Friday, January 10, 2020

Repacking My Get Home Bag

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
A while ago (I don't remember exactly when) I came to the conclusion that my definitions of Bug Out Bag and Get Home Bag differed in practice from those of other people. I realized that my GHB was effectively a BOB (three days' worth of food, for example) because unlike my city-bound prepper brethren, if I ever have to walk home due to a disaster I will likely be in the next county over, if not further, due to the semi-rural nature of where I live.

So that explains some things, such as why I have so many tools in my GHB -- if I'm walking home across a good chunk of the state, I will encounter environments that range from solidly urban to rural swamps and everything in between. It also explains why my actual BOB is much more of an INCH (I'm Not Coming Home) bag: if my GHB is thus, then my BOB needs to be moreso.

A good way to state this is that I'm an overachiever when it comes to evacuation bags. A less flattering, though no less untrue, version is to state that I chronically overpack. Either way you phrase this it's a problem, as in addition to being overweight and underfit I have also been struggling with chronic back pain since late 2017, and the last thing I need in a disaster where I have to walk for miles is to throw out my back on the first day.

One of my resolutions for this year was to reduce the weight of my GHB (my BOB is less of an issue due to owning a deer cart). I have only somewhat succeeded in that goal, as the bag itself weighs about 33 pounds and it really ought to be 20 pounds or less. I have removed most of the heavy items, including nearly all of the tools, although as a compromise to myself I've simply moved them into a separate and easily-grabbed bag. My thinking is that I can bring them along in a car so that I have them if I need them, but if I need to walk home I can easy jettison them. 

My bag is still pretty darn heavy, though, and the biggest offender is water. I have a three liter Camelbak in my GHB, and that equals 6.6 pounds of weight. Without that weight my pack is a much more manageable 26.4 pounds... but this is Florida, and while water is abundant it's also incredibly hot here most of the year. The average human needs a minimum of one gallon of water per day, more if in hot weather or while engaged in hard work, and walking back home can certainly count as that in some environments. I can't just hope to find water, I have to bring it with me. 

Food only weighs a pound, and I can't really get it much lower than that and still have the calories needed to travel. The rest is shelter (a poncho with grommets that can become a tarp), paracord, a bivvy sack, spare socks and underwear, fire starting equipment, a metal cup for boiling water, etc... in other words, things which are pretty necessary and which I can't in good conscience jettison.  I could possibly distribute some of the items elsewhere on my body to lighten the load (for example, put the knife on my belt) but I don't know if that would make a significant difference or not. 

At any rate, please consider this post my official notification that I intend to slim down my GHB, with a goal of getting it to at least 30 pounds by the end of the month. Then I'll put it on and go for a one-mile hike and see how my back holds up under that load. 


  1. I'm working on the same goal. But it's hard to do, given that possible hikes could be up to 500 miles.

    1. Oh geez. In that case, your GHB *is* a BOB. Or possibly more.

  2. Well the joy of water like food is the weight goes gradually down. I would add something like a survival straw so once your out you can still be safe. But keep the CamelBak as you can always refill it.

    Redistribute some of the weight to your front. The knife can always be strapped to the pack straps. That's what I always did in the army. And the more that's on your legs or around your waist it will help.

    1. True, the water goes down, but I'd need to refill it after a day.

      And don't worry, not only do I have a Sawyer water filter, I have a way to pump that filtered water back into my Camelbak.


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