Bug Out Bag

A USGI Sea Bag: The Ideal Vehicle Go Bag For You



Featured | Military bag, military backpack, camouflage, isolated white background | A USGI Sea Bag: The Ideal Vehicle Go Bag For You

When it comes to my go-to vehicle go bag, nothing can replace my USGI Sea Bag (military duffle bag). I'll tell you why here!

RELATED: Building A Bug Out Bag

In this article:

  1. The USGI Sea Bag
    1. It's Inexpensive
    2. Can Accommodate a Lot of Gear
    3. Can Be Carried Like a Suitcase
    4. Built to Last
    5. Can Be Used as a Heavy Bag
    6. Can Be Carried Like a Backpack
    7. Makes an Excellent Bear Bag
  2. The Bottom Line

USGI Sea Bag: Take a Closer Look

The USGI Sea Bag


I was first introduced to the USGI Sea Bag (military duffle Bag) shortly after getting off the bus in Paris Island. I entered the United States Marine Corps boot camp and had recently placed my feet on the yellow footprints.

As I look back at the experience, much of it is a blur…

With the amount of fear that occupied my mind at the time, there wasn’t much room in there for other thoughts!

I remember me and my fellow recruits being maneuvered through a maze of assembly lines as we gathered our initial issued gear. As we shuffled through the process without making eye contact with anyone, I remember being handed this big, green canvas sack, filled with personal gear.

We ended up in our barracks with our duffel bags strapped to our backs. For the rest of my active duty Marine Corps days, there was always a sea bag as part of my standard issued gear.

I still have that initial sea bag with my name; the same with my last four bags. I have also picked up a couple more along the way.

Over the years, I have found many uses for these sea bags. I have one with me stuffed with extra necessities when I’m camping with the family.

I have also used them for air travel instead of heavier, less accommodating suitcases. There is a lot of diversity when it comes to uses for the vintage army duffle bag, but there is one application for my sea bag that works really well for me.

I have a sea bag I use as my vehicle go bag. It is staged in my Jeep and is my added insurance during an emergency situation.

I find certain features of the sea bag to be of great use as a vehicle go bag. I have tried several rucks and backpacks as a viable bug out bag for my Jeep, but I kept coming back to my sea bag as my primary choice.

My plan is to bring my main go bag, which its purpose is for moving out on foot. If I’m unable to stick to that plan, I know my sea bag has enough of what I need to give me a fighting chance if a crisis were to occur.

I want to share with you a few of the key features that make me choose the sea bag over other carry equipment when it comes to my vehicle go bag. So, let’s get to it!

1. It's Inexpensive


Since the sea bag is standard issue for the U.S. Military, there are tons of them out there. They are relatively inexpensive if you buy them new.

If you are ok with a used sea bag, then you can pick a vintage duffle bag up for under $20. If you check military surplus stores and even eBay, you will find varied choices to fit your needs as well as your budget.

2. Can Accommodate a Lot of Gear

Since the sea bag is basically a large sack, you can stuff the hell out of with gear! The sea bag is approximately 34 inches long with a 15-inch opening.

On multiple occasions, I had well over 70 pounds in my sea bag. If you ask a Marine how many items can he or she fit into their sea bag, the answer is always, one more!

There are items I add to my sea bag to make it an even more viable solution as a survival kit for my vehicle. One of those items is a dry bag.

In the military, we have issued a willie-peter bag along with the sea bag. The WP bag basically stood for waterproof and it always did its job of keeping my gear dry.

In fact, it performed so well for me that I purchased a new WP bag for use with the sea bag that I stage in my Jeep.

In addition, I have several smaller dry bags that contain items I want to keep protected from bad weather and spills. Even though the primary purpose for my sea bag kit is for staging in my vehicle, I still need to prepare for the uncertainties I will encounter during SHTF situations.

Dry bags are relatively inexpensive and also multi-purpose, might as well use them!

The other item I incorporate into my sea bag consists of multiple parts. They are mesh bags with zippers that come in various sizes.

These lightweight bags allow me to compartmentalize my sea bag without giving up space required by rigid containers. I can empty the sea bag into my vehicle and my gear remains organized and easily accessible.

This requires a bit of pre-planning and labeling, but it turns out to be a good solution for my current needs.

3. Can Be Carried Like a Suitcase


I mentioned that I have used my sea bag as a suitcase for airline travel. I have done this on several occasions, especially when traveling overseas.

There is no metal or plastic frame in the sea bag that allows it to weigh in at just under 5 pounds.

With today’s borderline criminal baggage fees demanded by the airlines, we need to be selective with each pound added to our carrying equipment. The same rationale goes for choosing gear for all of our survival kits.

The sea bag has a handle affixed to the middle of it. Its purpose is so you can carry it like a suitcase. I have used other bags and sacks that offer benefits similar to the sea bag.

The issue with these other bags is I would have to carry them utilizing a drawstring or the bear hug method. Either of those two choices was not appealing to me, even for short distances.

Performing a farmer’s walk or a suitcase carry is something I'm much more efficient and comfortable with.

RELATED: 12 Essential Items For Your Bug Out Bag List

4. Built to Last


Most USGI equipment has earned a reputation for its durability. I sometimes hear the old adage, “that piece of USGI gear you’re using was manufactured by the lowest bidder!”

That certainly is true in some cases, but even the lowest bidder has to meet stringent specifications. The sea bag is no different.

Not only is it military spec, but let’s not forget that I'm using the same sea bag I was issued in USMC boot camp. It was handed to me ages ago, and it is still just as serviceable as it was on Day 1 of boot camp!

Most USGI sea bags come from either heavy-duty Cordura nylon or canvas. The stitching is extremely durable, and the metal clasp and grommets are virtually indestructible.

It’s mildew resistant as well as weather repellent. Suffice to say, this product will last a lifetime or two.

5. Can Be Used as a Heavy Bag


Because of the shape and construction of the sea bag, it makes an excellent heavy bag for both empty hand and weapons practice. You can stuff the sea bag with BDU’s, clothes and other gear to give it some weight.

You can then fold the top flaps in, fasten the clasp over the grommets, attach it to a D-ring and hang it. Now you have a field-expedient heavy bag to provide valuable feedback for your self-defense training.

In the Marines, we used our sea bags as heavy bags as well as grappling dummies. Whether we were on a 6-month pump aboard a Navy ship or in the bush, we want to train!

Unfortunately, certain resources are always difficult to come by for Marines, especially grunts, so we did what we knew best. We overcame and adapted!

6. Can Be Carried Like a Backpack


I mentioned earlier that I plan to have my standard go bag with me, which is for moving out on foot. That is my ideal planning situation.

But in an emergency, the ideal will be a luxury most of us will not have access to. Luckily in a pinch, you can also carry the sea bag on your back.

The sea bag contains two padded shoulder straps attached to it. I wouldn’t exactly call these straps comfortable, but the fact it has this feature adds a bit more versatility to my preparedness.

If the situation arises, I can move out on foot with my sea bag attached to my back. This will allow me to keep my hands free to utilize other tools and perform the needed tasks.

7. Makes an Excellent Bear Bag


One of the sea bags I own is a bit more beat up than the others. I have used this particular USGI duffle bag as my bear bag for the past decade.

Whenever I am hiking or camping in bear country, my go-to container for a bear bag is my sea bag.

I place all my food and anything else that would attract bears, into my sea bag. I then hang it high and wide from a tree in hopes of keeping it out of bear’s reach.

This method is not only effective when it comes to bears, but it works for other critters as well. You have to admit that hearing rumblings from raccoons going through your gear, while you are trying to get some R&R, is extremely annoying!

The Bottom Line

The USGI military duffle bag is quite the versatile carrying equipment solution. I have used it as my vehicle go bag for years and will continue to do so.

It has not only stood the test of time with U.S. Marines, but it is also convenient enough to fit inside another backpack when not in use.

Take a closer look at the USGI sea bag on this video by Coach Helder:

With all the added benefits I conveyed in this article, the USGI sea bag is certainly an option I hope you consider adding to your gear. It will be hard to find an equivalent solution for your vehicle bugout bag utilization that will best out this sea bag.

What do you think of using a USGI sea bag? Let us know in the comments section below! 


A USGI Sea Bag: The Ideal Vehicle Go Bag For You | https://survivallife.com/usgi-sea-bag-ideal-vehicle-go-bag/

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 9, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Continue Reading


  1. Coach Helder

    April 10, 2017 at 4:29 PM

    I do find it to be an ideal vehicle go bag.

  2. affenhauer

    April 12, 2017 at 8:54 PM

    Ooh-rah, Devil-dog — still got mine from Op Restore Hope: been around the world in some of the best and worst places, but the only way you’d know is from a bit of fraying by the handle…

    • Coach Helder

      April 12, 2017 at 8:58 PM

      Thank you for your support & Semper Fi, Devil Dog!

  3. Bob in Florida

    May 6, 2017 at 10:21 AM

    I still have (and use) my Army duffel bag (complete with name and ‘last four’) that was issued to me in 1963. It is still in excellent shape; but, unfortunately, it was prior to the days they were made with the straps necessary to carry them ‘backpack’ style. So, it’s one shoulder or hand carry. Still an excellent resource for a vehicle emergency bag.

    • Coach Helder

      May 7, 2017 at 8:54 AM

      I definitely agree, Bob!
      Thanks for sharing.

    • Ken jelinek

      May 10, 2018 at 6:16 PM

      Mine issued in 65 one strap handle seriel number we stamped on bag magic marker last name, though good idea go to bag packs today hold much more we had transport packs with everything you own in the two aaaaa Paris island first platoon summer sends shivers down my spine.

  4. Edward Eroh

    May 6, 2017 at 1:19 PM

    Man that reminds me of my sea bag that I drug thru O’hara airport as
    a 18 year old Sailor. You know one of my kids have that same bag
    and also my pea coat! I am talking 60’s!
    Thanks for the nice write up.

    • Coach Helder

      May 7, 2017 at 8:53 AM

      Thank you Edward, I appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback.
      It is appreciated!

  5. Pingback: A USGI Sea Bag: The Ideal Vehicle Go Bag For You

  6. Wes J

    October 21, 2018 at 8:38 AM

    Mine was issued in 1978, and it served me well over a 20-year Navy career, 12 years spent deploying with Marines. I collected 4 more from people getting out who were going to throw them away. One now holds my hurricane / bug out, another my sidewalk tent, a third my inflatable boat. And my son, a professional EMT/firefighter, has the other two. The family SHTF Kits (I have 5 adult children with spouses, and 10 grandchildren) are all staged in USGI issue duffles and ammo cans, and live in a trailer in my back yard, when the time comes we have our routes and destinations planned out, all I have to load are the firearms, ammo, and fire proof file box and off we go.

    • CB

      October 24, 2018 at 12:16 PM

      That is what is up!! I hate that you can be so prepared IF you take the time, but too many people are not counting anything happening and are not prepared. Glad to hear you have taken time to prepare for your family.

  7. Joie Fadde -

    October 21, 2018 at 11:10 AM

    Great bag… my sister has mine which was issued to me 38 years ago… Gotta find out if she is still using it… If not, need to get it back to use as my emergency go bag…

  8. Diane

    October 21, 2018 at 1:14 PM

    It is great idea for a bug-out bag. In a car. You can put a lot of stuff in it. However, that is about all I could do with it. In the car. The car would haul it for me. As for using it as a backpack, that would not work for me. I suppose if I actually had to and that was all I had, I might be able to hike a mile with it before I collapsed. What I am saying is this: it is a great bag for those who have a lot more strength than I do! 😉


  9. Deborah Alper

    October 21, 2018 at 4:26 PM

    Thanks for your post regarding the sea bag. Looks durable for sure.

  10. Sonny Arkangel

    October 21, 2018 at 8:37 PM

    Great note, Marine. The original bag was made of canvas and was called a duffle bag. I had to back straps. Yes, I do have my original bag issued to me in 1961. I use another one that I was issued to cover my heavy punching bag so I could kick it even with boots use ninchucks or bo/staff without tearing the leather. As to your comment as to how much one can carry, that is correct, there is always room for more. Consider the parachute bag as an addition to your forms of jump bags. It is easier to pack and unload and stack. Same sturdy material. The duffle bag that I was issued for Desert Storm was made of nylon, had back straps but was not used then, since I used my airborne bag to carry my issue stuff. However, no matter how carefully & tightly we rolled/folded our stuff, they always stayed wrinkled. Stay alert, stay alive. Sonny

  11. Pingback: 7 Coconut Uses For Survival When You Have Nothing Left

  12. Nashoba Losa

    October 22, 2018 at 11:02 PM

    I still have mine I got in 1969. I also have my Dad’s from 1942. He carried it on Guam, Tulagi, Guadal Canal and over the rest of the Solomon Islands and several other islands between Australia and Japan. They really do last forever..

  13. Pingback: 7 Coconut Uses For Survival When You Have Nothing Left - Survive!

  14. Pingback: 7 Coconut Uses For Survival When You Have Nothing Left

  15. Rod Clark

    November 2, 2018 at 10:44 PM

    Us Canadian’s are less-steeped in military tradition altho our members of AF have served & died admirably in all campaigns since the War of 1812 thru ww1 ww2 Korea and probably every foreign war that the USA has served in. But my point is now we have fewer members in each family that are familiar with service items so articles like this one are especially appreciated by us peppers who often don’t know where to start to find things like go bags. Thank you all for your contributions to this thread, and also thank you for your service that has kept us free, altho distinctly different in so many ways. 73 de VA3ROD

  16. Pingback: How To Turn Your Bug Out Bag Into A Minimalist Backpack – Sprent Brass

  17. Pingback: DIY Solar-Powered Cellphone Charger – Sprent Brass

  18. Pingback: How To Turn Your Bug Out Bag Into A Minimalist Backpack – Alive After USA Fall

  19. Pingback: How To Turn Your Bug Out Bag Into A Minimalist Backpack - Cooking in Quarantine

  20. Pingback: Bug Out Bag Essentials | Stock Up on These for When SHTF – SurvivalCove.com

  21. Pingback: Bug Out Bag Essentials | Stock Up on These for When SHTF – The Self-Sufficient Life

  22. Pingback: Bug Out Bag Items - Survivalnomics

  23. Pingback: Bug Out Bag Essentials | Stock Up on These for When SHTF – surviveurself

  24. Pingback: Bug Out Bag Items – SurvivalHood

  25. Pingback: Airport Go Bag | 10 Must-Have Items For The Prepared Traveler – SurvivalCove.com

  26. Pingback: Airport Go Bag | 10 Must-Have Items For The Prepared Traveler | Spent Brass

  27. Pingback: Airport Go Bag | 10 Must-Have Items For The Prepared Traveler | Free Patriot Gear

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *