What Should I Pack in a Go Bag (or Bug-Out Bag)?

When an emergency is imminent you need to be ready. Pack your go bag now.

Photo by Dawn Armfield on Unsplash

The disasters seem to be coming at us fast: Fires, explosive lightning that starts fires, hurricanes, flooding, a pandemic.

Some disasters call for staying home. But sometimes — if you are in a hot fire zone or the path of a hurricane — getting out fast is your best course of action. Given that we are months into the stay-at-home variety of crisis, you are probably geared up for that. But are you ready to flee if necessary?

When disaster is looming is not the time to prep. As we learned when the pandemic hit, the supply chain can’t handle everyone gearing up at once. Assemble your go bag — or bug-out bag — when things are calm. You’ll pack a smarter bag and save money.

You know you need a change of clothes, toiletries, your cell phone, and other basics. But here is a list of things to add to your go bag that will get you through the not-normal situations you might encounter while you are living out of that bag.

The Bag

For many people, the go bag is in their car. Or it is their car. If you live somewhere where car theft isn’t a problem, this is a reasonable strategy as long as you can drive away from the disaster. Even if you can’t, grabbing your emergency kit from the car is something you can do quickly. In that case, you might want a collection of small bags you can squirrel away in the car to keep your emergency supplies in order and easy to find — and to keep your car neat. If you are packing an actual bag, though, you want something big, durable, and inexpensive like this big duffel from AmazonBasics ($20.55)



You probably have some backup chargers around you are willing to devote to a go bag. The bigger the better. And maybe add one that can be charged with sunlight? Also consider keeping a battery in your car that will charge your phone and jump start the car. If the Zombies are in pursuit, the world is in an apocalyptic state, or even if it’s late at night, you do not want to wait around for AAA when this TACKLIFE T8 800A Peak 18000mAh car jump starter and backup battery ($69.99) will have your car and phone up and running ASAP. (Learn how to use it when it’s not an emergency.) Make sure you have cables for all your devices, too. In fact, why not just throw a couple of universal USB chargers ($12.99) in so you can’t mess this up?


You don’t know what’s going to happen when you evacuate. Pack some snacks. If you always keep a bag of protein bars or trail mix in your car or go bag, you won’t be the hangry human who can’t rise to whatever emergency happens. You also won’t be the one faced with a hangry child or partner in the middle of an emergency. No one is their best during a sugar crash. Dehydration is a serious hazard, too, in an emergency. Make sure you bring water. Coconut water, though, will recover a human from dehydration faster than anything. Pack some shelf stable boxes of coconut water, too.


If you end up in a shelter or camp site, you will want to get clean at some point. Pack your go bag with essential toiletries. Or, if you don’t want to commit the space and money to a backup of your everyday products, throw a bar of hair and body soap in so you can take a shower when the opportunity presents itself.

Some Basic Tools

Sometimes a screwdriver, zip tie, or tape can be the thing that saves you. You never know which it’s going to be. So a go bag should have some basics in it: Zip ties and good tape are must have. But keeping a basic toolbox in your car and/or go bag is also smart.

Food Storage

Who knows what the restaurant situation will be like out there. If you find something open and serving, you might want to stock up. Or you might have leftovers in the fridge you want to take along. Keep a good food thermos on hand — like this 24 ounce one from Simple Modern ($17.99) — and you can easily toss some extra provisions into your vehicle.  A good double-wall insulated cup is also a great idea, allowing you to grab a hot or cold drink you can sip from all day whenever you find a source. This Simple Modern 24oz Classic Tumbler Travel Mug ($16.99) is perfect for this. 

A First Aid Kit

Don’t let a small cut or other injury derail your survival. Keep a good first aid kit in your car at all times — and especially during an emergency. Add some liquid bandage and back ups of everyone’s medications.


Good flashlights are essential in any emergency. Toss a couple of tactical lights in your go bag, add a headlamp or other wearable light and a lantern and you will be ready for anything.

Dry Bags

At least one of the bags you have in your car should be able to keep some essentials dry, especially if your emergency is potentially wet — like a hurricane. A good dry bag ($12.99) can hold a change of clothes, your phone, a battery, a light, and your wallet. If you fill it with air, it will float. Also pack enough phone dry bags for everyone’s phone. Your phone will become an essential lifeline out there. This is not the time to kill it with water.

Did I forget anything? Tell us in the comments!

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