A Get Home Bag or GHB for shorthand is meant to get you home in the event that you are unable to drive home during an emergency. It typically is something people will utilize from work, since that is where most people spend a majority of their time. In the event you are walking home do you have everything in the GHB to get home. For some this is a short walk of 5 miles so little is needed, but for some people it might be a 50 mile walk. For the average person a 50 mile walk would be about 16 hours, depending on the route required to take. For a person out of shape and not used to walking it could easily take 2 days.
What the person needs that lives an 8 hour walk from home is much different then what is need for a person that it will take 2 days to get home. Your GHB should carry all of the equipment that you need to make this trip.
When preparing a GHB the first order of business is to determine approximately how long it will take you to get home. If it will take you a day or more to get home you will likely need something for sleeping and shelter. Depending on the distance and your work attire you will possibly need a change of clothes. Dress slacks and dress shoes do not make for a comfortable long distance walk. If you live within a few miles you may want a bottle of water and that it’s.
The next thing to consider is the route. How many bridges over waterways will you cross for example, and if they are blocked or down how can you cross the waterway. If it’s a slow moving river or small creek maybe another change of clothes for after you swim across, but can you keep your bag dry? If it’s a quick moving river maybe an inflatable swimming pool mattress that you can float on to get across. This is just one of the considerations to take into account when choosing a route.
If it’s a long walk you will need food and water, and water is heavy. How will you get more water in route? A water filter or water purification tablets are a go to. If there are businesses on the route you could potentially carry a Sillcock Key to get water from the businesses. Food can be relatively light and several energy bars could possibly get you by. Of course you may feel you need a Mountain House or two to get you home. The call is completely up to you.
When I first started putting together my GHB I didn’t really do any of these things and simply started putting together a bag. In the end I had water, shelter, food, knife for fire and wood, change of clothes, and more. When I “completed” my GHB I reviewed the distance and route to see how I would get home. It was at this point that the realization hit me. I live approximately 13 miles from my work, which I should easily be able to walk in 5 hours. I will not be needing the shelter, I will not be needing to build a fire, and I have no water hazards to cross of any significance. I had made a GHB far beyond what I would need.
For a person that travels a lot for their job, they could be 50 miles away from home or 500 miles away from home and they will need more. A person that is routinely several days from home, may need the equivalent of a BOB to get home. With shelter, sleeping, food, and fire considerations as a minimum. There will of course be other concerns covering a long distance travel, like medications, first aid for possible injuries, and self-defense.
After reviewing my distance and route I reconfigured my GHB to make it much lighter and smaller. I intend to move light and fast in the event that I will be walking the 13 miles home from my place of business. As an example I have listed below the contents of my current GHB for your review and comments…..since after all, GHBs are personal to the person and everyone has an opinion, but everyone can learn something new also.
Main items of my GHB, which is a medium to small Sling style bag.
- Neighborhood Maps in Ziploc in case of deviation from main route.
- Prescription safety glasses
- Pen and Sharpe
- Notebook for observations I may see on the way home
- Bottle of Water
- Small Poncho
- Phone charge cable
- Wet Wipes
- Emergency Blanket x2
- Bandana to swipe the sweat away
- Earbuds for listening to the radio via my phone for news and updates
- Small ferro rod and bic lighter just to have a way to start a fire……just incase
When putting together your GHB, one of the main considerations is….can you walk as far as you will need to? If you need to cover a distance of 20 miles and you have a bad knee, health issues, or other limitation it may not be possible. In this event you will want to consider an alternate mode of transportation to travel that distance. There are many, but the simplest is a bicycle. A normal bicycle with the front tire removed will fit in most trunks or there are fold-able bicycles that will for sure. If a bicycle will be your answer I would suggest riding it for practice. The saying “once you learn to ride a bike you never forget” may be tru-ish, but I can tell you it’s harder than you remember it being.