Why Using a Get Home Bag Could Get You Killed, Two Reasons Why You Should Never Pack a Get Home Bag

Why You Shouldn’t use a “Get Home Bag”

While I would consider myself to be a survival professional given my line of work, it may sound strange to say this, but I’m fairly new to the survival and emergency preparedness world online.Get Home Bag

I’ve worked in developing countries and been trained by survival experts but I never really looked online for survival resources. This is mainly because everything I was taught was passed on “in house” so I never had to.

But a few things made me start to think I needed to start training up my young family. The main catalyst for this thinking was the birth of my first child and as they grew older I started to think differently. I think many people go through this as they take on the responsibility of raising children and it made me rethink a few things.

Firstly, what would happen to my family if I wasn’t around and they were faced with an emergency? I was the fount of all knowledge in this subject matter but I never passed it on to my wife relying on my know how to get us through anything that came our way.

It was a blind spot for me and a good learning experience. It goes to show that even professionals make errors. I realised that I needed to get my family trained up with some basic survival skills in the event that I wasn’t around to help them.

So I started looking online for resources to help with this and that’s when I was surprised by what I found.

Get Home Bag

New Survival Terminology Like “Get Home Bag”

I found lots of terminology that was quite foreign to me. Much of it I assume has developed over the years as people share ideas and discussed different issues that they faced.

Some of it I suspect was developed in an attempt to sound knowledgeable and to create a sense of authority around what they were talking about. And the other part is that human beings want to categorize things. In doing this sometimes there is a tendency to over complicate the subject.

It seems that the online survival world is no different.

Unfortunately this has created certain beliefs which in my opinion are totally incorrect.

One of these concepts that bother me is the use of the term “Get Home Bag”

So what is a Get Home Bag?

I noticed a lot of resources referencing the term “Get Home Bag” to the point where I had to find out what they were. The broad consensus that I found was that a Get Home Bag was a survival bag that was designed to get you home if you encountered a disaster while away from home. If you are at work, school or running errands and something happens. It is designed to have all the necessary equipment to keep you going long enough to get you home.

I can understand why people have reached this conclusion but it’s actually a short sighted way to solve the problem of an emergency by using a Get Home Bag.

There is actually more to emergency preparedness than that.

Get Home Bag

Pro’s don’t use the term Get Home Bag

Guess what? In all my years of working as a Police officer and working overseas on various deployments, I have never come across the term “Get Home Bag”. Nor have the people that I have worked with. We had what we call a Go Bag. Depending on where you worked and who you were trained by they were called different things, Grab Sack, Speed Bag. Another term that has gained popularity is Bug Out Bag. These bags were designed to have all the required gear to keep us going for around 72 hours so we could get clear of a dangerous situation.

Benefit of Having a Fresh Perspective

Now you’re probably wondering what is the point of what I’m talking about. Why do I have such a beef with using the term Get Home Bag. I’m getting there, stay with me.

The problem with the internet is that “Group Think” becomes a real problem. One thing that some quasi guru says over on webpage somewhere gains traction on the GoogleSphere and before you know it everyone is saying the same thing. Just remember, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it a good idea. Remember “Planking”, anyone?

Without really thinking stuff through or doing some basic fact checking it is really easy for these untested ideas and theories to be taken as gospel.

So in some ways I’m glad I stumbled on some of the survival dogma that is getting bandied about at the moment. I hope that we can set the record straight to some extent.

Call it a fresh perspective.

Why I Don’t Like the Term Get Home Bag

Now, why don’t I like the term Get Home Bag? The answer may seem overly simple but it can be a very real problem in a survival situation. And there is more to this than it may seem on the surface.

The problem is this, if you are away from home and some calamity strikes what do you do? Grab your Get Home Bag and go…. Home?

What happens if your route home is affected by the disaster? Or worse still, the disaster is so large that going home is not a viable option at all?

What do you do? Where do you go?

Now this is where the team at Invictus Survival are different to most of the other survival websites, in that, we have all dealt with extreme disasters first hand and have seen how people react under stress.

We’ve studied human behaviour and one universal thing rings true.

Get Home Bag

Your Brain and How It Operates Under Stress Plays a Huge Factor in Your Survival

Under stress the cognitive part of your brain shuts down and you rely on lower brain functions. That means all the high cognitive functions that you use when writing, reading and linear thinking shuts down and you go back to the survival brain of an animal.

Under high stress you will revert back to the four F’s or the four basic animal instincts. Fighting, Fleeing, Feeding and …. mating.

That’s why you can’t rationalize with someone who is angry or emotional; it’s the same brain functions at play.

This is an incredibly important survival factor and one that the amateurs don’t know about or talk about.

In a high stress survival situation, what ends up happening is that people go back to what they have trained their brain to do.

That is why Law Enforcement and Military train with repetition and simulations so that when under pressure they do the correct action they need to keep them alive.

It becomes reflexive.

Calling Your Bag a “Get Home Bag” Trains Your Brain to try and get Home on a Subconscious Level

So in a stressful situation your forebrain shuts down and your basal ganglia takes over. If you have always called your Go Bag a Get Home Bag and think of it in terms of Going Home then the risk is you will try to get home as a reflexive response. You could then put yourself at risk depending on the nature of the danger.

Get Home Bag

Two Reasons Why You Should Never Use a “Get Home Bag”;

Firstly, if the survival situation is so severe and stressful you will try and get home and not even think about it. This could put you in potentially dangerous situation, until something jerks you out of your thought process. It may sound strange to the uninitiated but the learning patterns you give your brain will come out under high stress. You need to put in correct patterns of behaviour into your subconscious brain so that under pressure you do the correct thing to keep you alive.

Secondly, thinking only in terms of ‘Going Home’ shuts your brain down to the other survival possibilities that you may need to account for. Don’t blind side yourself into thinking that every situation you may face means that going home will be your safest option.

You need to be thinking,

  • Where is the danger?
  • Where is the safest place right now?
  • What equipment do I have available?
  • Who do I have to take with me?
  • When will this situation change?
  • How long will I need to evacuate for?

See how these questions turn your mind to thinking about other contingencies? Much better than if you just thought “I need to get home”?

There is a ton of research backing this up and law enforcement agencies and the Military have been using and refining training methods to cater to this human element for years.

Don’t call your Go Bag a Get Home Bag

I don’t care if you call your 72 hour bag a Go Bag, Grab Bag, Speed Bag or Bug Out Bag. Just don’t call it a Get Home Bag. You may use it to get home in 99% of the survival situations you may face. But for that 1% disaster where going home would be a big mistake, you’ll be glad you changed your point of reference and thought about other contingencies.

Don’t Make it too Complicated – The KISS Principle

You don’t need to make setting up your survival gear that complicated. Remember the KISS principle.

Keep It Simple Stupid

The simplest solution is often the best. Start with preparing a survival pouch and 72 hour bag. Then move onto longer term things that will make life easier and more comfortable. This equipment will then go in a third larger bag which will be your sustainment load.


Survival Pouch – Go Bag – Sustainment load

Get Home Bag

Never pack a Get Home Bag again!

If you already have a Get Home Bag, I suggest calling it something else. Start thinking about contingencies if you need to evacuate away from your home. Think about locations to evacuate to. Possible routes and modes of transport. Remembering that many other people will be in the same situation as you and trying to evacuate from a highly populated area will present many different challenges.

I’m not saying that you will need to run to the hills every time something happens. But you will be glad you planned for that prospect.

So my big take away is to try and avoid using the term Get Home Bag as much as possible. Know that people on the internet will keep using Get Home Bag. But that small shift in your mindset could save you and your loved ones should you need to evacuate away from your home.


  1. Garrett

    This article was really only written for the knee-jerk trend followers who would make a “get home bag” because their favorite talking head youtube personality said it would be a good idea. Thats a very small portion of the people who use this term. I believe a Get Home Bag can be incredibly helpful, so this article totally misses the point. GHB’s can have items that wouldnt normally be in a BOB, including proper footwear, extra socks, pain killers, ponchos, money, etc; and should be packed in an innocuous school backpack to avoid being singled out as a “prepper” when other people spot you. Prep the GHB for the most likely event in your area (many will be different). Some people commute around freeway interchanges so earthquakes could be a contingency to prep for, others might drive through rough neighborhoods. Its all up to the end user, but to totally slam the term and deem it “dangerous”, is silly and ignorant.

    • Gray Bullock

      Thanks for your comment Garrett

      I’m not sure that you actually read the whole article. I stated that I am in favor of using a compact bag that is adapted to your individual needs. These bags can be customised and deployed from different places. E.g.: Work, in your car and at home.

      What I am against is the term “Get home bag”. When deployed overseas we called them ‘Go Bags’.

      Using the term “Get Home Bag” fails to take into account the psychology of a stressful survival situation. This term creates the possibility that you will set a dangerous ‘survival script’. When you encounter a disaster, your forebrain will shut down from stress and emotion. You will then instinctively attempt to relocate to your “home”. Which in some circumstances could be your worst choice.

      This could only result in a momentary lapse but it could be a fatal one.

      A similar and sad example of this is when people fatally leave their children in a hot car.

      Fatal Distraction

      Survival is 75% a mental exercise. Ignore this fact at your peril.

      These small shifts in thinking, choice of words and labels you use will make a difference. Survival psychology is something that I have trained with for a long time. It is one of the important survival factors that I don’t see everyday people doing. Hence the article.

      I thank you for raising the comment. I will aim to write more on this topic as it appears there is a lack of commentary on this important subject.

      So I would turn your words back onto you and say that to use the term Get Home Bag is silly and ignorant.

      Use a 72 hour or survival bag. Don’t call it a “Get Home Bag”.

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