Packing the right clothes for your emergency bag

More than a few times I’ve added clothes to my Go bag that I no longer wanted to wear. It’s ok to add clothes that you don’t wear often, but do yourself a huge favor and pick clothes you want to wear. These may be the only clothes you wear for a day, or even longer. 

Besides making you look fantastic, clothes do a pretty darn good job of protecting you from the environment; this includes the sun, cold, and rain. Use the layer method to allow for the greatest flexibility.

Base layer

This layer wicks the sweat off of your skin.
  • Your underwear doesn’t need to be special, although synthetic underwear can keep you cooler on hot days and will dry more quickly. 
  • In warm weather you can stick to your normal socks, but in cool weather consider Merino wool or synthetics like polyester or nylon. 
  • In hot weather your base layer includes pants, shorts, and shirts. Consider fabrics that are easy to wash and dry. Another great concept are long sleeve fishing shirts which are light and baggy to keep you cool, while protecting you from the sun. 

Mid layer

This is your insulation layer.
  • In mild weather your mid layer will keep you warm. In cold weather, sandwiched between your outer layer and your base layer, the mid layer’s goal is to create a warm air layer around your body. 
  • Again, synthetics are lightweight, dry easily if wet, and retain lots of heat for their volume. 
  • Consider both fleece jackets and fleece vests for extra warmth around your body core. 

Outer layer

This layer protects you from the wind, rain, and snow.
  • Consider jackets and pants that are water-resistant, or waterproof, and breathable. Your body will generate heat and moisture after even a little exertion. A non-breathable layer will trap this moisture to make you feel clammy, which will eventually make you cold. 
  • Breathable fabrics like Gore-Tex prevent liquid water from getting to you, while allowing water vapor to pass through. You should also look for clothing that allows you to quickly vent your body through flaps, zippers or snaps. 
  • In hot humid weather it’s still important to keep yourself dry from rain, but allowing your body to stay cool is just as important. Lightweight rain gear and ponchos are great solutions for this kind of weather. 

Packing clothes

Clothes can take up a lot of room in your secondary Go bag so you may only have room for two or three pairs. Keeping your clothes in a stuff sack will prevent your underwear and left sock from wandering away. Also, make sure you have the same number of clothes for everyone in your family.

Here’s two great tricks to help with packing. Keep your clothes wrinkle free, and use less space, by rolling your clothes instead of folding them. Keep your clothes smelling fresh by adding a dryer sheet to your clothes bag.

Finally, you must update your clothes periodically to reflect changes in your family. Your six year old will not be happy with the sippy cup and onesie you packed. Also make changes to reflect the current weather; especially if you live in a climate with significantly different seasons.

What can you do right now?

Grab a stuff sack for each person in your family and start filling it up with clothes. Place those bags in your secondary Go bag. You can always get better gear later. The goal is not to be done, but to do one little thing today that makes you better prepared for the future.