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Table of Contents
A low-sustained boom rumbled across the city, shutting down the power and shaking the buildings. People run from my office building in a genuine panic. I may not be sprinting for the exit, but I’m not wasting time either.
My smartphone has no reception or connection. When I reach my vehicle, I discover all roads leading away from my office as cars litter all of the roadways. No one knows what’s happening, and everyone is freaking out.
While fear simmers below the surface, I feel composed and ready for the challenge ahead. I open the rear hatch of my SUV, flip up the compartment to my spare tire, retrieve my ultralight-get-home backpack, and set off on foot. Immediately, I begin scanning my options, knowing no matter what happens, I have a plan, and it’s a good one.
We’ve all played this scenario out from time to time in our heads. The world crashes while we’re at work, and we have to find our way to safety, which for most of us, is our home.
Instead of worrying pointlessly about this scenario, act on it. Plan out and pack your ultralight-get-home bag. Give yourself the peace of mind to know you have some control in an uncontrollable situation. Your driver education teacher taught you, or should have taught you, always to have an escape route. You’ll need more than that escape route when faced with an issue that drives you to walk home. You need survival equipment and a plan. With the proper supplies, you can focus all your mental energy on survival.
For me, like a lot of people in this pandemic, the answer is easy because I work from home. But what if I need to get to my parents’ house 90 miles away? What if I need to get to a friend’s house 30 miles away?
When packing your bag, the adage, “two is one, and one is none,” serves us all well. As with everything, expect Murphy’s Law to reach fruition. Pack batteries, matches, lighters, and other sensitive items in individual waterproof bags or vacuum seal them. A good vacuum seal machine offsets its cost quickly. Go ahead and make that investment.
Vacuum sealing also allows you to maximize space with a mylar blanket and winter clothing.
As with anything, our differences make us who we are. Since we all come in different shapes, sizes, and fitness levels, take what advice and thought you would from this piece and customize it to your situation. The overall goal is to keep the weight of your get-home bag as low as possible. When weighing your options, determine what is required for you and what is not. Once you’ve narrowed down the necessities, get the lightest and smallest option possible. Consider your health and your abilities. Kick your ego out of the way and focus on survival.
I didn’t write this article as a claim to be the foremost expert on the ultralight-get-home backpack. Instead, I want to provoke thought in those who are heady enough to prepare for the worst-case scenario. I intend this article to reinforce the preparations you’ve already made and maybe even give you a new idea or two to consider. We’re all different, so all of our bags will contain various equipment. The important part is not the differences but what we can learn from each other.
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself:
Why Do I Have To Walk Home?
How Far Do I Need To Walk?
Who’s Coming With Me?
Are you on this trek alone, or are you accompanied by your family or friends? Coordinate with other adults who could be with you. Their bags should mirror and complement yours. Have a bag ready for each of your children as well. Not only can your child contribute, he or she more than likely wants to contribute.
Make a game out of it to get them involved. Your children don’t have to know what events you’re anticipating. They’ll enjoy the change of pace and might open your eyes to something you haven’t considered. Get them thinking about the real necessities versus toys. Chances are, they’ll get it wrong, but that’s why you’re there.
Consider your child’s age before loading them down with a full rucksack. In the meantime, take them out for hikes and camping trips. Get your children acquainted with the outdoors in the event of an emergency. Also, get them acquainted with the outdoors for the sake of getting them outside.