What’s Your Survival Bag? Determining Which Emergency Bag You Really Need

Mom with a PREP | A Get Home Bag? A 72 Hour Bag? A Bug Out Bag? Exactly what type of bag do you really need?

When I first began the journey to prepping, trying to figure out all of the acronyms for emergency bags, the differences in philosophies, and how involved I wanted to get for our family was daunting.

One of the most basic and sometimes most confusing aspects of getting started is deciding which kind of emergency bag you’re going to need.

So let’s dig in to see which bag you’re going to need!

Types of Emergency Bags

Everyday Carry (EDC) – Everyday Carry is something you keep on  your body at all times.  You carry it all the time, every single day. You’ll find a lot of examples of EDC from men since they have pockets 🙂 It can be as simple as  your keys, your watch, your cellphone, or for some who wear cargo type pants everyday, loading up with lights, tools, small survival kits, fire starters, weapons and more.

Everyday Carry Pack – This may be a backpack, your purse, a hip bag, a small tactical bag – the thing that you keep with you everyday, throughout your day, that contains a small amount of emergency/survival/needed items through your day. Because I don’t carry a ‘purse’, my day bag contains a first aid kit, a personal car kit, some basic tools, more lighting options, etc. Check out this post for great information on what you might include.

72 Hour Kit  (72hr kit). The going philosophy is that for most major disasters, it may take up to 3 days for help to arrive. Think about how Hurricane Katrina’s overwhelming disaster circle meant that so many people went a long time before any help arrived  This kit is a basic kit to get you through 72 hrs post-emergency, whether it’s a major hurricane, tornado, local emergency or fire. It’s meant to be kept handy for a quick getaway when you don’t have much time to gather what you might need. Here’s a great resource to put it together.

Go Bag – similar to a 72 Hour Kit, a Go Bag is for a quick getaway from home.

Emergency Car Kit – this particular bag or box is as simple as keeping just basic supplies for an emergency as being stuck on the side of the road for a day while you wait for help to arrive for car repair to being stuck for 2-3 days in a snowstorm or even more. It’s different than just keeping jumper cables and a tire repair kit, though they are very important. Here’s a source for you.

Get Home Bag – different than a Go Bag, a Get Home Bag is specific to someone who is on the road a lot and are stranded and need a way to store their emergency items to just get home. This is perfect for those who don’t travel far for work and just need to be able to get home now. This is the bag my husband carries in his car. He’s never more than 20 miles from the family so this is the bag he’s chosen to keep in his car to get him home in case something happens when he’s at work. In my car, if we’re going to be traveling further than 20 miles for a field trip, etc., we make sure to get our bug out bags + we have our big car emergency kit. Here’s a great video for setting up your Get Home Bag bag.

Bug Out Bag (BOB)– different than a 72 hour kit or a Get Home Bag, the Bug Out Bag is meant to be that bag full of supplies that you don’t expect to be coming home (or not for a very long time). Bugging out is the concept that things are so bad at your location, you want to bug out to another location to live. In this bag, you’d carry shelter, cooking implements, clothing, food and ways to cook and gather water for a planned trip away from home, perhaps not to a specific location. Expect that these packs will be larger and heavier than what a 72 hour kit might have. You would also want to make sure that everyone who is able is carrying their own version.

I.N.C.H. Bag – I’m Never Coming Home Bag (INCH Bag) – Similar to the Bug Out Bag, built with the assumption that you will not be returning home.

With each of these, personalizing to your own situation is mandatory – don’t take the list that someone posts about any of these bags as being exactly what you have to have. It may not always work for you, or you may need something more than they list. It also doesn’t mean that you have to have 40 different bags for a family of 4 sitting at your front door at all times. Some decide to never have a 72 hr kit, but to go straight to a Bug Out Bag.  My husband doesn’t have a full emergency car kit but has a Get Home Bag + basic emergency car repair items because of what he sees as his needs. We actually keep our 72 hour bags in our car so that they are more readily accessible to us in most situations and have more available if we’re stranded away from home (plus we have an expanded emergency car kit as well). Use the references as a basic blueprint for what you need, and build on them for your specifics.

Now, there’s nothing saying that you can’t have quite a few of these bags. In fact, our family has a little bit of all of them, including some hybrids. But if you’re new to the preparedness mindset, these can be confusing, especially since so many people use the names interchangeably.

Think about what you need for your life and plan accordingly!

YOUR THOUGHTS: What kind of bag/bags do you think you’ll need? Which kind do you already have?

A Get Home Bag? A 72 Hour Bag? A Bug Out Bag? Exactly what type of emergency bag do you really need? This site lists the options and if you really need them or not!

Photo Credit

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Katy Willis is a writer, lifelong homesteader, and master herbalist, master gardener, and canine nutritionist. Katy is a preparedness expert and modern homesteader practicing everyday preparedness, sustainability, and a holistic lifestyle.

She knows how important it is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, because you just never know what's coming. And preparedness helps you give your family the best chance to thrive in any situation.

Katy is passionate about living naturally, growing food, keeping livestock, foraging, and making and using herbal remedies. Katy is an experienced herbalist and a member of the CMA (Complementary Medical Association).

Her preparedness skills go beyond just being "ready", she's ready to survive the initial disaster, and thrive afterward, too. She grows 100% organic food on roughly 15 acres and raises goats, chickens, and ducks. She also lovingly tends her orchard, where she grows many different fruit trees. And, because she likes to know exactly what she's feeding her family, she's a seasoned from-scratch cook and gluten-free baker.

Katy teaches foraging and environmental education classes, too, including self-sufficient living, modern homesteading, seed saving, and organic vegetable gardening.

Katy helps others learn forgotten skills, including basic survival skills and self-reliance.

She's been published on sites such as MSN, Angi, Home Advisor, Family Handyman, Wealth of Geeks, Readers Digest, and more.

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