They have many names: prep bags, go bags, bug-out bags. But whatever you call them, they all serve pretty much the same purpose: They’re a bag full of stuff you’d take with you if you needed to “bug out,” if there was a natural disaster or other major emergency—and, in other words, you need to GTFO of Dodge. Now, you’ve probably seen people prepping for doomsday on the show literally named Doomsday Preppers, but if you haven’t, check it out and thank us later. Those folks may be extreme, but say what you will: They do seem pretty prepared.
However, you don’t need to dig a small (but mighty) moat around your apartment building in order to be ready in the event of an emergency evacuation or last stand. In fact, you probably already have some sort of go bag and most of the items on a doomsday prep list, and you just don’t know it. Have a favorite backpack you keep your essentials in? Go bag. A suitcase that doubles as storage for your travel-sized toiletries and chargers? Go bag. A burlap sack filled with crazy sex toys and everything you need to make sausage at home? Definitely a go bag.
What constitutes a go bag is really up to you—all that matters is that it’s full of almost everything you need to grab it and go without any extra packing. They can range from the casual, in-case-I-need-to-travel-at-a-moment’s-notice-for-work bag, to a more serious, I-need-to-go-on-the-lam-because-I’ve-just-stolen-the-Declaration-of-Independence overnight pack. (Also, has anyone seen Bangkok Dangerous? Much better than National Treasure IMO, and somehow even more campy.)
Regardless of which Nicholas Cage movie you relate to most, everyone should be at least a little prepared for a gnarly, fast-paced, bug-out scenario. While this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the possibilities, here are some solid staples to pack in your emergency preparedness bag. (Case of bourbon sold separately.)
Otherwise it’s just a “go”
Getting a solid bag or backpack is the first step to assembling your go-bag. You can go the tactical route with either of these two military-style packs, or you can lean into your inner renegade camper with the upright, backpacking bag.
One tool to rule them all
(It’s you. You’re the tool.) Kidding, of course. We love you, but not as much as you’ll love this Leatherman multi-tool. There’s a reason many people consider Leathermans an everyday carry must-have; they have everything you’ll need to make small repairs, open cans and bottles, and cut through wires. Resqme’s car window-breaker and seatbelt cutter is also a great, affordable gadget to keep in your glovebox. After all, you never know!
Don’t underestimate paper cuts
First aid kits aren’t an alternative to professional medical care, but they can patch up a lot of everyday bumps and bruises. (Broken hearts, not so much.) It’s always good to have one of these on hand, even if it’s just to help stabilize the situation on the way to the ER. We like this one not only because it’s currently on sale, but also because its components are extensive, with meds and gear for bleeding, airway obstruction, punctures, and topical emergencies.
Just until you set up your subsistence garden
Until you’re able to construct a portable garden for on-the-go food supplies, survival rations are sure to get you through a few days, or even weeks, depending on how much you bring. Plus, they don’t all taste like ass. Augason Farms’ affordable 72-hour kit includes a whopping 42 servings, so you may have 99 problems during an emergency, but hunger ain’t one.
It’s functional fashion
Thermal blankets and rain ponchos are a good investment, whether you’re planning on going deep into the forest or you happen to take long road trips in the winter on lightly trafficked routes. A classic metallic emergency blanket could also pass this off as chic in Brooklyn—just tell the hipsters you’re wearing it ironically. But if you’re looking for something to use year-round for outdoor excursions, plane rides, or even just chilling on the porch, try the packable puffy blankets from Rumpl or Gravel.
Hydrate or die-drate
Remember people: three, three, three, three. The average person can survive three minutes without air, three hours without shelter in a harsh environment, three days without water, and three weeks without food. So, assuming we aren’t underwater and we have a sweet tent or other shelter on hand, we need a sturdy water bottle, some purification tablets, and a portable water filter—in this case, the LifeStraw, a cult-fave among survivalists and casual hikers and travelers alike.
We’re not saying you’re a fugitive…
… But we aren’t judging either. (After all, someone had to liberate all of the dolphins from SeaWorld.) Anyway, if you need to cross a border, you’re gonna need your passport and possibly your vaccine card. Vaccine card protectors are also the current “it-bag”, so even if you’re not assembling a go bag, they’re still a crucial purchase for 2021 and beyond.
How else are you gonna watch TikToks?
Seriously, you need to get your priorities straight. (TikTok, of course, is number one on the list.) Whether you’re just looking to charge your phone a few times, or you need to charge your vape, this HALO Bolt Portable Charger has you covered. It also features a standard AC wall outlet, and according to the manufacturers, it can literally jump-start an SUV up to 96 times, and a standard car up to 217 times. Which, yeah. Wild.
In case you want to be caller number seven
Or, you know, learn about how the apocalypse is getting on. These hand-crank radios are great because they rely on human power, double as a flashlight, and triple as a portable charger. Get three birds stoned at once, nahmsayin’?
You’re ready to splurge
If you’re really looking for some top-notch, catch-all survival prep packs, JUDY pre-assembled kits are pretty much the top of the line. They’re pricey, but they think of everything for you, and tuck it away in neat little bags and boxes. JUDY’s The Safe is a great starting point for at-home preparedness—the included survival essentials (designed to sustain a family of four for up to 72 hours) are stored in a water- and puncture-proof case, and you can tuck it away in a basement or closet until needed. JUDY’s The Protector and Uncharted Supply Co.’s Seventy2 Survival System are both ideal if you’re looking for a more mobile, compact situation—great for leaving in the car or near the door for a quick getaway.
Hungry for more? You could always stock up on high-tech camping gear. Until then, see you at the post-civilization commune.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.