A Subtle Inconspicuous Get-Home-Bag For Urban Every Day Carry

An important topic for every-day preparedness is the GHB (Get-Home-Bag) or whatever you want to call it — a simple kit of preps, supplies, gear — to help you get home.

Get home from where? From work! How many hours each day do you spend away from home at work? What if “something” happened while you were there which hindered your ability to get back home the way you normally would?

We could hypothesize all sorts of potential scenarios varying from minor to worst-case which “could” happen during the day away from home. The thing is though, having a bit of “kit” may help you out when you need it most.

Many, many people work in Urban areas. For those who do, how might you inconspicuously every-day-carry (EDC) this kit to work without standing out like a sore thumb?

Since it would probably be a bit conspicuous to carry a stuffed backpack every day to work, one reader here on MSB recently emailed and suggested the following inconspicuous type of every-day-carry bag for the urban worker, and I thought I would pass along the idea:


Computer / Laptop / Tech bags

“These may be good choices for every day carry or get home bags in urban areas. They have multiple pockets and sufficient capacity for 2-3 days worth of food, water, etc, while blending in with what a noticeable segment of the populace carries.”

He’s right! Having worked many years myself in an Urban city (the commute was horrible!) I can attest to the fact that many or most people carry some sort of “tech” bag. Some of them carry a hard cased bag while many or most would carry a soft bag of one form factor or anther – slung over the shoulder.

It’s what’s “normal” for that environment.

During the years when I worked in the city, I went through a variety of these bags and I always carried some “kit” within. I also kept some supplies at my work area too, however the shoulder bag was best because it was always with me during commute and readily accessible at work or wherever I chose to go with it during my work day.

It’s not like you need to keep a ton of stuff in there – although some of us would like to be able to!

Even if you don’t normally carry one of these bags but are concerned about preparedness while in an urban environment, you might consider this EDC technique as an option. Even if you don’t work there and are just going there for one reason or another (a trip perhaps?), it’s a great way to carry kit items while fitting in with the environment.

The last bag that I carried during my previous career was a Maxpedition (they make a wide variety of bags). I still have the bag to this day and it looks as good as new. They are well built and tough! I couldn’t find the exact same one on Amazon to show you, but I’ll link a few others for your interest:

Maxpedition Vesper Tactical Laptop Messenger Bag

5.11 Tactical Rush Delivery LIMA EDC Messenger Bag

So there aren’t too many more words to embellish the notion, except maybe asking…

What kind of EDC bag have you carried in the past (or present?)

What you would consider carrying in such a bag if you worked in an urban (or suburban) area where this is the “norm”?


  1. I have a 50 mile commute into a major urban center daily. I am currently using a Columbia manifest day-pack. It has enough room for my actual work related items “laptop, sound dampening headphones, random tech books”. It has a number of great pockets and I am able to carry a small medical kit, 64 ounce Klean Kanteen, sawyer water filter, altoid tin fishing kit, and a few thousand calories worth of power bars and other snack style foods I can cycle through. If I couldn’t get to my truck in the parking lot, this would help me get through a few days. My truck on the other hand has a lot more supplies in a duffle bag, what I would do with that depends on the exact emergency situation I was facing.

    All of this comes together in a pack that doesn’t look over stuffed or like I’m heading out into the jungle.

  2. The EDC I use is just an back pack I picked up at Sam’s. Contents: First aid kit, small canister of mace, 50 rounds of 45cal ammo, extra mags, extra socks, poncho, flash light, energy bars, a folding knife, a pull over hoodie, baseball cap, light weight leather gloves, small binoculars, small emergency radio, a walkie talkie, (Midland X Talker), with earpiece. The last two items are inside a small, well insulated, metal box that serves as a Faraday cage. I also carry a full face respirator inside my P/U truck with NBC cartridges.

    When I travel more than 100 miles away from home I place my BOB in my truck.
    I don’t use commercial airlines to travel anymore because I refuse to have my rights violated.

    1. I’m with you on that traveling thing, I’ll be damned if I let any government “official” scan me or scrutinize me just so I can go from point A to point B.

  3. At work they will be checking bags so I need to go minimal. I use tote bags or backpacks for my purse. I live very close to work. One thing is if the building is in lock-down. I have a can of tuna in my desk drawer along with a manual can opener The last time the building was in lock-down some people had no lunch. Anyone who insisted in leaving the building was not permitted re entry.

    I do not have anything religious or political in my office, nor any family photos. I also refuse to be photographed for social events because I do not trust where these photos may end up. I skip the social functions wherever possible and just focus on my tasks. I believe that my workplace, along with my nation, is hostile to Christians, even mainstream ones. I try to wear grey person clothes to work in case of an active shooter situation. Bright fuscia will be noticed more. My weekend home clothes are brighter than my work clothes. I do not trust my nation to protect me. I also do not travel to Europe where the tourists’ lives are not valued. Travel is the least of my priorities.

    1. Good point on the grey person clothes. Not calling attention to yourself is paramount.

    2. @lady Jane

      About that can of tuna and can opener – if no can opener is available, rub the can back and forth on concrete or a flat stone. Wipe the lid off. Squeeze the can and the lid will come loose. It depends on how much pressure you apply and how long you do it for before it will work. Great fun experimenting!

      Stay frosty.

  4. Just a nondescript camouflage day pack big enough to carry one change of clothes and socks, towel, tooth brush and paste, first aid kit, hunting knife and other protective devices, Leatherman, fire starters, space blanket, poncho, and a couple bottles of water. There is room left for any miscellaneous stuff I pick up on the way, yet small enough to sling over one shoulder or toss on the floor in the corner without attracting attention. It looks like something a student or poor person would be carrying.

    The two bags shown at the links you provided are inexpensive, nice and utilitarian and would make a really great bug out or get home bag. Actually, they probably are a little too nice. If I were a bad guy, they would certainly piqué my interest as they look higher end, like the owner might be carrying something else of interest worth taking. Not something I’d want to be carrying around town or leaving on the floor of my vehicle. Just saying. They are nice though. Thanks.

  5. Although currently not employed, when I was working I carried a soft-sided small insulated lunch bag. Of course it carried my lunch, but if I needed to get home I could just move needed items out of my GHB and carry it in the lunch bag if the distance was short enough where I didn’t need my GHB.

    1. I forgot to mention that I would first fill my pockets on whatever jacket I was wearing at the time. When purchasing a jacket, the first thing I look for is multiple pockets.

      When I was able to hike, my EDC was a fishing vest with 8 pockets that carried everything I would need for a hike along with emergency items. In an urban environment this might stand out a bit, but not here in the country.

  6. Timing is a priority with me. I estimated that I would have about 4 to 6 hours to get out of the city before the shock of what happened wears off and the sheeple go into full blown panic. I built a small bicycle that fit behind the seats of my small car with a black blanket covering it. Passers by had no idea there was anything back there and I worked in a really bad area of the city. On the bicycle I could travel at 10 to 15 MPH. on foot about 3 to 4 MPH. Taking my travel time from 10 to 12 hours to about 3 hours. I also carried a change of clothes for the gray man look.

    1. In London and Tokyo there havebeen Get Back Home scenarios where public transport shut down. The first item to sell out is bicycles. A small folding bike in your car is like a lifeboat on a ship or a parachute on a plane, you can exit in otherways but it eases the shock.

      1. I agree very much regarding a small folding bike. Plus, it’s good exercise and enjoyable to ride a bike!

      2. The comment about a parachute on a plane.

        Dh said he would fly again when the commercial planes let him bring his own parachute on board. Do not believe they would be to happy with him.

  7. We very rarely go to the city. A small city is 70 miles one way and the big one is 160 miles one way. Wherever we go we always have 2 backpacks in our vehicle with supplies for overnight camping to get home. We can’t go anywhere around here that is less than 1 days travel home. We are also always armed. If we have to go to the big city we are on high alert as it has become so violent. They steal 22 cars a day not to mention daily murders.
    Our only problem now is we have aged a bit and are having trouble lifting the backpacks. We are going to have to lighten them up a bit.

    1. We also have had to pare down what we put in our GHB. What I could carry 10 years ago I struggle with now. It’s down to the bare essentials for us.

      1. Hi Peanut Gallery!
        How about using a folding child’s stroller?
        Just thinking out loud :)
        luv ya’ll, Beach’n

        1. Have one, and we use it too! And NOT for wee ones, for our extra gear, no one, gives either of we two middle aged people a sideways glance. Guess no one wants to help with the diaper changing either. Of course, it might be the “camo” empty bag of Depends that is usually visible….(extra ammo is in there.)
          Go grey, all the way.

  8. I do not understand why a company that has only office workers needs to be in the heart of the urban jungle. I seems that many have not taken advantage of the decentralization that modern communications afford.

    But, if I was in that situation and foot travel was necessary, I might have a change of tattered clothes in my vehicle with a smaller grocery cart. The cart would be stocked with useless junk hiding my good stuff underneath. In this case I would not even have to pretend to be nuts to scare away others.

    1. My office moved to the suburbs from the central part of the city. This afforded me to move from a condo across from the office complex to a freehold townhouse less than a 10 minute walk away. Most people who commute drive rather than use the poor public transit, a risk in today’s world. Much more space for prepping. Public transit was built to serve commuters going into town in the morning and returning to the burbs in the evening. With high central office rent, more and more employers are decentralising.

  9. We have multiple bags for different purposes. Both vehicles have a GHB. These are just regular backpacks and were picked to blend in with what other people in our area might be carrying. One is more suited for hiking, the other is just a school backpack. They contain a med kit, Life-straw, folding knife, fixed blade knife, two bottles of water, 5 oz of silver, $100 cash, compass, matches, lighter, fire steel, facial tissues, multi-tool, 100 rounds .380 and 100 rounds .45, 100 feet of 550 cord, CBN Israeli gas mask, CBN suite and gloves, rain poncho, black sharpie, pen and paper, flashlight, spare batteries, and ibuprofen. I’m sure I forgot a few things. These bags are over-packed and depending on the emergency, some items would be left behind if they were not needed. There is also a tool kit, hand crank flashlight, glow sticks, larger medical kit, and rifle with multiple mags and ammo in each vehicle. My vehicle also has my Sheriff turnout bag, which contains a medical trauma kit, several hundred more rounds of ammo, additional mags, O.C. (mace), handcuffs, law enforcement radio, multiple knifes, flashlights, etc.

    My EDC is a tech bag for my laptop. I always have some cash, silver, and a med kit in it as well. I very rarely do not have immediate access to my vehicle. On those rare occasions, I will pack additional items into my EDC bag.

    Our Bug out Bags are camo patterned and more military looking. We live pretty far from the nearest town and plan on bugging in. If we are using the BOB’s, the S has hit the fan, and all bets are off. We would more than likely be on foot and traveling at night. The items in these bags are more geared for camping and self defense along with some barter items. The kids all have bags too.

  10. I never thought about a GHB until 9/11. All those people walking, not allowed to drive over bridges or tunnels.
    All those unarmed people got very lucky that day since no police were around expect at Ground Zero.
    All my vehicles have GHB now, with a back-up rifle and pistol.

    1. I remember seeing that image too. Sometimes it takes a disaster to realize that normalcy bias can be a dangerous thing.

  11. Wellllll, I guess the title of the article tosses me right off the chart.

    My GHB/EDC needs to carry enough for a 3-4 days trip (or 2.5 days “Lights Out”) so I have it (GHB) in the vehicle I’m driving that particular day. In the same breath, my EDC is a small soft side laptop bag, even carries my laptop for when I go into places where I’ll be more than 100 feet from my truck/GHB; such as meetings, Job-Site visits, so-on. Basically it’s a very small version of the GHB including a firearm of its own, food, water, so-on. To the typical sheeply one could not tell I could live out of the EDC for a day in itself.

    I have never been questioned about the EDC even from the security/rent-a-cops that try to harass ya as one does their job, I just tell them that want to “inspect” my EDC, get a warrant and we’ll talk, or call your boss and let them know your detaining me. Usually does the trick, or I just turn around and walk, speaking oven my shoulder “Let XYZ know you turned the guy away that was here to fix the security system”.

    “What you would consider carrying in such a bag if you worked in an urban (or suburban) area where this is the “norm”?”

    My EDC carry; 2 cheap plastic bottles water (those actually hang on the outside ends of the bag), a dozen ‘energy bars’, extra socks and underwear (vacuumed down), Boone Hat, Compact 45ACP & 2 Mags, Gloves, 2-Bic lighters, $100 in small bills, Small Flashlight, Med Kit, Folding Knife, a small roll of TP Vacuumed down, Extra pair of glasses, and of course a small lap-top, paper, pens hanging on the outside, and I roll up small POS local newspaper and slide it under the carrying handle.

    If I can’t get back to my truck to get the GHB, I figure I’m going to hunker down for a day, maybe two, than get my GHB and head out for the Casa.

    Sure hope I don’t need it.

    1. NRP

      Don’t forget that you can carry or wear needed stuff in a way that some might look at but dismiss as a redneck thing. Good walking boots, waterproof coat, pants and vest that have extra pockets for discrete storage of stuff, big handkerchiefs, paracord bracelet, boot knife, … and so much more for your individual circumstances.

      1. So you say how can I dress down when attending business meetings? I have a friend that has a consulting company that does project management for owners and investors of large construction projects. This person dresses casually as I described above and is usually ignored at boardroom meetings – until he sheds light on parts of the discussion that have been overlooked or are not accurate. It is common for a room full of engineers and architects to consider themselves superior. By the time the meetings are over, this friend always has the so called professionals approach to garner more information regarding ways projects can be done faster, cheaper, …. needless to say that the ability of a person outweighs the three piece suit. Word does get around in the industry.

  12. My earlier post received an error – so trying it again…

    My GHB is a day-pack – very nondescript blue but well-made. It looks like something a student might wear to school – and I’ve seen plenty of folks at area bus stops with similar-looking day packs. Very ordinary/common. I like this better than carrying a single-strap bag that I would have to switch back and forth from shoulder-to-shoulder as I go.

    Because of the area I would be traveling in between office and home, I think I am better off with this pack than a messenger style bag because that type of bag would stand out more, and might look more valuable. A big note, I will NOT be carrying a purse – if I need to walk home everything of value will go into my pockets and day-pack. I can picture all sorts of ladies walking around in high heels with oversized purses in their hands along with their cell phones as they try to figure out what to do. That will not be me.

    Off the top of my head, I carry: water bottles, a life straw and extra bottle with filter. I have protein bars, a bag of mixed hard candy, a pepper spray, a big loud whistle, extra socks, smashable hat, sunscreen, small 1st aid kit, a mini repair kit with shoelaces and safety pins, a 4-way valve opener, a portable radio and small but bright flashlight (plus batteries) in a Faraday bag, lighters and fire starter (just in case), a roll of TP, a small can opener, cash in small bills, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few things. If I was leaving from the office I could also add canned goods, vitamins, etc… from my desk-drawer stash if I wanted to.

    Now that I think about it, I think I should add a small thing of mosquito repellant – mosquitoes seem to love me and it’s that time of year.

  13. When I worked in a large, multi-story office building, one of the things I kept in my shirt pocket was a very small, reliable key-chain LED flashlight. Ever been in an elevator when the power goes out? Unpleasant. Also, a cyalume light stick will give light for about 8 hours. They are also very handy to have around.

  14. If I’m going more than 50 miles I have a gym bag I’ve used in the past we live in a not so good area so I bring my shotgun and around 50 rounds. I have 2 knives in the bag and a kukri along with some diff. kinds of food and I have fishing vest that are in the bag that’s got food a mylar blanket and some fire-starting gear matches lighters and homemade fire-starters so I’m pretty much set.

  15. I travel for work constantly and utilize numerous systems. If air travel I just have my list of what to grab wherever I am. Thank goodness I am out of OCONUS travel as it always had me concerned about how to get home. CONUS is easier, once I have determined I need to get home by other means I hit the store and go through my list. If traveling in town, I keep enough supplies scattered throughout the truck to throw in a backpack I leave in the vehicle with minimal supplies. If over 30 miles I throw in the serious bag with enough to stretch it 5 days. I just finished reading the book “Going Home”. This made me reconsider many items in my bag and I added more food, a tent and enough extras to cover another person if I stretch the supplies. Having a little one in the vehicle makes it even more challenging, thus the tent and sleeping bag vs. my tarp and blanket.

  16. Forgot to add. First thing I do in any new city I visit is buy a map. I also keep a map of the U.S. broken into 3 spate maps so I can navigate. GPS may not be an option and the paper has multiple uses.

  17. My BOB is a three day combat back pack in green with all kinds of fun stuff in it. As I CCL everyday and everywhere my XDs 9mm and two extended mags are on my belt and a tactical folder in front pocket. As I’m still contracting small jobs and own the company it’s no one business what’s in the pack or truck. If I had to leave the truck and walk home first thing. 1.Put on boots 2. Put on snake chaps 3. Put on pack 4. Grab ghillie stuff bag 5. Go to the jungle. In SHTF don’t walk on the roads it’s a ambush waiting to happen. Mind set,revert to Panama get Ricky ticky home pronto.

  18. As far as quality, durability, function, no other packs, bags measure up to the Eberlestock line. Regardless of physical ability, what you will use it for be it tactical, hunting, camping, administrative, they have a bag for that. They’re so good, that our special forces use them. A little more pricey,
    but they’re worth it

  19. I literally live 5 miles away from where I work in a small town. So I could walk home easily with no worries or problems. But the hubby works about 25-30 minutes away. (Texans measure distance in minutes, lol) So him getting home is going to be trickier. Now that is hot like an oven outside, that is even more worrisome if something were to happen soon. The kiddo lives in another town over 3 hours away. Still working out details, purchased some good get home bags. Plain but sturdy.

    I do need to pack me some shoes. This time of year I am in the habit of wearing flip flops. If we got caught away from home (being in a small town, we have to go somewhere else for groceries, etc), that would be a long walk back in flip flops. Maybe I need to pack a umbrella for shade while walking? Def will need bug repellent.

  20. my EDC bag is a simple grey day pack… It has my IFK and other basics (“overnight kit”, flashlights, spare batteries, small tools, extra medication, several Cliff/snack bars, nuts and so on)

    Like others, I keep my desk supplied with 3-4 days worth of food that can be gathered up if needed but my vehicle is usually not more than a mile away with my get home bag(s) (Normally 3 day, bigger one if I’m going to be further and depending on season, a winter bag with clothes for… Winter!) and we keep a case of water in each vehicle.

  21. I used my purse(still do)that can carry a small laptop with somethings instead of the laptop. I live about 10 mins from work,driving, but could get home by walking in about 30 minutes, (bad knees and ankles). I have a caribiner clip that has a pocket knife built into it that has my keys attached. If one doesn’t look too closely the knife is not very evident, so it looks like I just have a clip I can hook onto my pant loops for my keys. Forgot one day when flying and it went thru the x-ray in my purse. Needless to say I stuck the keys in my suitcase for the return trip. Didn’t want to lose it in case someone took a closer look at the purse contents ;).

  22. other suggestions for a bag, (that may not shout prepper, and so be overlooked)

    -tradesperson’s bag – plumber/electrician/handiman etc

    -beautician bag

    -sales bag

    -make up bag

    -religious bag of some sort….not many folks are going to think someone handing out religious pamphlets has much of interest

    -garden bag

    -children’s craft bag

  23. I always have my back pack, (non-descript looking) with a change of undies and clothes in it, long term meal items, jerky(I made it), water, bars of some kind or another, matches, (my pyro kit), and the bag is always seasonal dependent.
    I always carry my primary handgun and a smaller “get-off-me” gun both with two extra reloads. IN my vehicle, is my folding stocked rifle with extra reloads as well plus some heavier gear if the roads and other infrastructure isn’t compromised by earthquake ruptures.
    I have taken every single side and back road to and from work, until I can do all of them in a lights off no worries manner as well.(at night)

  24. Interestingly, in Texas, we have open carry. I have yet to see a civilian exercise this right, including myself. I have two bags small and medium, both MOLLE equipped and tactical in appearance. It confuses people, as they are not sure if they are run of the mill packs or something more sinister. I have my .45 in one and .40 in the other. Food, water, etc. Perhaps the appearance of strength is more of a deterrent than attempting inconspicuousness? The issue I have is storage of my long gun away from home. Even in the trunk, losing my rifle to a car thief, is a possibility and is hard to justify. Any thoughts?

    1. If it’s a rifle that’s easy to takedown, perhaps consider a guitar case with a custom foam insert to accommodate your rifle and mags. For short barrels, a violin case (Gunslinger Girls!). Ties in good with greyman techniques as you can look make yourself look like some burnout hippie.
      Or get something like a Henrey survival breakdown and that should easily fit most packs/cases.

      1. I have the Henry AR 7 which I keep in my truck. I should have bought the Ruger 10/22 in the breakdown version, a bag comes with it. Buy the 20 PR 30 round mag (can’t recall the capacity). The Ruger is a heavier duty rifle, just an opinion.

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