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What To Include In Your 72-Hour Kit:
I believe in being prepared for natural disasters, man-made disasters and pretty much anything else that could happen.
I’m realistic enough to know that I can’t prepare for every potential disaster, so I’ve chosen to focus on having a well-stocked 72-hour kit.
72-hour kits are designed to be a grab-and-go emergency kit in the case of a natural disaster or emergency situation.
A 72-hour emergency kit is designed to have enough food and equipment to survive for three days.
You most likely won’t be comfortable, but you will survive.
This post will cover all of the non-food items you should include in your bug-out bag.
Check out, What Food To Include In Your 72-Hour Kit for additional food recommendations.
How should you carry your 72-hour kit?
Personally, I recommend carrying your 72-hour kit in a backpacking backpack.
Hiking backpacks are ultra-comfortable and designed to hold a lot of gear. I do have friends who use regular suitcases and I even have a friend who uses plastic bins. Do what works for your situation. However, I like the flexibility of being able to easily carry my bag.
I use my old hiking backpacks, but you can often find good deals on Sierra Trading Post, SteepandCheap or REI Outlet. I’ve also found good backpacks locally at Army Surplus stores, Goodwill and other secondhand stores.
72-Hour Kit Supplies: Clothing & Bedding
- Minimum of one change of clothing and footwear per person.
- Personally, I recommend wearing a good pair of zip hiking pants that can be worn as shorts or pants like the Columbia Convertible Pants. Once you start wearing hiking pants, you start using them for everything – especially travel.
- I also include a sports bra, tank top, and a regular shirt.
- You’ll love shirts like this one that are dry wicking and provides UV Protection
- Always pack plenty of underwear and socks. You can wear the same clothing for a few days, but who want to wear the same socks and underwear.
- Include a pair of old running shoes or hiking boots.
- I keep my clothing in an old dry bag just in case it does rain.
- Rain gear (this isn’t a big issue in Phoenix, so I typically just toss in a cheap Survival Poncho).
- Blanket or sleeping bag – in the interest of space and because I live in Phoenix, I use these Therm-A-Rest Tech Blankets for my kits.
- Even if you live in a colder area, you should check out the Therm-A-Rest Tech Blankets, they are an awesome emergency blanket for your car. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used mine in a whole lot of random situations – not just to stay warm.
- I also keep an extra Sol Survival Blanket just in case. You can find the Mylar blankets for cheaper, but they tear very easily and won’t stand up to multiple uses.
- My sleeping bags are also stored in my garage for quick and easy access during the winter months.
- Cold weather gear – hat, gloves, and thermal underwear
- Bandana – These can be one of your most useful tools. They provide sun protection, can help filter water, and are great for first aid situations. I typically stash a few of them throughout my packs.
72-Hour Kit Supplies: Sanitation
- Toilet Paper – I store mine in a ziplock bag
- Baby Wipes – Best tool ever!
- Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Dental Floss, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner
- Hairbrush and for the girl’s hair ties
- I like the little folding travel hairbrushes.
- Soap or liquid detergent
- You’ll need enough for bathroom sanitization and depending on your food choices, kitchen sanitization.
- Feminine Supplies
- My sister had to use a sock once on an extended hiking trip – Don’t make this mistake.
- Wag Bags/Poop bags These are specialized bags we use for long camping trips that are designed specifically for this purpose. Yes, it is disgusting, but they are a lifesaver when you don’t have other options. I recommend a few extra zip lock bags for double protection. Your nose will thank me.
- It is also a good idea to have a large plastic bucket with a portable snap-on toilet lid. Line the bucket with a garbage bag prior to use for easy cleanup. It helps to include kitty litter each time you take care of business to absorb odors.
- I don’t keep this in my to-go kit, but have it at my home just in case the power and water go out.
- Chlorine Bleach – can be used for cleaning and water purification
- Hand Sanitizer
72-Hour Kit Supplies: Tools and Miscellaneous supplies
- Flashlight and extra batteries – personally I prefer using headlamps. Having your hands free makes life so much easier.
- Mess Kit – Plate, Bowl, Cup, and utensils. If you read my 72-hour kit food post you know that I like to keep my food very simple. If you have followed my food recommendations the only item on this list you need is a spork. I prefer the long-handled type, but at an extra 3-4 dollars am not sure they are worth it for a 72-hour kit.
- Can opener or multi-tool like the Leatherman New Wave Multitool – personally I don’t use cans in my kits, but definitely like the idea of having a good multi-tool. These tools can be expensive, but this is one area you really don’t want to skimp on.
- Tent – I don’t keep my tent with my kit. I have it easily available in my garage to grab if needed. I do however keep 2 pieces of Tyvek with 100 feet of paracord and 25 feet of climbing webbing in my kit.
- Pliers (can be replaced with multi-tool in some situations), shut-off wrench, duct tape, super glue, pocket knife
- Waterproof matches/kindling/flint & steel/lighter
- Jet boil or another simple method of heating water. For space, I prefer the backpacking canister stove systems like the DragonPad Canister Stove. If you go this route make sure and include a cup for heating.
- Water purification method if you are unable to boil water. Personally, I want to be able to do both. I use my trusty Katadyn filter, but love some of the new gravity filters on the market. I just haven’t found an excuse to buy one yet.
- Map of the local area and GPS Unit. I know it is old fashion, but make sure you have a paper map. You can’t count on your phone or even the GPS unit to work.
- Whistle and a hand-held mirror. I know a lot of people who also include 2-way radios.
- Radio with access to NOAA weather reports. Personally, I prefer the kind with the hand crank and solar-powered options. Either way, make sure and include extra batteries.
- Trash bags and multiple ziplock bags in a variety of sizes.
- Solar Charger – This is the one I use. It has kept my phone and Ipad juiced up on multiple occasions but isn’t going to run your laptop.
- First Aid Kit – I need to do more research in this area and put together a good kit that is actually usable instead of the cheapo ones I keep buying.
- If you are looking for information on natural first aid kits, this post by Just Plain Marie is a great place to start – How to Build a Natural First Aid Kit For Your Home.
- Leukotape – This is the best athletic tape I’ve found. It is significantly better than moleskin. I use it for hot spots and taping up wounds. It will stay on your skin for days if applied to a dry spot. I seriously love this stuff and keep some in my car, purse, and all my first aid kits.
- Cash (I recommend at least $100 in small bills), Credit Cards, Identification Documents
- Pen and Paper
Most important – Water, water, water.
You need a minimum of 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking, food preparation, and sanitation. One gallon of water is 8 pounds, so plan accordingly.
One of the reasons, I like having my 72-hour kit in a hiking backpack is because I can easily store 2-3 liters of water in my bladder. The rest of my water goes into Nalgene bottles. I live in Phoenix, so water is the most important thing in my pack. Nalgene bottles are virtually indestructible.
For more info about water storage check out: How To Store Water for Emergencies.
I hope I never need my 72-hour emergency kit, but love knowing I’m prepared for an emergency
Everyone’s bug-out bags is slightly different based on individual needs and geographic locations.
Before putting together your list write down the potential situations in which you may need a survival bag. Look at various scenarios and begin to plan your lists based on your individual needs.
The chances of me experiencing a hurricane are slim to none. However, a power outage in the middle of the summer could be deadly in Phoenix.
Review potential emergency situations and prepare accordingly.
If you live in a cold-weather area, having a heating source is significantly more important than for someone in Phoenix like me. Conversely, most areas don’t need to plan for as much water as I do.
This definitely is not an all-inclusive list but is a good starting point. I’ve been working on my 72-hour kits for years. I’ve adjusted and changed them multiple times as I’ve gradually collected extra gear.
I know it seems daunting, but I’ve found that if I just purchase a few items a month I don’t get overwhelmed.
Put together a list of the items you are missing and watch for sales. The goal is to add a few new items each month.
I personally recommend designing and building your own 72-hour kit. However, if you are looking for a premade bug out bag here are a couple of options:
- Urban Survival Bug Out Bag
- Ready America Delux Emergency Kit
- Mayday Industries – LDS 72-Hour Survival Kit
Having a premade 72-Hour Kit is a great starting point, but most of the premade kits are pretty basic. If you do go this route, don’t order the kit and then stick it in the closet.
Review the items in your survival bag carefully and supplement as needed.
If you would like premade bug-out bag food kits here are a couple of options:
- Mountain House Just In Case 72-Hour Food Kit
- National Geographic Live 72-Hour Meal Solution Box
- I tried one of the National Geographic pasta dishes on a camping trip and it wasn’t amazing. I’m sure their food has gotten better since then, but you may want to get a single serving meal prior to purchasing a kit.
- Wise Company 72-Hour Cook-In-Pouch Meal Kit
Please let me know if you have any additional recommendations or products I should try.
PS. Don’t forget to check out What Food To Include In Your 72-Hour Kit.