Building a Go-Bag – Defining Goals

Building a Go-Bag - Defining Goals

We all have those projects that we know we should begin, but manage to keep putting off. Building a go-bag has been that kind of project for me. However, a few months ago I decided that the procrastination had to come to an end! And so the go-bag building adventure officially began!

My initial plan was to complete my go-bag before publishing anything about it on ArmsVault. However, it didn’t take long to realize that this was a much bigger project than I had expected. Consequently, I decided that writing a series of articles about the process, while the go-bag is being built, might help me to stay more organized.

At the time of this post, I would guess that my go-bag is approximately 50% complete. While I think I am on the right track now, things got off to a rough start. My biggest mistake was that I initially didn’t take the time to define the goals of my go-bag. I know, I know… it is so fun and easy to go online and begin ordering cool gadgets for your go-bag. But trust me… without the proper planning, there is a good chance that you will waste a lot of time and money.

Before I get into the goals I have set for my go-bag, I want to explain why I refer to it as a go-bag in the first place. Quite often you will see phrases such as go-bag and bug-out bag used interchangeably. But, I view them as two very different things. By my definition, a go-bag should provide survival supplies for a short period of time (1 – 3 days). A bug-out bag provides supplies for a more extended period.

Below are some of the questions I answered to help define my go-bag goals:

  1. How many people should your go-bag support, and for how long?
    • Supports 1 person for 1 – 3 days. My plan is for each member of my family to eventually have their own go-bag.
  2. What is the maximum size and weight of your go-bag?
    • I’ll get into this more when I discuss the backpack I selected. However, my goal is for my go-bag to have a small footprint and be as light weight as possible. My family takes a lot of road trips and it is unrealistic to think that we can fill our trunk up with go-bags. If they aren’t reasonable in size, they won’t be used.
  3. What weather conditions do you need to be prepared for?
    • Freezing to hot. Dry to rainy. My travels take me to areas with a wide range of weather conditions.
  4. What types of emergencies do you want to be prepared for?
    • I know… the list of possible emergencies you might face is endless. But, taking some time to think this through will help to determine what kind of survival supplies you might need.
  5. How will my go-bag be organized?
    • I chose to take a modular approach. I am building multiple packs (e.g. Tools, Food/Water, Medical, Clothing, Personal Care, Shelter) that go into the go-bag. These packs can be easily switched out if necessary.
  6. What is your budget for the go-bag?
    • The cost of a fully-stocked go-bag can vary greatly, depending on your tastes in gear. I know it can be a bit painful to pay for top-of-the-line equipment when you know it is going to be packed away in a bag that you hope to never use. But, there is certainly something to say about having good equipment that you know will work when it is needed most.
    • My advice… buy the best gear you can afford. Start with a high-quality bag since that is the backbone of your go-bag. You don’t have to build your go-bag all at once. If anything, stocking your go-bag will give you tons of gift ideas to share with your loved ones.

Staying organized.

I would highly recommend keeping a log of all the items you have acquired for your go-bag, as well as all the items you still need. Because I have some nerdy tendencies, I have created a spreadsheet that helps me keep track of my go-bag’s inventory.

Go-Bag Inventory Log


Be sure to check back often for go-bag updates: Building a Go-Bag

Items Shown in Photo

Glock 17:

  • Caliber: 9×19
  • System: Safe Action
  • Length:
    • G17: 204 mm / 8.03
    • G17 Gen4: 202 mm / 7.95 in
  • Height: 138 mm / 5.43 in
  • Width: 30.00 mm / 1.18 in
  • Barrel Height: 32 mm / 1.26 in
  • Length Between Sights: 165 mm / 6.49 in
  • Barrel Length: 114 mm / 4.48 in
  • Weight:
    • Unloaded: 625 g / 22.05 oz
    • Loaded: 905 g / 32.12 oz
  • Trigger Pull: ~2.5 kg / ~5.5 lbs
  • Trigger Travel: ~12.5 mm / 0.49 in
  • Barrel Rifling: right hand, hexagonal
  • Length of Twist: 250 mm / 9.84 in
  • Magazine Capacity:
    • Standard: 17
    • Optional: 33
  • More Info: Glock

Bravo Concealment OWB Kydex Gun Holster – BCA:

  • Designed for outside the waistband carry, but can easily be converted to inside the waistband by switching out the belt loops.
  • Solid locking retention of weapon.
  • BCA holster comes in two options: with or without pistol light.
  • 10° can’t enhances concealment under loose garments.
  • Robust 1.5” or 1.75” injection molded belt loops prevent breakage even under rigorous use.
  • Belt loops can be replaced with Belt Clips for inside the waistband carry.
  • The BCA creates adequate room for a positive grip thus enabling a smooth draw with solid weapon retention.
  • Belt loops are adjustable to create a desired cant for greater concealment.
  • All edges on holster are rounded for comfort.
  • All holsters are curved to fit the contours of your body.
  • Available in Black, Grey, Flat Dark Earth (FDE)
  • All Quick Ship Gun Holsters allow for “Suppressor Sights” or “Tall Sights”
  • More Info: Bravo Concealment

Pathfinder GEN2 Canteen Cooking Set:

  • 9oz Wide-mouth Stainless Steel Canteen with new thread and cap design.
  • 25oz Stainless Steel Nesting Cup
  • Stainless Steel Canteen Nesting Stove
  • Lightweight Canteen Bag
  • Pathfinder Canteen Cup Lid (effective 10-12-15)
  • SPECS:
    • 304 Stainless Steel (.5mm-.6mm thick)
    • 39oz Wide-mouth Canteen (the ONLY wide-mouth stainless steel military canteen available)
    • New and improved ABS lid with stainless steel insert and silcone ring seal
    • 25oz Nesting Cup
    • Made in China
    • Designed in the USA
  • Canteen Stove:
    • Set nested together dimensions: 5 ¼“ long, 3 ½“ wide, 8 ¼“ tall
    • Canteen w/cap on dimensions: 5 ¼ ” long, 3 ½”wide, 8 ¼” tall
    • Nesting Cup dimensions: 5 ¼” long, 3 ½ wide, 4 ¼” tall, width with handle extended 7”
    • Nesting Cup graduations: 16oz, 20oz, 25oz and 400ml, 500ml, 600ml, 700ml
    • Stove: 5 ¼” long, 3 ½” wide, 3 ¼” tall
  • More Info: Self Reliance Outfitters

Datrex Emergency Food Ration – 3600 kcal:

  • Total Servings: 18
  • Total Calories: 3,600
  • Shelf Life: 5 Years
  • Food Type: Full Meal
  • Preservation: Vacuum Stabilized
  • Serving Size: 1 Bar (Approx. 42g)
  • More Info: The Ready Store

Bear & Son Cutlery Bear Edge Compact Bowie:

  • SKU: 61108
  • Blade Material: 440 Stainless Steel
  • Handle Material: Black G10
  • Open Length: 9-5/8″
  • Blade Length: 5″
  • Weight: 5.8 oz.
  • Origin: Built in America
  • Extras: Black Blade and Stainless Bolsters, Ballistic Sheath & Taper Ground Blade
  •  More Info: Bear & Son Cutlery

Vanquest SKITCH-15 Messenger Bag:

  • Net Weight: 2.40 pounds | 1089 grams
  • “SHORT carry mode: 15″ (W) x 12.5″ (H) x 4.5″ (D), 18-liter capacity
  • “MEDIUM carry mode: 15″ (W) x 15″ (H) x 4.5″ (D), 22-liter capacity
  • “TALL” carry mode: 15″ (W) x 19.5″ (H) x 4.5″ (D), 31-liter capacity
  • Padded TSA-friendly compartment fits tablets and laptops up to 15”
  • Pass-through zipper on flap for accessing interior compartments
  • Rear compartment with loop lining for CCW holsters and accessories
  • 5 zippered compartments and 7 hook-and-loop closed pockets
  • Ambidextrous design with 3-Liter hydration bladder compatibility
  • Luggage handle pass-through (7” wide) on backside
  • Adjustable shoulder strap with shoulder pad and stabilizer strap
  • MOLLE/PALS webbing on front and sides for expansion/attachment
  • Flag/morale patch holder on front
  • *Optional Drop In Organizer (Part# 050640) available
  • **Optional GT-Cobra Sling Strap (Part# 018020) available
  • Materials:
    • 1,000-D Mil-grade Cordura® fabric with water-repellent Teflon® fabric protector by DuPont® (500-D Cordura® on MultiCam-Black model)
    • Genuine MADE-IN-USA MultiCam-Black® Cordura® by Crye Precision™
    • High-visibility, lightweight & moisture resistant 210-D Ripstop nylon interior.
    • Durable & abrasion resistant RC-Class YKK® zippers, reversed for protection.
    • MOLLE/PALS compatible attachment system with high tensile strength nylon webbing.
    • Mil-grade ITW® and UTX-DURAFLEX® hardware made from high tensile strength Acetal (Delrin®) polymer.
    • Circular user-friendly zipper loops made of GLADDING’s 550 lb. tensile strength paracord (MADE-IN-USA)
    • Neoprene rubber padded grab handles for extra comfort
    • High tensile strength nylon webbings and binding tapes
    • Finished with high tensile strength bonded nylon thread
  • More Info: Vanquest Gear