It’s become somewhat of the popular joke to have a post about Zombie Survival these days, so I guess I’ll toss my two-cents into the fray. Personally, I’ve never been much concerned with the Zombie menace, but there many other possible scenarios out there that call for readiness in the face of limited resources, disrupted public services, and downright chaos. With that (and an impending hurricane) in mind, I’d like to share my personal emergency kit with you all.
Let me first preface this by saying that this is far from everything I have prepared in case of emergency. Rather, this represents my “grab bags” of absolute essentials that we would take with us in case of a zero-warning evacuation or similar event. Were we limited to traveling only on foot, I might drop an item or two (dutch oven). Were we given a few minutes and the ability to take the car, I might add a few heavier things.
I have also omitted almost all of my clothing from this kit, mainly because I didn’t want to go digging around in my closet. If you decide to mimic this, or use it for inspiration, just use some basic common sense in your clothing choices: layers, avoid cotton, pack light, bring extra socks.
This list follows the pictures from the top left, downward in columns, to the bottom right. The item headings are all links where you can find these items for purchase.
This box is the core to my medical kit. It is waterproof, tough-as-hell, and bright orange to find it quick in a hurry. It even has a handy little compass on the top. How quaint!
For serious trauma like gunshot wounds or tree branches through your chest, you need more than a bandaid. While the need may be uncommon, having this cheap little pack might just save your life, or the life of someone you love. It takes up very little space, too.
I hope to never have to need this level of extra thermals, but for an ounce and the tiniest bit of space, these provide us a “blanket” of security. Terrible joke, I know.
These are my waterproof cases within the waterproof case. If there’s one thing you never, ever want to get wet, it’s your emergency bandages and medicines. This extra level of protection is absolutely imperetive in my opinion. Also, if you have anything really sensitive that needs to stay dry, toss it in one of these. I find that three of them are enough to fit the Medique kit below.
This handy medical kit has it all, short of a hospital, anyway. If you think you’ll have a need for extras of a particular thing, don’t hesitate. If there’s one area you shouldn’t skimp, it’s first aid. If you’re using this as your household first aid kit, remember to replenish items as you use them. You don’t want to get trapped without any bandages because you “just haven’t made it back to CVS yet.”
This thing is a beast. I charged it with the hand crank for just over ten seconds and then sat listening to the radio all day long. If you plan on staying in touch with the outside world (or at least informed), having a backup radio with NOAA stations is important. Besides, this little guy will charge your cellphone too!
I’m an Eagle Scout, and thus I never feel lost if I have a good length of rope. Paracord is extremely strong for its size, but it packs down light and tight. Use it for everything and everything from a clothesline to animal traps in the worst of situations.
Don’t settle for the cheap duct tape. Get the good outdoor all-weather stuff. One roll should be more than enough to patch things up, bandage you up, make a stretcher, or any number of other tasks.
If your kit needs to help you out past a day or two, being able to work with the natural resources around you is imperitive. Chop up some downed branches for a fire. Clear a space for your family. Make some posts for hanging a trash bag (instant trash bin). Be creative and live in outdoor luxury with this.
If you find yourself working with tough wood that needs clearing, having the right tools makes all the difference. Your hatchet can do a lot, but sometimes its nice to have a saw too. This thing is tiny and super light. Add it to the bag and then hope you don’t need it.
Most scissors are weak and useless when it comes to anything other than wrapping paper. These things have some real power, and they’ll get the job done again and again. You can even sharpen them!
Ok, there’s really no reason for this at all. I just love having a titanium spork on the list. Sue me.
My advice for survival scenarios: Learn how to make a latrine. Seriously. It’ll take you five minutes to watch a video on youtube and it will make your outdoor living much, much easier.
While I wouldn’t rely on one of these guys solo, having all the little tools is a help. Suppliment your main knife with any old Leatherman model to add versitility.
I’m a bit of a knife junkie. Beretta makes a killer folding knife. If you have a solid blade like the Mora Classic below, this isn’t exactly necessary, but you can think of it as a backup if that makes you feel better. You certainly don’t want to end up bladeless. These are your primary tools of survival.
A dull knife is almost as bad as no knife. If you’re going to be using them… really using them, keep them sharp. This will also help you in cases of accidental cuts. A clean cut heals much faster and with less chance of infection.
Clean water is absolutely essential to survival. There are a ton of options available thanks to fancy technologies these days. Get a filter pump or some sort of reverse osmosis device and live like kings. Just make sure to grab some iodine tablets as a backup. Filters break sometimes. These might make your water taste tinny, but you’ll live. (Side note: you can also use bleach to purify water!)
In the redundency department, along with your knives, add light to the list. A headlamp will keep your hands free to do work. They last a really long time with LEDs.
Bring a flashlight, but not one with huge, honkin’ D batteries. They’re harder to find replacements than AA, and much heavier.
Don’t buy them from this link. Get them at your local store for next to nothing. Have a few handy, along with some matches in your dry-box, just in case. And while you’re watching survival videos on how to make latrines, you might as well learn to make a fire too. Don’t rely on watching as knowing, though. Give it some practice before you need the skill.
Very few knives are better than this one. At 15$, you can afford to get extras too. Treat them well: sharpened, oiled, not chipped. They’ll last a lifetime.
Another backup for your chainsaw. Or maybe the chainsaw is the backup. If you’re going to stay outdoors for any length of time, bring a saw.
You’ll notice I haven’t put much in the way of food on this list. That’s because you should spend some time learning your local edibles before you need them. Learn what berries you can eat, and also what animals are in your area. Learn to make a snare. Don’t bother wasting time hunting deer unless you already have all the gear and experience. Set snares around your camp instead. It’s more reliable. If all else fails, these emergency food bars are good for up to 5 years and pack enough calories to keep you going for a long, long time.
You’re going to need water containers. Have a variety, but don’t keep them all filled up. Learn to treat your water so you don’t have to carry it all with you. Carry the empty containers with a minimum amout of water for drinking as you travel, then fill them up when you stop, treat them, and save yourself the weight. 1 liter of water weights about 1kg. That adds up quick.
The most common place to injure yourself working in survival situations is on your hands. Protect them with more than a pair of designer cotton gloves. These guys have Kevlar on the insides and outsides of your hands. Fantastic, and worth the price. Test them out with some yard work and you’ll see what I mean.
Get a poncho that will keep you and your stuff dry.
Pack choices are a highly personal decision. I’m an ultra-light backpacker, so this relatively cheap bag from Gossamer Gear is a fantastic fit for me. The one pictured is a slightly older model than the link. Remember, you may need to carry your emergency gear at some point. You can’t just rely on the car to get you everwhere. Plan ahead for the un-fun possibilities.
I don’t want to go over clothing too much, but let me make a brief mention about the basics here. Pack in layers: base layer, mid layer, outer layer, insulation. Avoid cotton or other fabrics that won’t hold your heat when wet. You might spend some time being dirty. That’s ok. Pick things that you can wear again and again and that will hold together. Quality over quantity here.
This luxury will probably the first thing to be left behind if we have to set out on foot. It’s damn heavy, but what a versitile cooking tool. It works in your oven, in your fireplace, or on a campfire. It cleans up with a quick rinse and is ready to go again. Pure camping-cooking heaven.
Leave the baseball cap. Dress for function, not form. This will keep you warm, and that’s what’s really important.
This cord is great for any number of uses, but it is in the kit especially for hanging a bear-bag. I use the PCT method myself, so I have the tools to fit it. In a pinch, though, you can get away with just a bag and line. Wildlife have incredible senses of smells. Remember, if you are outside, you don’t have walls keeping your food and gear safe. Be wary and hang your food.
To go along with the line above, these stuff sacks from zpacks are wonderful. They weigh almost nothing and are very sturdy.
There’s a lot of ways to make a shelter outdoors. This is a pretty hardcore 4-season lightweight tent. It’s not the cheapest solution, nor the best in all situations. I use it for a variety of camping conditions outside of my emergency kit. If you aren’t much of an outdoorsman, there’s probably a better shelter for you. Ask around at Gander Mtn or REI, or bug your local scouts when they try to sell you popcorn.
There’s a lot of stove options for the backcountry. White gas, kerosene, etc, are all valid. This “stove” is little more than a wind-shield and chimney for a tiny wood fire. It fits in my ultra-light model. If you know how to make a fire, this might work for you. If you get something more fancy, have a backup, and make sure you have plenty of fuel.
Have something to heat up water. In survival situations, many times “cooking” literally means, “add hot water”. Heat to purify. Heat to rehydrate. Heat!
This mug stacks nicely with the cookset above, so I have a pot for heating the water, and a cup for eating. It keeps my cooking pot clean.
Sleeping on the ground can be rough. Go easy on your back with a little layer. More importantly, get some insulation between your body and the ground. The earth will suck the heat right out of you.
I have horrible restless leg syndrome, and most sleeping bags feel like a coffin to me. A nice power-down quilt gives me the warmth I need at night without the restrictive footbox. Pick whatever works for you. The single most dangerous thing when you are forced to sleep outside is exposure. You will die from exposure in a single night. Make sure you have good shelter before you even worry about water or food.
This is not pictured, but very handy. If you are going to be staying in your house without power for a while, toss this into your bathtub and fill it up right away. 100 gallons of water will last you a while. Purify it to drink, grab a bucket and pour it in the back of your toilet to flush it manually, clean yourself up. Just remember to be more conservative if you are unlikely to have help or power restored in the near future. It may have to last a while.