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How to Create the Ultimate Grab-and-Go Survival Bag

How to Create the Ultimate Grab-and-Go Survival Bag

When facing a crises, there are only two types of people – the prepared and the unprepared. The prepared are often later described as "the survivors." Sadly the unprepared all to often become the victims.

If we could consciously choose which category we'd like to be in, we'd all want to be survivors. But what if becoming a survivor later meant having to be prepared right now? Have you asked yourself recently just how well-equipped you are to face a disaster if you're caught away from home and come out alive?

The notion of being survival-ready causes some people to roll their eyes, assuming that everyone who makes disaster preparations is screaming that the sky is falling. "Prepping" has become associated with apocalyptic disasters – large-scale nuclear warfare, alien invasion, and the like. To date, as I sit behind the keyboard of my laptop, none of those disasters has happened.

But disasters strike this country every year, and although they aren't apocalyptic in nature, they are dangerous and scary. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires and flooding are all possibilities on our unstable planet. Unfortunately, so are terrorist attacks and civil unrest. These disasters happen every year all around the world, and if they haven't happened where you live, don't smile and shrug. Instead, be aware and prepared.

There are very few constants with disaster situations, but one common phrase is repeated over and over by the survivors of floods, hurricanes, mobs, and attacks – "it all happened so quickly." Certainly there was no time to go and stock up on items needed to thrive in a survival situation. No, you need to have those items on hand, close by, and ready to go.

Here are some of the basic items that will help you survive when others perish, the gear that will keep you safe and secure. Add some lightweight food items in a sealable plastic baggie and you'll be good to go.


How much ammo you carry is largely up to you, but I want to have at least 100 rounds in my survival case. In my case you'll find Hornady's American Gunner, which is loaded with Hornady's outstanding eXtreme Terminal Performance (XTP) bullet. This bullet offers deep penetration and reliable expansion.

And these cartridges are loaded using high-quality Hornady brass and primers for total reliability, which is key when selecting survival ammo. In addition to being affordably priced (which makes stocking up easier on your wallet), this ammo is sold in compact boxes with no excessive packaging. Space is limited in my grab-and-go case, but there's always room for American Gunner.


A belt may seem like an odd addition to a grab-and-go bag, but there are few things that will prove more valuable in a crisis. Aside from the obvious task of holding up your pants, a wide, durable belt is the platform for your firearm and any other gear like lights that you decide to add.

In addition, a sturdy belt like the Ares Gear Aegis Enhanced Belt can also serve as an emergency binding or even as a tourniquet in case of a medical emergency. The Aegis Enhanced Belt is 1 ½ inches wide, comes with two layers of proprietary scuba webbing and offers a sturdy buckle that quickly and securely fastens the belt around your waist. These belts feature heavy-duty stitching and solid construction and they can last through the worst conditions.

First-Aid Kit

There's a chance that proper medical treatment won't be available in the event of a disaster, and if that's the case you're going to have to be responsible for dealing with medical emergencies. You simply can't pack all the gear you need to deal with every possible mishap, but a large medical kit like the Bass Pro Shops Expedition First Aid Kit. This emergency kit contains all the equipment you need to treat common injuries for six people up to 10 days.

The kit is also organized by type of injury and contains common first aid equipment like nitrile gloves, forceps, antiseptic wipes, a variety of bandages, irrigation syringe, antihistamines, and more. The kit also contains a book on dealing with the most common medical emergencies, and it is all packed in a lightweight, zippered case for easy transport and storage. Additionally, I throw three or four garbage bags in my kit – they're great for preserving heat in cold situations and avoiding chilling rains


This one may leave you scratching your head – an optic on a gun in a survival kit? You better believe it. That beefy accessory rail on the P-09 isn't just for looks, and I want every advantage I can get. That means mounting a Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro on the CZ.

The reasoning for this is simple – while reaching for a firearm should always be a last resort, if my life is threatened I want to have instant one-touch access to a high-intensity weapon-mounted flashlight. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, I have an accurate sighting system that will allow me to instantly engage targets in low light or no light.


If I'm facing a catastrophe, I want the CZ P-09 in my hand. These 9mm handguns boast an impressive 19+1 capacity. In addition, the P-09 is a hammer-fired SA/DA pistol, so if a primer fails to fire I can simply pull the trigger and get a second hammer drop without having to retract the slide as you would with a striker fired pistol.

That hammer offers considerable peace of mind even in the worst conditions, and the CZ's outstanding Omega trigger design makes it possible to hit targets at a distance should the need arise. The CZ's polymer/steel construction is light and extremely tough, and the oversized accessory rail offers plenty of real estate for mounting additional tools. Every detail of the P-09's design makes it a survivor's gun, all the way down to the heavy texturing on the grip that will keep this gun in my hand even in the wettest conditions.


The first step to assembling a grab-and-go kit is selecting the right case, and the Pelican 1520 is a great place to start. These cases feature a solid wall design and O-ring seals, making them crushproof, watertight, and dustproof. The hardware is all made of stainless steel, and there's even an automatic pressure equalization valve, so even if you lose this case in a flood, your equipment will be dry and secure when you eventually fish it out of the rushing water.

The double throw latches offer quick access to the items inside, and the Pick N Pluck convoluted lid foam allows you to customize the case to your exact needs while maintaining a cushioned interior surface. The polypropylene is not only durable, it's also lightweight so it will reduce fatigue in the event that you have to travel with your gear bag.

Water Purifier

The human body can survive weeks without food, but without drinking water we are doomed in a few short days. For this reason, water purification equipment is absolutely vital, so important in fact that it's not a bad idea to have two complete systems. There are a number of purification systems available today, but two of the very best are the Katadyn Base Camp Pro 10L Water Filter and the Sawyer MINI.

The Katadyn is great for purifying and reserving water in camp and the Sawyer MINI is small enough that it can be easily transported in a pocket or small bag. Because water is vital to life, it's well worth having two separate systems available in your bag. Both of these systems allow you to drink water without worrying about contracting potentially lethal diseases like cholera and dysentery.


A high-quality light with spare batteries should be one of the first things that should go into your survival bag. Aside from the comfort of being able to see at night, a good light will help you to find other members of your party, navigate rough terrain, and will help rescuers find you even in complete darkness. Modern flashlights are fantastic, and one of the best choices is the Surefire Y300 Ultra.

At just 3.6 inches long and 5.5 ounces, the Y300 Ultra offers a high output of 500 lumens, and on low output (15 lumens) the light will run continuously for 15 hours without a battery change. The magnetic base allows to attach to metal surfaces for hands-free work, and the clip accessory allows it to be mounted almost anywhere. Surefire also sells a box of 12 123A batteries for only $22, and those need to be included in your kit as well.


The compact, ultra-lightweight Versacarry holster mounts on any belt and provides a secure platform for carrying a handgun without added bulk. The Versacarry holster has become very popular for concealed carry, but it doubles as an all-around rig that fits most any gun and attaches to just about any belt. The ambidextrous Versacarry has a metal retention rod that is designed to hold the gun in place but won't damage the inside of the bore.

The molded plastic design is heat-resistant and waterproof, so you won't have to worry about the elements damaging this holster. The affordable Versacarry is so light and compact that you can buy two of them and stick them in your grab case and they'll still take up less space than a traditional holster. Might as well throw in a Versacarrier magazine carrier as well.


A knife is still the simplest and most basic survival tool ever invented – perfect for doing everything from digging up edible roots to making shelter to defending yourself from two and four-legged predators. I carry a multi-tool in my kit, which serves a multitude of functions, but I carry a simple fixed-blade knife that I can access quickly.

The Bear Grylls Ultimate Fine Edge Knife features a high-carbon, stainless steel drop-point blade and a textured rubber handle that is easy to grip. It's housed in a hard rubber military-grade sheath and comes with an integrated whistle, fire starter, and diamond-coated knife sharpener as well as a survival guide. The Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife was the best-selling knife in the world in 2011, and the new fine edge version offers another alternative in a hardcore survival blade. Don't get caught alone without this tool.


As stated earlier, a multi-tool is a must-have item in any grab-and-go bag. And if you find yourself in a survival situation, there's no better option than a multi-tool designed by the world's most famous survivalist Bear Grylls. Not only does the Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Tool Pack come with the type of features you normally expect from a multi-tool (saw, screwdriver, scissors, and so forth), you also get additional survival-specific items like a firestarter rod and survival guide.

This is an invaluable tool to carry with you into the wilderness or down the darkened streets of town, and it was designed specifically with 12 of the most important survival tools to help keep you alive in the worst conditions. Not only should you keep one of these in your grab bag, you should also wear one on your belt every day. You'll be amazed how versatile and handy this item is even if you're not fighting for your life.

Survival Kit

Seems like a logical addition to any grab-and-go bag, right? Survival kits are compact and contain the bear essentials to help you survive sans civilization. Speaking of bears, the Bear Grylls Basic Kit from Gerber should go in every grab bag because it contains the most basic but important items to keep you alive in any conditions, including a Gerber Mini-Paraframe Knife, emergency whistle, fire starter and waterproof matches, snare wire, cotton balls (fire tinder), and 121 inches of paracord, and basic instruction from Bear Grylls on how to survive the worst imaginable conditions.

All of these essential survival items are combined in one waterproof nylon bag that is lightweight and very easy to transport. If you can only grab one item before you are thrust out into the darkness, this is the kit you want. At only $27, these kits not only belong in your grab bag but also your hunting pack, your truck and in your fishing boat. You never know where or when disaster will strike, but with this kit you can survive.


You'll need at least one hank (bundle, if you're not familiar with the term) of paracord in your grab bag. Paracord has become a standard addition to almost any survival kit because this binding is sturdy and easy to pack yet it stretches and can hold tremendous amounts of weight perfect for building emergency structures, elevating food to keep it away from predators, and a variety of others tasks. UST offers a variety of different lengths of paracord with carabiner clips on the end.

It makes sense to purchase the 100 foot roll (this stuff gets used up pretty quickly), but it's oftentimes more versatile to order two 50-foot hanks, each with their own carabiner. At any rate, you'll want at least one 30-foot section, which, if used wisely, can cover most emergency situations. If you have more space and can handle the added weight, buy at least 100 feet of paracord. It's a versatile tool in your survival arsenal.

Water Boiler

Boiling water is crucial in any survival scenario, whether for eating, water purification or disinfecting. Which is exactly why the Jet Boil Flash-Carbon is perfect for any survival scenario. This system lights with the click of a button and in just over two minutes provides two cups of boiling water. The cooking cup clips onto the burner, preventing accidental spills, and the fuel canister tripod adds stability.

The insulating cozy has a color-changing heat indicator that signals when contents are hot. The cup has a drink-through lid with pour spout and strainer, while the bottom cover doubles as a measuring cup and bowl. The burner is powered by a propane/isobutene mix in 100- or 230-gram cans.

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