The Get Home Bag is designed to get you back to your family, your food stores and your Bug Out Bag whenever or wherever SHTF.
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Wait… you want me to prepare another backpack?
Yep! If you’ve read our article on how to be a Gray Man, then you’ll know all about the art of blending in to get home when SHTF.
The Get Home Bag is designed to get you back to your family, your food stores and your Bug Out Bag.
You will need to establish the most likely places you’ll be when a disaster might strike (for example at work) and then plan how long it will take you to walk – yes, walk! - all the way home.
Your Get Home Bag must be equipped to help you do this. This is not a bug-out bag. Often, the terms Bug Out Bag, 72hr Bag, Emergency Bag and Get Home Bag are all used interchangeably.
However, the Get Home Bag is the most distinct of all, as you want it to be as inconspicuous as possible.
NO camouflage print
NO obvious MOLLE webbing
NO tactical gear visible
NO military patches or badges
You want it look like the most ordinary, boring and unremarkable backpack out there – keeping its valuable contents well and truly hidden.
In a hurry? If you just want to get to our conclusions, here are our top picks and recommendations!
There are several considerations to weigh-in when choosing a get home bag. Yes, you want to be inconspicuous but your pack must also be capable and well-equipped to get you home safely and efficiently.
For a checklist of essential items in your Get Home Bag, read our article on get home bag gear.
Here are our top tips for choosing a Get Home Bag:
How long is your journey?
There is no telling exactly how disaster will strike.
You may have a short grace period where you are able to drive or take the bus home; or you may be stuck in the middle of the carnage and need to stay as hidden as possible.
Because of this, you must be prepared to walk all the way home – and your pack size will depend on how long it will take you to do this. As a general rule:
2 days or less – 30-40L backpack
3 days – 50L backpack
4+ days – 60L+ backpack
This may seem excessive, but when you consider the items you may need to survive for a few days then you’ll see the space quickly filling up.
Fit & Comfort
As anyone who has spent time in the outdoors will know, finding a backpack that fits and is comfortable is paramount. Nothing slows you down more quickly than improper gear which rubs, blisters and aches your muscles.
Backpacks are often made in a range of different torso sizes, so measure yourself and find one to fit accordingly.
Choose padded shoulder straps and hip belt as these are your points of contact with the backpack, prone to rubbing and sores.
Sternum straps help balance the weight equally across your shoulders, and your backpack should cinch the weight as close to your back as possible.
Appearance & Style
When SHTF you want to blend in as quickly and seamlessly as possible. But how do you blend in with a giant backpack?
Get Home Bags are specially designed to be as insignificant as possible, using dull colors, clever distribution of space and secret compartments to do so. Avoid anything obviously military or tactical, and aim to conceal your belongings as much as possible within the backpack.
There are several available styles, too. Messenger bags, slings, duffels and backpacks are the most common forms of bag.
Although the former styles are less conspicuous and suitable for your daily commute, we’ve found that nothing beats the traditional backpack for the best style of Get Home Bag – they are comfortable, distribute the weight well on your back and are highly organized.
That being said, if you find an alternative style that suits you well then there is no reason not to choose that for your GHB.
Utility & Durability
Get Home Bags should be well-organized and not carry an ounce more than you will need. Choose something with compartments or at least use separate packing cubes so that you know exactly where things are.
Look for sturdy, tough materials that have been well-tested in a range of conditions. You don’t want to find out mid-route that your backpack isn’t strong enough!
Best Get Home Bag Backpacks
Every person’s Get Home Bag will look different and have a different set of requirements, but here are some of our favorites to get you started:
TOP PICK: Vertx EDC 2.0 Backpack
The Vertx EDC Gamut backpack is consistently a top choice for both a Get Home Bag and a Bug Out Bag!
It combines durability, sturdiness, functionality and stealth into one expertly-crafted piece of gear. At first glance, the Vertex EDC Backpack looks like an ordinary laptop backpack or bag, which is exactly what you want.
It is surprising just how many features this backpack actually contains! It is made from high quality 500D nylon, has reinforced stitching and heavy-duty zips.
There is a laptop compartment and administration pocket for normal day-to-day use, and a 180-degree easy-access zipper. There is a myriad of pockets to help you stay super-organized, and it features two dedicated water bottle holders.
It even has a discreet weapons compartment so that you can safely and discreetly carry a firearm and soft-panel body armor – keeping your vitals protected from the back should anybody open fire, or you can swing the pack round your front to protect yourself also.
Vertx make a host of other backpacks in the discreet tactical range, so there is something to suit everybody.
Last update on 2023-02-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Vertx EDC 2.0 Backpack Benefits
Dedicated weapons compartment
Vertx EDC 2.0 Backpack Disadvantages
Some users have complained that the grab handle is prone to ripping
One of the more expensive bags on the market
TACTICAL PICK: 5.11 COVRT18 Tactical Backpack
5.11 are a hugely well-known and reputable brand in the world of survival. The COVRT18 backpack is no difference, and offers an impressive number of tactical features in a small and unassuming body.
Built from 500D water-resistant nylon with YKK zippers, this pack has been made to last and can certainly handle the elements and rough terrain. It features an ambidextrous side-entry TacTec compartment for a hidden firearm and soft body armor.
The front pouch of the 5.11 COVRT18 Tactical Backpack has a Roll-Down Assault Compartment (RAC) with MOLLE compatible webbing for extra pouches, and comes with a 15-inch laptop sleeve too.
The grab handed is sturdy and reinforced, and the yoke-style shoulder straps and extra sternum strap help to keep the weight evenly balanced and spread through the shoulders.
The only thing I’d like to see is a hip belt, this back doesn’t have one which is unusual for a 30L pack – however this may help to keep up the illusion that this is a cheaper, unremarkable backpack and help you remain unnoticed.
All in all, this is an excellent covert tactical backpack and reasonably priced given its features and respected branding.
Last update on 2023-02-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
5.11 COVRT18 Tactical Backpack Benefits
Discreet tactical backpack
Compatible with other 5.11 backpacks and systems
Durable and sturdy
5.11 COVRT18 Tactical Backpack Disadvantages
No hip belt
CCW compartment isn’t lockable
Check out this video presentation from the official 5.11 YouTube channel.
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BUDGET PICK: High Sierra Fatboy Backpack
If you don’t want to splash out on a super specialized backpack, then there are some decent options which won’t break the bank. High Sierra are a trusted brand who make good enough backpacks for your average Get Home Bag.
The High Sierra Fatboy Backpack has all the features you’d need: compartmentalized storage, padded back panel, reinforced grab handle and adjustable compression straps, to name a few.
It offers 39L of storage space and is made from 600D nylon with an extra waterproof coating – giving it a fairly impressive durable outer, given its price point.
It comes in a variety of colors, although remember that this is your Get Home Bag so you may want to keep that in mind when choosing!
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High Sierra Fatboy Backpack Benefits
Very good price for its features
Reasonably durable and sturdy
Compartmentalized for organization
High Sierra Fatboy Backpack Disadvantages
No tactical features
Not the most comfortable pack with a heavy load
ALTERNATIVE PICK: Osprey Talon / Tempest 30
If you live in a more rural area – or are that commuter who wears outdoor gear to work! - then it may be worth considering a regular hiking backpack as your choice of Get Home Bag.
If the backpack is in-keeping with the rest of your gear, then having something designed for long-distance walking might be your best and most comfortable option.
Osprey are one of the top outdoor industry brands, and they make a host of backpacks.
The Osprey Talon (Men’s) and Tempest (Women’s) 33L (or 44L for extra space) backpacks are one of their most popular models due to their ergonomic fit, comfortable and ventilating strap system and durable materials.
The backpack has one main compartment with top-down access, with a number of smaller pockets on the hip belt and lid.
The torso length can be adjusted, the dedicated hydration bladder pocket can store up to 3L, and a number of compression straps help to keep your gear secure and close to your back.
This is not a tactical backpack range – but it would suit anybody having to walk through rural areas to reach home.
Osprey make dedicated hiking backpacks up to 80L and most models have discreet blacks or grays as color options, so there is something to suit a range of needs.