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Gray Man Guide: EDC Bag vs. Go Bag

What’s the difference between an EDC Bag and a Go Bag?…

In this Gray Man Guide, we’re going to walk through the EDC Bag vs. Go Bag question. They aren’t the same, and when brought together with a serious EDC List they’re designed to give you a huge advantage in an SHTF scenario.

When it comes to the Gray Man Concept the EDC Bag is very much about blending in with other people whereas the Go Bag is a level up and it’s where you begin to worry a little less about appearances and think more about the resources you need to go “off the grid” for a few days.

It’s not just about packing; it’s about understanding what you’re packing for. Your EDC bag is for 24-hour or less situations while your Go Bag is for situations that may last 72-hours. Each bag has its limits and neither one is an INCH Bag (I’m Never Coming Home).

This Gray Man Guide discusses the details of these two vital tools. We’ll break down what goes into each one, when they’re most useful, and how to optimize them to suit your SHTF Scenario.

The Difference Between EDC Bag and Go Bag Scenarios

What exactly separates your EDC bag from your Go Bag? It has everything to do with the scenarios that your SHTF planning is designed around.

Your EDC Bag is always with you, holding specific items selected for their value in escape and evasion. Size considerations are important here—you don’t want to lug around a bulky pack that makes you look conspicuous. It needs to look convenient.

The key to an effective EDC bag is that it’s tailored to the individual’s specific needs and environment while following the Gray Man principle of discretion.

The sort of situations that you’d be carrying an EDC bag for would be the kind where it’s possible for you to sleep in your own bed at night. These are the sort of situations where the rule of law would still be mostly intact but tensions are high.

On the other hand, your Go Bag isn’t prepared for everyday use but for emergency situations when you need to get out and get out NOW.

A Go Bag, also known as a “bug-out bag” or “get-home bag,” is typically packed for scenarios where a Gray Man needs to leave their current location quickly, without much time to plan, due to an immediate threat or emergency. These situations often involve the need to evacuate, find safety, or reach a pre-designated location.

You might think of an EDC Bag as a 12-hour kit and the Go Bag as a 72-hour kit because that’s how long each needs to sustain you. Think of your EDC bag as the gear that needs to get you to your Go Bag if you decide your situation has elevated from something like social tension to a full-blown SHTF scenario.

The Thought Process Behind Your EDC Bag Loadout

Your EDC bag is set up to help you get through today.

When putting together an everyday carry kit, consider what might be needed to stretch your normal EDC list out to a day. Your EDC list has a firearm and maybe a belt with a few special tools.

What would you need next?

For most who follow the Gray Man theory your EDC bag is loaded with gear for self-defense, changing your appearance quickly, and a bit of food to hold you over until you get to safety.

Your EDC bag is meant to get you through short-term situations that you’ll be clear of in less than a day. This gear looks “normal” to an uninformed person. The kind of bag or backpack you use for this looks “common” and doesn’t draw attention. Your EDC bag doesn’t scream “Tactical!”

EDC Bag Situations

If you’re facing an unpredictable day in a city on the brink, you’ll need some essential gear tucked snugly into your everyday carry (EDC) kit. This gear is specifically for those situations that might spring up in a tense urban environment.

Before things escalate to a full-blown SHTF situation there will be clues. What you’ll want to think about is how unprepared people might react to those situations. Many will be trying to get home at any cost, but they won’t be prepared. In fact, the numbers suggest that 90% of people won’t have the gear they need to get back home safely.

The kind of questions you should ask yourself are: If you had to get from your office to your home, and you couldn’t use your car, what gear (besides your EDC sidearm) would you need? Have you been dealing with rolling blackouts? Is civil disobedience turning into civil unrest with pockets of violence?

When things break down, you’ll want to be equipped for an “every man for himself” situation…

You’ll need to measure the world at large to decide what needs to be in your EDC bag. By this point, you’ll likely already be equipped with a concealed EDC and possibly even an escape and evasion belt. So you’ll have more gear than what’s in your EDC bag.

EDC Bag Gear List

When it comes to your everyday carry (EDC) bag loadout, you’re thinking escape and evasion in a small setup: Self-defense gear that keeps you safe; clothing that allows you to change your appearance; a few utility items; and a small snack, bottle of water, and a small first aid kit – each element is critical.

Let’s start with the bag itself…

Your preference here may be a messenger bag or a backpack. This part really is a personal preference based on what you’re comfortable wearing and what you want packed in it. I would however recommend one idea hear – don’t carry a pack that has molle loops on it. Stay away from a military or tactical gear look for your EDC bag.

EDC Bag Self-defense Gear

In your everyday carry (EDC) bag, you’ll have limited personal self-defense gear.

Probably the most significant piece of this gear will either be a bulletproof clipboard or a backpack armor insert. Either of these can slide inconspicuously into your backpack and will stop most handgun calibers. They also make great shields in hand-to-hand altercations.

The Gray Man may also choose to carry a mouthpiece if they think they might wind up in a fistfight.

Find a spot on one of the straps to conceal a razor blade which can be an inconspicuous yet effective weapon.

EDC Bag Clothing & Disguise

You’d be surprised how quickly a change of clothes and shoes, coupled with a different pair of glasses or sunglasses, can render you invisible. Drastically altering your appearance may be all you need to get out of a bad situation.

Think through this; opt for clothing that varies greatly from your typical style. Have different colors, styles, and even types of fabric.

Another option is to pack something with a color that allows you to fit in with a particular organization or movement. If a group or organization is wearing a certain color, then it would be smart to have something in your pack that allows you to temporarily fit in.

The trick in this gray man technique, is maintenance. Take a look at how you’re dressed when you go out. If you have dark pants on, then you should have light pants in your EDC bag. Different shoes are extremely important here; a trained investigator or a person trained in surveillance will make note of your shoes because most people on the run don’t change their shoes.

EDC Bag Nutrition & Health

If you’ve ever experienced a blood sugar drop then you know how important a meal can be. Don’t underestimate the importance of packing a protein bar or two in your EDC bag. They’re perfect for maintaining calorie intake while you’re on the move and they’re easily stored.

Dehydration can be as debilitating as hunger. You’ll want to have a water bottle with you and either a water filter or a few water purification tablets.

Pack a small portable first aid kit. Your first aid kit should have some basics including gauze, medical tape, bandages, and ointment. You might add an ace bandage to help with a sprained ankle. An EDC first aid kit can be held comfortably in one hand once it’s packed up.

Lastly, if you require medications you should consider rotating a day’s worth frequently in your bag.

EDC Bag Utility Items

Choosing utility items for your everyday carry bag requires some thought around practicality and versatility. Compact tools like a lock pick set and 550 cord can be lifesavers in unexpected situations and are easy to fit into your setup.

An umbrella, poncho, or tarp – these are essential weather-related items that ensure you’re always ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you.

Other items that will be useful: A folding map because the internet could go down; a handkerchief can be used as a tourniquet, a signal device, or a cover to keep the sun off your neck; a good spare watch just in case your primary gets damaged.

Lastly, consider having loose change in a baggy. It’s good for purchases or as a weight inside a handkerchief used as a weapon. Cigarettes and lighters are also useful because they give you an excuse to loiter or start a conversation with someone.

The Thought Process for Your Go Bag Loadout

When it’s time to strategize your Go Bag loadout, preparation is survival. Thinking like a gray man means anticipating challenges and planning accordingly. Survival gear, and knowledge, are paramount in executing an effective emergency plan.

A Go Bag is a 72-hour bag designed to help you get somewhere away from here. Think through what you’ll need for those critical 72 hours—those items are your Go Bag essentials.

What type of food will sustain you? How much water is enough? What season is it? How can you maintain warmth? These questions are vital components of your disaster preparedness mindset.

Your Go Bag should also reflect loadout efficiency. And if you’re able to think straight you’ll actually be leaving with your EDC bag and your Go Bag together. Every item needs to serve a purpose without wasting space or weight. Remember, mobility and speed are difference-makers.

Go Bag Situations

You’re not packing for the unknown; you’re ready for specific situations.

How do you know which situations? You’re either staying current with news broadcasts, internet news sources, or through an emergency communication network in the prepper community.

As you become aware of these emergencies, part of your SHTF planning should be adjusting your Go Bag inventory to fit your most likely challenge.

Each item in your Go Bag should serve a purpose. Consider evacuation strategies: Where will you go if you need to leave work or home abruptly? Pack according to these scenarios.

Don’t overlook weather considerations either. The environment can be as much of an adversary as any other threat. Equip yourself with gear suitable for climate conditions, keeping both extreme heat and cold in mind.

Go Bag Gear List

As with your EDC bag, your Go Bag will improve your odds by upgrading your self-defense; food, water, and first aid; utility items; and clothing.

When it comes to a Go Bag, I lose my hangup about the molle loops. Your Go Bag is a level up from your EDC bag and at this point in an SHTF scenario you’d need to add functionality and you’re not too worried about standing out.

Go Bag Self-defense Gear

Your defensive strategies should revolve around survival techniques that prioritize safety over confrontation. The goal isn’t to engage; engagement ups your odds of getting injured. That said, you’ll want some extra defensive inventory because you won’t be the only decision-maker in a confrontation.

In your go bag, pack self-defense gear like pepper spray, a tactical flashlight, at least 2 more magazines for your firearm, and a spare box of ammo. You never know what you might encounter in an SHTF situation. Your EDC bag will have the armored plate in it.

Emergency preparedness isn’t paranoia; it’s the acknowledgment that your fellow humans are going to put their needs before yours when SHTF happens.

Go Bag Clothing Disguise

If you’re in a fowl weather season you should consider adding a change of clothes. At a minimum, you should always have a change of underwear and socks in your Go Bag. Fresh clothing is also great for your health and morale.

Your Go Bag should include items that change your appearance. Consider packing layers, like a light windbreaker of a different color. Have a different style of sunglasses – moving from Aviators to Ray-Bans can be helpful.

If you’re walking down the street, the bag(s) you’re carrying might be enough for someone to keep track of you, but even changing your shirt could be useful in buying you a bit of time by throwing them off.

Prioritize low-maintenance disguises; things that don’t require constant adjustments or upkeep. Go with hats and glasses – items that are easy to put on and easy to take off.

Go Bag Nutrition & Health

When packing your Go Bag, invest in some nutrition and health. We’re talking 3 days here and you can’t be sure where your next meal is coming from.

You’ll be on the move so calories will be important. Your Go Bag should have 7500 calories in it; 2500 calories for each day. Those calories will come from protein bars and MREs (Meal Ready to Eat). Both are compact and full of valuable nutrients for the energy you’ll burn.

After food, there’s water. Another water bottle and a method of water purification will be invaluable. Your water purification can be done through a Berkey filter or water purification tablets.

You’ll add another first aid kit so that you’re doubled up on bandages. This will be even more important if you’re on foot and not in a bugout vehicle. Don’t forget any personal medications. While this is a 72-hour bag, I’d suggest having 6-7 days worth of meds because pharmacies will no doubt be in short supply of everything in an SHTF situation.

Go Bag Utility Items

Next up, let’s talk about the utility items that will make surviving in any situation a whole lot easier. These tools aren’t tools in the traditional sense.

Money is a tool. You’ll have it in a few forms: 1) prepaid gift cards so that electronic transactions don’t tie back to you; 2) cash in $20/$50/$100 denominations – flashing a fresh $50 bill can be enough to open a door or two; 3) a roll of quarters – useful at a vending machine, rare pay phones, or as a weight in a handkerchief you’re swinging in self-defense. Your escape and evasion belt will have a couple gold coins in it.

Communication might be risky. Get a burner phone that you paid cash for at a big box store. Have it activated at the store when you buy it and don’t connect your email to the phone in any way. Have a few important phone numbers written on a notepad.

Navigation will be challenging in a world where the internet shuts down. You’ll need a folding map that gets you to your bug-out location and you’ll need a handheld GPS to make life easier.

When it comes to tools, get yourself a good multi-tool. It’s hard to say when, where, or how you’ll need it, but there will be a time when you’re glad you’ve got it.

Lastly, you should seriously consider having electronic versions of all key documents on an encrypted USB drive.

The Power of Enhanced EDC, EDC Bag, and Go Bag Combined

If you haven’t read my post titled The Gray Man Guide to a Serious EDC List, you’ll want to read it now. Harnessing the power of a serious EDC list, coupled with a well-stocked EDC bag and a Go bag, can significantly elevate your preparedness level in any situation.

Whether you’re prepping for urban survival scenarios or trying to get 400 miles to your bugout location, if you’re moving with all of the gear in these two posts then you’re going to be prepared at a level that most people will not be.

The concept is simple: Your enhanced EDC list holds items for immediate use while your EDC Bag supplements it with more comprehensive gear and supplies and buys you time. Your Go Bag then serves as the resource for lengthier survival situations.

Incorporating concealment strategies into your planning aids in maintaining low visibility – the cornerstone idea of being a gray man. This approach keeps you under the radar, allowing you to move smoothly without attracting attention.

Blending all of these load-outs together creates a robust system designed to up your odds of survival in most SHTF scenarios. That’s the true power behind combining a serious EDC list, an EDC bag, and a Go bag.


Don’t get overconfident; being equipped with these 3 setups isn’t going to take you 3 months into SHTF, but they will help you get through the first 3 or 4 days of a world that’s falling apart.

Put together a plan to build out your robust survival system and start working it step-by-step.