I’ve been thinking a lot lately about hazardous and/or apocalyptic scenarios.

This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m currently reading Stephen King’s The Stand for the first time* and also because Russia is mobilizing.

Preparation is key if you want to make it out of the shit if/when something catastrophic happens in your neighborhood, whether it be Mother Russia blowing up your spot, a crazy virus outbreak, or something as simple as a strong hurricane or a weakened marriage.

By preparation I mean that you should have an I.N.C.H. bag. Every man should, really. I.N.C.H. stands for “I’m Never Coming Home.” It’s a pretty self-explanatory concept: you keep a bag in your home or car or somewhere it’s easily accessible that has the things you need to survive and thrive for a while if you’re never able to come back to your home.

The contents should be as follows. Customize your bag as you see fit.

  • Cash. You’ll need it to get things at the beginning of the disaster, before the economy completely crumbles and we turn into a nation of barterers.
  • Weapons and ammunition. For better or worse, it’s really easy to get a gun in this country. If you think you’ll never need one, go read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. At the very least, you should have it in case you have to teach yourself how to hunt and gather.
  • Fishing hooks and lines. But go easy on the fish. You don’t want to survive a major catastrophic event only to be cut down by mercury poisoning.
  • A pocketknife.
  • Extra clothing and shoes. Make sure you include some rain gear.
  • A tent.
  • A tarp.
  • Non-perishable food items. Basically, stuff a college kid would eat. Spam and Top Ramen for days.
  • A cup. It’s the most important utensil there is, if you think about it.
  • Water purification tablets and a big ol’ container of water.
  • Booze. Because you’re going to need a stiff drink at some point if your entire world is crashing down around you. Also, by keeping a bottle of whiskey in your I.N.C.H. bag, you can age it. If you drink it someday for non-emergency reasons, you can just replace it.
  • First aid kit.
  • Duct tape. Because there’s always some kind of strange use for duct tape. Always.
  • Batteries. Rechargeable ones are best, natch.
  • The essential toiletries.
  • A solar-powered cell phone charger. Make sure you update the charger through the years as you upgrade your phone.
  • A compass.
  • Condoms. Because you never know when you’ll need one, especially if society has crumbled and women no longer have access to birth control. (Or you can just raw-dog it and justify doing so by saying it’s your duty to help repopulate the Earth.)
  • A lighter and a large box of matches.
  • A small, solar-powered radio. AM frequencies are the most reliable way to garner information during a disaster.
  • A few photographs of the people you love. Memories are important. Even if you’re never coming home, you don’t want to lose the person you were before this life-altering event.

After you’ve amassed all the items necessary to your survival, the last thing you’re going to want to get is a bag big enough to fit all this ish. If you were thinking a knapsack or something similar, think again. Or not. Just don’t ask me for anything out of the full-sized suitcase I’m going to be lugging behind me.

*Every person should read The Stand, by the way. It’s Uncle Stevie at his finest, which essentially means it’s one of the best books written in the past century.