MYOG: Building Your Emergency Bag

Quick and Dirty
Cost: Varies based on you and your family’s needs
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty (1-10): 1

Disasters happen everywhere and unfortunately most people are never prepared for them. Because we live in California, lots of people have a misguided sense of trust that no major disasters are going to happen. Here are some tips to preparing a short-range lightweight bag to carry in your car in case of an emergency.  Everyone has different needs, you know your own family the best- pack what you think is best for you and your family.  Keep in mind what we pack in the bags in this post are simply to get you home.


A basic get home bag we keep in our vehicles. Repurposed old backpacks make great emergency bags.

The Essentials:

Devise a Plan
Common thing people forget is having a plan.  We devised a simple plan with meeting locations.  Communication services may be down, therefore having a plan in advance will greatly increase the chances of you finding your loved ones.

Food and Water
We keep energy bars, bottles of water, and a water filter in our packs.  Remember, packing too much will weigh you down so watch the water weight!

First Aid Kit
We pack a basic first aid kit with band aids, alcohol pads, disinfectant, bandages, tourniquets, quick clot, and gauze.  Enough to tend to any minor injuries.

A simple multi-tool or a folding knife will suffice.  Make sure you check your local laws for knives.

Matches and Lighter
We carry a few boxes of matches in our packs to start fires or start our stoves.

Emergency Blanket
We carry a few emergency blankets in our packs.  They are lightweight and have multiple uses.  You can use them to make a shelter or use it as a jacket in cold weather.

This is a given.  We carry simple flashlights and extra batteries.

The Extras:

Change of Shoes and Clothes
Carrying a spare change of comfortable shoes is often overlooked.  I’d rather not walk home in my suit, tie, and dress shoes. A good option for a pair of comfortable shoes are retired running shoes.

Trash Bags
A trashbag is a wonderful tool.  You can use it as a poncho, shelter, and to capture water.  I suggest carrying a contractor bag since they are big and strong.

Stove and Cup
We carry inexpensive Coghlan emergency solid fuel stoves ($5 each) in our packs.  The fuel tabs double as firestarters.  We prefer solid fuel or alcohol over canister stoves because they are less likely to explode in your car.  For the pot, inexpensive stainless camp cup w/ aluminum foil for a lid will be sufficient.

Each of our emergency packs have a small bundle of 50 foot paracord.  You can get a bundle for about $5 at any sports store.

Your method of protection will vary.  We carry pepper spray in our packs and it should be adequate in most cases.  Check your local laws for pepper spray.

Get Home Bag

The bag blends in and does not stand out. It looks like any other school bag.


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