Do we really need all of those bags?
Just a couple of years ago I was only aware of preppers needing one bag: a BOB (Bug Out Bag). Something you could grab and go if you needed to quickly evacuate your home. Lately though, it seems every few months a new bag is being added to the list that preppers should have! I suppose that's because someone had the wisdom to break down the different needs for different scenarios and organize them into more specific-type bags. But, it's enough to make a person go insane just thinking about all of them! Do we really need that many bags? And, if so, why??
Below is a list of "prepper bags" that I'm currently aware of (I'm sure there are even more that I'm missing). I will try and break down my perception of the intention/use of each bag and whether or not they are absolutely necessary for preppers/survivalists to have.
(I may include, as an example, links to products available on Amazon, however, I am not affiliated in any way with Amazon, other than being a customer of theirs.)
72 Hour Emergency Kit
This bag/kit will include the absolute minimum items necessary to survive for up to 72 hours (3 days) in the event that you have to evacuate your home due to an emergency situation. Items in the bag may include water, non-perishable food, hygiene, emergency blanket, flashlight, battery-powered or hand crank NOAA weather radio, backup batteries, cell phone with chargers and a backup battery, prescription medications, small first aid kit, etc.
It is my opinion that not every prepper will need a 72 hour emergency kit. See my article, Is a 72 hour emergency kit going to be enough? for my reasons why. If you have a BOB, GHB, or INCH bag, you should not need one of these bags. It would just be additional baggage. However, every household that does not have any of those bags should definitely have a 72 hour emergency kit! In fact, these are bags that actually kick start some preppers! Once they have one, they realize that they might have the need for more stuff in case of an emergency.
I have not seen anywhere that it is recommended to add clothing to a 72 hour emergency kit. I would think including at least one change of clothes would be a good idea. Oh, and the emergency kits that you can buy already assembled, such as this one? Forget them! You can make your own at a fraction of the cost!
The Go Bag is for those who would need to evacuate their homes, but have a place to go; such as to a friend or family member's house that is outside of the danger zone, or a hotel. A Go Bag would include items such as a couple of day's change of clothes, personal hygiene items (hair brush/comb toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.), cell phone with chargers and a backup battery, prescription medications, some extra cash, important documents and pictures, etc.
It's normal to think that you would have time to quickly throw all of those items into a bag if there was an emergency situation, but that's not always the case. See my article, When tragedy strikes next door, where I explain what happened in my situation. Not only is time a consideration, but when tragedy strikes we do not usually think clearly and we could forget something important.
A Go Bag does not necessarily have to be a backpack. It can be anything from drawstring bag to a plastic Walmart bag, or anything in between. I would recommend keeping your Go Bag in an easily accessible area; somewhere that you can just grab it quickly and go!
I think the only time a Go Bag would not be necessary for a prepper to have on hand is if all of the items mentioned above are included in another bag, such as their BOB or INCH bag.
BOB (Bug Out Bag)
The BOB is also often times also referred to as a GOOD (Get Out of Dodge) bag, among other names. A BOB will include some of the same basic items as the 72 hour emergency kit, but also many additional items, depending upon your specific needs.
Your BOB should have what you will need in it to make it to your BOL (Bug Out Location). I'm not sure that was the original intention of having a BOB, but from the info I've seen lately, that seems to be the more popular description, or intended use, for it. In fact, as I said above, when I first started prepping and heard about a BOB, I thought it basically meant food, supplies, and gear to have at the ready in case you had to leave your home during a SHTF or emergency situation and were headed for the woods. But, as I also mentioned above, the bags seem to have been broken down and organized/categorized in a simpler fashion (hah!). So, for all intents and purposes here, I will address the BOB as being used for those who have a BOL they will be heading to if a situation arises wherein they would need to do so.
Everyone's BOB will be different and should be put together to fit your individual needs and circumstances. In other words, what you need to put in your BOB will be based upon how far you have to travel, how long it will take to get there, and what is available once you arrive. For some, it may only take a couple of hours; for others, it may take a day, or longer. However long you estimate it will take you, you should factor in that traffic and road accessibility may be worse than normal. Therefore, you should allow extra time in your calculations.
Some of the basics that everyone will need in their BOBs include: water, non-perishable food, basic camping gear, fire starting gear (and knowledge of how to start and maintain a fire), shelter, a compass, maps, first aid kit, etc. For more extensive lists, read my article, Prepping 101 | Basic contents for your BOB. There are some links there to actual lists that will give you an idea of items you may need for your BOB. Just remember, you may not need every single item on the lists if they don't apply to your particular situation.
Do I think every prepper should have a BOB? Yes! Every single person should have a BOB. Even if you don't plan on ever leaving your home during an emergency/SHTF situation. The only time I would recommend NOT having a BOB is if you have an INCH bag (see below for that).
Just a suggestion: Buy a backpack and put your own BOB together. That way you will have specifically what you need and you will save tons of money! Note:You do not have to go out and buy an expensive backpack for your preps! The one I have for my INCH bag is very sturdy and roomy with outside pockets (some with zippers) and has a 50L capacity. I bought it at Walmart, for around $15 a couple of years ago.
GHB (Get Home Bag)
Some might think the GHB and BOB are meant to serve the same purpose, since they have a lot of the same items inside them. In some ways, that may be true, however, the GHB is a much smaller, or scaled down version of the BOB.
Some of the items you may want to include in your GHB are: water and non-perishable food (enough to last however long you estimate it would take you to get home from where you are heading/will be/are), a small first aid kit, maps of your local area, a folding stove with fuel, a lighter or matches to light a fire with, a cup to heat/boil water in, water purification tablets or purification straw, emergency blanket, rain gear, etc. I would also recommend an extra pair of socks and shoes that would be comfortable for walking long distance in case you won't be able to drive your vehicle; especially if you are wearing "dress" shoes.
Do all preppers need a GHB? No. However, if you do drive a lot, then I would have to say yes! The purpose of the GHB is to have a bag in your vehicle, especially if you drive out of town or anywhere it would take you more than a couple of hours to walk home. I would recommend making sure your GHB is not too heavy to carry. I would also recommend that if you work across town or out of town that you take your GHB into your workplace with you. You never know when you may not be able to get to your vehicle, for example, if there was as an earthquake, flood, etc. that may have damaged your vehicle or blocked the path to it.
INCH (I'm Never Coming Home) bag
The INCH bag is similar to a BOB and will have some of the same basic items in it. However, having an INCH bag means you are in it for the long haul. In other words, you have to leave your home, you don't have a BOL, and there's a good chance you will never be coming back. You will have to survive out in the wild; somewhere away from civilization, for an extended amount of time. So, it may actually mean you're really never planning on returning to your home, or that you will have to be away for an extended amount of time; maybe months, or possibly years. No matter, if you have to leave your home and you don't already have a BOL to flee to, you are going to need an INCH bag.
So, and INCH bag has pretty much all of the same items as the BOB, but will usually include some items that would not be necessary for the BOB as described above, such as:
Machete (for chopping wood)
Good bushcraft knife (at least one, more is better)
Ferro Rods (for backup fire starting)
Tinder (for starting fires)
Folding saw (for cutting trees and branches for firewood)
Small or folding wood burning camp stove (one that can use both fuel and twigs for when you run out of fuel)
Things that one would need to actually live in an uncivilized area without the benefit of a cabin or house. You know, like primitive camping, but not as luxurious. For more information on the INCH bag, you can read my article, What is an INCH bag?. There's a link to a YouTube video there that explains the difference in a BOB and an INCH bag.
As you've probably already guessed, not every prepper needs an INCH bag. But, if you don't have a BOL before SHTF or you are planning on hunkering down and staying home, you might want to seriously consider making your BOB into an INCH bag. Or, if you haven't started a BOB yet, jump right into starting an INCH bag.
EDC (Every Day Carry)
EDC means something that you take with you every day, everywhere you go. In the prepper world, it means gear. Gear such as folding knife, fire striker/lighter, paracord, duct tape (folded up, not the whole roll), bandages, multi-tool, emergency blanket, extra cash, etc. Things that would come in handy if you were out and about without any of the prepper bags listed here and you had an emergency. Things that might be able to help you get home or get to some place safe. Some preppers use things such as an Altoids can, their wallets, fanny packs, or just their pockets for their EDC. Women most likely would use their purses to carry their items in. So really, EDC is not a bag. But, it is something that could be very important to have on hand if you were somewhere and did not have access to one of your "bags".
I honesty think this is something that all preppers should consider having. I must admit that this is not something I have implemented yet, so I don't have a lot of knowledge on it to pass on. But, you can bet that it's something that is on my list to do soon.
IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit)
An IFAK is not the same thing as a basic first aid kit that you can buy at Walmart or similar stores. At least not in the prepper/survival world. IFAK means just what the acronym says, Individual first aid kit. Emphasis on individual. Something that is specifically set up according to your own individual needs and is separate from a "regular" first aid kit.
In most cases, an IFAK targets a specific need, such as being a trauma kit, specifically tailored for treating trauma wounds, not your everyday cut or scratch. A trauma kit would include things such as a tourniquet, quick clot, surgical scissors, splint, and such. Click on this link for an example of what an IFAK trauma kit is.
Another example of an IFAK would be one for treating gun shot wounds such as the one here.
An IFAK isn't like a regular first aid kit in that it has a specific purpose and should be easily accessible. It really shouldn't be kept inside of a backpack (that would make it harder to access). There are some IFAK bags that will attach to a molle strap that you can just rip off when needed. There are some that will open all the way up, making the items inside easy to access. As for me, I prefer a bag that has both of these assets.
If you want to put your own IFAK together, you can purchase bags intended for just that. Here's a link for an example. The particular one in this link is the one that I have in my Wish List that I will be purchasing for the trauma kit I am putting together. I have already obtained the contents for my IFAK trauma kit and now just need the bag! Which I will be getting on my next payday.
Some may say that an IFAK is not really necessary since you could include all of the items in your "regular" first aid kit. I beg to differ. In the case of a severe wound, such as a gun shot, knife wound, our even a fall causing broken limbs, you would need to quickly access exactly what you need for that particular situation. Digging around in your first aid kit would take time that you may not have in that moment. In an emergency situation, seconds could make a difference between life and death.
Do all preppers need an IFAK? Yes! In fact, I would suggest having BOTH a first aid kit and at least one IFAK.
Black Out Kit
What will you do when the lights go out? Will you panic and scurry around in the dark looking for candles and a lighter? Or will you have a black out kit nearby with everything you need in one convenient location?
A black out kit isn't necessarily considered a bag, per say, but it could be! Even though it isn't technically a bag, I felt it something of importance to mention here. Especially in light of the recent blackout that happened in New York. With today's aging grid infrastructure, you never know when a black out may occur! Or how long it will take to get that grid back up and running.
A black out kit basically consists of candles, a lighter and a flash light or two. However, you can expand on the contents to fit your own individual preferences or needs. In other words, you can add things to it such as solar or battery powered lights, power battery packs for your cell phone or tablet, extra batteries for your flashlights, etc. You could also include some energy bars, snacks, board games, or playing cards. Having those things nearby and not having to hunt for them would come in pretty handy.
It doesn't really matter what you use to make your black out kit. It could be a plastic tub with a lid, a 5 gallon bucket, a backpack, a drawstring bag, a pillowcase, or even a kitchen drawer. The important things is to have one. Not only will it make it more convenient when a blackout occurs, but it will relieve a lot of stress having everything you would need for lighting in one convenient place. So yes, I believe every household, whether preppers or not, should have a blackout kit. You'll want to make sure everyone in the household is aware of where the blackout kit is kept.
With all this talk about bags, what bags do I have? Well, I started out with a BOB, which actually included all of the things now recommended in a 72 hour emergency kit. Then I upgraded my BOB to an INCH bag (because we do not have a BOL). I have a good sized first aid kit that is housed in a medium sized military style backpack. I'm currently working on putting together a trauma IFAK, as mentioned above. I really need to get a bigger purse so I can fit some EDC items in it! See, we all have to keep moving forward and building up our supplies/gear.
So, I currently have two bags: an INCH bag (which includes the items from both prior bags) and a first aid bag. When I get my IFAK completed it will either attach to the outside of my INCH bag or my first aid bag.
I hope this has been helpful to you. If you have any questions or would like to offer any suggestions, please comment below. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog articles. I truly appreciate it.
Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!
2 Timothy 4:2, Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (KJV)