How To Build a Simple 72 Hour Kit

Here’s an overview of what is in my 72 hour kit. And yes, that’s a lot of tampons.

Wow. Time are crazy! 2020 has taken an unexpected twist over the past several weeks. Who would’ve thought that we all would be self-quarantined in our homes?! But I’m taking full advantage of this and getting caught up on so many blog posts. I have so much content that I’ve been wanting to share so I’m soaking this time up.

I posted on Facebook and Instagram a few days ago to see if anyone would be interested in how I built a 72 hour kit on a budget. I’m so glad that many of you responded to it! So, shout out to you if you commented, liked, and DM-ed me about this post.

If you want to skip through the blog post and just download the PDF list that I created, go for it. It’s at the very bottom of my post.

My 72 Hour Kit

Everything that is currently in my 72 hour kit is in this backpack (above). I have all of my medical, camping, food, and other necessities in my backpack. In my car, I have some extra supplies that wouldn’t fit into my backpack. We’ll talk more about what’s in my car in a second. For my backpack, my whole vision was to keep it simple. When you’re in a crisis the last thing you need is more stress. My 72 hour kit was built on a college-student budget in 2016. Over the years, I haven’t added to it but I will be updating several things. This has been a great opportunity and reminder to always be prepared and to keep my 72 hour kit updated.

I’ll be totally honest here: Everything that you see in pictured is what I have currently in my 72 hour kit. Compared to what I have listed on my PDF I have some things I need to update, or swap out because it’s been a few years since I’ve gone through my 72 hour kit. Again, what a blessing it is to have this extra time to go through something as important as this!

Getting Started: Budgeting, Making a Supply List & Choosing a Backpack

I did a lot of research before I started on my 72 hour kit. I priced things out, I made a huge list (included at the end of this post!), and reached out to people who know way more about emergency preparedness. The biggest thing I learned was that you need to have enough supplies to last the full 72 hours and that it’s always better to be overly-prepared than not.

When I started to purchase things I set a budget of $250. I think I ended up spending about $175 by the time I was done. I shopped a lot of sales, and went to several different stores (Walmart, and camping stores are a great place to start) to find everything that I was looking for.

The hardest things about creating my 72 hour kit was picking out a backpack. I wanted something that was going to have enough pockets but not too many pockets. I also wanted a backpack that either had a shoulder or waist buckle on it so it would be a little easier to carry. If I remember correctly, I purchased my backpack from Walmart in the camping section. I’d recommend finding a backpack that has plenty of pockets and is light weight but durable.

Another thing I would recommend is using the big pencil bags (or even large makeup bags) to put all of the various items in. This keeps it easy to find stuff, and makes your backpack super organized and cleaned. Remember: A 72 hour kit is for disasters. Do you really want to be digging for matches? Or would you rather pull it out of big pencil bag labeled “camping.” Let’s just keep it simple people.

Not photographed: Hairbrush, bobby pins, and face wash.

Personal Hygiene & Kiddo Supplies

Everything that I have pictured (above) is what I have. Since I don’t have kids (and that’s not going to be for awhile) I don’t have a need for diapers, formula, and all that jazz. I’ve included a few things that I could think of but for all those mamas out there, I would highly encourage you to write a list of the essential supplies you need for your kiddo.

Finding the personal hygiene supplies was by far the easiest and least expensive. I went to the travel section at Walmart and grabbed almost everything. I still need to get a few things but what I have right now would be enough.

Anybody need a bandaid?

Medical Supplies

I probably should have the duct tape in this photo but alas, I don’t. Duct tape is the key. It can be used for so many things from cuts, to creating a splint, to keeping things in place. The medical supplies that I have need to be updated really bad. Some of the medication is expired and the bug spray is completely out (apparently having your 72 hour kit in your trunk dries up things pretty fast). For medical supplies that you may need, I highly recommend thinking outside of the box. How would you stop excessive bleeding? How would you close up a deep cut? What about creating a splint? There are a lot of things to take into consideration when you purchase all of the medical supplies that you may need in an emergency. I purchased the basic stuff (pictured above) and still need to get a few more things (can anyone guess what I need?).

When I did some research on this, something that I saw a lot of people do is taking a large pill box and putting a variety of pills (pain management to allergy to cold medication) in it. I think this is a brilliant idea! It’s something that I’m planning on doing and updating in my kit.

Not pictured: The blue tarp

Camping Supplies

I spent the most money in this category. Next to dehydrated food, this is an essential part of your 72 hour kit. I think one of the scariest things that could happen in an emergency is not being able to find a space safe enough to stay in until help arrives. This is why I strongly recommend having the supplies in your 72 hour kit to create a tent. I did so much research on this. I have to say, if it came down to having to build a tent out of a tarp and some bungee cords I could totally do it. I’ve learned a lot of neat tricks off of the internet. I would link them all but there are just too many so go Google it.

One product that I really want to highlight is the bivvy bag. It’s pretty rad. On the website that I linked it highlights the features of the bivvy bag:

  • Use the bivvy like a sleeping bag for the unexpected night outside, or turn it inside out to use as an emergency blanket
  • Bright orange exterior is easy to spot, even in bad weather
  • Waterproof, windproof material is seam taped for complete protection from the elements
  • SOL emergency bivvy packs down small into the included stuff sack—smaller than a 12 oz. soda can—and weighs just 3.5 oz.
  • Quiet and tear-resistant material won’t shred if punctured or fray your nerves by rattling in the wind
  • Measures 84 x 36 in. and is sized to shelter 1 adult

Basically it’ll keep you nice and toasty if you need to sleep. I haven’t tried it out yet. I’m planning on trying it out when I go camping this year. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Other Necessities & Your Car Trunk

A lot of the other necessities could fit into the camping category but they don’t fit into the big pencil bag that I have. These little odds and ends that you may not think of or may not be that important to you might just end up making all the difference. Don’t neglect these. You never know what circumstances you may end up in.

Something that I didn’t think of when I was initially putting my kit together was having things to use as self-defense. Unfortunately, we live in a unpredictable world. I believe that most people are good, but it’s the few that aren’t “good” that I worry about. I highly encourage you to know some sort of self defense, and to have a few self-defense items in your 72 hour kit.

In the trunk of my car, I keep extra clothes, blankets, water, flashlights, and sometimes even snacks (can I getta #SocialWorkerLife) just in case something happens. When I lived in Utah, I also kept a thing of cat litter in my trunk just in case I ever got stuck in snow (which has happened the one time I didn’t have cat litter). I keep everything in a little crate in the back of my trunk. Luckily, if I ever get trapped inside my car I can still access all of these things because of how my car is designed.

I also think it’s really important to have some your camping gear in an accessible place in case you have to grab it and go. Dale and I were so blessed when so many of our friends and family gave us camping stuff. Everyone knows how much we love the outdoors and it was such a thoughtful gift to give us. We currently have our camping stuff in storage, but I think we’ll be getting our tent out just as a precaution with everything going on.

Dehydrated Food

Something that I learned while I was doing all of my research is that dehydrated food last FOREVER! I am shocked at how long this food lasts. Like…why can’t all food stay fresh and be good like dehydrated food?! I don’t know. I’m still working on updating my dehydrated food. Everything that I have pictured is stuff that I can’t have anymore because it’s full of gluten and dairy products. Luckily, my husband can have it and will not be eating just a can of Spam. As soon as I have updated my gluten and dairy free dehydrated food I will write about it. It may take awhile but it’ll happen eventually.

Stolen off of Dale’s Facebook comment in response
to my posts on writing about my 72 hour kit.

There is so much that goes into creating a 72 hour kit. Just remember to take it one item at a time and don’t panic when you realize that you’ve forgotten to put toothpaste into your 72 hour kit. IF you have any questions, suggestions on things to add, or comments on how you have your 72 hour kit set up, leave a comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts on emergency preparedness, and how you’re staying prepared for Covid19 and the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

XO Sam

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