Go Bag Survival Kit – What You’ll Need to Pack

We live in a wildly unpredictable world. From natural disasters all the way to terrorist attacks, you just never know when you’ll need to launch into a hasty evacuation. Because the threat is so real, it’s becoming exceedingly important to be prepared for these events. The best way to do so is by creating a go bag survival kit for yourself.

What is a Go Bag Survival Kit?

As the name hints, a go bag is a bag you need on the go. Crazy concept, right? They are bags that you pack in advance in case you ever run into an emergency situation. A basic bag often includes enough food and water to last you and your family a few days, some tools, extra clothing, blankets, and sanitary products. Anything that is a necessity to survive on a day-to-day basis should be included in your bag. It’s all about emergency-preparedness.

Type of Bag

The first thing you’ll need to build a go bag survival kit is the actual bag. Don’t skimp on this part. Get yourself a large durable backpack or duffle bag to carry your go bag essentials. This bag is going to be carrying your life, so make sure it will keep your contents protected, be comfortable and practical to carry, and not be easily weathered by the environment. Get one with thick, padded straps and a lot of pockets. One that is water-resistant would be really great.

There are many bags to choose from so make sure you do your research and get one that you’re absolutely happy with. Make sure that it will be big enough to carry all of your things, especially if you have to pack for family members as well.

Survival Go Bag


What to Include

Every go bag is unique, so you have a lot of wiggle room in deciding what yours will include. Although, each bag has a similar foundation. A good rule of thumb is to pack your bag based on the area you live in. A go bag for someone living on the beach will be a lot different from someone living in the mountains. And even then you might want to update your bag periodically if you live somewhere that experiences changing weather conditions with the seasons. Here is a list of what you’ll need for a basic bag:

  • Nonperishable food
  • Water
  • Water bottle
  • Matches
  • Flashlight
  • Duct tape
  • Knife
  • Can opener
  • Spare clothes (depending on specific location)
  • Blanket
  • Antibacterial soap
  • First aid kit
  • A copy of important documents

Nonperishable Food

You should aim to include at least a 3-day supply of food per person in your go bag survival kit. There are tons of nonperishable foods out there, most of which you can pick up at your local grocery store. Since you have so many options, you have a lot of freedom to choose what works best for your and your family’s needs.

    • Peanut butter – a great source of energy and protein. It shouldn’t need to be refrigerated after opening, but check the jar before you make your purchase.
    • Nuts and trail mix – a convenient source of energy and protein.
    • Granola bars – usually have a long shelf-life and are very filling.
    • Cereal – individually packaged portions of multigrain cereals are a good source of fiber
    • Canned meats – can include chicken, turkey, tuna, and salmon. A great source of protein.
    • Soups – easy to eat out of the can. Choose ones with lower sodium because they will prevent you from becoming extremely thirsty, depleting your water source.
    • Multivitamins – a good source of the vitamins you might be missing out on.
    • Dried fruits – a good source of fiber, potassium, and other nutrients.
    • Canned veggies – a good source of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals.


You should aim to include one gallon of water per day per person in your go bag. This seems like a lot, but you could also pack a portable water filtration system to ease the burden a bit. Iodine tablets can be added to water to purify it as well as boiling it. In emergency situations you may also add a few drops of bleach to water to make it drinkable. Always bring some fresh water though because you may not come across a water source very easily.

Water Bottle

You should also include a water bottle of some sort. It can be collapsible, metal, or hard plastic. This is really your preference, but could also be determined by the size of your bag. You should also understand that you have the ability to boil water in a stainless steel bottle, rather than a plastic one. You could really kill two birds with one stone if you decide to pack a stainless steel canister, but the choice is ultimately yours to make.

MatchesFree Everystryke Waterproof Match

You’ll definitely want to include some kind of matches in your bag but I would recommend water-proof matches. As crazy as that sounds, they do actually exist! They just guarantee that you’ll be able to have a fire even if your bag gets wet. You can see how they work and actually pick up a free waterproof match here, just cover shipping.


Free flashlight

A flashlight is crucial for emergencies. You can pack any kind you like but if yours requires batteries, be sure not to forget those. There are some hand-cranked flashlights and lamps on the market that would be a good alternative to avoid batteries. If you have rechargeable light sources, you could also pack a solar-powered charger to keep that source available. You can see how they work and grab a free, highly durable flashlight here. Just cover shipping.

Duct Tape

There are so many survival uses for duct tape. In fact, there are so many that I will not even come close to listing all of them. However, some notable uses include patching holes, mending clothing, creating a belt or sling, string up gear or shelter, make a cup, and even create bandages. There are endless uses for duct tape, making it an essential for any go bag survival kit.


Investing in a strong, durable, sharp knife is a necessity to create a proper go bag. I probably don’t have to tell you all the uses for a knife but a few include to cut, slice, pry, whittle, skin, dig, fight, and many more. You will not regret having a high-quality knife in your emergency kit. It’d be a good idea to pack a knife sharpener in your bag as an added precaution as well.

Can Opener

Although you’d likely be able to open your canned foods up without a can opener, you should pack one just to avoid the inconvenience. You’ll most likely have more important things to be worrying about anyway. If you think that a regular-sized can opener will take up too much space in your bag, you’re probably right. They actually have a few on the market that are just about the size of a razor, which I would highly recommend.

Spare Clothes

The clothes you take with you should be based on your location and weather patterns. No matter what though, you’ll definitely want to have at least one extra outfit to change into, including extra shirts, pants, socks, underwear, and comfortable shoes. You might want to pack some gloves, extra layers, and wind-resistant clothes too.


Although any type of blanket will be better than none, there are many out there that are better for emergency situations that others. Mylar blankets for example, are lighter than sleeping bags but still provide a decent amount of warmth. No matter where you are, it’s a good idea to take a blanket. Weather is unpredictable and you might regret not packing a blanket when those cold nights come around.

Antibacterial Soap

Soap will be essential to keep up your hygiene. Although it may not be your top priority, you’ll want to ensure that you try to protect yourself from harmful germs and bacteria while out of your normal environment.

First Aid Kit

Being in the wilderness increases your chances of injury, so you’ll want to have your first aid kit handy to take proper care or yourself or family. Infections spread quickly and easily so the first aid kit is a must for your go bag. Some things that should be included in your kit are several types of bandages, gauze, medical tape, sterile gloves, safety pins, tweezers, scissors, cleansing wipes, thermometer, rash ointment, painkillers, eye wash, sunscreen, whistle, and insect repellent.

A Copy of Important Documents

You should have these available just to be able to prove your identity if needed. A copy of your driver’s license or passport, birth certificates, titles to properties you own, insurance information, a map of your area, and extra cash should all be included in your go bag. Keep these items sealed in a water-resistant bag to keep them protected from the elements.

How to Pack Your Bag

It’d be a good idea to put all of your items in water-resistant bags within your actual go bag. If that isn’t possible, you can even pack the contents in trash bags to offer a bit of a buffer from the elements. Vacuum sealed bags are a great space saver too.

You should pack your bulky items first so that the weight of the bag is evenly distributed. Pack the lightest items on top so they don’t get crushed under the weight of your other items. Try to keep your things organized so you aren’t scrambling around to find what you need. If you’re packing for several people, keep all of their things together. If you’re packing medications, keep them together. If you’re packing foods, keep them together. I’m guessing you get the picture at this point. Most importantly, organize in a way that makes sense to you.

If you’re carrying a backpack, make sure that no items are going to poke you in the back or cause you any uncomfort because you could have to carry it quite a distance.

My Advice

Get prepared today so you don’t have to worry later. Our world is unpredictable and you’d be a fool to think that you may never be caught up in an emergency situation. Although we hope you never have to use one, we hope that you take some time to prepare yourself a great go bag survival kit.



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2 Responses

  1. Emily S. says:

    I really enjoyed this post! I love how you wrote a paragraph for each item. I love how detailed you are Erin. Your post also taught me something too. This was a very helpful and informative post.

  2. Rama says:

    This is a great post. I am terrible with directions and am very clumsy. When hiking, I tend to miss the markers and get lost. With what I have learned from this post, I can be ready for the hot days when I get lost for hours! I will also remember to bring a trusty Go Bag Survival Kit. Thank you Erin for this post!

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