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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Emma Beddington

What’s in your go bag for the apocalypse?

A man closing a backpack in the forest
A bag for life … what you choose speaks volumes about the kind of person you are. Photograph: Westend61/Getty Images

The author Lauren Groff has become a prepper. “I think everyone should have a go bag right now,” she told National Public Radio (NPR) in the US. “I think every household should have enough food to last through at least two weeks. This is just logical at this point.”

Groff lives in Florida, where dangerously extreme weather has become a fact of life – we’re lucky enough to be spared that in the UK, at least for now. But as a semi-professional catastrophist – one apocalyptic sandwich board short of full doom-monger status – am I missing a trick? Should I have a go bag and what should go in it? Online recommendations include water – one of my least favourite fluids – cereal bars, first aid supplies, spare clothes, medication and paperwork. Practical, but short on bells and whistles (actually, they do recommend taking a whistle).

After asking around for inspiration, I have decided that the first kneejerk answer is very revealing. “Babybels,” said my friend T, instantly, as if he had waited his entire life for me to ask. “Two layers of protection, mouldable wax to make effigies of lost humanity – and you can use the bag to catch fish.” “Dreamies,” said M, still in thrall to her cat and its treat demands come Armageddon. “And Côte d’Or caramelised salted almond chocolate.” F went for cyanide capsules and The Golden Bowl by Henry James (useful for both entertainment and kindling). My husband looked genuinely thrilled with my question – a first for any work-related research I have conducted on him. “A pile of cash (to use for the first few days, before everyone realises it’s worthless) and all the weapons I can find.”

What you pack depends on whether you are prepping for a temporary displacement (toilet paper, paracetamol, passport) or the end of the world (whatever my husband is bringing; he’s looking up crossbows online as I write). But for both scenarios I have decided on my essentials: an insulated flask of dirty martini and several of the big 70g bags of Hula Hoops I usually save for weekends. The apocalypse is no reason to cancel my aperitif. What’s going in yours?

• Emma Beddington is a Guardian columnist

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