The Modern Possibles Bag, by Steve in Missouri

In recent times, we’ve seen cities burn due to riots and violent protests, fights in stores over others wearing masks, increased crime in some of the major cities, all the while law enforcement across the country is vilified and constrained by their local leaders. Some cities have cut police budgets, which will reduce response times and necessary resources to solve crimes. Anymore, dialing ‘911’ may or may not bring help in time! Meanwhile, criminals continue unabated, secure in the knowledge that corrupt politicians will support them, and in many cases encourage their illicit activities.

More and more Americans have realized this and are becoming more self-reliant. Much like the original pioneers, the concept of being able to call for help is becoming a foreign concept. Having your necessary items ready at a moment’s notice is not new. The Mountain Men, the ‘Minutemen’ of the American colonies, all had a ‘possibles’ bag to carry along with their rifle. This would contain everything needed to fight with. The same thing is becoming a necessity today, and the smart individuals will have one with them.

The question then becomes, what to put in it? Remember this is not a bug out bag, which is what we have for when we’re not planning on coming back for a long period of time. Nor is it a dedicated rifle fighting bag that will have minimal extras outside of rifle magazines, a couple of pistol magazines, some medical gear, and that’s it. Your possible bag will have a variety of things that will allow us to get back home in a day or so, or hunker down in place for a little while.

We’re assuming that in this case you have your rifle with you. This could be an AR, an AK, an FAL, an M1 carbine, a PTR91, or whichever fighting rifle you choose. We’re also assuming you have your pistol with you, because if you have pants on, you should have your pistol on. I’ll tell you about my gear, and why I chose those items.

Rifle: this is a Wilson Combat SR Recon Tactical, with an Aimpoint CompM4 red dot sight, and a Surefire X300 600 lumen weaponlight. This was a gift from some dear friends, and is one of the best AR rifles I’ve had. The Aimpoint CompM4 was chosen because it uses common AA batteries, and has a battery life of 5 years. The Surefire light uses CR123 batteries, but isn’t used unless needed. Spare batteries for each are kept in the pistol grip.

Handgun: Glock 19 9mm semi auto. It’s pretty universal, magazines and parts are everywhere. Small enough to conceal all the time, large enough to be comfortable to shoot. It’s carried in a strongside Kydex hip holster from AAA Concealment, along with two magazines in a double magazine carrier from the same maker. The owner, Greg Yen, is a firearms instructor and successful competition shooter, and makes simple but solid gear.

My bag is called the Rifle Bug Out Bag from Hawkepak. I’ve used this off and on since 2007 when I was working out of the US Embassy in Baghdad, and in several classes since then. It has three adjustable rifle magazine pouches, three adjustable pistol magazine pouches, a large pocket for a water bottle or canteen, several inside pockets, an adjustable shoulder strap, waist strap and leg strap. The bag is packed with the following items:

Nalgene water bottle. Staying hydrated is of utmost importance. Dehydration leads to exhaustion and poor decision making, all of which can be deadly. You can also use a Sawyer water bottle with the filtration system in it, which is about the same size.

Six AR magazines. The rifle magazine pouches are adjustable and will hold six AR magazines or three AK/M1A magazines. In my case, each Magpul magazine is loaded with 28 rounds of Black Hills 77gr Match ammo, giving me 168 extra rounds on top of the 28 already in my rifle.

Three Glock 17 magazines. These supplement the two I carry on my belt already. They each hold 17 rounds of Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P jacketed hollowpoints.

Now someone may ask why all the ammunition? I’m not counting on anyone coming to my rescue, and I don’t know how long I’ll be on my own. Most of my work keeps me at least 70 miles from home, so I have to plan on walking at least that far. The cavalry showing up in the nick of time only happens in the movies!

550 cord. Parachute cord, or ‘550’ cord as it’s commonly called, can be used for a multitude of things.

Pen and notepad. Recording dates and times, writing notes to yourself, or keeping track of events is easier when you have pen and paper. I use a lot of the Rite In The Rain notepads and space pens for this task.

Medical gear. This includes a CAT tourniquet, several pressure dressings, gloves, surgical tape and band-aids. In the event of social unrest, police and EMS will be overwhelmed, and having the ability to take care of injuries yourself is paramount. This is especially true if you have family with you. Watching a loved one bleed out because you didn’t have the right gear is not something you want to go through.

Emergency Poncho. Staying dry, or as dry as possible, is not only important for your physical health, but your mental health. Being wet makes a bad situation makes it seem like it’s 100 times worse. Getting wet and staying wet over an extended period of time can lead to hypothermia.

Fire Starting material. I normally have a fire starter on my keychain, but using a lighter is much easier under stress. I also have a 4” ferro rod and striker that produces a massive amount of sparks, even when wet. My tinder is simple dryer lint, kept in a plastic bag. Everything is kept inside an Altoids cannister. I may not need to start a fire but having the ability to do so quickly is a huge comfort.

Survival Food Bar. These are available at Walmart for about $5. They’re not the best tasting in the world (they say ‘Apple Cinnamon’ but I’m not convinced,) but they offer 2400 calories total, and they have a good shelf life.

Star Kist Tuna Pack.  Not only does it provide nutrition, but it’s easy to eat and can provide a little more comfort than a dry as sand survival bar.

Water Purification Tablets. These take up very little room, but I consider them extremely important. If I have any doubt about a water source, these could mean the difference between staying hydrated or getting sick. You can substitute a Sawyer water purifier for the tablets.

Electrician’s tape. This can be used to tape up injuries, tape down equipment, or any other numerous uses. It takes up little room, so it doesn’t make sense not to have some.

Compact binoculars. I consider these an essential item. I may need to scan an area or location for potential traps, roadblocks or riots. Or I may need to take a closer look at a building or open area. Binoculars provide me with vital information that will allow me to make better decisions. The ones I have in my bag are compact Bushnells.

Wind up flashlight. This may seem like a strange item, considering I have a powerful flashlight on me at all times, and I have one on my rifle. However, it doesn’t require batteries, and it’s not as powerful as my other lights. There are times where having a little less light might be important. Or I can leave it on and not worry about burning through batteries, I just crank it for another 30 seconds and carry on.

Headlamp. I missed out on the usefulness of these for a long time, then some of my medic friends talked about using them while working on patients. Being able to have my hands free while using my light is a huge advantage. You can think of any number of instances where that would come in handy. There are a lot of them on the market, I recommend getting one that offers low beam/high beam capability. Being able to turn the light down when I’m working on something up close is a good thing, I probably don’t need 1,000 lumens to stir my coffee!

In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve got a lot of light sources available to me. I’m a huge believer is having light, since we’re not nocturnal creatures. I don’t always need to most powerful light, but I like having it available.

Surefire Battery carrier. I would’ve never thought I’d appreciate this carrier as much as I do. It carries six CR123s, and even though more and more devices run on these, they are not always readily available. Having six of them handy is a nice feeling.

Seasonal Changes

I may change things up, depending on the time of year. In late fall or early winter, I may include a stocking cap and gloves. Nothing is carved in stone, and your individual circumstances may dictate some changes. The magazine pouches can be used for other things, such as shotgun shells, a flashlight can go in one of the pistol magazine pouches, etc. Your location, distance from home, all these things will determine what you carry, and when.

Now, I will tell you: with six loaded AR magazines, three loaded Glock 17 magazines, water and everything inside the bag, it does get heavy. My recommendation? Throw it on and go walk with it. If you live where you can do so, grab your rifle and walk with it, too. Make it part of your weekly workout routine. I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my kids and grandkids: get stronger. Strong people are harder to kill.

The world isn’t getting any safer, and no one is coming to save you. Give some thought to what you would put in your bag, and then keep it with you all the time! If you are going to keep your rifle with you, which I heartily recommend, make sure you have some way to secure it inside your vehicle. Take it in the house with you when you get home. Train with your defensive gear regularly. Even dryfire training is better than not training. Don’t put gear in your bag that you’re not comfortable using.

I hope this helps, and if you have other suggestions, post them in the comments for. Take care, and good luck!


  1. I would think about a green filter for the light to minimize your location at night. Depending on your profession, suitable pants and shoes kept in the vehicle to change into before you start hiking. Weight is not your friend. Try to reduce it as much as possible. Be the grey man. I like this setup for my vehicle. Stay frosty.

  2. My bag setup much the same, starkist fan also along with some jerky and can of spam, I put these in a insulated zippered sandwich bag to protect from extreme heat or cold.

  3. This is a good article especially for those just joining the mindset and getting their toes wet.

    You will only have what you have at the moment IT happens.

    1. So right, Matt.

      Of all the suggestions, this one stands out for me, who survived a “near hypothermic situation”.

      Emergency Poncho. Staying dry, or as dry as possible, is not only important for your physical health, but your mental health. Being wet makes a bad situation makes it seem like it’s 100 times worse. Getting wet and staying wet over an extended period of time can lead to hypothermia.

      Carry on

  4. Fantastic article. I’ve got the essential “go bag” or as I call it, “Get Home Bag” but it’s lacking a few of these items. I’ll be getting to work presently.

  5. Anybody ever tried dragging a 40 lb pack on a skateboard? Just curious. Not interested in a huge cart, but a skateboard might be doable??

    Great article. Winter is here and time to re-evaluate the contents of the get home bags. Replace the beef jerky and put in some fresh water.

    1. Skateboards don’t always go where you want them to go. Even if you’ve road one all your teen life. It’s like surfing on concrete, eventually you’re going to crash. Nature of the beast. I’ve used one to move furniture once or twice, for convenience, but it would be murder over some serious mileage. Stick to a hand cart. With big wheels,the lighter the better.

    2. I have a folding two wheel hand cart at home. Folded it’s about 24″+14″+3″. Unfolded it’s about 40″ tall and holds 150 lbs. I’m short so this works great for me, if you are over 5’8″ this might not work for you.

  6. Electrician Tape: Avoid cheap chinese stuff. We used Scotch 88+ for years to whip the ends of crab lines for use UNDERWATER. This tape is incredible; it lasted season after season. Scotch 33 is a good substitute. Just make sure it is Scotch and made in the USA.

  7. Got the basics covered well – nice job. Because of my locale, I’d switch out the quart canteen with a pair of 2 quart canteens. Water is not only in very short supply in the wilds, I’m thinking having to hole up and wait out will have to be done on the journey. Most SERE people are caught when collecting water or food so why my concern. I don’t have to worry much about too cold, it rarely ever freezes where I am so the weight and bulk of those items can be left out. A poncho blanket, especially when paired with a mylar blanket will do fine.

    Thanks for the article sir.

  8. Nice article. A couple of suggestions that might work better depending on circumstances – I’d replace (or complement) the electrical tape with some 1″ wide Gorilla tape, which tends to be stronger, and I’d add a multitool or swiss army knife for making repairs to your gear.

  9. Weigh your bag when full. When you hit 30lbs, you’re talking about using a lot of energy to haul it 10 miles. Energy =speed=life=survival. And find someone you can really trust, dump everything in it out onto the ground, and tell them to go crazy with the criticism. Tell them what you expect to use it for and to tell you what is needed or not. Did I mention this person needs to be survival savvy? Make sure the bag and contents make little noise, give off no light, and nothing shiny or bright colored. One more old guy piece of advice: We could often SMELL the NVA or Viet-Cong before we could see them.

    1. Thank you Sean, I had forgotten about the smell part. When younger, I met several LRP guys from Vietnam. They talked about eating what the VC did a couple of days before going out. The enemy could also smell them, a really bad thing.

  10. Good start for a bag. I live 60 miles from work. To stay in shape for the hike home, I go hiking. I also spend the night outdoors a few times a season and have used esbit stoves and had to purify water from a stream. Having gear is great, but use it and get use to it. The time to learn and get in shape is not after the event happens, but before. Get out and enjoy the outdoors.

    Also, I have a bike stored with a friend I met at the local gym that is close to my office. I would rather ride than walk. I also keep spare food – tuna packs, soups, rice, crackers and water in my office and I can place it in my bag if needed. If the world does come to an end as we know it, while working, I plan on taking a roll of TP from my office and filling up a water bladder from the office water cooler before I leave to never come back.

    To stay in better shape since hitting 50, I continue to referee high school football and soccer. I make a little extra cash and get paid to stay in shape. It allows me to buy other stuff to go hiking with that will be what I use to get home.

    Also, winter is upon us. Keep your vehicle survival box ready in your car. I will not attempt to tell each person what to have in their car as it varies from each local areas. But talk to local mechanics, outdoor stores and friends.

    1. Up until the pandemic, it was cheap and easy to buy bikes at the yearly police auction, so you could stash one at work or nearby. Now, they’re hard to come by. If you can hang a “stash” bike or store it upside-down or otherwise off the tires, you should definitely check out “airless” (solid) tires which won’t be flat when you need them or go flat when you’re trying to get home, but will develop flat spots if you store them touching the ground and don’t move/use the bike for long periods. Best solution is to use it for lunchtime errands/recreation, so you and the bike stay in tune.

    2. TJMO – Good idea on the T.P.
      I recommend having a list of things to grab from the office on the way out.
      List should include: filling water bottle(s), T.P. if it’s not already in your GHB.
      Typically there are a lot of things available and having a list to share would give your coworkers some help / or ideas as well.
      In the heat of the moment having a list could mean the difference between having an essential item or doing without.

  11. Unless I missed it He didn’t mention having a good heavy duty knife I always carry a knife. As much as I like guns in most survival situations a knife will be more useful.

  12. Given the fact that the leftists control the streets and face no opposition from the “good guys”… why does anyone think that the situation would be any different if the conflict spreads to the countryside? Just asking.

    1. Where exactly in the countryside do I have to worry about coming across them? I’m about 25 miles from work, and I see more cows than people when commuting. There is nobody carrying any signs, and really nowhere for them to hang out waiting for me to pass by. My town doesn’t even have a gas station.

  13. Not sure what you’re describing is akin to a possible bag as much as a go bag (not a bug out bag). I always likened a possibles bag to a glorified EDC, something a little too big for a pocket, but could be hitched to a belt or worn as a fanny pack or messenger bag, but not as big as a day pack. I have a go bag with me most everywhere I go, and the loadout for that is similar to what you are describing. But I don’t keep it on my person like my EDC. It is as big as a day pack or occasionally carry on luggage depending on my situation and the restrictions I find myself under. I am not able to load out as robust as you do, but I still feel adequately equipped for most of the situations I find myself in. I too was in Baghdad (2005) and never felt adequately equipped there, even though my EDC included body armor and two or three man security teams.

  14. The title intrigued me and I got a second cup of coffee and sat back down to read it. But it wasn’t what I thought it would be. It is a battle bag not a possibles bag. I don’t carry a gun or a rifle with me everywhere I go but I do carry necessities in my pocket and have for years now.

  15. I put something similar but smaller last spring. I use a sling bag. I’ve never been more than 20 miles from home in the last two years so my needs are obviously different. I keep a food bar, jerky and some hard candy/mints. I also have a mutitool in it and a good fixed blade strapped on the outside. I also keep a walking stick in my truck.

  16. WyoDutch, Because the ‘lefties’ don’t control the countryside! WE DO… That is not to say there is not ‘overlap’ but the difference between city and rural is the difference between night and day.
    WyoDutch, Yes, the lefties may control the blue cities but the difference is that they DON’T control the countryside, WE DO!!! Just look at where the red is on the map, that red will be their blood if they try to take the countryside.

    Just a comment on ‘why so much ammunition’. I was in the Army in Vietnam as the change over from the M-14 was taking place. Sorry, I’m kinda in the same boat as the Sargent Major in “We Where Soldiers” (I was there about the same time). I always felt that piece of plastic was a toy, not a weapon. One round from the 14, three rounds from the toy. I always had more 556 than I thought I needed.
    I know, I know it’s the standard now and yes it has improved but give me and M-14 and a twenty round clip, DON’T GET IN RANGE!

    1. The left doesn’t control the countryside simply because they haven’t gotten around to it yet. It’s clear that the blm and other leftist mobs are unopposed in urban areas. They have made the first moves into the suburbs and have found little resistance there either. The police, focused of protecting their pay and pensions, cannot and will not oppose the leftist mobs in any meaningful way…. whether in the city, suburbs, or country.

      How many times have you heard “patriotic” gun owners parroting the refrain that “I lost all my guns. In a boating accident”? If a man doesn’t have the strength of character to openly defend the Constitution… do you think he will stand, or run, when the thugs come over the hill?

      American men of good character doing anything serious to save their country? I see no signs of such stirrings at this point.

        1. If you are in the buggy South woods, also consider the green colored lense for stealth – there is a strong resemblance with fire flys (aka lightning bugs). There are several types of head lamps with white, red and green lens colors.

          I have a love-hate relationship with head lamps. Though convenient, they attract insects to your face and that is irritating when you are preparing or consuming food.

      1. And when the fellow talked about the pen being mightier than the sword he was talking about when it is writing a check contributing to a political campaign. I cut a small one to Trump’s legal fund. I’ll do the same for each Senator in GA where I live. Signs are out. AAAAND …. I am about to order some side plates to finish kitting things out. I end every post here and there with “Epstein did not kill himself. Biden did not win.” Absolutely encouraging like minded people everywhere I go. And pissing off lefties.

  17. Great list, I like Columbia or North Face rain jackets(also called shells). Very good for rain,but also I have pistol AR9. Good to carry on single point sling under coat. Also need hat and sunglasses. Everything is in roller toolbox in back of SUV. Also have backpack too.

  18. Well, WyoDutch, that is the key, ‘when they come over the hill’…I can not in good conscious shoot someone who is not ‘coming over my hill’. I ran into a similar situation while en route to VietNam, in a restroom in Oakland CA. I was in uniform and approached by a ‘hippie’ calling me a ‘baby killer’ and “how could I shoot someone over a line on the floor!” I explained that I was not the one making that choice, you would be! If I am told to shoot anyone that crosses a given line, my choice has already been made. “If you cross this line I WILL SHOOT YOU!”. It is now your choice, cross the line.

  19. The wife and I built bags years ago. I call them 72 hour bags. Hoping that they would help sustain either of us until we got home or ?. We go through our bags once per year both to modify and change out any food stock, check batteries medical supplies and such. We store the batteries in a separate container and install them and leave them if they are being used. Unless they are rechargeable they almost all corrode. I have found we use the bag contents from time to time to access medical supplies and food stores. If you travel by car or truck then obviously you keep it in the vehicle. My truck was broken into and guess what they stole. My 72 hour bag is not something I built overnight either. Because of our different lifestyles, work, travel mode and geography our bags will all be similar but very different. So with that thought in mind, hide it, lock it in a tool box, do something that conceals it. Build it, use it, carry it and be familiar with your bag because someday it may save your life.

    1. I keep both an AA flashlight and headlamp in my get home bag and spend the extra money to get the Energizer Lithium Ultra AA cells for them. They are good to -40 degrees, last more than 20 years and NEVER leak. Yes, they are a LOT more expensive, but you can leave them in the car FOR DECADES and never worry about them working when you need them. Given how many alkaline cells you would need over that time period, the Lithium are actually cheaper – particularly if you have a leak that damages something.

      I have absolutely no financial interest in Energizer.

  20. It is always a fun read to see what someone else chooses to carry. In an imagined scenario.

    I found that carefully taping on a protective coat of bubble wrap over foil-wrapped items prolongs their longevity, after my Walmart bar got pinholes in the wrapper from rubbing and went bad.

    Thin glove liners and skull cap are very beneficial for body heat conservation.

    I bubble wrap and tape up an extra box of ammo to protect it from wearing out the paper box.

    If you are going to travel on foot, reading this may be useful:

    I studied this over 30 years ago in Officers Basic Course. For every 5 pounds you carry, your mobility rated in MPH and distance drops big time. When you carry over 25 pounds you are a very slow mover (easy target).

    Even on ultralightweight racing cross country skis, just an 8.2 lb biathlon .22 cal rifle with harness for a total load slows you down. After the first 5KM you really feel it. BTDT.

    In Air Assault School we ran our legs off every day for 2+ week. Out of our 12 man squad, only 3 of us completed the course. We trained with a 35 lb pack, rifle and helmet, in boots.

    Our final exam was a timed 12 mile run/walk, with ruck reduced to 25lb. Anything over 4 hours and you flunked the entire course.

    If your load isn’t strapped to you to prevent bumping and swaying, it wears you out faster and slows you down.

    I say plan for no more than 25 lbs total, including weapon load. The object is to cover distance.

    Watching our infantry in “Restreppo” trying to patrol carrying 60+ lbs was heart-rending for me. While I was in AFGN I worked with the Police and closely with civilians wearing PJs, a thin wool shawl, and sandals.

    They carried an AK with chest rack (strapped to body!) and could run circles all day around our burden-bearing soldiers. All because of combat load weight. Our soldiers had a much higher level of nutrition and physical conditioning, but the weight was the overall issue.

    Best wishes and God Bless.

  21. For those who mentioned it, yes I did forget to mention the knife I carry. It’s a 4″ Cold Steel Voyager folder. I do sometimes carry the 6″ version of it, but I knew someone would say “That’s too much knife!” or “That’s illegal to carry!” Well, in Missouri, it’s legal to carry with my CCW permit.

    But, the 4″ carries a little easier, and does most everything I need it to. I also figured everyone would have theirs on them anyway, so I made a wrong assumption. My apologies on that.

  22. Mountainsmith makes a ‘Day Lumbar Pack’ and a ‘Tour Lumbar Pack’ that you can put shoulder straps on. Day Lumbar is 800 cu. in. (13 liters) and the Tour is 550 (9 L). The pack looks non-military (low profile). The waist belt is pretty comfortable. Mine weighs in at ~12-13 pounds. I gave a lecture to a group of students on individual preparedness and during the lecture took out the materials I had packed and they could not believe what could be carried in that small of space. If you load it heavy, you will need the shoulder straps. I use these in each vehicle for my wife and kids.

  23. Instead of dryer lint as a tinder supply, may I suggest cotton balls rubbed with vaseline? Or rub some vaseline into the dryer lint.

    It waterproofs the fluff, and pulled apart finely with your finger will still light with a ferro rod. It also burns much longer (vaseline is a petroleum product) allowing you more time to get that fire going.

    Give it a try, see if it works for you.

  24. Over the decades I have tried different kinds of bags, carriers, backpacks, etc……to fit a away from home situation. Weight, and number and type of items were always the balance. So recently I bought on a whim one of these zippered law enforcement tactical vests, it opened my thoughts towards more options and maybe more practical balance of what to have, assuming certain types of situations, as an example city versus countryside. The vest which I purchased on amazon was comfortable, and contains some of the things I require 3 30 round type pockets, 3 double stack type pistol pouches, built in holster for auto or revolver, pockets for five shotgun shells, smaller pouches for flashlight, phone, baron, etc.
    It has large Velcro attached areas on the back for water bladder or small food medical supplies. Also it provides a limit to what to carry but provides a basic supply. I was blown away by the fit, but more so by the ease in which it rides on your torso. The weight loaded is around ten pounds…and I found that putting this on a hanger and in a heavy suit carrier it’s perfect for fitting under the rear seat of my pickup or in the trunk of a car. Talk about curb appeal it looks in the suit carrier like a set of clothes, and does not attract attention like a back pack. You can easily carry it and hang it in a closet if at a hotel or another residence. If I am visiting someone it does not draw any interest from others. I have evolved through time and experience to this option, and I am loving it.

  25. Everyones situation is different. Different environment, terrain, landscape, miles to cover to reach a safe zone, etc. The one thing i never see mentioned in these articles, comments, are something to save your eyesight at night, especially walking in the woods. Safety glasses. Keep a pair of clear shop safety glasses handy. May save your eyes from a limb at night. It appears that 2020 has reshaped the way we anticipate a climatic situation.

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