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Emergency preparedness checklist: Prepping for beginners

Do you want to be better prepared for emergencies but aren’t sure where to start or if you’re doing it right? This “prepping for beginners” emergency preparedness checklist walks you through the three most important and basic steps.

When you’re done, you’ll be better prepared than 80% of Americans.

Whether you’re worried about things like a sudden layoff, car accidents, the power going out for a week, natural disasters, or long term economic and societal decline, it’s critical that you start getting prepared now. By definition, if you wait until you need it, it’s already too late.

The basic steps:

  1. Get your home ready for two weeks of self-reliance
  2. Get ready to leave your home with only a moment’s notice
  3. Be prepared when you’re away from home
  4. Practice and plan
  5. Share and recruit

This guide will be updated over time

The Prepared is more like Wikipedia than a normal blog — our posts are updated over time. This page will change as we publish deeper reviews and field tests on the best products in each category.

Be prepared. Don’t be a victim.

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In the meantime, we make recommendations you can buy today that we’ve at least personally used and trusted in our combined 30+ years of prepping and 20+ years of teaching beginners.

Last Updated: June 25, 2019
Added links to our new medical supply lists, along with reviews of other gear like fire starters and axes.
  • : Added new product recommendations for water filters, hygiene, headlamps, tourniquets, and more.
  • : Updated our recommended basic home supplies for food and water based on the results of our big in-house reviews.


There are many rational reasons why you should be better prepared for emergencies, yet everyone has their own unique motivations and circumstances.

The good news is that the prepping basics checklist is the same for 98% of people. It’s once you get past those essentials that things start to get customized or tricky — if you want to grow an indoor garden in your city studio, for example, or take your country home off the grid.

We created The Prepared because in our own personal journeys we found it way too hard to find the right answers without wasting time, money, and sanity.

Forums and Facebook groups are littered with the same fundamental questions asked over and over again, but they often give incomplete, conflicting, or even dangerous answers. Then we’d read a blog where the author did some quick googling and cranked out a post just to get some traffic. Or we’d have to dig through crazy propaganda and extreme political opinions in the hopes of finding good advice. It drove us mad — we just wanted the facts and straightforward answers!

It’s simple: depending on what happens, you’ll either stay in your home, leave your home, or get back to your home. That’s the best framework for thinking about prepping. Making it needlessly complicated makes you less prepared.

Prepping can suck you in — answering one question or solving one problem often creates two more. There are countless places around the web with really bad advice or endless debates about things that don’t really matter (which trick you into thinking you’re missing something important).

Most of that is just noise you should ignore. There are solid, “correct” answers for the basics of prepping that apply in almost any situation.

When you’re feeling stuck, follow the Sane Prepper Rules to keep things clear and rational. For example:

  1. You can’t predict what’s going to happen, so use the 80-20 rule to guide you.
  2. Preps must simple, practical, and usable — otherwise they’re worthless.
  3. Great preps are a mix of gear, skills, planning, practice, community, and you.
Maslow’s hierarchy and the Pareto 80-20 rule

We talk a lot about the 80-20 rule (the “Pareto principle”) on The Prepared. For example, 20% of the total possible work gets you 80% prepared. To go from 80% to 100% prepared requires a lot more work and money. Another example is that you should prepare for the 80% of likely scenarios, not the unlikely ones like fascist zombies arriving on a radioactive alien asteroid.

Maslow’s hierarchy is a popular psychology principle that explains what humans need to survive, in order of importance.

Prepper checklist priorities prepping on a budget

The foundation is, obviously, essentials like air, water, and shelter. Once you’ve got those covered you can then think about the next layer, and so on. At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization, which means things like enjoying hobbies and “finding yourself.”

These frameworks make it easier to figure out the order of priorities and how to make decisions about the right gear, skills, and plans.

In a survival situation, it’s much better to have four meals that are boring than two of your favorite meals. If you don’t have water, it doesn’t matter if you are bored from lack of entertainment.

Believe it or not, we see people making those mistakes all the time. “I’d rather have chocolate and the Game of Thrones books in my bug out bag, because what’s the point of surviving if I can’t have candy and fun!”

Are your finances in order?

Check out money management basics for normal people, with tips for building an emergency “rainy day” fund and for how to change the way you save, budget, spend, and invest.

You are much more likely to experience a personal financial hardship than a major SHTF disaster. Yet many people jump right into spending too much money on multi-year stockpiles of food and advanced stuff like bunkers, even though they’re living paycheck to paycheck with tons of credit card debt.

Don’t overlook the importance of a solid financial foundation in prepping — it reduces your chances of emergencies happening in the first place and makes them much easier to handle when they do happen.

Prepping on the cheap

If you’re prepping on a tight budget, don’t worry. Because there is a clear order of importance in these checklists, you should always start with the first item before moving on.

Some of the very first things you should cover are water, food, and light for your home. It’s better to have those things than to have a compass or gun and no water.

Save up and buy the first item on the list. Practice with it while you save up again. Buy the second thing. Repeat.

Don’t double dip

You’ll notice that there’s a lot of overlap across the three areas (home, bug out bag, get home bag). Each section has medical kits, matches, knives, and so on. Sometimes they’re a little bit different (e.g. liquid candles for home and solid candles for car), and sometimes they’re identical.

Resist the temptation to double dip. For example, maybe you want to cut corners by buying one medical kit that you keep in your car trunk, and you think that if you ever needed to bug out, you’d grab it and put it in your backpack.

Bad idea. Real life gets in the way and you end up breaking the “great preps are always ready” rule because your gear is scattered or missing.

Another common example is your basic emergency water supply. Too many people make the serious mistake of depending on what’s sitting in their water heater or assuming they’ll have time to fill their bathtub. Because water is so important, it’s worth the few extra dollars to have dedicated potable water ready to go at all times.

In the end, it’s a good thing to have multiple tools or ways to accomplish something. Most preppers take a “two is one, one is none” approach with backups and redundancies. Following this guide is an efficient way to have those backups. Rather than having three med kits in your basement collecting dust, each one is serving a purpose at all times by being ready in your home, bug out bag, and get home bag.

72 hours vs. 2 weeks

Until recently, emergency preparedness guides typically recommended having 72 hours worth of supplies. The Department of Homeland Security’s site currently says, “Being prepared means having your own food, water, and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours.”

They’re wrong. You should be prepared for at least two weeks.

Most survival experts use the two-week rule. Some groups, like the Red Cross, have updated their suggestions — their site now says, “3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home.”

Our emergency systems, first responders, and community supplies can be quickly overwhelmed. The system just isn’t designed to handle sudden and widespread disasters.

Recent events like Hurricane Harvey, the Japanese Tsunami, Haiti Earthquake, and the California Wildfires are all examples of localized disasters where people were displaced or without basic services for weeks, not days.

In 2016 the US Navy, Coast Guard, and Washington state’s National Guard did a full-scale, nine-day drill to test how well they could respond to a massive earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. That area covers Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland through northern California.

“There is an urgent need for residents to prepare for two weeks.” — Robert Ezelle, director of Washington’s Emergency Management Division after that drill failed.

The 83-page report comes to a lot of scary conclusions. The authors admit the systems are not ready, infrastructure would collapse, and they’d have a full-blown humanitarian crisis in ten days.

Politics and budgeting are making things worse over time, not better. It would take at least a week to properly coordinate outside resources brought in to help. For example, the military reports they need an average of eight days to mobilize a response inside the US border.

Robert Ezelle, director of the Washington Emergency Management Division, put it simply: “There is an urgent need for residents to prepare for two weeks.”

Step 1: Get your home ready for two weeks of self-reliance

We start with the home because it’s where you spend most of your time and is usually the best place to make it through an emergency. Which is why governments give the standard “stay in your home!” advice during a crisis.

Example scenarios:

  • You have an unexpected big expense that blows your tight budget.
  • You suddenly lose your job and face a year of unemployment.
  • The electrical or water grid goes down for a few days.
  • A nasty hurricane floods your city for a week.
  • An epidemic is spreading and you’re quarantined to your home.
  • Civil order breaks down with mass unrest in the streets.
  • A nearby city is attacked by an enemy.
  • Total collapse (“Shit Hits The Fan”).

In many of these scenarios, you must assume that some or all of the utility lines to your home will be down or inconsistent. So you won’t be able to depend on electricity, water, cooking or heating gas, or communication.

Emergency services could be overloaded or inactive, so you won’t be able to count on getting help quickly.

Even in situations where that’s not the case, for these essentials it’s better to assume the worst.

For example, sudden unemployment doesn’t mean the electrical grid is down, but maybe you’ll want to save money on your electric bill. Maybe the grid goes down but you’ve got your own wood-fired heating and cooking equipment or your own water well. That’s great, but it’s still better to have these standalone basics to reduce the risks.

Home checklist summary:

  • Water: 15 gallons per person.
  • Food: non-perishable, long shelf life, easy to make or ready to eat.
  • Fire: lighters, matches, and a backup fire starter.
  • Light: candles, crank or battery powered flashlights or lanterns.
  • Heat: mostly from clothes and blankets, but also propane heaters and survival blankets.
  • First aid & medication: see what medical experts keep in their home medical supplies and individual first aid kits.
  • Hygiene: hand sanitizer, camp soap, baby wipes.
  • Communication: crank or solar powered NOAA radio, flares, whistle.
  • Cash: small bills, as much as you can afford to stash.
  • Documents: copy of deeds/titles, insurance policies, birth certificates, maps, etc.
  • Tools: axe, work gloves, wrench for your gas lines, zip ties, duct tape, sewing kit, etc.
  • Self defense: depending on personal views, up to and including firearms and ammo.

Notice that this summary does not include a few things you commonly see in other emergency preparedness checklists. We assume you already have things like clothing, blankets, cooking utensils, feminine hygiene products, garbage bags, toilet paper, etc.

Sometimes other checklists mix the home supplies pieces with the bug out bag evacuation pieces. We split them up because they are distinctly different uses. Also, splitting them helps prevent double dipping, and reduces the chance gear is scattered and unprepared.

Water — see our full review on the best two week emergency water storage containers

The rule of thumb for water is 1 gallon per person per day. Thankfully, this is pretty easy to do. Five gallons of water takes up about 1 cubic foot (12x12x12 inches). You can easily store 15 gallons of water on the floor of a normal single-door closet.

Top Picks
Reliance Rhino 5.5 Gal Water Container
Best for most people:

Reliance Rhino 5.5 Gal Water Container

Our recommendation for most people. Toughest container in the middle tier price class. Somewhat stackable for short term storage. Comes with everything you need. Survived our drop and crush tests.
Scepter 5 Gal Military Water Can
Great upgrade pick:

Scepter 5 Gal Military Water Can

The best overall portable water container we've ever tested. Built tough. Military tested features. Very large fill hole, secondary spout hole, screw top airflow vent. Nice spigot accessories.

Check out our full review of the best emergency water storage containers and tips on how to store water. We recommend that you have the two weeks of water ready, sitting in containers. Don’t depend on finding and filtering water, or filling your bathtub, for this two-week period. It’s very likely you’ll have access to portable water filters and other water treatment methods because of your bug out bags, but think of those as a bonus backup.

Food — we spent over 180 hours testing the best survival food kits

Survival food can be split into three groups: ready-to-eat items like a granola bar or emergency calorie ration, self-cooking kits like military MREs, or food that needs to be cooked in boiling water.

Top Picks
Emergency Essentials Premier Food Bucket
Best for most people:

Emergency Essentials Premier Food Bucket

After 180 hours of testing, we chose the EE Premier bucket as the best for most people. One bucket covers one person for two weeks at 1,900 calories per day. Great taste and nutrition. See full review for notes.
Mountain House 14-Day Combo
Upgrade pick:

Mountain House 14-Day Combo

The best tasting, most nutritionally-complete survival food kit we've tested. Very convenient: just pour boiling water in the pouch, let it cook, eat, trash. One of the most expensive options. See our full review.

We recommend a mix of all three because:

  • with tasty stuff like granola bars, you have to have a lot of them to meet your calorie needs, which is impractical. Also, they expire more often, so think of them as tasty bonuses.
  • while very convenient, the self-heating MREs can be rough on your digestive system. The Army recently paid test subjects to eat only those kinds of meals for three weeks straight and the results were … uncomfortable.
  • variety helps, psychologically.
  • these supplies just sit in your closet, so they don’t need to be super-efficient in terms of space and weight like they do in bug out bags.
Quick Pick
Great cooking option:

Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove

Easily holds an 8 inch pot. Adjustable heat. Easy to control and light. Includes a base that snaps onto the propane tank for added stability.

Even though you can’t depend on cooking with your normal kitchen appliances, being able to boil water is important. A basic and popular option is the propane powered camping stove. Even if you have a fireplace, it may not help; most home fireplaces don’t have an easy way to put a kettle or pot inside to boil water.

Most stores won’t ship these mini propane tanks through the mail. But your local Walmart, Target, REI, etc. will have them in-store. They are cheap at about $3 to $4 per bottle. One standard 16-ounce bottle will last for about two days of cooking. If you use them with the indoor heater listed below; plan on one bottle per day.

Fire: You want to have multiple ways to make fire. The best way is to keep some lighters around, plus waterproof matches and a backup ferro rod.

Our Pick
Light My Fire Swedish Firesteel 2.0
Review winner:

Light My Fire Swedish Firesteel 2.0

Winner of our expert review. Easy enough for untrained people to use (even kids). The right size, quality, and form factor. This handy product is popular for a reason.

Light: It’s fine to have battery-powered flashlights for your home — provided you have some extra batteries around. We love this Mag-Lite XL200 LED flashlight because it’s tough and has multiple modes including SOS and dimmer timer. It’s a good idea to have crank-powered flashlights as well. And make sure you have candles, like this pack of six 115-hour emergency candles.

Heat: Emergency blankets made out of a metallic Mylar material are small and handy, and can double as ground cover or shelter in a pinch. We like this pack of six Mylatech XL blankets. For a great bonus option, we love this indoor heater that uses the same small propane tanks as the camping stoves. Avoid cheaper ones that aren’t safe for indoor use — two weeks after first publishing this guide, a neighboring tent in our campground caught on fire because of a cheap propane heater that tipped over while a family slept inside.

First aid: Most pre-made kits are junk, so you’ll need to put the right pieces together — the trick is knowing what you should buy (and skip) and in what order. Medical and survival experts with almost 200 years of combined experience put together these great checklists for your bug out bag first aid kit and your home medical supplies.

Top Pick
Stay clean in a crisis:

Clean Trek Towels

Twelve thick and large 10 x 12 inch wipes that give a great whole-body clean. The most durable packaging we tested. Buy one for your home supplies and another for your bug out bag. Contains Aloe and Vitamin E. No MCI or alcohol. Made in the USA.

Hygiene: See our review of the best emergency shower and hygiene wipes. You should also pick up some concentrated camp soap and hand sanitizer gel to save on water. Don’t underestimate how important it is to clean yourself during a prolonged emergency.

Communication: Radio is still the best way to get emergency info. Unfortunately we’ve had a lot of bad experiences with the $20 to $70 “emergency radios” commonly available on Amazon. Poor reception, awful durability, bloated with unneeded features, etc. So we’re not going to make a recommendation until we’ve done a full product review, but if you’re looking anyway, Kaito and Eton are the two most common brands.

Tools: A good pair of work gloves and a survival axe come in handy to escape an emergency or clean up after a disaster. Sewing kits and multi-tools are surprisingly useful. Zip ties, duct tape, and safety pins are very helpful. If you have potentially dangerous things like a gas line or old water heater, make sure you have the right wrenches on hand to turn them off if needed.

Self defense. Depending on your personal views, you should have something at least as effective as pepper spray and a cheaper karambit style knife. Ideally, you would also have a firearm appropriate for home defense. We’ll go deeper into options in future posts.

Add any extras for your situation: For example, here’s our guide on prepping with food allergies and how to store EpiPens without power. Also consider special needs for pregnant women, small children, pets, people with disabilities or significant medical issues, etc. If you have poor eyesight, always have a pair of backup glasses and contacts in your emergency supplies.

Step 2: Bug Out Bags for every adult

A Bug Out Bag (BOB) is basically a backpack that is always packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. It contains a wide range of the basics you need to survive for at least a few days and ideally much longer.

Example scenarios:

  • You’re ordered to evacuate because of a storm.
  • You wake up to a raging wildfire near your home.
  • Your neighbor’s house is on fire and you run over to help.
  • An aggressor is coming to your home and you need to leave quickly.
  • Law and order is breaking down and you’re better off leaving the area.
  • A missile strike or terrorist attack happens nearby and you need to leave town.

Key points to keep in mind:

  • You don’t know what will happen.
  • You can’t cover every potential need.
  • Weight matters — a lot.
  • You might be on foot for a long time.
  • You might be in an evacuation or refugee center, out in nature, or squatting in buildings.
  • It might be summer or winter.
  • The weather might be insane.
  • You might be alone or with other people.
  • People around you will be panicked and possibly dangerous.
  • You might be or get injured.
  • You might be on your own for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, or longer.

Ignore all the different acronyms, like INCH and GOOD

Some in the prepping community make things more complicated than they should be. It’s not just a matter of wasting time and money — it actually makes you less prepared because the more complicated things are, and the more stuff you have to replace annually, the less likely it is that you’ll be properly prepared at all times.

You might see acronyms like INCH (I’m Never Coming Home again) or GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge). Or labels like “72 Hour Bags”.

Some people argue that you should have different bags dedicated to different scenarios, like one bag for “72 hour scenarios” and one for “forever scenarios”, or one for storms and another for zombies.

Ignore all of that noise. Remember one of the core tenets of the Sane Prepper Mantra: you cannot predict what will happen, when, where you’ll be, how long things will last, etc.

Keep it simple, always be ready, and use a priority bag system

Things must be simple and easy. You want to limit the number of important decisions you’ll have to make or things you’ll have to remember in a crisis. You should not have to remember where things are, put them together, worry about not having something important, or lose time while you do the work you should’ve done beforehand. You shouldn’t be thinking, “Well, wait, will I need the camping stove I have in the other bag?”

Survival experts strongly recommend having a bag that’s packed and ready to go at all times. You don’t want to depend on putting things together in a crisis. Part of the value is having the peace of mind from knowing that if you needed to leave and survive right now, you could.

You can have more than one bag. But think of them as a cascading priority order, not different bags for different scenarios.

The best system for most people is to have one bag that is your top-priority bag. If you had to leave the house with less than a minute’s warning, things are crazy, and you’re not sure what will happen once you leave, it’s the one thing you grab before you go.

We’ve seen bloggers advise people that a 100-pound bug out bag is a great idea because “it has all the stuff you’d want and you’ll just be driving to your bug out location anyway, so who cares how heavy it is!” That’s dangerously wrong for a lot of reasons.

You can have more than one bag. But think of them in a descending priority order — not different bags for different scenarios.

You’ve got your main #1 bag, your #2 bag, and so on. If a situation happens where you need to bug out, you can decide in real time how many bags to take. Maybe you stop after #1 or after #3.

Imagine a scenario where a crisis is happening but you don’t have to run out your door in minutes. You have a little bit of time to think calmly, load up your car, and drive away. You grab your #1 bag first, then your #2 bag, and so on until you either can’t take any more or you need to leave.

Maybe the roads are a mess and you have to abandon your car. So you grab your #1 bag first. If that’s all you could carry and you’ll be on foot, you are properly prepared. If someone else is with you, give them your #2 bag. And so on.

Don’t buy off-the-shelf kits

Ninety percent of the time they are garbage. At best, you’ll need to replace half the stuff inside and add more. In the end, you don’t save money anyway. The initial $50 price difference is not worth your life.

Bug Out Bag checklist summary:

  1. Backpack: the right pack matters, not too big, not too flashy, good hip support.
  2. Water: tools to make or store water, not lots of water itself.
  3. Food: many people carry too much of the wrong kind of food.
  4. Fire: matches, fire starters, and a lighter.
  5. Heat: survival blankets and an insulated outer layer.
  6. Shelter: tarp, possibly an ultralight hammock or tent.
  7. Light: headlamp, battery- and crank-powered flashlight, candle.
  8. Communication: portable Ham radio, signal mirror, whistle, flares.
  9. Medical: see the portable medical kit checklist.
  10. Hygiene: camp soap, camp toilet paper, wipes, hand sanitizer.
  11. Navigation: laminated maps, compass, binoculars.
  12. Tools: field knife, multi-tool, cordage, zip ties, duct tape, safety pins.
  13. Self defense: gun, ammo, knives, nonlethals, depending on personal choice.
  14. Field guide: compact book with guides on various survival techniques.
  15. Documents: any important stuff like copies of birth certificate, medical records.
  16. Clothing: hat, sunglasses, socks, maybe a full set of climate-appropriate clothes.
  17. Misc: cash, small paper pad and pen, maybe a psychological comfort item.


Check out the starter article on the best bug out bag backpack. We see a lot of mistakes when it comes to bag choice. It’s important that your bag isn’t too large. We recommend 45-50 liter bags for most people, which is about the size of the largest airplane carry-ons.

Quick Picks
5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack
Best bug out bag for most people:

5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack

Very tough water resistant 1050-denier nylon. Exterior MOLLE for attachments. Decent hip belt. Very well reviewed.
Kelty Redwing 44
Best bug out bag for most people:

Kelty Redwing 44

Comfortable. Rigid spine support, great hip belts, and lots of adjustments. Popular and well reviewed.


See our review of over 70 of the top portable survival water filters for bug out bags. Because even though water is critical, at more than 8 pounds per gallon, it’s not practical to carry enough to last more than a day — which means you need to be able to make safe water from whatever you can. We break down the best picks (only $25!) and how to use a mix of filters, purification tablets, soft canteens, and hard bottles with filters in your kits.

Quick Picks
HydroBlu Versa Inline Filter Kit
Our choice for most people:

HydroBlu Versa Inline Filter Kit

Protects against common water threats like bacteria and protozoa. Huge lifespan of 378,00 liters (100,000 gal). Versatile, tiny filter. Kit includes two soft attachable bags, hose, hose clamp, and bucket adapter.
Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets
Purification backups:

Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets

Small, light, and decent shelf-life. Great backup option if you don't have your primary filter or want to add extra virus protection. 100 tabs cleans 50 gallons.

If you live in an area where water’s scarce, like the American Southwest, this is one of the few things you’d want to customize right away by carrying more water in your bag. If you need to sacrifice weight, it’s always better to remove food to have more water. You can survive three weeks without food — but only three days without water.


One of the most common newbie mistakes is packing either too much food or the wrong kind of food. Food has an awful weight/space to benefit ratio.

Don’t pack perishable items like beef jerky — it’s very unlikely you’ll take the time to update your BOB food every two months. Don’t use unnecessarily bulky things like canned soup. Don’t waste space on “comfort food”.

Quick Picks
Datrex Emergency 3600 Calorie Blocks
Food without cooking:

Datrex Emergency 3600 Calorie Blocks

200 calories per bar and 3,600 calories per pack. All natural ingredients. Coconut flavor. 5 year shelf life.
Western Frontier MRE (Meals Ready to Eat)
Food without cooking:

Western Frontier MRE (Meals Ready to Eat)

One pouch with complete meal. No other boiling water or cooking needed. 27 flavors available. 1,250 calories per meal.

We recommend these food items for most people’s #1 bug out bag:

  1. One MRE (Meal Ready to Eat)
  2. One emergency calorie block
  3. Three packets of peanut butter
  4. Bonus: one energy bar or something similar

You’ll have to decide whether or not you want to have to cook your food. If you carry food that needs boiling water, like the popular Mountain House hiking pouches, you’ll have to either start a fire or carry an ultralight camping stove and butane tank. Which is fine (and what we do), but it’s a personal choice.

If you want to cook
REDCAMP Cookware and Burner Kit
Great ultralight cooking:

REDCAMP Cookware and Burner Kit

Awesome kit that includes two cups/pots with handles and an ultralight cooking stove that stores inside the pots. Uses small butane tank.
Jetboil Jetpower Fuel
Great ultralight cooking:

Jetboil Jetpower Fuel

Tiny fuel tank for the ultralight cooking set. The smaller tanks can fit inside the pots on the Redcamp set.

Fire: Same basic stuff as your home supplies. You want to have multiple ways to make fire.

Heat: Survival blankets are a must. We like this pack of six Mylatech XL blankets because they’re green and can double as ponchos and tarps for a makeshift shelter or for hiding in the woods. We love the Arc’teryx LEAF Atom LT Hoody because it’s super-lightweight and scrunches up into a ball, yet has excellent insulation for almost any weather.

Shelter: With cordage and a tarp on hand, you can create all kinds of makeshift shelters. Whether or not you also add a small tent or hammock is a personal choice, but they’re a lower priority than the tarp.

Light: The primary powered light source in your bug out and get home bags should be a headlamp — see our review of the best survival headlamps. It doesn’t hurt to have a backup battery- or crank-powered flashlight and a long-burning candle or two.

Our Picks
Black Diamond ReVolt
Best for most people:

Black Diamond ReVolt

The popular and well-reviewed Black Diamond ReVolt runs on micro-USB rechargeable batteries (included) or three standard disposable AAA batteries. Night vision, flood, and spot modes. Lockout function. Waterproof.
Energizer Vision HD+
Best budget or spare choice:

Energizer Vision HD+

A great mix of features, brightness, and battery life in a cheap but dependable package. Spot, flood, and night vision. 250 lumens on high, 50 hour life on low. Water resistant.

Communication: Our preferred portable radio is the BeoFeng BF-F8HP 8-watt two-way radio. You don’t need a Ham license to listen to local emergency services and broadcast when SHTF — see our beginners guide to amateur radio. We like this signal mirror instead of the cheap acrylic ones that scratch and fade quickly. Also, try these tiny whistles and signal flare kit.

Hygiene: Read our full review of the best field wipes for your bug out bag, plus camp soap, camp toilet paper, and hand sanitizer.

Navigation: Laminated folding maps (like this one for Miami) are very handy — you won’t be able to depend on your phone for Google Maps. We like Silva Ranger compasses and these tiny waterproof Bushnell binoculars.

Tools: See expert’s top choices for the best survival knife, best survival multi-tool, and best survival paracord.

Self defense: Full guide coming later, but we like these MTM ammo wallets and a backup knife, like these Benchmade push daggers. If you are new to firearms, check out the total beginners guide to guns.

Field guide: It’s helpful to keep a pocket-sized, preferably laminated, survival book in your bag. There are a ton of options out there, but most are rehashes, second-hand accounts, or filled with needless pages about how to milk a cow in the dark. We like the SAS pocket survival guide.

Clothing: There’s a reason why characters in military movies refer to socks so often — they’re critically important and often overlooked. We love Darn Tough socks because they’re wool and a lot more durable than other brands like Smartwool. Grab a boonie hat, too; they’re easy to throw in your bag and provide better protection than most other options.

Step 3: Get Home Bags and Everyday Carry

Most people spend roughly 50% of their time away from home, and their daily patterns tend to be pretty consistent and predictable. You can use that to your advantage to be reasonably prepared when you’re away from home.

Example scenarios:

  • Your subway car loses power in between stations.
  • While driving home from work in rush-hour traffic, you witness a serious car accident. It might take emergency services 10 to 15 minutes to arrive.
  • You’re cornered by two muggers while walking home from your friend’s apartment at night.
  • A shooter attacks random people while you’re in the shopping mall.
  • An earthquake strikes while you’re at work. Your car is in the parking garage and you work in the city about 30 minutes away from your suburban home.
  • Kim Jong Un decides to interrupt your well-deserved spa day by sending an ICBM to the neighboring city.

You’ll cover these bases with two related but separate things: Get Home Bags (GHB) and Everyday Carry (EDC) items.

EDC are the few things you have on you at all times. EDC may be as simple as a good pocket knife or multi-tool, a small flashlight and compass on your keychain, a laminated info card in your wallet, Google Maps saved in “offline mode” on your phone, and possibly a concealed carry firearm.

Get Home Bags do exactly what the label says: It’s a pack with the gear you need to get home (or at least get somewhere safe) that you keep in the most logical place away from your house. It’s also a backup Bug Out Bag in case disaster strikes and you can’t make it home.

GHBs are not just a copy of what’s in the BOB you keep at home. Because this bag will be out in the world with you, you include special things in case you see something like a car accident. Or, your local laws might prevent you from carrying a gun or certain types of knives.

If you rely on a car to get around or drive to work, keep the bag in your trunk. It doesn’t take up too much space and you can shove it back in the odd corners you never use anyway.

If you don’t use a car, then perhaps you can keep a bag in your desk or a locker at work. Some people even hide it or bury it nearby.

If keeping a dedicated backpack somewhere just isn’t possible, then put as many of the core items as you can in whatever you usually have with you, like your purse, school pack, or work bag.

Everyday Carry Checklist Summary:

  1. Knife or multi-tool
  2. Light
  3. Fire
  4. Paracord
  5. Any personal medications or possible an EDC IFAK
  6. Laminated card in your purse or wallet with emergency info
  7. Bonus: concealed carry pistol or non-lethal options such as pepper spray

Knives and multi-tools

Some people carry both, but most choose one or the other. Multi-tools are nice for everyday utility like opening a bottle or fixing a screw on your sunglasses. There are tons of great options from popular brands like Leatherman and Gerber. But as in most things, the 80-20 rule applies here, and you’ll find that you won’t use most of the features in the extra-gadgety options and should avoid the unnecessary weight.

Despite the fact that multi-tools have knives, they are not good for self defense. Our preferred EDC defense knife is a karambit. Karambits are fighting blades originally from Southeast Asia that are held naturally in a fighting grip. When you hold it in a closed fist, the blade sticks out of the bottom of your fist, almost like an eagle’s talon.

Our favorite karambits are folded, but have a little hook that catches on your pants or coat pocket. As you pull it out of your pocket to defend yourself, the blade catches and opens, falling directly into your fighting hand.

If you don’t have pockets or you want something smaller you can lace to a boot or purse, we recommend fixed blades designed for puncturing. These are usually small and curved blades called daggers. They won’t win wars, but if you’re cornered, they are better than nothing.

Light: There are fancy options and lights integrated into pens and knives. We prefer a simple light attached to our keychain. The Prometheus Beta QRv2 is very sexy and built well, and has a quick release button to remove it from your keychain without the fuss. If you want a cheaper option, check out the Lumintop Mini Worm.

Fire: It’s fine if you want to carry a normal lighter. If you prefer to go the more durable or keychain route, we love the Exotac nanoStriker fire starter. It’s only a few inches long and as thick as a pen. The two halves unscrew, which you then use like a normal magnesium fire starter.

Paracord: This material is so handy that many preppers wear a bracelet made of braided paracord that can be pulled apart and used as a normal 20-foot line in an emergency. Some bracelets are just the paracord, while others have tools like a compass or whistle built in. If you don’t want to wear it on your wrist, you can tie such a bracelet to your purse or bag as an accessory. We don’t yet have a specific favorite here, so just shop around.

Get Home Bag Checklist Summary:

  1. Backpack: same as BOB, if not a little smaller.
  2. Water: same as BOB.
  3. Food: same as BOB, but skip the cookable food and butane stoves.
  4. Light: same, but don’t pack liquid emergency candles.
  5. Fire and heat: same.
  6. Medical kit: same, but include N95 or N100 face masks.
  7. Hygiene: same.
  8. Field knife: same.
  9. Multi-tool: same.
  10. Communication: same.
  11. Clothing: socks, hat, sunglasses, poncho or tarp, and water activated cooling towel / neck gaiter.
  12. Navigation: compass and laminated road maps covering your normal daily routine.
  13. Documents: same as BOB, plus car insurance and title. Laminated card with emergency contact info.
  14. Cash.
  15. Car-specific tools: depending on space — window-breaker and seatbelt-cuttersignal flare kit, jumper cables, wrenches, tire patch kit, foldable field shovel, mini fire extinguisher, kitty litter for winter traction.
Practice and plan!

Having gear is one thing, but survival experts know that a great prep is a mix of gear, skills, planning, practice, and you.

You should actually use each item you buy at least once. You don’t want to be trying something for the first time during an emergency. For example, having a window-breaker in your car is a good idea. But if someone is trapped in a car after an accident, you don’t want to be like this guy:

We’ll publish a full guide on the kinds of drills to do and how to plan with your family and children, but for now the principle is simple: Practice. Even if it’s just one afternoon a year.

Share and recruit!

Some people think they have to be super quiet about their prepping. But prepping is more effective — and more fun — when you share the responsibility with your friends, family, and neighbors.

  • Log in
  • Miguel Horowitz

    This is AWESOME! Thank you thank you. I was searching forever for a good prepper guide.

    3 |
    • Optimistic-Nihilist Miguel Horowitz

      I’ve been looking for a nice beginning checklist for a long time too!

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  • Kien W

    Thank you so much for this guide. I feel like I’m infinitely more prepared to handle high-stress emergency situations after reading this guide.

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Kien W

      Excellent! Thanks for saying so, let us know how we can help in the future. Good luck Kien 🙂

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  • Miera Scarlet

    Thank you so much for this guide. It’s very helpful, detailed and straight to the point. This is by far the best prepping for beginners guide I’ve ever read. I really like how you considered everything and pin point the important things. I think everyone should make early preparations for surviving any disaster or crisis. This way we can survive all the hardships. We can’t predict the future so better be safe than sorry.

    When speaking about survival, it reminds me of one of my favorite survival book. It’s really easy to understand and very useful in so many ways. It contains so many survival guides that most of us don’t even know of. My favorite part of the book is that it helps the readers to learn making their own medicine using medicinal plants that most of us don’t even know that it can be use for that purposes. The book teaches how to identify and prepare the plant for medical uses. But that’s just a small part of it. There are so much more survival guides in that book.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful guide. I really appreciate it : )

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  • Byron

    Love the checklist! Thanks a lot for putting this together.

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  • Ryan Simmons

    Thanks for this guide! It’s really helpful! I plan on getting items needed for sheltering in place at my home or at neighbor’s house shelther in place bag, then start putting my Bug Out Bag and EDC/Get Home Bag together. I plan to take a trip this year overseas hopefully, so once I start new job next week (also plan on getting second part time job for extra income), I plan on putting my travel gear together first and then start putting my sheltering in place gear, my bug out bag gear and my EDC/Get Home Bag together afterwards.

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Ryan Simmons

      Happy to hear it was helpful, thanks Ryan! Starting with your shelter-in-place / home supplies is almost always the right move. Good luck!

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    • Ryan Simmons Ryan Simmons

      https://uploads.disquscdn.c…. In the first picture, I already have my water stocked up. I reused milk jugs and orange juice jugs for that just like I reused water bottles to keep my fridge stockpiled with water. I saved up lots of water so far just in case shit hits the fan since I’ll have plenty of water to survive for awhile.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.c…. In the second picture, I have my batteries (AA and AAA, I’m going to get more batteries though) in a ziploc bag, my birth certificate, medical docs, pictures of family (mom, dad, aunt), notepad, pens, and permanment markers, social security card in another ziploc bag and finally, my iSOAT pills along with information for how to survive a nuclear attack/EMP attack and what to do is in another zip bag.

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Ryan Simmons

      *Strongly* recommend not using milk jugs. Please see

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    • Ryan Simmons Ryan Simmons

      I know, I plan on getting the recommeded water containers from your emergency water container article which I read by the way. I toss out the milk jugs though.

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  • Tia

    What is your stance on purchasing a “generac” type home generator?

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Tia

      Great question Tia. Generators, including some Generacs, are popular among preppers and usually a good idea. It can depend on your circumstances — for example, I wouldn’t automatically recommend it for someone in an urban apartment.

      There are unfortunately stories every year of people dying when using their generator during an emergency because they don’t have proper ventilation. We touched on that in our winter prep guide:

      We plan on doing full guides to generators and our top choices in the future.

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  • Tia

    Hi John,

    Thanks for responding about my generator question so quickly! Do you think there is any concern that a person with a generator might attract more attention to themselves and become a potential target? Or, am I just thinking negatively? I am definitely looking forward to reading more about generators!

    Also, can you recommend a good checklist to pack for a “kids” bug out bag? Maybe a packing list for a family using the bug out bags? Perhaps some items do not need to be duplicated? Or items that can become “kid” sized that you have tested. 🙂

    I’m really enjoying your site!

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Tia

      The “what if XYZ makes me a target?” question is very common. In general, too many people are too worried about those risks (“opsec” for operational security).

      In reality we see that things don’t devolve into lawlessness as quickly as many people assume. e.g. even after months without power and water in Puerto Rico after the hurricane, people weren’t murdering each other for their generators.

      However, if things got really bad, yes a loud generator powering the only house with lights on while others are freezing to death would attract the wrong kind of attention. But I’d absolutely rather have a generator and choose not to use it when things are risky than not have it at all.

      Thanks for the kind words about The Prepared!

      We’ve started drafting kid lists, but don’t have them ready yet. None of it is shocking though — you skip the field knife and compass, keep the weight way down, put in an extra book and bag of sugar, etc. 🙂

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  • Geni

    Do you have an article that would give guidance & list of recommended first aid supplies to build a good kit for the home and bugging out? If not I would like to see such an article. Thanks.

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  • Jonnie Pekelny

    Thanks for the guide. It’s so much more helpful than most of the stuff I’ve seen out there. I have a question about self defense items. I am not trained in the use of knives or firearms. Am also not a street fighter and am in my early fifties and not in the “best shape of my life” physically. I’m thinking if an average person like me gets a knife, and even more so a gun, it’s more likely to be taken away from me and used against me. Do you have any resources or posts that discuss safety and self defense considerations in emergency situations for average people like me?

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Jonnie Pekelny

      Thank you for the kind words and great questions Jonnie! Those kinds of posts are already in our plan. The Prepared is a relatively-new project and we’re working hard to get more posts up quickly (the team just grew from me to three). Sign up for the newsletter so you can see when those new posts are released.

      e.g. we started a gun 101 guide:

      In the meantime, you’ll hear different schools of thought on those questions. If you buy a gun and spend zero time learning how to use it, how to store/carry it, etc., then there can be an argument that it does more harm than good.

      But in general, we lean on the side of “better to have it than not”, especially since you should practice with any piece of gear you have and can very quickly get past that point where the risk is more than the reward.

      Knives are also more granular than just self defense. At minimum you’ll want a good camp knife:

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  • Jonnie Pekelny

    I hope I’m not asking too many questions here — just very excited to find a resource for prepping I can actually use — but I’m wondering about three things not mentioned in this list. First, do you know of any resources for prepping for pets? Many households now have dogs and cats and other animals. It seems important to plan for their evacuation etc. Second, do you know of any resources for emergency preparedness and response for people with disabilities? My 75 old mother had a stroke earlier this year. She’s somewhat mobile but definitely impaired, slow and not very strong and also gets tired very fast. I’d like to help her prepare for emergencies especially since I probably won’t be able to get to her in time. And lastly, I’m wondering how to plan for taking or not taking family treasures and keepsakes when we’re forced to bug out. I mean things like photo albums family heirlooms…. I’m assuming that we’d all want to save some of them if we can.

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Jonnie Pekelny

      You’re most welcome to. We started TP because we couldn’t find a practical resource either, so I know the feeling!

      Pets and disabilities are posts we intend to do (and have already started collecting research for). To foreshadow: Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of practical and valuable answers on the disability side, but we’ll see what we can put together.

      Heirlooms is a tough one. It’s not practical to carry lots of stuff because there’s a good chance you’ll be strapped for time/weight/space already even excluding the “nice to haves”. A few pictures or a small token is likely the baseline, and if it’s a situation where you have some time to pack the car etc etc, then you can add more things like scrapbooks.

      In the end, you’d rather have water and medicine than a picture of grandma, and emergencies often force us to make painful choices.

      The best thing to do is to hedge against normal ‘disasters’ like digital data loss. We’ll do a guide on that, too.

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  • Jonnie Pekelny

    About the crank operated flashlights and radios you recommend… Every single crank flashlight or radio I’ve had over the years, and I’ve had quite a few, has gone dead after some months or years of non-use. I am guessing the battery goes dead after a while from non-use, but I don’t know why. The thing is, these types of tools are inherently for intermittent use. I need my crank flashlight sometimes, maybe once every couple of months at most, and I don’t ever need my crank radio unless I’m in an emergency. So, it’s not very reassuring to not know if they will work when they’re needed. Because of this I’ve been hesitant to buy them. Is there something I’m missing? Something I should be looking out for to get ones that are reliable?

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Jonnie Pekelny

      You’re spot on Jonnie. I’ve had the same experience over many products and many years, so I generally dislike that kind of gear.

      There may be a killer answer out there but we haven’t seen it yet. We include links to some here because many people intend on buying those categories regardless, so we want to help get the relatively-best ones.

      We also plan on doing a deep field test of those products this year, including testing energy shelf life.

      You can avoid those types of products through diligently storing and rotating batteries, having a solar setup to recharge, etc.

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  • Jonnie Pekelny

    Why do we need fire starter kits, stormproof matches and mylar blankets for staying put in our homes? Is this for people who live in hurricane and flooding zones? I live in California where the main danger in the natural disaster department is from earthquakes, fires and the occasional power outage. I’m thinking that I could just use regular matches for lighting a camp stove to prep my emergency food, and maybe have a couple of lighters with the longer tips that are used to light gas stoves when the pilot light is out. Isn’t that good enough?

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Jonnie Pekelny

      Sounds like you’re getting stuck in scenario tunnel vision, one of the most common prepping mistakes:

      It’s good to think about your risks, like earthquakes, but a good prep can handle a wide range of possibilities and has built-in redundancy. It’s not just about earthquakes vs. fires etc, it’s also about all the ways an earthquake can disrupt you. e.g. Your house might crack in half and the kitchen floods from a burst pipe and your normal matches are soaked.

      We do assume that a typical house has normal blankets, normal matches, the long-tip BBQ lighters, etc. It’s about building in redundancy on important things like water and heat.

      You could decide “I have the emergency blanket and fire starter stuff in my BOB, which I keep at home, so I don’t also need that kind of survival gear in my home supplies.” You’re better off than nothing, and if you stopped there we wouldn’t judge ya for it, but you don’t have your bases covered as well as we recommend.

      It’s always a tough balance. You can’t ever be fully covered. But this model (home supplies + BOB at home + GHB out of home) is the best basic way to get the right coverage.

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  • Maggie

    I just ordered and taste tested a bunch of ration bars and other “survival foods” and found I liked SOS New Millenium bars better-they also have a 5 year shelf life, claim to stand up to hot and cold and are also Coast Guard approved. I did find the Datrex more conveniently packaged as a solid block with individually wrapped “rations”, however, just enjoyed the fruit flavored shortbread quality of New Millenium better. Do you know of any other advantages of Datrex to these?

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Maggie

      Thanks for sharing. No advantages come to mind — the big factors on these are cost:calorie, volume:calorie, shelf life, and taste.

      If you tested more than the ones you described here, I’d love to hear about it for when we do a proper taste test among all of the possible product options! Always helpful to have more practical data.

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    • Maggie Maggie

      I tried SOS Food labs ration bar (in cinnamon) – I think this was from the same company as the New Millenium bars, the texture was similar but it was 9 bars wrapped in one package resulting in a similar size to the Datrex package, 5 years shelf life, 3600 calories
      Grizzly Gear emergency rations- packaged as 3 breakable bars, like sugar cookie dough with extra vegetable shortening, greasy, 5 year shelf life, 3600 calories
      Survival Tabs-yuck, mostly made of whey, so they taste like eating a dried clump of protein powder, but they have a 25 year shelf life
      I’m waiting on a Mainstay bar

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    • Maggie Maggie

      And the Mainstay bar is very similar to Grizzly Gear- greasy cookie dough

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  • C R DubU

    Out of sheer curiosity, when it comes to packing clothes in your BOB, how many days change of clothes would you recommend? Any specific brands of survival-ish or just plain tougher shirts and pants you’d recommend?

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    • John RameyThe Prepared C R DubU

      We’re working on that checklist as we speak, so keep an eye out over Q1 for that post. But to foreshadow, we keep a pair of pants, two pairs socks, one pair undies, short sleeve, long sleeve, jacket, and hat. We’ll do reviews on specific clothes later, but you definitely want more “technical” or outdoor-oriented clothing: no cotton, uses light materials, quick dry, etc.

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  • Nick

    Great article… will be tuned In for the further reviews of different items…

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  • Jonnie Pekelny

    I bought the bottle top propane stove. It says that because the stove consumes oxygen it should never be used indoors. But if the weather is bad outside and you’re stuck indoors, how do you cook? Also, is it safe to put it on wood, or should it be a non-flammable surface?

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Jonnie Pekelny

      Non-flammable / flame-resistant surface is always preferred, and keep flammable stuff like blankets at least a few feet away. Burning propane indoors is always risky, but can be mitigated and some models are “safe” for indoors. See

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  • Jonnie Pekelny

    For future write-ups it would be helpful to know how to use mylar blankets properly. I have had very minimal experience with mylar blankets but I know that they are sort of unwieldy, really hard to fold once you take them out of their little packaging and that they tear easily. Also I’ve readthat they don’t work like regular blankets, so if we’re relying on them for our primary method of staying warm we should know how to use them properly.

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Jonnie Pekelny

      Thanks for the request, we will, and you’re generally correct about the challenges!

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  • Maria Loeza

    Thank you! I’m excited to get started following the advice on this site.

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  • Jonnie Pekelny

    Hey, guys, what’s the best way to store medications in the BOB and at home? I take a lot of meds and supplements. Actually, I’m not very clear on which ones it makes sense to keep for emergencies, because they’re not all essential for my survival and well-being short term, and long term it probably won’t matter if I have two weeks’ worth if civilization melts down. But for now anyway, I went to some significant effort and some expense to stash two weeks of all my meds and supplements in my BOB and another two weeks in my house. I had to bug my doctors about getting extra prescriptions and pay some money out of pocket for extras. But after all that I’ve discovered that my method of storage isn’t good. I used these pill pouches for storage:… but I recently found out from my nutritionist who is also a pharmacist, that this is not a good way to store pills long term. She says plastic bags let in some air. Now I’m afraid I’ve spoiled the whole stash. But I’m also at a loss of how else to store it. Keeping lots of bottles in my BOB and even at home is super bulky.

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    • TomThe Prepared Jonnie Pekelny

      Hi @Jonnie, we are actually currently working on our medical guides (which will be out this quarter).

      The most important thing with medications is to keep them cool and dry. The biggest risk from exposure to air is moisture/humidity. I would suggest vacuum sealing pills and tablets (and if you have prescriptions in capsule form, see if you can get them as tablets). As far as your current stash, examine the suspect medications for discoloration, texture changes, or smells. If they have any discard them, otherwise they are most likely fine.

      Also, kudos for thinking ahead and getting extra scrips for meds you need and keeping them ready to go!

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  • Jean Castro

    Thanks for the thorough research and information that is provided on this page. Exactly what I needed to get started. There is something coming, we all feel it, but just don’t know what or when it will come. Better be properly prepared and educated for the best possible outcome. Most articles just give links on all inclusive survival bags, food ect. This articles goes far beyond that and to actually prepare the prepper. Thanks again!

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Jean Castro

      Welcome, thank you for saying so, and see you around the community!

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  • Jerry Howell

    Great site! You have a new subscriber!

    What are your thoughts on bike for use in prepping? I use to be an active member of a St Louis MO base prepping “squad” and the use of pedal bikes was the best way to get out of the city and move around.

    Plus the use of a a bike trailer greatly aids in the hauling of stuff. And yes, it does make a good target for others. But I would inmagine anything would make you a target in a bad situation.

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Jerry Howell

      Thank you Jerry, welcome!

      Bikes are wonderful. When we do more content around vehicles (it’s been a lower priority as we build up the site since sheltering-in-place is usually the default choice) we plan on talking heavily about bicycles.

      Yeah, anything visible that is valuable could make you a target in some cases, but I’d rather have a bike than not.

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  • kim

    first, thanks for this thorough guide! my partner and i have been preparing for emergencies in the sf bay area for over 5 years but this still pointed out some decent sized holes our in setup.

    i was a bit surprised that nowhere in home supplies did u mention how to deal with human waste if the water is knocked out. living in an apartment, we cant just go dig a hole in our backyard. and many urban preppers are in a similar boat.

    we have a 5gallon bucket with an attachable toilet seat lid, and portaquick NASA kits that (… in our home supplies. i’m interested in your thoughts on the matter

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    • John RameyThe Prepared kim

      Glad helpful! Most of our team used to live in SF as well (see…. I’m curious what holes you identified in your preps?

      This guide is about to undergo a major update, and waste will be more specifically called out — although it wasn’t here initially because this was focused on the 80-20 basics, and we thought most people could make do with waste if they only had that minimal baseline.

      We’re also in the middle of testing a dozen different packable toilet papers.

      The bucket solution you have is fine. Some people DIY with a $5 bucket and a pool noodle. You want saw dust (or whatever) on hand to cover each use, creating ‘sealed’ layers over time. I assume you have soap etc too.

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    • kim kim

      our main hole was differentiating med supplies as home use vs BOB use. second was was hip straps on GHB/BOBs – somehow it never clicked that carrying around heavy things on our backs without support would be problematic even though all of our day hiking backpacks have at least a thin hip and chest strap.

      we are looking forward to the coming update! i had guessed that it fell outside of the 80-20 rule for most people. we had been planning to use kitty litter (since we always have at least 10 lbs of it on hand), what are your thoughts on that as the ‘sealed’ layers vs saw dust?

      we have pump sanitizer and a dedicated camp soap to cover our waste cleansing needs, both human and feline. keep up the great work!

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    • John RameyThe Prepared kim

      Thanks! We’re close to finishing a big purchasing guide on backpacks (recently shared a pic of a fraction of the bags we’re testing on… and a hip belt is strongly recommended, even on the smaller minimalist packs.

      Kitty litter: It’s likely fine and far better than nothing. But we’ve heard from some people that they don’t think it covers and absorbs as well as other things (eg. sawdust) because it’s designed to clump/remove instead of cover/mute.

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  • Jonnie Pekelny

    Hi, guys. I’m trying to get back into slow prepping mode, after letting it slide for some months. Don’t know where to put this question, so leaving it in the beginner prepping area… Landlines. I am one of a fast shrinking number of people who still has a landline phone in addition to my cell phone. My landline is my main phone service. I talk on the phone a lot. I find the sound and convenience of it so much nicer, plus no problems with reception in the house. Technology does improve though, and it’s possible that at some point I’ll give up my land line for a cheaper and better solution.

    I’m worried though about what happens in cases of emergencies. How are all those people who don’t have landlines going to communicate when the electrical system goes down for more than a few hours? Cell phone reception isn’t always reliable, and I’m not even clear — do cell phone towers all stay active when there’s no electricity to power them? And there is the problem of keeping your cell phone powered. Isn’t it better to have traditional phone service available?

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Jonnie Pekelny

      Welcome back. Great question. Currently, landlines typically work even when the main electrical grid goes down (assuming your phone base doesn’t have a separate electrical wall plug). It’s hard to know if/how that will continue as companies/municipalities stop investing in land line infrastructure.

      Whether a power outage takes down your local cell towers is hard to say — the power to your home might be down, but the tower 2 miles away is fine and/or has backup power.

      5G and micro satellites over the next decade should really improve signal coverage, even in more rural areas.

      But you should always have the ability to at least receive information, if not have two-way convos when the grid is down. That’s why a NOAA radio is the baseline, or if you’re a Ham radio operator or want to become one, that’s better:

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  • Jonnie Pekelny

    I’m wondering if you guys have any guidelines for what kinds of contact information we should have printed out for emergencies? I am a bit of a data hoarder, particularly when it comes to contact information that helps me stay in touch with people, so my impulse is to print out a whole lot of contact information for my closest 1000 friends. But this is probably impractical for emergencies. Also, what other types of organizations might we need on our contact list?

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    • John RameyThe Prepared Jonnie Pekelny

      A post just about that is already drafted, with the first chunk coming out in a few weeks when this page and BOB list update. Stay tuned.

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  • Steve R

    This page is a great resource. Thank you.
    A BoB should be enough supplies and equipment to get you from the source of danger to a place of safety. A preplanned place to go with available or pre-staged resources. It could be a hotel, Aunt Betty’s house, and evacuation camp, or your stocked getaway.
    If you live in a urban environment where a vehicle could become useless due, traffic, or road closures then the possibility of waking is real. Have a plan! Don’t just grab your bug out bag and head into the sunset.

    I live in the Mojave desert, the situation will have to be dire for me to hoist a pack and walk out the door. I cannot carry enough water to get very far.

    Another way to look at BoBs are the most likely situation/reason you need to leave your home, Right Now! If we have to evacuate due to a localized threat i.e. fire, flood, chemical spill, etc. We won’t be bugging out to the wild, we’ll grab our bags and head for a friend’s house in the next county or a hotel, or maybe a hospital in the next town to be with an ailing person. What will you need?

    Consider packing a duffel bag with: A change of clothes or two, a jacket, phone charger/ power bank, car adaptor, water ( several bottles) cash, a bic lighter, a notepad and pen, digital back ups of important documents, pictures, etc., medications, headlamp/batteries, water filter, first aid kit, hygiene needs, 2-3 days of calories (the lifeboat rations are fine) snacks (nuts, granola bars, candy), comfort items: Bible, small fleece throw, a kindle/computer, small pillow, etc.
    With your car kit and EDC your bases will be covered.

    I have had to leave suddenly (family emergencies) and been able to grab my bag and not have to pack for an overnight stay while stressed and distracted. Some items like the water filter give my inner Prepper soul comfort, you know “just in case.” Others like the phone charger and cash are practical as I often forget to pack them.

    Yes, I have a backpack with ALL the recommended items listed on this very comprehensive page for me and my wife. It is my GHB when on long road trips.
    I check them every six months to change from Summer to Winter gear, my wife accuses me of “playing with my toys.”

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