a knife, a file and a mini-saw.

11. Flashlight

A good flashlight is a must have for any GHB. You may also want to include extra batteries just in case. A powerful flashlight won’t just help you see in the dark, but will also help you get found if you are ever lost in the darkness. Not all flashlights are created equal – we suggest going with a one of the best tactical flashlights.

12. Wet Wipes

You won’t always be lucky enough to be stranded somewhere with a bathroom – so keeping some wet wipes at hand will help keep you clean. They also serve a dual purpose for when nature gets messy and you need to clean your hands or body and don’t have soap.

13. Medication

This one you need to use at your own discretion. Some lucky people don’t have any daily medication they need to take. Other people will need to customize their bag even further with a 1-2 day’s dosage of their own medication. We also suggest that everyone include some over the counter medicines such as Advil or Aleve, Pepto Bismal, or if necessary, feminine products. Some people can overlook this step but keeping non-expired medicine in your bag can be just as important as anything else.

14. Self-Defense

Whatever you’re comfortable using for self-defense should be in your GHB. From non-lethal forms like pepper spray, to very lethal forms like a handgun or a knife, you need to have some sort of defense mechanism at hand. If you select to include a firearm in your bag it is important that you have necessary permits to stay within any legal parameters in case you get pulled over and searched.

15. Writing Utensils

One useful item that will barely take up space or weight is a simple ballpoint pen. We’d suggest one or two different pens in case you need to write down anything from directions, phone numbers, or anything else of importance. Go with a pen over a pencil – a pen can write on more types of surface than a pencil – including your hand if you need to jot something down quickly and don’t have paper nearby.

Other Items

A get home bag can only be so big, so obviously you won’t be able to fit everything you want inside of yours. If however you do find that you have some extra space, don’t hesitate to add one or more items from our “If Room Permits” list. Be careful though, because even if you can fit it in your bag – if it’s too heavy for you to walk up to several miles with, you may want to leave some things out so that you aren’t encumbered. Try to keep an old cell phone in your bag or car that is fully charged and powered off. Even phones that aren’t connected still legally have to be able to dial 911.

Important Vehicle Items

What to put in your car

Your bag doesn’t have to be the only helpful item in your vehicle. There are several other things that should be in your vehicle to aid in any sort of emergency situation. Here are items your vehicle should have:

  • Roadside assistance kit
  • Spare tire, tire jack & iron
    • Tire pressure gauge
    • Fix-a-flat
  • Jumper cables
  • 1-2 quarts of oil
  • Your vehicle’s manual
  • Maps
  • An old piece of carpet if you need quick traction
  • Road salt
  • A shovel


When Would I Need a Get Home Bag?

When would you need a get home bag

Hopefully you never have to use your bag, but there are many events that could occur where your get home bag could save your life. Below are several emergency scenarios where you will want to have your bag with you.

  • Natural disaster/snowed in by a blizzard
  • Power grid failure
  • Broken down vehicle
  • Terrorist activity

Regardless of how ‘likely’ any of the above scenarios are, making a get home bag could be the most important thing you ever do. If you already have a GHB, we hope that the above list can help you improve it. We also encourage you to check any expiration dates on the items in your bag. If however you do not currently own a get home bag – please use the above information to help yourself become better prepared for an emergency.

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