How to Build a Go-Bag – Made Simple

The Non-Prepper’s Guide to Go-Bags

A Bug-Out Bag or Go-Bag is a kit or backpack that contains the items you would need to survive for 72 hours when evacuating from your house and a disaster. We will walk you through what you’ll need to include in your Go-Bag.

The military calls the Go-Bag a 72 hour bag.  This is the best place to start prepping. It’s the basics to prepare you and your family for any kind of disaster. Some kits are designed to sustain you for longer periods of time. It depends on you, how many people in your party and what you are evacuating from, and when you can return home.

There is a lot of information out there about Bug-Out Bags, so we’ve tried to make this as basic and as easy to understand as possible.

And we’ve made it easy for the non-prepper or the non-outdoor folks.

A bug-out-bag is simply a backpack. However, you’ll want to buy something strong and sturdy. Most preppers and survivalist, and us as well, recommend a military type of backpack, because they’re designed to be rugged and will last through just about any type of punishment you can throw at it. And these days, they’re not bad looking either.

What Emergency Management Personnel in Every City Tells Their Residents:

The idea of surviving for 72 hours is the advice most Emergency Management personnel, city officials and emergency rescue workers in just about every city recommend to residents, no matter the disaster common in their area.  The reason is that right after a disaster, due to fallen buildings, power outages and/or simply getting organized, the city’s emergency rescue personnel will not be able to get to you or help you for roughly 3 days. You’ll need to prepare to be on your own for at least 3 days, and maybe longer, until emergency workers can get help to you.

Your Bag:

The good news is that you can also use this bag for everyday use too, but it’s recommended that the bag be packed and put aside so you can grab it and run out the door at a moment’s notice when disaster strikes.

You can also use your backpack for everyday use, and still quickly pack your Go-Bag if you know what to put in it and you know where everything is. It won’t be as quick as if you had it ready to go and waiting for you. But it’s still a good alternative.

Go-Bag Contents:

So, what should you put in your go-bag you may be asking by now?

Here’s a quick list of Go-Bag items you’ll want for temporary survival, up to 72 hours.

  • Strong and Durable Backpack, Click Here for recommendations
  • Extra Cloths – one spare change of cloths, underwear, socks, shirt (paints optional). Maybe put a good pair of hiking shoes or boots either near the bag or tied to the bag.
  • Important documents and Contact Numbers- Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, house deed, etc. you’ll want to have copies of the these documents in a waterproof envelope of some kind.
  • Pictures of all family members – For two reasons, if you loose all your possessions, you’ll at least have a picture of your family members, and if you get separated then you can show people the pictures of your family members while you’re looking for them.
  • First Aid Kid – There are several preassembled kits, or you can build your own.
  • Emergency Money – In small bills
  • MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat) Ready to eat food – or granola bars, energy bars, packets of tuna, etc. — You can also put together small kits you prepare yourself, i.e. Packs of crackers, pouch or canned tuna, chicken, spam or sardines. Ramen Noodles, candy-bars, small bags of dried fruit and/or mixed nuts, beef jerky is always a good idea too. You can also pack instant drink mixes such as coffee, crystal light, Kool-Aid, fruit punch, powdered orange drink mix. You can also make separate meals by preparing these kits ahead of time in small zip locked baggies or sealed bags, but make sure to squeeze all the air out before you seal them. If you prepare these packages properly, ensuring all the air is out of all packages, you should get 3 to 5 year shelf-life for your homemade MRE’s.
  • Small battery or solar or hand crank operated radio
  • Cell Phone & Charger, (many of the new hand crank/solar radios also charge phones)
  • Bottle of water – As big of a bottle as you can find or carry, and a small water filter
  • Whistle – You can use the whistle if you’re separated from your party. If people are looking for you, blow the whistle repeatedly, and tell your children to do the same thing.
  • Flashlight – You can get small flashlights these days that are really strong. But buy any size you are comfortable with, but make sure it’s strong. Glow sticks are also recommended, they are not electronic and provide a good light source.
  • Extra Set of House/Car Keys
  • Family medications and extra eye glasses
  • Small Travel Size Toiletry bag (with travel size toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipes etc.
  • Thermal Blankets – they come in very small folded packets, easy to pack
  • Rain ponchos
  • Matches in waterproof container and/or cigarette lighter
  • Compass
  • Manual Can Opener – They’re small and easy to pack
  • Compact pack of napkins or toilet paper
  • Escape tool for you car, and multi purpose tool and/or a good pocket knife – these are compact, easy to pack and carry and are extremely handy in all sorts of situations
  • Camping soap – small bottles of non-scented liquid soap, easy to pack and carry
  • Extra plastic bags, and use plastic bags to put your cloths, flashlight etc. in the backpack as waterproofing

I would also suggest packing a map, and pre-plan and discuss a meeting point with your family in case you all get separated or if disaster strikes when everyone is in school, at work etc. Have a plan A, B and C.

Depending on how many people there are in your party or household and their ages, you’ll have to think about making more than one Go-Bag. You might also want to put together a bag if you have infants or young children. These bags will contain the essentials for young babies, i.e. extra powered formula, towels and wipes, bottles and diapers etc.

If the kids are old enough to carry a backpack of their own, consider assigning them each a bag, one with food, one with extra cloths etc. And some toys to keep the kids occupied is always a good idea. Even consider packing a deck of cards.


I have a 3 year old, and she loves her iPad. So for Go-Bag or even for home prepping for the kids, it’s a good idea to download some of their favorite videos (because during a disaster we won’t have internet, even with an iPad with cell service).

You will already have a phone charger, and it will also charge the iPad, although much slower.

So for entertainment for the kids make sure to download several videos on their mobile devices to keep them entertained on the go or away from home.

Bottom Line:

Buy a good, sturdy backpack and fill it with the basic supplies you’ll need for about 3 days. This is the one piece of advice that every emergency manage agency and person advises, no matter the type of disaster.

Basically, this is the bare minimum you should have. Of course I recommend much more, but this is the best place to start.

I hope you and I never have to use our Go-Bags, but with the way things are going in the world these days, it might actually be a good thing we built our bags.

Best of luck to us all.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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