go-bag example – my work go-bag

I’m getting ready for some long-term traveling, and one of the items on my ToDo list is sell the go-bag I keep at work. Lots of days I commute from the far suburbs to the heart of a major metroplex via the local transit rail system. I have a go-bag in a rubbermaid bin under my desk for Just In Case. This bag’s mission is pretty straightforward: Help me if I have to shelter in place for a time, or help get my rear-end home if for some awful reason I’d have to walk.

I keep an extra change of season-specific clothing and footgear, along with a decent medkit ( mine is a little different than most people’s kit, due to the EMT-B skill upgrade I got ), and some personal defense items. I actually posted this bag to Craigslist to see if I had any takers for a sale.

For our purposes, I wanted to show what a small-to-medium mission-oriented bag looks like, and what it might contain. I put this bag together a couple years ago, and would make some tweaks if I did it again today but I think over time the contents have stood up to the potential use they’d be put through. This is also one of the bags I use when I consult/teach on the side.

To wit, the bag:

notebook not included - just shown for scale : )


Kelty Redtail backpack

outer center pocket
small battery-powered am/fm radio


folded heavy-duty aluminum foil ( 3 sq ft ) ( for folding into bowl/cup, collecting water, wrapping something, focusing sunlight, etc )

deck of playing cards

disposable emergency/space blanket

titanium spork
outer side pocket
dog treats ( to discourage loose dogs from chomping on you )
middle center pocket
Surefire E2D tactical flashlight ( 200 lumens )

simmons 10×25 ( 1000yrds ) mini binoculars ( w/case )

Gerber suspension multi-tool with case

400 yrd spool of stren 30lb line ( for… whatever comes up. Always good to have some almost-invisible, strong line )

laminated Rand McNally map of Chicago roads/highways

dark green poncho

1 pr craftsman M/L workgloves ( for keeping your hands safe )

highgear survival multitool w/lanyard – whistle, compass, mirror, magnifier, thermometer, time/stopwatch, backup flashlight

4 gatorade fruit punch powder packs ( to make water a bit more palatable )
Main compartment
Katadyn water bottle with microfilter ( any clear water you collect along the way can be treated with this and the bleach to be rendered drinkable )

3 gallon freezer bags

12×14 heavy duty tarp ( for an impromptu shelter or covering, to carry something, a heavy rain shelter )

Gerber ( Bear Gryls ) fixed-blade knife w/sharpener & whistle

large re-usable emergency/space blanket

baseball hat ( NASA )

Justin Case fleece watchcap

Craftsman wood-handled folding saw

( 3 ) Mainstay 3600 emergency ration packs ( for 3 full days of 3 1200 calorie meals )

hard plastic soap-dish style case w/extra AA, AAA, coin batteries

hard plastic soap-dish style case with zipties, manual can opener, 2 applications of CrazyGlue ( for whatever needs binding, including cuts you may get. )

( 2 ) 55-gallon heavy duty contractor bags
nylon storage bag misc kit including:

4 Snaplight chemical light sticks

small roll duct tape

roll electrical tape

Dorcy headlamp
Small plastic bag with:

disposable poncho

large stick of white chalk
small nylon tools kit with:

Evolv crescent wrench

small Craftsman prybar
Small foil-wrapped metal case containing:

Vasaline-soaked cottonballs ( wicked-easy to light on fire, and they burn long enough to start your own fire up )
nylon water resistant bag – health kit including:

1 pack Charmin freshmates wipes

Repel 100 – deet-based insect repellent

travel-sized Degree solid deoderant

Travel size Purell hand sanitizer

Carmex 15 spf lip balm

BiteMD external anagesic/first aid antiseptic stick

( 2 ) 3M dust mask

dental kit including: 8 Colgate disposable brushes w/paste bubbles, tooth-saver container, topical toothache medication, Temparin lost filling/crownrepair paste, dental mirror.

micro bottle of Clorox unscented uncolored bleach
Nylon water resistant bag – cordage kit including:

50 ft orange nylon 300lb thin rope

100 ft olive/white paracord


What do you think?

Leave a comment ?


  1. what craigslist and how much?

  2. Water, either in boxes or bottles. Maybe an aluminum water bottle for drinking/boiling.

  3. I don’t see paraffin soaked farmers matches, and a sewing kit (that can be used to suture an open wound.

  4. pretty good.

  5. Good kit! Just my thoughts….. 1. one or two pairs of clean socks. 2. a change of underwear. 3. 2-3 disposable butane lighters. 4. roll of quarters with 20 $1.00 bills wrapped around the roll, secured with 3-5 heavy duty rubber bands. 5. small wash cloth and a ‘hotel’ bar of soap in a zip lock bag.

    These wont take up much space and cost very little. Again, just my thoughts!

  6. Sounds good to me. How much would it cost someone to put this all together?

  7. Is good I think also white t-shirts too thank you for sharing with everyone

  8. Nice bag! I have similar but added a couple other items you might consider. Small bottle of craft paint that glows in the dark, windbreaker that is reflective on one side/dark on the other, Kevlar line, small fish hooks, and sewing needle, UV light water purifier, and I put a fanny pack together for my dog with her folding travel bowl, bag of treats, extra leash, 3 days worth of kibble, booties, space blanket and a plastic ziplock bag with copies of her health records. Her travel harness has reflective tape on it already.

  9. I would buy that! How much they goin’ for?

  10. Chicago’s, and $500. Sadly this one’s already been sold. : /

  11. Water is definitely important to bring; with this particular set-up, I had 3 liter bottles of water stowed in one of the desk drawers, so if I ever had to actually grab the bag and go, I’d be set to start, water-wise. One of the up sides of having lived in such a crowded space is that there was plenty of water available from various sources… but those first few liters were coming with me; I wouldn’t want to search. There’s that line between what you can carry, and what you’re willing to scrounge, given your environment.

  12. I definitely didn’t detail my medical kit for the bag in this post, but what I have gives me the ability to treat seriously bleeding wounds. Since going through the EMT course, I’m not such fan of closing wounds; it’d be just about impossible for me to get them clean enough in the field so that closing them with sutures would be safe. The big three moves for stopping bleeding would have to suffice, with quickclot instead of a tourniquet, then bandaging up good. I know this assumes definitive care in my future… more regional disaster than something that’s going to preclude definitive care. If I got a sense that the hospitals weren;t going to be an option at some point, I’d have to clean a wound like that -very- well, and go for sutures.

    As for the matches… definitely a good call.

  13. Thanks, Dean… I didn’t include my clothing kit in this listing, but socks are -definitely- on my mind, there. A pair of silk socks next to the skin of the feet, then wool over that seems to work very well for me in any temperature. Throw an extra pair in there because you-never-know, and that rounds out clothes for the feet. Cash is a really good call out, and something I usually keep in my EDC, but I could have expressed that in the post; a very important thing to have on hand for the general scenario I was planning for.

    The lighters, soap & cloth, and the rubber bands ( especially these : ) are good calls. Thanks, Dean.

  14. This bag cost me close to $700 when I put it together. I could do it now for a bit less, being smarter about the materials and a bit more experienced… but still, the bag would be a bit of investment. Beware of the mass-produced bags they sell some places online; the contents are usually too general to be very helpful and are almost certainly sticked by lowest-bidder providers. Building your own bag is the way to go… a sort of rite of passage for prepping.

  15. Natalie, I didn’t go into the clothing I’d carry… but you’re right, some sort of shirt would be necessary, if just as a baselayer when it was cold. I’d stay aay from anything cotton, tho. Although cotton is soft and inexpensive, it performs pretty poorly under most adverse kinds of conditions… so especially when it’s cold and damp outside, cotton can be dangerous. It’s a little more spendy, but I opt for smartwool as the base layer; in the summer it performs crazy-well wicking away sweat, keeping me cool, and resisting the tendency to stink after prolonged use. In the winter it performs admirably in managing the balance between warmth, transport of sweat, and acting as the foundation of my clothing “system”. Polyester works well as a cheaper alternative for summer, or some other performance blends you can find in the athletic clothing sections. I’d recommend a wicking baselayer from one of the outdoor providers ( Cabela’s, REI, Gander, etc ) or something hoghly-rated from the big box stores for winter use.

  16. Sandra… definitely good call-outs. Although the waterbottle has the filter in it, I don’t have a secondary method besides boiling, and if I built the bag again, I’d definitely go UV- I’ve recently acquired a CamelBak All-Clear and really like it. I had a breathable shell/windbreaker in the clothing kit I carried ( I should detail the clothing kit ), definitely an important item.

    I am all about the doggy go bag : ) http://newprepper.com/?p=193

  17. new go bag – which bag should I use? | The New Prepper - pingback on August 9, 2012 at 7:33 am
  18. Not a bad bag. I didn’t see much in the way of first aid. I’d look into taking a wilderness medicine course (I teach for WMA, wink wink) Also, just a heads up. Space blankets do not work. Find a light weight water resistant blanket (like an old army poncho liner or thin fleeece blanket to use with your tarp or poncho) Great call on the heavy duty fishing line

  19. Yea, I didn’t really go into the details of the medkit – I should really do a while post on this, eh? And I hear ya, about the space blankets. I have one heavy-duty one that I know works as advertised because I’ve used it, but the throwaway ones are good for one use, if that, and if used in conjunction with something like a tarp, liner, or jacket. At less than a dollar and negligible weight for each, throwing a couple in the bag seemed a good idea. Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it… and the gig with WMA must be pretty sweet. )

  20. I might add a change of clothes. I know it adds weight but it pays off.

  21. I mentioned that up near the top; not in the bag itself but in a kit I’d grab along with it, or change into before I’d left the office. Where I went to work back then I definitely didn’t always wear clothing that would serve well in a Chicago winter or summer, so I always kept a changeout at hand.

  22. Just a suggestion, but how about a wind-up radio/flashlight. Never need batteries :)

  23. I suggest taking your bag on a camping trip, you find many things that will help. I found a small plastic cutting board, about $4, works great as a flat place to put your stove, a place to prepare meals, or a table to work on things. Water bottles can be expensive, I try to buy one small thing every pay period, I am building 4 bags for my family. Instead of buying regular cans of beer, I bought a nine pack of screw top alum. cans, when finished, I washed them out a few times, and filled with water. They are water tight and rigid when filled and were good as a stop gap until I could afford enough of the regular ones…

  24. I definitely thought about the wind-up, but made a conscious decision to go with the battery-operated model. It’s smaller, much lighter, and the intent of the bag is to only last me for a few days, so the infinite renewability of the crank radio didn’t seem to be worth it if it came at the price of increased bulk. For the home kit, I definitely recommend a crank radio.

  25. I love the tip about the aluminum cans; I’m sure there’s non-beer alternatives, and that’d be perfect to bring along and you could re-use them for a long while. In the work gobag clinics I’ve done I always speak to the value of keeping bottles of water at your desk. In the event you have to head out with the bag you can easily drink all the water you can stand at that moment, then pack the bag with bottles to a weight you can manage right before leaving. And the tip about buying a little every pay period or trip to the store is a great one too.

    I’ve definitely brought my bag camping, as that’s a great way to test things out. I also recommend bringing the bag with you when you hike ( everyone hikes, right? ) or even just on the neighborhood walk, so you get used to the weight and how it hangs on your frame.

    The tip about the small cutting board, also golden. As long as it does weigh much, it sounds like the perfect addition and something most people wouldn’t think about.

  26. For the women: Pack a Diva Cup or Moon Cup and strips of thick towels or Glad Rags or New Moon Pads (order it all up online or maybe in your local healthfood stores).

  27. What about one of those solar recharging stations?

  28. My example is definitely andro, and doesn’t take any feminine needs into account; good call on additional items.

  29. I feel the same way about the solar rechargers as I do about the crank radios – in my get-home-bag, the gobag with a specific mission of getting home and not a survival bag, not one that was explicitly meant to maintain me in the wilds, I’d opt for batteries and space that would otherwise be taken up by panels.

    In my home kit… or in a survival bag, that’s a different story entirely. I like the Brunton solar panels.

Leave a Comment

NOTE - You can use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Trackbacks and Pingbacks: