Get Home Bag for Teenagers- Part 2, by N.R.


We looked at one scenario where a Get Home Bag would be critical for teenagers away from home when an emergency occurred. While there are many types of bags that will work, expensive bags are not necessary. We have already looked at the bag itself. So let’s now move on to the other critical elements, the interesting part, which are the things to go inside the bag.


Not MREs or Canned Food

Now, I’m going to say something so we can get this straight from the start. I would not recommend packing MREs Why? They are simply too expensive. They weigh too much and take up a great deal of space. While less expensive, the same goes for canned food. And you simply don’t want a bag that is too heavy to carry long distances or potentially hazardous to your health. I mean, let’s be real. If the mess hits the fan and a disaster struck, you may have to walk wherever you have to go. It may require you to get there before your supplies run out. The lighter the pack, the easier it will be to get to where you need to be. I speak from experience.

Light Foods

I recommend you stock it with light, energy providing foods that replenish strength and stamina. These foods are things like granola bars, food bars, trail mix, nuts, raisins, et cetera. Depending on how far you have to travel to, I also recommend packing instant meals. I’m talking about dried soup mixes, potatoes, oatmeal, grits, or freeze dried products, like beef stroganoff or spaghetti. Consider anything that requires only hot water to prepare.

Means For Heating and Eating

That being said, you are going to need a simple steel cup in which you can warm the food and plastic eating utensils to eat with. Both of these can be purchased at Walmart for just a couple of bucks. However, you don’t want anything that requires any cooking, as that means you would have to pack an entire kitchen in your bag as well. Nonetheless, it is a good idea to pack a small wood burning stove or fuel tablet burning stove. Even if you have the cup, you are going to need a fireproof surface to rest it on. At least have a small grill grate or something that you can quickly set up over the heat source.


Bottled Water

Having an adequate supply of water on hand is critical, as your body can’t survive more than three days without it. However, packing a ton of bottled water in your bug out bag is unrealistic. Why? Water is quite heavy. For the reasons I stated before, it’s a very bad idea to have too much weight on you. I recommend carrying no more than three bottles of water that could serve as an emergency supply in the event there is no clean source at the moment. In addition, you should have a durable water bottle you can fill up repeatedly that will act as your primary source.

Water Treatments and Filters

Now, depending on the kind of disaster, there could be a possibility the municipal water systems could be damaged, making the water that comes from the tap unsafe to drink. In that case, you are going to want to have iodine water purification tablets on hand. These tablets can purify water and make it biologically safe to drink in thirty minutes after mixing. But you also want to include a type of water filter to so you can extract any kind of harmful particles in the water. I recommend including at least two LifeStraws in your bag. LifeStraws are water filters in literal straws that allow you to drink from any water source.

One LifeStraw can filter 1000 liters of water (264 gallons) of water. Two two will get you over 528 gallons of filtered water. But even those will get used up. It’s a good idea to include a secondary filter system. I recommend coffee filters. With these you just simply strap them onto the top of your water bottle, fill the filter with the contaminated water and watch as it filters out the contaminates. Granted, it could take a while; but if you prepare the water ahead of time, you’ll be fine.


A good first-aid kit is a must, and I’m not talking about one with just Band-Aids and ointment. I’m talking about one with bandages, sanitizer, proper medications, painkillers, and more. You want an advanced kit that can deal with cuts, bruises, scratches, animal and insect bites, even gunshot wounds. You could put together this kit yourself, or you could buy a kit. This time, I say it’s better to buy a kit rather than making it. The kit you buy will have all the basics you will need. If it needs more, all you will have to do is build upon it adding everything else and expanding on its basics. But make sure the kit comes from a good brand. You don’t want a load of trash that doesn’t work or is useless. Lastly, be sure to include a first-aid instruction book or better yet a survival manual that gives first-aid instructions. Just in case you don’t know how to treat certain wounds.



Nearly as important as the rest of the critical basics is communication. I saved this for last because it can be critical to your survival in a serious disaster. Furthermore, it is often overlooked. Having a radio could mean the difference between life and death. If news services are still available, you can get valuable information concerning your situation. After an earthquake, for example, you may hear which roads have been destroyed, what areas are most affected, where emergency responders are and how to contact them, where relief stations are and how to reach them, which areas are heavily affected by civil unrest, and more.

Or, if the power grid suddenly went down and there was no news station on the air, you can find amateur Ham radio networks and international radio broadcasts that could offer news concerning the outage or how long it could last. Or, if it’s as simple as a hurricane or severe thunderstorm, with the NOAA weather band you can get real time alerts concerning warnings, watches, and hazards to be expected.


I personally have a Kaito KA500 5-way Powered Emergency AM/FM/SW NOAA Weather Alert Radio that contains all the critical radio bands. It’s compact, light, and reliable. It can be AC and AA/AAA battery powered. In the event you don’t have batteries, it has its own internal rechargeable battery, which can be recharged using its small solar panel, hand-crank, or the USB input in the back. That’s one reason why you should always carry batteries on you (which I will go over later in this article). In the way of two-way communication, I don’t personally concern myself with having a pair of walkie talkies with me as I don’t see when I might need them and just see them as wasted space. Nonetheless, if you feel like you need them and can afford the space, then by all means include them in your Get Home Bag.

Other Essentials

Now that we’ve covered the three basics, we can move on to the secondaries. A good knife will be critical in a disaster scenario, whether it’s a simple emergency or a full on TEOTWAWKI scenario. It could be used to cut ropes, cut branches for a fire, or be a weapon in self-defense. Two kinds of knives are necessary in my opinion– a small Swiss army knife/flip knife and a larger sheath knife. Both serve purposes unique to themselves.

Swiss Army Flip Knife

The flip knife can handle small tasks such as cutting rope, paracord or twigs. The flip knife is also a good self-defense tool. It’s small, light, compact, but large enough to inflict adequate damage to a potential attacker. It can be wielded quickly, depending upon how fast you can flip it out and put away just as quickly. It can’t be noticed unless you show them you are carrying it. In my opinion, a flip-knife can be as versatile as a multipurpose tool.

Larger Sheathed Knife

Now a larger sheathed knife is a mini sword. If you are stranded out in the woods, it can be your best friend and a crucial tool to your survival. It takes what a flip knife can do and pumps it up to next level. In addition to more heavy duty tasks, it can also be wielded as a very intimidating weapon, more so than the flip knife. Whether you are defending yourself from an animal or a human attacker, a five-inch knife can do a lot of damage.

If your attacker is smart, they will think twice about engaging you. However I want to note that wielding such a weapon could be just as dangerous to you as well as your attacker. If he/she gets it away from you, you can bet on getting hurt. That’s why, if you have a knife, make sure to learn how to use it before you try to fight with it.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part one of a three part entry for Round 70 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate that is good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
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  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
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Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
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  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value), and

Round 70 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. I would substitute a couple or three bandanas for the coffee filters. They’re reusable and multipurpose. And you can get them for around $1 each at the big box store.

  2. You lost me at the knives in backpack. To Be functional as an everyday get home bag it would have to be able to carry it with them at school. The majority of the time a teenager is away from home involves school and activities directly after school. I would rather have them in the habit of having ninety percent of the tools they need with them ninety percent of the time. Other than the knives Your choices have merit, thank you.

  3. Thank you for some great ideas, but you lost me on the knives in a get home bag for teenagers. Most of the time a teenager is away from home involves school or after school activities where weapon carry is prohibited. I would prefer they have ninety percent of the tools needed to get home the ninety percent of the time they are away from me. Teach them some basic self defense skills to go with the bag such as picking up a ” walking stick” as soon as possible on their journey home.

  4. Good ideas. The knife thing is useful, but not practical if they are at school. For our bags we pack U.S. Coast Guard approved survival food. Looks like a brick. They come in different sizes (how many calories). They have a shelf life measured in years. They require No cooking so you can save a lot of weight. Real easy to prepare: just tear the wrapper off. A little more expensive than an MRE meal but easier to deal with. Many sellers out there. Just be sure to compare calorie size to it’s equal. No need for a fire which can be smelled/seen for a long distance and requires the person to stop traveling. Enjoyed the read!

  5. Although the comments regarding school activities are correct, the scenario was a teen who had a vehicle, etc. While not appropriate in school perhaps the knives should be in the vehicle well concealed. Anyone who agrees with the premise of the article and is acting on same, will likely have no problem figuring out how to accommodate this.

  6. Thanks for the article, it caused me to take another look at the issue. As several commenters noted, the knife is a no-no due to most schools having a zero tolerance policy. If the teen is driving, you may consider one for a bag that stays in the vehicle, but even that is subject to inspection if parked on school grounds. For a full time carry bag, you need to remember that most teens have to carry many books in their backpack, so anything that adds weight for every-day carry (EDC) must be very light. A bag like you describe may be kept in the car, or locker if properly sanitized, but the teen may not be able to access it in an emergency.

  7. When my boys went off to college, we packed each a light backpack with a roll of parachute cord, multipurpose tool, two canteens, one canteen cup, fire starting materials, water purification tablets, a poncho, granola bars, a compass, map, hat and a first aid kit. Large knives and rifles/ammo were kept at their apartment. Since they were hundreds of miles away, they were introduced to local relatives who would be able to shelter them in the short term.

  8. I agree with pretty much ALL your recommendations–but there are several alternatives. I have SEVERAL bags ready to go. AND, in my opinion, you have to have a knife–somewhere, somehow. I do not believe you can survive any amount of time without a knife. All my bags have a least two–one may be a multitool

  9. With respect to the issue of knives in a school environment, consider making multiple caches along routes which your child might take. These could contain knives and additional supplies (more water, water filters, food, fire starting tools).

    It falls on you to train your child about OPSEC on the caches. They could feel the need to “show off” to friends and reveal a cache…

  10. While I commend your initiative to write this article IMHO you’re off base on several issues. Since you refer to a teenager who is at least 16 my response keeps this in mind. First a parent needs to be realistic as to how far the teen can walk. If driving they could be 20,30,40+ miles away. You need to dicuss with them at what distance are they to bug in until you come. Especially if you talking about a daughter. When talking distance be it suburban or city do they have a map and know how to use it? Many people know how to from here to there,but pay little to no attention to what’s inbetween. In most areas the most available “water” is found in retaining ponds next to roads/parking lots. Iodine and lifestraw won’t work. Forget the stove and cooking.If they can’t make it home within two days exposure is bigger worry then being hungry. This assumes they have enough common sense not to head out without proper clothing/raingear. In the end all such get home bag must be geared to the abilities of the individual and their location. When it comes to teenagers they need to know when to stay put, what distance it’s feasible to walk home and a map with the areas to avoid clearly marked.

  11. On the knife issue, your average government school is going to melt down on that one. Perhaps most of these issues could be remedied by home educating to begin with. Most of the time you arrows would be at home or close to it and if away the pack could contain the knife and other items government schools would frown mightily on (like aspirin in your first aid kit etc).

  12. The problem with retaining ponds is the petroleum run off from road/highways and parking lots found in them. I may be wrong but I know of no “personal” “filter” that can remove petroleum products. Iodine is worthless in this situation.

  13. Thanks for the article. Depending on the distance a teenager might have to travel, I would strongly urge a current map with the route marked and any relatives or caches locations marked. As days pass societal restraint will decline so, alternative routes (possibly sewer system at worst)should be marked. Thanks again.

  14. In that case, you are going to want to have iodine water purification tablets on hand?

    Some people are iodine intolerent.
    If you don’t know your tolerence to it, find out!
    There are alternatives.

  15. I guess you could call me a nonconformist or maybe just a Rebel, I have three sons and boys by the time they are in high school should have enough discipline to be able to carry a pocket knife and not be taking it out while in school. I understand that these liberal bastions of feminization have zero tolerance for such things as a pocket knife, but the last I heard they still don’t do strip searches. Trekker Out

    1. Many if not most schools now have metal detectors at all entries. Some also do random hand wand scans. At least they do in most Texas towns. They’re generally not calibrated to alarm on metal buttons, but will alarm if higher quantity of metal is carried. In the 90’s I was searched daily due to having 2 metal bars and screws in my arm after a nasty forearm reconstruction from a shattered bone. This among other reasons are why my wife and I chose to home school our children. Also FYI, I’ve had axes and machetes confiscated from my truck from random auto searches. Tools I used for clearing fence for a rancher I worked for.

  16. This new comment feature is great!
    A few observations after reading these comments;
    1. The article is NOT a complete manual or how to article, rather an excellent place to start & get us thinking about the subject.
    2. As several comments suggest, knives can be accommodated in various ways. They are REQUIRED and the question is how to have them, not IF you need them. Personally, if a cache along the route is used, a firearm would be included. Just my $0.02.

  17. Trick for carrying more water when hiking: drink the first pint before leaving, then another in 1 hour. That’s 2 pounds less to carry, and you were likely halfway to early dehydration anyway.

  18. I would like to thank you all for your comments. I am always learning more about prepping everyday and strive to give the best advice I can. Please to continue to add your input. God Bless

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