A grab-n-go bag can range from the bare essentials to a complete "bug out" set up. This slideshow gives you the essentials to consider and then you configure it for your particular location, possible emergencies, and situations. Links to everything are included.
Newly Updated: Grab-N-Go Bag Essentials You Must Have
The Grab-n-Go Bag
A grab-n-go bag is a staple of survival and emergency
preparedness. It’s something you can take with you,
and is your survival kit in your house, in your car and at
It’s too late to prepare once the emergency is on you.
There will also be a huge run of panicked people buying
many of these same items and they won’t be available;
get it together NOW so you have it ready.
Please remember, there are an infinite number of
emergencies, opinions, equipment, and needs.
The following is a basic template for essentials we all
The Grab & Go bag should be tailored to your
Try to get items that have multiple uses, rather
than just one.
The Grab & Go Bag
How much can you carry?
If you aren’t experienced in backpacks, ask an expert at
your local outdoor store.
No matter the backpack, have waterproof bags to put
everything inside the backpack. Keeping gear (and
yourself) dry is paramount in a survival/emergency
The Bag Itself
While I list a number of items in the following slides, the
next one shows a pre-packaged kit you can get on
Amazon. I’ve looked it over and bought it as a start for
my son. It includes generic basics and is much better than
having nothing, or waiting until you can do your Area
Study and make your own tailored kit.
Prepared for basics today is better than being an expert
I have purchased all the items I list, but feel free to find
what suits your needs.
All profits from Affiliate links go to the Special
Operations Warrior Foundation, which funds education
for the children of wounded or killed Special Operation
Using my Green Beret Preparation
and Survival Guide you can do an
Area Study and tailor your GnG
bags to your specific situation and
environment. However, to be
prepared, a basic, well-stocked,
pre-made one is a good idea.
Click on images on all pages to
link to gear.
The following items are for building your own kit.
Remember, the Area Study, will help determine what’s
needed. A free slideshow is available on how to do an
Area Study is at
How to do an Area Study is also in
The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide.
A key is to figure out your priorities. For some, such as my
son and grandsons in San Diego, water is high on the list.
Building Your Own Bag
4 full 500ml water bottles. This is your immediate
emergency supply if you have no time to fill up your . . .
Containers. Either a built in water supply such as a
Camelbak or separate containers. Most backpacks have
external loops on which you can secure canteens and water
carriers. Your first priority is to fill up these containers with
potable water. The four water bottles are to sustain you to
get to that point. They also then become extra water
Compressible water containers. For after establishing
Purification. Lifestraw or equivalent and two bottles
Click on images below for links.
You must have a way of quickly filtering water for
your family. Assume all water you find in nature is
Besides the life straw and pills, there are ones that
produce more volume. There is also a slightly more
expensive system that doesn’t require pumping and
works via gravity. Either one can be a lifesaver for
Fire is your friend in a survival situation. I know we’d all like to
use that bow and stick, but for emergencies, a lighter is much
The plasma lighter on the left is also a flashlight and
I pack several lighters. Windproof.
Stormproof matches in a waterproof container.
Click on images below.
Lighters and Matches
Since I list a rechargeable lighter on the previous page, power
becomes an issue. I used to focus on using batteries for power,
because rechargeable requires, well, charging. However, I’ve
become a fan of solar, which allows a renewable power source
The small solar power bank on the left is light and in my bag.
The more powerful one on the right is heavier. It’s attacked by
velcro to my Jeep dashboard facing the windshield.
Non-perishables for three days minimum.
Food that doesn’t require refrigeration.
Don’t have food that will make you thirsty.
Plan for infants and special dietary
Note expiration dates.
Click on image for a good, 25 year
expiration, supply from the company that
made our Long Range Patrol meals in
Special Forces. It’s what we have on
hand and in our grab-n-go bags.
Also good for camping.
I have a variety of ration bars (click on each for
Grizzly Bear Emergency Food Rations
Below are some before going into a ziplok bag
inside my GnG bag and someinto my Jeep.
Make sure you store them inside a ziplok bag
because once you open the package, it’s not
A small, portable stove is key.
Make sure you have plenty of fuel which comes in
various sizes from small to larger and heavier. The stove
screws onto the fuel canister. This stove is inexpensive
and has a built-in click lighter, and two cups in the form of
the case. I’ve brewed many a cup of coffee/hot
chocolate/meals with it.
Pots to cook in with utensils. I use the pots
below with a larger stove that I pack in my
Here I’m brewing up on the front bumper of
the Jeep in the Smoky Mountains. Note
chow for Scout, our rescue dog, also laid
Know what the emergency broadcast stations are.
Below is a hand crank/solar radio/flashlight combo I
have in my Jeep and in my grab-n-go bag. Click on image for
I carry a SpotX 2 Way Satellite
I’ve gone many places where there is no
cell phone coverage. While going to Hole
in the Rock in Grand Staircase-Escalante
National Monument, my clutch began to
burn out. 120 miles from the nearest
civilization. Luckily I managed to sustain
in third gear out of there but it made me
consider the situation.
There are places all over the country,
including in the Smoky Mountains, with
no cell coverage. I view this as a
potentially life-saving investment.
Also peace of mind as my family can get
hold of me any time and I can update
them on my progress.
Jeep at Hole in the Rock, Grand
Staircase-Escalante National Monument
120 miles from the nearest paved road.
Zero cell phone coverage.
A tent is valuable but takes up a lot of space and weight.
At the very least, you need an emergency sleeping bag
and a poncho. I have the emergency sleeping bag below
in my G&G bag and in all our cars. It’s inexpensive, light
A poncho can be worn, but also made into a shelter using
550/parachute cord. The latter is useful in many, many
Click on images.
Being able to see in the dark is key. Batteries tend to be heavy
and get used up but AA/AAA are light and small. Also, with
solar, you can use rechargeable lights. Consider the following
Handcrank light (the one below also has window breaker,
seatbelt cutter, USB cell phone charger); a headlamp for
moving and doing things in camp; and a single AAA light I keep
in a sheath with my Leatherman
Click on images.
I always have the one on the left on my belt along with
the single battery flashlight. It gets used every day.
I have the vice grips Leatherman on the right in my
Jeep and it gets used a lot. The flashlight was linked
There are plenty of prepared ones you can buy.
Below is one I have in house and in grab-n-go bags.
Click on image for link.
Make sure you have medications to last a week.
Extra glasses, contacts, etc.
First Aid Kit
I recommend adding a trauma pack with quick-clot
bandages to your first aid kit along with a splint, an
Israeli combat bandage, chest seal, medical scissors—
all in one convenient packet. I can verify the Quik-Clot
works. I carry a Quik Clot bandage on my bike and in
our cars and day pack.
Appropriate for time of year and environment.
Socks. And more socks.
Pants and long sleeve shirts of a material that dries
I generally pack one extra pair of pants.
A wool cap— most heat escapes through the head.
A boonie hat— keep the sun off, protects your head.
Not just for weather but to protect your hands.
In the field, I always wear gloves.
The ones on the left are very light and touchscreen.
They provide some protection but little warmth.
The ones in the middle are touchscreen and provide
The ones on the right provide more protection.
A folding saw. A survival knife with sharpener.
A Signal mirror.
I have all below in my bag
. Click on images.
Snares are an effective, passive form of hunting that is
also very secure. The steel cables also have other
An array of zip ties— you’ll find many uses for them,
including, if need be, handcuffs. The middle ones are
basic; the ones on the right are for major things.
Or download the contour map for your area for free,
then print it out, or order the map sheets.
Click here or on image below for USGS free
downloadable topo maps.
I also have a series of National Geographic area
specific maps for various National Forests and Parks
There are several topo map Apps you can get. I’ve used a
number over the years but the best one I’ve found is
Gaia. The basic app is free and then there are two levels
of membership. The premium, which is discounted 20%
via my affiliate link, is $32 for a year but for the number
and types of maps you get, it is definitely worth it. One
useful thing to using any map app is to download the map
tiles you want to use beforehand (when you’re out in the
wilds with no signal) and you learn how to use the app.
They also send interesting email updates on various
outdoor activities that are very informative from outdoor
To the left is an example of some of the many
maps you can download and use. You can
have multiple maps on screen at the same
time, adjusting them as you need. In this
case, I have the US Forestry Service Map at
max along with USFS roads and trails along
with public lands. I can bring up hidden layers
as needed. Also note the Historic Topo for
1930 which is fun to play with. You also have
National Park Service Visitor, topo maps,
streets maps, weather and more.
There are dozens of different types of maps
available to premium members.
While we rely on GPS there are many emergencies
where that might not be available.
In that case, a compass is invaluable.
I have the one below tied of to my survival vest.
Power will be out. ATMs won’t work
Store computer systems will have crashed.
It will be a cash environment for a while.
Enough for: plane, bus ticket to evac site; cost of hotel
room for at least 3 nights; cost of 3 tank fulls of gas;
food for family for two weeks; misc. expenses.
20 Things Every Hiker
In Their Day Pack
(which also makes it a basic Grab-n-
This slideshow is on my web page
and a useful way of upgrading what
you already have.
This was just the an overview and probably
In the The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide
the GnG bag is broken down into a basic one everyone
should have and then a list of more advanced items.
Your main bag is wherever you spend most
of your time. For most of us, that’s at home.
Have it readily accessible so you can literally
grab it as you run out. You can also toss it in
your car easily.
More Free Information
I constantly update free, downloadable
slideshows like this on my web site for
preparation and survival and other topics.
I also have YouTube Survival videos. HERE
Also, I conduct Area Study workshops for
those interested in properly preparing for
their specific circumstances.
The guide on the left is the complete preparation and
survival guide. The one on the right is a pocket-size
manual with just the survival portion. Useful in your Grab-
n-Go bag, car and kitchen drawer.
New York Times bestselling author, is a graduate of West
Point and former Green Beret. He’s had over 80 books
published, including the #1 bestselling series Green Berets,
Time Patrol, Area 51, and Atlantis. He’s sold over 5 million
books. He was born in the Bronx and has traveled the world.
He’s lived on an island off the east coast, an island off the
west coast, in the Rocky Mountains, the Smoky Mountains
and other places, including time in East Asia studying martial
He was an instructor and course developer/writer for years
at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School which trains
Green Berets and also runs the SERE school:
Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape.