Great question! An emergency survival kit is one of the most important things you can have in your household!
One thing all knuckleheads have in common with zombies is that neither neither knuckleheads nor zombies think much about the future. But that’s not you!
While the brainwashed masses go about living in their flowery fantasy world, oblivious to the inevitability of the next earthquake, pandemic, or economic collapse, you’re taking steps to protecting yourself and your family.
Kudos to you for grabbing life by the gonads and taking control of your destiny!
Now lets get down to brass tacks...
Different emergencies require different items. But life is unpredictable, and apocalyptic situations are even less predictable than that (especially the zombie variety).
Since we don’t know what’s going to happen, lets make a general list of items that would be useful in ANY situation.
Most of what I suggest will fit in a good-sized backpack, which brings us to our very first item:
1. A good-sized backpack!
Camping and hiking backpacks work great for this. In a bugout situation you might be walking for a long time, so it should have thick, comfortable straps that won’t cut into your arms during prolonged use.
A front strap that goes across your wait or chest prevents it from flopping around while your running from danger (or toward danger, if you’re the adrenaline loving type).
Have you ever seen a soldier wearing one of those awesome, Army issued backpacks with all the cool straps and pockets on it? THAT’S the kind of backpack you should get.
As far as color goes, you don’t have to choose camouflage, but camouflage is badass... So choose camouflage. (Or OD Green. Black as death is also acceptable.)
Here’s an awesome looking bugout bag that would work great for any apocalyptic situation.
2. Food and Water
You don’t need delicious food - you just need food. In fact, its better if it isn’t delicious. That way you’re not tempted to eat all of it in one glutinous, zombie-style feeding frenzy. Make those rations last!
You need food that’s easy to carry, has a long shelf life, and is packed with LOTS of calories. Energy bars are great for this.
Some of the best energy bars/survival rations have over 3600 calories and taste like crap, which is perfect for our purpose.
If you absolutely insist on getting something that doesn't taste like crap (and has an excellent 5 year shelf life!) take a gander at this.
Water is even more important than food.
You can live 3 weeks without food, but you can only go 3 days without water before shriveling up and collapsing into a lifeless human jerky, smelly, flavorless, and unsuitable even for zombie consumption.
Make sure you have water!
Don’t pack anything fancy in your kit, especially not one of those pretty glass bottles of natural spring water. Glass is heavy and it breaks. Cheap plastic water bottles are best.
Sure, the plastic might leach a little bpa, but a few dozen ounces of bpa laced drinking water usually isn’t enough to mutate your DNA and make you grow a third arm. Even if it was, a third arm could only help you in the zombie apocalypse.
You should also have a durable, lightweight canteen. It will hold more than a plastic water bottle, plus its more durable so you can refill it over and over again on your trek, as opportunity dictates.
This military style canteen is made of food grade stainless steel, so it won't give your water that nasty metallic taste.
It comes in an army green protective pouch with an adjustable belt. Use that belt to carry your canteen on your waist, or to attach it directly to your backpack (You got the backpack with all the cool straps, right? This is why you need straps!)
The stainless steel cup (NOT aluminum, was with cheaper canteens) is for boiling water, which you can throw in the face of zombies as you make your escape.
(By the way, have you ever wondered how to easily clean a canteen, or any other narrow necked bottle or jug, in less than 3 minutes without a brush or toxic chemicals? Check this out!)
A life straw is a small, inexpensive filtration device, and hell yeah, you need one! As the name implies, it works like a straw. You use it to sip pond water, river water, swamp water, and any other kind of nasty water you wouldn’t normally drink.
It removes up to 99% percent of bacteria, including nasty buggers like E. coli, Legionella, and Salmonella.
When your dying of dehydration, any puddle of water you see on the ground will start to look like that fancy glass bottle of spring water I told you to leave behind.
A life straw will make that puddle taste like spring water, too.... Probably... Maybe... It will save your life, okay? Get one! Its one of the most important things you can have.
3. Flashlight + Extra Batteries
Its good to have several of those little led flashlights you see in the checkout aisle at Harbor Freight. They’re light, cheap, take up very little room in your bag, and you can distribute them to all members of your party.
Your emergency survival kit is supposed to keep all your loved ones safe, not just you, so get a bunch!
Giving everyone a flashlight ensures that all of you, as a group, can scan in every direction for danger, like a hyper vigilant gang of mongooses... mongeese... multiple mongi... You get the idea.
You should also have one of those big metal flashlights security guards carry. These flashlights are durable, hold large batteries that last a long time, and are heavy enough to crack a zombie’s head (or anyone’s head) like a peanut.
(Side Note: Like a 1980’s movie ninja, you must train yourself to see everything around you as a weapon. That pen on your desk isn’t just for writing. Its a deadly stabbing tool that can turn a zombie’s head into Swiss cheese.
And the Swiss cheese in your sandwich can be used to plug the holes in your own head (to stop the bleeding) if a zombie decides to stab YOU with a pen.
Learning to think like a ninja is essential to apocalyptic survival.)
((Side Side Note: No, I do NOT recommend you put cheese in your emergency survival kit. But you can. So you maybe you should.
Throw some cheese in there and let it grow foul. Open the zip-lock bag at the right time to repel strangers.))
What would an emergency survival kit be without a blanket? A backpack full of junk that will only keep you alive until nightfall, that's what.
You can stuff one normal sized blanket into your backpack. That will keep you warm during those cold bugout nights... It will keep YOU warm and no one else. How selfish of you!
The better option is to pack enough blankets for you and your whole family.
Emergency survival blankets are made of super thin, tear resistant mylar foil which retains 90% of your body heat. And they’re cheap!
They come pre-folded into tiny, 2 ounce packets, so they take up very little room in your bag. When you unfold them, each sheet can be as big as 7 x 5 feet!
That’s big enough to protect most NBA players from the elements, let alone normal sized humans like you and me.
A word of warning: Foil blankets are amazing in every way except in the realm of noise. Foil is noisy!
So if you’re hiding in the woods at night and you suspect there could be roving hoards of zombies in the area, and you’re a little cold, DO NOT whip out your foil blanket!
To do so would be the same as ringing a dinner bell, and a dinner bell has no place in your emergency survival kit... not if its calling freakin zombies.
When disaster strikes, an Am/Fm radio is often the most reliable way of keeping abreast of the situation. You need to know where the government is setting up relief facilities, what traffic conditions are like, and when the next threat is expected.
You can use your cell phone, but when your battery dies or you lose reception (and the nearest Starbucks has been overrun by undead fuglies), you’re gonna want a portable, hand crank radio.
I repeat: do NOT get a radio that needs batteries! Batteries only last so long, and they can even lose power while sitting on the shelf - long before they’re actually needed.
This one is extremely popular because in addition to having a hand crank (plus a ton of sweet features), its also got a solar panel!
But crank it anyway!!! Cranking it will make your arms buff like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s when he was pushing that wheel in Conan, and having buff arms can only increase your chances of surviving the apocalypse.
Do you currently take medication for blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, or anything else? Buy an extra supply of it and keep it in your emergency survival kit!
In a big enough disaster, pharmacies and grocery stores won't be available for a very long time.
Even upstanding citizens tend to raid grocery stores when panic sets in, and crack heads tend to raid pharmacies. The supply chains of both will likely be interrupted, so don’t rely on them! Make sure you have your medicine!
That includes small bottles of aspirin and Advil.
A wise man once said "Pain can be controlled. You just disconnect it." But unless every member of your party is a super commando from the future, pack those over the counter pain killers!
The weaker members of your group will love you for it.
7. Two energy drinks
Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster... I don’t personally drink any of that crap. I don’t believe its healthy.
However, in a bugout situation, you want to be able to give yourself an immediate, lasting burst of energy when you need it, so keep a minimum of two energy drinks in your emergency survival kit (one for you, and one for your second in command).
The next big earthquake might hit in the middle of the night (like in 1994), or it could happen right after an exhausting day’s work. You may not have time to make coffee!
If you’re already hiding in the woods, it behooves you not to fall asleep. Experienced zombies wait for you to fall asleep before attacking. So do bandits, ruffians, and no-good-nicks of all sorts.
If you’re spending only a night or two in the woods before you expect to reach safety, let your loved ones fall asleep while you keep watch!
8. First Aid Kit
Every emergency survival kit needs to have first aid supplies. Without that, its just a cool backpack with a crossbow inside... I think I may have jumped ahead there... We'll come to that...
As I was saying...
Small medical kits can be had for really cheap these days. A good one will contain band aids for small cuts, large bandages, gauze, and medical tape for flesh wounds, and a tourniquet to stop major bleeding from your extremities.
This one fits in your backpack and contains 105 pieces - more than enough to keep those precious red and white blood cells in your circulatory system where they belong.
You also want a tube of antibiotic ointment and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide for disinfection (unless you WANT to turn into a freakin zombie... you weirdo).
Once you bug out, you may not be returning home for quite a while. In the case of a massive natural disaster, a nuclear power plant leak, or a foreign invasion, you may not be returning home at all.
You want to have photo copies of your passport, drivers license, and social security card to get through government imposed checkpoints, or in case you have to get out of the country, fast!
Your emergency survival kit should also contain a copy of your medical insurance card, credit cards, and a bank statement with your account number. These can be life saving too, for obvious reasons.
9. Extra Clothing
As always, don’t pack anything fancy. You need clothes that are warm and rugged: an extra pair of underwear, socks, jeans, warm gloves, and a sweater.
Your objective isn’t to look good, so don't fill your emergency survival kit with flimsy clothes better suited for the night club. (I'm looking at you, ladies!)
Your bugout clothes are meant to help you survive the elements, especially if you need to sleep outside.
A good quality poncho is essential for staying out of the rain, and doesn’t take much room in your backpack when rolled or folded. This one comes in multiple colors, including camouflage!
Again, you don't have to choose camouflage... But when your hiding in the bush late at night, and your survival depends on NOT being seen, your gonna want that camouflage... Get camouflage!
When civilization falls and your on the run, your probably going to find yourself getting close to nature. Real close!
You can construct a shelter out of twigs, rocks, and banana leaves, but why would you?
Building a makeshift shelter is a lot harder than it looked on Gilligan’s Island, and it requires time and energy better directed elsewhere, like hunting squirrels for meat and keeping watch for undead marauders.
Make sure your emergency survival kit contains a tent!
Its amazing how compact tents have gotten over the years.
Here’s a two person tent that, when rolled into its little pouch, weighs only 8.7 ounces and is about the size of a meatloaf. Its mylar lining reflects 90% of your body heat to keep you warm.
It also comes with a para-cord (always great to have) and a survival whistle, so you can sound the alarm when enemies approach.
When riots break out, the police are going to have their hands full and won’t be able to respond to your call (and that's if they haven't already been fully "defunded" by then... face palm).
During a food shortage, good, upstanding citizens transform into predators willing to rob, maim, and kill in order feed themselves and their families.
Don’t be a victim! Make sure your emergency survival kit contains some means of whooping ass!
At the minimum, you should have one canister of pepper spray for each person in your party. Pepper spray is small, light, inexpensive, and most importantly, it can incapacitate your enemy from as far as 12 feet away!
Why get closer to an attacker than you need to, especially when close combat might get you infected with HIV, hepatitis, lice, the flu, the cold, and whatever bacteria causes people to crave the delicious taste of living human flesh?
Don’t be that tough guy who thinks “Pepper spray is for girls... I’ve got a knife!”
Next, GET A KNIFE!
Have you ever played Ghosts and Goblins? A good knife can be just as useful in the real world, not only as a weapon, but to cut tape, rope, and clothing.
(And what was that game if not one man's quest for the survival gear needed to rescue his girlfriend?)
A good survival knife should be full tang (made from one solid piece of metal that extends into the handle, for strength). It should have teeth on the back of the blade, like in Rambo.
Those teeth are specially engineered to look cool, and to instill fear in the hearts of your enemies. That's reason enough to keep a knife like that in your emergency survival kit, but those teeth have another purpose: They can be used to cut through wire fences (because wire cutters are for chumps).
This one is pretty sweet!
You should also have a long range weapon that can fit into your bag. A pellet gun like this is small, powerful, and does not require you to buy CO2 cartridges. It will enable you to hunt small animals for food.
Aimed correctly, it can also provide defense against humans and possibly zombies.
What a slingshot lacks in deadliness, it makes up for with the embarrassment it causes your enemy... especially if you hit them right between the eyes, or if you knock their glasses off.
Not even zombies want to get hit by a slingshot.
Crossbows and slingshots also have the added bonus of being silent when operated. That's important for stealth missions, and in a zombie apocalypse, everything you do is a stealth mission.
Put it this way: When the SHTF, pull out a foldable crossbow from your emergency survival kit, and everyone else's survival kit will turn green with envy, or become your kit's groupies.
You could rifle through the pockets of the dead (and undead, if your hands are fast enough), but save yourself the PTSD and keep a few hundred dollars cash in your emergency survival kit.
You also want to have at least 2 large coins - fancy ones, if possible. In case things don’t work out for you, your loved ones can place one coin on each of your eyes... To pay the boatman.
11. Other Stuff: A lighter for starting fires, pads and tampons if you're a girl, a small toothbrush and toothpaste, and dried chicken bones. Use the chicken bones to predict the future.
That’s about it, for now.
I'm sure you can fit more into your emergency survival kit, especially if you've got a good backpack, but these are the basics. Everyone’s bugout bag is different. As long as you have these core items, your chances of surviving the apocalypse should be somewhat, sort of okay. Maybe. But for a zombie apocalypse, that ain't bad.
If you have any suggestions to make this list better, let me know.
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