There’s a bunch of names for these; survival kits, emergency kits, evacuation kits, earthquake kits, or bug-out bags. Bug out, by the way, originally meant to retreat, usually under enemy fire. When used in a civilian context, it means to leave in a hurry because some disaster’s happened–whether it be man-made, natural, or zombie spore-induced.
All these names should clue you in to the different way survival kits are used: to prepare for an evacuation, or stay alive when stranded in the wild. That’s why there are so many different kinds of kits. So, be you camper, hiker, mother, or zombie hunter, let’s talk about how to find one that’s right for you.
How to Choose a Survival Kit – Buying Guide
There are a lot of components to a survival kit. So many, in fact, that we asked Lisa for some help sifting through all of them to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The Survival Mom
Motivated by an unsettling news headline in 2009, Lisa Bedford began digging around the internet for information about how she could protect her family. She sorted through mountains of information and began her "prepping" journey.
She runs her own site, The Survival Mom Blog, where she writes about not only survival and preparedness, but also home and family life, homeschooling, and living a frugal lifestyle. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, and find her tips and tricks to living a prepared life.
・The Survival Mom Site: https://thesurvivalmom.com/
The Contents Only Last as Long as the Bag: Make Sure It’s Waterproof, Portable, and Durable
We’ll be honest–most bags are water resistant, but not waterproof. They’ll repel some splashing–good enough for So-Calers–but if you live in Louisiana and walk through rainstorms, look for something actually waterproof. Or, if you can’t find anything, at least look for a bag where the contents are individually wrapped in plastic or some other watertight material.
Next, if your kit comes in its own backpack, make sure it’s easy to carry for long stretches of time. That means checking the straps and seeing if they’re sturdy and padded enough. Even if the kit’s for home use, during evacuation situations, roads clog up and you might have to get out of your car and walk.
Along with backpacks, a survival kit can also come in a duffel bag, plastic bin or plastic bucket. And depending on what you have, they can be versatile. If you have a bucket, you can use it for bathing, washing dishes, or even collecting water.
If you’re a hiker, camper, or backpacker, you’ll want a little case, so you can slip it into your larger pack. In that case, make sure it’s light and won’t take up inordinate amounts of room.
Although these heavy-duty bags are typically favored for emergency kits, in some cases a thin nylon backpack may be better because it’s lightweight. Not every person can carry a bag weighing 30 or 40 pounds when fully loaded, so keep in mind the importance of matching the bag to the person.
What Goes into the Kit Depends Partly on Where You’re Going to Be Roughing It
When it’s time to evacuate and you’re panicking, do you think you’re going to be able to leisurely call over your shoulder, “Have we packed the toilet paper and the pink poncho?” Make sure everything you need is already in the bag.
What You Absolutely Need to Survive: Food and Water, Basic Shelter, and First Aid
The Red Cross says that, for an evacuation situation, you need three days worth of food and water (one gallon a day, three gallons total). Your food bars, by the way, should pack at least 2,000 calories–ideally more, since you’re going to be moving–and be full of fats, carbs, and protein. (That’s how you get energy and stave off hunger.)
Next, you need basic shelter–stuff that’ll keep you warm and dry. That includes a poncho and emergency blanket (kits also come with sleeping bags and tents). Many survival kits, though, come only with thin blankets. However, you can spend money on a compact, high-quality blanket and add that to your kit. You’ll also want to look for a fire starter and some kind of body warmer. And light, whether that be an LED flashlight or an ambient light to light up an area.
You also need some kind of first aid. Most of the included first aid kits are pretty basic, so if you’re preparing for major disaster or are around weapons or sharp objects–hunters, for example–see if there’s anything for major trauma. Also, you can never go wrong with some kind of knife or cutting implement, whether it’s to slice up bandages, divvy up food, or make firewood.
The thin mylar “emergency blanket” included in many store-bought kits can be handy for signaling, catching water, and possibly as a ground cover. But for warmth, you’ll need to first consider your most important cold-weather defense—your clothing. Don’t rely on that very thin layer of mylar in cold weather conditions!
If you want to pack a blanket that will provide real warmth, they’re available, but more expensive. Instead, for a little more money, consider an extreme-lightweight sleeping bag. Far more versatile than a blanket, it can be used as a ground cover, blanket, and, of course, sleeping bag.
Also Pretty Important in Any Situation: Signalers and Hygiene
Most packs will give you a whistle–which is useful in many situations, but some actually freeze if the temperature is too cold. It’s a good idea to check for a signal mirror or other visual aids. If you’re looking for extra insurance, you can also invest in a personal locator beacon (PLB), but you probably won’t find one tucked into your survival kit. Whatever signaling device you choose, though, make sure you know how to properly use it.
Here’s something a lot of people tend to overlook: personal hygiene. Hygiene is actually more important than a lot of people realize. Soap can help you stay clean and away from harmful bacteria and viruses. If it’s not included in your kit, add it. If you can keep bad bacteria off your hands and out of your mouth, it might save your life.
For signaling, a whistle is very effective. Buy a high-quality, heavy-duty whistle; one that is not susceptible to freezing. You can only yell or scream for a short time, but a whistle will allow you to make loud, repetitive sounds to attract attention. If you have a mylar emergency blanket, it can be used to attract attention as a reflective device.
For Any Accidents You Have During Your Outdoor Adventures
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. If there’s any chance you’ll be temporarily stranded near a river, lake, or ocean, a fishing kit could come in real handy. Some kind of water filtration system in the pack–whether it be a LifeStraw or purification tablets–will also afford you a ready supply of liquid. But not all will filter out harmful microorganisms.
Rope or paracord is helpful anywhere, but it’s invaluable in the wild. You can use it as tinder, for rappelling, to carry stuff like firewood, to tie down your tent, or build a raft or shelter–the list goes on and on. Finally, for those that aren’t reliant on GPS technology, a map and compass will do you a lot of good.
If wilderness living and survival appeal to you, begin taking Bushcraft classes. That’s where you’ll learn how to construct shelters using only the materials provided by nature, start a fire without any type of fire starter, stay warm, stay cool in hot weather, tend to injuries—all without modern gear from REI!
An effective water filter, one that can guarantee safe drinking water in a wilderness setting, must be able to carry the water. A LifeStraw or a Sawyer Mini Filter are both good options. You’ll find DIY water filter instructions online, but a filter made of gravel, charcoal, and sand has no way of filtering out what is most dangerous—microorganisms that can cause deadly illnesses.
At Home or In Your Car: Tools That Will Help You Escape
Water can warp a door; an earthquake can jam it. Make sure the pack’s secured you some kind of escape route–whether it be through a crowbar or glass-breaker. The latter’s invaluable in a car, too. If you’re driving and flip into a lake, the water pressure makes it difficult to open doors. Seat-belt cutters, too, can save your life if the fastener jams.
As part of your vehicle kit, purchase a multi-use tool, such as the OWL Car Window Breaker & Seatbelt Cutter. Make sure everyone you normally travel with knows where this tool is and what is in your vehicle emergency kit. In a panic, no one is going to think, “Maybe there’s something in the glove compartment” while you’re watching the car fill with water. Everyone should know where the tool is and how to use it.
Quantity and Quality: Is There Enough for Everyone and Will it Work?
Make sure the pack’s got enough to cover all of your friends and family. Most kits will tell you how many people they’re meant for; nonetheless, do a full inventory check. Even if there’s enough food and water, there might not be enough first aid to cover more than one traumatic injury or masks to cover more than one face. So if you don’t want to be holding lotteries in the middle of an evacuation, research beforehand.
And let’s not forget about quality. If you’ve got more than enough supplies for everyone to use, but they don’t work, they’re useless and end up being a waste. This is where checking reviews and examining everything in it, beforehand, pays off.
This will allow the younger and/or weaker members to share the load but not be overwhelmed by a heavy burden. The more fit members can then add items to their own packs to help with redundancy or comfort. For example, more food, an extra water filter, or a better-equipped medical kit.
In-Depth Guide: Do You Know How to Provide First Aid or Scavenge for Food?
Make sure you know how to use everything beforehand. That means opening your kit as soon as you get it and going through everything inside. See, first and foremost, if there’s a first aid manual. If there’s any tools or gadgets you’re unfamiliar with, check for instructions. (You have no excuse, however, if you can’t use a can opener. Google it.)
Packs meant for wilderness survival sometimes include information on how to find shelter, search for sources of water, and survive on edible plants or something. They’re fascinating reads, especially if you don’t come from a long line of outdoorsmen.
Shop carefully for your kit, as some of them contain poor-quality supplies. For example, a flimsy multi-tool that breaks the first time you use it. If you’re depending on this kit to keep you safe and possibly save lives, don’t leave anything to chance.
If you find yourself in a survival scenario in the wilderness, youʼll need to learn how to ﬁnd water and food sources. Learning how to forage for safe, edible plants or berries is invaluable. One very simple tip is to make tea out of pine needles, which is rich in vitamin C. There are a lot of edible and medicinal plants out there, but you need to know what to look for because many can cause illness and even death.
Your brain is your number one tool. The ability to stay calm, think through your situations, and adapt is important. Itʼs also important to look at what you have and think of other ways to use those tools.
Top 10 Best Survival Kits to Buy Online
Are you getting a feel for what kind of survival kit you need? Then it’s time to look at ten of our favorites, ranging from gear stuffed into what can only be described as an Altoids tin to full-out military packs.
10. Aootek Upgraded First Aid Survival Kit
A Small Survival Kit for Trekkers and Hikers–Just Learn How to Fish
This thing’s not even as big as a volume of Harry Potter (5.5″ x 3.6″), but it’s got some heavy-duty stuff in it. There’s basic first aid, knives and tools, a flashlight (batteries not included), a fire-starter (functional), a compass (decent), and a fishing kit (helpful!). None of the components, by themselves, are of breath-taking quality, but we take our hats off to the sheer variety of the kit.
The tools are usable, though a bit dull. The giant blue rubber band isn’t going to staunch hemorrhage wounds–you’re better off swapping it with a RATS tourniquet. And though the kit will feed you, it won’t quench thirst; throw in a few water purification tablets. The instructions are, inexplicably, in Chinese; if you aren’t bi-lingual, prepare to Google everything.
9. Limitless Equipment MARK 1 Survival Kit
Packs a Lot of Unconventional Survival Goods into a Candy Tin
It measures about 3″ x 4″ x 1.5″ and looks like a tin of candies. It covers all your bases–first aid, food, water, and warmth–but, because of size restrictions, does so in unconventional ways. The water filtration and fishing kit are pretty standard, and you also get snare wire. There’s light sticks and LED, as well as a fire striker and cord, which doubles as tinder. The “first aid” consists of gauze, petroleum jelly, salt, a tampon, duct tape (because what can’t duct tape do?), and a sewing kit.
The scalpel’s also meant to double as a knife, but the blade’s not strong enough to cut through most things. Your “water carrier” is, frankly, a condom. For the price and the size, you’re remarkably well-covered, but this thing’s best as an addition to overflowing hiking packs or a fun gift.
8. First My Family 4 Person Premium Survival Kit
A Reliable Base If You Want to Add in Your Own Tools
Most things in this kit are from disaster preparedness brands–Datrex, Coghlan’s, Life Gear, and BRW Diversified. It’s not high-end stuff, but nothing’s going to break down on you in the middle of an evacuation. The first aid kit is Lifeline and has got enough in it to patch up a lot of boo-boos and dress one deep gash. (This kit–again–is meant for a family of four; if you don’t want to pick a favorite kid, you’re going to need to supplement it with trauma injury stuff. And oral meds.)
There are absolutely no tools–but rather than get a kit with tools that are of questionable quality, it might give you more peace of mind to just add in stuff yourself. The backpacks are spacious and pretty sturdy; they lived through a flood, and nothing inside was ruined.
7. GetReadyNow 2+ Person Deluxe Car Emergency Kit
Includes a Glass Hammer and Seat Belt Cutter for Car Escapes
The bag’s completely waterproof and, with everything stuffed in, measures only 14″ x 10″x 4″, so you can leave it somewhere in your car and forget about it. What’s in it? Light and heat sources, including blankets, warmers, and matches. There’s utility gloves and a microfiber bandanna to keep out the cold and some dust. For sustenance, there’s a little under 60 oz. of water and four bars, which are a good balance of carbs, protein and fat–you need that to restore energy and fend off hunger.
There’s also a first aid kit (only good for minor scrapes). Actually, what appealed to us most was the windshield breaker and seat belt cutter. If your car ever plunges into a bay, the water pressure makes it hard to open any doors. In that case, this handy tool might just save your life.
6. Mayday Bucket Survival Kit
Good Quality Tools and a Radio Included
This survival kit has enough supplies to get you through 3 full days. The food is nothing to brag about, but it’s not so bad for a survival kit. However, the water will leave you with a plastic-like aftertaste. The thing we like most about this kit is that the bucket is so versatile. In fact, the cover can actually be used as a toilet seat as well. And don’t worry, it includes a T-5 chemical toilet disinfectant.
The kit has an FM radio with LED light, as well as a 12-hour light stick. It’s got an emergency blanket and a body warmer that heats up really quickly. The blanket, though, like most emergency blankets, is not enough to keep you warm in say, New York, during winter. The 37-piece first aid kit, like many, will only be useful for minor injuries.
5. Ultimate Arms Gear Wise Company 5 Day Emergency Bug Out Backpack
Includes an Array of Tools to Make You Self-Sufficient for a Few Days
So you’ve got a small first aid kit for boo-boos, fire starters, a blanket, a poncho, and a tent. The food’s a little fancier than most: there’s good old Southwest rice and beans, as well as a little over 20 oz. of water, a steel cup, and a stove. The tools, though, were what drew us in.
There’s a LifeStraw and a fishing kit, so you can make rations as you go. (No watertight containers, though–so throw one in). You also get paracord, a knife, a sharpener, a few wrenches, a wire saw, and a 10″ axe–plus multi-tools that include a screwdriver and a shovel. Of course, none of this stuff is of amazing quality, but they’ll serve you a few days. Also, some tools may be superfluous, unless you a) are out in the wild and b) know how to use them. (No instructions included.)
4. EVERLIT Complete 72 Hours for 2 People Earthquake Bug out Bag
Reliable, Branded Products Put Together by Veterans
The water is from Datrex, a well-known brand, and the food is from S.O.S., wrapped in mylar packaging–you can drop it four stories, leave it sitting for a week in water or snow, and the bars still maintain their lovely coconut taste. They’re also nutritious and don’t make your thirsty. The water purification tablets are Coghlan’s, and they work (though there’s a funky aftertaste).
The hand-crank flashlight, radio, and battery is practical; the tools are serviceable. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the knife though–because it’ll close on your fingers if you so much as jiggle the blade lock. At least you get a pretty decent first-aid kit, including a tourniquet. (Though, again, there’s no oral meds.)
3. The Earthquake Bag Complete Earthquake Bag
Sturdy, Water-Resistant Backpacks and a Decent Range of Goods
Let’s talk logistics. First off, the bag: it’s water resistant, but not waterproof; at least everything inside is in plastic bags, which’ll keep out rain. Next, edibles: you’ve got two food bars (not gluten-free) and water. They’ll expire in 5 years. The first-aid kit: it includes band-aids, gauze, disinfectants, and finger splints. Treats anything minor; just hope you won’t run into anything major.
Next, you get a flashlight, charger, and radio in one handy hand-cranked device. There’s also multiple light sources and warmers. Tools-wise, you get just one mask and one pair of safety goggles and gloves, so you might have to fight over them. You also get ropes and a knife–practical, but won’t break you out of anywhere. At least you get two empty front pockets to do a little customization.
2. Emergency Zone 840-2 Urban Survival Bug Out Bag
A Basic and Reliable Bug out Bag with an Emergency Guidebook
The problem with most backpacks–they’re water resistant, but not water proof; spritz some aqua armor on this one if you might be trekking through the rain. Everything included–the first aid, the food (S.O.S. bars) and water (including a purifier), the sleeping bags and tent, the rope and multi-tool, as well as the hand-crank radio/flashlight–is decent; nothing to sneeze at, but they all work.
The hygiene set’s especially complete, with toothpaste, shampoo, a comb, a razors, sanitary pads, and toilet paper. Inexplicably, though, it’s missing a fire-starter kit–so definitely add one in. You’ll also want to consider extra stuff for traumatic injuries and strengthening the straps (they’re pretty flimsy). But we love that this kit comes with instructions and an emergency guidebook.
1. Sustain Supply Co. Premium Family Emergency Survival Bag/Kit
The Bare Basics of Survival in Amazing Quality
It’s like the Gucci of survival kits! Everything here is branded: the water’s Datrex (reliable), the food’s Mountain House (known for tasting pretty good), the filtration’s Sawyer Squeeze (top-rated), and the knife’s MoraKniv (sharp and sturdy). You also get blankets, a bunch of light sources, tinder, a stove, and eating utensils. And if that’s not luxurious enough, there’s also bath wipes.
Bath wipes, yes–but no toilet paper (important to feel clean!). There’s also no power source, the knife’s your only tool, and the first aid kit is very basic. At least the backpack’s got a couple of empty inner pockets, so you can add multi-tools, tissue, chargers, and a trauma kit. And though the price is steep, quality’s good; you don’t have to swap anything out, so this bag might just be your best deal.
Everyone is Different: Things You Need to Add to Your Survival Kit
There is not one perfect bug out bag on the market, and there won’t be until the world is taken over by identical clones of a single person. The following are common necessities left out of survival kits (because they’re not ubiquitous needs); consider adding them back into yours.
Pet food and baby food. Kid-sized ponchos and kid-friendly medication. Actually, make that oral meds in general. Include prescription medication, as well as other health-based needs (such as an inhaler). Sanitary pads for women and diapers for babies. Jackets and changes of clothing. Uno–because who doesn’t appreciate a good game of Uno when stuck in the wild? (Unless you’re alone.)
Once you’ve purchased the kit, pull it apart and examine the contents. You don’t want to open your kit for the first time ever in the middle of a disaster and not know what’s inside or how to use it.
The best survival kit is the kind that sits in your closet, your car, or your backpack and gathers dust. The next-best survival kit is the kind that saves your life–whether you’re facing an evacuation, a crisis in the wild, or the zombie apocalypse.
We’ve talked about what kind of kit is best for each situation (minus the zombies, because we’re not really experts), and introduced you to 10 packs that impressed us. We hope you found something that impressed you, but you’ll never have to use.
It’s summer, it’s hot, and you don’t want to turn on the stove to make dinner. Sushi sounds great, but that can be expensive. Not to fear! You can make your own sushi at home, and pretty easily too, thanks to sushi making kits that come with all of the tools you’ll need. Granted, there are a number of different types of sushi and seemingly just as many kits. But don’t let that stop you. This guide will help you comb through the options and figure out exactly what you’ll need to look for when choosing a kit. And if that’s not enough, we’ve also got 10 of our favorites for you to look through as well. How to Choose Sushi Making Kits – Buying Guide When looking for a kit, the key considerations are what kind of sushi you want to make and how easy the tools are to use. Below, we’ll give you the low-down on what to look for to suit your needs. Tools for Making Maki Maki sushi is the most versatile type of sushi, giving you everything from inside out rolls to fun shapes to gigantic “sushi bu
There’s a tiny part of all of us that believes in Murphy’s Law. You don’t need to be paranoid, preparing for a nuclear fallout, or a zombie apocalypse to want a first aid kit. Just practical. There’s actually a huge range of emergencies you need to be ready for: insect bites in the wild, earthquakes at home, or diarrhea overseas (which is a real pain in the you-know-what.) And that’s why there’s so many different types of first aid kits. To make sure you aren’t weighed down by tools you don’t need, you should identify your specific needs, then choose the kit that’s best for you. But, of course, it isn’t fun imagining and preparing for all the possible worst-case-scenarios out there, which is why we’ve done it for you. How to Choose a First Aid Kit – Buying Guide First, let’s make sure you know a) what can go into a first aid kit and b) what kind of kit you’re going to need throughout all the twists and turns in your life. The Size, Material, and Contents on the Kit Depends on Where You
Summer is coming up quickly and, with it, all sorts of delicious summer fruits. And none are more refreshing than the watermelon. Watermelons can be a bit tricky though. Because of their size, they can take a while to cut. And don’t even get us started about the sticky mess they can make. But don’t worry, there are a few pretty cool gadgets on the market now meant to solve just that. In this guide, we will cover what to look for in a watermelon slicer and present ten of our favorites to help you make your choice. How to Choose Watermelon Slicers – Buying Guide Essentially, all watermelon slicers serve the same purpose, but there are a few things that will make one better than another. If You Want a Blade that Cuts Them All, Go Thick and Over 6 Inches This may be a given, but you want a slicer that will work with any melon that comes your way. Watermelons can range from five pounds to over thirty and reach diameters of over a foot! And though it may be a pipe dream to find a slicer
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Some of the most delicious things require a little bit more finesse than the average kitchen is prepared to give. Think melted chocolate, hollandaise sauce, or even reliably unburnt stovetop rice. For that, you need a double boiler, which is essentially a pot on top of a pot of boiling water that will give you lower, more even heat. Picking out a double boiler can seem like a bit of a chore–there are a ton of options, and they all look more or less the same. In this guide, we’ll go over the things you should specifically look for when deciding which double boiler is best for your needs. At the end, we’ve also got a list of our ten favorites to help you get started on your search. How to Choose a Double Boiler – Buying Guide Deciding on a double boiler relies heavily on the way that you’ll be using it. So think about these factors when making your choice. Double Boiler Set or Insert? Depends on Your Space and Use Frequency There are two main types of double boilers: inserts and sets. E
Having a 17-inch laptop can be great for gaming, video editing, or even just on-the-go multitasking. But they’re also big and bulky, and it can be hard to take them around, especially since it seems like the larger the laptop, the less options there are when it comes to finding a case. If you’re looking for a way to protect your large, expensive laptop, it’s particularly important to make a good choice. In this guide we’ll go over the factors you should consider when choosing a 17-inch laptop case that not only provides protection but also fits in with your lifestyle. At the end, we’ve also got 10 of our favorites to help you get started. How to Choose a 17-Inch Laptop Case – Buying Guide As important as protection is, it’s equally important to find a case that fits in your life and that you’ll actually use. After all, the best laptop case isn’t going to do you any good if you leave it at home. Check the Interior Dimensions to See if Your Laptop Will Fit Despite being called the same t
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From aches and pains to cramps and cold toes, sometimes it’s nice to have a little bit of extra heat for some quick relief. While hot water bottles might seem old fashioned, they’re simple and easy to use, plus you don’t have to worry about accidentally starting a fire or tripping over cords as you do with electric heating pads. There aren’t too many options out there, but you still want to look for a product that is both high-quality and fits your needs. In this guide, we’ll go over the factors you should consider when choosing the right hot water bottle for you. At the end, we’ve also got a list of our 10 favorites to help you get started on your search. How to Choose a Hot Water Bottle – Buying Guide Picking the right bottle is about finding something that meets your needs in terms of both quality and practicality. So don’t forget to consider how it would fit into your lifestyle. Choose a Material Based on Heat Retention and Durability The two main materials that hot water bottles a
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