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Best Get Home Bag List 2020 [21 Items To Get You Home Safe]

A Get Home Bag should be lightweight and streamlined. It should contain only the necessary survival gear to get you home safely, with room for your daily items.

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As we discuss in our guide to prepping for beginners, Get Home Bags or ‘GHB’s, are similar to Bug Out Bags, but with a completely different concept. 

The idea is to have just enough supplies and gear to help you get home from work or school in case SHTF while you are out.

The Get Home Bag should be small enough to carry every day. A good Get Home Bag should find a nice balance between how light it is and how many useful tools it carries.

Remember, your Get Home Bag should be lightweight and streamlined.  It should contain only the necessary survival gear to get you home safely, with some room for your daily items like laptop, notepad and wallet.

You don’t want to arouse suspicion by carrying two backpacks wherever you go! Because of this, you need to analyze your habits and routine to know exactly what is best to pack and what can be left out.

Various items of survival gear
A good Get Home Bag should find a nice balance between how light it is and how many useful tools it carries.

Read our article on the best backpack to help you make a well-informed decision: Best Get Home Bag Backpack.

Here is our ultimate Get Home Bag list, broken into two sections:

- Short-Term Get Home Bag (less than 12 hours)

- Long-Term Get Home Bag (more than 12 hours)

Remember, a Get Home Bag should be based on your own personal situation, and will depend heavily on where you live, work and travel.

Use this Get Home Bag checklist as a starting guide and see how it works for your circumstances, and what else you might need to add.

In a hurry? If you just want to get to our conclusions, here are our top picks and recommendations!

Last update on 2021-03-07 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Basic Get Home Bag List

These are the essential items for a minimalist Get Home Bag, designed for people who work and travel close to home, and can likely make it back within 12 hours. This will all pack into a 30L backpack.

Shoes

Most of us don’t go to work or walk around town with ultralight running shoes, but this is exactly the type of footwear you’ll want for your Get Home Bag.

This is an important item for anyone who wears dress shoes to work, casual sneakers around town or if you’re the one who wears sandals in the rain or shine!

A pair of ultra-lightweight athletic shoes are the best option. These shoes are incredibly lightweight. The pair does not even weigh a full pound.  They’re also built to be used on rugged terrain and provide protection for the foot.

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Food – Energy Bars

Non-perishable foods are the best option for your Get Home Bag. They have a longer shelf life so won’t need replacing regularly, and are usually very calorie-dense for their small size and weight.

You know how far you tend to go from home. If you don’t travel far and can get home on foot relatively quickly, you can probably get away with some energy-dense protein bars and a pack of jerky.

There are a lot of calorie-rich survival bars on the market. Most of them are made from really cheap, highly processed ingredients. 

We recommend the Cliff Bar because it is made from high-quality natural ingredients. The last thing you need when SHTF is to have your gut out of whack. These  have a one year shelf life, so you’ll need to switch them out periodically.

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If you live 20 miles away (or more) from home, however, and might need a couple of days to get back, consider packing freeze-dried meals similar to those in your BOB. We’ll talk more about this in the next section.

Water Bottle & Water Purification Device

Most people carry a water bottle around with them these days to work, college or out in town for a day.

This means you should hopefully always have some water to see you through your journey home when SHTF. If you don;t regularly carry water, then buy a bottle immediately!

It is also important to pack at least one purification device, such as a water filter and/or water purification tablets.

Hopefully you’ll make it home quickly but the human body needs water to survive and make good decisions, so you’ll want to have the option of purifying from a natural source when SHTF.

Last update on 2021-03-07 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2021-03-07 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For more information on purifying water, read our comprehensive guide on how to purify water, or check out our recommendations on the best survival water filters.

Light Sleeping Gear

Even if you work and travel relatively close to home, we would always recommend carrying at least a lightweight bivy bag and an emergency blanket.

You cannot rely on getting home before the night falls, as you have no idea what this disaster scenario will look like.

These items will not take up much space or weight in your backpack and may just be the difference between survival and death.

The emergency mylar blanket is as small and lightweight as it gets. Combined with your bivy bag, you will easily be able to survive overnight in any weather.

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If you regularly go far away from home (say over 20 miles) then you may want to pack a sleeping bag and pad too, for more comfort and warmth in the long run.

Rechargeable Head Lamp

Just because you’re close to home does not necessarily mean you’ll be able to get back before night falls!

When SHTF, it may be late in the day during the winter months, or it may be safer for you to lay low for a few hours if it is end-of-days disastrous out in the streets.

A rechargeable head lamp with a red light is an essential item. Make sure that you test the power every couple of months to ensure it is still charged, and pack the charger just in case!

The red light will allow you to move at night without marking yourself a target, and won’t destroy your all-important night vision.

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Personal First Aid Kit

If you’ve read a number of our articles, then you’ll notice the First Aid Kit crops up again and again. It is an essential item!

You don’t have the safety blanket of doctors or emergency services when SHTF, and you become the most trained medic on the scene. Even the smallest injury can become severe if left untreated.

Purchasing a small First Aid Kit - and knowing how to treat the most common injuries and ailments - is a hugely important step. Most kits are compact and lightweight and come with all the essentials.

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Survival Knife

A good knife is an essential tool. Use it for preparing food, picking a lock, sharpening wood or even self-defense – plus many more uses.

These can be an expense, but it is worth it in the long run. We recommend a solid fixed-blade knife as opposed to a switchblade, made from good quality steel.

We recommend the Morakniv Kansbol Fixed Blade Knife, made from all-round great quality materials and is tried and tested by preppers.

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Please note: Knife laws in different countries vary and in some cases it is highly illegal to carry such a knife. Obviously, when SHTF then the law will be the last of your worries, but for day-to-day then carrying a knife may look suspicious. Please check these laws carefully and come up with your own solution!

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Paracord

Paracord is one of those wonder materials that you can’t imagine ever having lived without. Given its huge range of functions for its relatively small size and weight, it should easily pack into a small emergency Get Home Bag.

Use it to hang up your pack, tie up a tarp, as a medical aid and many, many other things. For a comprehensive range of clever features, read our guide here: How to Use Paracord for Survival

There are lots of different options on the market: simply make sure you buy a genuine Mil Spec brand and know how to use it.

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Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is an excellent tool for self-defense. There is no telling what things will look like when SHTF, and this will give you some peace of mind should other people start making trouble.

Once again, pepper spray is generally very lightweight and portable.

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Lightweight Rain Jacket

Lastly, we recommend a lightweight outer layer which will keep the elements such as wind and rain off your skin.

In a short-term backpack you may not have room for a full change of clothes, but this piece should at least help to protect you for as long as you need it, and stop from getting dangerously cold.

There are a huge number of rain jackets on the market, and some people even use a plastic poncho or cut-out trash bag!

Whatever your preference, just make sure it is a plain color so it does not attract attention, and it packs down small.

It is also a good idea to dirty it up a little – put some patches on it, crease it, make it look weathered. This, again, helps to keep any targets off your bag and should help you to slip through the crown, unnoticed.

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72 Hour Get Home Bag List

The following is a list for people who work and travel further away from home, who might find themselves walking for days to get home.

It is in addition to the list above!

Food – Full Meals

If you’ll be on the move for a while, then you’ll need something more substantial than energy bars.

Pack some ready-to-eat meals – also know as MRE’s – which are small, lightweight and surprisingly tasty. Not to mention they are packed full of important calories.

MRE’s are simple to make, you usually just need hot water which you can pour directly into the packet.

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Cook Stove and Utensils

If you are going to be eating MREs or other food which requires cooking, then you should pack a lightweight cook stove to make meal preparation a little easier.

Also pack a small collapsible bowl & cutlery set for eating with.

Sure, there are ways to cook without a stove but the idea of a Get Home Bag is to get you home quickly – and a stove & utensils make this process a lot more efficient.

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If you're looking for more survival food cooking options, we have two dedicated articles for you: the best portable survival stoves and the best rocket stoves reviewed.

Topo Map and Compass

Most people couldn’t navigate home from work without using main roads; but this is exactly where you want to avoid when SHTF.

Stick to the shadows and take the route less traveled, and you’ll likely be a lot less exposed and therefore safer.

It is a great idea to pack a topo map and compass in your Get Home Bag, and practice using them before you need them!

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Full Sleeping Gear

If you’ll be sleeping rough for a few nights then you should consider packing a sleeping bag and pad in addition to your bivy. Avoid tents in a Get Home Bag as they are generally too bulky.

This is as much for safety as it is for comfort. Spending many nights cold and possibly wet will start to take its toll on your mental state, and may lead you to making poor decisions.

After a hard days walk, avoiding others and eating light – you will at least want the promise of a warm space to keep you going. Sleeping bags these days can pack down very small and light for the warmth that they offer.

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Tarp

Tarps are hugely useful for providing shelter and keeping the rain off your bivy. If you live somewhere where rain is likely then it would be a great addition to your Get Home Bag.

Some backpackers’ tarps are seriously ultralight; but they can be really expensive and often too much for your average prepper. Opt for a happy medium of price and size and it should be a nice fit for your backpack.

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Solar Charger and Battery Pack

Although you shouldn’t rely on your smartphone in a SHTF scenario, it still might be a useful aid to you for navigation or to check for news on the situation that is unfolding around you.

A solar charger and battery pack will enable you to charge your phone, headlamp, portable radio and any other electronic things that you have in your pack.

These will be some of the heavier items you will pack, so you should think carefully about whether you will really need them or if you can make do without electronics.

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Spare Clothing

If you’ll likely be on the move for a while, then you will want to pack at least one spare set of clothes. These should be as light an insulating as possible, to give you maximum heat for minimal pack weight.

Merino wool is a great option for base layers and fleeces, as it wicks sweat away from the skin whilst keeping you warm. Avoid cotton! It soaks sweat easily which can lead to you feeling damp and cold quickly.

Make sure your pants are a rip-stop material, as you might be battling through bushes or scraping up against buildings and you don’t want to end up with torn clothing and lose all of your body heat.

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Fire Starting Tools

Knowing how to make a fire is an important skill. Some preppers will argue that everyone should learn how to start a fire without the use of an aid.

Whilst this is a good thing to learn, in a SHTF scenario where you simply need to get home quickly – then a fire starting tool is a really great piece of kit.

Matches, a ferro rod or a block of magnesium are all great options for starting fire. We would recommend having at least two of these options, so that you have a back-up in case things don’t work.

Ferro rods are hugely popular and are usually the size and weight of a screwdriver, so no real extra burden to your Get Home Bag.

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Portable Radio Communications

Depending on your level of preparedness, you may have devised a system of communication with your family in case SHTF.

Many people choose portable radio devices, tuned to a certain frequency, so that they can communicate with loved ones without relying on cell phones.

They are also extremely useful for tuning in to your local radio station for news broadcasts about the evolving situation, depending on what it is.

They can be fairly heavy but some models are not too big. It is a good idea to go for one which is rechargeable and battery-powered, just in case. Don’t forget to pack spare batteries, too!

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For even more communication options for preppers, check out our guide on the best methods for off grid communication.

Personal Hygiene

Sometimes it’s the little things that get you!

While personal hygiene might not be top of your list in a disaster scenario, a simple way to wash yourself can go a long way if you are spending multiple days and nights outside.

Opt for a foaming bar of soap or concentrated bottle – just remember to pack it into a ziplock or something watertight in case it leaks!

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Get Home Bag FAQs

What is the best Get Home Bag backpack to choose?

There are many different options out there, and each will be suited to different people depending on your personal circumstances.

As you want to be essentially invisible to other people, your GHB backpack should be plain with no tactical gear, patches or webbing visible.

Read our comprehensive guide to choosing the best backpack here: Best Get Home Bag Backpack

Who should build a Get Home Bag?

Everyone! We all leave our homes on a regular basis to work, meet with friends or explore. Try starting out small and wearing it to work, around town and on small trips.

A Get Home Bag should be functional as your daily use bag, too, so it is important to get used to it as soon as possible.

How do I choose what to put in a Get Home Bag?

Our list should be the building blocks you need to build a functional Get Home Bag. The main thing is to gather everything you think you will need, and see how it packs down into your backpack.

Shed weight and unnecessary items wherever you can, and remember that you still need to pack daily items into it! If you can get out for a day or two and do a trial run, you’ll soon learn what you do and don’t need in your Get Home Bag.

Final Thoughts About Your Get Home Bag

Here are a couple more ways that you can cut down on extra bulk and extra weight in your get home bag contents:

  • Create a streamlined version of your get home bag first aid kit. Stock your kit with sample sizes of the different medicines instead of full bottles or travel sizes.  Include only a minimum supply of everything else.
  • Carry just enough paracord to be useful. Make yourself a bracelet or wrap the handle of your survival knife.
  • Do a test run. Head out with your Get Home Bag and then try to make it home, as if a disaster had just struck. This will quickly iron out any kinks in your plan and will tell you what gear you need, and what gear you can leave out of your backpack.

This wraps up our guide on the best survival gear for your get home bag list. Make sure you check out our other gear recommendations by navigating with the side menu. 

Otherwise, you can jump straight to our next survival gear guide: Everyday Carry Items For Preppers.

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
Russell M. Morgan
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