The best emergency kits
- Everyone should keep a stocked emergency kit on-hand so they're prepared in the event of an unexpected natural disaster, power outage, or big storm.
- There are generally two emergency kit options, as you're able to either purchase a pre-assembled kit or piece together a custom one of your own.
- Many pre-assembled kits are designed for specific use cases such as those for handling natural disasters or others compiled in order to be the most portable.
- Our top pick, the Sustain Supply Co. Comfort4 72-Hour Emergency Survival Kit, not only covers critical needs like water, warmth, sustenance, and first aid, but it also has plenty of redundancies which is a critical part of any kit.
Editor's note: With inventories in constant flux, we're keeping up with providing links to products and goods that are in stock and priced appropriately as best we can. Some recommendations may link to products that are currently out of stock, available via a third party, or aren't able to ship for several weeks.
Statistically speaking, it's unlikely you'll find yourself in a situation calling for an emergency preparedness kit, but preparedness is the operative word. Should a disaster strike in the form of an earthquake, tornado, civil unrest, a major storm, or something similar, you might find yourself cut off from outside help, relying on your wits and whatever rations and supplies you have on hand.
If this does happen, rations with a multi-year shelf life and any supplies included in a first aid kit like light sources, fire-starting tools, and other such essentials could be literal lifesavers. But remember, buying an emergency preparedness kit is only the first step in readying yourself and your household to respond to a crisis properly.
How to make the most of your emergency kit
To get some insight into how to best use your kit, we spoke to Brent Stern, founder of the emergency kit company, Sustain Supply Co.
"When you're in a stressful situation, your ability to problem-solve is diminished," Stern told Insider.
He advises people to not only procure supplies but to study what they have, too. "Take at least a half-hour to go through your kit and know what's in there and where things are in the bag. Put some cash in, too, and any prescription drugs or specific first aid needs you or a family member might require."
Ultimately, according to Stern, "a good survival kit gives you the ability to be self-sufficient." The emergency prep kits on our list below allow you and a small group to do just that, fend for yourselves for a few days as you wait for the restoration of civil support systems in your area or anything other help and support.
Here are the best emergency kits:
- Best emergency kit overall: Sustain Supply Co. Comfort4 72-Hour Emergency Survival Kit
- Best for natural disasters: Rescue Guard First Aid Kit
- Best for severe weather: Complete Earthquake Bag
- Best budget: Ready America 2-Person 3-Day Emergency Kit
- Best multi-use: Black Hawk Survival 2-Person Deluxe Survival Kit
- Best portable: Monoki First Aid Survival Kit
Updated on 12/11/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the section on how to make the most out of your emergency kit, added the Black Hawk Survival 2-Person Deluxe Survival Kit as our pick for the best multi-use, checked the availability of each recommended kit, and updated the prices and links where necessary.
The carefully curated Sustain Supply Co. Comfort4 72-Hour Emergency Survival Kit overs basic needs and offers redundancies in critical areas such as hydration and warmth.
Pros: Thoughtful and comprehensive curation, included rations actually taste good, comes with plenty of water and its own filtration system
Cons: Quite expensive compared to other options
I chose the Sustain Supply Co. Comfort4 72-Hour Emergency Survival Kit as my family's emergency preparedness kit because after looking at many different options, it seemed to be the most thoughtfully curated option. There is simply nothing in this kit that feels superfluous, and there's no glaring omission, either.
Many survival kits have items like toothbrushes and hair combs that may make mornings more pleasant but aren't entirely imperative for survival during an emergency. In other words, that means they're just extra weight. The Comfort4 kit is stocked almost exactly as I'd have built a kit from scratch.
When I got the founder of Sustain Supply Co. on the phone, I learned how they pulled that off. Brent Stern explained that they used Amazon analytics to determine which prep/survival products people tended to buy at the same time and then made the leading choices of discerning shoppers the products they included in the kit.
Thus, the Comfort4 comes stocked with foods that may have a 30-year shelf life and that actually taste good once rehydrated and cooked. It includes more emergency drinking water than you'll find in almost any other emergency kit, too. The kit also has all the basics, like first aid supplies, fire starters, emergency blankets, a razor-sharp knife, and more.
But there's another reason I chose the Sustain Supply Co. Four-72 Emergency Survival Kit both for my own home as well as for the top pick on this list: redundancy. The kit comes with two lanterns, two flashlights, and multiple chemical snap lights (AKA glow sticks). As noted, it comes with a lot of drinking water, but it also has a water filter included. It has enough fire starting supplies to make more than enough fires for the three days for which the kit is designed to sustain four adults.
Yes, it's expensive but your safety is priceless. And though it's on the heavy side, if you're with other adults, you can spread the weight around or pass the backpack from person to person as needed.
Best for natural disasters
This Rescue Guard First Aid Kit packs plenty of supplies to support families up to 72 hours in the event of an evacuation or quarantine, including safety shelters, a fully-stocked first aid kit, and food and water.
Pros: Has enough supplies to support a four-person family for 72 hours, everything comes packed in an easy-to-carry backpack
Cons: May want to pack more water and food
It's important to stay prepared in the event of an evacuation or quarantine, and this includes having an emergency kit on-hand stocked with everything from first aid supplies and water to tents and fire starters. Rescue Guard's First Aid Kit not only comes standard with these valuable items but offers enough supplies to support a family of four up to 72 hours.
Packed entirely into an easily transportable backpack, this kit comes with a pair of two-person survival shelters, four rain ponchos, and an easy-to-use fire starter. There are even thermal blankets included, as well. The backpack also has a fully-stocked first aid kit with gauze pads, tweezers, first aid ointment, ibuprofen, and several sizes of bandages.
Purified drinking water and Coast Guard-approved food rations are included should food or water become scarce. Other useful items include a roll of duct tape, a small flashlight, and four safety respirators. Though you'd ideally not break into much of what's included, it's far better to have access to more than you need than to be searching for something in a time of crisis.
Best for severe weather
The Complete Earthquake Bag is designed to keep you safe and prepared during natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes, and features enough supplies to support at least four people.
Pros: Packed in a roller bag-style duffle, has enough capacity to support up to four people for several days, contains a large first aid kit, comes with mylar sleeping bags, food and water included is good for up to five years
Cons: Bag isn't waterproof which would make it susceptible to damage in the event of a flood
If the natural disaster most likely to ravage your hometown is an earthquake, hurricane, or flood, this is the kit for you. Featuring enough supplies for up to four people (variations of the kit can serve up to six, too), the Complete Earthquake Bag is a literal life-saver.
The kit packs all of its supplies into a portable duffle bag that features an extending handle and roller wheels, making it easy to grab and go (and using it like a roller bag is preferred when the bag is full of contents, too).
Along with a standard 107-piece first aid kit, it also features hygiene kits, a water carrier, 40 purification tablets, several high-calorie food bars, a 30-hour candle, and a hand-crank flashlight that also acts as a phone charger and radio. There are even hand warmers and emergency ponchos, as well as waterproof matches and four mylar sleeping bags.
Auxillary items like goggles, a sewing kit, nylon rope, and leather-palmed gloves are also included, allowing the kit to offer respite in a variety of environments and emergencies. Though the bag comes packed full with the included contents, there's still some room to include a few extras of your own. This could include personal medication, additional food, or extra pairs of socks, and the like.
Don't let the price tag scare you away either. For everything that's included, and how important it is to be this prepared in the event of a natural disaster, the Complete Earthquake Bag is an incredible value.
The Ready America 2-Person 3-Day Emergency Kit has the basics you'll need to shelter in place or cover some ground for a few days.
Pros: Great low price, high visibility backpack, covers basic needs
Cons: Lacking several key items, the backpack itself is low quality
There are some notable items missing from the Ready America 2-Person 3-Day Emergency Kit. It lacks a flashlight or lantern, with the only light source being two chemical light sticks. There's also no blade or tool of any sort and it lacks fire-starting gear — not even a lighter or a pack of matches.
But here's the thing: The basic necessities needed for survival don't actually include a light source, a cutting tool, or even fire. They amount to hydration, nutrition, and protection from the elements, and this low-cost emergency prep kit has you and one other adult covered on those fronts.
The pair of emergency blankets and ponchos keep you relatively warm and dry even in harsh environs, the food and water rations keep you sufficiently nourished, and the first aid kit helps with most minor medical issues.
Although it's basic, the Ready America 2-Person 3-Day Emergency Kit is sufficient to check the "Prepared" box off your household to-do list. I recommend you go ahead and add a light, a pocketknife, and some storm matches, though.
Black Hawk Survival's 2-Person Deluxe Survival Kit offers a versatile collection of emergency essentials like food and water but also comes stocked with crucial extras like waterproof matches, emergency sleeping bags, and N95 safety masks.
Pros: Enough supplies to support two people for up to 72 hours, everything comes packaged into seal top bags, can come in a roller bag-style kit or a waterproof dry bag
Cons: Seal top bags don't come pre-labeled, so you'll have to dig through the kit when you first get it to see where everything is
Fully stocked emergency kits aren't exactly inexpensive, so the one you buy should not only have enough contents to support multiple people, but it should hold-up across multiple use cases, too. Black Hawk Survival's aptly named 2-Person Deluxe Survival Kit does exactly this, and even comes packed in an easy-to-haul, easy-to-store wheel bag.
The kit is split into seven basic categories: Food and water, light and communication, shelter and warmth, hygiene and sanitation, first aid, tools, and other (think notepads, small pencils, infectious waste bags, etc.). Doing it in this way not only assures that you can quickly glance at the list to make sure you're covered for literally anything, but if you keep a running checklist, you're able to replenish contents more easily.
Black Hawk Survival sends the bag with everything mostly separated into seal top bags and grouped together accordingly; the water is in its own bag, as are the food bars and utensils, toothbrush and toothpaste, and so on. However, the bags aren't labeled, so you may want to take a Sharpie to each one when you first open the kit.
As mentioned above, this kit excels in terms of versatility. It functions well as a quick go-bag but also can support two people over the course of 72 hours in the event of a natural disaster, massive power outage, or anything in between. There's even a deck of playing cards that depict various survival skills intended to educate you but also give you something to do during any downtime.
At $205, it's certainly not cheap but few comprehensively stocked emergency kits like this are (and you don't want to skimp on something intended to save your life). It's worth the investment and has more use cases than you'll (hopefully) know what to do with it. — Rick Stella
A first aid kit that's portable makes it much easier to grab and go in times of need, and the 241-piece Monoki First Aid Survival Kit is easily stored in a backpack, large bag, or can even be carried with little trouble.
Pros: Features 241 pieces of first aid kit supplies, comes in an easy-to-transport waterproof case, a great companion to a larger emergency kit
Cons: Doesn't feature long-term emergency support supplies like food or water
A cumbersome first aid kit can sometimes make it hard to easily take it while on-the-go. With the Monoki First Aid Survival Kit, not only is it a highly portable emergency kit but it doesn't sacrifice any of the gear you'd need to rely on it in times of an emergency.
At 241 total pieces, this kit includes everything from medical gloves and bandages to a small pocketknife and multi-tool. There's even a pocket-sized flashlight, a compass, and a fire starter kit. Extra items like cotton swabs, fishing line, tweezers, safety pins, and a first aid blanket are also included.
The kit manages to stay small enough to fit into a roughly 8-inch by 5-inch waterproof container that easily fits into backpacks, bags, or gloveboxes (it's small enough to carry, too). This does mean it won't feature any extended support gear like emergency shelters, sleeping bags, or food and water.
Monoki's First Aid Survival Kit is inexpensive, too, costing just $36. So, not only does it pack the first aid supplies you'd need in the event of an emergency but it's a great value, as well. – Rick Stella
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The best first aid kits
While you never want to need a first aid kit, should that need arise, you'll be glad you planned ahead and kept some high-quality medical supplies on hand. Here are the best you can buy.
The best backpacking food
Fortunately, enjoying a great "real" meal while you camp, trek, or climb isn't all that hard to do provided you planned ahead. None of the meals on this list require anything fancier than a pot, some water, and a stove (or fire) to prepare, and some don't even require the pot. Find our top picks.
The best survival knives
If you're in the wilderness and can only take a single item with you, then a good survival blade is the one you need. Here are our top picks.
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