So often the ‘Prepper’ circles focus on making sure they can survive a collapse of the government, a violent rebellion, or a zombie apocalypse. That’s certainly really fun to plan for, but it’s far more likely that what you need to be prepared for is shitting your pants at work, stepping in a comically deep puddle walking to lunch, a national toilet paper shortage, or a temporary destabilization of local infrastructure. Actually, losing your income is the most effective prep you can have, but ‘save more money’ is a pretty short article, let’s focus on the gear stuff.
To this end, I get frustrated when I see posts about ‘get home bags’ which are not focusing on anything but civil war and zombies. (If you are thinking: hasn’t he written this before — I have — past posts here and here.) As with anyone who wants to actually carry useful stuff: I rethink, analyze, and refine this bag all the time. In what feels like the right timing, I wanted to address it now as we start a new year.
If a zombie apocalypse, or civil war breaks out, I might be screwed with this gear, but for anything else — I feel pretty good.
One thing I have been thinking about is exactly what constitutes a really good get home bag, which is as light and slim as possible. Something that can cover those oops which happen in life — be it the gross stuff or a simple coffee spill — but which can also handle something larger like an unplanned night at a hotel near the office, or needing to walk some distance and stay over at a little farther away hotel from your office.
These are things I’ve seen happen to people I know, and which have an unpredictable nature. The part I have not tackled is keeping all my gear very light — it’s a big kit. Luckily, I have a big car to keep it in… so let’s dive into this all.
Side note: I obviously drive my own car to the office, which makes this a little easier for me to lug around. If you commute, walk, bike, or carpool where you can’t store an extra bag or carry something large — I’d take some of this into my office piece by piece and store it there in my desk.
Hopefully you can do that. If you can’t I don’t know what to tell you, other than perhaps optimizing the bag you can carry to cover as many bases as you can. Some of this stuff can be small and light if you focus on doing just that. I am working on a future post with a smaller kit which could be carried to an office daily.
Ok, what needs to be packed:
- Underwear: a single pair, even if you never use them. You’ll be happy you have them should you ever need them. I joke about this being for shitting your pants, but also for if you can’t make it home and have to stay over somewhere, or dumping your lunch/coffee into your lap — worth having.
- Socks: wet socks can make life miserable. Pack a pair. There’s been many times when having a second pair of socks would have been amazing, and amazingly since I started carrying them I have yet to need them.
- Rain jacket: If it ever rains where you live, pack this. I think maybe Phoenix and Southern California — perhaps Bay Area — would be the exceptions here. Otherwise, get something small and packable — worth their weight in gold. I think if I had to pick between an insulation layer, and a rain jacket, the rain jacket would win out every time. Because while being cold sucks, being wet and cold is the worst.
- Charger: Something 30w or faster, with the cables for your phone and other stuff you normally have with you so you can charge any one of them. Most useful if you find yourself with an impromptu stay somewhere else, or unexpectedly heavy usage of your device.
- Cash: needs to be an amount you are comfortable with getting lost/stolen. Even $40 stashed away can be extremely handy — I’ve actually pulled mine out quite a few times when I had no cash in my wallet that day. This might be my most used item.
- Snacks: I suggest high protein bar type things, something that you are fine eating, but maybe would prefer something else. This tends to make them really be used only when you need them, not whenever you are mildly hungry. You’re not trying to have food for the end of the world, you’re trying to have something which can get you by another 6 hours if you need it to. This is my second most used thing in my bag. Super handy. I personally also pack a dehydrated meal because I have the space and I hate being hungry, but that’s a pure luxury addition for me.
- Warmth: This will vary based on where you live, what you have, or funds available. Obviously something like a high quality hiking down jacket would be ideal, but those are expensive. So really even a sweater is better than nothing. I tend to carry a Midweight layer, and a woobie — both are light, but bulky. Adding either under the rain jacket will keep you surprisingly warm.
- Light: as in a flashlight. The dark sucks, don’t let it suck, light it up.
- Shirt & Pants: The trick with these is to make them something which is versatile — meaning it can be worn no matter what you are doing, and worn with anything else you typically wear. I pack an old pair of chinos, and a button down in a solid and versatile color. This allows me to swap out my shirt quickly, or my pants, if needed and tends to work with anything. If you normally wear jeans everywhere, that’s fine too. While both the items I have packed are fast drying, yours don’t necessarily have to be, but it is nicer if they are.
Maybe / Optional / I Pack Them:
- Shoes: I do keep an extra pair of shoes, but they are an old pair of boots. This is in case I find myself needing to walk and my current shoes are not ideal. Be it that my current shoes are not going to be comfortable for long walks, are already soaked, or something I simply don’t want to destroy in water. Whatever the case. I would ditch these before anything else on the list.
- Water Purification: even just a few water purification tablets go a long way and are tiny to pack. You don’t want to be stuck with going thirsty, or risking drinking some questionable water. I keep a Sawyer filter, but the Grayl Ultrapress is super good and something I travel with. Even for hotel tap water, I would want something to make sure it was clean to drink.
- Gloves: to protect your hands, not for warmth. Mechanix gloves are cheap, and good enough for this. I look at these as most useful if I need to deal with something mechanical in my car, or something impeding my path.
- Soak Wash: since an impromptu stay at a hotel is something I focus on, a couple travel sized packs of Soak Wash for washing my clothing is very handy. A nice benefit of this brand is that they do not necessary need to be rinsed out of the garment, which is odd, but nice peace of mind when sink washing stuff.
These are less fun preps, and don’t even include a knife. I get it, but when I boil it all down to the stuff I worry about the most, and which I think everyone should think more about — that’s what you should prep for first.