How to Make a Get Home Bag – Ultimate Prepper Guide

guide to get home bag

I’ve made posts about how to put together a bug out bag and how to make a bag for others, I also wrote a guest post about how to make a bug out bag for kids, but I realized I had never made a post about how to make a get home bag.

What is a get home bag?

A get home bag will be a bag that you ideally have with you when you’re out and about. If you’re ever stranded somewhere, you would use that bag and the contents inside to help you get home.

For the majority of us, our first priority would be to get home, instead of continuing further into the wilderness. If for nothing else than to get more supplies or to connect with your family or group.

Sometimes I also use my get home bag as an EDC bag so I’m always using the items inside and replacing regularly.

Usually a get home bag would help to get you through a 24-ish hour period. The point of a get home bag is to help you get from point A to point B as quickly as possible with little to no stops.

When would you ever need a get home bag?

Here are some potential scenarios in which you may need to use your get home bag:

  • Something has happened and you need to evacuate from work, but unable to use vehicle
  • Vehicle not working, can’t get help
  • EMP, but you need to get home first
  • Roads are impassable, but you need to get home to meet your family

In many of these scenarios you’ll notice that I mentioned a motor vehicle. However, when it comes to getting home, you may want to plan for an alternative mode of transportation such as roller blades, bicycle or if you’re so inclined, a skateboard.

As with most things that preppers do, we plan for the worst case scenario.

One time I had to use my get home bag instead of my bug out bag to evacuate from the RV because a tornado was approaching the area and we needed to head to the park bathrooms. At that exact moment with minutes to make a decision, the get home bag was the most accessible.

I felt confident taking it with us into the bathroom because it had our basic needs to weather that particular storm.

How to put together a get home bag?

The bag

Let’s first talk about what type of bag you may want. In reality, any bag would do:

  • Large purse
  • A roller bag
  • Messenger bag
  • Backpack
  • Sling pack
  • Fanny pack

It would greatly depend on whether you’re prepping for just yourself, or how long is your journey home from your regular outings, or even whether you consider your get home bag as your EDC bag, as well.

If you want to keep your EDC bag and get home bag separate, then use the get home bag as another layer.

Let’s say your EDC pack is a fanny pack. Then if you need to journey home, you’d grab your backpack out of the vehicle.

The get home bag is another layer of preparedness to help you get by until you reach your destination.

Who are you prepping for

Before making your bag consider who this bag will supposed to help. Is it just you or do you normally travel with your pets or children?

If you normally have other people or pets with you then this could greatly change how you prep.

For instance, if you have a small child who may not be able to walk for a long distance, you may need to pack a carrier or foldable wagon or even a small stroller.

If you have pets, they may be able to carry some items for themselves by having their own backpacks. Just depends.

Route

When thinking about your bag, think about the route(s) you’ll be taking. Will you be crossing any streams or bridges? Going through any shady neighborhoods? Could it potentially be night time when you’re passing through?

Get out a map or head to an online map and think about the potential routes you might take. Getting to know the route intimately would come when you do a mock get home drill. However, you can try to understand it to understand gear needs by looking at a map now.

Contents

The contents of your pack will greatly depend on your region, your traveling companions, time of day, route, your abilities, etc.

In general, try to remember that this bag is to help everyone involved to simply get home. That’s it. You don’t want to do a lot of stops and you’d like to avoid camping overnight anywhere.

Here are some get home bag gear ideas:
  • Phone charging cable and external battery ◆ A phone has many uses besides just communication, but if you have service and can communicate with family, it’s important to do so as long as you can. 
  • Ready to eat food ◆ Such as protein bars, tuna pouches, jerky, individual bags of crackers, etc. 
  • Compass and map ◆ Always helpful for additional navigation, even if you have the route planned out, things can change.
  • Tarp/emergency blanket/poncho ◆ While sleeping for the night isn’t ideal, it may need to be done or simply use a poncho for rain.
  • Paracord ◆ In case you need to use the tarp or emergency blanket to make shelter 
  • Small fire starting kit ◆ This is a just in case scenario again. 
  • Sillcock key ◆ Retrieve water from the side of any building, as long as water is flowing, you can get water with this key 
  • Water purification straw/water purification bottle ◆ You’ll need to get water quickly, do this with a water straw or with a bottle that has water purification straw inside of it. 
  • Flashlight ◆ Headlamp would work great to keep your hands free.
  • Water bottle(s) ◆ In addition to having a water purification straw or purification bottle, you’ll want to carry some water bottles for quick access to water. 
  • Small first aid kit ◆ Always handy. 
  • Toilet paper/wipes/tissues – Will still need to go to the bathroom.
  • Personal protection ◆ Most people keep their personal protection items on them at all times, but if you don’t, then be sure to include it. 
  • Gum/caffeine/hard candy ◆ You may need to keep yourself focused, gum or caffeinated gum/mints or some hard candy, will be great options. 
  • Hat◆ If you live somewhere hot, you’ll want to keep a hat handy inside. If you live somewhere cold, maybe keep an extra beanie inside. 
  • Comfortable shoes ◆ If you wear high heels everyday, you may want to throw in a pair of sneakers 
  • Baby/toddler/child supplies – if you travel with a baby or kids, keep their needs in mind such as diapers, extra clothing, specific food just for them, etc.
  • Pet supplies ◆ If you travel with pets frequently, put some treats in your bag, and a collapsible bowl for water. 
  • Colder wear ◆ In cold places, you may want to keep some extra mittens, hand warmers, extra pair of socks or anything else for cold weather. 

Download this checklist by clicking here.

Of course, there may be other items you’d like to add.

When I did a mock bug out home from work, I traveled about 15 miles and all I used were:

  • Headlamp
  • Sillcock key
  • Water purification bottle
  • Food
  • Gum
  • External battery charger
  • Toilet paper

That was a huge eye opener. Of course, I had other items for ‘just in case’ but those were the items I used during my entire journey.

Cache?

It’s been brought up many times that if you are planning a get home route that you may want to consider placing cache’s around your route.

I used to live in TX where it was exclusively private land and if it wasn’t private land, it was a state park. In my instance, making a cache on someone else’s private land or in a state park, the reward didn’t outweigh the risk.

If I’m going to cache something, I at least want an 80% chance that it’ll still be there when I actually need it. I’m sure you’ve seen those videos of people finding other people’s cache’s. Nothing is truly as secure as we’d like it to be.

In saying this, I think you should look into the possibility of hiding a cache or two along your route. We just never know what’s going to happen and if we need something, we’d know that we would have easy access to some supplies if needed.

Final Thoughts

A get home bag is another tool in our prepping arsenal to help us get through. Think of it as another layer to your preparedness. Consider your route, the people or pets that will be with you and your overall needs.

Let me know your thoughts about the get home bag in the comments below!

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Morgan
Morgan is the founder of Rogue Preparedness. She has been a prepper for over a decade. She's a wife, mother of two daughters and is homesteading off grid. She teaches people how to be prepared for emergencies and disasters.

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Comments

  1. Good points on ghb planning. I just added an extra pouch that had been missed in planning. My wife is normally only with me for doctor appointment or quick trips to store or restaurant when her health allows. But if she’s with me and we had to walk home it dawned on us that we would need some specific medical supplies for treatment she neurosurgery 12hr, so I instantly gathered the needed supplies for two days and put them in a sling bag that will go out the door with us on those days that she’ll be with me. As you know I’ve been in the game for a long time but I had totally missed a needed change until recently. Prep On T

    1. That’s a great revelation! We’re always learning. :) Thanks!

  2. Love the idea of caches but recognize the chances that it might be gone by the time you go back for it. I have a small backpack just hanging around – after reading this I’m going to pack it with a few things, food, water, flashlight, chapstick (it’s a must for me) and stash it in my desk at work, short 3 mile walk to the house but whose to say the direct route is available- thanks Morgan

    1. I agree about everything cache’s, it’s a risk, but could be worth. Totally personal preference.
      I’m so glad you’ll be getting a bag together. Enjoy! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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