A good survival kit with all the essentials can be the difference between life and death. Part of being in the advanced living category of emergency preparedness is being ready for a what-if scenario and not overreacting or being under-planned in case of a chaotic moment where suddenness, urgency and immediate imperativeness takes hold.
A properly-prepared emergency survival kit has everything you need to tackle the unknown. A bad survival kit leaves you under-equipped in the worst situations.
The term ‘survival kit’ covers a range of items. Some survival kits are large and heavy-duty. They’re designed for multi-day backpacking excursions through the Himalayas. Other survival kits are small: they’re designed to equip you for a three-hour hike.
Some companies sell urban survival kits for use in cities. Other companies sell end-of-the-world survival kits that contain freeze-dried food and other supplies.
You can survive longer with a larger kit. However, larger kits are also more difficult to transport. Smaller kits are more portable, but they may not contain everything you need for your trek.
Which survival kit is right for you? Today, we’re highlighting the best survival kits you can buy in 2020.
What is a Survival Kit?
A survival kit is a pack of emergency equipment. Typically, the pack includes food, medical supplies, and tools. The contents of the kit help someone survive in a specific situation or environment.
Types of Survival Kits
There are hundreds of types of survival kits, from hiking survival kits to doomsday prepper survival kits.
Some survival kits are designed for specific situations – like wilderness or urban survival. Others are designed for specific disasters – like earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods.
Amazon and other major retailers sell four-week emergency survival kits, single day survival kits, and other options. Costco sells one and two-year supplies of freeze dried rations – enough food to feed a family for one or two years – for $5,000 and up.
What’s in a Survival Kit?
The contents of a survival kit vary depending on the situation in which the kit will be used.
A typical survival kit contains basic supplies like water, food, and a flashlight, for example. Some survival kits designed for long-term survival contain weeks of non-perishable food supplies.
Many survival kits contain tools. It might have a Swiss Army Knife, for example, or a similar multi-purpose tool.
A hiking survival kit could include a camp stove, sanitation and personal items, an emergency blanket, a compass, and maps of the area.
An urban survival kit, meanwhile, could contain extra batteries, cash, and a fully charged phone.
Home survival kits could include copies of personal documents (like the deed to the home and passports), family and emergency contact information, medications, and more.
Ultimately, the contents of the survival kit vary widely depending on how it will be used.
Top 10 Best Survival Kits for 2020
This guide ranks and explains some of the top survival kits available online, paying particular attention to the included materials, ease of use, and essential value.
Emergency Zone Urban Survival Kit
Emergency Zone’s Urban Survival Kit is one of Amazon’s most popular products. Priced at around $150 for a two-person kit, the Urban Survival Kit can also be customized for four people ($190) or for two or four people with pets.
The kit includes everything you need to protect yourself and your family from the unexpected. Emergency Zone specifically markets the kit as a way to protect against hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, civil unrest, pandemics, wildfires, winter storms, evacuations, and more.
There are dozens of items included in the kit. There are tools (duct tape, light sticks work gloves, a multi-tool, can opener, survival whistle, and playing cards), first aid items (first aid kid, N95 masks, and more), shelter items (reflective sleeping bags, emergency ponchos, and hand warmers), food and water (food bars and water pouches with a five year shelf life), water purification systems, a flashlight, and hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, comb, etc.).
Emergency Zone also sells other popular, well-rated survival kits, including their 2-person and 4-person 72 Hour Survival Ki and the “The Essentials” Complete Deluxe Survival 72-Hour Kit.
Mayday Industries Emergency Honey Bucket Kits
Disaster preparedness company Mayday Industries makes a variety of emergency kits. The company is best-known for its honey bucket emergency kits, which come in a waterproof bucket containing food, water, first aid gear, multi-tools, and other essentials. The “honey bucket” can also be used as a toilet in disaster situations (it even comes with a seat!).
Mayday Industries sells different types of kits for different needs. There’s a popular Earthquake Kit, for example, that contains gear you won’t find in other survival kits, including gear to protect yourself from building debris during an earthquake. There are also survival kits geared towards outdoor survival situations, urban survival and more. Choose the kit that best suits your environment.
Redfora Complete Earthquake Bag
You also get a hand-cranked flashlight, a radio, and 3600 calories of shelf-stable food. It’s all packaged into a bag that can be picked up and carried with you.
If you want a bag that will keep you alive for multiple days, then the Redfora Complete Earthquake Bag gets the job done. There’s a reason Redfora’s Complete Survival Kit is one of Amazon’s bestselling emergency kits. You can also customize the kit for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 people, as needed.
KOSIN 18 in 1 Emergency Survival Kit
KOSIN offers 18 useful items in its survival kit, including a flashlight, compass, folding knife, multi-tool, Firestarter, paracord, and whistle. Overall, it’s an ideal kit for outdoor survival situations.
KOSIN’s survival kit also includes items you may not find in other kits – like a sturdy screwdriver and a folding knife. There’s also a fire-starter, making this ideal for outdoor survival situations, hikers, campers, hunters, and more.
The main drawback of this kit (and this is may be a dealbreaker) is that it does not include a water purification system. The first aid supplies are also minimal compared to other kits on this list. Overall, however, if you want a survival kit that emphasizes useful tools, then the KOSIN 18 in 1 Emergency Survival Kit is a popular option.
EVERLIT Survival Kit
EVERLIT is one of the heaviest-duty survival kits on this list. EVERLIT packs a military-style bag with first aid gear, paracord, flint stone, glow stocks, N95 masks, drinking water, a flashlight, emergency shelters, and more. It’s an all-in-one kit that will help you survive in an urban or wilderness setting without much issue. There are 250 pieces in total.
In addition to consumable supplies, the EVERLIT Survival Kit has the tools you need for general survival. You’ll be able to stay safe, comfortable, and satiated using the tools in this kit. It’s important to note, however, that EVERLIT has not added any food to this kit – so you’ll need to add your own shelf-stable food to make it a true all-in-one survival kit.
EVERLIT markets their flagship survival kit for earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, and other disasters, although it could also be a great wilderness survival kit for general outdoor situations.
Monoki First Aid Survival Kit
With 241 pieces, the Monoki First Aid Survival Kit contains virtually everything you need to be self-sufficient in the wilderness. It’s also surprisingly small. It’s easy to toss into your vehicle or backpack without taking up a significant amount of space. And, as with all other survival kits on this list, having it with you in an unexpected situation can be the difference between life and death.
There are a small number of useful tools included in this kit (paracord, flashlight, knife, carabiner, and a multi-tool). There are also plenty of first aid supplies, including band-aids, matchsticks, stickers, and more.
If you’re looking for a lightweight survival kit to take on single day excursions, then the Monoki First Aid Survival Kit is a good choice. It’s particularly popular among campers, hikers, and hunters. However, you may need to add significantly to the kit for more extreme survival situations (say, with food, water purification, and communication items for extended survival situations.
Sustain Supply Co 72 Hour Emergency Survival Kit
Sustain Supply Co makes a 72 Hour Emergency Survival Kit that they claim contains everything you need to survive for three days. It’s all contained in one easy-to-carry package. There’s water, food, first aid gear, and shelter, among other items.
Sustain Supply Co.’s survival kit is particularly useful for those who want good food. The kit comes with a portable stove, reusable utensils and plates, and tasty meals like creamy pasta, chicken teriyaki, and cheesy mac.
Unlike most other survival kits listed here, Sustain Supply Co literally has everything you need to survive for three full days. You have food, water, safety gear, and more, all packaged into a neat bag. If you’re looking for a bag you can pick up and carry anywhere without supplementing gear, then the Sustain Supply Co 72 Hour Emergency Survival Kit may be the right choice for you. Sustain Supply Co. sells multiple package options, including Comfort2, Essential2, and Comfort4, depending on your survival needs.
Ready America Deluxe Emergency Kit
Ready America’s Deluxe Emergency Kit is designed for post-disaster situations in urban environments. There are N95 masks, first aid gear, and a multi-tool, among other items, all packaged into a small backpack. The backpack feels a little flimsy, although again – it’s not designed for long outdoor treks; it’s designed for urban environments.
Another nice thing about Ready America’s Deluxe Emergency Kit is that it contains boxed water, something we don’t see in many other kits listed here. After a disaster in a city, the water may be unsuitable to drink, which is why boxed water can be a lifesaver.
The main downside of Ready America’s Deluxe Emergency Kit is its appearance: the kit just doesn’t look as nice as other premium options on this list. However, it is available at an affordable price of around $120 from Amazon.
SUPOLOGY Emergency Survival Kit
SUPOLOGY emphasizes survival tools instead of consumable first aid items. There’s a band-aid, although that’s pretty much it for first aid. Instead, SUPOLOGY focuses on tools that could save your life, including a filtration straw, a compass, a flashlight, a heavy-duty knife, and more.
SUPOLOGY is one of the few manufacturers on this list to include a water purification system. The filtration straw can easily be placed in a stream or pond to filter out most contaminants.
If you want an all-in-one survival kit with first aid gear and other items, then the SUPOLOGY Emergency Survival Kit may not be the right choice for you. If you want a spectrum of survival tools and a good water filtration system, however, then the SUPOLOGY Emergency Survival Kit should work well.
CHAREADA Emergency Survival Kit
The CHAREADA Emergency Survival Kit markets itself as a kit for both urban and wilderness survival. The emphasis is on useful tools instead of food, water, or first aid gear, although there is a basic first aid kit included inside.
One thing that stands out with the CHAREADA Emergency Survival Kit is the compass. While most other survival kits on this list have a basic, miniature compass, the CHAREADA Emergency Survival Kit has a larger, heavier-duty compass. There’s also a wire saw – something that only a handful of other survival kits include.
If you need multi-tools and basic survival gear, then the CHAREADA Emergency Survival Kit is a good start, although you’ll need to add your own food, water, and first aid supplies to make it an effective outdoor survival kit.
Bonus: First My Family All-in-One Disaster Preparedness Kit
If you want good survival gear at an affordable price, then First My Family’s kit may be the right choice for you. Priced at under $90, the kit includes everything you need to survive for 72 hours, including first aid gear, 2400 calories of food, shelter, water, glow sticks, gloves, masks, a body warmer, and much more. It’s all packaged into a portable backpack.
First My Family markets the kits to students, kids, and parents. The company’s survival kit can be used in outdoor or urban survival situations.
Emergency Survival Kit Ranking Methodology
Our editorial team took countless factors into account to compile the rankings above. After hours of deliberation, we used the following criteria to choose the best survival kits of 2020:
- Selection of Survival Items. A good survival kit includes everything you need to survive for a specific length of time in a specific environment – nothing more or less.
- Type of Survival Setting. Some survival kits are designed for wilderness survival. Others are designed for urban survival (say, if your city experienced a disaster).
- Packaging. You might have the best survival kit in the world, but the kit isn’t valuable if you can’t carry it around. We emphasized portability in our rankings. The best survival kits treat weight and space like gold, using all corners of the backpack to ensure maximum portability. There’s also a considerable difference between cheap packaging material and durable packaging material – and it could be a life or death difference in certain situations.
- Food and Water. Not all emergency kits come with food and water. Some come with water filtration systems, for example. We featured a selection of kits from across the industry, including some kits that contain food and water and other kits that do not.
- First Aid Gear. All emergency survival kits contain first aid gear, although the value of that first aid gear varies widely. The best kits have band-aids, bandages,
- Orientation Gear. Many emergency survival kits contain a compass, map, or other tools to help you get your bearings.
- Illumination Gear. Most emergency survival kits contain some type of flashlight. Some kits have a battery-operated flashlight (which can be useless in a survival situation if you don’t have batteries), while others have a hand-cranked flashlight (which can be powered in any survival situation). Some kits also have headlamps, flares, hazard lights, and other items you can use for illumination.
- Communication Gear. Some survival kits contain radios, walkie-talkies, flares, and other items you can use for communication.
- Miscellaneous Gear. Outdoor survival kits tend to have rope. Some urban and wilderness survival kits even have emergency shelters – like a basic tent that can be strung up anywhere.
- Quality of Gear. Some cheaper survival kits overwhelm you with lots of gear. However, the gear is too cheap and flimsy to be of real use. We analyzed each kit to ensure the gear was made from sturdy materials. We want gear to last in survival situations.
- Multiple Types of Survival Gear. There are plenty of well-rated emergency food supply boxes sold online. There are also plenty of great tactical gear kits. However, we emphasized all-in-one survival kits that included more than just a single item. If you have nothing else, then the kits above should be able to keep you alive in all types of emergency situations.
- Length of Survival. Some emergency survival kits are designed to help you survive for a single night in the wilderness. Others let you survive three days or more. Obviously, not everybody needs a three-day or seven-day survival kit. We featured a range of survival kits designed for all different survival timeframes.
- Necessary Versus Unnecessary Components. Some survival kits include dozens of items, including some that aren’t necessary. We penalized survival kits that included unnecessary items – especially bulky items that would only be useful in a small number of survival situations.
- Shelf Life. Some survival kits are designed to be left in your car or cabin for years without being touched. Other survival kits contain items that need to be replaced or recharged regularly.
- Certifications and Approvals. Some emergency food and water items are approved by the United States Coast Guard. Other kits have other certifications that could signal higher-quality gear.
- Extra Space. Some survival kits contain extra space that can be used to add your own customized supplies. Some kits let you package your own food and water, for example. Others are all-in-one and have no extra space.
- Price and Value. Some survival kits are weirdly expensive, charging inflated prices for low-quality gear. Others emphasize value, packing hundreds of items into a package for less than $100.
- Brand Reputation / Customer Reviews. Obviously, we can’t test every single kit above in real survival situations. We consider brand reputation and customer reviews in our rankings.
There are also newer options on the market such as JUDY Ready Kits and the demand for face masks as become an essential component due to the threat of the coronavirus.
Who Should Buy a Survival Kit?
Put simply, survival kits are for anyone. Every human being needs certain things – food, water, and shelter – to survive.
Whether you live in a big city, take frequent hiking trips, or drive on remote stretches of highway, you can benefit from a survival kit.
The American Red Cross recommends that every family have a survival kit ready for emergency situations.
As they say, it’s better to have a survival kit and never use it than it is to need a survival kit and not have one. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Benefits of a Survival Kit
The main benefit of a survival kit, understandably, is that it helps you survive an unexpected situation.
To help you survive, survival kits include various items for different situations. Some survival kits focus on food, water, and other consumables, for example. Others focus on survival gear, including multi-tools, shelters, flashlights, or rope.
Let’s start with an obvious benefit: first aid. No matter where you are, you’re not going to survive long with a cut, laceration, or serious wound. A basic first aid kit can be the difference between life and death.
“A good first aid kit should include band-aids in various sizes and shapes; small, medium, and large gauze dressings; two sterile eye dressings; triangular bandages, rolled bandages, safety pins, disposable sterile gloves, tweezers, scissors, alcohol-free cleansing wipes, and sticky tape. A really good survival kit also includes a thermometer (preferably digital), skin rash cream, anti-insect spray or cream, antiseptic cream, painkillers (like paracetamol or ibuprofen), cough medicine, antihistamine cream or tablets, distilled water for cleaning wounds, and an eye wash or an eye bath.”
Food and water is another obvious need. You won’t last more than a few days without water. Your body can survive longer without food, although you still need food for energy. Most survival kits above contained 1 to 3 days of food and water.
Some food kits contain freeze-dried meals that can be prepared just by adding water. Others contain meals that require heat. Some contained granola bars or other calorie-rich foods that can be consumed without any type of preparation whatsoever.
As for water, survival kits handle it in different ways. Some survival kits contain boxed water that can be consumed directly out of the box, for example. Other kits contain water purification systems – like purification straws or other systems that make water potable. Whether you’re in an urban or wilderness survival situation, you can’t assume that water will be drinkable.
A good multi-tool can also be the difference between life and death. Some survival kits above contained dozens of tools. Other kits contained a single multi-tool with dozens of attachments. A good multi-tool for survival includes a knife blade, reamer, bottle opener, screwdriver, wire stripper, and can opener. A premium multi-tool, meanwhile, could include a nail file, tweezers, scissors, a toothpick, a magnifying glass, multiple screwdriver bits, and other gear.
Surviving is important, but if you can’t navigate, then you may never escape your situation. That’s why good survival kits (particularly outdoor survival kits) include orientation gear. A compass and a paper map could literally save your life when lost in the wilderness.
Many urban survival kits also contain a compass. After a disaster, you may not recognize your own city. A compass helps you know which direction to go. Remember: during a disaster, you may not be able to depend on your phone signal or GPS to get you to where you need to be/
Some survival kits have communication gear – like a radio. A radio may seem antiquated, but a radio is one of the most-overlooked items in a survival kit. A battery-powered or hand-cranked radio helps you communicate if cell service is unavailable. Cell service is often unavailable in urban environments after a disaster for two reasons: first, networks are often overloaded with people trying to make frantic calls; and second, the network infrastructure may have been damaged during the disaster.
In New York City, for example, cell service went down almost immediately after the 9/11 attacks because so many cell phone calls were being sent simultaneously.
We also recommend a radio for outdoor survival situations. You might be hiking in a remote area with no cell service, for example. Or, your cell phone might have died. A radio can help you contact the outside world in a situation where all your normal communication methods are down.
A good handheld radio for survival situations has AM-band reception. AM-band reception is important because AM band radio transmissions travel much further than FM Band radio. At night, for example, AM-band radio transmissions can travel hundreds of miles due to an atmospheric phenomenon known as “skywave propagation”. With FM bands, meanwhile, you won’t get a signal more than 40 miles away.
Communication gear isn’t just about radios: you can also communicate using flares and other signals. Some emergency kits contained these items, allowing you to show rescuers your location – say, if you’re lost outdoors.
Don’t be fooled into thinking one-size-fits-all with survival kits! Your survival needs are not the same as everyone else’s survival needs. Your family’s survival kit may require an Epipen, for example. Or, someone in your family may require special medication like insulin. You might need glasses, contact lens solution, and other items.
Frequently Asked Questions About Survival Kits
This guide makes every attempt to be comprehensive. However, users might have a number of unanswered questions about the nature of survival kits. Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the topic.
Q: What are the most important survival items to have?
A: Survival experts recommend having certain essential items, including items for navigation, protection from the elements (shelter, insulation, or sun protection, for example), illumination, first aid, survival tools, water, and food. In certain survival situations, you might need communication gear – like a radio.
Q: Which single item is most important to have in a survival kit?
A: Water is the easy answer to this question. However, having water does not guarantee your survival. The single most important item to have in a survival kit changes depending on your situation.
Q: Why do I need a survival kit?
A: Some people need survival kits because they’re preparing for the nuclear apocalypse. Others need survival kits because they hike or camp. Some people drive over remote mountain passes in the winter. Others keep a survival kit stored in every vehicle for any unexpected situation.
Q: What’s the difference between survival kits?
A: All survival kits promise similar things. They all promise to give you the tools you need to survive for a specific length of time. However, survival kits vary widely in terms of quality, item selection, and survival setting. We explained our ranking criteria above, including what separates good survival kits from bad ones.
Q: How big should my survival kit be?
A: Some survival kits are the size of a purse. Others are the size of a military backpack. Most are somewhere in between. They’re designed to be easy for anyone to carry around.
Q: Does a survival kit have to be portable?
A: Not all survival kits are portable. Some survival kits are designed to be placed in your house for long-term storage, for example, or stay in your car until needed. Most survival kits, however, come in a portable backpack.
Q: Should I keep food in my survival kit?
A: You need food to survive, so most survival kits should contain some type of food. Obviously, non-perishable, easy-to-consume food items work best. However, long-term survival kits can include freeze-dried rations, camp stoves, and more. If you plan to keep food in your survival kit, it’s crucial you check the expiry dates and rotate the food regularly. Otherwise, your food might be inedible by the time you need it.
Q: What should be in a hurricane survival kit?
A: A hurricane survival kit requires the same basic necessities as any survival kit. However, you should put a particular emphasis on water purification systems. Safe drinking water may be hard to find after a hurricane. A map or compass can also help you find your way to higher ground after a hurricane – say, if there’s flooding.
Q: What should be in an earthquake survival kit?
A: An earthquake survival kit should contain the same basic necessities as any survival kit, but with a well-stocked first aid kit to treat any physical damage. Many earthquake casualties occur during the days following the earthquake due to untreated cuts and fires. An earthquake survival kit should also be easy to carry around. An earthquake can quickly rupture gas lines and force you to evacuate an area.
Q: How much should a survival kit cost?
A: We recommend budgeting $75 to $200 for a decent commercial survival kit. The more you spend, the higher-quality gear you’ll get. A more expensive kit may be designed to last for a few days, while a cheaper kit may also be designed to last for a few hours.
Q: What if I can’t afford a survival kit?
A: A survival kit doesn’t have to expensive. You can throw bottles of water and a box of granola bars into a duffel bag and call it a survival kit. You can put together a basic survival kit for under $10.
Q: Why are some emergency survival kits so expensive?
A: Some commercial survival kits are weirdly expensive. You can find freeze dried food packages priced at $5,000, for example. This price may sound expensive – until you realize there’s enough food to keep a family alive for one full year. With other survival kits, the high price goes towards higher-quality, longer lasting gear.
Q: Can I design my own custom survival kit?
A: Absolutely! Buy individual survival items from Amazon, Walmart, or your favorite retailer. Buy a backpack or plastic container. Some commercial emergency kit makers also allow you to customize your survival kit.
Q: What’s a mini survival kit?
A: A mini survival kit is generally designed for short-term use. A mini survival kit may keep you safe for a few hours or a single day. Some mini survival kits are designed to last longer: the “mini” just means the kit is lightweight. Many experts recommend having multiple survival kits, including a mini kit in your car and a larger kit at home.
Q: How many calories do I need in a survival kit?
A: The average person needs to consume 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day to maintain their weight. A survival kit typically includes 3,000 to 6,000 calories per person, per day.
Nobody thinks they need a survival kit – until they do. Much like the rise in face masks or lung health supplements, once things take a turn for the worse it becomes of significant importance to have the essential emergency survival kit parts and pieces, nuts and bolts, meat and potatoes like the top 10 best survival kits of 2020 reviewed above.
Survival kits give anyone peace of mind. Hikers. Campers. Hunters. Drivers. Families. People with pets. Preppers. Parents. Children. Students. Older adults. People who live in apartments. People who live in rural areas. Road trippers. Whatever your needs may be, a survival kit could be your last – and most important – line of defense.
If you’re a human being who wants to survive, then you need a survival kit. Failing to plan is planning to fail. We could write hundreds of other clichés here – but suffice to say buying an emergency preparedness kit is a good idea. For more surviving related information, search for our long term food storage guide, common freeze-dried foods and first-aid kits options. Also, for the sake of a closing with an advanced living lifestyle hack, review the research on intermittent fasting as part of a practical day to day survival tactic and wellness technique. Survival is about being fit and able to overcome an emergency situation, so be prepared and get ready for a just-in-case moment with the essentials it takes to survive and hopefully, thrive optimally no matter the cause, case or concern.