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Go Bag Checklist: 13 Items You Should Include

No one is immune from an emergency or a disaster. Disasters, both natural and man-made, are good reasons to have a “Go Bag” for every member of your family. Often referred to as a “bug out bag”, putting together a go bag does not have to be a daunting task. Follow along as we consider 13 essential items for every go bag and the reasoning behind them.

First of all, your Go Bag needs to be such that you can carry it on your back without undue effort. A backpack configuration is best, but a single strap shoulder bag will work in a pinch. There are innumerable styles and designs available in the back pack category. An economical and robust choice is a military surplus ALICE pack from your local Army-Navy store. Plan to spend somewhere between twenty-five and fifty dollars depending on the condition and where you buy it.

*Caution: many online retailers sell inexpensive surplus ALICE packs. The reason they are so cheap is because they come without shoulder straps.

Step number one is to have some type of emergency food and water in the pack. We recommend storing at least one military specification MRE (Meal-Ready to Eat) and an extra large bottle of water (48 oz) in each Go Bag. MRE’s contain more than enough calories to keep you going as well as all the nutrients that your body needs. One bottle of water might not seem like a lot, but it is better that no water and you can refill the empty bottle from a bulk water source later.

During the aftermath of an emergency you may be forced to deal with the weather and have little shelter. A military quality rain poncho and insulated poncho liner to go with it will protect you from the rain and wind. Ponchos can be used as sunshades as well as waterproof covers to keep your gear dry. Also recommended are fresh, clean T-shirts and socks stored in waterproof bags. You may not be able to shower, but at least you will have a clean T-shirt and socks to wear.

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Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.