The get home bag, holding the gear to get you home and not mark you as a crazy person or target, should also be functional during daily life. Honestly, if you are not functional during daily life then you need to talk to someone about it. I will focus on getting home from work since most of us spend the majority of our waking time there. This can still work for other situations, the point is to critically and tactically think about the situation and the location. Hopefully this will help you get started on that path.
The Trident of Analysis
Take an inventory of what you carry around to work. If you are like me, you have a mobile phone, flashlight, laptop/power supply/cablelock, notebook, pens/pencils, a couple of flash drives, headphones, a magazine or two and lunch.
Take a good hard look at your route home. For me it's about 15 miles and a 5 hour trip. The half closest to the office is the most dangerous with impoverished urban city. use Google Maps to help, select walking and Earth view.
Think deeply about what you would need on that trip back and what you can "safely" and legally bring into your work. Most places of business don't allow firearms. Start at your cubicle and work your way to the street; then on with walking home. Drive the route a few times and take note of what the neighborhoods are like, obstacles that might be in the way, general amount of people around and places to hide if needed.
- Energy (protein bars?)
- Self Defense
- Wreckage removal/egress tool
- First Aid
Breaking Down the Needs
I like to think of these things in two ways, things I can stash and things I cart.
Stashables are things that I can keep in a drawer at the office in a personal bag or box that will not draw attention. Stuff you can grab and go along with your bag. For me these could be a crow bar, crappy pair of jeans and shirt. These are the essentials that I need that are too heavy to cart, are a luxury item, overflow cartables or stuff that would not be useful in the car halfway between home and work. Minus the crow bar, if any of these things are noticed by fellow cube mice, they are easily explainable.
- Crowbar - 14-24" Dead-On Annihilator or the Stanley FatMax FuBar are good choices.
- Extra high protein bars.
- Extra bottled water.
- Crappy jeans and Shirt.
- Backup First Aid.
- Trail Running or Cross Training Shoes.
Cartables are those things that are always with me. I take them home every night and return with them. They are the basics in my bag outside of business function. Absolute necessities, that when put together to solve one category of need make up Mini-Kits.
- First aid mini-kit - bandages, Celox, steri-strips, gauze, porta-splint, ace bandage, mylar blanket.
- Protein bars - like ProBar.
- Water bladder.
- Portable hiking shoes - Columbia Desenders / Keen Packable Hikers / Timberland Radlers
- Personal defense item - Mace/Gun/Ninja/Knife. Mace or pepper spray can usually go everywhere (Government buildings not withstanding)
- Maps printed out and waterproofed with Krylon PreserveIt!
Putting it All Together
So what does all this go in? Personally I am a fan of the messenger bag. 5.11 makes a nice modular bag that can expanded thanks to the Molle system. The downside is they look a bit suspiciously tactical. So stick some funny velcro patches on the front and tone down the Delta Force look. Alternately, Max-pedition makes a similar bag called the Gleneagle - but it is not a Molle capable bag. Eberlestock makes a couple of "covert" backpacks which can be of great use.
A Note on Modularity
Whichever way you go, I recommend your Mini-Kits (first aid etc) be in add-on bags. This makes it easy to grab some of the universal things and reuse them in your weekender, hunting, clubbing, whatever bag.