Winning Tactics for Your Vehicle Emergency "Go Bag"

In the face of adversity, do you know without a doubt, that you have the endurance to secure food, water, shelter, safety and survive? If an emergency arrises, do you have the knowledge, skills and tools to overcome the circumstances? Are you prepared? 

Today I want to talk to you guys about the importance of taking the time to prepare yourselves for the unknown. Those unexpected daily things that can go wrong. Everyday there are circumstances that arise that are simply out of our control, the weather, flat tires, traffic. Each of these examples are just a few of the hazards we can face on the roadways. Now for tires, hopefully you have a spare, as for traffic maybe you can reroute, but there are inevitably going to be times where having a back up plan will really come in handy. If you haven’t read our previous article on lessons learned in a flood, you should check it out, because the number one thing that could have made a difference in my mothers case, would have been having supplies in her vehicle. 

Now everyone has there own ideas on what essentials make up a “go bag” or “get home bag,” but more importantly it’s that you have one at all. Each persons idea of a go bag may vary, but they all are based around one central focus. Having essential supplies pre-packed and easy to grab, in the case of an emergency, that will sustain you for at least 3 days. The get home bag I’ll be showing you today is my brothers. He is a firefighter, EMT, Eagle Scout, and good ole outdoorsman. These are items he always has packed and ready to use in his car in case of an emergency.

Winning Tactics for Your Vehicle Emergency "Go Bag"

Backpack: For the pack, he chooses an ordinary school backpack, mainly so he does not stand to in a crowd. This is personal preference, you choose how you want to carry your gear.

First Aid: He carries a tactical first aid bag, which is more then most of us will carry because he is a medic, but everyone should carry at the least a standard kit. This one is a great option.

Water: He always carries 2-3 Liters of water, more when traveling, that day it ended up being in his boy scout canteen. In addition to having water on hand, he carries a single wall stainless steal water bottle that can be used to boil water in, which I will discuss further below. He also carries a water filter and iodine tablets, in case he runs out of his water supply. 

{Items pictured: backpack, dry bag with clothes, MRE, protein bar, coffee, pyro pac, beanies, belt, notepad and pens, fixed blade knife and sheath, altoid fire starter kit, candle lantern and wax, paracord, plastic baggies, flashlight/lantern, headlamp, titanium cup, stainless steel water bottle, fish spreader, thin cordage, heavy duty trash bags}

Food: Although the body can go much longer without food, then without water. Carrying an MRE, or other choice of sustainable food like a protein bar, trail mix or jerky, is a good idea. 

Fixed Blade Knife and Sheath: A fixed blade knife in a durable leather sheath that can be worn on your belt if needed for self defense. He's added some easy access fire starter items secured with a piece of bicycle inner tube, including a ferro rod, twine, an alcohol pad which are great for catching sparks. In addition he carries a wet stone in the sheath for any sharpening needs.  

Fire Starter: In an old altoids tin he carries a BIC lighter (the rubber band keeps the lighter from being bumped during travel and loosing its fuel), extra pocket knife, another ferro rod, pine heart, more alcohol pads, dryer lint, and thick rubber bands which can also be used as tinder to get a fire started if need be.

Stainless Steel Water Bottle: This single wall stainless steel water bottle paired with the fish spreader tool, allow you to hang your bottle over the fire for your water purifying needs. 

Clothes: Because there is no way of knowing what you may be wearing when disaster strikes, it's always a good idea to have an extra change of clothes. Packing them in a dry bag of some sort, will keep them fresh and will also be a tool to keep other items dry if need be. When packing your clothes, using a "skivvy roll" technique as shown above will ensure they are compact and low profile. Consider including at least one pair of pants, two shirts, two pairs of socks and two sets of underwear. Also in your dry bag you can include a towel and small blanket for added comfort.

Headwear: Carrying two beanies, at least one made of fleece will allow your head to stay warm, regardless of being wet or dry. 

Belt: A simple belt with two "D" rings will allow you to keep your pants up, can hold your sheath and other items but can also be used as a tourniquet if need be.

Titanium Cup: Having an extra cup is good for multiple purposes, but it will allow you to purify water in your stainless steel bottle, transfer it and then start the process over. 

Coffee: Although coffee may not be an absolutely essential item to carry, it adds a morale boost and extra comfort that could be the added get up and go that you need. If coffee isn't your thing, consider adding some caffeine pills to your bag, they will give you that extra boost needed to get through the day after sleeping in the dirt all night. 

Light Sources: Whether it's a lantern light, flashlight/lantern, a head lamp or all three. You should definitely have some source of backup lighting. The dual flashlight/lantern is an awesome addition because of its multiple uses. 

Camp Stove: Carrying a small camp stove or pyro pack with you is an easy immediate access to a fire source for purifying water, boiling a food source, etc. 

Heavy Duty Trash Bags: There are a wide variety of uses for heavy duty trash bags in a survival situation. Use them as a poncho, as a shelter, as a way to keep your stuff dry, just have them in your go bag, you'll be glad you do.

Extra Baggies: These are useful to keep your electronics dry, but can also allow you to leave a note and ensure it stays dry in an emergency situation.

Pen and Paper: Keeping pen and paper is handy for many reasons, but for taking notes, and keeping track of pertinent information you may need to remember are high on the list. Additionally the paper can be used as kindling if you had to.

Cordage: Having a few hanks of paracord are must haves. You can store them in your go bag or wear them in bracelet form, just be sure they make the list.  

Other Items to Consider

Mosquito NettingMosquitos, ticks, and other biting insects are common at different times of the years and in different regions. Mosquito netting is compact, extremely light-weight, and takes up very, very little space. It's a great add-on to your Bug Out Bag and an item overlooked by a lot of people.

Maps: Having a physical map is for evacuation purposes using little known roads, urban and backcountry trails and even railroad tracks or routes that travel under powerlines. So unless you're traveling and need additional maps, it's a smart idea to have a map of your daily commute.

Communications: In a widespread disaster there's a high probability that internet, land-line phones, and cell phones are all going to be knocked out. We may be able to pick up AM-FM radio signals though and at least get news on just how bad the disaster is and if and when it's safe to return to a particular area. You may also consider a HAM radio, cell phone booster, or CB radio for your vehicle.

Footwear: If your Get Home Bag is stored in your trunk, you can also have a good pair of high top tennis shoes that may do you better than traditional trail hikers next to it. With tennis shoes you can run faster, climb fences easier, and you have less danger of your shoes coming untied when you have to make a run for it. Old combat boots are also a good option. 


We've discussed a lot of items, and hopefully we've planted a seed for making yourself a Go Bag or Get Home Bag. It's invaluable in an emergency or survival situation. Unless you're retired, or you work from home, or you're disabled and rarely leave your home or apartment, there's a good chance you and the people you love are going to be away from home when disaster strikes. People go to work. People go to school. Children go to child care. Etc. That is exactly when a major event or disaster may take place and a chief reason why each person should consider a good Get Home Bag to help get each person by for the next few hours or in a worst case scenario, a few days. Food, water, and medicine may be in short supply in a region that has been struck by a disaster.

So, have a plan, and don't be afraid to bring it up in conversation. It's an important topic and each person in your family should be on the same page.

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  • laura on

    Duct tape would be useful as well, if you take the center core out it can be flatened n itself so it dsent take up much room. Very handy for repairs , leaving marks for a trail, etc.

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