Home Survival StrategiesBags & Loadouts Overlooked Items in Your Get Home Bag

Overlooked Items in Your Get Home Bag

by Tim MacWelch

Human hands looking through a bible
A warm sleeping bag that packs down small? Check. Rugged water bottles and an effective water filter? Check. How about a laminated picture of your loved ones to keep you motivated for survival? Uh, no, I don’t have that in there…

When using your Get Home Bag to slog home during a grid down situation, you’ll want to be prepared for as many contingencies as possible. Even though we can’t carry the kitchen sink in there, we can take some small items that would make a big difference to our survival. Take the photo of your loved ones as an example.

Think of the value of a waterproof picture of the people you care about the most in this world. The picture weighs nothing. It takes up no room in the pack, but it can take the weight of the world off your shoulders. Thinking about loved ones can keep you going when every muscle in your body wants to quit. That photo is an example of the unexpected items we’ll be talking about in this article. Let’s pray we never have to put these items to work outside of training.

Motivational Items

The motivation to survive is one of the key elements in the mentality of a survivor. So ponder long and hard on the things that would keep you encouraged during a bug out worthy crisis. For many people, the motivation to survive an insufferable situation can come from thoughts of their loved ones. As mentioned already, a photo of your spouse, children, family, friends, or even pets can put a fire in your belly to keep pushing forward.

Faith in a higher power is another powerful ally for motivation. They say there are no atheists in a foxhole. I would say that this extends to most life or death situations. A small book of faith or a token of your religion can be a tangible way to reach out to the intangible during times of weakness, doubt, and fear. Of course, there are many other things that motivate people, since we are such complex creatures. You’ll know what makes you tick better than most other people. By adding something to your GHB that will give you mental and emotional strength, you’ll be better prepared for the psychological rollercoaster of a crisis.

Lightning In A Bottle

Here’s one of those bizarre items that you might not think to carry, some form of caffeine. If you are a caffeine addict like most folks then a concentrated energy drink, no-doze pills, or even a bottle of Excedrin will fuel you like Popeye’s spinach. Particularly when your normal coffee and soda pop aren’t available. Use it if you need to stay up late for the night watch or you’re just running out of steam. Pop a pill or drink a 5-hour energy shot to get back on track and avoid that painful caffeine withdrawal headache.


Keep some hard candy in your GHB, for energy and as a motivator. Sugary treats are a great short-term fuel for your body. A few candies can lift the morale of both grown-ups and kids. Be choosy when you plan your snacks. Pick a candy that won’t melt and can also be eaten if frozen. Another consideration is that the candy is easy to divvy up or ration. Finally, select a candy that everyone in your group will like. You don’t want to be the guy handing out black licorice during the end of the world. Gross.

Dental Care

Your mouth is the gateway into your body, and you’ve got real problems when something goes wrong in there. You should definitely have dental floss for cleaning your teeth, and 100 other uses. A toothbrush and toothpaste are great items too, but also consider a tiny dental emergency kit. Pain relieving toothache drops and a cavity filling product may keep your mouth operational until you can get to dental care or get desperate enough to pull that bad tooth. For the INCH (I’m Not Coming Home) bag crowd, expand the kit with a few extraction tools. These are a lot less likely to break or splinter your bad teeth than your trusty Leatherman or standard pliers.

Papers Please

If you evacuate from your home during a SHTF situation, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get to go home. There’s also no guarantee that your personal records will still be around if you do make it back. Consider a digital backup of all your important documents and family treasures. This could be a thumb drive with your bank info, insurance documents, wills, family photos and videos, birth certificates, wedding certificates, tax receipts, land deeds, insurance documents, and other papers that would be handy after law and order returns. Use an EMP proof bag to store the drive. Guard this drive with all due care since this is a treasure trove for identity thieves. Don’t leave it in the GHB in your car, a likely place for theft.

Stomach Meds

An army moves on its stomach but you won’t be leaving the latrine with major digestive distress. Consider adding some fiber tablets, Pepto Bismol, anti-diarrhea medicine, and laxatives to your bag of OTC and prescription meds. Chances are good that you’ll be eating differently. Chances are even better that you’ll be dealing with stress and dehydration which are frequent causes of constipation. Dirty hands, mishandled food, and bad water can send your bowels the other direction too. You’ll likely be in need of anti-diarrhea meds.

Foot Care Products

Gridlock after grid-down? You won’t be driving anywhere, you’ll be walking. This makes your feet more important than you can imagine. Spare socks can keep your feet cleaner and drier. Moleskin can be used to treat blisters and hot spots. Foot powder and other foot care products can prevent fungal infection, diminish sweat, and prevent other debilitating foot issues. You won’t make it far if your feet give out.

Multi-Use Supplies

To a creative survivor, almost anything can be used for multiple tasks. These following items seem to work a little harder than most:


A little bottle of liquor can be a great addition to your kit, even if you’re a teetotaler. A little splash can get the campfire going, and a sip may put a little courage in your veins. It could also make a very popular trade item for bartering. It can disinfect wounds (ouch!), sterilize various things, deodorize, treat fungal infections, and perform many other tasks that would be useful during an emergency.


You can communicate or signal for help, keep a journal, take handy notes for your survival situation, use the paper as tinder, wipe your butt with a crumpled sheet, etc., etc., with just a simple notepad. Add a pencil or two as well. These can be sharpened with a pocket knife and won’t dry out like pens.


Even if you don’t smoke, think of all the smokers out there who would instantly become your best friend if you had spare smokes to hand out. They also make for good, lightweight tinder. Cigarettes are an excellent fuel for most optical fire starting methods. Tobacco can also make insecticide and bug repellent by soaking a few cigarettes in a quart of water overnight to leach out the nicotine. Spray this around your camp area or apply it to clothing.

Don’t Do It!

I like where your head is at but these following items just aren’t very practical! Read along and you’ll see.

Bonkers For Bow Drills

Sure, bow drill sets can make fire. Any replacement parts you might need can be collected and replaced in the wild. But let’s embrace our century, shall we. I’m as big of a fan of friction fire as anybody. I even teach people how to do it for part of my living. However, it’s just not a practical bug out fire starter.

I don’t carry a bow drill in my GHB or BOB. For the weight and space a kit takes up, carry something easier to use like a lighter or three. Even a great bow drill kit isn’t foolproof. You won’t be grinding out a bow drill fire with a broken arm or during a downpour of rain. Just bring several lighters, some matches, and a spark rod for a back-up.

A Meal of Meager Calories

Your bag should be stuffed with high calorie foods. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to find food during your travels. Skip those little granola bars and go for some jars of peanut butter.

Blanket Blunders

A space blanket may keep you alive on a cold, wet, windy night. But you’ll need a sleeping bag to actually get enough sleep to recharge your body. That flimsy foil sheet will be flapping in the wind all night causing a lack of sound sleep. This will have a major impact on your alertness and effectiveness the next day. Believe me, carry some decent bedding. You can put up with a lot during the day if you’re able to sleep well at night.

Final Thoughts

Everything that goes in your GHB needs to be carefully thought out. Choosing an item you won’t use adds unnecessary weight and takes up space. It could also mean that a necessary tool gets left out. However, not every single item needs to be utilitarian. Don’t forget the items that will keep you going when things get hard. The small items that could make a difficult journey just a little easier. That item may not make sense to anyone else, but if it gets you home, stick it in your GHB.

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