A GHB (Get Home Bag) is an important thing to invest in if you commute on a regular basis. It’s basically a stripped down Bug Out Bag, only containing the items you need to get your ass to the house.
You don’t need an AR with 500 rounds and a 4 man tent in this thing, you need to stick with the necessities and a well-planned route home. With that being said, if you have some knowledge and the proper mindset, a well designed Get Home Bag can help keep you alive for weeks.
Requirements of an ideal Get Home Bag
Your ideal Get Home Bag needs to meet a few requirements:
- It needs to be discreet. The perfect GHB “vessel” should fit your personal style and/or professional appearance. When the proverbial “shit hits the fan” and panic ensues, your gear should be inconspicuous.
- It needs to be light. If you’re stuck 30 miles from home and you have to make it on foot, mobility is the name of the game. I don’t care how big of a bad-ass you are, humping 50 pounds of gear will take it’s toll on you.
- It needs to be durable. In a “Get Home” situation, you need to get something that is going to stand up to some abuse. I’m a firm believer in buying the highest quality gear…that you can afford. There are plenty of high quality, low-budget gear options outlined here…but if you can afford more expensive gear, knock yourself out.
In this article, I’m going to show you an awesome Get Home Bag that I put together using only one gear source…Amazon.com. Let’s get started!
As I stated above, you should choose a rugged, discreet bag that’s suitable to your job or lifestyle. If you’re a student, or have a more casual day job, a backpack is the perfect choice. Depending on the color/style of the pack, it can be a choice for those in the business profession as well.
For this build, I went with the High Sierra Fatboy RVMP pack. The Fatboy has big, multiple compartments for awesome orginazation and a 2,382 cu in capacity.
The rear panel and shoulder straps are fully padded for added comfort. The straps also feature a suspension system to help dampen the shock from weight distribution.
It’s constructed is made up of 600D Durastop and 500D Waffle Weave fabrics, which will hold up to quite a bit of abuse. It’s not bombproof by any means, but it’s strong (and cheap) enough for this application.
The pack is also treated with a water resistant coating which will help keep your gear dry. Combine all of that, with discreet and simple looks for just over $20? Hell, it’s a no-brainer.
This High Sierra Loop could also be an option for those who don’t need the extra space. It has a 2,015 cu. in. capacity, compression straps on the bottom of the pack for extra gear (shelter or clothing), two mesh beverage pockets on sides, and it’s even cheaper.
As I said before, if you have a higher budget…get a better pack. My current GHB is built from this 5.11 Covrt18 Pack that I mentioned in the 17 Items for your GHB post. It’s an AWESOME bag, but it’s also much more expensive than the Fatboy.
If you have a career that requires you to maintain a professional appearance, you might choose a large soft briefcase, messenger bag, or 17″ laptop bag. They generally have less space and also carry a higher cost. Something like this California Pak 16″ Bag could be a great budget option.
It’s very important that you dress accordingly for the weather in your area. Having said that, you should also pack a change of clothes and footwear in your get home bag just in case.
If things go bad and you can’t keep moving, you need some kind of shelter. I know people who don’t pack any form of shelter in their GHB. The majority of these individuals however, are skilled survivalists and have built tons of natural, improvised shelters.
Now I have built my share of natural shelters, and I’m thankful I have the experience. I also highly recommend that you practice the art of shelter building, as well. That being said, if I can save precious energy and time by buying $14 worth of items…I’m doing it every time.
Sticking with a budget theme in mind, I chose these items for shelter:
- 8×10 Stansport Reinforced Ripstop Tarp – This is NOT a heavy duty fabric tarp, it’s constructed of laminated rip-stop polyethylene (plastic). However it IS light (around 12 ounces), has rope reinforced edges, and several grommets for tie-offs. You can utilize this thing several different ways, and it beats the hell out of sleeping in the rain.
- SOL Emergency Blanket – Another cheap, “is what it is” item, but the material is more durable than traditional $1 Mylar “space blankets” you see everywhere. It isn’t insulated, it reflects your body heat to keep you warm. You roll up mummy-style in this thing and ride it out.
- 100 ft of USA made Paracord – Paracord is THE BEST cordage to pack, in my opinion. I know people who prefer bank line, and that’s their right, but I’m a Paracord man. It’s made up of 7 individual strands, which can be also be used individually for smaller projects like trapping or sewing.
I plan to keep it all wrapped up in a 55 gallon drum liner (garbage bag) that could also be used for ground cover. It’s not pretty or comfortable, but it just might keep you alive…which is what we’re going for here.
Here’s a quick and easy shelter guide for this particular setup:
- Use the tarp to build a lean-to with the wind at your back, something like this:
- Once you have it secured, get a fire going right out in front. I wouldn’t get a bonfire going or anything, just a decent sized horizontal log fire….or whatever you can throw together. If you’re in a cold zone, build a wall behind the fire to radiate even more heat. Like this:
- Gather a nice big bunch of maple leaves or pine needles and make a good fluffy bed…you’re gonna cover it with the 55 gallon drum liner.
- Between the fire and the insulated bedding, the SOL Emergency Blanket should provide adequate warmth. If it’s really cold, wrap up mummy style and keep that fire stoked. You just need the will to ride it out.
I haven’t mentioned EDC (Every Day Carry) in this article yet, but I’m sure most of you are familiar with the concept. You should ABSOLUTELY be carrying some sort of cutting tool on your person…every day.
There are people that swear by knives (folding or fixed blade), and others who swear by multi-tools…and hopefully you can swear by both. Multi-tools are insanely convenient, especially when you’re away from home.
While most of the decent brand multi-tools have pretty good quality blades….there’s nothing like the rugged durability of a knife. Either way…you should be carrying a cutting tool every day.
For the sake of argument, this pack needed a cutting tool…me and my redundancies. It was an easy choice…the Mora Companion MG should be a staple item for anyone that wants a cutting tool.
Mora’s are (in my opinion) absolutely, hands-down the best knives for the money. I know there are “Better Quality” knives on the market, but dollar for dollar…I don’t think it’s a contest. They’re the Floyd Mayweather of budget fixed blade knives.
You really don’t ever have to buy another fixed blade knife for the rest of your life…other than another Mora.
- They’re STUPID cheap. (Less than $15 for most models)
- Swedish carbon steel blade for easy maintenance, holds an awesome edge, and is great for fire starting. (flint, ferro rods, or other combustibles)
- Super rugged and comfortable handles/ (The cheaper models have wooden handles that some don’t prefer under wet conditions. So choose accordingly)
- Super lightweight. (3.9 oz with Sheath for the MG)
If you’re on the move, you’re going to burn calories and you’re probably going to sweat. Dehydration is the 2nd quickest killer in a survival situation (Exposure being the fastest) so you need to pack some water…and this pack needed a container.
I’m sure everyone has a water bottle sitting around, but I chose to include one anyway. Now when it comes to carrying water…you should also carry a means to purify more water. The cheapest route is boiling…but you need a container to handle it. So I went with a cheap Neiko Stainless Water Bottle.
Now seeing as I have a redundancy issue, I believe you need a backup method. The 2nd cheapest option would be purification tablets. I decided to stick with a solid company on this one, so I got some Aquamira Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification Tablets.
I prefer Chlorine Dioxide to Iodine for a few reasons. It improves taste, odor, and Iodine is not very healthy at all. I know some studies have been published stating that it’s only in long term dosages, but it doesn’t matter in my opinion.
An optional upgrade would be a Condor 1.5 Liter Bladder for less than $15. It’s the perfect size to fit in the “Tech Spot Tablet Sleeve” in the High Sierra Fatboy. Combine that with some type of purification tablets and it’s a good combination.
Mobility burns energy…and if you’re 30 miles from home you’re going to need some replenishment along the way. For a Get Home Bag, I prefer ready-to-eat options that take up little space. The SOS Rations 3600 Calorie Food Bars are the best option on a budget.
You may have seen me list these before, and that’s because they’re convenient and insanely calorie-dense. You can ration them down into 1,200 calorie portions and get by for weeks. They don’t taste great, but they’re definitely edible. They’re also ready to eat, so you don’t need to boil water.
If the SHTF, fire may not be an option for you anyway. Maybe it’s pouring down the rain you lost your main fire source, now you can’t boil water. Maybe there’s some form of enemy threat and you want to avoid detection. Food is just one less thing to worry about with these.
I love the hands-free convenience of a headlamp. They’re great for starting fire or making shelter repairs. They’re also handy for gathering firewood or traveling through the bush at night. I don’t know how many times I’ve blinded myself with a flashlight while cutting or moving branches.
They’re also pretty damn affordable now. I went with this Lighting Ever Cree LED Headlamp.
For around $7, you can’t go wrong with this. It’s powered by common AAA batteries, so you don’t have to worry about keeping special batteries. It also has setting for full brightness (200 lumens), half brightness, and flashing. It’s built with an aluminum housing and it has a CREE LED rated for 50,000 hours.
I also decided to throw in a backup light, so I went with the popular UltraFire 7w LED Flashlight.
You know I love redundancies…and I really love cheap flashlights! I’m sure you have probably seen these lights before. You may already own one, or several, if you’ve ever shopped Amazon for a cheap flashlight. It’s powered by a single AA battery, has a CREE LED, and it’s super bright…and it’s cheap.
Fire is something that should also be addressed in your EDC. You should always carry lighters, matches, ferro rods, whatever you can to make fire. Stuff some sort of combustible device anywhere you can…within reason.
In addition to a Bic lighter that I carry on my person, this get home bag needed some back up items. I got this Schrade Ferro Rod With Striker for less than $7.
Ferrocerium rods are a bomb proof, time tested fire starting apparatus. This Schrade doesn’t disappoint with the amount of sparks it throws. It’s got a nice ribbed poly handle and a pretty decent little striker. It’s a bargain for around $7.
For ease and simplicity, I recommend on getting some sort of accelerant based tinder option. They just make things a hell of a lot easier in wet or damp conditions. I found an awesome deal on these Weber Fire Starting Cubes for a little over $3 for a 12-pack.
These are made from the same legendary charcoal grill maker, so they’re designed to light charcoal fires. They light super easy from a ferro rod and they even burn when they’re wet. The burn time is around 9 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to dry out some smaller tinder and get a fire going.
First aid is personal preference for many people. There are tons of companies that offer kits from $1 kits with band-aids and antiseptics wipes to $350+ Paramedic-style bags. I prefer to piece together my own FAK from different sources.
For this particular budget project however, I chose the Adventure Medical Kits Trauma Pack with QuikClot.
This kit has everything you need to stop a bleeding wound and seal it up until you can get help. It’s got some basic gloves and antiseptic, a various assortment of bandages, duct tape, and a 25g pouch of QuikClot for the bad stuff.
Now, I assume that you have common medications and some antibacterial cream in your home. You should pack 2-3 doses of a pain reliever, antihistamine, and anti-diarrhea medications, as well as any prescriptions you take.
You should also pack a spare bandana which can be used as a makeshift sling or to be used for a splint. Go ahead and throw some personal hygiene items, such as hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and a spare toothbrush and toothpaste as well.
You Get Home Bag should be packed with you wherever you go…especially when you’re traveling to locations you’re not familiar with. You should always have a map with every possible route home marked in color coordinated lines. I recommend traveling and checking out the routes if possible, but you never know when shit can happen.
If things go bad and you’re rushing through the woods, you could get turned around and need to verify direction. I know there are different methods of navigation, and I suggest you learn as many as you can…but a compass should be a staple item for anyone. I went with the UST Deluxe Map Compass.
Featuring an adjustable mapping line, multiple measurement scales, a swivel bezel, and a clear base for improved map reading…it’s a steal for around $6.
This is a prime example of shopping smart and getting quality gear on a budget and I think it’s a pretty comprehensive on-the-cheap get home bag! I’m also betting that most of you reading this have at least some of these items in your EDC or stocked up, so you could be in this for well under $100.
If you’re new to the survival or “prepping” world, I hope this gave you some good ideas. If you have any questions, just drop me a comment and make sure to visit our Facebook page HERE. I look forward to hearing from you!