Thoughts on the GHB (Get Home Bag)

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 – at most – 10 or 15 miles? 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? You probably don’t need an axe, a hatchet, or a 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, a trauma kit, a 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?

Peace out,

Kelty Raven 2500 – first look

kelty raven 2500 first look - insideSanta Clause in the Big Brown Truck delivered my Kelty Raven 2500 yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to take it on a hike yet, but going over it – I’m really impressed so far. I’d say quality is on par with my much more expensive Kifaru Urban Zippy. Plus it’s genuine military issue which is always a plus with me… if something is good enough for the US military then it sure as heck is good enough for me. Any way, this isn’t a full gear review of the Raven, just a quick look and my first impressions of this pack.

Kelty Raven 2500 – first look

The first thing I noticed is the weight. The Raven is heavy – 5 lb 5 oz without the radio holder. The second thing I noticed is the stitching. All very solid with no loose thread ends. Third thing is comfort. This pack is more comfortable with 35 lbs in it than my 3V Gear Paratus with only 20 lbs. I guess that’s what a real suspension system does for you. Zippers work great. Kelty doesn’t say if they’re YKK or something else. Who cares? They work great. If they break, Kelty has a lifetime warranty. Overall quality is great. In fact, this pack makes some other highly rated “operator packs” look like a joke.

The Raven is designed to carry a military satellite radio, so there are some things you might miss. The main thing is a hydration sleeve. The Raven 2500 has one, but it’s on the access panel instead of the back panel. Also, a padded eyewear compartment has been sacrificed for a radio access panel.

Other than those two small quibbles, the Raven 2500 is a great pack. It’s a bit expensive ($270 direct from Kelty or $202 from Amozon), but IMO the high quality makes it worth the price. This would make a great pack to build a bugout bag or get home bag around. It’s big enough to use on one or two night camping hikes too. I’m looking forward to wringing it out and writing a full review soon.

Peace out,

Related links:
Bugout bag or get home bag?
Kelty Raven 2500 product page

About my bugout bag…

my bugout bagWhen I got into prepping, one of the first things I noticed was just about everyone writing or talking about prepping was going on about how important it is to have a bugout bag. Naturally, the first thing I needed to do was put together my own bugout bag. You know, so when SHTF I can grab my bugout bag. It will keep me and my family alive while the unwashed masses perish. I’m a gear junkie, so the idea of researching the ultimate bugout bag and buying all the cool s*** to fill it with was very appealing to me. Right? Well, maybe not so fast…

What is a bugout bag anyway?

According to almost everything I’ve read, a bugout bag is designed to keep you alive for 72 hours after you “bug out,” i.e. leave your home in the face of disaster or whatever. Sometimes they are even called “72 hour bags” instead of bugout bags. Whatever you call them, the premise is they’ll keep you alive until you get to wherever you’re bugging out to. Almost every prepper web site has their own idea of the ultimate bugout bag. Most of them even have long lists of convenient amazon product links so you don’t even need to do any research. Just click on the affiliate links and you’re almost guaranteed to make it through any crisis…

The problem with bugging out…

The problem with bugging out is the way most people (including “experts”) present it. It works like this: in the face of impending disaster, you grab your bugout bag and bugout to… where? Head to the hills? A predetermined bugout location? Neither option is viable for most people, and most bloggers writing about bugging out don’t talk about getting back home once you’ve bugged out. In other words, follow their advice and you’re voluntarily making yourself a refugee. NOT a good idea, at least in my humble opinion.

If you think bugging out is viable, consider this. My preferred bugout location is only 200 miles south – an easy half day drive. If I pick the time and day right, I can make it in about 3-1/2 hours. On the other hand, if I have to leave at the wrong time, it takes an hour to get just from the north to the south end of my city – and there are 2 other cities after that, that have even worse traffic. And this is during normal times when people are just driving to work. Figure 10 times as much traffic during some kind of panic, and, well, I hope you get the idea…

Do words matter?

So I have a bag. Does it matter whether I call it my bugout bag or something else? I think it does. If I call it my bugout bag, the mindset it reinforces is that I’m bugging out – leaving my home with (maybe) no plans on returning. That is not my mind set. If I’m forced out of my home, my intention is to return as soon as possible. I don’t call my bag my bugout bag, I call it my get home bag. Some might say they’re the same thing. Maybe, so I pick a name that helps me remember what the purpose of the bag is – NOT to help me get away from home, but to sustain me and my family if we’re forced out, and to help us return home when whatever threat has passed.

Peace out,