Stuck on a way to carry your emergency kit? Here are the pros and cons of 5 ways to carry your 72-hour kit
The 72-hour kit, 96-hour kit, or my favorite “the bug out bag” is the first BIG thing on the preparedness to do list.
Think of it as the “clean out the garage” on your honey do list – it feels huge and time-consuming and screams at you every time you look at that list – but when it finally gets done you don’t really have to think about it for a while.
You will even get a greater sense of satisfaction than getting your dishes done!
Just like cleaning out the garage, starting your 72-hour kit gets put off the longest, too. Somehow we never think that they will be needed. Today is the day we tackle the garage, but we’ll take baby steps.
Step 1: The Basic Emergency Kit List
Print out your packing list, one for each kit. Download the list at Ready.gov to use as a beginning and then personalize it to fit your needs. Basic items include:
- Water, one gallon of water per person, per day, for at least three days. (for drinking and sanitation)
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
- Clothing for 3 days
- $20 dollars in small bills and change
Once you have a complete kit, filled with all the items that you think you’ll need for 72-hours on your own, that can be a lot of items. You want to make a plan for easily carrying it during an emergency. Let’s look at a few options.
- Rolling Suitcase
- Back Pack
- Rolling tub
- Rolling garbage can
- Fishing Vest
What will you be able to comfortably carry if you have to evacuate?
Step 2: How to package kits
For years I have had my emergency kit in a large red canvas backpack. It’s sturdy and has a lot of handy pockets. I purchased it used, at a local backpacking supply store, about 15 years ago.
All of a sudden, I think it weighs a ton. I need to re-evaluate how I’m going to carry my emergency kit because honestly, I can’t imagine going any distance with that thing on my back. I need another plan.
If you have kids you know getting out the door on time is a challenge on the best of days. In an emergency, it is not going to be pretty. Let’s look at survival in a disaster from the same standpoint of taking a car trip. Loading the car is a pain! Getting everyone and their stuff in the car and on the road is stressful! Now imagine having to do this in 15 minutes or less with only the essentials. You need to be able to get everyone and thing into the car in as few trips as possible.
One regular backpack for each child really means that you’ll be hauling 5+ backpacks out to the car. I can guarantee, it’s not going to go smoothly, especially if you have infants or young children. So now you need to decide which “packaging” is the best fit for your space and family. You have a few options:
The Rolling Tub 72-hour kit
This tub is big and has enough room for 5 emergency kits. It has rollers on the back and handles so you can easily move it. Personally, I find this cumbersome to move around, but it would take less time to move all of your packs at one time.
Pros of rolling tub emergency kits:
- If you have small children that cannot carry a portion of their own supplies, this may be your best option.
- Good for young families, where mom and dad will be the ones doing the carrying.
Cons of rolling tub emergency kits:
- It can be hard to find things when all the kits are grouped together.
- It gets messy once everyone starts to access their items.
- Because it is so big, it is hard to stash in closets.
The Rolling Suitcase
Great if you are making a collective kit for more than one person and it is a smaller variety of the tub. This option is portable and even small children are able to pull a heavy suitcase out of the house.
This also would work well for couples, or for individuals who decide you want to be super prepared; you can get a lot into a suitcase 72-hour kit! There are plenty of pockets and it’s easy to get to your items. It will hold much more than a backpack.
Use the ones with rollers like this Rolling Duffel Bag from Amazon that has plenty of pockets to compartmentalize things. I like this because you don’t have to open the whole suitcase to get at your important items like flashlights and money.
Pros of rolling suitcase kits:
- Portable and easy to move
- Easy to compartmentalize
- Fits items for more than one person
Cons of rolling suitcase kits:
- They can cost a bit more (try to find used)
- Not portable in the wilderness.
The Fisherman’s vest 72-hour kit
Instead of a backpack, have a vest for each family member. Just plan to meet at the closet, slip on the kits and file out the door. Each person would have to be assigned to carry their own water in a separate bottle; it does not have a place for it.
Look for vests with 26 pockets and carrying loops like this one for youth at Amazon.Fishing vests can be found at most sporting goods stores. Adults can use fishing vests or military vests with pockets. Check to be sure that vests labeled “youth” are small enough for your needs.
Pros of fishing vests:
- Each family member can carry a small portion of their pack and the rest can be placed in a large suitcase
- Great for kids that need the tactile texture of items next to their skin, brings comfort
- 26 pocket variety can be found in most sporting goods stores
Cons of fishing vests:
- No place to carry water
- It’s easy to over pack
- Will not carry everything so you’ll need another option too
The Backpack Emergency Kit
The most popular option is the backpack. For adults, it should be of good quality and an ergonomic pack. It’s not so important for children because they will not be carrying their full packs. Look at a military surplus store or at a sporting goods store for a hiking pack. This will help prevent back injuries and increased durability. If your child can carry a backpack with most of what they need in it, this is the best option.
It gives children a sense of security when they know where their things are and that they have everything they need. If you have young children you will be carrying most, if not all, of their items.
Follow the body weight/pack weight ratio guidelines below so there are no injuries. Once you’ve got it all together, weigh everyone’s pack, and take into consideration their fitness level. If they’re not able to carry the pack comfortably – get your kids stronger, or look for other options.
- Children: 10-25% of body weight (depends on fitness levels)
- Youth and adults: 20-25% of body weight
- Very fit/male : 25-33% of body weight
Also, the individual pack will be something you’ll want if your child has sensory needs as that weight and pressure will actually help them cope with the serious stimuli they will have encountered and help to level out their already heighten awareness. This includes children with ADHD/ADD and Autism.
Pros of Backpack 72-hour kits:
- Easy to carry
- Easy to find
- Great for kids to carry
Cons of Backpack 72-hour kits:
- Easy to over pack
- Only one person per pack
Step 3: Extra 72-hour Supplies
Dig up or purchase the items on your list. You will be surprised how much is already have around the house. In addition to the basic list, at least one family member should have a big First Aid Kit (see First Aid Kit Ideas on Amazon), and everyone else should have a small kit – even if you make a simple one from the dollar store. Plus you’ll need some basic sanitation items like toilet paper.
Also, consider adding the items listed below to your kits:
- Extra pair of glasses (even if you wear contacts)
- Duct tape
- Headlamps (you’ll need hands-free for dealing with kids)
- Work gloves for ALL family members
- Written copy of address book (only important ones)
- 15 Emergency Phone numbers list for your cell
- Sewing kit
- Candles (tea lights)
- Wet wipes
- Extra batteries (for each piece of equipment in your kit that requires them)
- Zip lock baggies (gallon size)
- Information – a full copy of your family plan and vital information should be included. You can check this off if you completed your emergency binder in the day 4 challenge. If you didn’t – then get it done!
If you’re nearing your budget then make a note of what you feel are the vital items and get those first. Each month make a line item in your budget and continue adding the missing items over in the next few months. Your kit can make a disaster run more smoothly and be less traumatic.
You may find these other 72-Hour Kit posts helpful: 72-Hour Kits – Food and Water, 72-Hour Kits – Clothing & Shelter, 72-Hour Kits – Comfort & Entertainment, 72-Hour Kits for Infants, 7 Must Have Herbal Remedies to Have in your 72-hour kit, Emergency Food for your Kits.
Today’s Challenge: Begin to Put Your 72-Hour Kit Together
Good: You have your printed list and at least half of each list assigned purchased and packed.
Better: You have almost all of the assignments for today purchased and packed, and a purchasing schedule for the next month to finish things off.
Best: The most important part of making your 72-hour kits is not that you (the parent) hurry and put them together. It is very important for your children and spouse to help with this process. Include them in purchasing items, planning food, and packing their kits. Complete as much as you can and schedule out the rest along with making a “due date” and family reward for when they’re finished.