Are You Ready Series: 72 Hour Kits

Many prepping websites have multiple articles on 72 hours bags (aka: evac packs, bug-out-bags, blow out bags or survival kits).  Every family should have a 72 hour bag ready, not because we should all run for the hills, but because there may be an unforeseen disaster such as a chemical spill or flash flooding where your family will have to make a swift evacuation.

There are certain disasters that can occur with little or no warning such as fires, hurricanes and flooding. Having necessary items in order, as well as, a plan in place will expedite the process of leaving, and keeping things running smoothly. The main goal of having a 72 hour bag is to be equipped to quickly evacuate and survive a three day period; and in this case, it is dependent upon you. Therefore, the 72 hour bag should be pre-assembled and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Also, bear in mind that we spend a majority of time away from home and if we find ourselves separated from our family, having survival items in our car could be a lifesaver. About 8% of workers in the USA have commutes of an hour or longer, and nearly 600,000 full-time workers endure “megacommutes” of at least an hour-and-a-half and 50 miles, according to new U.S. Census data on commuting. So, don’t forget to have a 72 hour bag separately for the vehicle. With these types of circumstances, sometimes we may be separated from our family members and may have to walk home in order to be reunited with them. Here are 20 items your should have in your car.

Personally speaking, when I assembled my family’s bug out bags it took a few hours to run through the house getting all the supplies in order. If I was in a time sensitive situation, I would have forgotten half of the items I needed. So, it’s essential that your B.O.Bs (Bug Out Bags) are ready to go!

 What To Put Into a 72 Hour Bag?

The type of bag used for evacuation purposes is not important – some use duffle bags, backpacks and suitcases to store their gear in. Ensure the bag is sturdy and has the ability to hold gear and equipment. Many preppers have purchased their bags at military surplus stores due to the high grade fabric used. Another consideration is for the bag or container to be waterproof. For those with multiple people in their family, each person in the family should have their own 72 hour bag that is placed into a large plastic container. A bag or container with a carrying handle would be advisable if the container holds many items or is for a family. Some thoughts to keep in mind when preparing your 72 hour bag are:

  • Have a plan in place (choosing the location, let family members know where your destination is, the contact information, a secondary destination, etc.) Click here for a checklist on creating a family emergency plan.
  • Keep the basic needs in mind: food, water, shelter, clothing, safety and communication.
  • Try and find items that are light weight, functional and versatile so that carrying them in a container will not be a strain.
  • Take your bag out and use it a few times to test that nothing is forgotten.

Food – In a bug out situation, put thought into the situation you could find yourself in. You will be in a high stress environment where you may be on foot walking for long periods, or for that matter walking up and down hills. The foods we will carry will make all the difference in the world in terms of maintaining energy levels, and nutrition. Many preppers underestimate how much food they will need for their 72 hour bags. They believe that living off of survival bars for a main source of nutrition for 3 days will  give you the optimum nutrition. This just isn’t so.

When you are preparing your bug out bag, you want your diet to give you ample calories, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and some fats. Keep in mind that ages and genders will play a role in calorie consumption. As mentioned, you will be operating in a high stress and high energy environment, therefore your body needs to be running as efficiently as possible. With this in mind, you should plan to eat small meals every 2-3 hours. Click here for a list of adequate bug out meals.

Have a means to prepare your food. A lightweight camping stove to cook food in, and purify water will increase your chances of survival. Try and find foods that are lightweight, and are high in essential nutrition in order to increase your energy levels. As well, have enough food for a 3 day period.  Some other possible food suggestions would be:

  • MRE’s
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Hard candy
  • Energy bars
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Granola bars
  • Powdered milk
  • Jerky

Some other suggestions for meals would be:

  • Bouillon cubes
  • Instant rice/mashed potatoes
  • Dried soups
  • Camping freeze dried foods
  • Gum
  • Instant pudding
  • Powdered drink mixes (Tang, Crystal Light)
  • Paper plates, cups and eating ware

Water – Having an adequate water supply is more important than food. A person cannot go without 3 days of water so have a plentiful amount.  Disaster organizations stress for each person to have one gallon of water per day. In an emergency situation, it is also one of the first items to disappear off of a store shelf.  Having this stored in your 72 hour bag may be different. Therefore, many carry large water travel water bottles and then carry water purification tablets or a water filter to keep their load down. Here are some additional  ideas for carrying water:

Clothing – Clothes in the 72 hour bag should be rotated every season and be appropriate to the environment you are in. As well, finding clothing that wicks moisture away would be helpful in both warm and cold climates. Having items in your bag that can be layered is a great option.

  •  If it is the winter season: Pack all cold weather essentials for maintaining body heat: Layered clothing, warm hat preferably with flaps over the ears, waterproof pants, mittens, etc.
  • Work gloves
  •  Have at least one change of clothing in your bag and two extra pairs of socks.
  •  A good pair of boots (hiking or combat boots) with a deep trench in the sole.
  • Rain suit
  • Poncho
  • Hat to keep the sun off your face.
  • Bandana

Shelter – A shelter is to keep out the natural elements at bay as well as provide a warm place to sleep to maintain body temperature.

  • Tents (lightweight)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Durable long lasting emergency blankets
  • Tube tent (emergency shelter)
  • Tarp
  • Garbage bags can even be used for a makeshift shelter.
  • Mylar emergency blankets

Fire – Having a means to producing fire will help maintain proper body temperature, assist in cooking food, and boiling water. If an emergency arises and you have to leave, you want to be able to have items on hand to make a fire to stay warm.

Communication – In a survival situation, communication is key. Family members and friends want to know that everyone is safe and sound and have made it to their ideal locations. Additionally, news sources such as radios need to be heard to find out if you are in a safe location, safe to go back to your home or are in a dangerous area.

  • Cell Phone
  • 2-way radio
  • Radio to get news and information
  • Signals such as whistles, flares and mirrors are important
  • Additional batteries

Tools – Tools will be used for a variety of reasons. Tools for hunting, shoveling, cutting, and for navigational purposes are all essential items for a 72 hour bag. To learn about the top 10 survival tools, click here.

Written Survival Sources

In a high stress situation that some are not used to, forgetfulness plays a part from dealing with all the changes that are occurring. Having some manuals to look upon for survival information, or for spiritual information to lift the moral is a good idea and does not take up much space.

Safety – There is no guarantee that everything will go as planned. There are times when emergencies arise. Having a well stocked first aid kit is essential in the case that someone gets injured. As well, having some pre-assembled trauma packs would cut down on response time. Taking a basic first aid course to give the proper aid is an instrumental tool in providing the right type of care. First aid kits should be filled with every type of first aid gear that could be needed.

  • Band-aids
  • Antiseptic
  • Gauze pads
  • Medical tape
  • Tourniquet
  • Celox (Emergency Blood Clotting Granules)
  • Bug spray
  • Sunblock
  • Poison ivy cream
  • Skin irritation cream
  • Pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine
  • Prescription medicine
  • Cold/flu medicine
  • Scissors

Weapons are another way of maintaining safety. Having the ability to defend yourself is another aspect to keep in mind during a bug out situation.

  • Hand gun
  • Rifle
  • Shot gun
  • Taser

Hygiene – In a bug out situation, many assume it could be for a few days, but it could be for longer periods of time. Keeping yourself clean is not only beneficial to those around you, but also to maintain health. Hygiene items are a good idea to put in your 72 hour bag:

  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Soap
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Laundry detergent
  • Feminine hygiene products

Personal Documents – When fleeing to a location other than your home, have the proper identification, and emergency information with in the case that you need to present it to a police officer, red cross disaster worker, state trooper, park ranger, etc. This can be challenging in a bug out situation. That said, modern technology has made it more convenient to scan your documents rather than carrying them all with you. That said, ensure that you have the following personal documents on hand.

  • Identifying information: Social Security card, driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, Marriage certificate
  • Financial accounts: Bank, investment, and credit card/loan accounts information, including institution names, phone numbers, and account numbers
  • Health records: Immunization records, allergies, dietary restrictions, medications, medical/surgical treatments
  • Pet information: Description of each pet, vet contact information, and any important medical notes
  • Property: Car information, home purchase papers/deeds, and other home inventory items.
  • Insurance documents (depending on the disaster you may need to make a claim before you can return to your home)
  • Wills and medical directives
  • Special sentimental items: Photographs, certificates, jewelry or small heirlooms

If a disaster hits, and you are unprepared to flee the situation, fear and panic set in and mistakes are made. To better access the situation, preparation makes all the difference.  Knowledge and preparation helps to control fear and keep a person calm. Calmness and clarity are the emotions that a person wants in a disaster situation. A 72 hour bag for multiple family members can take a longer amount of time than one may think. Having it pre-assembled and ready to go can put a person ahead of the game when it comes to bugging out. The more prepared a person is, the calmer they will be while evacuating.

72 Hour Kit E-Books:


The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published August 29th, 2013
Ready Nutrition - Fall Garden Specials From Ready Gardens
If you found this article useful, please Vote for Ready Nutrition as a top prepper web site.
share this article with others
related reading
featured today

Leave A Comment...
Ready Nutrition Home Page

17 Responses to Are You Ready Series: 72 Hour Kits

  1. Laughn says:

    You might want to rethink the recommendation regarding powdered juice.
    Namely “Crystal Light”.  This product contains aspartame. An extremely deadly sweetener. 

    Click on link below

    • Scott R. says:

      Great advice. Although when talking about a 72 hour bag I think you may have misspelled “bag”. You should have spelled it “S-U-V”. With everything you have suggested getting ready I don’t think it will all fit in a bag or even 10 bags. Certainly too much for each person to carry to see to their own needs.

      A machete? A battery powered tv? A scanner? Laundry detergent? You can’t do without washing your clothes for 72 hours? Where do you plan on doing this? Even boxes of pasta are heavy. This is supposed to be a 72 hour bag, not prepping for the end of the world.

      The one that really stood out is to take a bible. Not only are you ignoring that fact that 32% of people in the U.S. are non-religious and a slightly smaller percentage are of other faiths, but who wants to add the dead weight of a book to a 72 hour bag. If you can’t do without reading your holy book for that long I suggest you get a copy for your smart phone or memorize comforting passages. Don’t worry, considering how many are printed each year there will be no shortage of bibles after the disaster if you want a new one. 
      The idea behind this bug-out-bag is that within 72 hours you will get help or make your way to help. If you want to prepare to last longer than that you need a much bigger list and a safe place on high ground to store it all in (ie. bunker). I’ve taken less stuff on week long camping trips with my family of four and it packed my large SUV and roof top carrier to the limit.

      Instead, just think about what a backpacking camper would take with them where lack of weight is at a premium. If you are really serious about this get a lightweight pack frame for each family member packed with their clothes and with a sleeping back riding on top. Small tents are nice but plastic tarps pack much smaller and can be easily used as shelter when needed. In an urban situation I don’t anticipate a lack of overhead structure to sleep under. Divide the heavier items among the different packs. Go to a camping supply store and get the lightest dehydrated meals you can find to last you for the 72 hours. Lightweight camp stove (these can be quite small any more) and lightweight camping cookware (paper plates and cups take up WAY too much space and most camping cookware is lightweight, stacks within itself to save space, and some items are collapsible). Canteens and water purification for each. You can get the tabs or buy purification straws that let you drink right from dirty puddles and get clean water out the other end and canteens with filters built in. Water is important so get a camel bag (look it up) for each pack.

      Basically, if you can’t carry everything with one pack per person you have too much stuff and look for lighter/smaller alternatives. If you have children that can’t carry a lot of weight, a jogging stroller is a good alternative. It can carry the packs for the kids and had large wheels to get over obstacles.

      If you think you have a chance of driving to a place in better shape, store enough gas in containers to fill the tank of your vehicle and get on the road as soon as you hear the warnings. The early bird beats the traffic jams.

      Don’t get me wrong, the author’s concern and suggestions for a bug-out-bag are good but it’s just too much stuff and there is not much consideration for weight. When you are carrying your stuff, weight is a killer. Every pound makes each step that much more difficult. It make cost a lot of money to put all this together for “just in case” but think of it as an investment in your survival. And who knows, you might even take up backpacking.

    • Debs says:

      Glad I’m not the only one that caught that. Even in an emergency situation, I’m not willing to poison my kids or myself. 

  2. maggi says:

    excellent article. ive made a list from this and am putting my bug-out bag together. thanks.

  3. anna says:

    Great information! I would add ladies sanitary products to the section on hygiene. I would suggest pads because they can be used for large wounds as well as their intended use. I would also suggest including information for your bank account(s) under personal documents.

  4. ty says:

    Don’t forget your fishing license!! HAHAHA

  5. BC says:

    Tampons can be used for emergency medical needs as well, and they can also be used to help start a fire if you need to cook a meal.

  6. KC says:

    Great, though I’d add don’t pack anything that you don’t eat or are use to using now. A crisis is not the time to try jerky for the first time.

     An excellent food item is tuna packets.  Though I am not wild about tuna, I could survive on it when necessary.

  7. GoodLuck says:

    You forgot to mention insurance policies for home, vehicle and life since every one in the family may not be familiar with your carriers or the terms of the policies along with POD designated documents and DD214 for burial if you are a vet.  Additionally, you can separately zip-lock bag a recent picture and hair roots for DNA testing of each family member in case it is another 9/11, Katrina, Sandy, Rita (she kept changing direction) or earthquake/tornado (Joplin) incident to identify the bodies.  Don’t forget some cash and remember 72 hours may not be enough as NY/NJ is currently teaching us.  Not all emergencies come with sufficient warnings and after millions of dollars not even the responders were prepared for a 72 hour response.

  8. dutch says:

    Are you leaving your dog or cat at home? I’m single and will carry collapable water and food bowls and small bags of food, an extra collar and leash, and a photo and vet papers for my terrier in a waterproof zip-lock bag. I’d rather eat less and make room for this stuff, than leave the dog behind. But you have to decide for yourselves how you handle this and explain it to your kids..

  9. dutch says:

    I forgot to add this: take your prescription numbers with you. Our insurance doesn’t allow us to set aside meds, but if you have your numbers, and you use a nation-wide pharmacy, you should be able to get your meds at any branch if you have the prescription numbers. If I’m wrong, someone please correct me.

  10. Valuable post and comments contain great tips too! 

  11. Phil Kouse says:

    My insurance authorizes a refill when about 80% has been used. By carefully timing when I put in refill requests I have been able to stockpile a few pills at a time until I have a month dupply if most of them. 

  12. Rawhide says:

    This list is a suggestion as to what to put in you pack. You may not need all of this stuff, so you have to customize your bag to fit what you may need and your environment. In the big city you will need different stuff as compared to rural or desert areas. So don’t be stupid, put in what you will need.

  13. EQ says:

    People! This list is meant to be a list of SUGGESTIONS that you can tailor to your own situation. This is not a list that is specific to YOUR INDIVIDUAL situation! Come on, use common sense! If you don’t read the Bible, don’t include the Bible. If you live in a desert you might not need a rain suit. If you’re allergic to wheat, don’t include bread. If you don’t have a baby, if don’t eat aspartame, blah blah blah! This is a very good list of potential items for your consideration. Stop nitpicking, and remember that this list is meant to help a broad swathe of people from all different backgrounds and climates, think about what they may need in their circumstance. Thanks to the author for a well thought out list of items and categories.

Leave a Reply

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

Ready Nutrition Articles By Category
Looking for something specific on our site? Start your search in our list of articles by main category topic.