The Go-Bag


There is a whole industry, dedicated just to survival and “bug out bags”. It’s amazing that so much money is to be had.  There’s gadgets and watcha-ma-call-its, from cool crank radios to light-weight “sporks”. Never has there been more gear available to the citizens of the good old US of A.

But do I really need all of the items that are pushed in the Cheaper-Than-Dirt catalogues? Do I? Really? Every item sold is billed as a must have for my surviving doomsday. Imagine how confusing that must be for someone who’s new the idea of preparedness.

Seriously, if I carried everything that is pushed in catalogues as must have end of the world gear, I’d be carrying a ruck heavier than when I go to the field with these guys. And then I’d be laughed at. And that would hurt my feelings.

The reality is that a “go-bag” needs to be light weight, but able to carry everything that I may need to accomplish my mission (job/task/goal/etc.) If you are like me, your go-bag has one job and one job only: To help you get to safety and loved ones, and re-group. It is not a “go live in the woods until all the bad people kill each other, ready for anything, cure-all, now I’m a prepper, bag”

I was trained to tailor my gear to the mission. When training with DTG we have always been given a general rule for gear packing when training small unit tactics, but given the leeway to pack for the task at hand.  That way when I got where I was going on foot, I hadn’t spent all my energy carrying things I didn’t need, and I could still do what I was told to do. I’d also be less likely to be fumbling through my bag (trying to find what I truly need), because of all the crap that I convinced myself I would need (and didn’t).

With that in mind, how do I pack to keep myself safe in high crime urban areas? Here are some truncated & modified considerations born out of the METT-TC acronym.

  1. Mission: I’m going to start with the “mission”. As a husband and father, what’s my mission when I’m out and about the “mog” (high threat urban area)? It’s pretty simple actually. Primarily I need to keep my butt safe while to and fro. I’m no use to my family if I cannot keep myself safe. Secondarily my mission is to respond as quickly as possible to my family in an emergency, while still in a capacity to help (PT?).


  1. Threats (enemy): A threat (or enemy) is anything or anyone that is trying to harm me. The aftershocks in an earthquake are just as much my enemy as rioters in a civil unrest situation. So I must ask myself – what kind of regional threats do I face that would keep me from being able to stay safe or respond to my family while at work? Power outages causing gridlock or supply chain issues, civil unrest, terrorism, natural disaster, etc. etc. etc. I need to list them all.


The second and third order effects of any of these disasters could mean I’m on foot, going where I need to go, and there could be hostile people in the area, mass confusion, or hysteria. I also need to consider that some disasters are more likely to happen than others. For instance in Ferguson, MO, I’m going to rank the probability for civil unrest a bit higher currently than natural disaster. It doesn’t mean that natural disaster is not going to happen, but I need to focus on what is likely. So depending where I am, if civil unrest is there, I might tailor my personal protection firearm accordingly. I might write down and rank the threats that I face in order of probability, severity of effects that I would face.


  1. Terrain & Location: If a disaster happens of regional or national magnitude, how will I travel over my area’s terrain while still protecting myself, and also how will it affect my ability to respond to my family?

Given my pattern of life, what’s the worst geographic distance that I will have to hurdle, and what obstacles could be present? If I live on the south suburban end of a huge megalopolis, but I’m working in the north end of the “mog”, what do I need to carry with me to keep myself safe if I have to hoof it 25 miles to safety? Can I even walk 25 miles? What about while I’m trying to stay out of sight?

So with respect to these brief considerations, I will use the SMOLES packing concept (old military packing acronym), to help prioritize what I need and what I don’t need with me every day.

Self-Defense: Shoot, Move, Communicate

Shoot: Given my pattern of life my normal compact concealed carry pistol and a spare mag should suffice. On the other hand if there is a threat of the zombie apocalypse on the horizon, I can carry a full size pistol in the pack or maybe even a broken down AR as long as it won’t get me in any legal trouble.

Move: Next I have my vehicle to get my move on. What happens if an emp knocks out all electronics in a regional area? Have I been staying in proper shape to hoof it? Do I have good shoes or boots? I have to be able to move and move at a good pace.

Communicate:  Everyone has a cell phone, great. What if the towers aren’t transmitting? Do I have a hand-held crank radio to at least get radio news reports? Something to think about.

Medical – First Aid Equipment: 

The most important thing the First Aid Kit will help you do is apply self-aid to stop blood loss. You can get a kit like that here. The rest of the components, like a chest seal, or naso tube are for you if your go down and someone not only knows how to use those devices without killing you, but is willing. Emergency Trauma Dressing, Compressed Gauze, Celox, Tourniquet, Shears, these are all good things to keep the red stuff inside. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of space either.

Observation Equipment

A 10 power monocular can be cheap and very useful to check out an area from a distance. For the weight and size that it takes up in a bag . . . it’s a must have. Everything grid locked and all you can see is traffic for miles? Break out the 10x monocular and I might see something I would have otherwise missed.

Land Navigation Equipment

GPS, Compass, Area Map. All good things to have. It’s also nice to know how to use these tools with better proficiency than just “I can read what way north is”. There’s a class scheduled here.

Extreme Weather Equipment

Rain, Snow, Sun, Floods, Mud Slides. If it’s winter, I should have good boots in my truck. A weatherproof jacket in the car doesn’t hurt even in July. When it’s peeing rain sideways, I like to have my head covered. I make sure the coat I wear to work every day has a waterproof exterior.

Survival Equipment:

I go back to the rule of threes on this one. What will kill me first: 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter (austere conditions), 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food.   I’m much more likely to die of exposure in the middle of winter trying to get back home than I am to starve to death. So my go-bag reflects this reality. Having water and the ability to purify it isn’t half bad either.

You might notice that I didn’t go through and list the exact contents for the Go-Bag for high threat urban areas. The list can be tailored to fit different perceived threat levels, given current events.  But, I will have a template with suggestions posted in the online classroom that you can subscribe to after the 1st of the year at As well there will be a more in-depth look into the considerations behind packing the go-bag. There will be pictures and information on what it costs on a tight budget to make a decent go-bag.

Thanks for stopping by,



2 thoughts on “The Go-Bag

  1. I have moved optics up into EDC. I started carrying a (relatively) small pair of cheapie 10×25 binos, and I’ve used them much more than expected. For one thing, I’m checking the traffic for my ride home from one of the 11th story office windows before I leave every day, but there have been other uses, too. Since I’m using them regularly, I’m likely to upgrade soon and shave some ounces (I normally do the “try it with some cheapies before you invest in the expensive drawer-filler” strategy on EDC stuff.)


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