Go Bag / Bail Out Bag: The 5 W's

January 23, 2019


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Go / Bail Out Bag (GBO) – Before I get into the 5 W’s of a Go Bag / Bail Out Bag (GBO), I want to go over the Kit Levels. Below is a technique to keep your gear organized into levels. The levels pertain to the amount of gear and supplies it can provide and when to carry or have that level available. The levels do not pertain to the order they are to be used necessarily, but you should always use the highest number level on hand first, saving the gear/supplies on your lowest levels, like your EDC.

Level 1- Every Day Carry (EDC) small essential items for immediate use and protection.

Level 2 – Get Home Bag (GHB) with a possible augmentation of a chest rig with long gun if in a non-permissive AO, keep in mind you should have some kind of self defense in your GHB load out. This same bag will become your Go Bag / Bail Out Bag (GBO) when you are bugging out and have your Level 3 (BOB) and Level 4 (VHK) loaded.

Level 3 – Bug Out Bag (BOB) normally stored in your house and not in your vehicle unless you are bugging out.

Level 4 - Vehicle and House Kit (VHK). Durable containers containing additional supplies. Mainly used for vehicle survival, bugging in/out and augmenting your other levels. This will also cover your additional resources and supplies, like fuel, water, food, medical, ammunition etc.

Using this system of kit levels, you would normally have your Level 1, Level 2 and sometimes parts of your Level 4 vehicle kits loaded up in your vehicle on your daily activities. If you are bugging in/out then you will add your Level 3 kit, and your Level 4 Home kit. 

The Go/Bail Out Bag (GBO) should have the same characteristics as the Get Home Bag (GHB), In most cases this bag will be your GHB (able to carry 20-50 lbs of gear) but when you are bugging out or doing a long range vehicle movement and become engaged in a threat that you cannot eliminate, you will use your Go Bag to bail out and evade the threat. The Term “Go Bag” came from Special Forces Teams traveling by vehicles in a semi-permissive or non-permissive environment. They would have survival items, extra food, water, and ammo in them, just in case they had to “bail out” of the vehicle and go on foot. It enabled them to egress quickly and still have those critical extra supplies. So, if you have your GHB with you all the time when you travel to work, school or on vacation, it will be used in the same manner. Let’s say your vehicle broke down on a very desolate road and you decided your only choice is to walk home, then it is used exactly like your GHB. If you are in a non-permissive post collapse environment and you run into trouble from another group with the intention of killing you and taking your vehicle and gear; you would then use it as a GBO and egress tactically while engaging the immediate threats and execute your PACE plan to get home.  What you call it, is all based on your situation and operational environment. GHB – Permissive environment, broken down vehicle and have to walk home. Go Bag – semi-permissive and non-permissive environments, under duress and egressing form a hostile threat and you intend to fight or evade.

The type of bag you should use; military looking versus civilian looking is really only pertinent to the type of environment you are located or find yourself in.

 Permissive (no or low threats, low crime) area, then the style bag will not bring added attention to you. In this day and age, there are a lot of people who regularly carry military looking bags to go to college, travel on airlines etc. You need to do some research and analysis into your AO to determine what the majority of people carry (51% rule). It may be out of the norm to see one or several people walking through a neighborhood or city with 5:11 style backpacks where people would normally been seen carry book bags, computer bags etc. Prepare and plan accordingly.

 Semi-Permissive (moderate threats, moderate crime) area, a military looking bag may attract the attention of law enforcement, concerned citizens, and even the criminal that thinks you have items that he could use to further commit crimes (guns, knives, other “prepper” items). It would be good to use a non-descript type of civilian bag. 

 Non-Permissive (high threats, high crime) area, then it really does not matter what kind of bag you have because if the threat is high enough to make it a non-permissive area, you should be moving in the periods of darkness and staying low and out of sight. You would use good covered and concealed routes through rural areas and side or back roads/routes through urban areas or avoid urban areas all together. You will have your chest rig, extra ammo, long gun and pistol. Hopefully, you will be moving with several members of your team.

 Packing and Wearing – When you begin to pack your GO BAG remember to pack things according to their use or how often you will need to get to the item. The items you don’t need often have those items toward the bottom of the bag. One thing to keep in mind is keep the weight high and against your back as much as possible. Think about how weather will affect your GO BAG and its contents. I would get some dry bags and a decent waterproof rucksack cover. Depending on your scenario, you may want that waterproof cover to be of bright colored material to assist you in being discovered or reversible with camo on one side. Using a waist belt does help take the weight off your shoulders and onto your hips. This is easier to manage over long distance with heavier weights. If it is a tactical situation, I do not use the waist belt. It enables me to ditch the ruck if I find myself in a gunfight and I have to maneuver quickly and engage the threat. Once the threat is eliminated, then I can retrieve my ruck. If you are in a group, then you can consolidate rucks and effectively deal with the threat. This is all personal preference and based off your SOPs for your group.

 Basic categories you will need in your GHB should be the following:

 Shelter – Items to build a shelter or augment an improvised shelter.            Does not need to be a tent, but some form of tarp or waterproof material to keep you dry and/or out of the direct sun. Don’t forget the extra items to assist you in construction of the shelter.

 Fire Starting – 1 -2 ways to start and maintain a fire.

 Water Procurement – a container to carry your water, 1-2 ways to purify the water.

 Food Procurement – 1-2 ways to procure food. Fishing gear, trapping or hunting.

 Navigation – 1-2 ways to navigate your way home. Always have 1-2 compasses, especially if you use a GPS or any other electronic device. Paper maps of your operational Area.

Defense – At a minimum, you should have a pistol in your EDC. A long gun like an AR would be ideal as an addition to your GHB / GBO kit. It depends on your operational environment.

 Signaling – 1-2 ways to signal a rescue party both for day and night.

 Light – Have 1-2 ways to provide light during the night.

 Communications – 1-2 ways to communicate with your family and/or rescuers.

 Cooking – Have means to cook the food you procure or brought with you.

 Tools – Have several items that will assist you with fixing something or cutting something.

 Cordage – One of the most versatile items in your kit. 550 cord or Para cord is a great multiuse item.

 Medical – First aid items for everyday issues, trauma items for critical issues and required medications.

 Using your GHB as your GO BAG depending on your situation and operational environment is all dependent on your SOPs, TTPs that you establish. Utilizing a system of kit levels, is a good way to minimize the number of different bags you have to organize and focus on simple SOPs.

Lani Ringeisen
Lani Ringeisen


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