- Everyone should keep a stocked emergency kit around 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.
- 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.
- Due to fears of the new coronavirus, many of these products are quickly selling out or appearing at prices well above market retail. We're doing our best to keep this guide updated with in-stock purchase links.
Editor's note: As online inventories continue to fluctuate, we're doing all we can to keep up with providing links to products and goods that are in stock and priced appropriately. This means that 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. We'll update these posts as best we can.
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.
Making 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 Business 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 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 low-cost: Ready America 2-Person 3-Day Emergency Kit
- Best portable: Monoki First Aid Survival Kit
Updated 7/10/2020. We updated prices and links for accuracy and added additional related buying guides. We also readded our original best overall pick, Sustain Supply Co. Comfort4 72-Hour Emergency Survival Kit, now that it is back in stock.
The best overall
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.
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 might make mornings more pleasant but that really aren't imperative for survival during an emergency. In other words, that means they're just extra weight. The Comfort4 kit, on the other hand, is stocked almost exactly as I would have built up a kit from scratch.
When I got the founder or 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.
Pros: Thoughtful and comprehensive curation, included rations actually taste good, comes with plenty of water and with filtration system
Cons: Quite expensive compared to other options
The 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.
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.
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
The 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.
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 as 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's 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.
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
The best low-cost
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.
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.
Pros: Great low price, high visibility backpack, covers basic needs
Cons: Lacking several key items, the backpack itself is low quality
The best portable
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 stowable in a backpack, large bag, or carried.
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.
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
See more ways to be prepared with our buying guides
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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