Survival packing list

For any budget you decide to allocate to your real life insurance, there is a set of supplies and tools that will help you with survival. Best of all, most of the stuff on the list is cheap and easy to to get now, but will be very valuable in case of emergency. Do you remember the stampedes in supermarkets the occurred when people rushed to buy water before snowstorms? Just imagine the fight for supplies if there is more than a snowstorm coming. Many items on the list can come handy even during minor problems (e.g., snowstorms, power outages) or normal times but don’t forget to replenish the supplies. When building the kit, take into account emergencies most likely in your geography. Store the items in the place where you are likely to hide from a disaster (e.g., basement) and pack the most important small objects into a single small backpack that can be taken out should you need to evacuate.

Food & Water:

Shelter & tools

Health & Safety

  • First-aid kit
  • Medicine bag with your family medications, antibiotics and maybe even some potassium iodide (to protect from cancer caused by radiation)
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items (toilet paper, toohbrush with toothpaste, sanitary pads, baby diapers)
  • Small entertainment item / game (especially for kids) to maintain healthy spirit
  • Defensive weapon for self-protection (even a pepper spray can be better than bare hands)

Communication & Exploration

  • Whistle
  • Mirror at least 4x6cm
  • Detailed maps of the surroundings (e.g., hiking maps…)
  • Compass
  • GPS or just GPS maps in your mobile phone
  • Solar / hand-crank charger for batteries (e.g. with USB output) and mobile or potentially integrated survivor device with torch and radio</li>
  • Battery-operated AM/FM radio with several extra sets of alkaline batteries to stay informed even if the local power grid is down during minor emergencies
  • Satellite radio or satellite phone to stay connected even if broader infrastructure fails
  • Amateur radio / HAM radio for completely decentralized two-way communication even if all infrastructure fails. Ideally a set of two radios if a group must split.
  • Signal flares to draw attention but can also be used as a fire-starter
  • Copy of personal documents (medication list, ID/passport, proof of deed/lease to home, birth certificate, insurance policy, family and emergency contact information)

Survival gear description and details:

Emergency Food

  • Why? the amount of stored food (for water we assume you have filter to create more) will determine how long you can stay in your shelter before you need to go out to get more food. Very often in emergency situations not having to go out for some time can be the difference between life and death: In severe weather, you often need to wait till it passes and till some help can reach you. In case of a nuclear or chemical war, you want to wait till the fallout reduces. In the case of some epidemy, you want to wait till it is isolated.
  • How? Even specialized emergency survival food with lots of calories in small packages with long expiration period is quite affordable. Regular canned and dried food is even cheaper investment, but expiration periods are usually not as long so you might end up periodically trashing and replacing big stock unless you are fan of eating cans even in non-survival situation. On the high-end of the spectrum is food processed by radiation sterilization / irradiation that can last for decades.
  • Cost: $1-$2/meal = $90-$180 per adult per month

Portable water filter

  • Why? Your bottled water supply wont last forever and you can only survive without water for about 3 days. Drinking contaminated water can make you very sick resulting in diarrhea and further liquid loss. Water is heavy so it might not be practical to carry large quantities with you if you need to move. Good water filter can help you get save water from almost any source, but the cleaner input you use, the more litres you can purify before the filter needs to be replaced.
  • How? There are many different types of portable water filter that differ by technology and size. Very basic mechanical filters will only get clean the biggest water pollutants, but you can get very decent and portable mechanical filters with carbon filter in outdoor gear shops for $100-200 that will filter out even small bacteria. Check out for example a great yet small filter or a premium filter from Katadyn.
  • Cost: $50-$300

Rope / string

Other survival kit suggestions:

  1. If possible, get LED flashlights, because LEDs will last much longer than other types of light-bulbs  

2 thoughts on “Survival packing list

  1. Radek

    Have you considered amateur radio instead of satellite radio? I think decentralized systems are more reliable than systems with a single point of failure.

    1. Jan Post author

      @Radek: Great point, update in the updated vesion of the list. Amateur radio (local communication) and satelite radio (global communication) are very different and both can be useful under different circumstances. A set of handheld amateur radios is probably the best first step. Real survival shelters will however complement that with another stronger amateur radio and satellite radio.

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