Homeless Survival Kits | Surviving with Less

Life can be tough and things do not always work out as we plan for them to. When you find yourself without a home, life can become even tougher. This is a situation where a survival kit could most drastically alter your life. A little help when you most need it could help you climb out of homelessness altogether.

Whether you are here looking to brace yourself for homelessness, or if you are looking to assist others by putting together a care kit: we have you covered. We will talk about basic survival needs, layout a homeless survival kit list, and list some extra items you may need during winter below.


Homeless Survival Needs

To physically survive, we only require a few basic necessities. We break these down when we talk about the 5 Pillars of Survival. Just as a refresher, these include:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Fire
  • Self-Defense

All of these come into play when you are without a permanent home. Self-defense is often overlooked, but homeless people are unfortunately highly targeted victims of crimes- especially assault.

While those are great to know and get familiar with, there are also emotional, mental, and spiritual needs associated with survival.

Giving or receiving homeless survival kits can do wonders for anyone’s emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Obviously, the utility of the kits are great for those receiving survival kits, but a little compassion can help everyone involved.

Homeless Survival Kit List

The homeless survival kit is not only based on the 5 Pillars of Survival, but it also derived from our standard disaster survival kit. You do want to be mindful of the preparedness tools that you include, since high value items may end up being bartered rather than being used for their intended purpose.

Splitting up the homeless survival kits by function can help keep everyone organized. Gallon Ziploc bags are very useful in accomplishing this. Here is the list organized by functionality:

Shelter Bag (Gallon Ziploc Bag, Labeled)

Tool Bag (Gallon Ziploc Bag, Labeled)

Food/Water Bag (Gallon Ziploc Bag, Labeled)

First Aid Bag (Quart Ziploc Bag, Labeled)

Hygiene Bag (Gallon Ziploc Bag, Labeled)

  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Toilet Paper (Folded)
  • Deodorant
  • Wash Cloth
  • Disposable Razor

If you are making homeless survival kits to hand out, bagging all of the functional bags at once make the process go quickly. Once you have them all bagged, labeled, and sorted out you can gather them in a sturdy black trashbag, or in a backpack if you are being generous.

The list is not fully inclusive, and one thing we would urge you to consider adding is a Bible. Even for those that are not spiritual, reading a bible can  just pass the time. It doesn’t hurt to include in the kit, and who knows- maybe it will inspire someone and change their life.

Homeless Survival Kits

The Best Backpack for Homeless Survival Kits

Storing the equipment for the kit can be pretty varied. If you are gifting the homeless survival kits, delivering the kits in large trash bags is not unusual. A trash bag is very cheap, but it is not going to withstand the abuse of living without a home.

Backpacking backpacks have always been a great resource for homeless people. They are large enough to carry all of the survival equipment (and more). They are lightweight, water-resistant, and can be relatively cheap if you get one with a lesser known name brand or second-hand.

Amazon offers a non-branded 75 Liter backpack for under $40 (at time of publishing). It includes a rain-fly, plenty of storage pockets, and an internal frame. Check it out here:

AmazonBasics Internal Frame 75L Hiking Backpack with Rainfly

Something as simple as a comfortable backpack that can hold all of your possessions can make a world of a difference.

Homeless Winter Survival Kit

Winter can be especially harsh for homeless people trying to survive. Dreary weather conditions can be both tough physically and mentally.

Many people suggest holding matches and lighters out of homeless survival kits for safety reasons. I disagree with this strategy, and adverse weather is a big reason why. Cold weather can be a dangerous killer and a small campfire can be the difference between life and death.

Including a warm cap, outer layers, and a survival blanket is even more important for homeless winter survival kits. You should also consider upgrading those to better insulated versions and providing twice as many. Most people understand that layering for various weather is the way to go, especially if you are on a shoestring budget. Multiple layers is definitely preferred over a single large parka, since you can adapt your clothes to the weather as needed.


The Final Word

Homelessness can be one of the hardest experiences a person can go through. It makes you much more susceptible to emergencies and disasters.  Climbing out of homelessness can be a challenge, but hopefully our homeless survival kit list can get you back on your feet. We also shared some panhandling tips if you need fast help financially.

We mentioned the importance of staying safe early in this article, and that homeless people have an elevated risk of being victims of crime. This video shows how people can be inhumane and cruel to those with less:

If you are creating the kits to give out, we admire your compassion and willingness to spread the importance of preparedness- no matter the situation in life. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

The best way to stay up to date with our articles is to sign up for updates by subscribing to TruePrepper, or by following our Facebook page.

Homeless Survival Kits | Surviving With Less


I am an engineer by day, but a prepper 24/7. I am an Air Force veteran that developed emergency and disaster plans as an emergency manager and responded to many attacks and accidents as a HAZMAT technician. I have been exposed to deadly chemical agents, responded to biological incidents, and dealt with natural disasters worldwide. Check out my full story here: Rusty's Story

7 thoughts on “Homeless Survival Kits | Surviving with Less

  • December 23, 2018 at 11:59 am

    I like more survival information about being in the winter cold with no shelter.

    • December 23, 2018 at 8:28 pm

      Thanks for the request and we’ll get to work on it.

    • February 6, 2019 at 11:04 pm

      I lived in Seaside, CA for 30 years. It was a rough area, lots of transients and homeless.
      Once, our washer broke and I had to take the family laundry to our local laundry mat at 4:00AM before work. The place was very cold and empty, but after about a minute a little old homeless lady walked in, saw me and asked for a quarter. Startled at the small amount, I handed her a quarter which she took to one of the big dryers there. She threw her coat, knit cap and her blanket in and started the dryer. After a couple of minutes, she opened the door, climbed in, put on the coat and hat and after covering herself with the blanket, propped her feet up in a rolling laundry basket and fell asleep. Urban survival at its cleverest.
      BTW, I’m 6’2 and look like the guy you don’t want to meet in a dark alley.

  • December 23, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    Where can one shower or bathe if they are homeless?

    • December 23, 2018 at 8:27 pm

      Showers or baths are luxuries the homeless can’t get often, but bird baths using sinks are pretty easy to come by.

    • December 24, 2018 at 8:08 pm

      In nearly every community across the nation there are multiple homeless shelters — often these shelters are full (meaning they have as many people as they have beds) but generally these shelters still offer shower facilities even if they don’t have capacity to stay overnight. Likewise many churches will make showers available. And, of course, most larger communities have a Salvation Army corps which typically serves as both a shelter and a church.

  • December 24, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    There are many reasons for homelessness, but poverty is often a result of homelessness, not the cause. The lack of inpatient mental health care in the US, combined with the lack of follow-up for outpatient care is a major factor.

    The article is correct that the homeless are often victims of crime (usually unreported), but it must also be mentioned that the majority of the crimes committed against the homeless are committed BY the homeless. This is something that should be considered when thinking about kits for the homeless often a lower profile is preferable to a “better” item that attracts attention.


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