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Putting Together the Ultimate Go-Bag: The Essentials

Putting Together the Ultimate Go-Bag: The Essentials

Most military and police agencies require their officers to carry in their cars a Go Bag – a 3-day or 5-day pack containing all components necessary to survive and perform their duties in the case of a city, state, or national emergency. While the Go Bag is a required and important tool for any paramilitary agent, I believe every citizen should have at the ready a sufficient “bug out bag” as well.

I’m not an outdoor survival expert or a zombie apocalypse enthusiast, but I am a realist. The possibility of a brief yet multi-day emergency scenario is not farfetched—think Katrina or riots or other natural disasters. Typically, the warning signs for such critical states are revealed far ahead of time, but to think that a massive event could not happen suddenly and spur an immediate societal disruption is, in my opinion, fairly naive. Hence the need for a bug out bag—an all-scenario emergency survival pack that will assure your well-being until help arrives and/or the state of emergency is dispelled. 

So, what should go in a bug out bag? Any number of survival elements would be appropriate, but at the very least, every civilian go-bag must have the essentials. Below are some absolute staples for a proper bug-out bag, broken down by basic needs categories:

The Pack

Tactical packs serve well as a bug out bag. You’ll want something large enough—at least 50 liters in capacity—with several compartments, MOLLE webbing, and hook and loop fixtures, so you can stay organized with materials and hang overflow materials or quick-release elements, like a knife, on the outside of the pack. Make sure the pack is of sturdy material and build, such as those containing 1000D Nylon material, multi-layer stitching, and over-sized snag-free zippers. You’ll also want a dry bag big enough to hold your main bag, but which you can fold up tiny to hold in the main bag. I would recommend not using a dry bag as your main bag because tactical backpacks typically have far more compartments, along with MOLLE flaps, hook and loop capabilities, etc. than a dry bag will. But to be prepared for all-weather scenarios, and possible floods or water trekking, you’ll want that dry bag capability.

For the following categories, the items in bold are essential survival and emergency items in my opinion, while the others would be an important addition but not absolutely necessary:

Logistics & Tactical

  • Survival Booklet
  • Whistle
  • Utility or Tactical Knife
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Large Survival Knife
  • Multi-tool
  • Handgun w/holster
  • Masking Tape
  • Padlock
  • Binoculars
  • Gas Mask
  • Small Mirror
  • Ammunition
  • Baton
  • AM/FM Emergency Radio
  • Two-way Radio
  • Rope
  • Utility Belt
  • Zip Ties
  • Hatchet
  • Shovel (small folding)
  • Hammer
  • Needle & Thread
  • Goggles
  • Notepad
  • Binoculars
  • Gas Mask
  • Small Mirror


  • Warm gloves
  • Work gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Sun hat
  • Thermals
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Jacket
  • Poncho
  • Boots
  • T-shirt
  •  Emergency Blanket
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Tent
  • Pillow (blow up)


  • Stormproof Matches
  • Fire Starter
  • Hand Warmers
  • 100-hr candle


  • Battery-operated tactical flashlight
  • Battery Headlamp
  • Self-Energy flashlight
  • Glow Stick
  • Batteries



First Aid

  • Small First Aid Kit
  • Surgical Mask

Personal Items

  • Insect Repellant
  • Toilet Paper
  • Tissue Paper
  • Baby powder
  • Eye drops
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shaving cream
  • Razors
  • Floss
  • Chapstick
  • Deodorant
  • Sunblock
  • Mouthwash
  • Moisturizer
  • Tampons (can come in handy for men and women)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Laxatives
  • Anti-diarrhetic
  • Cold/flu medicine
  • Itch cream
  • A&D Ointment
  • Body wash/shampoo (waterless)
  • Vitamins
  • Antacids

Once you’ve got your bug out bag set, put it in a closet and forget about it. Don’t spend your time imagining apocalyptic scenarios. We don’t want to be paranoid; rather we simply want to be prepared. And once you’re prepared, you can put it aside and get on with your day. Safety is paramount, but once that’s taken care of…go live your life! The Home Security Superstore has just about all the elements you need to stay prepared and secure. Good luck and stay safe!

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