What to Keep in Your Go Bag

Ultimate Go Bag Checklist

In times of emergency or disaster, having a well-equipped go bag can make all the difference. A go bag, also known as a bug out bag, is a pre-packed backpack or bag filled with essential items that you may need to survive for at least 72 hours. Whether you are faced with a natural disaster, a power outage, or any other emergency situation, having a go bag ready to grab and go can provide you with the peace of mind and the necessary supplies to get through the situation.

Key Takeaways of Go Bags

go bag
  • Building a go bag or a "bug out bag" is for emergency preparedness- The bag should contain items like water purification devices, non-perishable snacks, first aid kit, multi-tool, portable shelter, fire starting tools, flashlight, hand-crank radio, local maps, and personal hygiene items.
  • Clothing essentials for all conditions should also be included in the go bag.
  • Personal safety and security items like a whistle and pepper spray are important additions to the bag.

Essential Items for Your Ultimate Go Bag

When it comes to the essential items for your ultimate go bag, there are several key items that should not be overlooked. These items include the following.

1. Water Purification Devices

Water is a crucial resource for survival, and having a reliable way to purify water is essential in an emergency situation. Consider including the following water purification devices in your go bag:

  • Water filter: A compact water filter can remove impurities and contaminants from water sources, making it safe to drink.
  • Water purification tablets: These tablets can be used to kill bacteria, viruses, and other harmful microorganisms in water, making it safe for consumption.
  • Purification drops: Similar to water purification tablets, drops can be added to water to kill any harmful microorganisms present, ensuring its safety for drinking.

2. Non-Perishable Snacks and Energy Bars

When packing non-perishable snacks and energy bars in your go bag, consider the following options:

  • Survival food: Look for lightweight and long-lasting survival food options that are packed with nutrients and calories to keep you fueled during an emergency.
  • Ration bars: These compact bars are specifically designed for emergency situations and provide a high-energy and nutrient-dense snack option.

3. First-Aid Kit and Personal Medications

A comprehensive first-aid kit is essential in any go bag. Be sure to include the following items:

  • Band-aids: Various sizes of band-aids to cover and protect minor cuts and scrapes.
  • Gauze: Sterile gauze pads and adhesive tape for larger wounds that need to be covered.
  • Antiseptic wipes: These wipes can be used to clean wounds and prevent infection.
  • Tweezers: Useful for removing splinters or foreign objects from the skin.
  • Prescription medications: If you take any prescription medications, be sure to pack a sufficient supply in your go bag.
  • First aid manual: A small first aid manual can provide guidance and instructions in case of injury or illness.

4. Multi-Tool and Survival Knife

go bag essentials

Image courtesy of Silvercore Outdoors

A multi-tool and a survival knife are versatile tools that can come in handy in various situations. Consider the following options:

  • Multi-tool: A compact multi-tool with pliers, screwdrivers, a knife, and other useful tools can help with a wide range of tasks.
  • Survival knife: A sturdy and reliable survival knife can be used for cutting, self-defense, and other survival tasks, such as hunting.
  • Pocket knife: A compact and easily accessible pocket knife can be useful for everyday tasks and emergencies.

5. Portable Shelter or Emergency Blanket

In case you need shelter during an emergency, having a portable shelter or emergency blanket can provide protection from the elements. Consider the following options:

  • Emergency blanket: These lightweight and compact blankets are designed to retain body heat and provide insulation in cold conditions.
  • Sleeping bag: A compact and lightweight sleeping bag can provide warmth and comfort during overnight stays.
  • Lightweight tarp: A durable and lightweight tarp can be used to create a makeshift shelter or provide additional protection from the elements.

6. Fire Starting Tools and Waterproof Matches

Fire is essential for warmth, cooking, and signaling for help. Include the following fire starting tools in your go bag:

  • Ferro rod: A ferro rod, also known as a fire steel, can create sparks that ignite tinder, helping you start a fire in various weather conditions.
  • Waterproof matches: These matches are specifically designed to be waterproof, ensuring that you can start a fire even in wet conditions.
  • Other fire starting tools: Consider including additional fire starting tools like a lighter, firestarter cubes, or a magnifying glass for alternative fire starting methods.

7. Flashlight and Extra Batteries

A reliable flashlight is crucial for navigating in the dark and illuminating your surroundings. Be sure to include the following items in your go bag:

  • Flashlight: Choose a compact and durable flashlight that provides a strong and long-lasting light source.
  • Extra batteries: Pack extra batteries to ensure that your flashlight remains functional for an extended period.

8. Radio

Having a means of communication and access to information is crucial during an emergency. Consider including the following items in your go bag:

  • Hand-crank radio: A hand-crank radio can provide you with important updates, news, and emergency alerts. Not only that, but a radio can be a way for you to communicate.

9. Local Maps and Compass

In case you need to navigate unfamiliar territory, having local maps and a compass can help you find your way. Consider including the following items in your go bag:

  • Local maps: Include detailed maps of your area and any areas you may need to navigate during an emergency.
  • Compass: A reliable compass can help you determine direction and navigate accurately.

10. Personal Hygiene Items

Maintaining personal hygiene is important for your health and well-being, even in emergency situations. Consider including the following items in your go bag:

  • Personal hygiene items: Pack essential personal hygiene items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap.
  • Garbage bags: Garbage bags can serve multiple purposes, from storing waste to improvising as makeshift rain protection.

Clothing Essentials for All Conditions

When it comes to clothing essentials for your go bag, consider the following options:

11. Moisture-Wicking Undergarments

Moisture-wicking undergarments are a crucial part of your go bag's clothing essentials. Consider the following options:

  • Moisture-wicking underwear: Moisture-wicking underwear is designed to keep you dry and comfortable by pulling sweat away from your skin.
  • Moisture-wicking socks: Moisture-wicking socks can help prevent blisters and keep your feet dry and comfortable, even during long hikes or walks.
  • Moisture-wicking base layer: A moisture-wicking base layer, such as a long-sleeve shirt or leggings, can provide insulation and keep you warm in cold conditions.

12. Insulating Layer and Weatherproof Outerwear

In order to stay warm and protected from the elements, it is important to include an insulating layer and weatherproof outerwear in your go bag. Consider the following options:

  • Insulating layer: Pack an insulating layer like a fleece or down jacket to provide warmth and insulation in cold conditions.
  • Weatherproof outerwear: Include a weatherproof jacket or raincoat to protect you from rain, wind, and other harsh weather conditions.
  • Hat and gloves: Don't forget to pack a warm hat and gloves to protect your extremities from the cold.

13. Durable Footwear and Extra Socks

Having durable and comfortable footwear is crucial in any emergency situation. Consider the following options:

  • Durable footwear: Choose sturdy and well-fitting footwear that is suitable for the terrain and weather conditions you may encounter during an emergency. You want the best duty or tactical boots you can get in order to handle difficult terrains.
  • Extra socks: Pack extra pairs of socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable. Look for moisture-wicking or wool socks that provide insulation and prevent blisters.

Personal Safety and Security Items

In addition to essential supplies, personal safety and security items are important additions to your go bag. Consider including the following items:

14. Whistle for Signaling

A whistle is a simple yet effective tool for signaling for help during an emergency. Consider the following points:

  • Loud and distinct sound: A whistle produces a loud and distinct sound that can be heard over long distances, making it an ideal tool for attracting attention and signaling for help.
  • Lightweight and compact: Whistles are lightweight and compact, making them easy to carry and store in your go bag.
  • Versatile: Whistles can be used in various emergency situations, from alerting rescuers of your location to signaling for help in dense or remote areas.

15. Pepper Spray or Personal Defense Item

go bag

Having a means of self-defense can provide a sense of security during an emergency. Consider the following points:

  • Pepper spray: Pepper spray is a non-lethal self-defense weapon that temporarily incapacitates an attacker, giving you a chance to escape or seek help.
  • Personal defense item: There are various personal defense items available, such as firearms, that can provide a sense of security and deter potential attackers.

16. Protective Eyewear

eyewear for go bag

Having eyewear can shield you from the elements, debris, or if you are in combat it can protect your eyes. 

  • UV Protection: Having eyewear that has protection from the sun can help you when you are trying to spot things, gather materials, or shoot accurately. Not to mention, UV rays can be extremely harmful, so having a good pair of eyewear can be beneficial, whether that is sunglasses or regular glasses with UV protective lenses.
  • Protection from Debris: You could be caught in high winds, firefights that leave fragments heading into your eyes, or other things, so protective eyewear is essential for your go bag.
  • Shooting: Shooting can leave you with shell casings and debris flying in your eyes, yet another reason.

How often should I update the contents of my Go Bag?

It is important to regularly update the contents of your go bag to ensure that the items are in working order and the supplies are not expired. Check and replace perishable food, medications, and batteries on a regular basis. Review and update your go bag at least once a year to ensure that it is up to date and ready for any emergency.


Having an Ultimate Go Bag Checklist is crucial for any emergency situation. Ensuring you have essentials like water purification devices, first-aid kits, and personal medications can make a significant difference in times of need. Stay prepared by updating your Go Bag regularly to ensure all items are current and in working order. By following this checklist, you can be better equipped to handle unexpected situations with confidence and readiness. Stay safe and prepared for any adventure or emergency that comes your way!

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