A 72-hour kit is intended to keep its owner alive for at least 72 hours. Pretty straightforward. Now you may think to yourself that it’s not that difficult to stay alive for three days. And you would be correct… IF circumstances remained what they currently are.

A natural disaster, social unrest, or manmade disaster can force people out of their comfortable daily lives and into the life of a refugee. YES. It can happen to you. Recent fires in California, hurricanes in the southeast, and riots in urban centers across the country have dramatically disrupted the lives of thousands of people. And despite how cliché this sounds—it is only a matter of time before something similar happens to you.

A 72 hour kit should therefore replicate as best as possible the things that keep you alive at home (and which you often take for granted).


So what are the things that keep us alive? At the very base level, all humans need in order to stay alive is shelter, water, food, and fire (the “Core 4”). Most people want to experience more in life than just keeping their pulse going. A good 72 hour kit will help you do that. But a great 72 hour kit will help you live a much more satisfying life and even rebuild civilization if it comes to that. We’ve therefore included several items from the other 18 components of self reliance to build the Ultimate 72 hour emergency kit.

[BRICS is the starting point of any survival kit. BRICS is an acronym that stands for Blade, Rope, Ignition, Container, Shelter. The reason this subset of survival items is so foundational is because they are some of the most vital components needed to address the Core 4 of survival (shelter, water, food, and fire). In almost any wilderness emergency situation, you will want to have packed BRICS in your kit.]

Want a simple checklist you can use to put together your 72 hour kit? Download and print a copy of The 72 Hour Kit Checklist to keep with each kit in your family or group. It makes assembling your kit and assessing contents a breeze.


Shelter consists of the things that protect your body from the elements (water, wind, temperature, sun, etc). Shelter is listed first intentionally. Exposure to extreme environmental circumstances can kill you in approximately three hours. (Learn about the Rule of 3’s) Keep in mind that the purpose of your home is to protect you, your family members, and your things from the elements and predators. Because you can’t rip up your house by the footings and carry it on your back, you will need to make other arrangements. A tent, tarp, or other covering is a critical component to your survival. Also, what you wear to cover your body is considered shelter.

HD Emergency Blanket

A heavy duty emergency blanket is a tremendous asset in your emergency preparedness plans. They are strong enough to act like a tarp for a makeshift shelter AND the mylar lining is phenomenal for reflecting heat in a desired direction.



There is something very comforting and reassuring about having four walls around you, even if they are paper thin fabric. But a solid tent does more than protect you mentally. It can shield yourself and your loved ones from the brunt of nature’s fury. You can stay dry, stay warmer, and stay more settled in a tent. Remember that you will be packing your tent on your back, so go as lightweight as you can to meet the needs of your group.


Sleeping Bag

People get grumpy, make bad decisions, and are unreliable when they don’t get enough sleep at home. Those issues compound when under the stress of a 72-hour emergency (and it’s even worse in longer situations). Sleeping well is supremely important in a survival situation. A quality sleeping bag paired with a good tent, sleeping pad, and pillow will help you feel rested, refreshed, and ready to face the challenges in front of you. Sleeping bags can easily jump up to $500 or more. If you’re wanting to spend that kind of money to get a high-end sleeping bag, do the research and find a bag that meets your needs. If you’re looking for great bang for the buck, the below recommendation should serve you well.


Sleeping Pad

A sleeping pad is another item that it’s easy to jump into a big price tag on. It’s very worth it though. The human body loses massive heat through conduction (heat lost to the ground while sleeping). Putting an insulating layer between you and the cold earth will keep you warm and comfortable.

Recommendation: We love the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm, but it’s a luxury item that might not fit in your budget. The Z Lite is still pricey, but it has been proven for years by people that hike across the country for fun.


Yes, you can roll up a shirt or jacket to use as a pillow. And yes, it might seem frivolous or unnecessary to have a pillow in your kit. But if you’re not an experienced camper, you can’t imagine how much better you feel about things when you sleep well, and a proper pillow facilitates this. We like the camping pillow options that are inflatable and pack down to the size of a lemon.


Base Layers

Layers. Layers are the secret to effectively regulating your body temperature when outdoors. If you live in a moderate-to-cold environment, do not neglect adding base layers to your 72 hour kit.

Recommendations: Synthetic and wool options.


If your emergency situation necessitates leaving on foot, you better have an extra pair of good quality socks. You won’t get very far if you start having foot problems due to poor foot hygiene. [You will notice from the recommendation that we are fond of wool. Wool’s benefits are worth the investment if you can make it.]


Change of Clothing

Keep other climate appropriate garments in your kit so you have a spare set. If you are putting a 72 hour kit for your younger family members, make sure to update the clothes every year to keep up with their growth. A nine-year-old might not have success changing into a 4T set of clothes.

Sturdy Shoes

Look at surveys of the most popular shoes used for thru-hikers on the Appalachian trail and you might be surprised by the results. Every year less and less people are wearing hiking boots and are switching to lightweight trail runners (https://thetrek.co/appalachian-trail/top-footwear-appalachian-trail-2019-thru-hiker-survey/). In fact, one recent survey shows that eight out of the top eight common shoes on the trail are all trailrunners (https://www.greenbelly.co/pages/best-hiking-shoes). Why? Have you ever actually worn a hiking boot? Follow the example of the experts, people who walk across mountains and trails for months at a time.

Recommendation: The Altra is as ugly as sin but they are the #1 shoe. Check out any other trail runner/hiking shoe.


A LARGE cotton bandana has a surprising amount of utility. It can be used as a sling, a water filter, a water collection device, sun protection, material to make char cloth, a cooling device, a dust mask, a signaling device, etc. An optimal size for maximum utility is a 30, or 36-inch square. Most commercially available bandanas are only 20–27 in squares. You can easily make one from an old cotton bedsheet. Just cut it to the desired dimensions and hem the edges. Done.

Recommendation: [If you would rather just buy one, here’s a decent option]


At the very least you should keep a beanie (preferably wool) or a baseball hat with your 72 hour kit. Or… you can learn from the wisdom of cowboys and mountain men across the globe. A wool, wide-brimmed hat is hard to beat in Inclement conditions. It’s like wearing a small umbrella on your head to keep you dry and warm. In the heat, a breathable straw cowboy hat or mesh, safari style hat are fantastic options.


Extra Emergency Blankets

Emergency blankets are fantastic at reflecting heat. They are extremely versatile when building shelters and a large emergency blanket can function as a shelter in and of itself. It’s a great idea to pack at least one extra large emergency blanket in your 72 hour kit.


Work Gloves

In the midst of an emergency, you do not want to take unnecessary risks. There’s no sense in being tough when handling camp chores or moving through unforgiving terrain. A tiny infection (even from a sliver!) can be deadly. Wear work gloves. Leather gloves offer a little bit more protection, but nitrile work gloves are lighter, offer greater dexterity, and they pack smaller.



Think of wearing sunglasses like smearing sunscreen on your eyeballs. Shades protect your corneas, retinas, lenses and eyelids from the harmful effects of UV light. With the number of options available, just pick what works best for you. Make sure your selection offers 100% UV protection, will stay on your face while hiking/climbing, and will hold up to rough use.

Contractor Bags

Large contractor bags can be used to make leaf-filled mattresses or seating. They can be used to gather fire making materials. They can be used to keep dry things dry. They can be used as windbreaks. They weigh next to nothing and are pretty inexpensive too. Throw a couple of them in your pack and you will thank yourself when you find yourself needing them.



Ever looked around a desert and wondered why there wasn’t more vegetation and animal life? It’s not because there is too much water. Water is essential to sustaining life—including yours. Human bodies start shutting down after about three days of not having water. It’s therefore crucial to carry as much water with you as possible and have the means of replacing it.


Backpacking water filters used to be clunky, weighty affairs. The standard on the market now weighs only 2 ounces, is the size of a spice jar, and can filter 100,00 gallons of water! One of these can take care of the water filtration needs of a whole group, but you should have a backup in another family member’s 72 hour kit just in case.


Bottle + Cup

BPA free Nalgene bottles are great. Many love theirs and use them on a daily basis. But for emergency preparedness, stainless steel is the material you want to reach for. The primary benefits this offers you is it gives you the ability to boil water for disinfecting or for using with freeze dried meals. It can also be used as a cook pot in a pinch. Make sure to get a single-walled, wide-mouth stainless steel bottle, NOT a vacuum sealed, double-walled bottle. Trying to boil water in a double-walled bottle over a fire won’t end well. *BONUS many bottles are sized to fit inside “nesting cups.” The cups serve as cook pots and even have lids. This can serve as a mess kit without taking up any more space in your 72 hour kit. [Consider a pouch for your bottle/nesting cup to keep things organized and convenient.]



Many backpacks now come with and/or have a compartment for water bladders. Bladders represent an easy way to stay hydrated while on the trail. It’s much easier to take a sip from a hose on your shoulder while walking rather than to stop, pull out a bottle, unscrew the cap (without dropping it!), take a swig, put the cap back on, and repack it.


Portable Water Storage

If your emergency situation is such that you can leave in a car, toss in at least 2-3 gallons (per person in your group) that is stored in a durable container. Water bottle cases and one gallon jugs are convenient for the first use, but fragile and not great for reuse. If you can afford it, Equip 2 Endure highly endorses the AquaBrick Product. We tested it thoroughly against the other popular brick container on the market (Water Brick) and it wasn’t even close. Check out the AquaBrick vs WaterBrick review. AquaBricks are expensive, but they merit the price tag.

Recommendation: AquaBrick – USE CODE “E2E” FOR 10% OFF YOUR ENTIRE ORDER

AquaBrick - Portable long term water storage


Iodine used to be the standard for water disinfectant treatments in the wild. Chlorine dioxide has unseated the old go-to because of its increased effectiveness and lack of the noticeable bad taste of its predecessor. If you already have a water filter and the ability to boil water, this isn’t necessary. BUT, if you’d like the peace of mind of one more water treatment option, this is the one to add.



A human can stay alive for about three weeks without food. There is a big difference between staying alive and enjoying life though. A survival situation is a stressful situation… and hangry people don’t alleviate that stress. Including food in your emergency kit is something you won’t regret in an emergency situation. Below are several options to consider adding to your kit. It’s tempting to include the whole pantry, but remember you’ll have to carry your choices on your back. Be judicious.

Freeze Dried Meals

Not only are freeze dried meals great for food storage, some would see they are the PERFECT food option to include in a 72 hour kit. This is because the food has undergone a process called cryodesiccation to remove the moisture from the food while leaving the nutrition in. The result is a super long-lasting, lightweight, convenient, and nutritious meal that just needs hot water to cook. Price wise, these meals are comparable to perishable food items, but with significant additional perks. (Learn more about Freeze Dried Food)


Trail Mix

This is one of the most popular snack options for serious hikers and campers. Trail mix is inexpensive and dense with natural sugars, proteins, and calories. An added bonus is that you don’t have to cook it! One of the only drawbacks of trail mix is that it doesn’t store very long. If you or your family eats it regularly, you can buy one bag ahead and simply rotate it out before it goes bad.


Fishing Kit

Having food already in your pack is great. But what happens when it runs out? If you live anywhere near water, it would probably be a good idea to include at least a few small tackle items to help you catch fish to replenish your food stores. There are tons of variables to consider when buying tackle, so talk to someone in your area who loves to fish to find out what you should buy. Make sure to have a nice, small container to put your tackle in.



Hey… it worked for our ancestors! When calories start to really matter, you will wish you had a way to catch more food. Small snare traps have been in use for a good long time and have proven their usefulness. But consider looking into yoyo traps. They’re light, reusable, versatile (can be used for fishing too), and do most of the work for you.


Wild Edibles Book

Even better than hunting, trapping, and fishing is eating food that’s already growing nearby and simply needs to be harvested. However, you better be absolutely positive that what you think is food is actually food before consuming it. Consider adding a durable wild edible book for your region to your 72 hour kit. Having food already in your pack is great. But what happens when it runs out? If you live anywhere near water, it would probably be a good idea to include at least a few small tackle items to help you catch fish to replenish your food stores. There are tons of variables to consider when buying tackle, so talk to someone in your area who loves to fish to find out what you should buy. Make sure to have a nice, small container to put your tackle in.


Fishing Kit

Having food already in your pack is great. But what happens when it runs out? If you live anywhere near water, it would probably be a good idea to include at least a few small tackle items to help you catch fish to replenish your food stores. There are tons of variables to consider when buying tackle, so talk to someone in your area who loves to fish to find out what you should buy. Make sure to have a nice, small container to put your tackle in.


Emergency Rations

Probably the closest thing on the market to the fabled “Lembas Bread” of the Tolkien world is what is called emergency rations. They are calorie dense food items that taste like honey and cinnamon. In their airtight packaging they can last for five years or more. Emergency rations are commonly found in boats because of their longevity, lack of need to cook, and compact size.



Even a vegan will renege on their vows of meat abstinence when they’re hungry and the scent of jerky hits their heightened sense of smell. Jerky is calorically and protein dense, stores for a good long time, and is delicious. If you’re a fan of jerky, buy a pack and throw it in your 72 hour kit. Rotate it out before it expires. No cooking, cleaning, or preparation required. Just exercise a little discipline and don’t eat it all at once.


Mess Kit

If the nesting cup and bottle from the water section above just don’t work for you, you will need to get some kind of mess kit instead. Consider if you also want a gas stove to accompany it. Remember, all these ounces and pounds add up!Having food already in your pack is great. But what happens when it runs out? If you live anywhere near water, it would probably be a good idea to include at least a few small tackle items to help you catch fish to replenish your food stores. There are tons of variables to consider when buying tackle, so talk to someone in your area who loves to fish to find out what you should buy. Make sure to have a nice, small container to put your tackle in.



You can go full savage and eat with your bare hands if you want, but you and your company may feel better about your decisions if you use utensils. A titanium spork weighs almost nothing and will make eating (and clean up) much more efficient and enjoyable for you.


Stove + Fuel

If your food choices only require boiling water or cooking in one pot, the Jet Boil is hard to beat. If you want a little more capability and are planning on a more diverse menu, you might consider a more versatile stove option.



Fire is not always necessary in a survival situation. In some instances it is actually counter productive. Having a roaring bonfire on a camping trip is fun, but it is simply a waste of calories and resources if it is not needed. However, a well-prepared person will have experience making fires and know how to use them (cooking, disinfecting, heat, light, etc). Fire is not the only type of energy to be concerned with in your emergency preparedness. Unless an EMP or solar flare knocks out all circuitry, you should have a plan to power your electronic devices.

Magnification Lens

One of the best fire starting methods you can practice is solar ignition. Why? Because the sun isn’t going to run out of juice (at least not in your lifetime). If you need to start a fire and the sun is out, solar ignition is what you should attempt first. All you need to carry is a featherlight fresnel magnification lens and you have unlimited solar fire starting capability.


Ferro Rod

A ferrocerium rod is a composite stick made up of materials that ignite when scraped with a hard, sharp object (flint, knife, scraper, etc). Ferro rods are particularly popular with survivalists and bushcrafters because of their durability, longevity, and reliability. The sparks from a ferro rod burn at over 5,000 degrees and when properly directed give the user a great chance of fire success.



Pretty much the easiest and most reliable way to start a fire. Maybe it’s not as cool as starting a fire with a bow and drill set, but in an emergency situation, it’s not time to mess around. Save calories, time, and mental energy by using a lighter to get the fire going. On a side note, it’s a great idea to always have two ways to start a fire on your person. The recommended keychain lighter below works great, is discreet, and gives you a flame whenever you need it.


Waterproof Matches

Some manufacturers even go so far as calling their matches “storm proof.” You may wonder why you should keep matches in your 72 hour kit if you already have a lighter. High quality matches are a great 2nd “sure flame” option if something happens to your lighter (which is not far fetched).



Just because you have a lighter, matches, or other ignition device, doesn’t guarantee you will have a fire. If you only have wet or damp wood to work with, a firestarter will help get the small kindling dried out and ignited so you dry out larger wood and have a fire. A simple and practically free firestarter is simply taking a cotton makeup pad and soaking it in melted wax. Let it dry and you have a phenomenal piece of tinder. There are also great commercial options as well.


Char Cloth Tin

Carrying coal, char cloth, or chaga to start a fire is a technique older than recorded history. Char cloth is a carbonized piece of natural material (often cotton) that will “catch” a spark and turn into an ember. This ember can be blown into flame in a tinder bundle. Coal can do the same thing (think BBQ). A tin (like an Altoid tin) is used around a campfire to make more charred material. This is a great skill to learn because it enables you to always make the needed char tinder for your next fires. In other words, it’s easy to replenish your fire-making supplies.If your food choices only require boiling water or cooking in one pot, the Jet Boil is hard to beat. If you want a little more capability and are planning on a more diverse menu, you might consider a more versatile stove option.

Recommendation: [Or just pick up a single unit at Walmart]

Solar Panels + Battery Pack

Stop for a moment and think how your life would be disrupted if you had no electricity. How would you communicate? How would you light things? How would you entertain yourself or your family? How would you navigate? Even a small solar panel can provide the power to make a terrible situation more comfortable.


Solar + Hand Crank Radio

An extremely popular inclusion in 72 hour kits is the ubiquitous solar + hand crank radio. Not only can it use the sun’s power and manual power to fuel its own functionality (radio and flashlight), that power can be diverted to other devices.


Charging Cables

Don’t be the person who has the device and has the energy creating capability but can’t connect them because you left the charging cable at home. Include an extra lightning cable (or whatever your phone uses) and micro usb cable. Just make sure you include whatever cables you rely on to power your every day devices.

Rechargeable Headlamp

Using a handheld flashlight is infuriatingly inconvenient around camp. Free up your hands by using a headlamp. Then, be even more farsighted by using a rechargeable headlamp that can be topped off with the small solar kit you have invested in.



All of your preparations are for nought if you can’t defend them or yourselves. It’s not pleasant to think about, but things can get ugly fast when disaster strikes. Immediately after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many places around New Orleans turned into the proverbial Wild West. You can examine story after story of refugees from around the world who often had more to fear from their fellow refugees than anything else. Your safest bet is to organize a group of like-minded people who are prepared to defend themselves and each other at home and on the road.

Pepper Spray

Sometimes you want to use a non lethal option to defend yourself. Sometimes you want to use a quiet/stealthy option to defend yourself. Sometimes you want to chase a large, fanged critter off without killing it. Whatever the reason is, strong pepper spray is probably something you want to have in your emergency preparedness kit. The below recommendation is the strongest pepper spray that civilians can buy.



A quality knife is one of the most versatile tools on earth. It is used in food preparation, shelter building, fire building, and obviously, self defense. Whatever knife you decide to include in your 72 hour kit, make sure it is durable, made of quality materials, highly rated, comfortable to use, and easy to maintain. Sometimes you want to use a non lethal option to defend yourself. Sometimes you want to use a quiet/stealthy option to defend yourself. Sometimes you want to chase a large, fanged critter off without killing it. Whatever the reason is, strong pepper spray is probably something you want to have in your emergency preparedness kit. The below recommendation is the strongest pepper spray that civilians can buy.



This isn’t the place to try to convince you which firearm is the best for every situation you may encounter. There isn’t one. But, it would be wise to start your search with a 9mm pistol, 308 or 5.56 rifle, and a 12 gauge shotgun.


Not a joke. A quality slingshot can pack a lethal punch. One of our E2E team members has hunted and killed deer with a slingshot. Granted, he’s a retired Navy Seal and expert survivalist. But still, a slingshot is quiet, relatively easy to use, and there is infinite ammo laying around.



A 72 hour kit isn’t intended to prepare you for war, but you can learn a LOT from military history which should be considered while building your kit. The ability to effectively communicate with your family and/or group can be the difference between failure and success. Is it safe to assume you want to succeed? Have several means of communication you can employ during an emergency to keep you safe and productive.

Walkie Talkie

If the cell networks are down OR if you are in an area without service, quality walkie talkies will be your go to communication device. This is another reason solar power will be so important to you — recharging communication devices. We’re fans of the Motorola Talkabout T800 series. They’ve got great range for a small price AND they integrate with your mobile phone to text and locate each other via the walkie talkies’ radio signals (instead of a cellular network). For an inexpensive but surprisingly powerful HAM radio, check out Baofengs.


Mobile Phone

Even if cell service is down, keep your mobile phone with you. You can use it to take photos or videos, use it to magnify things in the distance, have contact and digital personal documents* handy, keep people entertained with games or stored movies, etc. Then when service is back up you have your primary communication device working again. Remember, you’ll need solar and your charging cables.

*You will want to have printed copies of all personal documents.


Whistles are an easy way to signal others and/or call for help. We recommend putting one around the neck of every person in your group (especially children) as soon as you get outside in an emergency situation. Make sure to get a pealess whistle so it doesn’t freeze or stop functioning. Also, think compact and lightweight. You’re carrying a lot of stuff in your 72 hour kit. Keep each item as small and lightweight as possible without sacrificing effectiveness.


Bic Stick Pen

You may need to record things, draw a map, communicate silently, or whatever else that requires a writing instrument. A big stick pen weighs about nothing and the tube can be used as a straw or mouth bellows.


Unless one of your hobbies is making paper from scratch or writing on bark peels, you might want to just throw a small, cheap notepad in your back. TIP: put your Bic Stick Pen and your notepad in a zippered lunch bag to keep them dry and organized.


Signal Mirror

A simple signaling mirror is shockingly effective. Not only are they great for catching emergency services attention, but you can signal other parties at great distance in complete silence. If you’re trying to be discreet, use a signal mirror, not smoke signals.



People tend to worry about the big and horrible injuries that can happen in an emergency. What people don’t pay enough attention to is staying hygienic and sanitized. Fungal or bacterial infections can turn into something even worse than a broken limb. Trench foot alone killed 75,000 British soldiers in WWI. The following list of items will help you keep clean and healthy—which is why they should be included in your 72 hour kit.

Hand Sanitizer

Something that keeps us alive and well every day that we often forget to appreciate is how easy it is to be hygienic. Need to clean your hands? Go to the sink and wash them in magically heated water and never ending soap. Once you step out of doors, the story changes. Hand sanitizer makes it much easier to quickly sanitize your hands and other surfaces. COVID shot hand sanitizer’s price up and the availability down, but manufacturers are catching up.


Bar Soap

You have got to stay clean to stay healthy. Include a bar of antifungal/antibacterial soap into your bag and use your towel or a rag to rub off the amount of soap you need, then apply it. Keep your soap bar in a ziploc bag. Why bar soap in your 72 hour kit? Simple. Bar soap doesn’t leak.


Microfiber Towel

A durable microfiber towel will help you get clean and then dry off. They’re lightweight. They dry off quickly. They’re effective at cleaning.


Degradable Wipes

For years backpackers and adventures would simply flatten a roll of toilet paper and use that when outdoors. And that approach works. But if you want to feel extra clean and have a more compact package that offers more potential uses, look into wipes. The biodegradable kind just need to be buried after use and then you can forget about them.


Nail Clippers + File

In an emergency situation, you will need to do the best you can to stay groomed and tidy. Nail clippers will help you do just that and will help you with a lot more tasks as well. Cutting fishing line, nipping loose fabric threads, and putting a start cut in stubborn food packaging are all in the wheelhouse of a good set of clippers. You can probably pick up a cheap mini nail clipper with file combo at Walmart for $.99. We are partial to the victorinox though if you want a bump in quality and a more compact size.



Another item you don’t appreciate until you need them! Removing ticks, splinters, ingrown hairs are common uses. You wall also reach for tweezers when assembling things and holding fine objects. Don’t forget their use when addressing medical issues. It’s worth the few grams to have them in your kit.


Teeth Hygiene

If you’re a glutton for punishment, you need to try neglecting your teeth in an emergency situation so you can deal with an intense toothache as well as the stress. If that doesn’t sound enticing to you, take care of your teeth. You can use a spare toothbrush you already have with the sample toothpaste and floss you get from the dentist. TIP: If you would like to shave a few grams off your pack weight, cut 3-4 inches off the handle of your toothbrush. Or just buy a couple inexpensive folding toothbrushes like the recommended one below.


Body Powder

Chafing on the trail isn’t pleasant. A little body powder is often all that is needed. Put some on your feet or… other places it’s needed and you will be ready to go.



In a disaster situation, guess who plays doctor? You do. Have medical supplies in your 72 hour kit and the know-how to use them. You probably won’t be performing open heart surgery in the woods, but you can sure bandage up scrapes and burns.

First Aid Kit

A lightweight (but still effective) First Aid Kit should include a variety of bandages, antibiotic ointment, anti-inflammatories/pain-killers, gauze, alcohol wipes, superglue, and duct tape. You may also want to include a trauma kit if you think you may need it (tourniquet, chest seal, blood clotter, pharyngeal tube, etc.)


Insect Repellent

Bugs carry diseases and are pests. Repel them. Deet is natural and safe.



Not to diminish the importance of skin care, but if you don’t burn badly, you may want to save the space and weight in your 72 hour kit by not including sunscreen. If you do burn, pack sunscreen. You don’t want to be dealing with sunburn blisters and infection away from home.



Moleskin is a flexible, spongy bandage used to help prevent and treat blisters—particularly on the feet of hikers/backpackers. Moleskin weighs very little, is inexpensive, and can save you a significant amount of discomfort if you find yourself fleeing on foot to safety.


*Consider your/your family’s specific needs. Are there any prescription medications you need to account for? Do you wear glasses or contacts? You might want to pack an extra set with whatever you need to care for them. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to pack some condoms either.


Even in a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) situation, people will use some form of currency. Whether it’s food, precious stones, precious metals, or just trading for supplies, people will always exchange value.


Keep a stack of small bills ($1’s and $5’s) in a ziploc bag in your 72 hour kit. As long as the disaster you’re facing hasn’t wiped out your currency’s value, you will want a way to barter and acquire goods. Decide what amount you feel comfortable keeping in your pack and then keep it secret when you’re in the emergency situation. There’s no good reason to become a target. Your gear may already be getting eyed by people, don’t add even more temptation.

Silver Coins

Some people feel more comfortable when they have a few small silver coins handy. Precious metals have intrinsic worth and silver is much easier to barter with for lower-priced goods than gold.

Credit and Debit Cards

If the emergency you face is localized, you credit cards and debit cards will still be viable methods of payment. Keep them handy. Ideally you would already have them on you anyway and you wouldn’t have to specifically remember to take them with you. Just don’t leave them at home.


Scriptures/Devotion Book (hard copy) Many folks turn to their favorite religious or motivational texts for inspiration, guidance, and comfort. Often these texts come in small, printed versions for light packing. An emergency situation is the perfect time to pull out a text that grounds you and encourages you.


Games Pack a game or two that doesn’t require electricity. Know some trail games to keep yourself and others occupied and engaged in what’s going on around them. Find interesting diversions to take your mind off the seriousness of the situation. BUT… don’t let your guard down too much.


Modern technology is amazing. For most people in developed countries, they have been able to forget how to navigate and use maps because their phones do it for them. The problem there is that… they have forgotten how to navigate and use maps—and the younger ones have never even learned the skill. It would behoove you to brush up on land navigation concepts and have the needed analog tools in your 72 hour kit.


Did you know that your mobile phone’s GPS ability is still working even when your cellular service is not? You can download apps that can help you navigate using GPS even if you have no signal. One more reason to bring your phone with you. But don’t rely on this method entirely. When something truly catastrophic happens, you don’t want GPS navigation to be your only plan—because that option might not be available. Another option- E2E team member Chris really likes his Garmin GPS watch. This watch was used to help the team navigate in the snowy, back country woods of Utah to shoot the Fire In the Snow video. The watch was accurate within a few feet, in real time, with no cell service. It even had the small, obscure trails that we used charted in the maps. Really impressive stuff.


GPS Tracking

If you are planning on traveling in a group or with kids, you will find it comforting and useful to be able to track their location at any given time. There are compact gps tracking devices you can purchase, but if you’re investing in the Motorola Talkabout T800s for your kit you are already covered (as long as the person with the walkie talkie have it paired to an android or apple phone). The app that was designed for the T800’s includes a gps map charting capability. You can save yourself some money and space by using that feature instead of buying another device. Moleskin is a flexible, spongy bandage used to help prevent and treat blisters—particularly on the feet of hikers/backpackers. Moleskin weighs very little, is inexpensive, and can save you a significant amount of discomfort if you find yourself fleeing on foot to safety.



A compass does a whole lot more than tell you which direction is North. You can chart an area. Shoot a bearing. Measure distances on a map, etc. Fortunately, a quality compass does not necessitate breaking the bank. But before you go thinking that you have everything you need just because you have a compass, don’t forget that you have to learn how to use it. See Local Topo Map below.


Local Topo Map

A topographical map presents the terrain of the area, as well as the birds eye view of landmarks and features. Understanding elevations and terrain will be invaluable to you if you need to plan a course to get your group to a designated point. (A great resource to learn land navigation)

Recommendation: You can have a map printed out at REI. You can order a custom topo map from https://www.mytopo.com. You can even order a map from Amazon.


Sometimes an evacuation or shelter in place are just precautionary. You may just need to hop over to the next town and stay with friends because of a large fire encroaching on your neighborhood. No biggy. But, if the emergency is such that you don’t know when and if you will be able to go back to your house, you will need to make other arrangements. Enter the skills and tools of fabrication. A few simple tools and a little know-how will help you be much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground and cooking on a bonfire.


Already covered under the security sections.



Many preparedness minded people are almost obsessed with the idea of finding the perfect survival knife, or one tool that does everything. They often drift to the idea of a Rambo knife with a saw on the spine, hollow handle to carry extra supplies, big enough blade to chop—essentially something that makes them look like a tacticool warrior. Unfortunately, tools that try to do too much are often good at no individual task. Many experienced woodsmen and survival instructors will tell you that if there were such a thing as one survival tool to meet all your wilderness survival needs, it would be the axe. A quality steel, thin-edged, razor-sharp, wood-handled, medium-length axe (~26in) can do most-to-all of the work around camp. Felling a tree, cutting and pointing poles, splitting logs, and even fine whittling (choking up and holding the axe head) are all effectively handled by a quality axe.



A saw only has one job (unlike a knife or axe). But it excels at that one job—cutting wood. A quality saw can cut through 3-4 inch logs in a matter of seconds. You will find this ability wonderfully useful in shelter and furniture building tasks. When cutting firewood to length, preserve your saw by not cutting all the way through the logs. You can simply put a start cut at the length you desire, then find a forked tree, place the cut directly over one of the forked limbs, and push. The length will break off at your start cut.



Pliers are probably the main feature on a multitool and are where the value is. However, a quality multitool will offer several other features that can make jobs easier. A phillips and flathead screwdriver will come in handy on repairs. A bottle and can opener will be appreciated when needed. And a secondary blade is fantastic to preserve for fine or delicate cutting (put the abuse on your other knife).


Whittling Knife

If you find yourself out of doors for an extended period of time, you might start to miss some of the simple things you had in your home… like cooking spoons. It’s hard to carve out hollow recesses (like a spoon’s bowl) with a regular knife. A hook knife, or a whittling knife with hook blades and gouges gives you the ability to recreate the comforts and keepsakes of home.



When it comes to shelter and furniture fabrication, if you can make pegs and holes, you’re covering most of your joinery needs. Making pegs isn’t too difficult when you have the tools we’ve just covered. But what about holes? You don’t need to pack a cordless drill and bit set with you. One scotch eye wood auger will take care of this hole in your 72 hour kit. Seriously… you can build a sturdy table, chair, or even a whole cabin with a saw, axe, and auger.



Rope is included in your BRICS because it is one of the most useful items in your 72 Hour Kit AND one of the most difficult to produce yourself in the outdoors. Be sure to only include strong and high-quality rope/cordage. It’s not ideal or even advisable, but you might find yourself having to repel or hang by a line. Jute or cotton twine isn’t something to trust your life to. Super strong paracord isn’t intended for that kind of task, but it can do it if done carefully. Pack 100 ft of both paracord and tarred seine line (bank or trot line) in your kit.


Duct Tape

Duct tape can be used for repairs on your pack and your shelter. It can be used for bandaging. Duct tape can be used to help hold your shoes together. It can even be useful as a fire starting material. Bottom line… make sure you have some high quality duct tape in your 72 hour kit.



Yes, a needle is used to create or repair garments, packs, and shelters. A needle is also helpful when removing splinters, punching holes in materials, or even cleaning under fingernails. It’s a practically weightless piece of kit that gives you lots of capability. You may already have some larger sewing needles around. Many woodsmen prefer packing what is called a “sail needle”. They are large, ultra durable needles that are designed for sewing heavy duty materials.



The thread you will need will be to repair your clothing, packs, and shelters. You will therefore want heavy duty, UV resistant, nylon thread that will hold up to the elements.


Sharpening Kit

Having helpful tools is a huge benefit in an emergency situation. But what about when they lose their edge? First, it’s important to understand the difference between sharpening and honing. Honing is simply aligning a serviceable edge (pushing the microscopic metals edges into alignment). Sharpening is removing material to create a new edge on a tool. A diamond rod can be used effectively to sharpen. Leather strops with a polishing compound are fantastic for honing. There are tons of sharpening options out there, each with their own particular advantages. But a lightweight diamond rod paired with a small leather strop is a winning combo and should take care of all your edge maintenance needs.


Ranger Bands

A ranger band is essentially a super heavy duty rubber band. They come in handy when lashing things to your kit. They are useful for creating small structures (like a tripod) and utensils (like Bush Tongs). Because they are a petroleum product, they work well as a fire starter as well. Even seen how long and hot a tire burns in a riot? They’re like that, but tiny. You can buy them or simply cut up some old bicycle inner tubes to make some for yourself.

Recommendation: Make your own! Or, you can buy a pack from Amazon.


You’ve already surmised a 72 hour kit consists of more than just food and water. A small duffle bag might not be the best choice to pack all your items in. When making your selection, keep in mind that you might have to travel a significant distance on foot. Your best bet is to consider what people use who regularly carry large kits for long distances: backpackers and soldiers. Both use high-capacity (~50 L or more) backpacks with excellent support and that hold up to abuse.

A quick note on being discreet. If you get a backpack that looks militaristic or tactical, people will make assumptions when they see it. A camouflage backpack with molle webbing covering it screams “prepper!” When someone assumes you’re a prepper, they assume you are prepared with useful supplies. You might not care, but you need to be aware of this. If you notice someone staring at your bag out of the corner of your eye, you’ve just clocked that you are now considered a target.

Below are a few excellent options to use as the container for your 72 hour kit.

Kelty Redwing 50

It’s hard to go wrong with this pack. It’s large, well designed, it’s easy to access contents, and it doesn’t look tactical. It’s a great value and has a great reputation. The pass behind pockets on either side of the pack are perfect for holding a folding saw and axe.

Pack Weight: 3.7 pounds

Osprey Farpoint 55

Touted as “perfect for anyone who needs to carry their life on their back for days, weeks, or even months at a time.” Osprey is a beloved brand among hiking and backpacking enthusiasts. This particular pack is nice and tight and has the distinguishing feature of sporting a detachable daypack (smaller day pack).

Pack Weight: 3.9 pounds

Teton Sports Scout 3400

This is the top selling backpacking bag on Amazon and has thousands of positive reviews. It might not match the quality, or have the same fit and finish as some of the higher end bags, but it should get the job done.

Pack Weight: 4.5 pounds

There you have it! The Easy Guide to Making the Ultimate 72 Hour Kit. [We said it would be easy, not short.]

Don’t forget to download and print a copy of The 72 Hour Kit Checklist to keep with each kit in your family/group. It serves as a simple way to make sure you pack everything you need AND a quick reference for what’s in the pack.

Last Updated: 02/21/2021