Every prepper understands the importance of being materially prepared for bad times.
Be it a small-scale emergency, local disaster, or regional catastrophe, having the right gear and supplies on hand and ready to go can make all the difference in your chances of survival.
Depending on your lifestyle and what sort of trouble you are anticipating, you might rely on the classic BOB, an INCH bag for a long-haul survival scenario, or a get-home bag if you regularly travel some distance from your dwelling.
There’s one more category of bag that is likely to fill an important niche and your survival luggage repertoire, and that is the GOOD (Get out of Dodge) bag.
The GOOD bag, or Get-out-of-Dodge bag, is the ideal solution for situations where you might be displaced for several days but have an expectation of returning home.
In this article, I’ll tell you more about what a GOOD bag is, and what supplies you should keep in it.
What is a GOOD Bag Exactly?
Let me tell you, there is no shortage of specialized bags for prepping with catchy, mnemonic acronyms.
All jokes aside, as mentioned the “GOOD” in GOOD bag stands for “Get-out-of-Dodge”.
To Get out of Dodge is an aphorism meaning to get clear or away from impending danger, and that is exactly what a GOOD bag is intended to help you do.
Although the popular conception of having a bag packed with survival supplies centers around long-term survival situations with no expectation of coming home (see BOB and INCH bags), the reality in many disaster scenarios is often quite different.
Much of the time, you might be only temporarily displaced by the event, be it a natural disaster or a man-made catastrophe.
After the danger has passed or things have settled down, you can return to your home and start getting life back to normal or just picking up the pieces.
Let’s face it: In reality, most events are not so apocalyptic that your home and much of your hometown are completely obliterated, meaning there is nothing to come back to.
Even in the case of societal unrest or other persistent hazards they don’t really go on forever.
Eventually, things settle down, law and order begin to reassert themselves and communities begin to knit back together.
This is where the GOOD bag excels, and why you will probably want one of your own.
Although it sounds quite similar in concept to a bug-out bag, the loadout of the GOOD bag is tailored to sustain you and your family in a sort of refugee status as opposed to living in the wild.
Imagine it almost as if you were packing for a lean, decidedly spartan vacation and had only 5 minutes to grab what you needed to live away from home. What would you grab?
Many of the items you thought of in this simple exercise or what you’ll find in a GOOD bag.
It is intended to allow you to live more or less normally, if not entirely comfortably, as an evacuee or refugee from your own home and hometown.
30 GOOD bag Essentials to Pack
In the next section, you’ll find a list of items that deserve a place in any GOOD bag, along with our reasoning for including them and why they will be useful in an emergency or survival situation.
Basic Change of Clothes
First and foremost, you should pack a basic, spare set of clothing. Stuff that you wear everyday is appropriate to the task, within reason.
It should be comfortable, durable, easy to wear for an extended period of time, and easy to wash with minimal care. Don’t forget to include socks and underwear, also.
Survival situations will often result in you getting dirty, or else just being soaked with sweat. Add in fear and anxiety, and you can start to smell ripe pretty quickly.
A fresh, dry set of clothes that you are ready to change into when the opportunity presents itself will do wonders for morale and keep everyone in the group happy.
Seasonal Clothing As Required
Don’t forget to include seasonal clothing as appropriate to your climate and typical weather conditions.
If you live in an area that is cold and wet, make sure you have an outer layer that will keep you warm and dry.
Similarly, hot, arid environments with a scorching UV index will mandate wide-brimmed hats and potentially light, flowing, long-sleeved garments.
If you live in a temperate zone, this is one of those things you’ll have to stay on top of quarterly or by yearly depending.
You won’t need the same sort of clothing in the summer that you will in the winter time, and you should make it a point to rotate these seasonal inclusions out of your bag and back in as needed.
Gloves are a mandatory inclusion for most well-rounded survival kits.
You don’t need me to tell you that we rely on our hands day in and day out for countless tasks, but you’ll definitely be depending on them in the middle of an emergency or a lengthy survival scenario.
From clearing debris to wrenching on hot car parts on the side of the road, there is just no telling what tasks you’ll encounter that can pose a substantial risk to the delicate skin of your hands.
Pick whichever kind you prefer for doing work, from lightweight technical gloves to heavy-duty leather gloves. Just make sure you have them!
One of the most chronically forgotten and minimized aspects of self-care in survival situations is personal hygiene.
Too many preppers, even today, treat hygiene as some sort of societal nicety, something you have to do only because you’ll be around normal people during normal times.
If that’s how you feel about it, I don’t know that I want to be around you at all!
Hygiene is important, and not just for feeling good and smelling good, though it will do that for you also.
Keeping your body clean helps keep germs at bay, minimizing the chances that infections will crop up in wounds or transmissible diseases will tear through people living in close quarters.
You don’t need to go crazy here, as your usual travel hygiene kit consisting of a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, baby wipes, and any other daily use items is more than sufficient.
If there is one thing you can say about emergencies and disasters great and small, it is that they and injury always go hand in hand.
There is a better than average chance any situation that sends you and your family fleeing for the hills might result in you being injured from the outset, or else exposed to significantly higher chances of injury than you would be normally.
Unfortunately, that same situation is likely to make skilled, professional medical intervention a precious commodity.
Disruption and destruction from a natural or man-made disaster or just an abundance of casualties from any other event will strain first responders or higher-level care at hospitals to the limit.
You must be prepared to become your own first responder and that means you need a first-aid kit in your GOOD bag.
Basic items for small injuries and burns and more extensive supplies for dealing with penetrating and lacerating injuries along with sprains and broken bones should be included, and you must also make sure you have the training so you know what you are doing when the time comes.
Gallon-sized, plastic, zipper seal bags are one of those “sleeper” survival items that you’ll wonder how you ever got along without once you have needed them even one time.
These bags are incredibly useful in so many different situations, from holding wet clothing or messy gear to stashing snacks, sensitive documents, or even carrying extra water.
They also come in really handy if someone gets car sick or you’re forced to answer the call of nature in a situation where you have precious little privacy or the ability to dispose of the waste.
Name brand bags are durable enough and seal tightly enough to be reliable for any task so spend a little extra to get the good ones.
Duct tape is that one item that every, single prepper loves. If you don’t, can you even call yourself a prepper?
All kidding aside, duct tape is indeed highly meme-worthy, but it has earned a reputation in reality.
Duct tape can allow you to improvise all sorts of repairs and tools in a pinch, and that means you’d be foolish to go without it in your GOOD bag.
You can use duct tape to hold damaged bodywork onto a car, reinforce a cracked window, patch torn clothing or leaky containers, affix a bandage and so much more.
You can save a little room in your pack by compressing the roll of duct tape or by winding it around some other cylindrical item in your bag.
Tools are always handy in a survival situation, and there is indeed a tool for every task you can think of.
The problem is that tools take up a ton of room and get really, really heavy, and quickly. You aren’t going to have that kind of weight or space allowance when it is time to hit the road, unfortunately.
But what you can do is include a high-quality multi-tool. A good multi-tool will have pliers and a variety of other tools, drivers, tips, and attachments that can allow you to accomplish most tasks with a modicum of efficiency.
Best of all, it can do it for only a few ounces in weight and very little space in your load.
It might seem strange to talk about including shelter gear in a survival setting where you anticipate returning home, but it is nonetheless important when you think it through.
Whatever your situation, however you are evacuating, it rarely fails that simple exposure will be one of the most persistent and deadliest threats to your life that you’ll face.
Accordingly, you must be prepared to keep yourself and your loved ones warm. Whether you are forced to sleep in your vehicle or are planning on making a go of it at a campsite, refugee area or any place else, you have to stay warm.
That means you’ll need to include compact emergency or camping blankets at the minimum in your kit, and you might make a case for adding a small tent or bivy. Or perhaps even something like a tarp where you can raise your own shelter.
Go without shelter gear at your own peril!
Bandanas, humble as they are, are still a wonderfully useful, multi-purpose survival item.
You can use bandanas for their intended purpose, as a head covering or sweatband, but also as a small bundle, piece of padding, improvised bandage, napkin, placemat and much, much more. In a pinch, you can even use it as emergency toilet paper!
I promise you’ll always come up with a need for durable but soft cloth when you are roughing it on the road or away from home for a time. I like to toss three or four into my GOOD bag.
You might not be away from home for too long when you evacuate, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need any food.
While it is true you can survive for weeks on end with no food, you’ll be profoundly miserable after only a few missed meals and both your mental and physical performance will begin to suffer.
Keep both your body and your mind fueled up and growling tummies at bay by keeping some food in your bag.
Portable, ready-to-eat food is ideal here, and you can consider everything from MREs to trail mix or energy bars.
Whatever it is, it should be easy to carry, have a long shelf life, require no preparation, and not be too heavy.
Water is another survival necessity of paramount importance and compared to food, you can only go a couple of days without it before you kick the bucket.
The downside to carrying water with you is its great weight. Nonetheless, you must have a safe, fresh supply with you as part of your kit.
For a GOOD bag, I prefer carrying a large Nalgene bottle filled up to the top. These bottles are multi-purpose, durable and easy to clean.
They are also easy to refill whenever you have time and opportunity. Strongly consider including a compact, emergency water filter as part of your supplies; it can allow you to purify any sources of questionable safety.
Don’t assume you’ll have access to clean water from a tap at any point!
Flashlight and Headlamp
One of the most important and most used tools in your survival toolbox is going to be a flashlight or a headlamp.
You’re always going to be more vulnerable in times of darkness, and since many disasters will result in a partial or total loss of power, your world is going to get a whole lot darker in a hurry as soon as things kick-off.
A good flashlight will be bright, energy-efficient and durable enough to stand up to rough handling, dings and dents.
You might consider getting one with multiple brightness settings, color options and a blinking SOS signal.
Headlamps, while often lacking the range of flashlights, are perfect anytime you need to work hands-free.
Phone Charger With Cables
When hitting the road you had better make sure you have the capability to charge your personal devices, particularly your cell phone.
Don’t forget to include all the cables, wall and car adapters so you can draw power to stay topped off whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself.
Also, keep in mind that the device that needs charging might not be your own. A multi-purpose cable with a variety of connectors is a smart inclusion and a hedge against loss for anyone in your family or group.
Despite your best efforts to charge your devices, sometimes you just won’t have a source of electricity close at hand.
Like most of the other things you’ll be lacking under the circumstances, it is possible to bring your own electricity with you for just such an occasion!
You’d be wise to keep a fully charged power bank or backup battery in your bag so that you can extend your uptime or get in a recharge even when you are far from an outlet.
Take a moment to consider all of the other battery-operated devices that you rely on, not just your cell phone.
The aforementioned flashlights and headlamps will both require disposable primary cells (assuming they are not rechargeable) as will other important personal electronics like radios.
Now, spare batteries are another item that you’ll have to stay on top of when stored for a long time. All batteries will self-discharge over time, some more slowly or more quickly depending on their chemistry.
Alkaline chemistries self-discharge quickly compared to lithium, but lithiums cost more.
Consider spending a little bit more per battery on any that you will keep in your GOOD bag to alleviate these concerns.
Maps and Road Atlas
When disaster strikes and it is time to flee your first instinct is probably going to be away, but this can often lead to greater problems.
It is crucial that you know where you are going and how you will get there, and even more important to know how you’ll deal with a blocked route or a detour.
This is easily averted by including a good selection of maps and a comprehensive road atlas in your GOOD bag. If you are smart, you will mark up likely routes of departure to safe havens ahead of time.
Although modern GPS systems are highly reliable they are not infallible, so you should be prepared to “go analog” for your navigational needs.
A good compass is a natural inclusion for your set of maps or a road atlas. Basic direction finding is one of those things that we all take for granted since many of us navigate daily by rote memorization or by using visual landmarks.
If the landscape has been rearranged by a particularly destructive disaster that method might be out the window!
A compass will allow you to orient yourself on the path wherever you happen to be. Getting lost or going in the wrong direction under the circumstances could prove disastrous for you and yours.
Fire is one of mankind’s oldest and best technologies, and it remains no less important today than it did in ages past.
The ability to start a fire on demand can save your life, whether you are facing a long and freezing night or just need to signal for help.
Traditional methods of fire starting are great and definitely have their uses, but you will rarely encounter anything more reliable and easier to use in tough conditions than a basic lighter.
They weigh very little and are highly affordable, so you should definitely keep a couple in your pack.
Another fundamental survival item, sturdy cordage is useful in all sorts of situations, from constructing shelter to improvising tools and even conducting hasty repairs.
If you have a good, working skill of knots and lashings to go along with it, there is very little that you won’t be able to tackle.
Overwhelmingly, the most popular option in this category is paracord. Widely available, affordable, lightweight and ultra-strong, this is the prepper’s choice.
A 50 ft or 100 ft length can still be compressed into a small bundle that will take up little room.
Notepad and Pen
Another one of those inclusions that are easy to forget. When you need to write down critical information, maybe an address or directions, or notes on the overall situation, nothing is quicker or more certain than a notepad and a pen.
You can provide yourself a little bit of insurance so that your notes won’t disintegrate or wash away by investing in a weatherproof notepad and pen. Rite-in-the-Rain makes one of the best in this category.
Deck of Cards
Yes, survival is serious business, and you might not be much in a gaming mood under the circumstances.
But sometimes the majority of your time in a survival situation might be spent just sitting around waiting for things to get better or for the all-clear.
In this case, having something to do, particularly a group activity, can reduce stress and while away the time.
For this purpose, nothing is better than a deck of cards. There are all sorts of card games that can be played with, and just as importantly be taught to, people of all ages.
Beyond this, cards can facilitate simple magic tricks to bring a little levity to the situation should you know any. Don’t underestimate the stress relief value of a deck of cards!
The internet changed the world, and most people would agree for the better.
Any bit of information, no matter how obscure or specialized, is at your fingertips thanks to search engines and smartphones. You might very well be reading this article on your smartphone right now!
And though the internet at large and the devices that channel it are more robust and reliable than ever, they are far from infallible, especially in times of trouble.
However, your need for crucial information may persist. There is a small book that can serve as a backup in this case, titled Pocket Reference, or Pocket Ref for short.
This tiny, black encyclopedia is jam-packed with tons and tons of practical information on countless subjects and is a wonderful inclusion in your survival kit.
Personal Document Package
Remember, chances are whatever has happened, wherever you’ve gone, life will go on in some form or another.
That means you’re going to need credentials, documents and other paperwork to prove that you are who you say you are and you own what you say you own to various agencies and bureaucracies.
You’ll want to have this information as a component in your GOOD bag so you are certain that you’ll have access to it when you need it.
You’ve got two options for accomplishing this: A paper file containing weatherproof copies of your IDs, passports, titles, deeds and so forth, or a flash drive containing encrypted files of the same.
Obviously, take pains to protect this precious resource from loss or theft as it could give a thief everything they need to steal your identity!
In times of trouble, money talks. One major blunder I see people making when packing and preparing for emergencies or disaster situations is assuming cash will, for some reason, be no good.
In all but the most extraordinary circumstances, nothing could be further from the truth.
Electronic currency and systems that service it might well be offline, but cash should still be accepted everywhere.
It could get you needed supplies and vital services, or just get you a favor when you desperately need one.
There is no survival situation where you won’t want to have a knife close at hand. As a fundamental tool or a close-quarters weapon of last resort, a knife can serve you well.
Though commonly thought of as a primary tool for wilderness survival situations, it can accomplish many of the same tasks in suburban and urban settings as well.
You don’t need a gigantic fixed blade survival knife, necessarily, but any knife you choose must be sharp, durable, and easy to keep on your person.
As sad as it is to think about, any situation that sends you fleeing from your home as an evacuee is probably going to lead to an uptick in crime and interpersonal violence.
Criminals take advantage of these situations as cover for their deeds, while other people might be made irrational by fear or desperation.
Regardless of why you must be prepared to protect yourself and protect your loved ones. Weapons for self-defense are a consideration for inclusion.
Something that is potent and easy to conceal, such as a handgun, is a great option as is a ranged non-lethal weapon like a large can of pepper spray.
Get Away With a GOOD Bag
A GOOD bag is the ideal solution for short-term survival scenarios when you need to evacuate from your home but have the expectation of returning.
Packed with supplies that will help you sustain yourself while living as an evacuee, they are a far more practical option for most disaster and emergency situations.