Zombie Apocalypse: “Go Bag” Gear List
Stop. Imagine for a moment, you’re at home, enjoying a nice relaxing afternoon, reading your favorite blog, and suddenly you realize… the Zombie Apocalypse has hit. Outside of your window you see the undead wandering about. Shit, things are going south and they are going fast. You need to get your gear and get out fast. It’s at this point in time that you realize, you don’t have time to pack, you have to leave with just the clothes on your back — not a smart move. 20 minutes after dashing out of your house, a friend finds your undead corpse wandering about. “Poor bastard,” they say, “if only they had a Go-Bag”.
A “Go bag” goes by many names, Wikipedia prefers "
Bug-out bag", the military likes “Bail-out bag”, and I’ve been known to use “GOOD bag” (Get Out Of Dodge). In the end, all the names serve the same purpose. Having a totally prepacked bag that is ready to simply pick up and go. Hopefully, it will contain everything you need to survive on the short term (24-72 hours), until the emergency subsides (unlikely if the undead are wandering about) or until you can get to a bigger cache of supplies.
Your standard Go-bag isn’t all that different from what you’d need in case of a Zombie Apocalypse, but there are some special considerations you should take into mind. The most important difference is weaponry. Secondarily to that, in my mind, is staying light and agile (Don’t want to get killed by a zombie because your backpack was too heavy). Sure, if the Zombie Apocalypse strikes, I’d love to have a belt fed M-249 SAW, but that really isn’t “light and agile” (though it is designed to be man-portable). I looked on Amazon and found a number of Zombie Apocalypse survival gear lists, but none of them really satisfied me. So I’ve made up a partial list of what we think will be useful while still being light and agile: (Note: ‘partial’ because your needs will vary depending on location)
- MOLLE compatible backpack — The backpack is the single most important part of your Go-bag, as it is the namesake component. You want a bag that is going to be A) Big enough for your stuff B) Tough enough to take some zombie beating C) Comfortable to wear for long periods. If you’re loaded up somewhat heavily, a backpack with a comfortable waist strap will be very important. Additionally, I prefer to use MOLLE/PALS gear as it allows you to easily strap on and off items to the exterior.
- CamelBak Bladder — Hydration is often overlooked when talking about the Zombie Apocalypse. If you’re running/fighting for your life, you are going to work up a serious thirst. You don’t want to become undead because you got heat stroke. I’d suggest at least 72oz (2L), if not 100oz (3L). Water is heavy (approximately 8 lbs per gallon/3.8 L), but you don’t need to fill up the reservoir completely, if weight is an issue.
- Emergency Rations (erats) — While MREs are great, we’re packing a backpack here with limited space and weight (light and agile). Plus, you may not have the luxury of sitting about and breaking out an MRE. If you’re REALLY on the go, you need some erats. They aren’t as good as real food, but they’ve got all the calories and nutrition you need to keep going. Each bar is 400 calories (you should have at least 5 a day), so packing just two of these 10 packs will keep you fed for 3+ days.
- Clothing — In your ready-to-go bag you should pack one full set of clothing. You never know what you’ll be wearing when the undead rise, you could be at a fancy party or in bed. Even if you’re wearing decently usable clothing, they could get ripped — best to have a backup set.
- Shirt — Long sleeve, rip stop. You want to protect yourself from head to toe. Even if you’re like me and wear short sleeves year round, it is a very smart idea to keep your arms covered. Besides, you can always roll up the sleeves.
- Pants — Full pants, rip stop. I always go for ACU/BDU/Tactical style pants due to the number of pockets and their durability.
- Socks — Find some socks that are comfortable for YOU.
- Boots — You want a good pair of hiking boots. Depending on how things go at the end, you might not have the option of vehicular transportation (Translation: You’ll be walking a lot). You will want to break these in before you store them.
- Belt — I like riggers belts. They are heavy duty, mil-spec webbing, high grade buckles and have a rappelling hook-in. They aren’t designed for serious rappelling work, but in a pinch, it will do the job.
- Gloves — You’re going to be fighting. Be it with guns, swords, axes, knives or bows… you need your hands. You need something to protect your hands. While less protecting, my preference is fingerless gloves that allow for finer work without having to remove the gloves. Get whatever you are most comfortable with.
- Heavy Jacket — This is somewhat optional, but if you can fit it — you should have some heavy rain gear. If you live in rainy country, this is crucial. Of course, if you live in the desert (like say Arizona), it gets damn cold at night — and this heavy gear will help with that too.
- Compressible sleeping bag — You’re going to be strapping this onto your backpack, so get a sleeping bag that can be compressed. Depending on where you live, you’re needs for camping bag rating will vary. In the temperate California, 10 or 20 deg bags are fine, but if you live in cold country, get a bag rated for 0 deg or lower.
- 550 Paracord — You always need something that is “rope like”. You might need to do some climbing/rappelling, you might need to prepare a trap (trip line anyone?) for zombies or maybe you simply want to make an impromptu tent. My preference is Paracord since it is small and still has a high weight rating. Since it is so small, you can pack more of it. If you’re going to buy full rope, don’t just go to Home Depot and buy whatever you find. Get something that is rated for a decent amount of weight, preferably something like climbing rope.
- Knife — You always need a knife, it has so many purposes (tool, weapon, etc) I’m not even going to bother to list them. If you want to keep light, get one knife that will serve multiple purposes. Make sure it is a fixed blade though, as you have no need for “concealing” your weapon.
- Shovel/Axe — A shovel or axe will help you in dealing with those problems that require digging or breaking in somewhere. Plus they can both be applied as weapons (shovel would require sharpening of an edge). To keep things light, go with one or the other (Shovel/Axe), depending on your tastes and geographic needs.
- Multi-tool — You might be on your own for a while. Having a multi-tool with capabilities to help you get in places (and things, like canned food), repair things, and generally make your life easier — is a very smart thing.
- Firesteel — You don’t necessarily want to set zombies on fire, but maybe you need to boil/purify water or stay warm. Fire is always a good thing to have the capability to make.
- Iodine tablets / Water purification — As previously noted, fighting the undead is a sure way to work up a thirst. You’ve got a CamelBak for water storage, but you’re gonna run dry in a day or two (tops). When you need to refill and go FAST, have some Iodine tables, but get the “plus” ones that have neutralizing tablets also (so the water doesn’t taste so bad). For the longer term, and when you’ve got more time, get a water purifier. Any pump type unit that will allow you to refill your CamelBak will be a good start. Also make sure to buy/pack extra filters (and any other “consumable” component).
- Light —
- Tactical Flashlight — For your primary illumination, you’ll want something bright and resilient. I picked out the Surefire A2 LED because it is small, light, very bright and very tough. Additionally, it has a two stage light, a dim red to maintain your night vision and a 150 lumen white. While batteries are a scarce resource, you can get a box of 12 A123s and they take up almost no space/weight, plus they have a 10 year shelf life.
- Crank Flashlight — Seeing as how eventually you will run out of batteries, having some sort of self-charging (LED) light will be important. You can get solar paneled, crank and shake (induction) lights. Personally, I think the cranks are a little better/faster, but it is a matter of personal taste. The crank units (like the one linked) have the bonus of supporting multi-function (like AM/FM radio).
- Chemlights — Chemlights (or “glow sticks” for the ravers) are extremely useful to keep around “just in case”. You can use them underwater, where case could be leaking, and they are ditch-able (IE, you can crack one and toss it somewhere).
- Comms/Radio (AM/FM/SW) — When zombies attack, you’ll need to talk to people. You may need to communicate with your friends, and possibly get a hold of other survivors in the area. So you really should have some form of 2-way radio. If you’re smart, you’ll get an Amateur Radio license get a decent Handy-Talky. Failing that, get some GMRS/FRS walky-talkies, since many people have those already. Also a crank powered emergency radio that can receive AM, FM, & Shortwave is a good addition.
- First aid kit — You’re fighting for your life, probably walking a lot more than you’re used to, and probably mucking about through broken glass: you’re going to hurt yourself. When you do, you want some sort of first aid. Getting a non-zombie infection during a zombie apocalypse is just embarrassing.
- Survival literature /Military handbook — Unless you’re a survival nut, ex-military or a public servant (fire/police) — you probably don’t have a lot of disaster survival experience. That’s okay, not a lot of people do. So get some books and do some reading, preferably before the zombie apocalypse (you don’t want to be trying to read while fighting). I also included the suggestion of military handbooks because your best chance of survival during a fight-for-your-life is learning from groups that do it for a living. When you’re done reading them, toss the books in your bag, that way you have them for reference (or burning material).