What Goes Into A Go Bag? The 8 Life Saving Tips You Need to Know

What should you really put in your go bag?

Emergencies Happen Fast!

And they happen often. No area is free from disaster and possible evacuation.

When evacuations happen, it is best to have a cool head to make critical decisions in a stressful situation.

During these situations, your time will be limited to get away.

Surely you can see why this would NOT be the time to put a go bag together.

Preplanning with a risk assessment as well as pre-packing a go bag just encase is critically important. According to FEMA, you should have enough in your bag to last you and your family 72 hours. But what should you have in your go bag? Here are 8 life-saving tips to keep in mind for what you will need when creating a go bag.

8 Categories to Make Sure You Have In Your Go Bags


You can only survive about three days without water. So it goes without saying, this is very important. But how much do you need? It should contain a minimum of three liters (0.8 gallons) of drinking water per person and/or a means of purifying a minimum of 1.5 gallons (5.7 liters) of collected fresh water per person.


You should have a minimum of 6,300 calories worth of lightweight shelf-stable food per person in your bag. Have some food that you and your family would want to eat. I keep some packaged tuna in my bag for some protein but I also keep some candy in there for comfort. Remember, if you have to use your bag, you are most likely in a stressful situation. Give yourself a little stress relief.


You should keep one complete change of clothing appropriate for the climate and season for each person, including a durable pair of shoes or boots. Consider durable, lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking options. Also consider accessories, like a warm hat or gloves if it is cold, as well as a poncho for rain.


You should have a portable and lightweight shelter. A tent would provide adequate protection from the elements, sufficient space, privacy, and emotional security for each person. It also should not take up too much space in your bag.

Communication & Navigation

Your go-bag should contain a portable NOAA-compatible radio (preferably crank), local map, and compass minimum. However, there are other things you can add if you want. A 2-way radio may be something to consider, as well as a portable phone charger to charge your phone encase that is still an accessible form of communication during an emergency.

Health & Hygiene

It's important to remember that even in an emergency, your health and hygiene are still important. Your go bag should contain items for oral care, perineal care, feminine hygiene, and sanitizer. Consider also a NIOSH-rated N95 Mask, close-fitting safety goggles, and OSHA-rated first aid kit. A first aid kit should include advanced bleeding control items such as a commercial tourniquet if an individual has received proper training.

Tools & Sustainability

There are a few things to consider including in your go bag when it comes to this. But at minimum, you should have a foldable saw, a small shovel, water & wind-proof matches or a lighter, flashlight or headlamp, rope, duct tape, and a pocket knife or multitool.

Special Considerations

This is an important one that often is overlooked! Your go-bag should contain a means of protecting and accessing important personal and financial documents, spare cash in small bills, and any other item that fulfills medical, dietary, age, language, spiritual, cultural, or pet needs. As each family is different, it is critical to consider what will be needed and take action to include it in your bag. For example, you do not want to have to find your child's inhaler, or mom's insulin shots when it is time to go!

We know, it is a lot. It will take some time, energy, money, and thought to put together a go-bag. There are pre-packaged go bags you can buy that will contain most of what you will need, including ones we have for sale, but no bag will have everything. For this reason, Instinct Ready has created the Minimum Survival Standard (MSS for short). It includes everything we have talked about here. However, there are even more things to consider about your go bag. How big should your bag be? How much should it weigh? You can find answers to those questions here.