Emergency Preparedness

72 hour kits

Jacob Allred

Emergency preparedness kits have been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve tried a lot of different solutions over the years, but have never been satisfied with any of them: cheap backpacks, expensive hiking backpacks, large zip locks, and even a recycled cardboard milk carton filled with candy. All of those are awful. So I’m on a mission to make a reliable 72 hour kit and will be posting on my progress over the next several weeks (months?).


I have several requirements:

  1. Adaptable. My wife and I have one child. Maybe next year we’ll have two. Or a dog. Maybe we’ll be living in the mountains, or perhaps in the desert. Maybe we’ll need the bag in the summer, or maybe in the winter. I want a pack that is easily adaptable to my future needs, and is somewhat modular so I can be prepared for different climates.
  2. Affordable. I don’t anticipate this project to be inexpensive, but I’d like to avoid spending my life savings on something that (God willing) I’ll never use. I don’t plan on buying, or ever needing, top of the line equipment.
  3. Easy to keep fresh. These kits are a big enough pain to put together without having to keep track of a bazillion expiration dates. I want gear that doesn’t expire, or at least conveniently expires at roughly the same time.
  4. Easy to transport. I’ll potentially be lugging this thing for miles, cramming it into an overcrowded vehicle, storing it at an emergency shelter, or who knows what else. I need something comfortable and fairly compact.
  5. Independence. I’m part of a family, but I don’t feel it would be wise for me to rely on Becca’s pack or for Becca to rely on my pack. I want us to have the confidence of knowing that we’ll have everything we need even if we get separated. This also gives us some redundancy—which I love as a web developer—in case something breaks or is lost.

In the past I’ve started my kits by buying a bag. I’ve found several bags that I really like in different sizes, so I’ve decided this time around I’m going to buy the contents of the kit first and then buy a bag that will fit all my stuff. Food and water are the most important—and bulky—parts of a 72 hour kit, so I decided to start there.

Food and water

For water I’ve decided to go with standard pre-filled commercial water bottles. These are cheap enough that we can rotate them every time we check our kits, and they last long enough that it doesn’t matter if we forget.

Food is more complicated. Do I buy canned goods? Crackers? Gum? How do I deal with varying expiration dates? The easiest solution I could find is to go with civilian MREs. There are several high quality options out there. You can read all about the pros and cons of the different brands at MRE Info, but I decided to go with a case of aPacks. Cost per meal is about $6.39 per person, which seems comparable with a fast food meal. Each meal includes a flameless heater and at least 1140 calories. They last for around 10 months at 95 F, or as long as 3 years at a more moderate 80 F. Each meal is individually packaged so the whole meal can be rotated at once without much hassle.

Becca is worried that they’ll taste horrible and I want to know if two meals can feed our family of three, so we are going to crack a couple open as soon as they arrive (placed the order on Friday, so hopefully sometime this week). I’ll post an update to let you know how it goes!