Survival kits have one major purpose: to help you survive in the event of a natural disaster, financial crisis, or war. Most of us buy a survival kit with the hope that we’ll never actually need it, but as the saying goes, “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
A good survival kit is more than just useful in the direst of situations. “Survival” can sometimes mean alleviating pain from blisters on a long hike or repairing a tear in your backpack or tent.
Survival kits are useful in a variety of scenarios, but determining which is best for you can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve created our list of the Top Ten Survival Kits to help simplify your decision.
1. The Seventy2 Survival System
The Seventy2 Survival System is unique in that it was specifically designed and curated by survival experts. The comprehensive survival system not only includes a number of handy tools but it also offers detailed survival instructions for a number of emergency situations. The Seventy2 Survival System is an incredible pack and has been given high praise from TIME, Outside Magazine, Huffington Post, Field and Stream, and dozens of other critics. They rave over the design, quality and ease of use in survival situations.
Widely regarded as “the world’s best 72-hour Survival Kit,” this system features an external shell made of 600-Denier Tarpaulin material, a Sawyer Water Filtration system, a Mylar Thermal survival tent, a 20-piece first aid kit, 100 feet of paracord, lightweight goggles, a survival knife, and much more! If you don’t ever want to buy another survival kit again, grab this one now.
2. The Family Prep Emergency Survival 72-Hour Kit
The Family Prep Emergency Survival 72 Hour Kit is a great survival kit to keep in your car or recreational vehicle. It’s also handily stored somewhere around your house for an emergency situation.
The 4 person version of this survival kit contains a 61-piece first aid kit, an AM/FM radio with batteries, light sticks, a hygiene kit, reflective sleeping bags, two 2-person tube tents, a 5-in-1 survival whistle, 50 feet of rope, leather palm work gloves, a 48-page emergency preparedness guide, and much more.
3. The Guardian Elite Survival Kit
The Guardian Elite Survival Kit eliminates the hassle of putting a survival kit together by yourself, and includes everything you’ll need as recommended by top survival experts. This kit contains everything you need for a 72 hour emergency.
This survival kit is packed with the essential supplies so that you will need to survive an emergency for up to 72 hours. It is built to last and all of the gear is packed nicely in a backpack with comfortable carry straps. The kit contains; food, water, emergency radio, medical and hygiene supplies, survival tools, supplies for warmth and shelter and more.
This survival kit has everything you need to survival a natural disaster, don’t get caught without it.
4. The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Kit
This survival kit from Gerber is a lightweight option designed for easy storage in your existing bag or backpack. It’s a great option for anyone who wants a great survival kit that’s not going to take up your whole pack.
The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit features 16 essential tools in a waterproof bag. It includes a multi-tool, mini light, hand saw, signaling mirror, survival blanket, fire starter, emergency cord, land to air rescue instructions, and a pocket guide with Bear’s very own “Priorities of Survival.”
5. The S.O.L. Origin Survival Kit by Adventure Medical Kits
S.O.L. stands for “Survive Outdoors Longer.” This is exactly what this kit is designed to help you do. It contains an array of essential survival equipment in a package that can go anywhere and withstand even the harshest of environments.
This survival kit comes in an ABS-plastic (1) waterproof case and includes Tinder-Quik fire starters, 150-pound-test braided nylon cord, and an emergency sewing and fishing kit. It also features military-spec stainless steel wire, a removable liquid-damped compass, a folding lock-blade knife, a rescue flash signal mirror capable of broadcasting your location up to 20 miles, and more.
6. The Mayday Earthquake Kit
The Mayday Earthquake Kit, also known as the 2-person 72-Hour Emergency Honey Bucket, is the premier earthquake-readiness survival kit on the market. It’s the perfect kit to store in your home, especially if you live in an earthquake-prone region.
This kit contains a 12-hour light stick, 54-piece first aid kit, three packs of water, 2400 calorie food bars, waterproof matches, water purification tablets, a gas & water shut off tool, utility knife, ponchos and dust masks, a roll of duct tape, a 15-inch pry bar, T-5 chemical disinfectant, and much more!
7. The 4 Person Survival Kit Deluxe by Survival Prep Warehouse
The perfect kit for a small family, the 4 Person Survival Kit Deluxe by Survival Prep Warehouse will help to prepare you for earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, floods, and all other natural or man-made disasters.
This 72-hour kit comes in a convenient grab-and-go duffel bag and features safety items, first aid supplies, and gas shut off tools. It includes 48 pouches of water and 48 200-calorie food bars with a 5-year shelf life. It also contains emergency ponchos, a hand-squeeze rechargeable flashlight, one package of survival candles, body warmers that last up to 20 hours, and much more!
8. The Gerber Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit
This survival kit from Gerber is designed specifically for the Zombie apocalypse. If your neighbors have been acting a little strange or you’ve been watching a little too much of the Walking Dead TV show, this combat-ready survival kit is perfect for you.
The Zombie Apocalypse Survival kit contains three Gerber knives: the LMF II Infantry, the DMF Folder, and the Epic. It also features two Gerber machetes: the Gator Machete and the Gator Machete Pro.
Gerber has also thrown the Parang Machete, which amounts to a 17.5-inch Freescape Hatchet, and their Camp II High-Performance Axe. It all comes nicely packed in a sturdy canvas carrying case with reinforced stitching and a handle for easy transportation.
9. The Sportsman Series Bighorn First Aid Kit
Designed by Adventure Medical Kits, the Sportsman Series is meant specifically for hunters, fishermen, and other adventurers that find they are treating common injuries in the field more often than they’d really like!
The Bighorn First Aid Kit contains sterile bandage materials, care for wounds, blisters, and burns, a CPR face shield, fracture and sprain care, essentials tools, common medications, and a “Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine.” It is designed to help you provide hospital-quality care for up to seven people on trips lasting up to a week in length.
10. The GetReadyNow 2+ Person Deluxe Car Emergency Kit
The final kit in our Top Ten is unique in that it was designed to stow conspicuously in your car. It’s perfect to keep you prepared to stay warm, dry, and comfortable even if your car breaks down at the worst time.
The Deluxe Car Emergency Kit from GetReadyNow comes in a clear, heavy-duty dry bag to keep supplies from getting wet and to allow for easy visibility. It fits conveniently under the seat and contains an LED headlamp with batteries, 4 Millennium food bars, 8 water pouches, LED glow sticks, waste disposal bags, Mylar blankets, ponchos, a 46-piece first aid kit, and much more!
The first 72 hours after a disaster or after you realize you’re lost is critical (3). After Hurricane Sandy, for example, more than 8.1 million homes were without power. The hurricane made landfall in late October and some New Jersey residents were still without power the night before Thanksgiving.
In terms of wilderness survival, the most common causes for Search and Rescue (SAR) Operations are fatigue and physical conditions, errors in judgment, and insufficient equipment, clothing, or experience (4). The right survival kit can eliminate at least one of these variables.
Keeping a survival kit on hand is essential whether it’s in your home, car, or stowed safely in the bottom of your backpack. Deciding on the right kit for you will depend on a number of factors but in this buyer’s guide we’ll focus on these three characteristics: size, primary use, and cost.
Survival kits come in a wide range of sizes. The smallest kits can fit under the back seat of your car and the largest take up an entire duffel bag. The most common household kits are either backpack of duffel-sized and the smallest survival kits can fit in the upper pocket of a backpacking pack.
The size that’s right for you will largely depend on where you plan to store it and how many people you want it to supply. There are survival kits designed to provide enough supplies for anywhere from 2 to 100 people (5) for up to 72 hours.
You’ll need to be mindful of the number of people your survival kit will provide for in case of emergency. But you’ll also need to decide where you hope to store it and understand how much space your ideal kit will take up.
What area do you live in and what are the primary threats to that area? Are you embarking on an expedition where an extended survival situation is a real possibility?
Certain survival kits are designed primarily for when your car breaks down miles from the nearest service station. Others are designed to provide 72-hours of supplies in the event of a prolonged power outage and a delayed response by emergency services.
If your primary use would be in the event of a natural disaster, for example, you’ll need a kit that contains at least 72 hours of supplies for every member of your family. Some people also keep a gas mask in their 72 hour kit in the event of a chemical attack. But if you’re concerned about defending yourself against a horde of flesh-hungry humanoids, the Gerber Zombie Apocalypse Kit is right up your alley.
Selecting the right kit requires an understanding of the situations you’re most likely to need it for. A helpful exercise can be to create a list of 10 items you’d absolutely need in the event of a natural disaster or extended period without power and access to food and water. Then make a list of another 20 to 3o supplies you’d also like to have handy in this situation. This will give you a great baseline to help you narrow down your options.
The cost will likely be the deciding factor in your decision. Some of the most extensive survival kits on the market today can cost upwards of $2,000. This might not be the perfect kit for you, but it’s also important not to cut corners when it comes to your survival.
There are a number of risks you’ll be exposed to through a lack of emergency preparedness, including dehydration, starvation, and death from a common illness (6). There is no reason why you and your family should be exposed to these risks through a lack of preparation.
A well-stocked survival kit significantly increases well-being and comfort in the most physiologically challenging of situations. The kits we’ve outlined above range from $30 to $350. We recommend finding an option that fits your budget but also gives you the range of supplies you’ll need in an emergency situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
The right survival kit can mean the difference between life and death. But you’ll need as much information as possible to select the right kit for you. To that end, we’ve put together a brief summary of the most frequently asked questions about survival kits.
Where should I keep my survival kit?
We recommend you store your survival kit in a cool, dry place. This will allow you to maximize the shelf life of the perishable goods contained in some kits, i.e. food and water.
Your kit should be easily accessible at a moment’s notice. This means choosing a storage space in the most frequented areas of your house. Typically, the kitchen, living room, or mudroom closets are great options. Many people store kits in their garage as well, but in the event of an unpredicted flood, your kit can wind up waterlogged before you know it.
What is most important to my survival?
While you might find certain items in your survival kit more useful than others, this will largely depend on the exact nature of your emergency. Generally, food and water are going to be the most vital items when facing any prolonged disaster. After that, items like Mylar blankets and tube tents provide shelter from the elements and fire starters can help you provide critical warmth and ability to cook food or boil water.
What do people mean when they refer to ‘SHTF’?
SHTF commonly stands for when “stuff hits the fan.” In other words, when things go wrong and your best-laid plans must be scrapped. In this case, it’s more critical than ever that you have a plan for survival and a kit that helps you execute it.
Survival kits have come a long way since Johnson & Johnson first started developing commercial first aid kits in 1888 (7). Today’s kits are often crafted by survival experts and tailored to provide critical supplies in the event of a major natural or man-made disaster.
We hope that you’ve found a great deal of useful information above and that you find the survival kit that’s best for your needs. As we mentioned at the start, it’s not a matter of if you’ll need it. It’s a matter of when it winds up saving the day!