10 Jan 2014
How many of you have a “Get Home Bag”? Some of you may even be asking, what is a get home bag. Good question.
A get home bag is just what the name implies; it is bag with items you may need to get home if your normal means of transportation is unavailable. For example, let’s say you drive to work every day. One day there is a terrible traffic jam and you are already committed to the road you are on with no way to turn around. After hours, traffic has not cleared and you are out of gas, you may have to leave your car and start walking the rest of the way home. Granted, this is not a plan that I would want to do, after all, nobody wants to leave their vehicle, but what if you had no other choice? Would you have the right shoes to walk in? What about the right clothing?
We get so comfortable with the convenience of our vehicles that we many times don’t consider what we would do if it broke down or was unable to get us to our destination. This is where the Get Home Bag comes into play.
For example, when I lived up north, I always had a spare coat in the trunk for each member I may have in the car along with some extra blankets, snow shoes, a shovel, even some food and water along with some other essential items just in case I was out and about in the winter and got stuck….or just in case the weather turned bad quicker than I could get home. We have all heard the stories where someone went off the road in a snow storm and had to survive in their car for several days until help arrived. If it is 32 degrees out or colder, you will need extra clothes to keep you warm and walking in that kind of weather may not be an option.
That is just one example, and I am certainly not saying to start hiking home in the middle of a snow storm if your car breaks down, common sense and safety should always come first in any type of situation. In most cases the best course of action is to stay with the vehicle, again, you have to assess each situation separately; no one solution applies to every situation.
The Get Home Bag is a bag that you have packed with the necessities to get you home if you had to walk. These items are different for each person and should be based on whether you have kids or not, always remember you not only have to get yourself home but if you have kids, you will have to be prepared to get them home as well. The bag is also based on the area you live in and the seasons.
For me, my Get Home Bag is always in the vehicle that I am driving at the time so yes; I may be switching it between two vehicles. I keep it up-to-date based on the seasons and I am adding and taking things in and out of it as I see fit or get better ideas on how to pack it. It is not a pack it and forget it type of bag. This bag should be just as important to you as your purse, the only difference is, you are not carrying it with you all the time…it stays in your vehicle (or office depending on your circumstance)
For my particular situation, my Get Home Bag is a Maxpedition Typhoon I packed it to get me from the Office or local area store to back home. As I mentioned before, my primary goal is to not have to leave my vehicle, I keep an eye on both weather and traffic issues in my area, remember, always be vigilant! I have also mapped out a couple of different road routes rather than my normal tracks home, this way if I have to drive the “long” way home, I have a map to follow. Yes, a map that I printed out on paper. My alternate route is not an area I am use to and the last thing I would want to do is get lost. But why not just use your GPS Prudence? What if, for some unknown reason, it doesn’t work? Always have an alternate plan…for me that is a printed map with a route highlighted to a location that gets me back to familiar territory but it does not mark where my final destination or my home is, always keep security in mind, if someone got your bag, you wouldn’t want to have directions to your house in there. I also practice this way home about two times a year or so.
So that is my first choice, get home via vehicle it is the safest bet. But if I can’t use the vehicle, I have also mapped out a way home on foot. One by normal hiking paths and trails, the other by way of the power grid. I am lucky that there is a power grid close to my place of employment that tracks right to the back end of my neighborhood. Again, that wouldn’t be my first choice, but in case things on the main paths are dangerous for some reason, I have an off the beaten path plan.
Now for the contents of my bag. I actually have two packs in the car, one with a full change of clothes and some items that I may or may not need depending on exactly where I am at the time I need to start walking. That bag also has some gear to make a shelter. The items in that bag are not necessities, but rather decision making items based on how far I am from home. I also have a pair of comfortable shoes, check out my post on “The Right Shoes”. I would change my clothes, shoes and assess what other items I need or don’t need in my bag before leaving my vehicle.
Other items I have is a comfortable sun hat, blistex, couple of pairs of extra socks (keep your feet as dry as possible), water and a LifeStraw to purify more water that I may need to get on the way. I live in a very hot humid environment, and if I had to walk home in mid-August, I would need lots of water. Water is very heavy to carry, I do have a Platypus bladder in my bag, which I would fill up with water before I leave the car, I always keep a case of bottle water in each vehicle. Plus, I ways take extra water to work in two separate Platypus one liter soft bottles (the water at work is terrible) and usually have extra water left over from my day. Most importantly, I have a Sport Berkey portable bottle with a filter in it, this is in addition to the LifeStraw, I subscribe to the one is none, two is one kind of planning. With this I can get water from any pond, puddle, or sprinkler system and drink clean filtered water. Water is very important, especially if you are not use to being out in the heat or use to walking. Unfortunately it is also the heaviest to carry so it is best to be able to resuppy your water on your walk and just make sure you have a means to purify it. You have to remember, you need water, but if your kids are with you they need it too…plan for them.
In addition to the essentials, I have bug spray, a small medical kit, some cliff bars for food and energy and shot bloks to replenish electrolytes, remember, this is a get home bag so you need light to carry food, but food that has protein to keep you going. I also have some toilet paper that I rolled off the main roll to get it compact, some feminine hygiene products (yep, you may have to make a change behind a tree if it is that time of the month), a canister of pepper spray, a knife, Leatherman Multitool, and a firearm with extra ammo. Why the firearm? Walking in good times can sometimes not be safe, but if there is a disaster, bad weather or what not, things may not be as safe as normal, you must be able to protect yourself and your kids. CAUTION: Only if it is legal for you to carry a firearm and if you are properly trained and practiced with it. A weapon is not for a novice. I highly recommend getting your conceal carry weapon permit (CCW), get training and practice on a regular basis if you choose to carry a firearm, otherwise you are putting yourself in danger as well as those around you if you are not prepared to properly handle a firearm.
Ok, back to the bag, I do have some fire starting options, a lighter, and even a magnesium fire starter (practice using that before you chose to carry it); I have a knife, rain poncho, small tarp. My goal is not to dilly dally in getting home, but I do need to plan for the prospect that I may need to sit and rest and I don’t want to do that on wet ground. I also have a head lamp and some extra batteries. I do have a pencil and a rite in the rain pad, a rain poncho, some basic pain meds as well as some benadryl in case of bug stings. My post on “A Day Hike With A Butt Pack” is a smaller version of my bag that I also carry with me all the time, so I could grab that if I was fairly close to home. It is always good to have options, remember the “one is none, two is one” rule.
So that is about it for the contents of my Get Home Bag now like I said before, I am continually adjusting the bag so items may change. I try to keep it as light as possible and make sure the bag is comfortable to wear, I recommend going on a hike with it before you need it. Always know what you have in it and keep it up-to-date based on your situation.
Please let me know what you think or if you have any questions in setting up your Get Home Bag. Remember ladies, your man may not be with you or able to get to you in case of an emergency learn to be self-reliant.