The Easy Survival Kit Guide, Tips, and Checklist [2021]

TruePrepper Survival Kit Guide

A comprehensive survival kit guide for preppers both new and experienced.

This is a dynamic guide curated by all of our authors. TruePrepper Survival Kit Guide is constantly being updated with up to date and accurate information, so please check back frequently for updates.

Survival kits, also known as disaster kits, emergency kits, bug-in kits, or 72-hour kits, are meant to sustain people during emergencies and disasters. Basic tools, food, and water are all usually a part of these kits. The disaster survival kit is the cornerstone of any prepper’s contingency plan. It is an in-place kit designed to sustain survival for yourself and your family.

While we call it a kit, it is not necessarily stored all in one place, and we actually encourage dispersing your resources in your home to lower your risk of losing it all.

Survival Kit Essentials

The survival kit essentials with our recommended gear for each area. Outfitting yourself in most of these will give you the resources to tackle almost anything; including emergencies, disasters, and SHTF.

Food Essentials

A few days without food and you will be feeling the effects. A few weeks, and you will not be around anymore. Food storage is imperative for a survival kit because it is hard to obtain after a disaster. While hunters and anglers bring great skills to the table in this area, there may not always be time or opportunity to look for food.  You want to start with a three-day supply (at the very least) and then work your way up from there. Food storage items we use and suggest:

Water Essentials

You can only live a few days without water and you should have a plan to store, filter, and purify it. Water is very heavy at 8.3 lbs per gallon. This poses a problem when creating mobile kits, like a car kit or bug out bag. In home survival kits don’t have this problem, so stocking up is one of the easiest ways to knock this element of the kit out. You want water for the entire family for three days. Ongoing water collection solutions are also a great way to tackle water storage, using rain collection barrels or your very own well. Check out our water storage calculator to make all of the math easy:

  • Back Stock Your Pantry: Buy extra bottled water to start your water storage plan.
  • Emergency Water Storage: WaterBOB – Great for disasters, this thing instantly turns any bathtub into a disaster water reservoir.
  • Water Filter: Sawyer Mini – The Mini is a versatile filter that is great for one person’s use. Its portability makes it ideal to use in a bug out bag, but it can also be used in an in-place kit. It’s size is a drawback for extended use or more than one person, so adjust your filter choice accordingly.
  • Water Purifier: Potable Aqua – Iodine tablets for purifying water storage. For being so small and cheap, there is no reason to overlook these in a survival kit.

Fire and Light Survival Kit Gear

Communication Equipment

Safety and Security Supplies

Safety and security are the two categories with the highest likelihood that you will experience them. House fires and other accidents, when paired up with burglaries and home invasions, make up the vast majority of survival experiences today. Careless mistakes can have devastating consequences when fires are involved. When times get tough, history shows that we can sometimes turn against each other. While it is always good to approach situations with an open mind, you should hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Shelter and Clothing Supplies

Hygiene and First Aid Supplies

Poor hygiene can be a surprising enemy when you and your family are in survival mode. Sickness and infection were the biggest killers in pre-modern times, and any societal collapse situations would surely take us back to these conditions. Toilet paper is often a subject of ridicule when it comes to prepping- but seriously, who likes to run out of toilet paper?

  • Basic First Aid Kit: 299 Pc First Aid Kit
  • N-95 Masks: KN-95 Masks (although they are not as good as N-95, KN-95 is an acceptable substitute with the ongoing mask shortages)
  • Prescription Medication: Don’t get caught without your meds!  Stock these just as you would food- and for at least the same period.
  • Nitrile Gloves: Nitrile Exam Gloves
  • Feminine Supplies: You want a healthy supply of feminine hygiene supplies that is at least equivalent to your food storage levels.
  • Bleach and Other Solvent Cleaners: Killing bacteria is the goal here, and these can get it done. Bleach can also double as a way to clean water and keep it potable.
  • Toilet Paper: Cottonelle 60 Roll Case – get whatever brand you fancy, this one just happens to be our favorite (after much deliberation). Toilet paper can get rushed and stock out of the store quickly during disasters although it is not usually relevant.

Documents and Navigation Tools

  • Fireproof Bags: Fireproof/Waterproof Document Bag – Keep these inside your safe with your information inside for a quick grab-and-go solution.
  • Bank Information: Records and account numbers are important to have to access your banked emergency fund.
  • Birth Certificates: These are important enough to stash in the fireproof bag.
  • Social Security Cards: Another identifying piece of information you don’t want to lose.
  • Passports: If you have one, it is an important document.
  • Medical History: Immunization records and medical documents can be important in certain situations.
  • Emergency Plan: TruePrepper Emergency Plan – We’ve done all the hard work. Print the plan. Fill it out. Share with family. Practice.
  • Survival Guides and PDFs: There are a lot of great resources on the web that you can collect and start a digital collection. Actual books are great too, if you have the space.

Miscellaneous Survival Kit Supplies

  • Security Safe: SentrySafe Fireproof/Waterproof Safe – Fireproof is optimal, but at least go for a fireproof bag if you just stick with a regular security safe.
  • Paracord: Tough-Grid 750lb Paracord
  • Duct Tape: Gorilla Tape 35 Yard Roll (See why this is the best duct tape for survival)
  • Tool Collection: Whether you have an entire workshop or just a basic home repair toolbox, tools will come in handy during most disasters.
  • Cash StashStash some money in your bug out bag.
  • Batteries: Stocking up on standard batteries and any specialty batteries you may need is a good idea.
  • Spare Keys: If you only have one set of keys, get some spares made immediately.
  • Sewing Kit: Repairing textiles and other gear can extend it’s useful life.

Mobile Survival Kits

Other kits that you have on hand are part of your emergency survival kit by default. Think of your emergency survival kit as a term that is an umbrella for all of your preparedness supplies. Bug out bags, specialized kits, and even your everyday carry loadout are all part of your general preparedness, and therefore part of your whole-home survival kit.

Suggested Additions for your Survival Kit

We’ve covered the survival kit essentials, but like we said earlier: there isn’t a perfect survival kit. Your situation, specific resources, and possible threats vary from the next person’s. In this section we list out addition that are not essential, but could be extremely helpful during a specific emergency.

Extra Supplies for a Survival Kit

Essentials and suggested additions have been covered, so this is the area will you will find everything else that could be useful for your survival kit. These extra supplies will help you in very specific situations, are less versatile, and may take up a lot of space. Even still, they could be the difference makers in an emergency- so it could pay off to consider adding these.

  • Electrolyte Mix: Liquid IV Hydration Powder – Stress and hard work getting through a disaster can quickly dehydrate anyone. Combat this with an electrolyte mix.
  • Bleach: Use for hygiene, sanitization, water treatment, and other sterilization uses.
  • Coffee: The little routines in an emergency can help, especially if we have a developed dependency on them! The caffeine in coffee can be helpful if you need to stay awake for any reason.
  • Rifle: Hunting rifles, assault rifles, and other long barrel weapons can be versatile, intimidating, and useful for home security or extreme survival situations.
  • Security System: We are fans of DIY security systems, incorporating improved door hardware, outdoor deterrents, and custom camera systems as the first line of home defense.
  • Construction Supplies: Sheets of plywood, 2x4s, deck screws- the list goes on but construction supplies can be useful in plenty of disaster and emergency situations. The downside is that they take up a large amount of space.
  • Tinder/Fatwood: Blackbeard Fire Starter
  • Firewood: Whether you stack it bark up or bark down, firewood can be handy to have even if you don’t have a traditional indoor fireplace.
  • Axe and Splitting Wedge: These will help you get firewood and get through walls, in extreme cases.
  • Fishing Supplies: Those rods and fishing lures are helping you stay prepared, if you live relatively close to a body of water.
  • Dehydrator: Nesco Food Dehydrator – Another way to increase your long term food storage is with a food dehydrator.
  • Meals, Ready to Eat (MRE): US Military MRE – Prepackaged meals with a chemical heater- great for any survival kit and proven by the military.
  • Gardening Seeds: 15,000 Heirloom Seed Vault – A garden is one of the best sustainable long-term food solutions available.
  • Snares: Redneck Convent Snare 12 Pack – Trapping and snaring may require a license in your area. Please check locally to learn the rules and risks before you deploy snares.
  • Conibear Traps: Bridger Conibear Traps – Again, check locally for rules and risks before deploying a conibear. (See why Bridger is the best conibear trap).
  • USB Drive: Load a USB drive with your favorite survival manuals and maps of the area.
  • Insurance Documents: With many regional disasters, it can be a race to file insurance. Being prepared with your documents can make sure you’re at the front of the line.
  • Compass: TruArc 3 Base Plate Compass
  • Local Maps: Print copies of local maps. Here’s how you download them for free.
  • Signal Flares: Orion Safety Flare Gun – Designed for marine emergencies, flare guns are versatile on land as well.
  • Whistle: Whistles make getting attention easy.
  • CB Radio: Uniden PRO401HH – HAM and two ways get all the attention, but CB can be an alternative choice that doesn’t require a license.
  • Walkie Talkies: Cobra RX680 – Talk to members of your group up to 38 miles away with a solid two way radio.
  • Water Main Shutoff Tool: Water Meter Curb Key – An important tool for very specific emergencies. Similar in importance to a silcock key.
  • Binoculars: Bushnell Waterproof/Fogproof 10X Binoculars
  • Rope: There are plenty of other cordage options besides paracord.
  • Drone: HS110D FPV RC Drone – the FPV is an important feature and makes it great for exploring inaccesible areas.
  • Bullion: Platinum, silver, gold – money that you can hold is still worthwhile even when a main currency crashes.
  • Hidden Safe: Whether it’s a gun cabinet, or a false coke can that you keep a USB in- hidden safes are great deterrents for theft and always unexpected.
  • Iodide Tablets: IOSAT 3 Pack – Usually found in our specialized kit for those with radiation risk, this one makes sense in a general preparedness kit with it’s low cost and small package. Protect your thyroid from absorbing radiation during the most terrible emergencies.
  • Shaving Supplies: A straight razor will last longer than disposable packs.
  • Snake Bite Kit: Sawyer Venom Extractor
  • Sting Kit: Sting-Kill
  • Extra OTC Medication: Over-the-counter meds should be a part of your first aid kit, but stocking extras is a good idea.
  • Trauma Kit: Trauma IFAK – Use only if trained.

The Full Survival Kit Checklist

A perfect survival kit doesn’t exist- what is right for you depends on your situations and risk tolerance. That said, we have as close to perfect of a starting point for you: our comprehensive checklist.

Our checklist is available as both a pdf download and as a Google Sheet/Excel file where you can check off items yourself, and even add and subtract items from the checklist.


Survival Kit Checklist PDF

If you are looking for the simplest way to print and use the checklist above, download our PDF version. It is two pages long on 8.5″ x 11″ paper and makes creating a bug out bag extremely easy. Once you open the bug out bag PDF checklist in your browser, you can either print it directly or save it through your browser.

Survival Kit Checklist Excel / Google Sheet

If you are looking for a comprehensive way to track your survival kit contents, open our Excel / Google Sheet version. The sheet is sharable, and you just need to copy it to your own Google Sheet account or download it to excel to edit it. We also keep the best reviewed item for each category linked to simplify shopping for any equipment you may find yourself missing.

The Next Step

Once you have a solid plan and kit for basic in-place survival, you should bolster your plan and kit for additional threats and to provide longer sustainability. You also need to forge a bug-out plan and kit as well so that you have options in the event of a disaster. Components of your survival kit can be used in the bug out kit, but redundancy in your equipment is always smart.

I choose to have a separate bug out bags for my family so that they are a grab-and-go solution. Learn everything you need to construct a solid bug out bag here: Bug Out Bags.