The first thing you need to know about 72-hour kits is BEWARE! That may seem a little strong, but too many companies market 72-hour kits that are filled with nothing but cheap junk made in China.
People purchase a 72-hour kit because it is an instantaneous way to get a measure of peace-of-mind. They pick one up at the local big-box store or online, throw it up in the attic, and think they are prepared for whatever life or Mother Nature throws at them. This false sense of security is unfortunately only exposed during an actual emergency when the contents of these kits either don’t work, taste terrible, or provide less-than-adequate protection.
We highly recommend having a 72-hour kit, and these are the things we look for when buying one:
Make sure you have light-weight, freeze-dried food that can truly sustain you and your family for 72 hours. The reason we recommend freeze-dried food is because of its long shelf life and ability to reconstitute with just water. Too often, people put perishable items or cans with 1-2 year expiration dates into their 72-hour kit and then throw them in the attic where they are forgotten. Five years later when a disaster strikes, the food is worthless. The long shelf life of freeze-dried food helps minimize this problem. See food items >>
Too many 72-hour kits contain “packs of water.” Believe it or not, water can actually go bad, so these packs guarantee its freshness for a few years. But like we have said so many times on this site, it is virtually impossible to carry enough water to sustain a person for a couple of days. It’s just too heavy and bulky. That’s why we recommend a good water filter so you can clean the water you come in contact with. See water filters >>
This may be our biggest pet peeve. Some emergency preparedness websites offer a backpack that looks less sturdy than the one most kindergartners use. It seems to us, that if you are truly in an emergency situation you will want a heavy-duty pack that can hold a lot of gear and yet be comfortable to wear. Please watch out for junky backpacks that look like they were made with cheap labor in a sweatshop.
When it comes to emergency supplies, we think it’s best for each person to customize his or her own 72-hour kit. People have their own ideas about what’s important and what’s not. However, we strongly recommend you go to your local grocery store to find these items. The first-aid kits, utensils, multi tools, and other wares that come in “off-the-shelf” 72-hour kits are manufactured in China and are extremely low quality. You can save money by buying these items yourself.
Who do we recommend?
You can read reviews on 72 hour kits here. We recommend adding your own individualized items to whatever kit you decide to purchase.
What should go in a 72 hour kit?
View our 72 hour kit checklist page for a full list of essential items to include in your 72 hour kit.