Goal: Secure your gear in a logical, efficient way.

All the parts in this series:

Sure, you could buy everything we’ve recommended and dump it all into a rucksack. But that’s insane and lazy, not to mention dangerous when something bad is happening at 10:30pm and you’re digging around for a flashlight.

A smart and less lazy approach is to continue following our recommendations and organize everything exactly as we do.

(An industrious approach is just to do whatever the heck you want, but we still recommend you use this as a starting point for your own build out so you incorporate our logic and warnings in your thinking.)

Even Marie Kondo would tell you to buy the get-home gear that brings you joy. And keep it organized.

You’re going to need additional stuff to organize all the stuff. You may have some or all of this already, but we recommend:

  • Maxpedition UPW (Universal Pistol Wrap) to holster your gun in the CCW compartment.
  • Maxpedition DMW (Dual Mag Wrap) to hold two spare magazines in that same compartment. A solid alternative is Vertx’s MAK Standard, but that costs $16 for one mag holder, which means $32 for two, vs. $14 for the DMW.
  • A tourniquet holder. You do not want to bury the tourniquet. Fieldcraft Survival’s tourniquet holder is terrific but pricey. It’s perfect if you carry a tourniquet on you or mount it to something like a visor panel. But for our purposes, a Vertx MAK Standard gets the job done for a lot less money.
  • A way to mount your multi-tool pouch. Most pouches come with belt loops, which isn’t helpful for attaching to MOLLE or hook and loop. Depending on your backpack, you may have a good pocket for it, but in our load out, we don’t have a good spot for it. You could do a Vertx MAK Standard again, buy a Vertx Tech & Multi-Tool Pouch or use a Vertx MAK Band Full if you have other gear to stow. Or do what we did for a few of our bags and superglue a strip of hook and loop to the back of the pouch.
  • Speaking of Vertx’s MAK Band, their MAK Band Standard works very well for smaller items, like pens, smaller-diameter lights and such.
  • For those items that have MOLLE attachments but no good spot in the bag to attach them, Vertx makes a series of panels that let you attach MOLLE items to hook-and-loop surfaces. They're called Vertx MAPs (MOLLE Adapter Panel) and come in single, double and quad rows of MOLLE slots.
  • Magpul DAKA pouches. There are a lot of small items here that need to be contained and the DAKA pouches are bomb proof. Alternatively, small packing cubes are great, such as Osprey’s. Just make sure you pack like items together and ideally use pouches with windows so you know what’s in each. Last thing you want is to dump everything out just to find some chapstick. If you’re using windowless packing cubes, get different colors so you know what’s in them. For example, red is fire and survival, green is power and lighting, etc.  If you already blew your budget on a flashlight, you can use good ol’ Ziploc bags too.

How to Pack Your Get-Home Bag

The #1 requirement here is to ensure immediate access to the things that will matter most in an emergency, or the things that you’ll be accessing frequently. Don’t bury them. Don’t be that guy emptying his backpack on his hood, just to get to your multi-tool to open an Amazon box.

These critical or frequently accessed items are your:

  • First aid kit
  • Tourniquet
  • Multi-tool
  • Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Gun (or Taser or whatever you have for defense)

Using our spec’d Vertx Last Call Pack, here’s how we recommend you organize it.

Front Outside Compartment

Med kit and tourniquet, front and center.
  • All first aid items except the tourniquet inside your first aid pouch, which is attached via MOLLE or hook and loop.
  • Tourniquet in a holder, which is attached via MOLLE or hook and loop.

Pockets in Main Compartment

This backpack could use more pockets and sleeves, but a little planning will make it work.
  • Notepad or 3x5 cards
  • Whistle
  • Clif bar or similar
  • Flashlight
  • Sharpie

Clipped Inside

  • Garmin GPSMAP 66i (inReach device); clip the carabiner to an available loop or slot or whatever is handy so it can be kept inside and then flipped outside the bag for unobstructed satellite visibility when active.

Inside the Pocket on Back Wall

The hook-and-loop panel on the back allows for limitless attachment.
  • Bandana or shemagh, beanie
  • Empty carry holster for handgun

Attached to Hook-and-Loop Panel on Back Wall

It only looks like a dump pouch because we're trying to show you all the stuff.
  • Headlamp in Vertx MAK Band Full
  • Multi-tool in Vertx MAK Band Full
  • Cylindrical flashlight (alternative to the Surefire Stiletto Pro shown previously) in Vertx MAK Band Full
  • Knife in its Morakniv multi-mount sheath, which is attached via MOLLE to a Vertx MAP panel
  • (Note the differences from the back wall in the previous image. We wanted to show you a couple of ways to mount your gear. The previous image uses hook-and-loop strips through the knife sheath's belt loop, and the multi-tool and headlamp are in a Maxpedition DMW (Dual Mag Wrap).

Pouches, in Main Compartment

A place for everything and everything in its place.
Survival Pouch
  • Cash in ziploc bag
  • Glow sticks
  • Fire rod
  • Fire starter in Altoids tin
  • Bic lighter
  • Mylar blankets
Power Pouch
  • Wall charger
  • 12V car charger
  • Cable for phone
  • Cable for inReach and flashlight (both use micro-USB)
  • Six AAA batteries for headlamp
Utility Pouch
  • Work gloves
  • Duct tape
  • Zip ties
  • Trash bags with rubber bands
  • Paracord
Alternative Survival Pouch
  • Same contents as the survival pouch shown in the picture. Just showing you an alternative type of pouch.

CCW Compartment

Pew-pew pocket for quick access.
  • Glock 19, loaded, in Maxpedition Universal CCW Holster and attached to hook-and-loop panel
  • Two loaded magazines for Glock 19 in Maxpedition DMW and attached to hook-and-loop panel

Water bottle pocket

  • Not shown because, it's a water bottle pocket and its contents should be self evident!


And that’s everything in its place!

Few quick tips on ensuring your pack is optimized for your needs:

  • Make sure your water bottle actually fits in the water bottle pocket. The pocket on the Vertx Last Call Pack is about 3” in diameter. It stretches, but not a lot.
  • Everything should stay secured, regardless of the bag’s orientation. Everything straps down, fastens down, clips on or goes in a secured pouch.
  • We’ve already said it, but it bears repeating: Ensure you have immediate access to the things that will matter most in a high-stress, emergency scenario.
  • If you’re using pouches (e.g., DAKA pouches, packing cubes, ziplock bags), keep like with like and don’t ever move an item from one pouch to the other. Example: You have your cash in your survival pouch, as in this article, since it’s rarely opened. Then you move it to your utility pouch after showing off how Ready Rated you are to your friend. Six months go by, you’re at the gas station and need a zip tie. You fish out your utility pouch and everything dumps onto the ground, including your stash of cash. From behind you, you hear, “What’s all that money for, Candy Cane?” Boom, unnecessary complication.
  • If you deviate at all from our gear recommendations or how to organize them, just make sure you have a reason. There’s no right or wrong, unless you don’t plan.

If you do use the Vertx Last Call Pack:

  • Unclip the retention straps on the outside front pocket and secure the excess strap. For our purposes, you want to be able to rip that outside pocket open quickly to get at the first aid items and these straps hinder that. (If you didn’t notice that it did that, unclip the cover, grab the top of the pocket with one hand and the back of the bag with the other, and rip it open. Cool!)
  • Once everything’s loaded, adjust the shoulder and sternum straps to be comfortable. Put it on and go for a walk to get used to it. It’s a nice day, get outside.
  • Put the backpack on and practice drawing the gun out of it by dropping the shoulder of your dominant hand out of the shoulder strap, rotating the bag while on your other shoulder to the front of your torso so that it’s horizontal, unzipping the CCW compartment, and drawing and presenting your weapon. All while looking forward.
  • Do the last step a few times and you’ll find the best position for the zippers and the gun holster to allow you a smooth draw.
  • The big zipper pull thing isn’t anything special. It’s just to make it easier to grab and rip open the CCW compartment.

Phew! Congratulations on getting this far and building out your bag. But you're not done! There's maintenance to be done, ensuring that everything is ready and charged when you need it, in Part 11 - Checklists.



We participate in Amazon's Associates Program, along with some others, which means that we may receive a small commission when you click on and buy any of our recommendations (at no extra charge to you). That being said, we don't really care if you decide to buy something we recommend or not, because our goal is to help you get prepared for anything. The reasons for our recommendations are spelled out in the articles, but they all boil down to one thing: this is what we think is currently the best option. Sometimes that means you'll buy it, sometimes not, that's fine. Just know that our recommendation was honest, unbiased and (hopefully) of value to you.

Apr 28, 2022

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