GOTH Kit – Example

GOTH (Go to Hell) Kit

This post is largely an excerpt from my book: The Simple Survival Smart Book available as paperback, kindle, or audiobook from Amazon.

It struck me recently that I have made several posts in the past about what kits to use/have immediately available in a crisis but I have not posted an example.  This post is an attempt to begin to rectify that.  Let me preface this post by saying that there is tons of advice and checklists available in books and on the internet about the kinds of kits to have, how many, and what to put in them.  This is none example and is the one I have in all my family’s vehicles.

What kit and/or kits each person builds is going to reflect their appreciation of what they need as well as what level of resources they have to devote to preparedness.  There probably is no 100% correct answer when it comes to what to put into a kit as everyone’s needs and requirements are a little different.  I have three kits that I keep prepared at all times.  The GOTH kit that is the subject of this post, a Semi-BOB (Bugout Bag) that I tote around with me everywhere, and a larger BOB Bag based off an ALICE ruck that I keep in the basement if I have to unass the house in a hurry.  The GOTH is not so much a survival kit, although it has that function, as an everyday emergency kit that has everything needed for two people to survive in relative comfort for 24-28 hours except for water of which I always have a ½ gallon or so in my vehicle anyway.

Now, the thing to remember when planning any kit be it GOTH, BOB, or household storage is that there is no single correct answer.  That is because everybody’s needs are different.  Sure, there are general needs that everybody is going to have such as food, clean water, shelter, first aid supplies, and fire making. Everyone is also going to have specific needs that only apply to them such as glasses, medicine, specific dietary requirements, perhaps even disabilities that must be accounted for.  The kit I describe is pretty generic and it works for me because other than wearing glasses I have no specific requirements and I am not going to carry spare glasses in my car kit anyway as I already have a pair in my glove box.

As you plan your kit take care to keep space limitations and absolute necessities in mind.  A mistake that everybody makes when planning kits is taking too much.  In a SHTF scenario too much gear can be just as deadly as too little.  An analogy is the gear soldiers take into combat.  Every new guy to combat tends to tote too much gear.  Gear they don’t need and won’t use but have decided they have got to have.  As you gain experience you start to throw things away or leave it in the rear and strip your gear down to bare essentials.  Since you won’t be able to use your kit in a real-life SHTF scenario until very bad things happen planning and practice will have to make up for the real thing.  If possible, try to do an experiment and live off your gear for a few days to figure out what is essential and what is not.

Lastly, quality matters.  Prepping can be expensive and while it is possible to prep on a budget there are some things you absolutely don’t want to pinch pennies on and water filtration is one of them as are storage food and a good knife.  How ironic would it be if you got everything together, have to use and die from some food or waterborne illness or your blade breaks with no replacement because you decided to go cheap?  Like everything else in life, where survival is concerned nothing beats careful thought, consideration, and planning.


This compact kit can be carried in the car, on the boat, or in a small ruck/backpack while hunting, hiking, exploring, etc.  Most of the contents will fit in an Army 7.62mm ammo can which doubles as a pot for melting snow and device with which to dig an emergency snow shelter. (However, if you can carry it, include a small shovel.  It is far, far better than trying to use an ammo can.)

GOTH Kit laid out

Carrying container

  • US Army Surplus 7.62mm ammo can (can be purchased at local Army Surplus tore or online)

General Items

  • 550 Parachute Cord (25 feet)
  • Signal Mirror
  • Matches (2 boxes)
  • Magnesium Fire Starter
  • Bic® Lighter
  • 40 Alcohol prep-pads for first-aid & use as fire starters
  • Compass (learn how to use)
  • Paper and pencil
  • Fishing line, hooks, split shot leads
  • Pocketknife
  • P-38 GI Can Opener
  • Money
  • Garbage Bags (3 large size bags)
  • Dental floss (It’s strong and useful as thread for sewing, fishing line, or for lashing branches for improvised shelters.)
  • Gardening Hand-Shovel (carried externally)

First Aid Kit (Recommended contents)

  • Moleskin
  • Sterile pads (2 x 2 and 4 x 4)
  • Sterile Gauze
  • Neosporin
  • Band-Aids
  • Aspirin
  • First Aid Tape

Food & Water

  • Water Filter Straw
  • Iodine Water Purification Tablets
  • Emergency Rations (3 day supply for one person)

Optional/Nice to Have Items

  • Instant Soup or tea (3-4 packages)
  • Camp Cup/Canteen Cup
  • Emergency Wire Saw
  • Emergency Tent
  • Campfire starter sticks (optional)

GOTH Kit packed

All contents will fit in a US Army Surplus ammo can, I use a 7.62mm can that I have from long ago. It is waterproof and closes very securely.  If there is extra room (there should not be) you can keep things from rattling in the can by wadding up some wax paper and stuffing it around the items.  The wax paper stays dry and also doubles as a fire starter.

My G.O.T.H. Kit weighs 8.5 lbs. and the ammo can fits perfectly behind the back seat of my pickup.

Using Pine Wood as a Water Filter

Found an interesting article from MIT this morning that discusses using fresh pine sapwood as an improvised water filter. It requires some materials that most people will not have in the BOB or GOTH/INCH bags but it is an interesting idea to say the least.  The article was published in the online open access journal PLOSOne by some researchers from MIT.  Here is the link:  Water Filtration Using Plant Xylem

Pine Water Filter with flow rate charts

Pine Water Filter with flow rate charts

All they did was test the method to see about bacteria filtration.  The bacteria they used was E. Coli and they managed to separate out 99.9% of the bacteria using this method.  Essentially, what you do is take a piece of pine sapwood roughly 1cm in diameter and strip off the bark and outer wood until you just have the spongy inner heartwood.  Then take an appropriately size piece of tubing and clamp the hose over the stick with a hose clamp.  Fill the tube with water and let the water work its way through the natural capillary system of the wood.

According to the article with a sufficient gravity head on the water to be filtered there is a potential of filtering upwards of 4lL/day with this method, which is enough for one person.  One thing the article does mention is that dried wood does a much poorer job of filtering and also has a much lower flow rate.  It is an interesting article and neat idea but don’t throw your Sawyer Mini Water Filter away just yet.

I might try this out.


The Quest for a Modified ALICE Ruck

A quick update on the rucksack search.  I have found a couple of shops that might be able to do the mod to an ALICE ruck I am looking for.  Getting one created is much more difficult than I at first thought.  There are plenty of places that will make one but they want you to place an order for a minimum number of units (typically 100 or more) up-front.

I am going to take the ruck I have and get it modified and then wear it for a while to see how it fits.  It could be that modding it to make it modular just throws the weight off and I will be kicking myself in the ass for ruining a good ruck.  We will see.  I will be lucky to have the work done and the ruck back by mid-January I think.

If the mod works out and I like it I will think seriously about trying to raise the funds to have a first production run manufactured.  It looks like unit cost for the first production run, what the army limited production, will be in the neighborhood of $75-$125 per excluding design costs.  I am going to pursue this because I am just unsatisfied with the options out there for a good ruck that does not weigh a ton, is modular, but is not full of little pockets inside that generally just fill up with extraneous crap.

The bug bear when building a kit, GOTH or BOB, is striking a balance between what you need and what you want without making your ruck so heavy it becomes impractical.  More is not always better when you are talking about something you have to hump around on your back for an indeterminate amount of time.  That is the reason the rear areas of armies on the move has always been littered with discarded equipment.  Soldiers keep what they need on campaign and nothing more.  That should be the guide when setting up your kit as well.

Hack for packing your BOB and/or GOTH bag.

I have a vacuum sealer that I use for food storage. I also use it to vacuum pack individual clothing items and other stuff that I don’t want to get wet that are in my pre-packed bags. I actually started doing this while in the Army because while the army gives you a wet-weather bag to line your ruck with, that thing always leaks somewhere.
I started out using ziploc freezer bags when I was a private and I still carry some but since I just keep my BOB/GOTH bags packed and don’t use the stuff in it unless it is time to rotate I vacuum pack all the clothes and have made some individual meal packs as well. This helps to keep the bag organized and also means that the clothes will not get musty if some dampness seeps into the ruck (I keep my bag in my basement).

A pair of vacuum packed socks

A pair of vacuum packed socks