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  • Writer's pictureRachel McCarty

Ready...Set...Go Bags!

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

As you may have noticed, 2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year. Besides COVID-19, all the job losses, the combustion of the oil and gas industry (especially here in Colorado), and racial tensions, we’ve also been #blessed with a plethora of natural disasters, including record-breaking fires and an unprecedented hurricane season. Without a doubt, this year has been like no other, and we still have a few months to go.

With all the potential to be faced with life-changing events, it is difficult to prepare for everything we may come against. But there are still some preparations we can make. One of those preparations is to buy or put together an emergency kit (also known as a Go Bag or Bug Out Bag).

I bought a 72-hour kit several years ago from Emergency Essentials (links are all at the bottom of the page). This kit contained everything I could potentially need for 72 hours in an emergency situation.

Emergency Essentials is currently only selling one survival kit. It is a 72-hour kit, but is different than the one I purchased. I thought my kit contained a great combination of items, and I have compiled a list of everything included so that you can put together your own kit, or use this list as a guide for building a kit with items you think are most important.

72-Hour Emergency Kit

1. Bag – They don’t call it a Go Bag or Bug Out Bag for nothin’. You’ll need a sturdy bag big enough to carry all the emergency kit items, plus some extra items that we’ll get into later. I was unable to determine if the survival kit currently available on Emergency Essentials’ website includes a bag, but it doesn’t seem to, which is unfortunate.

Backpack/hiking pack to store and carry the survival kit items


2. MREs – My military style MREs had expired and I threw them out a couple years ago, so I don’t have a picture of them. Currently Emergency Essentials doesn’t sell the same food they did when I purchased my bag; the survival kit now includes high-calorie nutrition bars, and that’s just not gonna work me. Ew.

Emergency ration food bars currently included in Emergency Essentials’ 72-hour survival kit

My dad recently bought me an emergency food kit. I’m not sure what length of emergency this supply is meant for, but there are 124 servings so it’s longer than 72 hours. I’m also not sure where he bought this kit from, but I like that it has breakfast items. I love me some breakfast.

Readywise Emergency Food Kit my dad bought me

My Patriot Supply has a 72-hour food kit that looks pretty good. There are no breakfast items, but at least it’s not just bricks of ‘food.’

My Patriot Supply 72-hour meal kit

The MREs that originally came with my kit required MRE heaters, which were also included with the kit, but the Readywise and My Patriot Supply kits only require water to make the meals.

3. Utensils – You’re going to need something to eat your food with (unless, of course, you went with the food bricks). My kit came with one set of plastic utensils. It would be easy enough, though, to just buy a box of plastic utensils for your kit.

Set of plastic eating utensils

4. Matches, Fire starters, and/or Camping Stove – You’ll need some way to start a fire for a few reasons. First, if you don’t want to eat lukewarm food, you’ll need to heat up the water you use to make each meal. Don’t forget a kettle or pan to warm the water.

Second, you can use the same kettle or pan to boil water for drinking. We’ll discuss other means of preparing drinking water shortly.

Finally, a fire will keep you warm at night or during colder seasons.

Matches to start a fire for food, water and warmth included in my survival kit

Matches are readily available and good to have for sure, but a magnesium fire starter or forever match would be wise to have as well. My Patriot Supply has a magnesium fire starter, several cooking stoves, and other cooking supplies available on their website.

5. Candy – My kit included several butterscotch (I assume) hard candies. I’m not sure why these are included in the kit; I don’t believe they’re ‘essential,’ but it might be good to have some candies or mints in your kit nonetheless.

Hard candies

6. Additional Food Suggestions – Besides meals, it would be a good idea to add some snacks to your kit. Some suggestions are freeze-dried pouched foods, beef jerky or canned foods. These foods would need more regular replacement, and don’t forget a can opener for any canned foods that don’t have pop-tops. A pan to heat food would be good to have. To keep things simple, you could use the same pan to heat food that you use to heat water. A few cooking utensils would be wise to include in your kit as well. Dish soap and a sponge, and possibly a wash bin, are important to include too.


7. Water Bottle – Although a cup would do fine, a water bottle with a lid would be best for your emergency kit. My kit included a Nalgene-type water bottle. I also have a couple bottles that have their own filters, which could be handy but won’t necessarily provide fully safe water.

Bottle for drinking water

8. Water Purification Tablets – My kit included water purification tablets from Katadyn. Each tablet purifies one liter of water. There are various times that the water should be allowed to sit once the tablet is dropped in, but allowing four hours will eliminate everything that could be dangerous to drink.

Water purification tablets

9. Water Storage Kit – This kit can be used as water storage or as a portable toilet. For the water storage option, the metallized bag is filled with water, then placed into the box. There is a spout to allow for pouring of the water. Alternatively, and possibly a better option, would be camping water jugs. They can be found in any camping or sports store and can be collapsed for travel. The portable toilet option will be discussed later.

Water storage kit included in my emergency bag

Water storage jug

10. Water Pouches/Cans/Bottles – My kit originally came with water pouches, but they expired around the same time as the MREs and I’ve thrown them out. Emergency Essentials sells canned water now instead of pouches. The canned water has a shelf-life of 30 years, so this change is a better option. Bottled water technically has an indefinite shelf-life, but the bottles need to be stored properly (as all emergency supplies do).

Canned water available from Emergency Essentials

11. Additional Water Suggestions – A water filtration system is another option for drinking water (for example, Alexapure Pro water filtration systems and supplies are sold on Emergency Essentials’ website). These systems, however, are large and bulky, making it more difficult to travel lightly. Multiple water storage units would be wise, regardless of what option you choose, so as to keep drinking water separate from cleaning water.

Shelter & Warmth

12. Tent – The Emergency Essentials survival kit I bought came with a tube tent. This would be fine for warmer months, but I would be sure to grab my camping tent for cooler months (but really no matter what the month would be ‘cause I’m not about being all out in the open).

A “simple” emergency tube tent

13. Blanket – A warm blanket is essential for your kit. A wool blanket was part of my kit, as well as a reflective emergency sleeping bag. This would likely be enough for a 72-hour emergency, but I would still be tempted to grab my sleeping bag as well.

Warm wool blanket

Lightweight, reflective emergency sleeping bag

14. Body & Hand Warmers – Having a bunch of hand and body warmers in your emergency kit is a great plan. They would be useful on cold nights, or for unexpected cold weather.

Long-lasting hand and body warmers

15. Poncho – If your kit doesn’t include a poncho, think about adding one. A raincoat or other waterproof clothing would be another option.

Poncho for rainy weather

16. Additional Shelter & Warmth Suggestions – Be sure to have extra clothes and shoes in your Go Bag. You never know what you’ll be wearing when an emergency happens, or what might happen to your clothes during the emergency. So keep some pants, shirts, socks, undergarments, and hiking boots or tennis shoes in your bag. Don’t forget a warm hat, winter gloves, and a jacket or heavy coat (depending on the season). Layers, layers, layers! Another good item to include would be a tarp or other waterproof sheet to put under your tent or to cover anything you don’t want getting wet.

First Aid & Toiletries

17. First Aid Kit – DO. NOT. FORGET. your first aid kit. A good first aid kit should include, at the very least, bandages of various sizes, wrap bandages, antibiotic ointment, burn cream, and medical tape. My kit also includes moist towelettes, hand soap, tweezers, vinyl gloves, and a first aid reference guide. I would also like to add scissors, pain relievers, gauze, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and allergy medication.

Basic first aid kit

When it comes to medication, it may not be wise to keep necessary meds right in your kit. But when an emergency hits, be sure to take any medications with you that you’ll need.

18. Sanitation Kit – Now we return to the water and sanitation kit. If this kit isn’t used as water storage, it can be used as a portable toilet. Just put a garbage bag in the box instead of the water bag. A roll of toilet paper and deodorizing tablets are also included in my kit.

Sanitation kit, including toilet paper and deodorizing tablets

19. Toiletries – My emergency kit includes a toiletries pack with more moist towelettes, medical tape, bandages, hand soap, and vinyl gloves, as well as a tongue depressor, facial tissues, a comb, a razor, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and feminine napkins. I would add a hairbrush, micellar water face wash, cotton pads, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner to round out the kit.

Basic toiletries kit

20. Additional First Aid & Toiletries Suggestions – Paper towel is a must for me. In an emergency kit, paper towels can be used for drying hands, faces, and dishes. Used towels can also be used as kindling for fires. Toss a roll or two into your kit and you won’t be sorry. Bug repellant would also be a smart addition to your first aid or toiletries kit.

Other Supplies

21. Tools – A shovel will be useful in an emergency situation. It can be used in many ways, including digging and covering a fire pit, and burying ‘toilet deposits’ (poops; I mean poops).Other useful items would be a multi-use tool or Swiss Army knife, tape, a radio with extra batteries if it is battery operated, a compass, whistle, signaling mirror, and rope.

Folding shovel with carrying case

Multi-use tool

Emergency easy to tear tape

Mini radio with extra batteries

My emergency kit came with this combo tool that includes a whistle, a compass, a signaling mirror (under the compass), and a storage compartment for matches or other small items

Multi-use rope

22. Lighting – a good emergency kit needs more than one means of lighting the night. Your kit should include a flashlight (either battery-operated with extra batteries, or a crank light like my kit came with), as well as a headlamp and/or candles.

Hand crank-powered flashlight

Battery operated headlamp

100 hour candle

23. Other Items – A few other items that are contained in my emergency kit are extra garbage bags, protective gloves, a sewing kit, pen & paper, and a survival reference guide.

Extra garbage bags

Protective work gloves

N-95 face mask

Sewing kit

Pen & paper

Survival guide

24. Additional Supplies Suggestions – When an emergency strikes, the cell network may not be available. Keeping paper maps in your kit might be a good idea in that case. Nonetheless, be sure to add phone chargers (car and wall options) to your kit. Other tools such as a hatchet or saw, a list of important addresses and phone numbers, playing cards, and a book to read would all be great additions for your emergency kit.

A Few Notes

My Go Bag is a 72-hour kit, and that is the length of time these suggestions are meant for. In case of longer emergencies, it might be wise to have (at least) copies of important documents such as insurance policies and wills.

Maybe the most important thing you’ll need for your emergency bag is a plan. Be sure you know where you will go if you need to leave your home, and that your family or friends know what you have planned.

My kit is for one person. Obviously, if there are more people that you’re responsible for you’ll need to adjust what you pack. If you have babies or small children you’ll, of course, have to plan for that as well.

Food, water and shelter are the basic needs you’ll need to plan for, but what items will fulfill those needs might differ from person to person. Think of this list as a starting point or guide, then build your emergency pack based on your personal needs and preferences.

Some of the items in your kit will need to be refreshed regularly. Check expiration dates on food, water, toiletries and first aid kit items, and follow storage recommendations for all products.

Putting your kit together can be a bit overwhelming, but considering how fantastically the year has gone so far, I’d say doing so is a must.

Thanks for joining me!


Emergency Essentials:

Website –

My Patriot Supply:

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