Putting the GO in go-bag

Every ARES® member should have a go-bag ready for an emergency.

You can't carry everything and everyone has a different opinion about what is important. Unfortunately, you have to guess what kind of emergency you'll be dealing with and which tools will be most helpful.

"It is better to have the bare essentials always handy than to leave a bulky pack someplace where you can't get to it."
    — C. Edward Harris (KE4SKY)
I ain't takin' nothin' that'll slow down my travelin'...
    — Johnny Cash

My Go Bag

Here is what I have in my go bag, which is very much a work in progress. In fact, I find that it is currently both too heavy and is missing too much. I'm attempting to keep the total weight low, so I know I need to sacrifice many useful items others include in their kits. By keeping it light, I'm aiming at a solution that can be carried some distance. This is an ARES® go bag, so the primary focus is to provide communications.


Ideally, the contents will be adjusted for the season: bug repellent isn't really needed in the winter, for example. Clothing needs are also season dependent. If I'm going on a camping trip, I'd be sure to carry more items on my person. If I'm going on a airplane trip, the pocket knife stays home.

Every Day Carry

Minimal equipment always carried. I find my pockets too full as it is, but I'd like to squeeze in some more items. I tried spliting things between a "Basic Deployment Kit" in a lumbar bag and an "Extended Deployment Kit" (or 72 hour kit) in a day pack, but the lumbar bag ended up being too heavy. Currently I have something that is a "Basic Deployment Kit Plus" in a day pack, and a lumbar bag with the radio gear.

Radio Gear

Day Pack Kit

I'd also like to add in, among other things: I think I'm going to be forced to a bigger, heavier bag and a faithful Sherpa Guide to carry it.

Car Kit

There is no doubt that having a car opens up a lot of possibilities. Keep in mind that what you put in your car will have to handle baking in the summer sun and freezing in the winter.

Community Emergency Response Team Kit

I keep my CERT supplies in the car.

Whatever else you might have in your kit, add one more thing: an inventory of the kit. It reduces searching and makes it easy to restock. You can also record when supplies (food, for example) should be replaced. If nothing else, the back side makes good scratch paper, and it can be used as a firestarter.

Your Go Bag

So you have a go-bag right? If so, great! If not, check out the resources below for some ideas for putting together your go-bag, go-kit, jump-bag, bug-out-bag, emergency kit, call-out gear, emergency activation gear, ready kit, warbox, crash kit, grab-n-go bag:

Homeland Security


Red Cross

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services



CERT - Community Emergency Response Team

Charlie Gallo, EC for Queens County ARES®, New York

Steve (KB1DIG) and Kim (KB1GTR) Go Kit

Central United States Earthquake Consortium

Greene County Ohio ARES®

Virgina RACES

C. Edward Harris (KE4SKY), VA ARES®

Backpacker's 10 Essentials (but every list is a little different!)

The Big List

Equipped to Survive

Vito Labella

Silverado Amateur Radio Society (W6CO)

MO-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team

Association of Volunteer Emergency Response Teams

Toledo Area

Amateur Radio Emergency Service - Official Emergency Stations (AE3C)

Central Arkansas Radio Emergency Net

Licking County Ohio ARES® Page

Ed Ricco N5LI - Albuquerque Amateur Radio Club

Lewis-Clark Amateur Radio Club Ham Happenings

KI4BUM Emergency Response Kit

Gwinnett County Georgia ARES®

Glen Sage (W4GHS) Emergency Coordinator, Carroll County Virginia

Pat Lambert (W0IPL) Emergency Communication Basics

Kenneth McCoy (KF4BQF) Emergency Operation and Preparedness



Trinity County Amateur Radio Club

St. Charles County Division of Emergency Management

Junior Doughty Fire Starting Kit

Huntington Beach CERT

Tulsa Repeater Organization

This document

Suppliers (mostly in the St. Louis area)

Your local grocery store, pharmacy, hardware and discount stores, basement and attic can be useful sources for your go bag supplies.

The Sports Authority

The Alpine Shop - camping, sporting goods

Bass Pro Shop - camping, sporting goods

REI - camping, sporting goods

Gateway Electronics - electronic goodies, including Photon light

Skywavz Electronics - radios and antennas

Uncle Sam's - Army Navy Surplus

Moosejaw Mountaineering

Major Surplus & Survival

Eddie Bauer

Walmart - camping, sporting goods


ARES is a registered trademark of the ARRL.


Copyright © 2004 Robert Ernst. All Rights Reserved.         Last modified: Wed Aug 18 00:30:50 Central Daylight Time 2004