Is a prepper you should be aware by now of the multitude of events that can completely turn our world upside down. Depending on the type of event you may have days, hours, minutes, or seconds to react.
Over time, the community of active preppers have come up with a variety of bags or kits that any prepper might need to deal with these types of emergencies.
Each bag or kit is a basic outline of things to include and should be customized to your individual and family size as well as events that could be likely in your location.
No matter what type of bag you are putting together, there are some great tips to follow in this article on 16 steps to build a bug out bag.
Table of Contents
What’s an EDC (Every Day Carry Kit)?
The main reason for your EDC kit is to be prepared at any moment to defend and protect you and your family from unexpected events in the event that you cannot get to any of your stored supplies.
The key factors for your EDC are that it is lightweight, discreet, and that you carry at all times.
Your EDC kits comes in handy:
- For everyday uses such as cutting tough plastic packaging or repairing eyeglasses
- If you become trapped beneath the rubble of a building after an earthquake or explosion
- In the event of a shooting situation when you are forced to hide in a closet or other room to avoid becoming a victim
- If you are ever involved in a car accident and your seat belt or perhaps your child’s seat belt is jammed
- If you are forced to flee unexpectedly and quickly into the woods to avoid a dangerous situation
How to Carry/Store
The items that make up your EDC kit should be carried with you at all times, not in a bag, but on your body.
- your pants or shirt pockets
- clipped to your belt
- keychain ring
- in your wallet or purse (as long as you keep it with you at all times)
- on a lanyard around your neck
- a belt or ankle holster (if CCW permitted)
What to Include
The items included in your EDC kit need to be customized not only for your specific location and potential situations but also for your skill level. It doesn’t do you any good to carry a gun if you aren’t trained to use it properly, and in fact it could be used against you very easily by an intruder or attacker.
Analyze the items on our EDC megalist and customize your EDC to fit your needs and skill level.
Now when you look at the EDCmegalist, there may be things you won’t use in a million years or there could be some items you use regularly that are missing. This list is just to get you thinking. Obviously, women will be able to carry more personal hygiene and comfort items in their purse than men can fit in a wallet.
The idea is to customize your EDC kit, make it lightweight enough that you will wear it EVERY DAY, and modify it as needed to ensure it fits your needs. If you simply must have more space, consider a fanny pack or other small bag that can be worn such as a camera bag or mini messenger bag.
What’s a BOB (Bug Out Bag)?
Your BOB is the bag you carry that is intended to help you survive at least 72 hours and up to one week away from home. This is the bag that you store at home with easy reach so you can grab it quickly if you need to evacuate and get to your pre-designated bug out location.
When to Carry/Store
The bug out bag is your lifeline when you have to evacuate your home due to:
- Natural Disaster
- SHTF looters and rioters
- Martial Law
What to Include:
Your Bug Out Bag is the Daddy of all survival bags. Keep in mind you may have to survive for up to one week on only what you pack in this bag. Review our 154 bug out bag essentials list for a very full list of items to include.
The main categories to consider include:
- Food and Water
- Shelter and Clothing
- Fire and Light
- Communication, Transportation, and Navigation
- Hygiene and Sanitation
- Medical/First Aid
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Don’t forget these often overlooked items for your BOB:
Check out our other, more in-depth article about what a bug out bag is.
What’s a GHB (Get Home Bag)?
You carry your GHB within easy reach at all times so that you have whatever you might need to get from point A to your home. Generally, this will be a short trip so pack items you might need for trip of several hours but as much as 24 hours in case you are unavoidably delayed.
Ideally when SHTF, you will be at home with your family, but the reality is that you may be somewhere else, such as:
- the grocery store
- ballet practice or high school football game
- downtown for a major sporting event or concert
- the mall
- waterpark or amusement park
- local bar or restaurant
- your in-laws or another relatives home
How to Carry/Store
Your GHB is designed to carry the items you need to get home during an emergency situation but are too bulky for your EDC. Like every other list, your GHB items should be customized.
Since your GHB will be with you wherever you go, you will want a bag that is discreet, blends in for most settings, and something that doesn’t scream “paranoid prepper”.
Consider some of these types of bags to use for your GHB:
- camera bag
- messenger bags
- laptop bag
What to Include:
Think about what you would need to sustain yourself for 24 hours if it took you that long to get home. Don’t count on anything in your car BOB because it could easily be stolen during a SHTF event or could be inoperable due to an EMP.
Here’s our article on GHB essentials to review and modify for your needs.
What’s a INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) Bag?
The INCH Bag is exactly what its name says. This is the bag you take if you know or believe that you won’t ever be able to return to your home once you evacuate.
If the BOB is the Daddy, the INCH Bag is the Granddaddy of all bags. It’s a much more comprehensive bag and it’s not going to be one that you carry on your back, unless you are a true survivalist and can live off the land.
When to Carry/Store
Store your INCH bag away at home in the garage or another secure location. This will likely be a fully-packed bag that you transport in a vehicle to your bug out location or your new home, wherever that may be. In most cases your INCH bag should have things you need to create a new home and sustain yourself and family for several months or longer.
What to Include
The INCH bag can go two ways and it depends on whether you will also carry your already prepared BOB in addition to the INCH bag or whether you will leave the BOB and take the INCH bag. Review our our ultimate INCH bag list for items to include.
The INCH bag can go two ways and it depends on whether you will also carry your already prepared BOB in addition to the INCH bag or whether you will leave the BOB and take the INCH bag.
If you are leaving the BOB behind, then the INCH bag should include duplicates of everything in your BOB and these additional kinds of items:
- Seeds and tools for planting them
- Any family items that are valuable or irreplaceable (or plan to bury them and come back)
- Cash and credit cards
- gold/silver stockpile
- Copies of your ID, passport, other vital documents
- Food for 1 week (after that you will forage, hunt, trap)
- Iodine tablets
- Water purification tablets
- Full size bow saw
What’s a Car BOB (Car Bug Out Bag)?
Purpose The primary purpose of having a BOB for your car is to be prepared for any type of emergency that could occur while you are driving in your car.
This includes not only car maintenance and repairs but also car accidents and survival during a SHTF event or natural disaster. There are a multitude of unexpected things that can occur while driving, it’s just smart to be prepared to handle anything, even in “normal” times.
Your Car BOB comes in handy for:
- Car accidents
- Flat Tires
- Vehicle Engine breakdown
- Traffic Jams
- Long road trips
- Winter weather driving
- SHTF get-away vehicle
How to Carry/Store
Obviously you will want to store your Car BOB in your vehicle at all times. Many people stuff a large duffel bag with everything they can think of and shove into the trunk of their car. But there are a multitude of places that you can store your car BOB items including:
- the trunk or rear cargo area
- Glove compartment
- Front center console
- Driver or passenger visor
- Under each seat
- Seat back mesh pockets
- A rooftop rack storage
- rear rack
Storing your car BOB items in various places within your car ensures that you can get to them when you need them but also avoids the potential someone could grab that duffel bag in a SHTF scenario and leave you stranded without supplies.
As every prepper knows: “two is one and one is none” so to be prepared for anything you will want to include some duplicate survival supplies as part of your car BOB.
Often Overlooked Items to Include in your Car BOB:
- Several metal coat hangers or rebar wire
- Axe and/or hand chainsaw
- Extra engine oil, coolant, and transmission fluid
- Portable air compressor (powered by battery or cigarette lighter port)
Survival Items to Include in your Car BOB:
You may have these in your BOB or GHB but duplicates in your car BOB could mean the difference between life and death if your GHB is ripped away from you or your BOB is confiscated by looters or at a checkpoint.
- Sets of spare clothing for each person, including winter accessories (hat, gloves, scarves)
- Charcoal activated hand and foot warmers
- Waterproof matches
- Trash bags
- Mini-fishing kit
- Handheld GPS and/or laminated road maps
- Red spray paint
- Solar USB Charger
- Zip ties and/or bungy cords
- CB Radio
What’s a BOW Bag (Bug Out Weapons Bag)?
Many people include a gun as part of their EDC and also in their GHB and/or their BOB. If you are an active prepper and a gun enthusiast though, you will have plenty more guns and ammo.
You may need to prepare a BOW bag which is a bug out weapons bag. See the video below for more details:
What’s a First Aid Kit?
Many prepper articles talk about your first aid kit like it’s an all or nothing thing. But in truth there are several different levels of first aid kits or bags that you may want to prepare:
Individual First Aid Kit = IFAK
Purpose: The IFAK is really intended to just take care of your individual needs. You need just the very basics and typically include this as part of your EDC kit. In most cases what you can fit inside an old altoid tin or a snack sized zip lock bag will suffice.
Mini First Aid Kit = Mini FAK
The mini first aid kit is intended to take care of minor first aid issues that are annoying but not necessarily life-threatening.
A mini first aid kit is great for your GHB during a SHTF event or natural disaster because its small and lightweight. It’s great for dealing with the medical discomforts that could make getting home more uncomfortable than it needs to be. Since you always have your GHB within easy reach, the mini first aid kit also comes in handy for:
- long road trips
- camping or hiking trips
- summer beach trips
The mini FAK is great for treating bee stings, blisters, chapped lips, aches and pains, headache, minor cuts or scrapes, minor allergy flare-ups, common cold symptoms. It’s great if you can find a bag with a multitude of pockets and pouches like this one has inside to keep things organized and easily accessible.
Complete First Aid Kit
Your comprehensive first aid kit can be stored in something like this Pelican case or you can buy an actual First Responder Bag.
Just make sure that if you customize your kit to include quality items that you can rely on in an emergency situation.
In your BOB or INCH bag you should also include all the items that make up a complete first aid kit.
What’s a Pet BOB (Pet Bug Out Bag)?
Purpose: To provide for your pet(s) for whatever period the emergency situation lasts or until you can reach a more stable location.
How to Carry/Store: Ideally your pet will carry their own BOB, especially for dogs, cats, and other larger domestic animals. It should be a component of your BOB and/or INCH bags.
What to Include:
- Enough food and water to sustain your pet through several days
- A secure carrying case and/or pet bed
- Collapsible bowls for your pet to eat and drink from
- Any medications your pet needs regularly
- Check out more items to stockpile for your pet here.
The Difference Between an INCH Bag and a Bug Out Bag
A BOB is typically designed to keep you alive up to a week away from home. An INCH bag should keep you that way forever. This is why an INCH bag is larger, heavier, and has more survival items such as:
- more ways to start a fire
- more food
- more weapons
- more clothes
- and so on
The Difference Between an INCH Bag and a Get Home Bag
Get home bags are designed to get you home in the event of a disaster. When you get there, you should either take your BOB or INCH bag and evacuate, or you should bug in / hunker down.
Get home bags typically have a lot LESS gear than INCH bags, they are much lighter and smaller.
The Difference Between a Get Home Bag and a Bug Out Bag
A bug out bag should help you survive for a few days up to a week, a get home bag will do that for a few hours up to a day.
In the event of a disaster, you should ideally have the “get home bag” with you. When you do get home, that’s when you’ll take your bug out bag with you and evacuate.
Tip: don’t leave your GHB behind when you evacuate. Take it with you if you can, because it contains survival items you might use. Only leave it behind if you don’t have time to take it with you, or if you’re bugging out on foot and don’t have where to put it.
if you bug out by car, you should definitely throw as much survival gear the trunk as you can.
Some Additional Survival Bags That Come in Handy
A compression sac is great to use for storing your bivvy or sleeping bag but consider using one or more for your clothing too.
Dry Bags like the The Friendly Swede or the SenroPackcan be used in your GHB, BOB or INCH bags to keep everything inside it dry in case of accidental submersion in water.
Some kits you might create using zip lock bags of different sizes include:
- First aid kit
- Sewing kit
- Fishing kit
- Cooking/spices kit
- Meal Kit (cup, plate, utensils, etc. for 1 person)
- Family Fun kit (card games, crayons and paper, etc.)
- Personal hygiene kit (toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, razor, mouthwash, etc.)
- Winter weather clothing kit (hat, gloves, scarf, wool socks, etc.)
- Infant Needs Kit (diapers, wipes, diaper rash crème, bottles, etc.)
Garbage Bags are great for helping to waterproof your GHB, BOB, or INCH bags. Simply line the inside of the bag with a large black garbage bag before putting all your items inside.
It’s also a good idea to have several trash bags as part of your supplies because they can be used for so many things including to build a shelter or create a rain poncho.
Research the types of events likely to occur in your area and plan logically for what can happen. Do not rush out to buy pre-made kits and bags, these are typically low quality and not customized for your needs. Start simple with your EDC kit, then create your GHB and your car BOB and pet BOB if needed.
After doing the EDC and GHB, you’ll have the experience to pack a good BOB and/or an INCH bag that will carry you through the chaos. Make sure your backpack fits properly and you can carry or transport it.
And above all, make sure you are familiar with how to use everything in your bags before you need to depend on them to save your life. What’s your favorite bag?
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of ten is learning everything she can about preparedness, survival, and homesteading.