T Nation

What to Pack in a Go Bag/Emergency Kit


Same, and like CL, I was hoping to get some fun responses, up to and including personal experiences and (reasonable) speculation as to possible future scenarios. This stuff is fun for me to discuss, and I have the “benefit” of not knowing much and as such, have a lot to learn which is also fun!


The linked thread below is pre-COVID but has some more good stuff. I detail some of my multi-use items, which is another guiding principle when dealing with weight and space constraints like a Go Bag. Stuff like paracord, duct tape, condoms, zip ties, pantyhose, cloth, sewing kits, petroleum jelly and copper wire are all multi-use items that take up little space and have many potential applications.

Water purification has come up a lot, which it should. The crystallized iodine pictured in that thread is a really versatile solution and also multi-use for infection mitigation. The downside is the glass jar. Life straws are also great, light and cheap. I have an MSR filter that I hem and haw about throwing in. It isn’t a no-brainer because it has a relatively fragile ceramic filter element and is quite heavy compared to the iodine and all of the fire-making opportunity I have in the north woods for plain-old boiling. A better filter is somewhere on my list of things I don’t need per se, but want to buy.

Props to me for having an N95 mask in my kit pre-COVID. It was actually used at the start of the pandemic. Not by me, but for a friend of mine some of my log readers may recall as “Dander Girl” from when I’d occasionally log my bouncing shifts. That hot mess got herself married and had herself an immunocompromised kid, so of course I gave her my N95 when they couldn’t be bought anywhere.

Pertinent: You can’t help others when you’re unprepared and incapable.

The biggest change I’ve made since that thread is to organize all of my camping/backpacking gear into plastic totes. I still have a go bag and a get home bag, but I’ve got a LOT of other useful gear that’s too heavy to carry. -20 degree sleeping bags, extra clothing, rugged tents, tarps, cots, a box of fresh firewood and lots of guns and ammo are great to have but can’t all be carried by yourself… Now that it is loaded and organized in totes I can go from everyday life to all packed up and ready to hit the hills in my Toyota Tundra in about five minutes. I stand ready to take part in Red Dawn: Woke Invasion.

What I can’t fit into a backpack is lots of food, lots of water and shelter/warmth that will keep me and my kid alive in the worst Maine has to throw at me without a great deal of shelter craft and luck. A 25 pound bag of rice, a few cases of MRE’s, several cubic feet of dehydrated food and 20 gallons of water isn’t ideal for a go-bag, but it is ideal to have if you can manage to get it wherever you’re going…

Like the hills, to fight the communists.

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I laughed at the Red Dawn crack!
What are the gazillion uses for the panty hose? Filter? Fish net? Mosquito net? Hang dried meat? Help me out here.

Ok you two.
I would suggest condoms if the wife is of child bearing age.

All of that, including a last-ditch filtration system. Don’t forget that pantyhose has been making petty thieves harder to recognize for decades now. What if you needed to hit the communists back hard without being recognized by the new heartbeat recognition monitoring system?

Pantyhose. That’s how.

In this particular situation the thing to remember is that women’s pantyhose, sexy or not, weighs nearly nothing, can fit in any space and can be used for many things.

Like fighting the communists from our self-sufficient hill-country encampments supported by crusty old ranchers with hot grand-daughters they entrust into our care.

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Do you have a woodheater for your tent?

Not yet. A truly rugged tent with a wood stove is one of my upcoming unnecessary expenditures slated for sometime in the next decade or two.

Pertinent to the thread, craigslist has always provided me with a good supply of quality gear over the decades. Both of my sub-zero sleeping bags were acquired cheaply from local aspiring mountaineers who never seemed to get around to a lot of mountaineering on Mt. Washington in January.

I’m not a winter mountaineer either, but I gladly picked up a few just-in-case deep winter sleeping bags at yard-sale prices.

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People always seem to have such good luck on Craigslist. Like, not constant good finds, but every once in a while something good comes up. I’ve looked weekly for 5 years on my entire region’s CL and found nothing but overpriced cars and literal junk items that someone wants $100+ for. Different FB groups seem to have the better stuff, but even then it’s quite rare.

When you said rugged tent I just assumed you meant canvas because of the weather up there. I would like to built a small wood heater for inside the house out of a propane tank. So fricking cute!

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I’ve had many great finds on CL. The key is to check at least daily for whatever it is you’re looking for. The good stuff gets scooped up fast.

I think a lot of this local commerce has moved to other platforms in recent years, but it is up to you to seek out the locals selling good shit at dirt-cheap prices. Wherever they may lurk.

I was referring to “rugged” compared to one or two-person backpacking tents in that post. I agree with your core conception of “rugged”!

That said, my EMS one-person tent is a great piece of kit that weighs just over 3 pounds and gets a lot done considering how it packs down just a bit larger than a 1L Nalgene bottle. I’ve had it in high winds and sub-freezing temps without a sub-freezing sleeping bag and it is a really remarkable shelter for its size and weight. I couldn’t find it on the EMS website now but I’m sure the technology and durability for one or two-man bug-out-bag tents has progressed since I bought my one-man tent from EMS almost a decade ago.

Great for the short-term, like my get-home bag, but not something to dwell in long-term.

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I understand.
I packed my bag after 9/11 and was still driving. The plan was to drive as far as I could then walk the rest of the way back home to Texas. My bag came in at a hefty 35lbs. The thought was that it would get lighter along the way.

I have a kids tent in my bag. Wouldn’t want to live in it but it would beat the hell out of nothing in a tight sitiation.

One of my favorite things I found at cabela’s was the survival kit in a can. Still have not opened that sucker! I should probably buy it a beer, it’s 20 yo now :rofl:


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Thanks for sharing. I have to admit I didn’t pack any alcohol. May have to stop by the liquor store now. For hours not days. There is brandy in the big one though.

I think the P 51 can opener and a good bar of UNscented soap needs an honorable mention as basic necessities. If we talk about days and not hours.

Over the face for a mask like the bad guys in Cobra. Pool ball in it for a weapon. Ligature. C’mon bro… Think outside the box

In my scenario I am not going to be concerned with being identified.

I didn’t pack a cue ball but I guess a nice sized rock would suffice.

I am a 5’4" 128lb female. In no way am I going to trust my life with a pair of Leggs.
That’s what the piano wire is for. If I am ever in that situation I will have one shot and one shot only. Have to make it count!
Besides I have all that paracord to make a garrote. Much less stretch in the material.

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I wonder if they taste better than MREs?

According to the author they do.

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I haven’t had Readywise brand but I’ve probably had most of the Mountain House freeze-dried menu.

There have been a few duds, but overall I’d say they are just as good as an MRE as long as you aren’t expecting a Morton’s Steakhouse to spring out of the pouch. If you want something salty, hot and flavorful after a long day’s mountain hike to take the communist invaders by surprise, well, they’re fantastic…

As long as you have water and a means to boil it.

If not, the MRE’s are exactly as the acronym indicates, which can be a big advantage. Getting that water boiled may not be as simple of an option as it sounds.

For roughly 10 oz of carry weight and much less space, you can pack as many calories as a much larger MRE weighing over 20 oz and sometimes even more.

I keep a few of the Mountain house ProPak meals in my bags. They’re freeze-dried and also vacuum-sealed, so they occupy the smallest possible space and I think it extends the shelf life a bit. I can vouch that all of the meals on this page are at least as good as most MRE’s, unless we’re talking about the nacho cheese pouch. Nobody can compete with MRE nacho cheese pouches.

For boiling that water, there’s always a sierra cup or scavenged container over an open fire. I have that option and I also keep my trusty JetBoil in my get-home bag. Mine is about a decade old but still works great and it doesn’t look like the design has changed much on the basic model. It isn’t as versatile as other camp stoves, but it is probably the lightest, most efficient water-boiling device out there. It has proven plenty rugged and is also great for coffee and tea. It boils water FAST!

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