Letter: My Emergency Grab and Go Kit


I have seen lots of emergency survival kits. I think that most of them fail in their efforts to provide the security they are hoping to sell. When making your own to use on the street, consider the following.

Most of the kits out there fail. Why? They do this by splashing all over what they are. Now, let me ask you how stealthy is that? That’s not at all good, in my book.

I wanted to share what I have put together and carried for the last 20 years, at least. I take it to the office as well as carry it to the casino. It goes everywhere I go.

I carry a laptop computer case. Why is that? That is because they are still seen everywhere. They’re not as popular as a few years ago, but they’re still out there. They do not draw attention. The number one rule in stealth is to not draw attention to oneself.


Instead of nylon or fabric, I use a rather nice leather one, because it is stronger. It always includes a shoulder strap to carry the weight. Mine has at least two zipper compartments and one flap compartment with pockets inside. For me, black is the best color. Women can use colors, et cetera.

In the first compartment, I carry an AR7 .22 takedown survival rifle. I also carry a stainless steel Bowie knife with at least an eleven-inch blade, which I have carried for 40 years now. I sharpen it to the point I could shave with it; it will cut a one-inch branch with a simple strike. Imagine what it would do to an attacker.

I started carrying it when I was in the Navy, for protection against sharks should the ship I was on be struck by a torpedo and start to sink. The Navy has no provision for sailors while your ship is going down. A sailor usually is without any protection at that point. I took it upon myself,and strapped it to my shin for the several years I was in the Navy. It has a Paracord strap for my wrist just in case I let go. I cannot dive down three miles to retrieve it while out to sea. It is a rather impressive piece of equipment, and I’ve carried it with me ever since.


I also carry in this same compartment, a small scope in a plastic tube. Plastic tubes can have lots of uses. A scope can also function as a telescope, since that is what they are. Mounting rails are installed, with little paint marks for alignment. Also in here is a Lifestraw water filter.

In the next zipper compartment, I carry ammunition, usually around 500 rounds, and two extra magazines. Twenty-two ammo does not weigh too much, yet the weight is starting to build up. I use a variety of loads– hollow points and round nose. Also in here are four to five meal replacement bars. These things last almost forever and are very high in calories. One a day is enough to sustain almost anyone. These are especially useful in an emergency.


In the front flap compartment, I usually have my firestick, another non-folding knife with a three-inch blade or so. I also carry area and state maps that are waterproof in this area, which is easy to get to if you get lost, you know. Also, I carry three or four butane lighters. They’re inexpensive and easy to use, easier than a firestick to use. A little paracord is included in case I need to make a shelter plus a mylar space blanket, which is something almost anyone should never be without. They will reflect 90% of your body heat back toward you. Of course, I also have bear pepper spray.

How much does all this junk cost? Depending on where you shop and how much time you invest, it’s about $500. – SteveD


  1. SteveD, Look into a 4-way sill wrench. It will allow one to access to outside hose bibs for water when the handle is gone. In the plumbing isle at the local hardware store.

  2. I get what you are saying about Laptop Bags being CURRENTLY forgettable, but post-SHTF (Which is likely to include some EMP element) an appearance of having a working Laptop will make you a target…

    1. I hear what CeeJay 0714 is saying. Add a folded up black contractor strength trash bag to your grab-and go. Then in a post-SHTF situation the nice leather laptop bag goes into the trash bag slung over your shoulder. The trash bag camouflages and hide the contents. You look just like everyone else.

    2. No, I think you would be perceived as one of the clueless masses that think the computer is still worth something. (and it would be if you kept an extra power supply in a Faraday) Remember, in the immediate days people will be clinging to what was once normal. The purpose of the bag is to get you somewhere in the near term. He will be less of a target than I will be hoofing it with my 40# 511 in olive drab. And, yes, I am due to go over that thing again and pare down the contents.

  3. I would concede that carrying in a shoulder strapped bag makes the items far more easily accessible than those in a traditional backpack. I’d be interested in knowing, however, the weights of all these things you are hoping to carry.

    In experiences during an earlier employment I travelled the world as an IT consultant, together with my shoulder strapped laptop bag. During those times, I developed back pain, in part, attributable to the lap top and gear I was carrying lop-sided on the shoulder strap. So, if you carry a shoulder strapped bag, make sure it is very light.

    Noting that local temperatures these days around these parts can be -30 or lower, in my pack the sleep system and a change of clothing outweigh everything else. Hypothermia — would kill me before anything else gets to me. By the time I get a few food items and water together, things can become 50 lbs rather quickly. Having a pair of straps on a traditional hiking pack means you are able to carry these items without a lot of grief… but you still do need to train to carry.

    I would also be interested in reading how folks carry knives strapped to their legs, and how they used paracord to make straps for their knives.

    1. How to strap a knife to the calf of the leg– probably the simplest way would be to get a couple 2-foot-long strips of velcro. You might want to sew a soft fabric to the piece that may be against your skin. On the upper part of the sheath, run through the belt loop. Down below, sandwich the sheath between the layers of velcro. Offset the ends of the strips, to form the joint.
      Another option, is to use webbing and side-release buckles.
      One strap goes around just below the knee, the other somewhere near the ankle.

  4. The meal bar at the link is 370 calories, which probably isn’t going to sustain anyone for very long. Clif bars, which I tend to carry, have even fewer per bar. Folks probably want to count on quite a few more calories daily than just one bar can provide, especially if traveling on foot, as is likely in the scenarios discussed by the author.

    1. If I am carrying a load across “varied” terrain in cold weather (even with perfect clothing), I want to plan for no less than 3000 calories per day as input. Any less, and I begin to lose weight and performance drops (tired, less alert). Losing a little weight is okay if on the way to a warm comfortable well-stocked place a few days walking away, but what if …?

  5. Always we are afraid of getting some one taking away from our person during this time, I’ll just hang my AK pistol around my neck and hopefully they will think ” let’s stay away from that one” if not I won’t go out on my knees begging to a thug.

  6. I’ve used the Mylar blankets – get one with an olive drab side (including those tube tents) but have the silver or orange variety (for visibility) in my get home bag since they are so light.

    The problem is how to easily secure paracord to these sheets (as a low pitched tent or awning) and avoid tearing them or getting torn when the wind is blowing. Found these clips/fasteners (see link or web search the description) – double up the edge of the sheets and attach the clips (put them on the corners too) – seem to work well, and reusable too. The clips/fasteners are small plastic, light and are called Dewitt Clip-Its Shade Cloth Fasteners – used in gardening and green houses. Cheap and handy – have used them to secure a mosquito net and have even been able to double-up sheets using these fasteners too.


    The sill cock wrench is one of those “wish I had one off them” only after the fact – really handy in the urban setting to tap water in pipes at commercial buildings.

    Life straws are nice but I keep coming back to the versatility of a the Sawyer Mini – knocks it out of the park regarding price to weight and performance ratio, especially if you carry a bottle that screws onto the filter.

    My bags (including bags in the wife’s and son’s car) is a very generic looking backpack – do have a few web straps backed away inside to be able to strap on (secure) some other gear on the outside – but in the end you are going to be the few of many that seem to have been prepared – so the LCP won’t be far away….

    1. The old Boy Scout trick of putting a smooth pebble in the corner, bunching the mylar around the pebble then tying off below the pebble works well too.

    1. Even if one carries a pistol concealed on one’s person, there is still great value in an AR-7 in a BOB. It extends the range and can be quieter while not weighing much.

  7. I also carry a mini fishing kit in my bag. You may have to detour to get home and this way if your route home takes longer than anticipated and has lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks you can fish to supplement your food intake.

  8. Along the same lines, I keep a M16 ammo pouch crammed with quick clot, water purification tabs and small filter, knife, and fire starter (strike type, I forget if it’s magnesium or flint), plus a flashlight/w red filter and chem-stick and a few other goodies. It all gets crammed into the ammo pouch which is wrapped in a web-belt.

    What’s good about such a small and under stocked kit? It fits my spare tire well. It is always there. What I need beyond it, I can gut my car for (in most cases) and I don’t have to remove it to make space for anything else. I have a bigger kit, but I find that I have to remove it a little too often. This microkit doesn’t get in the way, and no one sees it even with the trunk open. Heck, the last time I even saw it, I was replacing my car.

  9. Water is a primary imperative and so I would suggest a canteen of some kind. An oven bag is very tough and folds up to nothing. Costco’s meat counter used to give them away for free (the clear ones –don’t know if the new pink ones work as well.) An Army rubber canteen bladder is more rugged long term.

    I prefer the Sawyer to the Lifestraw but I don’t think either filters out viruses. You need a canteen to add bleach or water purification tablets to sterilize the water.

  10. A cotten cloth in a dull color and about 2 ft by 2 ft square can serve multiple purposes:
    a) A face mask to hide you in darkness and conceal your identity if you need to attack or threaten an enemy
    b) A major bandage, arm sling or splint for fractured arm or spained ankle
    c) A tourniquet
    d) mask which if wet will help you breathe in smoke filled areas or screen you from breathing disease germs like pandemic flu if you have to move through occupied areas.
    e) A sun hat/shade (Arab headdress)
    f) Protection of your face from frostbite — anyone who has walked around in the recent polar vortex on the East Coast with its high winds and freezing wind chill can appreciate why you don’t want exposed skin.

  11. PS cotton cloth can also be used to filter water.

    Some military supply stores are selling olive green shemaghs but they seem somewhat large and bulky — a thin and more tighter woven cloth like the bandanna hankerchiefs but larger seems better. Check fabric stores.

  12. After reading your letter you wrote I realized that we all can add a thing or two to add to your list of items in your bag, I dont think any bag would have the “perfect” bag of essentials. However whats important is that you do have one and are prepared.

  13. I carry a Springfield Operator .45acp and extra magazines in a Bible book bag when going to church. Everyone is conditioned to expecting such a container to host a Bible.

  14. I use a plain black diaper bag. It has a shoulder strap, outside pockets and some insulation as well. Who wants to dig around in an innocuous diaper bag ?

  15. In a SHTF mode, I prefer the Mad Max method of EDC. As he was entering Bartertown, he had to unload most of it. Fortunately, he was able to retain at least one useful tool. LOL

  16. Thanks, those are great suggestions to round things out. This is my minimal kit.
    Here in the Peoples Democrat Republic, handguns are difficult to obtain permits for.
    Of course when something happens, it all changes.
    I have another one, that I keep in the car, which is more complete without the firearm.
    I learned a long time ago, if you are prepared, nothing happens, if not prepared, everything happens.
    The US has had the capability to harden all IC’s against EMP for the last 30 years.
    Better to be prepared and not need it.

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