What Do You Need So You're Prepared to Get Home?
It’s 4:30pm on a Friday and you’re 53 miles from home when the emergency alert screams from your phone that the storm that was supposed to be a pleasant summer rain dropper just strengthened, knocking out all power in the region and causing major flooding. You already know the main road home goes underwater as soon as it sprinkles and the rush-hour and weekend traffic is going to turn all the freeways into parking lots. You need to get home and you have no idea how you’re going to do it.
You don’t yet know what you’ll be facing as you battle to get home, so how do you ensure you do make it back, regardless of the circumstances? By already being prepared. You already put together and have with you a “get home” bag (aka truck bag) that contains what you’ll need, even if you have to bail out of your vehicle and hoof it.
Depending on where you live, our scenario above may or may not be likely to blindside you. But stop a moment and think about the last year or two and the events that would have made getting home an ordeal. Ice storms knocking out power and water. Wildfires cutting off roads and access. Hackers shutting down infrastructure networks. “Peaceful” protests blocking streets and freeways.
Forget a zombie or end-of-the-world apocalypse; whenever you’re more than a few miles from home, there’s now a non-zero chance it’ll be a struggle to get back.
Helping you prepare to make it through anything that hits you is why we created Ready Rated and we’re going to go through all the gear you need to keep in your vehicle so you can make it home safely. We break it all down by category, giving the goal for each category to help you understand why we picked what we did. We then recommend the gear and training that we’ve found to be solid, reliable and as affordable as possible.
One last thing. Everybody has different skills, knowledge and physical capabilities. Everybody has different life details to consider. You may have kids in your SUV with you while the no-kid guy has a beater Mustang that he can’t rely on to get him home. Different demands, different stress points, different get-home bag loadouts.
Take our suggestions and add, modify or delete to suit your needs. Take our checklists and make them your own.
But for every change you make, be sure you have a good reason. Throwing too much junk in your truck bag can be just as dangerous as leaving out a critical item. Understand why we propose what we do, use your God-given brain to think things through for yourself and make sure you get training. Only then will you be Ready Rated.
First question is, why a get-home bag at all? Everyone talks about a bug-out bag; wouldn’t that be the same thing? Not necessarily.
Our position is that the safest place for you to be the majority of the time is your own home. This isn’t always the case, of course. Maybe you have an apartment in downtown Portland, right on Protest Blvd. (Time for you to move, my friend.) Maybe the threat is a hurricane and your house is right in its path. In these cases, bugging out is safer, which is why we cover a bug-out bag in another article.
Your get-home bag can’t provide for every potential surprise in life, so we first set the goal of our Ready Rated get-home bag and build based on that.
Get home from <75 miles away.
That’s it, nothing fancy. But this goal alone will answer most of your “why didn’t you include X?” and “how come you included Y?” questions.
Go back to our opening scenario. Fifty-three miles may not seem like much, maybe a little over an hour’s drive on a normal day. But on this stormy day, it may take you six hours or more.
But on the other hand, it’s not going to take a week and you’ll have your vehicle for at least part of your journey, keeping you mobile and dry. So you don’t need bags of freeze-dried meals and knowledge of how to build a squirrel snare. Even on foot you’ll be home in a day, but walking 50 miles sucks so we include items to keep your vehicle healthy.
The recommended get-home gear is grouped based on common purpose and presented in order of likely need.
- You have to know where you’re going.
- You need to let family and friends know you’re okay and you need to coordinate with them.
- You have to make sure you can physically make it home.
- You want to be able to fix your vehicle or any gear that breaks on the way. Driving beats walking.
- You need to be able to move at night, not just during the day.
- You have to be able to defend yourself.
- You have to comfortably carry all this.
If you’re too impatient to read, here’s our Ready Rated get-home bag checklist. Please feel free to use this immediately to start building out your kit, but we encourage you to read the rest of this so you understand our reasoning.
Two final items before we get going. First, think for yourself. If different circumstances are more probable for you (e.g., you’re in a big city, you’re in the middle of farmland, you drive through snow), modify as appropriate. This is a starting point to get you going. You do you.
Second, you don’t need to run out and buy everything on the list (although you can) and you don’t need to use exactly everything we spec (although you can). If you already have stuff that serves the stated purpose and is reliable, use it. If your Star Wars backpack lets you organize appropriately, congratulations! Your bag is even more incognito than what we spec!
Okay, ready? Navigate your way to Part 2.
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