How to Pack Your Go Bag so You Won’t be Caught Out in an Emergency

How have you packed all the survival items in your Go Bag?

Did you know that how you pack your Go Bag (or Bug out Bag) is as important to your survival as what you have packed?

Have you just shoved stuff in trying to make it fit? Or are you thinking about what items are more important to your survival and therefore need to be within easy reach at all times?

Go Bag

Have you taken into account the dynamic nature of an emergency and how things can turn against you very quickly? And how easily you could become separated from your equipment and your Go Bag?

When working out how to pack the gear in your Go Bag, think of the worst-case scenario situation. What things do you need if the worst thing you could imagine happened? What things could you absolutely not afford to be without in this situation?

These are the things that you will need to prioritize first and have them with you at all times.

Your emergency planning is essential when working out what equipment you will need. Sitting down and working through the scenarios that you are likely to face is the first and most important step.

This needs to be done long before you even think about buying any survival equipment.

Emergency planning factors that will determine what equipment you need will include;Go Bag

  • Personal requirements
  • Equipment Redundancy
  • Weather
  • Climate
  • Social factors
  • Infrastructure
  • Mode of transport

Once you have worked out what essential items you need you will then have to think about what items are good or nice to have. These are not necessarily essential items that you need to survive but they will be items that make life easier in a survival situation.

Then any other items that you would consider a luxury would be packed in your Go Bag with any space you have left.

Remember to familiarize yourself with your equipment and know how each piece works. The more familiar you are with your equipment the better off you will be should anything fail, become lost or damaged because you will be able to improvise and adapt your plan around that bit of equipment not being available.

Regardless of how much gear you pack in your Go Bag, you will need to organize individual items into three categories.

  1. First Line Gear
  2. Second Line Gear
  3. Third Line Gear

This is a way of packing that comes straight from the needs of the military where you need to be able to get your pack, webbing and rifle together within 90 seconds and be ready to move out. This method makes sure that you always have the most essential gear you need for survival on you or close at hand. We can adapt this method for our purposes so that packing our Go Bag with survival equipment is the same as infantry belt order.

First Line Gear;

Go Bag

Your First Line Gear pouch will contain all your essential survival equipment.

I recommend using a mess tin sized pouch. As soon as you are in an emergency situation (or it’s possible to get yourself in a dangerous situation) this pouch will be placed on your belt and carried at all times. This pouch will contain all your basic (and essential) survival equipment. If you have something go wrong and you have to drop most of your gear. Or you get separated from your equipment, what you are standing in is all you’ll have to help you survive. This pouch will then act as your survival kit.

The small survival pouch is designed to work in the same way as the combat webbing that infantry soldiers would wear (belt order). This contains all your essential items such as navigation and safety equipment. You will have a knife, firesteel and kindling. You will need to risk assess your situation and adapt your gear priorities as conditions change.

Second Line Gear;

Go Bag

Your Second Line Go Bag will have everything you need to survive under normal conditions for at least 72 hours.

This will include all the equipment you would need to survive under normal conditions for at least 72 hours. These items will be stored in your back pack or Go Bag. You need to have this packed and carried at all times. Items you would pack include; A spare set of clothes, a bivvy sack and cordage. Emergency rations to last 72 hours, typically protein bars and high energy foods. A first aid kit. A Hexi stove and a brew kit, i.e. items to make a hot drink.



Third Line Gear;

This is also known as your sustainment load where you will store the equipment you will need to keep you going for

Go Bag

Your Third Line Pack will have everything you need to keep you going for longer periods.

longer periods of time. I recommend using a travel pack. They have good hip straps for taking the weight of the load.  You can attach your second line back pack to the travel pack as well.

How much gear you pack will depend on your mode of transport and how much you can physically carry.

Items you would pack include; Tents or tarps, cooking gear, stoves, food stores, sleeping bag and mat, water containers and hydration equipment, toiletries and extra medical supplies. Tools like trenching tools, axes and folding saws.

Remember that while we have created a list of things to pack, where you pack these items will depend on your individual circumstances.

As your circumstances change you should always be going over your kit and moving less important items to your third line pack and moving other items that become more important up to your second or first line gear.

Go Bag

Second Line Go Bag attached to the Third Line pack for traveling.

Some people I know have color coded their gear in different colored dry sacks. You should get in the habit of going over you kit whenever you stop. Making sure everything is packed away and your bag is secured. At the end of the day look over your kit, move things that need to be moved.

You should become so familiar with where your items are packed in your Go Bag that you could get to them in the dark just by feel.

Assess and reassess your situation constantly.

Doing this you will minimise the chances that you will be caught off guard by some unforeseen circumstance. The very act of reviewing what you are carrying and where it is stowed gets you thinking critically about your situation. And it is this critical thinking that will keep you ahead of the game and what you are dealing with. You will no longer be reacting to external events but anticipating and enacting plans that you have already devised.

As you can see. Looking at HOW you pack your gear in your Go Bag gets you in the right mindset. It is this mindset that will often mean all the difference between survival and perishing in an emergency.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *