T Nation

What to Pack in a Go Bag/Emergency Kit

Lately I’ve been thinking about what I would do in an emergency. The nature of the world, the violence, the recent storms parts of the US have seen, becoming a parent, etc., have all given me some inspiration to be more prepared for whatever life may throw at me and my loved ones. (My loved ones and I?)

Beyond practicing habits like being aware of your surroundings and being healthy and fit enough to respond to certain situations, I think the equipment and supplies that you’d have at your disposal in an emergency are probably pretty important.

So, what do you all think are necessary? Basics like first aid kits, water, flashlights, sure. Any other must-haves? Anything a little more unorthodox that you think has a good reason for being included?

Your reasoning for including said items would be interesting to hear as well. Military/first responder/other job experiences where you’ve actually needed things, or if you think your location calls for it. (Say, urban vs. rural areas, cold vs. hot climates, etc.)

Tagging some military dudes - @idaho, @marine77, @JKil116 (I know there’s more, you’re just the first ones that come to mind.) I think guys like @flappinit (forgot, also a military guy) and @twojarslave have mentioned having some type of emergency kit before…pardon me if I’m thinking of the wrong guys. Anyone else who’d have something to say is welcome to join in or be tagged!

EDIT: Maybe this should be in Off Topic? I don’t know, I figured I’d start with Combat…might keep the random thoughts that don’t serve to help much out of the thread, haha.

1 Like

Depending on how serious you want to get I’d highly recommend taking a medical class. We have some around here that are much better than just first aid. Plenty of hardcore trauma classes practicing on real people and dummies, even fake blood and broken bones.
Of course there is all levels in between but I’m a firm believer in everything is useless if you don’t know how to properly use it.


I am planning on taking an EMT course this winter/spring. I actually just met with the guy who’s in charge of my town’s EMS training on Friday, and spoke with him for a while about what it entails. There’s two colleges in my town, and one offers the course in the fall and the other (which is my college) offers it in the spring. If their proposal is approved, I’ll get college credits for taking the class and be able to apply my financial aid to the cost of it (which is only $800 + textbook + cost of background check).

Eventually becoming a paramedic is one of my possible career choices for after school (and in my town you also become a firefighter), but I’d probably take the EMT course even if I didn’t want to do it as a job just for the knowledge. My BFF is maybe gonna take it with me, solely for the knowledge, and I’ll probably recommend my younger siblings and son do it someday when they’re old enough. I’ll probably make them do a CPR course as well, haha, in between now and when they’re ready for EMT training. I’m pretty sure that only takes like two hours. I had to do it when I worked at the Y.


Sounds like a solid plan man!

1 Like

Besides the regulars, I think something a lot of people either forget or just don’t think of is water purification tablets. There are also cool flint firestarters that are useful. Finally, a good tourniquet should be with your first aid kit, and you should practice applying it with one arm - both with your dominant and non dominant arm.

Besides that, there’s a whole list of the “essentials” and different people have different thoughts on what and how much to bring.

How you assemble your bag is important too.

Add @thefourthruffian in here too, he’d probably add some stuff I didn’t think of.


I always enjoy these topics. My short-term grab-and-go bag is mostly centered around redundant methods for fire, shelter, water and food along with infection/trauma mitigation and basic first aid.

I also have a bag that lives in my truck intended to get me home on a multi-day hike.

In simple terms, I think it is good to start with necessities for yourself, your people and your environment. Build out from there, being highly conscious of weight constraints if it is something you’re expecting to carry on your own.

If I lived in the big city, I’d probably swap out a Stanley Wonder Bar for my overpriced but very excellent hand-made Gransfors Bruk Small Forest axe, for instance.



Instant coffee and toilet paper folded in ziplock bags… lol

Raisins/dried fruit/nut snack mix
Hard candy
Needle and thread
Monofilament line
Fish hooks
A hachet
Magnifying glass
Rubber tubing/ bands
Qtip for bugs in your ears
Toothpicks get the squirrel out of your teeth
Zippo lighter w/ fuel. Because if my hands are cold I don’t want to fuck around

1 Like

I suppose it depends on the area you’re in.

I’d suggest… Portable phone charger. A good quality knife. Batteries. Flashlight. 550 cord. Basic first aid stuff. List of emergency contacts on paper. A good tourniquet. I saved a guy’s life with one. Shot in the femoral during a carjacking. They work. Something to make fire. Spare mags. If your bug out bag is big enough… Spare clothing. Especially good socks. I’d also pack high fat / protein food items. Water cleansing tablets.

1 Like

Well this is no fun. I thought we were going on a zombie apocalypse type theory. A complete societal shutdown.


Just wanted you to know that I saw your callout but I can’t help you. If the zombie apocalypse hits I’ll be barging out the door with a baby in one arm, my shotgun in the other, shooing the rest of the family out the door and shouting at the dogs to jump in the car before realizing that I only have 1/16 of a tank of gas.

1 Like

What’s your scenario? Mission? Purpose? Where will it be kept (car house)? What is your terrain and climate? City, rural?

Big difference between being stuck in the road and wanting to get hope when crap breaks and bugging out bc Uncle Joe’s shock troops are coming for you.

More color, please.


Thank you! I tend to lean to worst case scenarios myself. :roll_eyes: plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Came in here to write water purification tablets but @flappinit already got that, and paracord but @marine77 already got that.

Highly recommend testing your kit by going on hikes and not just when the weather is enjoyable. Ease of access and ease of use is easier to judge when it is cold and wet.

A forehead lamp is really nice, I’m fond of my Petzl Zipka. Runs on batteries though.
Hand sanitizer.

1 Like

All good reply’s and no need to go over what everyone said. Match your kit to your environment. Operating in a desert is totally different than mountainous terrain. Have the basics for your go bag, but, I use my vehicle as a “supply depot”, carrying replacements for the go bag. Try to take classes in basic medical and weapons training. Something that has come in the past searching for an elderly person: If you take them, have a supply of prescription medications in your go bag.


I expect that the main thing will be a natural disaster. And so in my case, this would most likely be a blizzard and possibly (literally) Antarctic-like temperatures. Second possibility would be a tornado or wildfire but those just don’t really happen all that often anymore (here).

In the case of a blizzard, it’s less a question of running and more are you prepared for being trapped in the house for several days, possibly without power. (I suppose if you have a heat source, water shortage wouldn’t be a concern here.) This has never actually happened in my lifetime, but hey, you never know.

Mostly in the house, as this is where most of the family spends most of their time (little kids, old people, etc.) and many of the places we happen to need to go (school, work) are within a walk/short drive away. Of the relatives who live in town, most are within a mile or so away as well, so our house tends to be the gathering spot, both for good and bad occasions.

I’d probably like to keep some stuff in the car as well though. I usually do this, at least in the winter - I bring a shovel, and extra clothing and blankets with when going out of town. I know there’s more to add to that list.

Getting in a car crash in the summer here, if you survive, can move, and have water it isn’t that bad. You can probably find a town within a day of walking, and there is usually livestock and small game around if you have a way of killing them. If not, probably not too hard to find some corn or something growing somewhere either.

Small town surrounded by cropland and prairie. Plenty of small streams and rivers nearby, and some notable rivers and lakes within a couple of hours drive. West side of the state has the mountains, but that’s aways away.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on what to do when Uncle Joe does come though…I don’t expect being put in that situation, and find that the natural emergencies are what I’ll likely come up against first, but again, never hurts to be prepared.

1 Like

I am always interested in discussing things related to this topic. I was a kinda bummed with the generic answers. Looking foward to reading the reply to this one.

1 Like

In our bug-in hurricane bag, in addition to the standard stuff, I’ve got a spare pair of eyeglasses, because I have something like 20/200 vision in one eye and don’t want to be caught in in a Time Enough At Last situation. Also have a 10-inch fan that runs on D batteries as a creature comfort during a power outage, especially since we’ve been getting more hurricanes when the weather’s still 80+.

Lastly, not far from the bag are two cat crates because, presuming we can wrangle them in when power goes out, those little furballs don’t need to be wandering around getting stuck who knows where.

Cannot be repeated enough. Gear without skill is just stuff.

There are some good Israeli bandages on Amazon that come in 2 or 3-packs. Great way to have one to practice with and some to stash in the gear bag.

1 Like

Me as well, provided we can keep things relatively apolitical and out of the realm of inflammatory paranoia. I have several different places around the country where friends live off the beaten path with lots of firearms and an open invitation any time, but besides my firearm, vest, and go-bag, I don’t have any radios or anything of the like.

1 Like

Good reminder. I would like to note for readers that any political comments I make are purely jokes. Can’t speak for what others mean though.

1 Like

I think my wording was a bit strange - this is off topic, aka PWI lite, so I’m not trying to censor anyone from saying what they want to say - I just meant that I’d be interested in exploring the topic until such time as it gets political or paranoid, and then I’d be outta here. I find scenarios like that to be genuinely fun to delve into. When I was stationed at Guantanamo bay and had to spend x amount of hours a day in the towers looking into Cuba where, most of the time, nothing much was going on, I can’t even begin to describe how many times I spent half my day coming up with what I’d do if the CFB came rushing towards the fences.