BagsBOB, Bug-Out-Bag, 911 Kit, Emergency Bag, 72-Hour Bag, Get-Out-Of-Dodge Bag, etc. No matter what name you give it, it is something we feel is important for every family. With weather raging out of control and catastrophic emergencies happening in places we never thought possible (here and here, for example) these type of kits should be “on the ready”, packed and prepared for all kinds of emergencies including natural disasters like flooding and hurricanes, to technological chaos like blackouts, to a host of other things (excluding Zombie-invasions in which case you should just call Norman Reedus).

An emergency bag like each of our family members has is meant to carry the essential for 72-hour survival. Granted this is not Bear Grylls sort of survival but rather basic, essential, day-to-day survival. Be that as it may BOBs, 911 Kits, and survival bags should all include basically the same thing and will serve you best if available to you almost all the time; in the car, when traveling, at home, etc.

Remember. 2 is 1 and 1 is none.

Perhaps the first thing to think about though is that you don’t want your bags to be too heavy and they should be easy to transport, preferably on your back. We have chosen to use our Kelty backpacks and chose a small TinkerBell back pack for our 2-year old daughter. Speaking of weight. Her pack only weighs about 4.1 lbs. and if ever used should go a long way in providing comfort for her as well as familiarity. In regards to the adult packs they should be outfitted as you see fit and you should customize them to your family’s needs and environment. For instance a couple who lives in midtown Manhattan would not at all need/want the same things as a couple living in Door County, Wisconsin. The lists below should help you get started building your own bags though.


  • Keep a few liters of water available. This can be in the form of bottles purchased at the grocery store or emergency water pouches. A good rule of thumb is an individual needs 1 liter per day at minimum.
  • For long-term emergencies, you’ll want to have some kind of water purification system such as purification tablets or a filter. Consider a collapsible bucket for water collection. You can also use old Gatorade bottles, canteens, or even unused condoms. You may have to boil water in some cases so you will want to consider that as well.
  • Dehydrated, Freeze-Dried, or MRE meals.
  • Energy bars, Trail Mix, Peanuts, etc.
  • Canned foods such as sardines or tuna.
  • Comfort treats that are easy to pack (a bag of Swedish Fish for me).


  • Paracord.
  • Duct tape.
  • A knife and multi-tool that includes a can opener, screw driver, etc.
  • Folding shovel
  • A tarp. You can use this as a makeshift shelter to keep out wind, rain, and the sun.
  • Solar powered flashlight with LED lights.
  • And LED head lamp.
  • Spare batteries (typically AA and D are best).
  • Glow sticks.
  • Power inverter for your car to charge your phone or other electronics.
  • hand crank radio.
  • A whistle for each individual.
  • Waterproof matches.
  • Lighter(s).
  • Magnesium fire starting tool


  • Emergency Mylar foil blankets. 
  • Rain poncho.
  • Warm clothes (if in winter season). Lightweight clothes (if in summer).
  • Change of clothes for each family member (including underclothing).
  • Boots or walking shoes.
  • Work gloves.
  • Sleeping bags may be something you want to consider depending on your situation. If so, look for ones that come with a compression sack.


  • A basic first-aid kit. You can buy assembled kits but if you research and build your own you’ll have a better knowledge of what you need and how to use it as well as save a few dollars. Basics include: band-aids, gauze, cloth tape, anti-septic wipes, antibacterial ointment, scissors, tweezers, non-latex gloves, a CPR mask, saline solution to use as eye wash, and dust masks.
  • Over-the-counter medications: anti-diarrheal medications, pain and fever medications, Tylenol, Benadryl, etc.
  • A first aid handbook or cheat sheet.
  • Personal items such as bar soap, mouthwash, toothbrush/toothpaste, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, etc.
  • Essential prescription medications. Rotate these out when you rotate the food/water.
  • Extra eye glasses if you rely on them for vision.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray.


  • Diapers or Pull-Ups if necessary.
  • Rash ointments.
  • Trail Mix or other non-perishable snacks. Be cautious about sugars.
  • Multivitamins.
  • Small stuff animal.
  • Favorite small book.
  • Cartoon band-aids.

NOTE: The kids bag is not so much for survival as many items will be carried by the adult. The kids bag is more for comfort and to help ease an already stressful situation.


  • Forms of identification. Some people also like to include copies of birth certificates, marriage certificate, social security cards, insurance policies, and so on. You may even want to have 3 areas in which you store this information: Xerox copies in your bag, on a thumb drive, and in “the cloud.”
  • Cash in small denominations.
  • Laminated list of important phone numbers and information including a recent photo of each family member.
  • Local and regional map and compass.
  • The SAS Survival Handbook is a popular and well-rated book to have on hand.


NOTE: Many of the above items can be vacuum sealed to save room and to keep dry. Consider investing in a FoodSaver kit or a Ziploc brand vacuum sealer.