Go Bag Items

I’m posting this for Debbie Tremel

I use a standard sized backpack that I’ve tested for utility, comfort and durability. In the bag, I most often package like-items together in waterproof bags. I split up my fire-starting items, however, and would move one item to a pocket on my person as soon as possible in case anything happened to the bag. 

Shelter:

  • Army Surplus Modular Sleeping bag:  This bag is three layers, light weight inner bag for summer or extra insulation in winter, a winter level bag and a water-proof bivy outer layer. With this bag, you can go without a tent and be prepared for all seasons. It’s not light, but lighter than carrying a combination of bags, blankets or tent. It’s rated to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Emergency Blankets: these are very light weight and small and can provide warmth, shelter, and be used for water collection, heat reflectors and more.
  • Cashmere sweater: I have found cashmere to be by far the warmest “wool” for the weight. It can be rolled small, but still provides tremendous warmth.
  • Rain poncho: lighter than a coat but still effective at keeping moisture off. Can also be tented around you when sitting to provide more protection.
  • Contractor Bag: (the thick plastic kind) Can be used for shelter, water protection for other items, cover over fire in rainy situation…many possibilities.
  • Wool (smartwool) socks
  • Gloves: with warmth and wind resistance.
  • Dense wool and fleece layered hat. If potentially in a sunny area, one with a bill would be good too.
  • Silk long underwear- very thin and light weight but great insulator.
  • Boots, sturdy pants, flannel shirt, t-shirt, coat. I do not keep these in the go-bag but in a duffle next to it. If possible, I would change into these before departing. If a rush, can grab and hand carry until time to change.

Water:

  • Multiple drinking filter straws
  • One pump water filter
  • One mid-weight piece of clear plastic folded small (for solar still)
  • Small camping pot (for cooking and boiling water) This is not easily replaced naturally. It can also be used to collect food, carry water and has many uses that are essential. I actually have two and store other items within the pots.
  • One metal water bottle. Metal is important because if your water freezes, you can put it by a fire and not waste your body heat to melt it.
  • Water purification tablets.
  • Metal spile. This can be used to get drinkable sap from trees during many times of year.

Fire:

  • Multiple lighters. They are small and light and the very fastest way to get fire in emergency. If it’s very cold, you must warm the lighter before using it. Note, if you’re storing your bag in a hot car, check the lighters occasionally since the lighter fluid can evaporate in ongoing heat.
  • Water-proof matches:  I go for redundancy in case something fails.
  • Ferro rods:  small kits are available that take little space and minimal weight. These produce sparks, not flames, but a good additional level of non-primitive fire making ability.
  • Tinder:  I have a small tinder bundle in water-proof bag in case of emergency in inclement weather before you have time to gather.
  • Firestarters: I have a small bag of about six Vaseline coated cotton balls. Make sure when you make these that you don’t totally cover the cotton. The flame starts with the cotton, then the Vaseline will ignite and burn hot for a long time. Very small and light and great for emergency fire. I’ve used these when with damp wood and it burns long enough to remove the moisture and ignite the wood.

Food:

  • I carry some prepared emergency bars. They are fairly dense and heavy, but contain a lot of calories, fat and protein and are packaged to last.
  • Jerky or pepperoni. Pepperoni has more fat which provides more calories and long-term energy.
  • Dried fruit- Not much, just enough to add some nutrients if you can’t gather immediately.
  • Dehydrated dinners. These are prepared items that just require hot water to rehydrate. Look for things that are compact but have high calories.  I do not pack a lot of food. It takes up a lot of space and weight, so just enough to get through a week or so of fairly low-calorie days by which time you can hopefully have been supplementing with gathering, hunting or fishing.
  • Mesh produce bags: for gathering edible plants and berries. You can buy these for using at the grocery store, but they also work great for gathering. They are sturdy and very fine mesh so you won’t lose small food items. Usually come with several sizes. If not, pack a few plastic grocery bags for the same use. These, however, are not as strong and will not last long.
  • Knives:  I have several knives. Two small Moras like Tracker School sells. These are strong, reliable knives perfect for almost any carving use. I’ve used for many different wood carving needs and butchering animals. I also have the mid-sized Tracker Knife. It has less weight than the original Tracker, but still the utility and strength to do much of what the original does.
  • Snare wire
  • Fish line
  • Fish hooks with fish line weights
  • Fish Gill Net: can be set up to potentially catch fish while you rest.
  • Mini crossbow bolts and handheld crossbow. These are small, inexpensive and a means of quietly hunting small game in an escape situation. The crossbow can be tied to the outside of the bag. I also have an extra string. If you’re good with a throwing stick, you could skip this. But as far as a carriable weapon, this is a great option. You can get good accuracy with just a little practice. Mine is a 50 lb draw, so could do damage to any large animal or human that is threatening you as well. For long-term, bolts can be made like arrows so you won’t run out of ammunition.
  • Seeds: It is best to know your escape area before selecting seeds. Also, if you’ve never practiced a forest garden, know that it is very different than a regular cultivated garden. My seeds are for going north so they have shorter growing season requirements. I also have probably at least half of my seeds as native wild plants that will grow in that region. These are more likely to live and thrive and I can create food sources near my final destination. I also have a good number of perennials which would not be planted until you knew you’d be staying at least a couple years. I also have non-food seeds like dogbane, gourds and nettle, wanting these utilitarian plants growing in my area.

Other:

  • First aid:  bandaids, bandages, gauze wrap, gauze pads, dental repairs kits (multiple), suture kits (multiple), tweezers, butterfly bandages, trauma pads, ace bandages, moleskin, antiseptic wipes.
  • Air purifier mask
  • Bandannas
  • Glover’s needles- several packs! Making awls and bone needles is very time consuming and they don’t work nearly as well. Needles are essential for repairing clothes and supplies and making new ones. I choose Glovers over any other type because it can be used on any fabric- but will also be useful for leather where other needles aren’t.
  • Small bundle of artificial sinew. For the same reason- strong and good for any use and can get you by until you get an animal to have real sinew.
  • Duct Tape: can be used for temporary repairs, emergency wound care…
  • Hand-held saw chain. Nature provides no saws! I pack two of these. If I were taking more supplies or could handle the added weight, a full-sized saw would be my top priority.
  • Small crank/solar radio/flashlight: Could be essential to get information on safer places to go or to just know what’s going on. If I were heading straight into wilderness, I would leave this behind. Cranks are noisy, but don’t require solar. I got one that does both so I would have options.
  • Reading glasses: I keep a couple pairs in hard cases in my go-bag. I’m at an age when I need them for close-up work which is definitely a need for many survival skills. Not bad to carry regardless, can also protect eyes when flintknapping.
  • Paracord- 100 ft
  • 2 Small Emergency candles- good not only for subtle lighting, but could help get a fire started in difficult conditions
  • Compass
  • Leather ties- I keep small lengths of leather lacing. These can be used for tying things up or as hair ties (they stay in hair better than other strings).

More than a go-bag:  These are items on my list to take if I have the ability to go at least part-way by car, horse (or other animal to help haul) then use a travois. These are also items to have cached on my escape route. These are also looking at long-term wilderness living conveniences- until we can get the skill to replace them:

  • Full sized saw with extra blades (depending on type of saw). I have yet to find a natural method of making a saw that works like a commercial saw. These are incredibly valuable when making shelters or getting wood for other uses.
  • Full sized spade- much easier than digging sticks for some needs.
  • Axe- I do not have in go-bag. For small things, the Tracker knife suffices. I find a saw more useful than axe for most survival needs. For long-term though, this would be helpful.
  • Tablet or small laptop with solar charger (I have been typing in all my class notes, have class audios, and multiple resources including videos, articles and photographs of skills and wild edible and medicinal plants I can find. This is all the computer contains- just resource library)
  • More string/rope: most long-term shelters need some tying and making cordage is time consuming.
  • More food
  • More clothing
  • Cast Iron pot. I would not take a skillet since most of that cooking can be done on rock or coal or in the bottom of a pot. But having a large pot would be an incredible long-term convenience for a group. They weigh a lot though, so only useful if you can get it where you’re going.
  • Extra knives: Make sure you have enough unless you’re already accomplished at flintknapping and bone tools and know you can obtain the necessary materials to make your own.
  • More seeds and bulbs (seed potatoes, day lilies, etc).

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