The Ultimate Guide to 72 Hour Kits (You’ve Got this Covered)

By Ryan M.

A 72 hour kit is a great place to start for your emergency preparations, this kit should include all the necessary items to be able to survive at least 3 days. But the question is, how can you make your own and what should your kit contain? Below we have come up with a list that we believe will help you build the ultimate kit.

Backpack: Picking out a backpack is definitely a crucial part in making a 72 hour kit not only because that is where you will be carrying all of your supplies but because you want it to be a comfortable fit for you and your needs. So, what are things you should be looking for?

  • Size Picking a size is usually determined by a couple of things. First the capacity, what are you going to be using it for? You want to think about how far you are going, how many people you are using it for, and how many supplies you are ultimately going to be putting in there. You also want something that is going to fit to your body size. It needs to be comfortable to carry. Most backpack sizing is determined on the length of your torso and the circumference of your waist. So it’s a good idea to measure yourself before picking one out.
  • Color Why is color such an important step in picking out an emergency backpack? For one simple reason, you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. If someone who isn’t as prepared as you were to see a bright red backpack that has emergency written across it then they just might want to see what you have. So if you want to stay under the radar picking a darker color with nothing written on it is always a safer choice.
  • Durability Like I was saying before, you want something that is going to be durable if you are traveling far or if you are traveling in bad weather. You want something that can take a beating, as well as keeping your personal items dry and unharmed.
  • Comfort Ultimately comfort is a big deal breaker. You don’t want something that is going to end up being a pain to carry. You want to look for something that has comfortable straps and a hip belt that can help take some of the load off your shoulders.   

      Shelter: If an emergency arises and you have to spend time away from home, you want to make sure you have enough shelter to last until help can arrive. There are many different things you can put in your kit to keep you comfortable.
      • Ponchos Consider bright colors if you are waiting for help, but go darker if you want to blend in.
      • Tents When picking out emergency tents, there’s a few things you need to look for. Pay attention to the sizing so you get one that fits everyone you will have with you. Look for one that is easy to put up and take down, has durable material, and that can keep you warm.
      • Emergency Blankets When choosing an emergency blanket, there are several factors to consider: warmth, size, and cost. An aluminized mylar blanket is a good choice if you are looking for a thin, lightweight, and inexpensive blanket. This material keeps you warm by retaining body heat. Another choice is a aluminized tarp. It has all the same advantages as the mylar blanket, except it’s more bulky and heavy. It’s very durable and has many different uses.
      • Sleeping Bag Picking out a good sleeping bag is determined on just a couple things. You want a good temperature rating, one that has a low temperature rating will not keep you warm enough and if one has too high of a temperature you could be sweating all night. You also want to look at the material it’s made out of. If you get Down material that can be lightweight as well as being very effective at insulation. Or you can choose Polyester Synthetic, which is also lightweight and does very good in wet weather.
      Water: Packing enough water is definitely an important step in creating your kit. But the question is how much is enough?
      • 1 gallon of drinking water per person per day
      • 2 gallons of washing water per person

        But what if you can’t carry all of that? What other options do you have to have safe and clean water for you and your loved ones?
        • Packing water boxes or containers that you can fill up at a later time.
        • Water purification kits or filters that can decontaminate any dirty water.


        Food: How much food is enough food? What is the best thing to bring on the go, while giving us the nutrients we need?

        • Emergency food bars These bars require no heating or cooking and if you are on the go then you won’t want to stop and cook a meal. They are long lasting and can be kept in a kit up to 5 years.  
        • Power Bars  These are helpful because they give you the calories that you need, as well as protein and other nutrients.
        • Ready to eat meats These are packed ready to eat on the go, cold or hot. They also have the nutrients that your body would need.
          No matter what you pack make sure you pack at least a 3 day supply for every person. So you want to consider breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks throughout the day.

          First Aid: During emergencies there is always a possibility of injury, so you want to make sure you pack at least the most needed essentials for a first aid kit.
          • Bandages You want these packed in case of open wounds or any kind of sprains.
          • Ointments If you had a open wound, this would keep from infection..  
          • Ice Pack In the event of injury this would help with any kind of swelling.
          • Tweezers These could come in handy to pull debris such as glass, dirt or splinters from a wound.
          • Scissors The most common need for these is to cut bandages, but they can help at cutting clothes to expose injuries as well.
          • Sterile Gloves Gloves are to protect you as well as the injured person from infection. And keeps everything as sanitary as possible.
          • Alcohol Wipes These will help when needed to clean a wound or cut.


            Hygiene/Sanitation: So let’s face it, we are going to have to go to the bathroom at some point and you need to be able to clean yourself even if only gone for a few days or until help arrives. You want to make sure to pack at least the essentials.

            • Toilet Paper
            • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
            • Soap
            • Shampoo/Conditioner
            • Razor
            • Feminine Pads
            • Shaving Cream

                When preparing for an emergency a lot of us tend to focus on food, water and shelter, it’s just natural but hygiene is one of the most important areas to consider because believe it or not proper hygiene could increase your survival rate. Not only will it keep you clean and happier it will also prevent illness and disease. Keep in mind everyone has their own personal needs when it comes to hygiene so pack what is going to make you feel the most comfortable.  

                Tools: Tools are a prepper's best friend, especially if you are going to have to camp outside for a little while. The key is to select the tools that have the most possible uses.

                • Knife When picking out a good survival knife you want to consider a couple things, first one being size. You want something that can handle big jobs but that doesn’t mean bigger is always better. Most ideal sizes would be around 9-11 inches. So you can carry it around with you and it can do jobs like cutting/slicing, digging, self defense, food prep, hunting etc. One more thing to consider is do you get a fixed blade or a folding knife. A fixed blade is more durable and reliable, it has the upper hand when it comes to meeting the demands a survival situation might present. A folding knife is nice because you are able to fold it and put in your pocket. But a joint of any kind is a weakness, there is risk of it breaking or you losing it.
                • Axe There are a couple things to look for in picking out a good ax, the first thing is the grip, if you don’t have a good grip it can slip right out of your hand when it gets wet. You want to also look at the sharpness, you want to make sure it’s sharp before you pack it as well as packing an ax sharpener. And lastly you want to make sure it’s durable. You want it to be sturdy enough for you to use in emergencies.
                • Folding Shovel Many people don’t think of a shovel when you are picking out tools to put in an emergency kit, but they can be very useful. It can help you dig yourself out of a hole (literally), pick your way through ice, or just to remove snow from your car. You want one that is durable, versatile and good quality. You want to look for ones that are made of high carbon steel to withstand harsh environments. It’s always good to look for ones that can do multiple tasks as well, like sawing or chopping.
                • Duct Tape and/or Rope Improvise anything like MacGyver with these most useful and versatile tools. If you need to mark a trail, the brighter the better.
                • Work Gloves The best thing to look for in work gloves is durability. You want ones that can handle just about anything. You don’t want something that is going to tear easily when you are in an emergency. You may possibly have to trade off some manual dexterity, but remember the point of these is to keep your hand protected; so searching for the best material is a good idea. There are many to choose from, but the best materials are usually rubber, plastic, leather or synthetic gloves.
                • Cyanoacrylate Glue (AKA "Crazy Glue" or "Super Glue") Another extremely versatile tool, its ability to repair a variety of materials is well known. It is also surprisingly good at closing wounds, and even has antibacterial properties. Try to use medical grade, though, as most are toxic irritants.

                  Light/Communication:  When on the go, you want to make sure you have enough lights to get you to where you need to be, as well as having something to keep you updated.
                  • Light Sticks We all know what a light stick is and what is does, but how do we know we are picking one that is good and can last long lengths of time? There are many variables that affect the length of time the stick will stay lit, such as the length, the chemical composition, and the ambient temperature. Most popular length is 6-10 inches and most can last anywhere between 30 minutes to 12 hours. Keep in mind the brightness is affected by temperature, the warmer the temperature the brighter the light will appear.
                  • Flashlights Choosing a survival flashlight isn’t as difficult as you would think and it doesn’t have to be as expensive either. What should we be looking for is picking one? Durability is a must, remember this is a survival flashlight which means it’s probably going to be exposed to the worst of conditions. Which also means you would want one that is drop and water resistant as well. After you check for durability you want to look at the type of battery. This is important because you want one that has conventional battery types (AAA,AA,C,D) because these will be easier to find in an emergency. You also want to look at bulb type, the main ones are incandescent and LED. LED is known to be brighter and last around 10,000 hours whereas an incandescent bulb will die within a few hundred hours of use. Brightness is going to correspond with the bulb type you get, but brighter isn’t always better. You want to keep in mind what you’re using the flashlight for, in many cases you’re going to use your light for simple tasks like getting light in your campsite as well as the path you walk on at night. You also don’t want something that is going to draw attention to you. Most suggestions are to get one with 100-200 lumens. This will give you enough light to help in the dark and won’t drain your battery either. And lastly you want to look at the weight, you don’t want something that is going to weigh you down. In most cases you want to look for a light that is less than 8 oz. in weight. You want to make traveling as easy as possible and in cases where you will carry your flashlight you don’t want something that is going to be too heavy.
                  • Batteries As mentioned above batteries are a must, not just for flashlights but radios, walkie talkies etc. You want to make sure you have enough for everything and some extra in case they run out. You want to be sure you know the types you need and have those packed.
                  • Headlamps This is going to come in handy for those who need a hands free light, so you want to be sure and pick out a good one. But what factors should you look for?  Beam distance is important because you want to know how far the light can project but having a greater beam distance can also use up more of the battery life. Again size and weight plays into the decision making, you don’t want something that is going to be to hard to carry. And lastly power source, many headlamps use batteries but there are also ones that can be charged. So you want to be sure you choose one that will be the most convenient in an emergency.
                  • Radio Choosing a reliable radio could be one of the most important steps in surviving. This is where you could potentially be getting all the updates needed to find help. That doesn’t mean you need to go find the most expensive, in many cases all you’ll need is a AM/FM receiver, AM is the most important because usually important information is sent through there. Most radios are battery operated which is fine as long as you carry extra batteries, but also consider ones that don’t. Such as ones that can get power from an external source like an AC adapter for when you have power or a hand crank one for when you have no power at all.
                  • Cellphone (if there is signal)

                      Personal Items: During an emergency being away from your home can be very stressful, so you want to make sure you pack as much personal things as you feel needed. You want to make sure you have everything you need to survive while away.

                      • Extra Clothing You want to make sure you have spare clothing in case anything were to happen to the clothes you’re wearing, as well as just having something fresh to change into. You don’t necessarily need to pack a lot because you can always wash along the way. But you do want to pack a variety of clothing in case of weather changing, as well as just packing clothes that are easy to move in.
                      • Hard Sole Shoes Good shoes are definitely a must. You want good, hard sole shoes as if you were to go camping or hiking. You wouldn’t want to be walking around in an emergency in uncomfortable shoes or shoes that don’t protect you from the harsh environment.
                      • Money In many emergencies credit card machines, ATM’s etc. might be down and if you need to buy something or even put gas, having money packed away is a lifesaver. Small bills is helpful as well in case change cannot be given.
                      • Diapers/Wipes/Formula If you’re a mom or dad you understand the importance of having these packed. If you have an infant or a toddler having enough diapers and wipes is going to make your life a whole lot easier.  Also enough formula for them, if you have a baby this is all they are able to eat and you want to make sure they have all the nutrients they need until help can be reached. Any emergency can be scary for you and especially for your children so you want to make sure they are as comfortable as possible.
                      • Stress Relievers Emergencies are scary and very stressful, and being stressed can put you at risk for making mistakes or even worse having health issues. So make sure to pack some stress relievers for you and your family. Books, magazines, games, coloring books and crayons for the kids, stuffed animals and so on. Anything that can help you keep stress down is important to pack.
                      • Medication taken daily If there is something you can take daily you need to make sure you pack that first thing especially if it’s for health reasons. Pack as many as possible so you can be covered until you can reach more.
                      Lastly let’s make sure every family member has their own kit and is personalized to their own needs. Also let’s keep the kits near an exit or in your car for a fast getaway in the event of an emergency. It’s never too late to start preparing, so get your family involved and take it one step at a time. You got this covered.

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