How to Build a Go-Bag

How to Build a Go-Bag

You know that preparation and thinking ahead is the name of the game when it comes to survival. That’s why it’s absolutely imperative that you build a well-thought-out go-bag for when disaster strikes and it’s time to bug out. A go-bag can be any kind of backpack, duffel or other bag that you fill with the items that will give you life support and help you survive in case of an emergency. When the time comes, simply grab your pre-prepared go-bag and you’re off.

Watch this video of ret. U.S. Navy SEAL Clint Emerson as he instructs you step by step on the best way to assemble your go-bag. And if you’re interested in taking classes from experts like Clint, sign up for a free ABR Academy at your local 5.11 retail store.

Things to Consider When Building Your Go-Bag

You want your go-bag to sustain you for up to 72 hours. There are three considerations to take into account as you go about building it – the potential threats you’ll face, the environment you’ll be in, and your physical capabilities.


1. Threats – The number one thing to consider is potential threats. These can include anything from being stranded when you’re traveling to a fire or other natural disaster at home. Analyze the likely threats and proceed accordingly.

2. Environment – The conditions you normally find yourself in, your environment, or where you are going play a key role in determining what items to include in your go-bag and which items you can leave out. Consider whether you live in a hot- or cold-weather climate; a mountainous region or the dessert; rainy conditions or drought. Plan with your current and planned surrounding in mind.

3. Capability – A tool or piece of equipment does little good if you don’t know how to use or apply it when the time arises. Make sure you know how to use all of the items you have in your go-bag before you actually need it. If it’s been a while since you’ve pried open the bag, double-check to ensure everything is working properly, check expiration dates and ensure you have enough batteries and chargers.

What to Put in a Go-Bag

After you’ve considered your circumstances, the question becomes what do you pack? The three must-haves to survive are food, water and shelter. After that, pack it with what you think will serve you best. Here’s a checklist of some of the essential gear to put in your go-bag.

  • First aid kit and supplies
  • Prescription medications
  • Knife
  • Multitool
  • Lighting and flashlights
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Communication devices
  • Duct tape
  • Gloves
  • Toiletries
  • Can opener
  • Whistle
  • Small sewing kit
  • Self-defense weapon

Shop the Perfect Go-Bag for You

You can’t have a go-bag without a bag. Browse our full collection of 5.11 survival bags and tactical backpacks purpose built for your next mission HERE.

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