What to put in a 72 hour kit

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Your specific 72 hour kit list is going to depend on your situation and circumstances. Unlike many other blogs and resources I am not going to give you a list of everything you need. Instead, I am going to show you what I do and why. Hopefully, it will help you think through your own 72 hour kits and will help you cater and curate your 72 hour kits so they fit you and your family.

I talked about how I do 72 hour kits in this post here, if you haven’t read it already I suggest you do. Otherwise my 72 hour kits may be confusing to you, because they aren’t exactly traditional.

I have spent years building, tweaking, and changing 72 hour kits to fit my family and our needs. I finally found a system that seems to work for my family. I have backpacks for everyone in our family. My husband and I each have backpacking backpacks. I prefer backpacking backpacks because they have a lot more space and pockets than regular backpacks. Below is our 72 hour kit list broken up into different sections based on who it is for and where we store it.

Adult Packs

adult 72 hour kit list

we divvy out the items that we only need one of, such as:

  • First aid kits, backpacking stoves, etc.
  • Freeze dried meals for easy breakfasts/dinners
  • Bag with plastic utensils, easy snacks and food (granola bars, oatmeal, fruit cups, mac&cheese cups, hard candy, jerky sticks, and flavored drink mixes)
  • Bottled waters (enough to drink and cook dinners with)
  • Jetboil propane stove and propane (to quicky boil water for breakfasts/dinners)
  • A boo boo first aid kit (bandaids, gauze, alcohol preps, etc)
  • Hand, toe and body warmers
  • Life straw
  • Medications for adults and children (pain/fever reducer, season allergy medication as well as Benadryl, and multivitamins to help get some extra nutrients during a hard time)
  • Dog food
  • Baby wipes for easy clean up
  • Rain ponchos
  • Emergency mylar blanket and wool blankets
  • Flint and steel/lighter
  • Sunglasses
  • Spare RV key
  • Long and short sleeve shirts
  • Jeans/leggings/Sweats
  • Socks/underwear
  • Extra cash, whistles, headlamps, flashlights, and extra batteries
  • Travel size toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, deodorant toothbrush/paste)
  • Menstrual supplies
  • Contact solution, case, and spare glasses.

Kids Packs

72 hour kit for kids

We use traditional backpacks (usually the previous years school bags). This is what we have on their 72 hour kit list:

  • 3 days worth of pants, shirts, underwear and socks
  • Sweatshirt or jacket
  • 2 pairs of warm pajamas
  • 1 thermal layer
  • Hand, toe, and body warmers
  • 1-2 Freeze dried meals
  • Bottled waters (for drinking and their freeze dried meals)
  • Gallon size bag of food, snacks, and juices
  • Life straw (for older kids, for younger kids use a pump filter because sucking through a life straw can be difficult)
  • Whistle, headlamp, and flashlight

Infant Packs

Their backpacks are very similar, but here’s what is different:

  • 5-7 outfits in case of blow outs/spit ups
  • Age appropriate foods/snacks (applesauce pouches, oatmeal, fruit cups, cereal puffs)
  • Diapers/wipes
  • Toys/books
  • Bottles/small can of formula (even if breast feeding)
  • Blankets

**With infants, because they change clothes/diapers so rapidly I always try and size up the clothes and diapers in their bags, but I keep their clothes in a plastic bag next to their kit that I can easily grab and swap out instead of digging through and rearranging bags.

As I talked about in my last post I have researched and analyzed what risks our family is most likely to come across that we would need a 72 hour kit. Almost all of the risks we might encounter would require us to shelter in place rather than evacuate. Because, I realize that we are likely going to be sheltering in place either in our RV, van, or a shelter I want to make sure we are as comfortable as possible. So, I have a 5 gallon bucket filled with extra food and snacks. I also have a large tote we keep in our garage.

For Our Dog

dog 72 hour kit list

We have this backpack that he could carry if need be, but I doubt he would actually wear it. We use it to store a little bit of food, waters, poop bags, a leash, and a toy. He is a big dog, so we store more food/water for him in other places as well.

5 Gallon Bucket

5 gal bucket 72 hour kit list

In our 5-gal bucket we have to use for washing laundry, dishes, to sit on, etc. We keep extra food:

  • Crackers -Peanut butter
  • Tuna pouches/canned chicken -Trail mix
  • Dried soup mix -Salt and vinegar almonds
  • Dinty Moore/Veg all

Garage Tote

tote stored in the garage

In our garage we keep items that don’t have to be temperature controlled, our garage is also semi insulated so it doesn’t get super extreme temperature changes. We also store an extra propane grill next to this tote for another form of alternative cooking. Here is our garage tote 72 hour kit list:

  • Extra propane bottles (for Mr. Buddy Heater and our two burner propane stove)
  • Katadyn Water filter
  • Hydrogen peroxide (for cleaning/disinfecting)
  • 2 number 10 cans of freeze dried foods (One breakfast scramble and one hearty chili mix)
  • Gallon of water
  • Baking soda (for cleaning/laundry)
  • Extra baby wipes
  • Disinfecting spray
  • Soaps (hand, dish, and laundry)
  • More dog food
  • Toilet paper/Paper towels
  • Mess kit
  • Long burning candle
  • Emergency Radio-Shoe box filled with duct tape, rope, eye wear, lighters, iodine tablets, magnesium fire starter, more flashlights and batteries.
  • More boo boo kit supplies (my trauma kit stays in the car)
  • EMT Book to reference
  • 2 decks of cards/book with family friendly games to play
  • Toiletries bin with bigger sizes of toiletries than what we keep in our packs plus sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, brush, floss, chapstick, disposable gloves, etc.
My complete 72 hour kit

A couple of things to note:

  • I go through all of our 72 hour kit backpacks, buckets, and totes on a yearly basis. I take all the food out and put in new foods. I check to make sure everything is in good working condition. I change my childrens clothes out and will size up their clothes.
  • We keep 5 gallon water jugs (with water purifier in it) in the same location as our backpacks, as well as several cases of water bottles in our garage that we rotate through on a regular basis.
  • A vacuum sealer is going to be your best friend, especially with clothes. I put all my kids clothes in a vacuum sealed bag which saves a ton of space. I also vacuum seal anything else I can think of to save space.
  • We go camping on a regular basis during the summers so we invested in an RV that holds cooking supplies, clothes, shoes, blankets, and other camping/emergency preparedness supplies year round. Before we owned the RV we kept a tent, tarp, and extra blankets near our kits. My goal has always been to be able to have our own place to stay to avoid going to an emergency shelter at all costs. If you don’t understand why that’s important, do a quick YouTube search for ‘Hurricane Katrina Superdome.’ If that doesn’t convince you then just imagine being in a school or church with hundreds if not thousands of people young and old who are scared, frustrated, and out of sorts…Then imagine the flu or stomach bug breaking out. An emergency shelter sounds like a terrible idea to me, so I plan to shelter in place in the comfort of my own space and avoid a shelter at all possible costs.

For a more extensive list on what gadgets and gizmos I suggest for emergency preparedness click here. You can also check out my Amazon store front.

Hi I'm JaNae!

I consider myself a practical prepper. I am not about zombies and bunkers. I believe in preparing for personal disasters — job loss, medical problems, financial problems, and natural disasters.



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