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The Go Bag: 15 Things You Should Always Have

The Go Bag: 15 Things You Should Always Have

Bag Pictured: Eberlestock F-5 Switchblade

The Go Bag is nothing new to military, law enforcement, and rescue personnel. Those who rely on readiness and preparation for their job know the importance of already having the right tools before you need to use them. For an international pandemic these days, it’s never been more important to be ready for things to go very bad (potentially).


Why? Why do I need this?

The Go Bag is not just for some massive movie-like pandemic that we are experiencing right now. Most of us live in an area that’s prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, or massive snowstorms. Having some useful tools and items in your backpack at all times is simply an insurance policy. Most of us (hopefully) have a fire extinguisher in our houses. While it almost never has to be used, it’s always better to have and not need than to need and not have. The best thing about a Go Bag: it can simply be the same backpack or bag you already use, but it simply has some great small items that constantly stays in there.


Is this going to turn me into some kind of crazy “prepper”?

Not at all, and like many things in life, there are levels to this game. You can only end up grabbing a few essential items for medical safety, and you’ll still be far better off than most people. You can also go steps beyond this list, and you’ll be ready for some REAL end-of-world pandemic stuff. It really depends on what you’re comfortable investing. Let’s get to it!

1. Knife


The uses of a blade can never be understated. From simple things like opening those hard plastic product cases that are impossible to open, to life-saving uses like cutting away clothing to administer first aid, a blade is one of the most useful things you can have. But if you’re in your car or walking around, do you even have one on your person? Think of how much space a knife takes up: it’s such a light and small item that fits in your pocket. We will use this item as a dual purpose one; you can have a standalone knife or you can simply have a multi-tool that has a knife. If you ever grew up liking Swiss Army Tools or Leatherman tools, then you know all the uses those little devices can have in situations requiring scissors, screwdrivers, pliers, etc. You don’t need to break the bank to get a decent multi-tool, but we certainly recommend grabbing one from a reputable dealer. For the money, it can’t get much better than this Geber tool:

 2. Light


This is another great item to have in your car and in your pocket. When you actually have a real flashlight (yes, this does not mean the flashlight on your phone) in your pocket, you’d be shocked at how often you end up using it. There are insanely bright lights out there that would blind you even in the daytime from 30 feet away, but they’re also quite big. We think the best EDC (Everyday Carry) lights are very compact to easily keep in your pocket without bothering you, yet also quite bright at nighttime. Lights small enough to easily hold in your mouth while using both hands to change a tire, pack a bag, or help your little one change clothes serves the purpose of a headlamp that you can very quickly access. We are fans of this Streamlight Pro-Tac 1LAA since it's very small, incredibly bright, and uses simple AA batteries instead of the less common C123A's.

3. Rope

As Connor from The Boondock Saints says, “Charlie Bronson’s always got rope” and for a damn good reason. The reasons to have some rope are endless. Need to tie down some extra gear or bags on the roof of the car? Done. Need to quickly make a field litter to carry someone who is badly injured and can’t walk? Done. Rope is insanely light, and 100 feet of it takes up very little space at the bottom of your backpack. In the Amazon world for 550 cord, we are going to recommend a USA manufacturer like these guys:

4. Tourniquet 

This could be the single most important piece in your bag. Will you ever need it? Hopefully not. But if something ever happens where you need it, it WILL save your life or someone you love. A tourniquet is for very serious and life-threatening bleeds. This one of the integral pieces of medical equipment that reduced Battlefield deaths by about 75% once they were issued to every service member in the US military. A tourniquet is very easy to learn how to use, is extremely low-cost for the benefit it has, and can be packed down into the size of a larger iPhone. It is imperative that you only buy a tourniquet that has been approved and reviewed by the Joint Trauma System (JTS) / Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC). We would recommend a CAT Gen7 Tourniquet or a SOFTT Wide for yourself and your loved ones. A SWAT-T tourniquet band is another great item to have that we usually reserve for people we may not know or if we already have bought a few regular style TQ’s and need a few more. We always reach for the traditional TQ’s for loved ones since they are much faster to apply. Our friends at Dark Angel Medical have all the medical gear and training you could ever hope for. We recommend buying the TQ’s and any other medical equipment from them. It’s insanely important to have these TQ’s in a very accessible pocket. Time is of absolute essence, and you do not want to be fumbling through a large pocket of your backpack or opening multiple sequential packages or pockets to access this. Keep this in an outer, small pocket that’s fast to access with not much else in the same compartment.

5. QuikClot

QuikClot is another insanely important piece of equipment to have that takes up no space and weight in your bag. This is far more likely to be used in a medical situation, and is always such a big peace of mind item. QuikClot will very quickly help speed up your own body’s processed to clot and slow down/stop bleeding. Dark Angel Medical has these as well.

6. Snacks 

Snacks are important to 1. Not lose your gains and 2. To have just in case you’re about to go quite some time doing physical work and there’s no time or place to grab food any time in the near future. You want something that’s clearly shelf-stable for at least a year or two, and agrees with your stomach that has a lot of calories. Does it make sense for it fit your macro’s or dietary needs at the time? Fuck no, because again, this is for situations like your car is broken down in the middle of the night in a super rural area and it’s a 4 mile walk to the nearest exit or a true Shit Hit the Fan situation like a natural disaster hits out of nowhere. So something like a Clif bar, Kind bar, etc. will do the trick.

7. Water 

Kind of a no-brainer, but it’s always great to have some water bottles in the car and even if it’s just a 12-16oz disposable water bottle in your backpack in case you need it. This certainly may be the heaviest thing of the entire list, but again it’s very useful to have like food just in case you’re caught pretty far away from running water for a few hours or more.

8. Duct Tape 

Duct tape is very much like rope; you can always have a thousand uses for duct tape. You can have an entire roll of duct tape or even grab one of the mini rolls that easily fit into your palm from 3M or Gorilla Tape.

9. Gloves

Latex gloves and a light pair of work gloves are indispensable. Latex gloves are great if you’re issuing first aid to someone you don’t know, or handling some oily/dirty/nasty stuff on your car or in a building. Work gloves can be great when you simply need to handle some rugged or jagged stuff like old wood, concrete, metal, etc. Latex gloves can be found at any convenience store, and you can always find a pair of Mechanix gloves at an auto parts or home improvement store. If you want to find a pair online, here’s a $12 pair here:

10. Matches

We’re starting to sound like MacGuyver here, but matches or a great lighter are great to have for…reasons? Use it to make fire to cook food, using it to provide heat for yourself, sanitize some stuff, or provide signaling or a distraction. You can find some stormproof and waterproof matches with a protective case here:

 11. Cash


Cash is king in the apocalypse or an emergency situation. You may not have time to run to an ATM to pay for a ride somewhere when you're in a hurry. Someone just walks out of the grocery store with some precious TOILET PAPER and you don’t want to wait in line, cash is a good way to save some time and chaos. We usually recommend $500 minimum in a Go Bag, but any cash is better than no cash.

12. Pen

This is pretty simple, and often overlooked. While we can often use our Notes application on the phone, it’s good to have to quickly write something down on your hand or on a piece of paper.

13. Powerbank

We live in a digital world, and the worst thing that could happen while cell towers and WiFi still works is to be without the most powerful tool we’ve ever had. A portable battery is just something that’s incredibly useful to keep devices charged. We would recommend something that also can be charged by sunlight, so you’ll never actually run out juice. This one is very affordable and should a few beatings here and there.

 14. Hookitool

When there's an emergency and/or a lot of chaos, you may need things in places that are locked or very difficult to access. The Hookitool is going to allow you to gain access to external doors and latches in case you need to get into a room or building. Stately Asset Protection makes it, and they also make some fairly cool stuff that you could choose to upgrade your bag with. For now, this is a very cost-effective and useful tool that takes up no space in the bag.

15. Bump Keys 

Another thing to consider when you need to gain access to places for emergency purposes only. Bump keys are a very easy tool to learn how to use and open doors to most manufacturers' locks. This set will actually provide you with most of the doors you need access, without going completely overboard.

 There it is: 15 things we think you should have in your Go Bag. This is a pretty deep rabbit hole, and you can certainly add some more useful things. During this COVID-19 crisis, now is really the time to already have a Go Bag put together and have it with you. It’s never too late to start implementing one. If you ever have any questions, holler at us!