When disaster strikes or major unrest is on the horizon, it is probably time to get out while the getting is good, and before things turn for the worst.
If there is one thing that experience has taught preppers by now, it is that things can always get worse!
This is why you need to be prepared to get out and sustain yourself until things get better or until you can start over somewhere safer. You need to “get out of Dodge” as the saying goes!
A Get-out-of-Dodge bag, or a GOOD bag, is an important piece of prepper gear. It’s a bag that you can grab in a hurry if you need to evacuate your home or bug out.
A GOOD bag should include the essentials that you would need to survive for at least 72 hours in any conditions and in the environment as you’ll find it, not as you want it.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of a GOOD bag and provide a list of 20 essential items that should be included!
Table of Contents
Why Do I Need a GOOD Bag?
There are many reasons why you might need to evacuate your home suddenly with the expectation of not coming back.
You might even know you aren’t going to return no matter how bad you want to! A massive natural disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake could force you to leave in a hurry to escape the aftermath or the approach.
Or there may be mass civil unrest or even an impending war that causes people to flee their homes in droves.
A GOOD bag can also come in handy if you’re forced out of your home for any other reason, too.
Maybe there’s been a house fire or some other “mundane” emergency forcing you to leave your house, or what is left of it, immediately.
Or maybe there’s been an outbreak of random violence and it’s not safe for you to stay in the neighborhood any longer.
In any case, it’s always good to be prepared to “pull the lever” and leave with at least the minimum you and your family need to live!
You only need to look at the countless disasters and other events that have occurred around the country and the world in these past few years.
Streams of refugees and other poor people facing down an uncertain future with absolutely nothing but what is in their pockets.
Don’t wind up like them! Whatever the reason, if you find yourself having to leave quickly with just the clothes on your back, you’ll be glad you have a GOOD bag packed and ready to go!
20 GOOD Bag Essentials to Pack
When it comes to packing a GOOD bag there are certain essentials that every prepper should include.
But beyond the basics, what YOU choose to put in YOUR GOOD bag is up to you and will depend on many factors such as your location, climate, anticipated needs, and other factors.
That being said, pretty much every GOOD bag load is built around a universally useful core.
For packing your GOOD bag, just keep in mind that you should be tailoring the contents to meet your individual needs.
The list above is just a general guide of what you might want to pack! Be sure to include any necessary medications and other personal items that you can’t live without.
1. Change of Basic Clothes
Every good bag should include a basic change of clothes, underwear, socks, shirt, pants, etc.
Consider that you might just be starting off your adventure dirty or even outright filthy and the necessity of having fresh, clean clothes should be apparent.
Changing out of your dirty clothes might be the last thing on your mind under the circumstances but being able to do so when you have time and opportunity will go a long way towards keeping you comfortable and keeping your mind in the game.
Additionally, you’ll need a different set of clothes to wear while you launder the dirty set one way or another.
2. Seasonal Clothing
Your good bags should also include clothing that is optimized for the seasonal conditions that you’ll find yourself in, be they endemic to your area or just brought about by the time of the year.
Hot weather in areas that get a lot of blazing sun will mandate broad, lightweight headgear, whereas cold weather will mandate gloves or mittens, multiple layers, and thermal underwear.
You get the idea. You know your area and should know what you can expect so make sure you pack accordingly.
3. Medical Kit
A good medical kit is another foundational item for any survival kit and particularly a GOOD bag.
Your medical kit should be set up to handle minor injuries like scrapes, small cuts, bug bites, incidental burns, and so forth but should also be capable of handling some pretty significant trauma, including lacerations, puncture injuries, sprains and fractures, and more.
Also, include in this medical kit a variety of over-the-counter medications and a goodly stash of any required prescription medication that you or a family member needs.
Make sure you stay on top of rotating your medications as they don’t last forever and do lose effectiveness over time!
4. Flashlight and Extra Batteries
Most major disasters that are worth the name have a way of knocking out power in a wide area for a long period of time.
When darkness comes, you’ll be at a major disadvantage. You’ll need a flashlight and perhaps a headlamp along with extra batteries so you can continue to work and if necessary travel even in low light conditions.
They also come in handy when you are exploring the interior of larger buildings that don’t have power, as they might as well be caves for as dark as they get!
Like the medications above, make sure you stay on top of rotating your batteries because they do self-discharge over time.
5. Radio and Extra Batteries
Communications are imperative when you’re in the middle of a legitimate survival situation.
You’ll need to stay in touch with other members of your group should you become separated, in which case walkie-talkies are other handheld radios are appropriate, and also tune in to government broadcasts concerning relief efforts, aid stations, and the status of the situation overall.
For that, you should carry a small NOAA emergency radio. As always, make sure you include extra batteries, though many emergency radios don’t need batteries because they rely on a hand-cranked dynamo to recharge an internal one.
6. Food for 72 Hours
Most people don’t need to be told that food is an essential survival commodity.
Even though you can go weeks without any food before you starve, particularly if you are carrying some extra weight on your body, your energy levels and your mental state will begin to plummet precipitously once you have missed several meals.
Calorie-dense, shelf-stable, no preparation food for 72h is what you want to go into your good bag.
It might not be particularly appetizing, but if it will fill you up and provide you with the energy you can call that a mission accomplished.
7. Water and Water Filter
Compared to food, water is an incredibly precious survival commodity. A couple of days without any water to drink and you are done for.
Luckily, in most environments water is relatively common so you’ll be able to resupply while on the move.
The problem is that natural water sources are typically grossly contaminated with harmful microorganisms and nasty dissolved solids.
A portable emergency water filter will handily take care of this so you can drink with confidence and without puking your guts out.
8. Maps of the Area With Compass
You might think you know an area like the back of your hand, but that is only because you’ve never been forced to travel through it under extreme stress and when the landscape has been radically altered by destruction.
You won’t be able to count on your phone’s GPS to get you to where you need to go.
You’re good bag should contain several maps of the area at various scales and also a good compass, even if it is just a small button compass. Basic navigation skills are important!
9. Cash (including small bills)
One common prepping fallacy is that cash will suddenly be useless in the immediate aftermath of a survival scenario.
While it is true that you cannot eat cash and it has little practical value outside of what it is used for, the truth is that the vast majority of people will still want it because there is the expectation that things will get back to normal and then they’ll be better off.
Credit card machines and other electronic forms of payment will probably be a no-go under the circumstances, so you’ll need cash to acquire the things you need and also to get you important favors. Make sure you pack this securely or move it to your wallet in your pocket immediately.
10. Important Documents
Similar to cash, since most events will not result in a total and permanent collapse of society you’ll need important documents(birth certificates, IDs, passports, etc.) to prove that you are who you say you are.
You might opt to keep waterproof paper copies cleverly stashed somewhere in your good bag, but I prefer to keep electronic versions on an encrypted flash drive that is kept in a tiny waterproof and crush-proof case.
If you need to interact with government agencies for relief purposes or just access your accounts and other records, this will be a godsend.
11. Weapons for Self-Defense
It is a sad thing to consider, but in the aftermath of a major crisis, particularly one that has a severe impact on a local or regional level, some people will be so crazed with desperation that they might act violently.
Similarly, criminal elements always take advantage of the fact that cops are routinely distracted in the same conditions and like to run amok. One or two choice weapons for self-defense are completely justified.
You might consider a handgun, some other discreet firearm, or even something as simple as a large canister of pepper spray.
12. Portable Solar Charger
Your smartphone and other portable, rechargeable electronics will likely still be of some use should you need to grab your good bag and hit the road.
What you won’t have reliable access to is electricity to recharge them. You can free yourself from this concern if you pick up a portable solar charger and the associated cables and other hardware.
This will allow you to use UV rays from the sun to recharge your electronics no matter where you happen to be so long as you have a clear view of the open sky during the daytime.
13. Power Bank
This inclusion goes hand in hand with the previous one. You won’t always have a clear view of the open sky, or even sunlight to use your solar charger.
When you need to keep your devices running or just recharge them on the move when they get low, a power bank and charging cable are all you’ll need.
Get a good one that will stay charged for a long time and provide multiple, full recharges for a typical smartphone or rechargeable flashlight.
14. Emergency Contact Information
Most people today are hard-pressed to remember even one or two important phone numbers, to say nothing of addresses and other information.
Chances are you have friends, relatives, and other people who are close to you out there in the world who might be able to offer you aid when you are in a jam if only you can reach them one way or the other.
Keeping a waterproof book of emergency contact info in your good bag will serve as a hedge against the loss of your smartphone which doubtlessly remembers all of this stuff for you in kinder times!
You always want to be prepared when heading into a survival situation, and that means having the right tools for the job, but tools are very heavy and they take up a lot of room.
You can pack a lot of capability for most repair and improvisational tasks in the form of a multi-tool.
A good multi-tool will contain pliers, a couple of cutting blades, drivers, wire strippers, crimpers, a small saw, and more. Easy to use, easy to carry, and a great return on your weight investment!
16. Hygiene Items
Even in the midst of something that seems so terrible and unexplainable, the basic drives of Life must persist. Even in austere conditions, you should continue to take care of yourself.
This means washing your body and cleaning your mouth, something approximating your daily care routine when things were normal.
A small, minimalist hygiene kit includes a toothbrush and toothpaste, hand sanitizer, a little bit of soap, baby wipes, and perhaps some body powder.
These items will go an awfully long way towards keeping germs and infection at bay and keeping your mind “in the game.” It will also keep the people that have to be around you much happier!
17. Lighter and Tinder
Out of all the things that might kill you in a survival situation, one of the most consistent and common is simple exposure.
Exposure to the elements, particularly cold weather that results in hypothermia, gets very deadly very quickly when conditions are all wrong.
For this reason, the ability to start a fire on command is absolutely essential, even if you are certain that you’ll be able to reach some other shelter in the aftermath.
A reliable lighter or two and a bundle of tinder that can help you get a fire going with larger fuel are all you’ll need.
18. Bug Spray and Sunscreen
It might seem like a luxury item under the circumstances, something better suited towards helping you enjoy a backyard cookout or day at the beach, but bug spray and sunscreen both might prove to be essential inclusions.
Moving out into the wilderness or even just away from immediate human habitation will put you in contact with swarms of biting bugs, mosquitoes first among them, and being exposed to the sun for hours and hours will result in horrendous sunburns if you lack sunscreen for protection.
19. Tent and Shelter Gear
The shelter is an essential survival commodity in all situations, even ones that might be of relatively short duration. The ability to get into a smaller, private, warm place or one that can give you shade from the sun is priceless.
A portable tent, bivy sack, or even a simple tarp and cordage along with a little skill can do the job easily and any of them take up very little weight and room in your pack.
Make sure you practice ahead of time so you know what you are capable of erecting when the situation calls for it; you don’t want to be figuring out how to assemble a tent or bivy sack in a live event!
20. Personal and Environmental Specifics to Your Needs or Situation
As mentioned above, you must always be diligent when it comes to your personal and environmental specifics for packing a good bag appropriately.
If you have special physical or other medical requirements, you’ll need to account for them.
Children and infants could require anything from diapers to a few comfort items in the form of games, beloved toys, or stuffed animals.
Many women will require special feminine hygiene items that should be included among all the other hygiene supplies discussed elsewhere.
Take the time to think it through; think of what your loved ones require and you won’t forget anything.
There you have it! These are 20 essential items that should be included in your GOOD bag.
There are many different items that you can include in your GOOD bag, but there are some essentials that you should make sure to pack.
The above list of 20 essential items is sure to serve anyone well no matter the circumstances.
Be sure to pack these items ahead of time so that you can grab your bag and go if the need ever arises!
A GOOD bag is an essential hedge against displacement resulting from the total loss of one’s home, and can provide basic necessities and life support for yourself and your family in the middle of what is otherwise a horrible situation.
Do you have a GOOD bag packed and ready to go? What other items would you include on this list? Let us know in the comments below!
Tom Marlowe grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, He has the experience in helping civilian shooters figure out what firearms work best for them.