Ultralight Get Home Bag List

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Last Updated on October 21, 2020

Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from John Ferry. Each of us has responsibilities and they all come in different sizes. In times of crisis or emergency, many of us won’t be at home. We will be working or traveling away so the Get Home Bag concept allows us to carry gear that can aid us should we find ourselves away from our stash of prepper essentials. John’s own Get Home Bag list below might help you with ideas if you are still forming your own Get Home Bag for emergencies.

This is my stab at a Get Home Bag after reading endless posts and recommendations, as well as experimenting with my camping gear. The total weight of my personal get home bag, minus water and handguns is 13.7 Lb.

There are a number of criteria I considered during this exercise:

  • Distance – how far will I likely need to travel?
  • Why – why am I’m being forced to walk home anyway?
  • Terrain – lakes, streams, rivers, roadways, built up areas, residential areas and sub-divisions.
  • ClimatePiedmont area of the Carolina’s, although I travel through the Appalachians and further south on occasion.
  • Flora/fauna – what sort of natural resources are available?
  • Most importantly – My own aching back.

Distance – Daily commute is 32 miles each way, although straight line is significantly less.

Why – The only reason to be hiking home would be due to some regional or larger disaster. This area takes hurricanes in stride, although an inch of snow will bring the place to a standstill. So WHY implies the roads are down for the duration, IE: I can’t just camp out and wait for the government to unscrew whatever has been screwed up. We don’t get earthquakes, and snow does eventually melt. And those are pretty much the only thing that can shut down the road systems here. So it has to be something very bad, probably due to external forces, and most likely dangerous, with curfews, checkpoints and the like.

Terrain – Since my assumption for the reason to walk home is that there’s been a SHTF event of some sort, (See WHY), the terrain aspect becomes one of how to avoid contact with anyone else as much as possible. This in turn means avoiding as much as possible all roadways. This in itself has a problem: we have lots of waterways of various sorts, and waterways imply bridges to get across, and that’s where the roads are. Which I want to avoid.

So I acquired the best maps I can lay my hands on. In this case they’re aerial photo, aka, Google maps, with topology superimposed.

These allow me to chart a number of routes out of the semi-suburban area I drive to every day using non-road paths. The power line and pipeline right of ways show up clearly on photo maps, and typically avoid high density population or dwelling areas as much as possible. The companies that build these things know that getting a grant for a right of way costs money, and right of ways through built up areas are especially costly. They use legions of surveyors to plot the most cost efficient routes, which just happen to match up with my goal: minimal possibility of contact with others.

Climate – Seasonal variance of ~ 20F to 100F+, sometimes colder, but rarely. So my clothing load-out changes somewhat on a seasonal basis, but that’s primarily changing the outerwear I carry in the car anyways. In summer I always have a relatively light, IE; down to 40F jacket, in the winter it’s much more substantial with heavier backup garment.

Flora/fauna– there is a ton of usable and edible stuff wild here. Just need to know what it looks like, and if it needs special preparation to be edible. Think burdock root, or Jerusalem artichoke, and small game.

My aching back – I assume, based upon my current hiking/camping trips that I’m good for roughly 8 – 10 miles in broken country per day without killing myself. So I judge seven miles per day given my security concerns.

So a minimum of four days of cross-country hiking, while avoiding everyone, at the same time everyone else is either trying to get out of the city, or into the city, along with an unknown, but probably poor security situation.

Breaking out my standard camping gear gives me an immediate starting point, but I want to:

  • A – Lighten it up
  • B – Make it fit inside my car spare tire, IE; out of sight.
  • C – Add some security items.

What I’ve come up with is described below, with the various items grouped roughly by purpose. This set of equipment goes far beyond the basic needs of a four-day walk in the woods: I explicitly decided to expand the resources under the working assumption that Murphy never takes a vacation, and if worse came to worse, I wanted the ability to live off the land for a while if need be, due to injury, or possible adverse government or militia control. Thus the radio and binoculars for comms and surveillance, and the specific planning for travel off maintained paths. Am I a TEOTWAWKI paranoid nut case? No, but having been in NOLA during Katrina, I have somewhat less than inspired faith in the government, and am a firm believer in the Boy Scouts motto.

Also note that I have a static car kit that includes a woolen watch cap, gloves, flash light, head lamp, fixed blade knife, my best hiking boots, wool blend hunting socks, MOLLE first aid kit, and a couple liters of water.

From my camping kit I’ll subtract the sleeping bag, ground pad, tent, stoves, propane canisters, cooking gear, and sub my rucksack for the full size pack. I’ve also made heavy use of a Food Saver to vacuum pack as much stuff as I can.

Categories in no particular order:

Fire stuff: a bit on the overkill side, but it weighs virtually nothing:



Food and refreshment cache:

  • Three MREs – packaging removed, sealed in vacuum bags. A bit on the heavy side, BUT: They heat themselves without fire and are calorie heavy.
  • Four dehydrated chicken soup packets.
  • 1 dozen packets of good dehydrated coffee.
  • Two plastic sporks. No biggee if lost or broken: a spoon or chopsticks can be whittled from wood.
  • I’m thinking I should add a few packets of Gatorade powder too.




My daily summer concealed carry: Kimber in .380. This weapon lives with me no matter what else I may have with me. Small enough to fit in my front jeans pocket in a soft pocket holster.




My routine camping/hiking weapon: Ruger long barrel MK III in .22. It’s far more accurate than I am out to 50 yards or so. Lives in the rucksack now with 50 rds and an oiled leather holster.




Health & Comfort – 1

Didn’t know what else to call this group…..




Health & Comfort – 2

  • Sanitizing wipes
  • TP
  • Lotrimin: if you use your feet a lot and stay in your boots for days on end, you want this stuff. Just believe me.
  • Tooth paste and mini brush
  • Three specific meds:
    • Ibuprofen- 30
    • Benadryl – 20
    • Immodium – 6



Water is critical, right up there with warmth.


Knives & Tools – 1

I carry a folder at all times: not shown here, it was in my pocket. Browning survival knife with self-sharpening sheath and a ferriconium stick on the sheath. This knife is well made, full tang, four-inch blade. I wouldn’t be real keen on banging on it to split wood, but for everyday camp uses it’s fine. The handle is a bit small for my paws, or if wearing gloves.

My longtime friend the M-7 bayonet. It’s much heavier than the smaller knife, and doesn’t have the fire stick attached, but after years & years of being abused its my favorite over a bunch of traditional hunting/camping/survival blades I own. I could probably kill a bear with the thing too.

The bayonet lives in the get home bag, and the Browning in the center console of my daily driver.

  • Fifty feet 550 para-cord – no explanation required.
  • A few 10 hour glow sticks.
  • A mini pry bar. Lowes calls it a trim bar; at seven inches long it’s quite capable of opening ordinary windows or doors.
  • Folding camp saw. Works far better than the wire or chain “survival” saws. Weighs in at 4 ounces so I don’t mind.



Knives & Tools – 2

  • Sharpie – leave messages, or mark an area for surgery.
  • Mini razor
  • Pencil with 25 feet of duct tape
  • Fishing kit – Plastic container with: 50 ft. 50 lb. line, 6 small hooks, 3 swivels
  • Can use the line for snares as well.
  • Twist ties – light repairs, etc.
  • Tie wraps – repairs
  • Orange surveyors tape – mark trails, etc.
  • Mini tool
  • Four feet plastic tubing – use w hydration kit, siphon fuel, etc.
  • P-38 can opener
  • Bunch of safety pins



Electrical stuff

  • Baofeng hand-held. Programmed with the local HAM, EMS, sheriff, state police frequencies for use as a scanner, I also programmed in the FRS, CB, GMRS channels for two-way comms.
  • Headlamp
  • Extra batteries.
  • Micro LED light
  • Solar battery with adapter cable. 5000 mAh output. Will recharge the radio or my cell.




Tools to get from here to there, and to see where you’re going and who’s around.

  • Mini binoculars 7X
  • Tradition lensatic compass
  • Wrist compass
  • Maps not shown, but a set of satellite maps with topo overlay for the entire area I tend to travel through.
  • I’ve also pre-planned a few off-road routes to get from work to home or other “safe houses”. If one looks closely there are pipeline and power line right of ways that cut through everywhere, and mostly avoiding residential areas.



Shelter and such like

  • Two 35 Gal contractor bags. Cover your pack, flotation, rain poncho, ground cover, etc, etc.
  • Rain poncho
  • Single person bivi sack.



The ruck

Amazon grade, 15 liter, MOLLE compatible ruck sack.

The most important features are: having a bazillion compartments, pass through holes for the camel-back hydration tube, and both sternum and waist straps. I like the MOLLe feature as well. I’ve a surplus combat aid kit, that’s been expanded to accommodate lesser problems than combat injuries. Also a water bottle carrier. Both use the MOLLE attachments.



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Super Steve

A very well thought out and considered article by Mr Ferry, I’m impressed by the planning he has gone through to come to his final choices. May I respectfully suggest that Mr Ferry like many others in our community MAY ( only may) be missing one point, that is much of the gear he has set to carry in his ULGHB should in fact be carried about his person and not in his bag. Its an unfortunate fact that many of us appear to fill up a back pack / tote/ rucksack etc will all the essentials of the BOB… Read more »

Cruella DeVille

RE: “respectfully suggest that much of the gear Mr Ferry has so wisely chosen should be taken FROM the pack as soon as TSHTF and be put about his person thus lightening the weight of the pack even more but keeping those life saving essentials on his person even if he loses his bag.” No argument with that at all, and for the same reasons. My employer, being CA based and all has restrictions o what may be brought into the buildings, firearms and the bayonet are most certainly prohibited, and would result in immediate firing. So the bag lives… Read more »

Super Steve

You Sir are a proactive thinking mans prepper rather than just a procedure follower 🙂 Its generally warmish and dry in CA, over here its generally windy, wet and cool so I carry an ex BRIT army combat jacket


I might upgrade the firepower a little. Maybe a Keltec sub 2k. Sounds like you live in Florida or some other gulf state. I think that you would be fine having that in your vehicle as long as you bring it out only after shtf. Everything else seemed good. Never thought about following powerline cut thrus. Very interesting article.

Eric Bergmueller

I hit “rate” and it came up zero, but I wanted to rate this article a solid 5. Change out the .380 for my .38 Colt and my gear is very similar. I assembled my own MREs which are a bit bulkier than the real thing, and don’t heat themselves. I carry a little more first aid, and some ready to go water bottles, but your kit is very good IMHO. Again, I’m sorry for fouling up the rating button.


Loved the article but… This is Preppers overkill. Too much, too slow, not focused on the single goal. The job is to go from work to home ASAP. That said why are you carrying all this stuff but hardly any food? Sure you can forage but get home ASAP. Think and carry 4000 Cal a day. Hiking at speed burns calories. Obviously small caches along your likely routes is needed. Gatorade? Yup. Lots of it and different flavours. Also dump the mre. Weight to have hot food on a fast run from work to home? Buy some Mylar rice packets… Read more »

Super Steve

Some good comments on this thread, don’t you think that the DISTANCE/ TIME involved in getting home when TSHTF is a major point?, EG My commute, my wifes commute and many of my associates commutes are all less than 15 miles, a colleague works 23 miles from home but its mainly all downhill from his office to his house so he can probably cover more ground than my wife whose journey is mainly uphill though her journey is shorter. I guess if you live in town A and commute long distance to City B then food, shelter, water is definitely… Read more »

Brasilian guy

Yours plans are similar to mine. I am from Brazil. I think of buying a monowalker to solve the weight problem.



The only thing I would add is a med bag:
– Basic medical supplies- tape, anti-friction anti chafing creme for the middle of the legs.
-some basic pain killers, benedryl, antibiotic creme and some bandages or band-aids.
-Alcohol hand sanitizer


Watch out for the monkey nut in the heat of summer. One of those little bottles of Gold Bond powder in lieu of the buck knife would be a good swap. Once those thighs are chaffed, rate of movement will be reduced.


I work 35 miles from my home in a city of 350000+…. fortunately kids and husband are only 4 miles from home most days.
I will not wait around but head out at any sign of issues. I was thinking a bike could get me out faster but will be on road in town (trails once out of town and lots of small dirt roads) although w a town this size there are no off roads until I get on the outskirts. Thoughts? Suggestions for a woman to get out quickly?


In my humble opinion:
Head home as soon as you realize the world has fallen apart.
A bike might be a great choice and could carry supplies for you.
Keep your load down to only a small backpack.
Be armed and try to avoid problems (listen to that inner voice).


If you can secure a bicycle at work I’d strongly consider garage saling one. Mount the pannier frames on the bike, then store the pannier bags in your desk/cabinet full of extra food/sweater/garbage bags, etc.

If something happens, grab your bags and mount them on the bike and roll out. Dump all the non-true essentials in the pannier bags, carrying just true minimum essentials in the backpack.


Good points.


Thanks Mr Apple and Bob. I loved the idea of storing a bike at work but I work at different buildings so I may opt fora fold up bike stored in my car. Prefer to drive out but need a backup to get home.


Just don’t forget a method of defending your supplies. Otherwise you are just stocking up for the person who seizes the opportunity to take your stuff.


A solidly built ULGHB build. I’d like to see the price and weight breakdown of the items purchased. A 5.11 Rush 12 bag is not light. I’d be surprised if the Amazon knock-off was all that much lighter. Not questioning your listed weight, just curious about the itemization. I’m of the opinion that I’d rather have a bit too much than too little. Never know what can happen on the road (or trail). For me, this build is heavy on cutting power, and a touch light on things that keep you moving toward home. I’ve long thought about how to… Read more »


Oh, I forgot this part. I really like the idea of adding the long barrel .22LR to your bag. I can knock wings off of flies with a .22, but have to be happy hitting the arm of a man-sized target with the larger center-fire pistols. It increases versatility.


Thanks for article and talking about your kit. I like a lot of what you decided on. If you don’t mind I’ll offer a couple of general suggestions and a couple of specific ones. General…you’ll never solve all problems in one bag any more than you can solve all problems with one jacket or one hat. An emergency bag (what folks used to call this type of thing before we started reinventing the wheel) should be targeted to a specific task. Otherwise you’ll try to account for all manner of problems, most of which are highly unlikely and the result… Read more »


GREAT article, have checked it against my GHB and you had me add a few things! The power line routes were a DOH moment for me. Thanks.

Dawn Mathews

I LOVED the info about power line and pipeline routes! So thank you for that! Otherwise, your bag would be far too much/heavy for me to carry. I live in a medium size city, in a very flat, hot part of California. I live 12 miles from work, just on the outskirts of town where I have an acre with a garden, chickens, and good neighbors. I am also an RN and in every lovely California disaster situation in the last 20 years my problem has been being stuck at work for the duration. If I am not at work,… Read more »

Charlotte Boren

If you over 60 years old like me, you will need a walking stick or foldable walking cane. Arthritis is tough on old knees and hip joints. If you have to go down steep gullies or need a little extra help staying balanced, be sure to take along a sturdy walking stick or foldable cane. Take a bib cap and sun glasses, too.

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