The best emergency kits

  • An emergency kit is something you should have around, in case an unexpected dangerous event happens.
  • You can make your own, or purchase a preassembled kit that has everything you may need.
  • The Sustain Supply Co. Four-72 Emergency Survival Kit is our top choice because it not only covers the critical needs like water, warmth, sustenance, and first aid, but it also has lots of redundancies.

Statistically speaking, it’s unlikely that you will ever find yourself in a situation calling for an emergency preparedness kit, but “preparedness” is the operative word. Should a disaster strike in the form of an earthquake, tornado, civil unrest, a major storm, or what have you, you may well find yourself cut off from outside help, relying on your wits and depending on the rations and supplies you have on hand. If that ever happens, you’ll be glad some rations have a multi-year shelf life, and that your supplies include first aid materials, light sources, fire-starting tools, and other such essentials.

But remember, buying an emergency preparedness kit is only the first step in readying yourself and your household to respond to a crisis properly. As my chosen emergency prep kit comes from Sustain Supply Co., I reached out to the brand for some insider insight. I spoke to Brent Stern, founder of Sustain, who offered some sage advice for making the most of your kit.

“When you’re in a stressful situation, your ability to problem-solve is going to be diminished,” Stern said. So he advises people to not only procure supplies but to study what they have. “Take some time, at least a half-hour, to go through your kit. Know what’s in there and where things are in the bag. And put some cash in … and any prescription drugs or specific first aid needs you or a family member might require.”

Ultimately, according to Stern, “a good survival kit gives you the ability to be self-sufficient.” The emergency prep kits on our list each allow you and a small group to do just that, fending for yourselves for a few days as you wait for the restoration of civil support systems in your area or else hike your way to a safer region.

Here are the best emergency kits you can buy:

Updated on 12/18/2019 by Jen Gushue: Updated prices, links, and formatting.

The best emergency prep kit overall

Sustain Supply

The carefully curated Sustain Supply Co. Comfort4 72-Hour Emergency Survival Kit offers basic needs and redundancies in critical areas such as hydration and warmth.

I chose the Sustain Supply Co. Comfort4 72-Hour Emergency Survival Kit as my family’s emergency preparedness kit because after looking at many different options, it seemed to be the most thoughtfully curated option. There is simply nothing in this kit that feels superfluous, and there is no glaring omission, either.

Many survival kits have items like toothbrushes and hair combs that might make morning ablutions more pleasant but that really aren’t imperative for survival during an emergency. In other words, that means they are just extra weight. The Comfort4 kit, on the other hand, is stocked almost exactly as I would have built up a kit from scratch.

When I got the founder of Sustain Supply Co., Brent Stern, on the phone, I learned how they pulled that off. Stern explained that they used Amazon analytics to determine which prep/survival products people tended to buy at the same time and then made the leading choices of discerning shoppers the products they included in the kit.

Thus the Comfort4 comes stocked with foods that may have a 30-year shelf life, but they actually taste good once rehydrated and cooked. It includes more emergency drinking water than you will find in almost any other emergency kit. The kit also has all the basics, like first aid supplies, fire starters, emergency blankets, a razor-sharp knife, and more. But toothpaste and a hairbrush? Not so much. If you feel you need those to survive, you tuck them in yourself.

But there’s another reason I chose the Sustain Supply Co. Four-72 Emergency Survival Kit both for my own home as well as for the top pick on this list: redundancy. The kit comes with two lanterns, two flashlights, and multiple chemical snap lights (glow sticks), so if something breaks, you always have a backup. As noted, it comes with a lot of drinking water, but it also has a water filter included. It has enough fire starting supplies to make more than enough fires for the three days. The kit is designed to sustain four adults.

Yes, it’s expensive. But your safety is priceless. And yes, this kit is kind of heavy, but if you’re with other adults, you can spread the weight around or pass the backpack from person to person as needed.

Pros: Thoughtful and comprehensive curation, included rations actually taste good, comes with plenty of water and with filtration system

Cons: Quite expensive compared to other options

The best emergency kit for severe weather

ER Emergency Ready

When a storm drops buckets of rain on your home, you’ll be glad you have ER Emergency’s waterproof bucket filled with all the supplies you need to ride out the storm.

The ER Emergency Ready Tornado/Hurricane Survival Kit is designed to help people safely shelter in place during a serious weather event. For an area prone to wildfires or earthquakes, get yourself a backpack emergency kit. If the natural disaster most likely to ravage your hometown is a hurricane, flood, or some other event involving a whole lot of water, then this is the kit for you.

The ER Emergency Ready Tornado/Hurricane Survival Kit packs all of its supplies into a rugged and watertight bucket, so even if your home is flooded, your survival gear won’t be damaged. Along with the gear you’d expect in any good emergency prep kit, like first aid supplies, a flashlight, and some rations, this kit also has several tools that will become of paramount importance during severe storms.

These include a utility shutoff tool that can help you turn off an at-risk or ruptured gas line or water pipe, a crowbar that could help force a damaged or swollen door or window, and work gloves and face masks that can help keep you safe in unsanitary conditions.

What’s missing here, though, is a good fire-starting tool. ER Emergency Ready included decent matches, but those will run out in time, so toss in a fire starter kit of your own for good measure.

Pros: Packed in a watertight bucket, ideal for areas prone to flooding, comes with several multi-purpose tools

Cons: Not readily portable

The best low-cost emergency preparedness kit

Ready America

The Ready America 2-Person 3-Day Emergency Kit has the basics you’ll need to shelter in place or cover some ground for a few days.

There are some notable items “missing” from the Ready America 2-Person 3-Day Emergency Kit. It lacks a flashlight or lantern, with the only light source being two chemical light sticks. There is no blade or tool of any sort. And there is no fire-starting gear, not even a lighter or a pack of matches.

But here’s the thing: The basic necessities needed for survival don’t actually include a light source, a cutting tool, or even fire. They amount to hydration, nutrition, and protection from the elements, and this low-cost emergency prep kit has you and one other adult covered on those fronts.

The pair of emergency blankets and ponchos can keep you relatively warm and dry even in harsh environs, the food and water rations will keep you sufficiently nourished, and the first aid kit will help with most minor medical issues.

So while basic, the Ready America 2-Person 3-Day Emergency Kit is sufficient to check the “Prepared” box off your household to-do list. I recommend you go ahead and add a light, a pocketknife, and some storm matches, though.

Pros: Great low price, high visibility backpack, covers basic needs

Cons: Lacking several key items, the backpack itself is low quality

The best emergency kit for evacuations

Emergency Zone

If you have to leave the area ASAP in the wake of an emergency, you’ll be glad you have the ready-to-roll Emergency Zone Urban Survival Bug-Out Bag on your back.

Sometimes you can see trouble on the horizon. Hurricanes don’t exactly appear out of thin air, for example. But at other times, disaster strikes without warning. Earthquakes come to mind as events that don’t give you the heads-up.

The Emergency Zone Urban Survival Bug-Out Bag was designed for those situations when you find yourself with zero time to spare before you clear out of your home, office, dorm, or anywhere else that is suddenly unsafe to inhabit and unlikely to soon be fit for return.

The Emergency Zone Urban Survival Bug-Out Bag is ergonomically designed and comfortable to wear despite the 15 pounds of supplies loaded into the kit. Within the multi-compartment backpack, you’ll find all the gear and rations you’d expect, including food and first aid materials, water and ponchos, a multi-tool pocketknife, and so forth.

What sets this kit apart from the others isn’t so much the included items, but the bag itself. Though tactical in composition, the Emergency Zone Urban Survival Bug-Out Bag looks much like an ordinary backpack, easily blending in with the pedestrian traffic in any city. So if you are clearing out without wanting to make a scene, this is the kit to use.

Note that fire-making tools are absent here, so add some before the next bout of civil strife or natural catastrophe strikes.

Pros: Backpack suitable for long hours of wear, subtle pack design draws no attention, a good blend of survival and comfort supplies

Cons: No fire-making tools included

Get yourself a first aid kit or ready-to-eat foods from our guides

Be Smart Get Prepared

The best first aid kits

While you never want to need a first aid kit, should that need arise, you’ll be glad you planned ahead and kept some high-quality medical supplies on hand. Here are the best first aid kits you can buy.

The best backpacking food

Fortunately, enjoying a great “real” meal while you camp, trek, or climb isn’t all that hard to do provided you planned ahead. None of the meals on this list require anything fancier than a pot, some water, and a stove (or fire) to prepare, and some don’t even require the pot. Here are the best backpacking foods you can buy.