“Do you have a Bug Out Bag?” “Do you have a 72-hour kit?” “What’s in your EDC?” “Where do you keep your Get Home Bag?” Huh?
When I started to explore preparedness planning and gear I kept hearing about different kits, and packs, and bags that I HAD to have. They were usually acronyms that made me feel completely out of the loop and intimidated to get started. What I found was there were lots of different names for similar types of bags. The most important aspect was the function of the bag, and the least important aspect was the name. To help get everyone on the same page, we’re going to break down common names and functions to show how you may want to structure your kits…and packs…and bags…and gear, to make you better prepared.
The gear that you have with you every day is commonly referred to as EDC or EveryDay Carry, and that’s pretty universal. I personally make a distinction between “On Body” and “In Bag”. The difference is there are certain tools you will literally carry on you at all times (pockets, belt, jacket) and some items that you may carry in a bag that you have with you at all times (purse, work bag, laptop bag, briefcase, etc).
There is a certain amount of personal preference here as to what you carry and where. I keep my phone and some tools on my keychain “On Body” because I don’t love having tons of stuff in my pockets or on my belt. I carry additional tools and gear in my laptop bag because they fit better in there and I have it with me when I’m at work. When I go out with family I have a couple of smaller bags that have the same tools and gear that I store in my laptop bag.
Get Home Bag (Less than 24 hours)
Your Get Home Bag is designed to support you while you try to get from wherever you are to your house. You’ll want to size this based on your proximity to your home. If you’re going to a friends house that is a 20-minute walk to your home, you might not need anything more than your EDC. If you are going to work and in an emergency, you may have a 6-10 hour walk ahead of you, you’ll want to augment your EDC.
You might have noticed that I just said “augment” your EDC instead of getting a complete bag. Some people choose to have dedicated bags for each use case, but I prefer to layer my gear. We’ve talked about layering before, but it’s more efficient (in my circumstance) to add-on to my EDC gear, as opposed to purchasing and staging a completely separate bag of gear. To create my Get Home Bag, I add some food and water to my EDC. My use case would likely be walking from downtown to my house which would probably be an all-day walk. I probably won’t need additional shelter or supplies outside of what I normally carry in my laptop bag. So by adding a bottle of water and a couple of protein bars, my EDC bag (laptop bag) becomes a Get Home Bag.
Bug Out Bag (72 Hours)
Bug Out Bags are very popular to talk about. 72 Hour bags are very popular to talk about. They are essentially the same thing.
Both of these terms refer to a bag that can help you survive for 3 days. The nuanced difference is that a Bug Out Bag implies that you will be leaving your house, while a 72-hour bag doesn’t infer whether you’re leaving or not. As a result, you’ll want to customize your pack to accommodate your plans.
A quick point of new prepper clarification, after a major disaster most preppers plan to Bug In or Bug Out. If you plan to Bug In you are planning on staying at your home and remaining there for an extended period of time. If you plan to Bug Out you are planning to leave your home and travel to an alternate location(s).
If you are planning on leaving your home (Bugging Out), you’ll want to consider the size and weight of the gear you put in your pack. No one hike for hours with a 100 pounds of gear that’s awkwardly sized. If you’re planning on staying at home (Bugging In), then the weight isn’t as much of a factor, you just need to be able to move it to a safe location once the disaster is over.
Caches are simply places where you have placed supplies. Your primary cache will likely be your home. You may have a secondary location (friend’s house, family’s house) that also serves as a cache. You may have multiple locations where you have stashed supplies depending on the evacuation route you’re taking.
We consider our cars to be mobile caches. I keep a variety of extra gear, food, and water in each of our cars. This ensures that wherever we are, we always have plenty of supplies should we have to stay with the car and survive. Additionally, we can use the supplies to stock our packs before heading to our first assembly point.
Over the next several months we’ll dive deeper into what you should include in each kind of kit…bag…pack…cache… “thing to hold stuff” :-). In the meantime, I wanted to take away some of the mystery and confusion associated with these terms. Planning out what you need can be overwhelming enough without the feeling like you don’t even know what everyone is talking about. Well, now you know!