What to Put in a Survival Kit

Now is the time to begin investing and constructing a survival kit.

With notions of war, natural disaster, economic collapse, and civil discord constantly popping up in daily news headlines, you should not wait until it's too late.

In previous articles, we discussed how to build survival shelters, stock up on supplies, and how to overcome the odds during a long-term survival situation.

We now turn our focus onto quick survival preparedness, through the use of a rapidly-available disaster preparedness kit.

What if the place you were hoping to take refuge at became compromised and you had to leave quickly? Despite all the planning you did, you would have no choice but to grab your kit and go.

While this would be a terrible blow to your original plan, the harsh reality is that no-one can fully predict what might happen.

Having multiple plans will help keep you and your family prepared to take on any unpredictable condition.

Learn how to assemble a disaster survival kit

Learn how to assemble a disaster survival kit

What is a Survival Kit?

You might be wondering how an emergency kit is any different from what you've already been doing to prepare for survival?

In its most basic form, a survival kit is everything you need to survive on your own for a week or so, all rolled into one portable package.

Disaster preparedness kits supply a person with a variety of tools, temporary shelter, water, food rations, and first aid medical supplies. These items are often kept in a backpack or duffle bag, located in an area that is easy to get to quickly.

Some preppers keep multiple kits in various areas, like their car, at work, a few around their house, and a few strategically hidden in the wilderness.

What Should Be in Your Disaster Kit?

You never know how long you'll be in a survival situation – it could be for a few days or it could be indefinitely.

With a survival kit, space is limited, but you should try to pack for 5 to 7 days. Also, include at least $50 in cash, just in case you have to buy something.

Survival Food

It's recommended that you have one gallon of water per person, per day. If you have a large family, this could pose problems to keeping your kit portable, so ensure you have some kind of water purification system stored with your kit.

While you should still follow the one gallon rule when stocking up on supplies, when it's time to grab your kit and go, try to grab as much water as you can.

Include plenty of canned meats, fruits, and vegetables, along with some high-energy food bars. You can also store freeze-dried food or MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat).

You should also consider storing a portable stove with fuel tablets, or a solar cooker. If you have a baby, include jars of baby food and formula.

Ensure that you prepare the food for long-term storage, so it doesn't spoil. Read more about survival food storage here.

First Aid

Every survivalist should know basic first aid and CPR.

In addition, there are a few critical medical items that should be included in your emergency preparedness kit:

  • Bandages (include large ones too)
  • Gauze
  • Adhesives
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Aspirin
  • Inhalers
  • Surgical stapler (hopefully you won't have to use that)
  • Multivitamins
  • Prescription medication
  • Feminine products (not first aid, but still necessary)


When disaster strikes, you never know how long you'll be without proper shelter, so having a portable housing solution is an important aspect of any survival kit.

Learn more about survival shelters

Mylar tents are extremely lightweight, portable, and durable. They're great for reflecting sunlight, yet they keep heat inside, keeping you comfortable when sleeping in the outdoor elements.

Most mylar tents are simple to erect, and you can mount them using a few stakes, or string them up with a rope tied to two trees.

Ponchos are great to have to hand as well. You never know when you'll have to trek through rain and snow to find supplies or another shelter. Also, include one survival blanket per person.

Instead of storing your kit inside a backpack, you can become more efficient and actually store your kit inside your bivy bag. A bivy bag is a durable, insulated, and waterproof sleeping bag that some survivalists use instead of a tent.

However, during a survival situation, you may want some kind of roof over your head. Read more about emergency shelters here.


You probably wish you could pack your entire toolbox into your kit, but space is of the essence, so you'll need to carefully select which tools to pack.

Here are the essential tools you should pack:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Survival knife
  • Multi-tool
  • Rope
  • Matches / Lighters
  • Whistle
  • Survival Water Purifier (iodine tablets/LifeStraw)
  • Hand crank or battery operated radio
  • Small saw or hatchet (if you have room)

Earthquake Survival Kit

A large-scale earthquake could literally destroy everything you own and know, forcing you into survival mode for a few days.

Eventually, relief will come, but until then, having an earthquake survival kit will keep you safe and prepared for the worst.

An earthquake preparedness kit should include enough supplies to last you 2 to 4 days. Your earthquake survival kit should have:

Learn more about the contents of an earthquake survival kit
  • 2-4 gallons of water per person
  • Water purification tablets
  • Food rations to last 2 – 4 days
  • Radio
  • Flashlight w/ batteries
  • First aid kit (with large bandages and antibiotic ointment)
  • Mylar tent
  • Survival blankets (one per person)
  • Matches / lighters
  • Survival knife
  • Multi-tool
  • $50 cash (multiple small bills)

We share more on earthquake preparedness kits here.

Go from Survival Kit to the Cantinawest Survival Gear home page

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