note: first appeared in July 2015
I am a big believer in layers, redundancy, and modular “prepping.” I don’t get locked into the conventional way of thinking as most prepper “experts” do. I try to think in terms of, and focus on, “mission.” And the same applies to my “Go Bag” and how it integrates with my overall philosophy on my “prepper” way of life.
So, as always, I always designate a “mission” for everything I have. For my gear and equipment I want ensure that I am staying on task, staying focused and not just acquiring “stuff” for its own sake. So here is my “Go Bag” mission:
A bag that contains the absolute minimum to defend myself, my family and begin the trip to my survival cache. To minimally survive independent of any other source of resources while maintaining as low a profile as possible.
This bag was to be small, lightweight, low-profile and something I could grab if I couldn’t grab anything else. This would be the bag that I could carry anywhere and it would not raise any attention, let alone suspicion. In other words, this would be the lowest level building block of survival bag…a “go bag.”
So I kept adding things to the list, then crossing them off, adding some more, and crossing off a bunch more. I had to whittle it down to what I considered to be the absolutely bare necessities. And I am not kidding…the absolute bare necessities.
I had to maintain compliance with the L.I.P.S. principles. I also had to meet and over come the standard list of threats listed in priority order; violence, injury/sickness, lack of communications, dehydration, exposure, and starvation. So I really had to look very, very hard at what was practical and what had to take a back seat. So here is the gear & equipment list of my “Go Bag”:
- 1 x Sig P229 pistol (.40cal S&W)
- 2 x Sig magazine, P229, 12-round
- 50 x 180gr XTP rounds
- 1 x ESEE 3”
- 1 x Blackhawk SERPA Level 2 holster, flat dark earth
- 1 x xGalco International magazine and tactical light holster
- 1 x LED Lenser tactical light with AAA Batteries
- 3 x AAA batteries
- 1 x Dressing, First Aid, Camouflaged, 4” x 7”, Sterile : NSN# 6510-00-159-4883 – Elwyn Inc.
- 1 x Bic Lighter
That’s it, nothing more; the bare necessities. Why nothing more?
Well, that can be answered a whole lot of different ways. But, the primary reasons are “low-profile” and priorities. I’ve learned over the years that your primary priority is to stay alive. And trying to carry a whole lot of stuff is not a good way to stay alive when you are being pursued. Not a good idea to be carrying a large backpack in an urban area where folks want what you have, or they just want to kill you.
Well, one way to avoid a stupid mistake being low-profile. And being low-profile means that anyone tracker you can’t distinguish you from any other folks. And that is exactly my point, being able to move about, returning home, or traveling to a survival cache, without being noticed. But if you are noticed, you must then have the ability to defend yourself with extreme violence if needed. My “go bag” gives me the ability to do that.
So let me go through each item and explain my reasoning:
1 x Sig P229 pistol (.40cal S&W)
This is my primary defense weapon for this situation. Yes, I normally conceal carry when I am outside of the home. But there are rare times that I just can’t, or don’t choose to, carry. That being said, I will always have my “go-bag” in my vehicle. So why a Sig P229? Well, I am very, very partial to Sigs. They are an extremely dependable gun and they fit my hand perfectly. I like their reliability and have no problem betting my life, or my family’s safety, on them. Why a .40cal? It is a fast round, very lethal, and I can carry 50% more ammunition than my Sig 1911 Ultra Compact. I can hit 8” targets consistently at 100 yards and that round can still be fairly effective at greater distances.
2 x Sig magazines, P229, 12-round
I carry this brand and size of magazine because it is 100% compatible with my Sig P229 and 100% reliable since it is the same high-quality manufacturer. I carry one of the mags in the pistol and the other in the Galco holster. I don’t include more mags due to weight and space restrictions. I believe a single extra 12-round magazine to be entirely sufficient in this situation. I am not looking to get into a firefight. I will defend myself when the situation calls for it as I withdraw to safety and then switch in “evade” mode.
I chose this round because it is extremely efficient and lethal. It has a high velocity, can be shot long-range, and the stopping power is incredible. If you counted it, I have enough rounds for a full load of magazines and one complete reload. I don’t carry more than this due to weight and space restrictions.
1 x ESEE 3” Knife
Knives are a beautiful thing! Think about it for a second, you grab a high-quality knife and it just feels so good in your hand it isn’t even funny. The “feel” is hard to explain without sounding like some whack-job. But, a high-quality knife is essential when it comes to survival in an emergency or disaster. I chose an ESEE knife because they are so freaking good. I mean they are simply the best in my opinion. You may have to prepare a fire, skin a jack rabbit, or defend yourself up-close and personal. An ESEE knife will do it all and it will not break on you.
1 x Blackhawk SERPA Level 2 holster, flat dark earth
You may be wondering why this exact holster for this application, and it would be a good question to ask. I don’t use a “retention” holster when I conceal carry. The reason is pretty simple, I don’t want any hindrance when trying to draw my weapon. I want to be able to draw my weapon quickly, no fumbling, and then get it on target. So why not the same for my go-bag? In normal conceal carry times I have no, or very little, active threats to worry about. In other words, I don’t feel that people will be standing in line to try and take my weapon. And if someone does try and take it, they will have to contend with a combination of Krav Maga and Kempo. During a “grid-down” or other serious situation when I am using my “go bag” to get home I see more people looking for, and willing to take, weapons from anyone they can. Society norms and morals, what little we have, will drop away quickly. In a fight, or if I am jumped, I don’t want it to be easy for a person to take my primary weapon from me.
1 x Galco International magazine and tactical light holster
No specific reason why a Galco holster for my extra magazine and tactical light, they are good quality holsters and it fits my specific need. I use a combination holster simply because I want to go to the same place for either my spare mag or my tactical light. I have “muscle memory” through training that drives me to my “weak side” naturally for either item. Yes, I could put them in my pocket but I don’t think I can pull either out of my pocket as fast as I can get them off my belt.
1 x LED Lenser tactical light with AAA Batteries
I am all about stealth most of the time. No, not like some “not-so-secret jet” or a Ninja warrior. But in a bad situation where I am needing my “go bag” I really don’t want a lot of people knowing I am around. This is especially true traversing an urban setting. So I don’t want to be lugging about a big four D-cell Mag light. Yeah, they’re kind of cool to club someone with, but they are heavy and very conspicuous. My little LED Lenser is very compact, easy to conceal but yet is awesome when it comes to lighting something up. I can shine that beam a 100 yards and see whatever I am looking at. Or, I can use my hand to pinch off a bunch of its light to a very small area where the light is barely noticeable. It is my “go-to” light for all tactical situations and use.
3 x AAA batteries
I have a couple of LED Lenser flashlights that have had batteries in them for a couple of years and the lights are still working just fine. But you never know when the batteries will hit that magical spot when they are done and just quit on you. When that happens I will have a spare set of batteries to get it going again.
1 x Dressing, First Aid, Camouflaged, 4” x 7”, Sterile : NSN# 6510-00-159-4883 – Elwyn Inc.
This is my “blowout kit” (BOK). Yes, a full blown Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) would be nice to have but it is bulky and high-profile. Remember, the whole idea/mission behind my “go bag” is to simply get me home, or some other specific destination with the minimum of gear. It is not a GOOD-BOB or even a GHB. So I am not going to worry about an IFAK at this point. I am going to avoid, evade, and conceal rather than engage. This dressing is to stop any bleeding that I expect to encounter. If the injury or wound is more serious then I go into “adapt and overcome” mode.
1 x Bic Lighter
No, not to smoke a cigarette or a blunt, I don’t do either. But I never know if I am going to need a fire to stay warm or purify some potential drinking water. There are also ways to use it as a weapon to defend yourself. Yeah, you gotta remember my profession to appreciate that statement. I am a wildland firefighter and retired structural firefighter. Part of what I do for a living is setting fires. So a lighter to me is a natural tool to have. Besides, it is very versatile.
So there you have it, my “go bag.” I hope you weren’t disappointed. It is small, light-weight and low-profile. But before I conclude this article let’s talk about the bag for just a second, it’s important.
What bag did I choose and why?
Remember, in this situation I want to maintain a low-profile, I don’t want to attract attention to myself. I want to be that “gray man” you’ve undoubtedly heard that term before. So I wanted something muted in color, not really visible at night, small and lightweight. And more than anything else, I didn’t want it to look “military” in any way, shape, or form. That military look would draw instant attention, and that is not what I am wanting.
So I happened to stumble upon a “Tek” pack by Camrac. It was built for carrying a SLR camera and a few extra accessories. It measures about 10” H x 8” W x 5” D. it is light-weight, no waist strap, dark blue and black in color. It weighs less than a pound by itself and is padded internally. There are several zippered fish-net interior pockets and the bag has a carry handle on top. Twin shoulder straps are more than adequate. The padding is an added bonus.
If all of the contents are in the bag and I am carrying it around you probably would even notice. It just seems too small and insignificant to be threatening…or valuable.
Now, when it comes time to put it into action:
- The Blackhawk and pistol go on my right hip.
- The Galco, light and spare mag go on my left hip.
- The lighter goes into my left front pants pocket.
- The ESEE goes horizontal in the small of my back.
- The dressing goes into my right front pants pocket.
That leaves the pack virtually empty. I can make the decision at that point to move the batteries and spare ammo into a pocket and discard the pack if I need to. Or I can retain the pack and use it to carry whatever I scavenge along the way.
For instance, if I was at work and the only option was my “go bag” I would take a couple bottles of water and an MRE with me inside the pack. If I was in my truck when the need arose (and I didn’t have my GHB or my vehicle kit in the truck), I would take my map and my two spare bottles of water with me in the pack.
That concludes my “go bag” list of contents and reasoning behind all of it. This is not the kind of “go bag” that you use to get out of dodge, head to the mountains, or even live out of while fighting off zombies. This bag is simply your option when the situation demands it or there is nothing else for you to use. It provides the minimal equipment and gear allowing you to defend yourself, treat a basic injury/wound and keep moving to your destination.
A couple of items that I might consider adding to the bag that you might find useful, and items that I almost put in there:
- Couple of granola bars
So why didn’t I put those items in the pack? No need for a map and compass for this mission. At this point I am in town and know my way around…or I can acquire a map. We have a mountain range that orients me north-south. As for the granola bars…I probably won’t be on the road long enough to need them. If I am, I will acquire food on the move as needed. See, I can boil it all down to the most basic gear; I can keep it small and light.
What was the “myth” I busted?
The myth that you always need to “go big or stay home” that many preppers feel is the right way to go in virtually all circumstances.
I believe you pick and choose your gear based on the “mission” you’ve identified. If you can’t identify and clearly define the mission, then you will not be able to, and not going to, choose the correct gear and equipment.
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