Goodies bag


So as you all may know, I’ve been involved with John Birmingham’s Patreon site. It’s an amazing project where he is creating an end-of-the-world disaster scenario one chapter at a time. Very entertaining to watch as the disaster novels are created, three are planned. By all means sign up and join the crowd.

I’ve recently had the honor of having another one of my short stories published there, it was a bit about a completely unprepared city dweller attempting to escape from New York on foot. Read some reactions, and they inspired me to write this article.

Simply put; how do you assemble a basic go-bag without treading into the domain of insane paranoia?

Well, I’ll help those who are interested out.

The first step to escaping a bad situation is mental attitude. I learned this from Uncle Sam. It comes down to one thing; “I will never accept defeat.” You can always take one more step. Add them up and that one step becomes ten thousand. You need a lot of steps to escape a dying city such as JB describes in his frighteningly realistic scenario.

It helps to have some basic supplies at hand, with very basic knowledge of how to use them. Build this kit, put it in a closet and forget about it, increase your chances. Here goes.

The first thing you need is some kind of bag. Preferably a small backpack.

Now you need a source of hydration. Go with a basic canteen or the ubiquitous water bottle.

The water sources you encounter on your trek to safety should be automatically regarded as suspect. Dysentery is no fun, and can be deadly. Pick up a bottle of water purification tabs.

Now you need shelter. Buy a poncho or a tarp. This can be used both as wet-weather gear and an improvised tent.

Some food would be nice. Throw in some MREs. If you’re crazy enough to carry canned food (heavy), be sure to have a can opener.

OK, so now you have water, shelter, and food. You’re way ahead of the game.

Get a pair of good hiking shoes or boots. Break them in.

Clothes can be whatever. Make sure they’re comfortable, plain, durable. Plenty of usable pockets is nice. A hat of some sort is good, a keffiyeh is nice as well; especially for my Australian friends.

Go to a gas station or wherever and get a lighter and matches. Wrap them in a waterproof bag. Carry one in your bag, one on your person.

A pack of baby wipes and feminine hygiene products, if necessary, would be nice. Throw them in the bag. BTW, a roll of toilet paper (kept in a Ziplock bag) not only works for its intended purpose, but it makes a great fire starter as well.

Speaking of fires, no campfires at night. They ruin your night vision and advertise your position.

A surplus mess kit and a knife is all you need to cook rodents or whatever. Keep the knife on your person.

Buy a map of your area. Keep it in a Ziplock bag. Get two compasses. Why two? You need a compass. One on your person, one in your bag. Learn how to use it, there are instructions included with a new one. It’s not hard; just knowing where North is puts you ahead of the game.

Get a red flashlight, preferably a head lamp. No white light at night; you can be seen for miles.

Finally, a Gerber tool, fifty feet of 550 cord, a Mylar blanket, a small first aid kit, and some trash bags.

Chapstik and fingernail clippers are nice as well.

Luxury items? A poncho liner or compact sleeping bag.

If you want to go all out, toss in a small survival manual, too.

Throw it all together in the bag, and you are ready for zombies or the end of the world. Note: wrap the stuff you want to keep dry, like the poncho liner and spare socks, in a trash bag.

Hopefully this kit collects dust forever in the closet. You don’t have to tell anyone you have it.

But if you need it, you’ll really need it.




9 thoughts on “Goodies bag

  1. Makes good sense. I always worry about weight and speed. What do you think this pack would weigh? What would you pick as essentials.


    • Your heaviest items are always food and water. The bulkiest would be a sleeping bag. As is? Probably twenty pounds max, easily manageable by older children and adults. For a frame of reference: US Army standard for a timed ruck march of 12 miles / 3 hours is 35 pounds, plus gear and weapons. I used to walk in the mountains with 90, but it really sucked. It’s a pretty basic list as-is, a suggested minimum. If I were to skimp, the first thing I would ditch is the sleeping bag. Especially in Australia. But that’s why I put the Mylar blanket on the list. Redundancy. Other items I didn’t include but you should consider: A good hat and a keffiyeh, especially in arid terrain.


    • Oh yes, speed. There’s a saying. “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” If you have to walk out of a place, go at a comfortable pace and you will cover more ground, faster. It seems counterintuitive. It’s not. The faster you walk, the quicker you tire. A faster pace is also harder on your feet and joints. Food for thought.


  2. I reckon 10kg max would be my limit. Not being used to it, dont want to put too much strain on anything. Probably take a water filter (sawyer, katadin) as well as the purification tabs (one is none, two is one). I reckon the main point is (like the compass idea), you need to know how to use whatever you’ve put in the pack. And use it for different tasks.


  3. Pingback: Bags for any occasion | The Interstellar Valley

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