As you know, we recommend that you build your own 3-day survival kit, and build one for each person in the family.  That way you’ll know what you have and know you can trust it. So . . .

First choice – Build Your Own kit.

If you are just starting, or doing an overhaul of existing kits, consider these first steps:

  1. Do you have the right number of kits? Print out our Survival Kit Worksheet as a decide on the number and type of kits you need.
  2. Use the comprehensive, 3-part Emergency Plan Guide Checklist as a reminder of what to add to each kit.
  3. If you’ve done some preparatory work already on kits, you may want to “splurge” and get our Mini-Guide — Custom Go-Bags. This slim booklet came out first in 2020 and contains the Worksheet mentioned above plus a variety of updated checklists! Available at Amazon in ebook or paperback format.

But we understand that picking, shopping for and packing your emergency kits can take hours, particularly if you are starting from scratch. So . . .

Second choice – Shop for a Pre-Built Kit.

We have shopped and shopped. And in preparation for this update, we shopped again, comparing prices at our local merchants. We found, and find, that Amazon consistently has the best variety and the best prices, so our recommendations below come from Amazon, where we are affiliates. (That means if you go to Amazon by clicking one of the images, and you buy a kit, we will get a small finders fee.  It doesn’t impact your price, but it helps keep our site going!)

What does the kit actually contain?

Most kits claim to have the basics. As you review, look carefully at what is missing or that you might have to exchange. For example, if the kit ONLY has one hefty-2400-calorie-bar for food, and you can’t imagine your family existing for 3 days on just one item (!), look for more and tastier food — or plan to add it. Does the kit have a reasonable amount of water? Will you be able to start a fire, stay warm, stay dry? How about lights? Developing your own Checklist with family members is a great way to get them involved!

(For example, of all the kits we reviewed, only ONE kit seems to have an emergency radio, an item we believe is essential!)

What about the quality of the items in the kit

Of course, without seeing the kit in advance, you have to trust in the description offered by the manufacturer.  It seems that in most cases, you get what you pay for. But ask these questions are you read the description and whatever reviews you can find:  How roomy is the backpack, how many pockets, and what about quality of its zippers? As for food, is there variety? Mention of the shelf-life and date the food products were produced?  What tools are included, and is there any way to judge their quality? (Quality knives and flashlights are particularly important.) Many customer reviews — for nearly ALL the commercial kits — point in particular to the poor quality of the first aid kits. Fortunately, that is something easily remedied by adding or replacing items from your own home.

How much does the kit cost, with shipping?

A good kit is probably a heavy kit (typically around 20 lbs. from the manufacturer), so check carefully on shipping costs and delivery dates.  Of course, it’s also a good idea to review any guarantees that are offered. And some kits, produced by outside manufacturers, are not eligible for Amazon Prime special services. Once again, you are going to get what you pay for. Skimping on a kit that doesn’t do the job is money wasted. And maybe, a dear one’s life threatened.

Below are four items that do a good job of showing the range of ready-made survival kits.  These are all advertised as being for 4 people for 3 days. (Often there are other sizes.) By the way, if you have a family, we recommend you look particularly closely at the last kit on the list. It is packed in a 5-gallon container, which is designed to become an emergency toilet.  I mean it.  In our experience — with emergencies on shipboard and elsewhere — the whole sanitary question is a huge one and this kit addresses it more effectively than the others.

My recommendation: read ALL the descriptions, then go back and click on the picture of kit that seems best to start your shopping. You can own one or more of these packs within the next few minutes by ordering from Amazon – and hopefully have it in your home BEFORE the next emergency hits!


First on our list, the best starter kit for 4 people.

This kit from SUSTAIN SUPPLY CO. is the most expensive on our list (~$300) and I believe the price is justified for a family of 4. Reviews of the product are exceptionally positive.

It contains basic food and water supplies, light sticks, space blankets, whistles, etc.,but with the addition of a small camp stove -- with fire igniter and dishes -- so you can actually put together a hot drink or meal using the freeze-dried packages included. I also really like the LED lanterns, and the addition of a water filter. We have reviewed both of these items separately. (Click on the image at left to get the page with full details.)

As with most kits, the first aid kit may be inadequate, so plan to improve on it. (Plan to improve on ALL first aid kits!) Other items to add: an emergency radio and gloves, You'll find plenty of room.


Excellent for comparing.

This kit from FIRST MY FAMILY is also advertised as a 4 person kit. If you look carefully, you'll see the differences between it and the first kit, described above.

First, it contains several items that are missing from the one above - in particular, gloves, goggles, and a dust mask. And it seems to have a good quality LED flashlight.

The food supplies, however, are four simple super-calorie bars. For sure, you'd need to add more food supplies for your kids! And you'll want to add the emergency radio. Because it comes with 2 packs, you'll find the room you need.

The price on this kit is less than $200.

A popular brand - but not my favorite. Find out why.

I've included this pack from READY AMERICA because it is found everywhere, and because its price may entice you. Still, when you take a close look, you'll see why this one costs less than $100.

The kit is advertised as being for four people. It has some of the items we've mentioned above: gloves, poncho, space blanket, light sticks. But its food supplies -- although "certified by the CoastGuard to have a 5 year life" consist solely of those super bars again.

And here's the real weakness -- only one liter of water per person to last for three whole days! (Makes you think back to that water filter from Sustain, doesn't it?)

Again, be sure to examine the list of items in the kit before you make a buying decision. (Click on the image to the left.)

4. Earthquake Kit with "HoneyPot".

While this kit from MayDay has many of the same items that are listed in the descriptions above - super bars, water, first aid kit, poncho, space blanket, matches, etc. -- it has some noticeable differences.

First, after an earthquake, you are likely to have to shelter in place. This kit makes that more comfortable and more secure, focused as it is around the "HoneyPot," The bucket is the container for the kit, and then becomes a portable toilet, with liners, disinfectant, toilet paper and hygienic wipes. (None of the other kits come with these items.)

Second, the kit contains items that could help in a situation where buildings have fallen: whistle, gloves, a pry bar, gas and water shut-off tool, duct tape and dust masks.

Read the details about this kit -- priced between the FIRST MY FAMILY and the READY AMERICA -- and if nothing else, use it as a guide to improve whatever kit you buy or have. (Toilet paper is essential!)

Whatever your choice, get kits for yourself and your family now.