I realized it had been a while since posting a list of items to be put in your 72 Hour Bag. I read a lot of different blogs on preparedness, some are great while others I disagree with, but the overwhelming takeaway is that everyone including myself has made a list of items they suggest one should carry in a preparedness bag. Whether that be a 72 Hour Bag, a Go Bag, an Every Day Carry bag, or an earthquake kit you would have at home – the lists vary wildly.

The problem with creating a list of items is that it often becomes geographic centric and tailored by most authors personal beliefs and values. I know as an author of said list that you feel a responsibility to the reader to help them come up with a bag to be prepared for a natural disaster as quickly as possible because most people don’t have the time to do the research required to make educated choices as to what items should go into the bag, but this may not be completely helpful. My list I have on this blog was always intended to be a jumping off point for the reader – especially for those who live in Southern California. Readers from other geographic regions face climate and disaster scenarios completely different from what we experience here and they need to customize their bags for them. With this in mind I always tell readers not to buy a prebuilt kit because you won’t know what those items are which are included in the bag on a personal level as you would when you hand pick them and then pack them in the bag. You need to know what is in the bag and where it is in a second.

I will repost my list at the end of this post but I thought it may be more helpful to divide a 72 Hour Bag into systems. When thinking of the items which go into the bag think of overlapping systems – a jacket can be a layer to provide warmth, but can also be shelter and a device for signal. The rule of threes applies to all the systems in your bag: one is none, two is one and three is for me.

Here are the systems I have created for your bag:

1. Water Purification – Chemical, Mechanical, Heat

2. Fire – There are many ways to create fire, find three you can pull off.

3. Shelter – 3 hours without shelter can cause death in the wrong conditions

4. Medical – Learn first aid and create a kit which provides supplies that support that training.

5. Food – Make a choice about your geographic region, the natural disasters which may occur and the climate, then put 72 hours worth of calories which will not perish in said climate into your bag.

6. Security – This is a personal choice as to what level of security you feel you need but it can also be as simple as a pair of gloves which will protect your hands from sharp objects or a flashlight.

7. Tools – Many items can be a tool, knife, shovel, coat hanger

8. Signaling – Have items which can be used to signal: fire, bandanna, mirror

Here is the list I created, but know this is only an example – you need to make your own.

  1. Backpack
  2. Hydration Insert (Platypus Big Zip Recommended)
  3. Dust Masks in 1 gal ziplock baggie
  4. Backpacking Stove
  5. Fuel for stove
  6. Fire starter: Magnesium & Steel, Matches, steel wool (at least 3 ways of making fire)
  7. Potable Aqua, iodine pills or a filtration pump
  8. 9 Volt light + spare batteries (ebay 9 volt light, mine cost $1)
  9. Compass + Map
  10. Small notepad w/pencil, pen & Sharpie
  11. 100’ 550 Cord (Para or Mason line)
  12. Toiletries & Medications (personally as needed)
  13. Small First Aid Kit (Adventure Med Kit .7 Recommended)
  14. SOL Bivy Sack
  15. Some type of edged tool
  16. Wind/Rain Jacket preferably lined for warmth
  17. Wind/Rain pants, (Frog Togs or heavier if you routinely wear shorts to work)
  18. Wide Mouth H2O Bottle (the narrow mouth ones are hard to fill in shallow water)
  19. Bandanna (30 uses, one major use is primary water filter)
  20. Food, enough for 72 hours at 2000 cal per day
  21. Datrex 2400 Calorie pack (this is a good on the go snack for 3 days, taste like shortbread)
  22. Datrex Emergency Water Packets (As many as you can fit, I pack 6 but always have a case of bottled H2O in my trunk that I rotate)
  23. Gloves
  24. Spoon
  25. Multiplier
  26. Spare pair of thin wool socks (they’re good in any weather, hot or cold)
  27. Spare Batteries for flashlight (I carry a flashlight on set daily so these are for that. If you can get a light that uses lithium batteries, they have a shelf life of 10 years)
  28. Cup (large enough to boil water for the size of meals you get, 2.5 cups)
  29. Poncho that can be used as a tarp tent
  30. 2” Spare Velcro male & female 6”-1’ (It’s unbelievable what you can do with it)
  31. Starbuck Singles or Tea Bags (really who wants to start the day without coffee?)
  32. Duct Tape (Wrap 5-10’ around the Sharpie)
  33. Whistle
  34. Signal Mirror


  1. trace

    perfect. i was going to ask you this week when i visit but… there it is. in list form. had an earthquake in mammoth this morning. reminded me that i don’t have a go bag in the car in case i have to run out of my house in my skivies while my apt collapses.

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