Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Get-home Bag

Score! Yesterday, I stopped at Home Depot on the way home from classes. I found five-gallon buckets, with lids, on sale. Serious sale - nearly half off, in fact. They're the bright-orange, Home Depot buckets, suitable for paint and other such things. I paid $20.35 for five buckets and lids. That's cheaper than Walmart's usual price for thinner, cruddier buckets.


Until recently, I didn’t really give much thought to having a get-home bag. Oh, yeah, I made sure that I had gear on hand to deal with car trouble – that began when I started driving, after all. I’ve always kept things like spare tires, extra bulbs and fuses, et cetera, in any vehicle I’ve driven. But recently, I put together my first get-home bag, and I’m pleased with the results so far.

The first thing that I packed was a complete change of clothes. Texas weather is crazy, so I packed more than one shirt. That way, I can layer if it’s cooler. I also have a hoodie in the bag, in case the weather is what passes for “cold” here.

My clothes went into a Food Saver bag, which I vacuum sealed. Sucking out all the air in the bag gave me a little more space, which is almost always a plus. The Food Saver bag also protects my clothes from moisture, dust, et cetera, so I don’t have to worry about something happening to my things while they’re riding around in the car with me.

The Food Saver bag went into a large Ziploc bag. I’m talking about the non-food version (“Big Bags”) with the double zipper and carry handles. This bag, on initial inspection, appears to be sturdy. Pulling open the double zipper requires a bit of effort, which means that it’s well sealed. I like that. The handles make the whole thing easier to carry and, if I have to change out of wet or filthy clothes, I can stuff them into this bag. (I will, however, let you know if my initial impressions of this bag’s durability are inaccurate. So far, so good, though.)

Speaking of this sort of thing: avoid Space Bags. They’re poorly-made, malfunctioning, worthless crap if you ask me.

I bought a box of assorted Space Bags a couple of years ago, thinking that I could store winter clothes in them. They’re made of flimsy plastic, and more than one of them tore. (Yes, I followed the directions – didn’t overfill the bags or anything like that.) You’re supposed to be able to suck the air out of each bag with your vacuum cleaner's hose attachment, but that doesn’t always work. Sometimes, I went back to a bag that was stored underneath my bed and found the stupid thing full of air again because the seal around the vacuum-hose port failed. Complete waste of money if you ask me.

My handy-dandy get-home bag also includes snacks, bottled water, and individual pouches of Gatorade mix. I've added a fleece blanket, maps of alternate routes to and from school, and a few other assorted items, like a good flashlight. I put together a first-aid kit, too, and bought a roll of fluorescent-orange duct tape to add to the bag. Why I'm so jazzed about having bright-orange tape is beyond me. Maybe I'm easily amused. But it was the same price as the standard, silver stuff, so why not, right?

Mom was, as usual, extremely helpful. Her head's crammed full of random knowledge, facts, and good ideas. If you want good advice on how to do something, go ask her, because she usually has an answer.

The first thing that she suggested was to put a couple of unscented maxi pads into my first-aid kit. This makes perfect sense, because these pads didn't begin their lives as feminine-hygiene products. Before I came into existence, they were bandages/wound dressings for military personnel. They can still do that job, so I threw in a couple of them when I put together my kit. They'll absorb a lot of blood, and you can use medical tape to secure them.

This being my first attempt at a get-home bag, I'm sure that I've forgotten something important. However, I was already carrying other, important gear on my person - like my folding knife - before I started thinking about this bag. Things like my gun, cell phone, et cetera aren't in the get-home bag, so they aren't mentioned here. I have more gear than my seemingly-short list indicates, and I'll be sure to continue adding to, and changing, the bag as I continue using it and thinking about it.

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“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George OrwellAnimal Farm