My thoughts on get home bags after looking at lots of blog posts, “reviews,” bag dumps, and YouTube videos is – most people carry way too much crap in their Get Home Bag (GHB). Sure, it’s good to be prepared, but how many people really need 40 lbs of stuff to walk 10 or 15 miles at the most? Are you walking through a combat zone to get home? If you are I’m sure glad I don’t live where you do. If your GHB is as over the top as this one, I’ll give you some reasons why you might want to rethink your GHB…
What are you prepping for?
What are you prepping for, anyway? Since we’re talking about a get home bag, I hope we’re talking about getting home. Not bugging out, not going camping, not doing urban “security patrols”… we’re talking about getting home. Where from? Probably from work. So right off the bat, having an AR-15 as part of your GHB is a really stupid idea. Even if it doesn’t make you a target, it will draw attention from law enforcement. At the very least it adds 6 lbs or more of unnecessary weight.
What else don’t you need? Probably not an axe, hatchet, or folding saw. What are you going to do, chop down someone’s tree on your way home? You probably don’t need a tent or a way to make shelter. The goal is to get home as fast as possible, not go camping. Come to think of it, you probably don’t need a mess kit and spices. We’re walking home, not practicing outdoor gourmet cooking. Other things you probably don’t need in a GHB are multiple knives, a tomahawk, multiple flashlights, large quantities of paracord or bank line, trauma kit, fishing kit… hopefully you see what I’m getting at.
OK, so what do you need?
Even just walking home, you need some things. You need protection from the elements, but that can be appropriate clothing (you don’t need a tent). You might need something for self defense. That doesn’t mean an AR-15 or fighting knife, though. A handgun and pepper spray would be better choices. You might need water. Do you need food? Personally I carry some, but nothing I need to cook or use a fork or spoon to eat. A way to find out what’s going on or contact others is nice.
For protection from the elements, I carry sun screen, lip balm, and a hat. In summer time the hat is wide brimmed to protect my neck and ears from the sun. In winter, it’s a wool watch cap. I carry a shemagh and an N95 dust mask in case there’s a lot of dust blowing around and a pair of sunglasses to protect my eyes. I carry an extra set of socks – wool in winter and whatever in summer – in case my feet get wet. In the winter I throw in a pair of wool gloves to keep my hands warm.
For hydration I have two 1 quart nalgene bottles. In the summer I keep them filled with a mix of vodka and sweetened cranberry juice. In winter, a mix of strong coffee, Irish cream, and vodka. Just kidding. Water in both summer and winter. In winter time, I might throw in a small stove and a couple of tea bags in case I want something hot to drink on my way home. Food is just a couple of nut bars from Costco and maybe a couple pieces of homemade beef jerky if I have any on hand.
For protection, I have my CCW – either a Charter Arms Bulldog or a Glock 19, depending on where I’m at. That rides on my hip though, not in the GHB. I also carry a Fox 40 whistle and I’m thinking about adding a can of pepper spray. The pepper spray would be more of an EDC thing than GHB gear. I don’t carry a map or compass because I’m familiar with the city I live in and I sure as heck don’t need a map or compass just to find my way home.
I carry a Baofeng UV-5R that’s programmed so I can talk on the local repeater network and listen to NOAA weather broadcasts. Oh, and my cell phone which I personally hate but I’m required to carry by my boss and my wife. And that is pretty much it, because that’s all I need to get home.
How about you? Do you have a simple GHB or do you load yourself down with lots of unnecessary stuff?