Q&A: My Personal Opinion on Storebought 72 hour kits

This is actually an interesting question about store bought 72 hour kits-one I’ve pondered myself.  They are EVERYWHERE-Costco, Wal-Mart, and pretty much any big food storage company sells one.  It seems like such an easy way out of making your own-who wouldn’t want to just buy one and have it all done?  Well considering all the questions I got, I bought one (from a company that shall remain nameless), consulted my expert on emergency preparedness friend (Debbie Kent from www.peaceofpreparedness.com) and now have an educated opinion….so buckle up…you know me, I’ll give it to you straight and this may be a bumpy ride!

This is what I’ve learned about store bought 72 hour kits…

  1. They are EXTREMELY pricey-you could definitely make your own for less money.
  2. I got a “deluxe” model to try out, thinking well if it has that much stuff and costs so much it must be great….and you know…have all the items fit in the backpack and not weigh a million pounds (I exaggerate, of course) because of course they put this together for people like you and me so we wouldn’t have the headache of putting together our own.  NOT TRUE!  The items DID NOT all fit nor was the backpack anywhere as light as it should be for a regular person to carry it.
  3. I also loved that it came with a red backpack-what else screams emergency better than a RED backpack?  Unfortunately, the backpack was so cheap the zippers barely work.  So, I’m also hoping that if I have to hike in this thing it will actually stay together weighing as much as it does.
  4. I also noticed that a majority of the items in the kit could easily be found at your dollar store for a fraction of what I paid through the “deluxe” home 72 hour kit from a store.  (Debbie Kent agrees with me on this fact-which is one of the major reasons she says to make your own!) In fact, I’d say you could find BETTER items at your dollar store, I know I just found liquid skin at my dollar store and stocked up for all of our 72 hour kits and first-aid kits.
  5. It comes with stuff you don’t need.  Somebody explain to me why I need a wing stove and a mess kit if I’m going to be eating 3,000 calorie bars (also included in the kit).  When I asked Debbie Kent about it-she said that is the number one mistake in those store bought kits-the wing stoves.  Because you don’t need it if you’ve got the 3,000 calorie bars, you’re just taking up needed space and weight with it.
  6. Buying one of these pre-made kits doesn’t mean you’re in the free and clear!  You still need to add personal to you items (clothes, feminine hygiene products, baby items, etc.) plus you have to put it all in the backpack anyway.

BLAST!  I wish there was an easy way out of the 72 hour kits…but at least you didn’t just spend hundreds of dollars to test it out like I just did!  If you want to know what SHOULD be in your 72 hour kit so that you can make ones for your family download Debbie’s 72 Hour Check List.  Also, make sure and look through Debbie’s other great information HERE.

© 2012, Crystal. All rights reserved.

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  • Deborah Jennings

    I think that we could all make our own for a lot less than a bought one. If you shop before school or even during the year, you can find backpacks at a really good price.  And we can all make our own food packs. Or even jar mixes, we just need to use a plastic jar instead. This summer, dehydrate your own food. Especially frugal if you grow your own, too. Then you know what is in it. I do know that some things you can’t dehydrate at home, but you can also freeze-dry things at home. You just need to have a place to get dry ice.

    Dehydrating and canning aren’t all that hard. And at the end of the canning season, you can look at your canned stock and be so proud that you are doing your part in providing good food for your family. I love it!  Not too fond of weeding the garden, but the picking and preparing and canning is a lot of fun.  I had more fun last year with my dear husband helping me. =) 

    An FYI. Did you know that home canned foods will last indefinitely?  You just need to look at it and see if it has any mold, toss it. If the jar lid has popped, toss it.  If the lid is still tight, and no mold shows, it should still be good. After you open the canned product, smell of it. If the smell is off, toss it. (Keep the jars though! They are reusable.) The look may be a tad different, and you may lose some nutrients, but you won’t starve.

    I’ve done a lot of internet research on canning and canned foods.  Dehydrating, too.  I love to put up foods in all different ways.

  • Mary

    Thanks for your great take on 72 Hour kits.  I have looked longingly at store bought 72 hour kits but never bought one.  I took the long route making them myself, but never knew if I was wasting time and money with homemade ones.  Thanks for helping me know my instinct was right!

  • Jennrc3

    How do you safely freeze dry food?  I would love to know.  I also have a very old dehydrater with no instructions.  How do I know when the food is dehydrated enough?  Crystal, these could be questions for your blog too.

  • James Reynolds

    a tried & true “backpack” for survival, be it 72 hours or 72 months, is the Army A.L.I.C.E pak. they come in 3 sizes, but only 2 were ever used by the military.

    There is the “mini” ALICE PACK, not much to say about this other than it’s a child’s school book bag & nothing more…it is styled the same basic way the next 2 are;

    There is the Medium ALICE PACK, which usually does not come with a frame (that’s ok tho, you don’t really need it)…

    Then there is the Large ALICE PACK. This is(in my opinion) for someone who is fairly muscular & stands 6 foot 5 or more.

    All 3 packs have your main compartment, which also houses at least 1 inside pocket, a pocket in the top of the pack(the part that covers the main compartment), 3 outside pockets, and for lack of a better description, 1 or 2 daisy chains about the middle of the pack to hang more stuff on.

    The mini ALICE PACK is not worth buying if you want a bug out bag…it is far too small for that.
    I have one that I carry my medical supplies in as I have medical issues due to me being a cancer survivor. for a day to day thing like I do, this pack is great for that. As a bug out bag, too small.

    Now the MEDIUM ALICE PACK is(in my opinion) the best choice for a bug out bag.
    I can attest to its ability to hold about 30 – 45 DAYS worth of stuff…this includes first aid kit, a change of clothes, toiletries, personal items, your food, a tent, sleeping bag, a pad to sleep on,
    when I was in the Army, I carried about 500 rounds of ammo, binoculars & a scope. all this fits either in or on the ALICE PACK.
    Now I do not expect any readers to be carrying 500 rounds of ammo, but everyone I’m sure has seen them green ammo boxes in sports stores or seen pics of them in sales papers….one of them boxes holds 500 rounds. I tell you this to give you an idea of just how much room there is in a MEDIUM ALICE PACK. The cost of a Medium Alice Pack can range from $30 all the way upto & over $100….it just depends on 2 things mainly. #1 where you buy it & #2) what it made of. Mostly they are made of either a cotton canvas, or a nylon/cordura type material. Granted the cotton is heavier, so keep that in mind should you choose to buy one.

    The LARGE ALICE PACK is a monster of a pack…seriously. Everything that fits in the medium alice pack will fit in the LARGE ALICE PACK times 2…times 3 if you pack it tight.
    the longest I have ever “lived” out of the LARGE ALICE PACK was 4 months…but that was in the Army & I NEVER EVER carried food. Uncle Sam taught me how to live off the land -be it desert or forest, and most everything in between. All I ever carried in my large alice pack was 1 change of clothes, and ammunition. everything else I carried was carried on my body not in the pack.

    As I stated earlier, this is a monster of a pack & is best worn by someone who is 6 foot 5 or taller & fairly muscular.
    The cost of these pack can range from $65 to over $150 or more. These are however, very well built backpacks as are the Medium backpacks.

    All 3 of these packs come in (mostly) black, olive drab green, or camo…be forewarned, the camo usually sells for 2x the cost of the other 2. Black & olive drab are your main colors, but sometimes if your lucky, you can find them in a sand color or a desert camo(again, camo is usually twice the price of the solid colors).