Go Bag [Buyers Guide] and Go Bag Essentials

It’s been a wild ride for the past few years. If a global pandemic, volatile economy, riots, Ukraine, and everything in between has taught us anything, it’s that there’s never been a better time to be prepared.

Often, one of the first casualties of a natural disaster or man-made disaster is continuity of movement.

Roads become impassable, widespread power outages, and public transportation will likely come to a halt. You need to be prepared to move on foot to get back home. You need to have a go bag.

Building a Go Bag with an Escape and Evasion Mindset

A Real-Life Example

So maybe you don’t have a go-bag with you while traveling. That doesn’t mean you’re SOL when everything goes sideways.

Chances are there are many items around you, especially in a hotel room, that could be thrown into your backpack if you need to evacuate quickly due to a natural disaster, or worse, a terrorist attack.

Here is an excerpt from the book ‘Terrorist Attack Girl‘ written by Meyli Chapin.

"Melissa asked if I had a small bag I could pack full of overnight supplies, as well as my passport. I told her I had a small backpack….The hero that she is, she told me exactly what to pack. I filled it with toiletries, a change of clothes, cash (which I had in many different pockets, both in the backpack and on my person in case I needed to bribe different people at different points in order to get out of the country – this was not Melissa’s suggestion, but my own innovation), and my passport and person documents so that I could get out of Kenya and into South Africa. She told me to put on thick-soled shoes, so I put on my tennis shoes. She asked if I had a jacket, which I did, so she told me to put that on as well."

What is a Go Bag?

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average American commute time is roughly 30 minutes whether driving your own car or utilizing public transportation.

That 30-minute commute home could easily turn into an all-day commute depending on the severity of the emergency. Go bags should be light and comfortable. You should be able to move continuously over a distance without becoming exhausted. Yes, your level of fitness plays a part in this too.

The go bag you choose should also be streamlined and designed in a way to not draw unwanted attention.

Go Bag Buyers Guide Summary

SOG Surrept/12Available on SOG for $37.99
Vertx Ready PackAvailable on Tactical Distributors for $149.99
Sitka Arrowhead DrifterAvailable on Amazon for $169.00
Crye Precision AVS 1000Available on Tactical Distributors for $252.10

The Best Go Bag Backpack

Once disaster strikes, your priority will be to get from wherever you are to your home. Go bags prioritize speed and mobility. Forget about packing bushcraft gear and camping gear. Your #1 goal is to get home as quickly as possible.

Go bags tend to change from person to person. Some, like myself, prefer small backpacks while others prefer a larger bag. Regardless, you need a bag that is durable, doesn’t scream tactical, and is comfortable enough to carry over distance.

Those that already have a go bag swear it’s the best on the market for various reasons.

The bottom line is figuring out what works for you, your lifestyle, and the threats local to your area.

Here are a few of our favorite go bag backpacks.

SOG Surrept/12 Reversible Carry System – This is my preferred bag for daily carry

The SOG Surrept/12 CS is made for travel and the urban environment, to meet or exceed common challenges encountered; whether you’re on the road or on the way to work.

Designed to work on its own or in conjunction with travel this backpack functions essentially as a drop-and-go bag. With 12 liters of storage, there’s room for your laptop, and a few daily carry essentials.

SOG Surrept/12

at SOG
Prices accurate at time of writing

Vertx Ready Pack

Keep your essential everyday gear organized and your CCW readily accessible in the Vertx Ready backpack that can change its appearance to keep you under the radar. Tuck the unassuming front flap away for a quick conversion to a different appearance and access to gear loaded on the concealed MOLLE panel.

Plenty of slots and pockets and several Velcro loop panels keep smaller tools and admin materials securely stashed until you need them.

Vertx Ready Pack

at Tactical Distributors
Prices accurate at time of writing

Sitka Arrowhead Drifter

The newest addition to the Drifter line stands on its own as a super durable and highly functional pack for the modern nomad. The exterior is constructed of a durable and water-resistant 450-denier nylon ripstop TPU-laminated face with a durable water repellent exterior and interior.

With an array of features designed to balance convenience and comfort, the Drifter Travel Pack is built to be an uncompromising companion in the overhead bins of business flights or tucked away at your feet on an Alaskan puddle jumper.

Sitka Arrowhead Drifter

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

Crye Precision AVS 1000 Pack

The Crye Precision AVS 1000 Pack is a streamlined, lightweight assault pack designed to provide the user with a variety of access and attachment options.

It can be configured as a standalone pack, a rear plate bag replacement, or attached directly to the plate carrier (virtually any vest) to allow quick access without redundant pack straps. Made in the US from US materials.

Crye Precision AVS 1000 Pack

at Tactical Distributors
Prices accurate at time of writing

What To Pack in a Go Bag

Having the right go bag backpack, sling pack or duffle bag is only the first step. You need to know what to pack. Here are basic items to consider when packing your go bag.

  • Commo/Communications
  • Cables and charger for cell phone
  • Cash
  • Extra batteries (for flashlight and headlamp)
  • Headlamp – Black Diamond SPOT
  • Snacks (I chose suckers because they have a long shelf life and are easy to lick and suck on while on the move. Believe it or not, something as simple as a sucker can be a morale booster)
  • Medical (trauma and first aid and Motrin)
  • Multi-tool – SOG Flash MT
  • Water and a way to purify it – GRAYL UltraPress 16.9 oz Water Purifier
  • Small roll of Gorilla Duct Tape
  • Small survival kit (fire-starting, 550 cord, compass, space blanket)
  • Signaling kit
  • Extra pair of socks. (In the Marine Corps our Corpsman always told us to change our socks, drink water, and take two Motrin). You can go a long way with these essential items.
  • Level IIIA soft armor backpack insert
  • Spare Mags and Ammo if you’re carrying

RELATED – Manly Must-Haves: Survival Gear for Every Guy

How I Turned My Daily EDC Bag into a Go Bag

Disclaimer: I’m a minimalist compared to most guys when it comes to this stuff (Keep It Simple Stupid). This is how I roll with my go bag setup.

Sometimes it’s hard for people to justify having a dedicated go bag. Many of those that commute to work and school already carry some type of bag or backpack. Why not take advantage of that bag you already use on a daily basis and insert an auxiliary kit containing emergency items.

I got this idea a few years ago from a post that Kyle Defoor published. His was more of a last-ditch crash kit that he hoped never needed to be used.

I took that idea and ran with it for my own personal survival kit. This is the kit that gets thrown into whatever bag I happen to be carrying. The advantage of this small kit is that I can throw it into any bag really and turn that said bag into a go bag.

Although my contents differ a bit from the one Kyle Defoor put together, the shell remains the same. I honestly have not found a better shell to use for this kit over the years and I’ve used many different pouches and kits.

The shell is a SealLine See Pouch. Similar to the more popular SealLine dry bags, it’s a micro version of that. It comes in two sizes. but the size and color I’m using is the Large SealLine Pouch. The pouch is waterproof when closed and keeps everything dry if submerged or exposed to outside elements. The pouch can also double as a water container when all the contents are removed which is commonly overlooked.

I go over the contents of this kit in the next section.

Again, my personal setup is tailored to my area of operation. I’m typically no more than an hour away from my home on any given day, so I can get away with a leaner loadout.

When setting up your go bag consider your area of operation, how far away from home you typically are, what the threat landscape looks like for your area, and your physical abilities.

A Go Bag Setup for Traveling Domestic and Abroad

Your go bag checklist is going to change when it comes time to traverse airports and commercial aviation.

Traveling with an escape and evasion mindset is even more important nowadays with the possibility of civil unrest and overall instability of the nation. Here are a few travel safety tips I’ve learned from my own travels and from others in the personal security industry.

Prior to the pandemic kicking us in the balls, I traveled to Nuremberg, Germany on business. That flight included flying through Atlanta International Airport, Paris France International Airport, and then over to Munich. We took the train every day from the Munich train station to Nuremberg. On the return trip home, I traveled through Amsterdam and then Chicago to get home.

With that said, I had to traverse through multiple security checkpoints and Customs. Knowing this ahead of time allowed me to plan for what I would pack in my bags. It’s vitally important to do your homework before traveling to know what you can and cannot pack in both checked luggage and your carry-on. I did not check any baggage for this specific trip, which restricted what I could bring with me from an EDC and personal protection standpoint.

Building a Go Bag with an Escape and Evasion Mindset
My personal EDC through the trip. Olight M18 flashlight, Zebra stainless steel pen, NFW Valor watch, and my wallet with local currency.

Knowing that TSA is catching on to the ‘tactical pen’ market, I decided not to carry my tac pen. Instead, I carried a normal Zebra stainless steel barreled pen. Besides that pen, I also carried my Olight M18 Striker flashlight. Both items flowed seamlessly through all airport security and customs. Between these two items and my Level IIIA Ballistic backpack insert, I felt confident in my personal security. The rest is situational awareness and thinking outside the box.

Once I was on the ground in Germany and checked into my hotel, I assessed things and determined what would be on my person and in my daypack as I traversed the city. I carry a few staple items in my daypack anywhere I go, whether it’s domestic or international. The first thing is my TSA-approved SERE/Survival kit contained in a SealLine pouch.

Building a Go Bag with an Escape and Evasion Mindset
Go Bag Necessities while traveling between Munich and Nuremberg for 7 days.

The following list is the items carried in that kit.

  • SOL Emergency Blanket
  • Bic lighter inside an Exotac waterproof case
  • Streamlight Microstream Flashlight
  • Frontier Survival Straw
  • Prometheus Design Werx Compass
  • Also carried at all times were my passport, flashlight, and local currency. (Speaking of the local currency, I prefer a minimum of $200 on me at all times. This can be used obviously for shopping and eating, but more importantly, it could be used for bribery or to obtain transportation if you need to egress due to some type of hostile threat to the local area.)

This kit along with a few other items mentioned below all fit into the minimalist 10-liter backpack that went with me throughout Germany.

RELATED – Best Faraday Bags for Cell Phones

Flowfold Optimist Minimalist Daypack

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

Before heading out into the city, I got two local maps; One full-size fold-out map and a mini-map that I kept strapped to my front pocket wallet. The mini-map would serve as a backup if I had my pack taken for whatever reason.

Always have backup plans when traveling, especially overseas.

Building a Go Bag with an Escape and Evasion Mindset
Munich Train Station

It’s also good to know the location of the closest airport, train stations, and hospitals when traveling.

Other contents of my Flowfold 10L Minimalist backpack were a pair of Gatorz Sunglasses, a Black Diamond lightweight rain shell, and a small trauma kit.

Building a Go Bag with an Escape and Evasion Mindset
My go bag backpack at the Starbucks inside the Munich train station. Getting some much-needed coffee before the 30-minute train ride to Nuremberg.

Watch How a Female Assassin Used a Go Bag

Although this video is a dramatization, it accurately depicts just how useful a go bag can be. Now as seen in this video the female assassin ends up with someone else’s bag, but she still manages to utilize the contents to her advantage.

This is a very important concept when you either have little to work with or grab someone else’s bag.

We can purchase all the fancy gear available, but if you lose it or get separated from it for whatever reason, you need to have the knowledge and mindset to make do with what you have.

Could you have improvised on the fly with the contents of someone else’s bag as she does in this video?


With the right gear loaded in your go bag, you can be ready for what comes your way.

Remember to keep your batteries fresh and your medications up-to-date. Reevaluate your go bag contents each season to stay prepared for relevant threats and natural disasters.

Oh and keep your powder dry.

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Table of Contents

  • A Real-Life Example
  • What is a Go Bag?
  • Go Bag Buyers Guide Summary
  • The Best Go Bag Backpack
  • SOG Surrept/12 Reversible Carry System – This is my preferred bag for daily carry
  • Vertx Ready Pack
  • Sitka Arrowhead Drifter
  • Crye Precision AVS 1000 Pack
  • What To Pack in a Go Bag
  • How I Turned My Daily EDC Bag into a Go Bag
  • A Go Bag Setup for Traveling Domestic and Abroad
  • Watch How a Female Assassin Used a Go Bag
  • Conclusion

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