The American Backpacker

Wilderness Go Bag (Part 2) The items you need in your Bag


I recently posted a short article and video on having a Wilderness Go-Bag with you on your next Wilderness Adventure.  This is a follow-up post discussing the gear you should have in your Go Bag.  This post discusses the basic items/gear you should have in your Bag.  These are not necessarily the only things because everyone may have different individual needs while exploring a Wilderness Area.

Having a Wilderness Go-Bag will allow you to centralize your gear in one smaller pack that you carry in you back pack.  When you get to your basecamp all you have to do is grab your Go-Bag out of your backpack and you are ready for your daily expeditions with a lighter pack.  A Go-Bag also gives you the necessary gear to sustain you during an emergency if you need to bug out of your basecamp.

The concept of a Go-Bag is not new but it is something you should consider on your next Wilderness Adventure.  A good example of why I think you should have a Go-Bag in the Wilderness may entail the following scenario.  Yo are at your basecamp and some type of natural disaster, (e.g. Flood, Fire, Storm), hits you can grab your Go -Bag and quickly exit the area.  Minutes and seconds may be the difference between life and death.  Once you have cleared the emergency you now have the gear with you to sustain yourself until you get to safety.

A Wilderness Go-Bag also allows you to venture away from your basecamp to conduct your daily expeditions with a lighter pack.  Below are the items I discuss in my video on the basic gear that you need to have in your Wilderness Go-Bag if you decide to use one on your next Wilderness Adventure.

Go-Bag Basic Items

  • Go Bag: Small enough to fit in your Backpack
  • Cell Phone
  • Medical Kit: Antiseptic, iodine, Band Aids, Bacitracin, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Scissors, Needles, Thread, Fish Hooks
  • GPS and Topo Map:  I use a Garmin inReach Explorer Plus that also is a satellite communicator.
  • Compass:  I use a Suunto MC-2G.
  • Whistle:  Various ones on the market.  Make sure that it works when wet.
  • Water Filtration System: I prefer a hand pump, (MSR Trailshot, Life Straw, Katadyn, etc.)
  • Headlamp or Flashlight: I use a Petzl headlamp.
  • Solar Panel with a Battery Pack: I use the battery pack to charge my electronic gear).
  • Recharging cables for electronics
  • Insect lotion, Sunscreen, lip Balm
  • Fire Starting Gear:  Lighter, Magnesium Rod, Cotton Balls dipped in Vaseline.
  • Cordage:  550 para cord
  • Knife:  I use an Esee 6 fixed blade straight edge knife.  I am looking trying the the Esee 4.
  • Military Poncho
  • Snacks


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