Recent disasters around the world have shown the importance of preparedness. One of the best ways that you can be prepared is to have a personal go bag. Or if you have a family, a family go bag. But the term go bag brings to mind a different image for everyone that hears the word. Today we are going to go over some of the basics of a go bag.

First, you should be aware of the proper use of every item that you put in your go bag. A disaster is not the time to start learning how to use the items in your bag. You will be distracted and not in a clear mindset. Training is important to being ready for an emergency or disaster, even if it is just knowing how to use basic survival items.


​The first thing that you should put into your go bag is evacuation information. Come up with a detailed plan and store a copy in the bag. A good evacuation plan should have multiple routes and fail safes built in so that there is a contingency for if a plan goes south.
go bag planning

​For the exact evacuation items that should go in the bag include:
  • A plan map
  • A write up of all of your plan
  • Any state / city  / town / etc evacuation plan
  • Contact information for friends and family


​Food and water are two of the most important aspects to survival and thus to a go bag. For food you have several options for a go bag. One of the most common is Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) that were invented by the military. But these tend to be big and take up a lot of room in your bag. Instead, we recommend that you find emergency rations. These might not taste good but they will give you the nutrition and energy that you need to survive. 
​Emergency rations come in a square shape and typically contain enough rations to cover your needs for up to 3 days. 

Water on the other hand, is a little more difficult. It isn’t practical to have even a days’ worth of water in your bag. Storing a package of water bottle or water jugs with your go bag is as good idea.

​But what happens when you aren’t able to transport these jugs? Say your car breaks down?

Having water purification methods in your go bag is just as essential as having bottles of water. We recommend both having a portable purification tool and iodine tablets. That way you have a long term water supply until you can establish a permanent option.
large water bottle jugs


​During a disaster it is likely that you or someone you know will become injured. It is part of the nature of a disaster. But being ready for that with a first aid kit is essential. Have a first aid kit that is stocked with quality first aid supplies. The included supplies should match those that you are trained to use. First aid training, such as the cardiopulmonary resuscitation AKA CPR, is critical in a disaster and can be helpful in everyday life.
learn cpr
​A tourniquet is a wise item to keep in your first aid kit. Take training on how to apply one, when to remove one, how to mark that one was used, and the like. Small and easily deploy-able tourniquets are available for your go bag. RATS Rapid Application Tourniquet System or the CAT Combat Action Tourniquet are great options and are used by professionals around the world.

Along with first aid supplies, you should include any prescriptions that you NEED in order to survive. Many doctors will give you an extra prescription for emergency bags if you need it. Talk with them about it.


get a whistle
After a disaster you never know when you will need to signal for help. Whether it is a helicopter or search plane overhead or a person on the ground, you might need a way to get that help. A whistle is a good start. Make sure you find a high quality one that is loud. Test it to make sure it works before a disaster.

A signal mirror will also help. These are cheap and have a small design.


Filtration masks or dust masks are great for disasters where there is a lot of rubble and contaminants in the air. These contaminants can have both short term and long term health problems that will make surviving difficult. Make sure to find a mask that is professionally rated so that it is worth the money that you spend on it.

Along the same lines, a pair of goggles or safety glasses can help for when you don’t have a full-face mask. Getting debris in your eye can be a severe problem.


Duct tape is a household essential. You never know what it can help with. You can either use it to repair your tools or to seal out contaminants from your shelter. Building new tools and a shelter in the first place can also be essential.

When buying your duct tape make sure that it is actual brand duct tape or a similar trusted brand. Gorilla tape works much the same way, for example. You don’t want to find out during a disaster that your duct tape doesn’t work.
duct tape is your best friend


Just like with duct tape, 550 paracord is a great tool for your survival. It is multipurpose and allows you to build shelters, repair tools, climb, lift heavy objects, etc. The reason we suggest 550 paracord is that it is rated for up to 550 lbs. It is extremely difficult to break and works very well.

You can buy paracord at a wide variety of locations. From the internet to hardware stores. You can store a fair amount of it in your go back and around your go bag for emergency uses.


Some form of shelter should be included in your go bag. You can only live 3 hours in a very harsh environment when you don’t have shelter. Shelter can take the form of a tent that is strapped to your go bag or even something smaller that fits inside your go bag. A tarp inside your go bag or a bivy will work greatly.

Know how to set up your shelter so that you can do it quickly. You might not have a lot of time to get your shelter up when you need it.


​At least one knife should be an item in your bag. These aren’t meant for defense purposes but survival purposes. You might have to cut wood, 550 cord, or other objects. You might need to whittle stakes or do something similar. 
​We suggest at least one fix blade knife in a sturdy sheath be included in your bag or strapped onto the side. If you are going to have the knife on the side of your bag, make sure it has some form of retention to keep it in the sheath no matter the orientation of the bag.

​In addition to the fixed blade knife having at least one folding knife.
trusty portable knife


​Looting and crime tend to happen during and after a disaster. Having some form of protection can be a lifesaver. We don’t recommend that someone who is untrained go out and buy a gun. OC spray (law enforcement pepper spray) or a Taser work. You can also get a pepper ball gun that shoots pepper spray balls.


cash is king
​Having a supply of emergency money in your go bag can help you if you find yourself needing to pay for something. However, cash can also make you a target in a survival situation. Make sure that it is hidden and you do not show it. When you need it, retrieve it in only small amounts.


Having options to start a fire can help for a large variety of reasons when in a survival situation. A fire can keep you warm, keep away predators, help you see, and more. Fire starters are an essential. Keep a lighter and weatherproof matches both in your bag. It could also help to have a flint striker. If you do not have any of those items, you can start a fire the old fashion way - start a fire with sticks!

But a fire won’t just spring up. Keep fire building material in your bag. Dryer lint works well as does saw dust, loads of paper, or similar items work well.


  • Phone Charger
  • USB Battery Pack
  • Solar Charger
  • Emergency Radio with Hand Crank
  • Gas Shutoff Tool
  • Crowbar
  • Saw
  • Axe
  • Multitool
  • GPS Tracker
  • Compass


​Now you have the important information needed to set up your go bag. There are still important decisions that you need to make. Where are you going to keep your go bag? If you have the money, experts recommend that you keep one in your home and one in your car. This will optimize your chances of survival. Now get out there and plan your survival.



Leave a comment