BOB, GHB, EDC, INCH… Which Survival “Bag” Is Right for You?

Choosing The Best Type Of Survival Bag

Note: This article was contributed by Dan F. Sullivan of SurvivalSullivan.com.  To learn more about Dan you can see the About the Author section at the end of the post.

It can be a little intimidating for newbies to know what all these bug out bag acronyms mean, let alone knowing which ones to focus on. Ask 10 people and you get 10 different answers, right?

Different people live in different situations and have different needs which is why we need to make it clear what each of them is and to point out the differences so you can make the right choice.

The BOB (Bug-Out Bag)

Designed to help you survive for: up to a week

Obviously, if you’re looking for information on bug out bags, there is no better resource than the site you’re on right now. Bug-out bags are the first thing newbie preppers take care of when they start.

I’m just gonna say it, there’s no such thing as the perfect bug-out bag. Age, location, climate, skill and many other factors come into play when deciding which backpack to get and how to assemble it. I won’t go into details on what it should contain as there are plenty of good resources such as this one and this one but, if you’re completely new to this, let me talk a little bit about the purpose of a BOB.

A bug-out bag is simply a backpack filled with emergency essentials that allow you to run from danger, whether it’s natural or man-made. Typically, a BOB contains a lot of tools and items to aid in your survival but it should also contain food and water for up to a week (although opinions differ on this one). Beyond that, you should either be at your bug-out location where more supplies await your or you should pre-pack some tools that will aid you in procuring food and water.

Choosing The Best Type Of Survival Bag
Keep in mind that your bug-out bag may also include items for your family members.

Another very important set of tools to keep in your BOB are the ones that help you survive in the wilderness. You just never know if you’re going to make it to your destination so having a tent or a tarp, several ways to start fire, a couple of light sources and so on… these are all important.

BackpackBag NameFeaturesSizeCost

VVV Gear Paratus 3 Day Operator's Pack
Modular design - 3 packs in 1
2 large compartments, multiple interior pockets/organizers, two attached MOLLE pouches
Heavy duty zippers
2890 cubic inches$79
Rebel Tactical Assault 3 Day Pack
Expansion Zipper
1 large compartment, 6 pockets
3220 cubic inches$48
Modern Warrior ACU Military Camo Backpack
1 large compartment and 2 smaller pockets1463 cubic inches$34.99
Sandpiper of California Long Range Bugout Backpack
1 large compartment and 7 pockets
Expansion zipper
3900 cubic inches$147
High Sierra Tech Series Titan 65
4 large compartments
Integrated rain cover
3966 cubic inches$113
Outdoor Products Stargazer Backpack
1 large compartment, 4 smaller pockets3440 cubic inches$77.49

The 72-Hour Pack

Designed to help you survive for: up to 3 days

Out of all the survival bags in this article, this is the only one I don’t recommend. The 72 hour pack is nothing more than a simplified version of the BOB that has a catchy name, reason for which survival companies use it to sell you this pre-packed bag. In reality, you’re much better off doing it yourself as you’ll save cash and make it such that it can help you survive for much longer than 3 days.

It’s obviously better than nothing so if you really want one, that’s up to you, but this article plus the well-researched articles on this site make this type of bag a poor choice for newbie and advanced preppers alike.

Choosing The Best Type Of Survival Bag
A 72-hour pack can serve as a lightweight option for day hikers to prepare for the unexpected.

The GHB (Get Home Bag)

Designed to help you survive for: up to a day

The second favorite bag for preppers is the get home bag and it is built with one purpose in mind: to help you get from when you are when disaster strikes either home or even to your bug-out location (BOL) if it is feasible.

There’s an excellent chance that you won’t be at home when disaster strikes and that you’ll have to get there in record time and, possibly, even have to face certain obstacles. A GHB is also useful when you’re forced to leave your car.

The main difference between a GHB and a BOB is that a GHB is made for short distance emergency traveling (typically less than 100 miles), it has a lot less items in it and it’s also lighter.

Choosing The Best Type Of Survival Bag
Forced to leave your car behind, you’ll be glad to have your get-home bag well-equipped to commute on foot.

The thing is, most of the items you have in your get home bag are already in your bug-out bag but the entire reason you need this second one is because you know you’ll be away from your main BOB when it happens.

When the line between get home bags and bug-out bags is really blurry is when we’re talking about cars. It’s good practice to have supplies in your car because it’s going to act as your bug-out vehicle so, when you think about it, the emergency survival bag you have in your trunk can act as a get-home bag just as well as it can be a BOB.

Whether it’s one or the other, it all depends on how much you pack. At the end of the day, the more you have the better but keep in mind that a heavy pack will make it harder for you to move.

BagBag TypeCostFeatures
5.11 Rush 24 Back Pack
Backpack$$$$Extremely high quality construction and well thought out pocket design make this a flexible and practical bag for real-world use. Molle integration along with hydration bladder compatibility mean easy customization to suit your exact needs.
Maxpedition Falcon II Backpack$$$Tough ballistic nylon construction protects gear and stands up to any conditions. Compact size keeps shape even when full making it easy to stash at work. Removable waist and chest straps distribute weight evenly.
Explorer Tactical Assault Pack
Backpack$Sturdy option at an economical price. Plenty of MOLLE attachment points and straps to carry extra gear. Multiple compartments ideal for easily accessing Level 1 items. Padded straps provide comfort for prolonged wear.
ALPS OutdoorZ Little Bear Hunting Lumbar Pack Lumbar Pack$Compact with mulitple compartments. Removable straps offer improved weight distribution.
Mountainsmith Lumbar Backpack Lumbar Pack$$Reinforced with high tenacity nylon wide. 14L capacity and extra mesh pockets on the waistband provide sufficient storage space for its compact profile. Shoulder strap pad for messenger carry or separately purchase Mountainsmith Strapettes for additional carrying options.
High Sierra Diplomat Lumbar Pack Lumbar Pack$HEX_VENT mesh padded back panel wicks moisture. Multiple compartments and 2 external water bottle holders (BPA-free bottles included). Webbing and tuck-away mesh pouch for loading additional gear.
Rapid Dominance Classic Military Messenger Bag Messenger Bag$Cotton canvas with polyester lining. Large 16L capacity and 2 inch wide comfort strap to handle larger loads. Subtle appearance conceals its purpose.
UTG Urban Messenger Bag Messenger Bag$No top flap enables all compartments to be readily accessible while on the move. Specialized slots for holding tools. Detachable pistol holster with belt loop. Discreet for daily carry.
Maxpedition Last Resort Tactical Attache Messenger Bag$$$Heavy duty water resistant nylon exterior. Removable divider lends to customizing main compartment. Multiple hook and loop pockets for smaller gear.
Camelbak HAWG 100 oz Hydration Pack Hydration Pack$$$Sufficient gear storage capacity plus 3L hydration bladder. High density nylon harness with EVA foam shoulder padding. MOLLE attachments on front panel for additional gear.
CamelBak M.U.L.E. 100 oz Hydration Pack Hydration Pack$$$Separated compartments for Level organization. Compact size easy to manuever thrrough crowds. Multiple hydration tubing exit points. fleece-lined pouch ideal for safely storing eyewear.
Osprey Men's Manta 36 Hydration Pack Hydration Pack$$$Weather protected with integrated raincover. Over 30L capacity rivals a backpack and hipbelt provides support for heavier loads. Airspeed suspension and BioStretch harness team up for a comfortable and ventilated fit.

The INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) Bag

Designed to help you survive for: up to a few months

People who prefer INCH bags are planning to survive harsher conditions and longer periods of time without a permanent shelter. A bug out bag can take you to your bug out location but if you’re not able to get there within a few days, maybe a week, surviving is going to be very tough for you. An INCH bag assumes your home and your bug-out location are compromised.

Choosing The Best Type Of Survival Bag
Your INCH bag should include gear for making fire, as well as means of obtaining and preparing food.

The contents of an INCH bag is very similar to that of the BOB although more items will be required. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to get more food but more ways to procure that food. Keep in mind you might be forced to live in the wilderness for months on end and even have to make a permanent shelter with your bare hands.

The EDC (Everyday Carry) Kit

Designed to help you survive for: up to a few hours.

The everyday carry kit is the smallest “bag” you can have. I wrote bag inside quotation marks because you don’t really need one. Your EDC is all about the items you carry with you on a daily basis when to help you get away from danger and to one of your other survival bags.

Items that could be a part of your EDC: your phone, wallet, a small flashlight, a button compass, paper clips, a Paracord bracelet, a Bic lighter, a bandanna and so on. They are only limited by the number of pockets you have and by how much you’re willing to carry with you every single day.

The funny thing is that even with EDCs, you may not have all the items with you at all times. Your phone is within a couple of feet from you most of the time but sometimes you forget (or just leave it) when you go about your day. Your flashlight or multitool may be uncomfortable to keep in your pocket. That is where having a designated EDC bag can come in handy.

Your EDC kit may fit easily in a small pouch or you may prefer a messenger bag or backpack that can fit your laptop and other larger items. For help choosing an EDC bag, CLICK HERE.

Can One Survival Bag Double As The Other?

Definitely! Your EDC can also be your GHB or your GHB can act as your BOB. It depends on a lot of things but I think the factor that matters the most is your lifestyle.

For example, if you’re travelling a lot by car then it makes sense that your get-home bag and your bug-out bag are one and the same and safely secured in your trunk. Spending so much time around the car, it may not make much sense to have both (unless you’re more advanced and you don’t mind the extra investment).

Choosing The Best Type Of Survival Bag
Whichever bag you choose, the most important thing is that it equips you for YOUR survival situation.

Another example is when you’re taking your laptop to work each day and you have one of those backpacks that can fit any portable computer nicely. That backpack plus whatever you have in your pockets can make a nice EDC-GHB combination for urban environments starting from the premise that you’ll have that bag near you at all times.

Final word…

The issue with these acronyms is not that they exist. The real problem is that people think in terms of “Hey, I gotta have this or that type of bag” instead of thinking about all the various scenarios that may occur and then making their choice.

So, what you should be asking yourself are things like “Well, if I’m stuck in the city and all the means of transportation suddenly stop working, how do I get home?” Questions like these help you narrow down the events with the highest likelihood of occurring so you can figure out which items you need so you can FINALLY figure out which survival bag to get.

I hope that makes sense and that you assemble the right bag(s) for you and feel confident you’ve made the right choice.

Your Thoughts

Have you started building a BOB, GHB, INCH, or EDC kit? Do you agree that a 72-hour pack is a weaker option for most preppers? How do you handle overlap in the purpose of each bag? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, thanks!

About the Author

Dan F. Sullivan runs SurvivalSullivan.com.  He describes himself as:

My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don’t take orders from anyone. I’m taking matters into my own hands so I’m not just preparing, I’m going to friggin’ war!

Chris

Chris Ruiz

My name is Chris and I created this site to help ordinary people prepare for the uncertainties of the modern day world. I believe that a well-prepared society is the best safeguard against any natural or manmade disaster.

8 comments on “BOB, GHB, EDC, INCH… Which Survival “Bag” Is Right for You?

  1. Just to be clear, your objection to “72-Hour Bags” is specifically to the pre-loaded “kits” by that name, not to any bag that includes food/water/supplies for 72 hours. For me, 72 hours of supplies is a reasonable goal to strive for. In your section on Bug Out Bags, you recommend a week of supplies, which for me would be way too much weight. In either case, I think your assumption is that some water can be found along the way and filtered/sterilized, if required. Not that one should try to carry that much water in the bag/pack. BTW–I like the idea of having both an EDC and a 3-day BOB, planning on wearing/carrying both if at all possible. My idea is that the EDC contains self-defense item(s) and personal items such as cellphone, cash, cards, car keys–things you need at the first moment of a crisis. You carry the EDC on the way to retrieving your BOB, then do the bugging out. I try to keep my EDC always within reach, by my bedside and in my car’s front seat. Because I’m on the road and away from home a lot, my BOB stays in the trunk of my car, not in my closet at home. So, I feel prepared for scenarios to include home invasion, being stranded while in my car, attempted assault or car-jacking in a parking lot, severe weather (e.g., tornado), as well as the less probable SHTF cases.

  2. I think there is a tendency to get too tied up in names and formulas.
    A good example of this is the difference between a BOB and a 72 hour bag.
    My concept is that they both have a similar function which is to get you out of somewhere you are, and into somewhere you want to be.
    That may be 72 hours, but possibly not.
    The key consideration for me is that when you want to get OUT of somewhere, the place you want to leave is not a good place to be. It will usually be an urban area, and it will usually be inhabited by a large number of people or groups who have no regard for your rights, and no intention of letting you leave with anything of value.
    So the idea of marching down the street with a pack loaded with valuable items is almost laughable.
    Great if you can do it, but not likely to be achievable in many cases.
    So to me, a BOB is really a bug out kit, which can be carried on your person. Mine consists of what I can carry in my pockets, around my neck, and on my belt (albeit a military belt with pouches and water bottles).
    That kit will provide me with enough water to last for 24 hours, and the kit to enable me to survive for much longer (ferrocerium rod, water filters, knives, cordage, first aid, light, etc).
    But more importantly, the role of that kit is to get me to a cache outside of town that contains the supplies to get me to my next location or my BOL. That cache will have the 72 hour bag (or equivalent).
    There will then be an additional cache or supplies at my BOL.
    Now I have all the bags, kits and backpacks that if I have the opportunity I will load into my car and drive out of town with. But worst case, if town is a hostile environment and I have to walk out of that hostile environment, it will be with nothing but a belt and a hydration pack, and my next objective is a cache outside of town.
    An honestly, if I have nothing but a knife I’ll be happy!

    1. Hey Jacko,
      There are many approaches and the one(s) you outline seem very well thought out and sound. Thanks for sharing!

      Chris

  3. I think that it’s very important to have a specific philosophy/mentality when creating ANY kind of “prep bag.” As such, I do think that there IS a distinction to be made between the BOB and the 72-HR kit. I think that the 72-HR kit is built around the philosophy that IDEALLY, you should be NO MORE than 72 hours (arguably by foot) from your BOL, while a BOB is built around the philosophy that you, for whatever reason, necessarily take more than 72 hours (arguably up to a week) to get to your BOL.

    1. Hey Andy,
      You are right, it is easy to get caught up in the acronyms. I think the philosophy/mentality you take is a good one and you could base any useful survival kit on it.

      Thanks,
      Chris

    2. Andy, I agree. In more military terms, I’d say one needs to think of the possible “missions” that your bag(s) need to support. What is the crisis/threat instigating the mission? Duration of mission? Possible scenarios that could play out during the mission? What can you depend on, and not depend on, during the mission? I know there are countless reasons to be prepared. Myself, I plan less for end-of-the-world scenarios than things that are quite probable, either because they have ALREADY happened to me before, or there is legitimate reason to believe they COULD happen where I live: house break-ins, car stuck in hours of traffic during inclement weather, I find myself in my car in the middle of a race riot, a tornado or hurricane strike (don’t forget that looting often happens after a natural disaster). I’ve actually had one incident recently where I needed to grab my EDC bag and bug out to a neighbor’s house. I was so, so glad I was prepared. The incident turned out OK, partly out of good fortune, but also because of good planning: my EDC (by my bedside) had my car key, cell phone (fully charged plus extra fully charged battery), and weapon. Sounds nutty, maybe, but also because I knew the situation was possible, I was sleeping in clothes and shoes–which allowed me to get out of bed and bug out in literally seconds. Andy is right that being prepared is a “mentality”, not just a bag.

  4. I carry a GHB-type of bag, but I consider it my EDC bag. When I think of EDC, the acronym that comes to mind is Essential Daily Carry. What I mean when I use the word essential is that, yes I carry the everyday items that I need to successfully to go about an average day (wallet with cash and cards, keys, etc.), but I also carry items that, in the likely even that I don’t have my BOB within an arm’s reach distance as is commonly recommended and I’m far away from it (I don’t travel much so I keep my BOB at home) when a catastrophic event occurs and I can’t get back to my BOB for whatever reason, I will make it just fine. I outfit my EDC (my version) using a philosophy that I call “The Five Pillars of Well-Being.” They are:

    1.) Warmth
    2.) Shelter
    3.) Food/water procurement
    4.) Basic medical needs (including necessary items for a condition)
    5.) Self-defense/personal safety

    The growing trend to compact and multi-purpose survival gear really helps me in this endeavor.

  5. I find it inch bag with with rocket pouches that can convert into a daybag can conquer everything that’s just listed a good example is the plce British rucksack with the Yoke system the side pouches can zip together to form a day pack which can serve as a get home bag everyday carry bag the British military plce rucksack is an all-around good bag with internal frame

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