Emergency preparedness is the ability to survive off of your own food, water and other supplies for a few days, according to Ready.gov, an emergency readiness resource from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This often takes the form of an emergency kit (also known as a survival kit). A kit can make you feel more prepared and ready for an emergency situation. However, nearly half of Americans haven’t started any emergency prep, according to FEMA’s National Household Survey for 2022. If you’re looking to start a household emergency kit, we collected some of the best kits and kit supplies to choose from.
LEARN MORE The best emergency kits of 2023 | The best emergency supplies of 2023 | How to shop for an emergency kit
Our top picks
How we picked the best emergency kits and supplies
Using guidance from reputable agencies like FEMA, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Red Cross, we picked four top-rated emergency kits that include most of their suggested items. We specified how many people the kit is designed for, how much the kit weighs and how long the packaged food and water should last on your shelf. We noted what recommended items are missing from each kit. Any quality emergency kit should have at least the following items:
- First aid kit: Per the American Red Cross recommendations (your kit should suit the size and medical needs of your family and include any necessary medications).
- Sustenance: Water (one gallon per person per day), food (several days of non-perishable)
- Hygiene: Moist towelettes, garbage bags
- Light sources: Flashlight
- Shelter: Plastic sheeting, emergency blanket(s)
- Communication: Whistle, battery-powered or hand-crank radio (with NOAA Weather Radio, if possible), cell phone, cell phone charging cables
- Tools: disposable batteries, duct tape, multi-tool or wrench, can-opener (if kit contains canned food), local maps
- Protection: N95 masks
We also included top-rated individual emergency supplies you can use to supplement an existing survival kit or build your own from scratch.
The best emergency kits in 2023
These top-rated emergency kits have most of the supplies recommended from agencies like FEAM, the CDC and The American Red Cross.
Best overall: Redfora Complete 3 Day Earthquake Bag
This three day emergency kit from Redfora includes a wide variety of items reputable agencies say are essential, plus some additional nice-to-haves based on your individual needs. The contents of the kit, which are housed in a red backpack, are labeled and color coated, and each bag includes a QR code to learn more about its contents.
- Includes: first-aid kit, hygiene kit (2), pocket tissue pack (2), waste bag, food bars (2, 3600 cal), water pouch (24), water purification tablets (20), pencil, notepad, whistle, rope, multi-tool, safety goggles, sewing kit, gloves, N95 masks (6), candle, bright stick, hand-crank+solar NOAA radio with flashlight and charger, ponchos (2), sleeping bags (2), tube tent, hand warmers (2)
- Missing: plastic sheeting, disposable batteries, cellphone, charging cables, duct tape, local maps
Redfora Complete 3 Day Earthquake Bag has a 4.7-star rating from over 1,300 reviews on Amazon.
Persons: 2 | Time: 72 hours | Weight: 10.5 lbs | Food/water shelf life: 5 years
Best budget: Ready America 72 Hour Emergency Backpack
If you’re looking for a more affordable backpack option, the Ready America 72 Hour Emergency Kit provides a few useful emergency items for a low price. It is missing more than our other recommendations, but can be a good starting point in building a larger kit, or be placed into a larger go-bag as part of a family emergency kit.
- Includes: first-aid kit, pocket tissues, food bar (2, 2400 cal), water pouches (12, 4.25 oz), whistle, rope, gloves, dust masks (2), light stick (12 hr), ponchos (2), survival blankets (2)
- Missing: hygiene kit, flashlight, plastic sheeting, radio, cellphone, charging cables, disposable batteries, duct tape, multi-tool, local maps, N95 masks
The Ready America Emergency Backpack has a 4.7-star rating from over 5,300 reviews on Amazon.
Persons: 2 | Time: 72 hours | Weight: 7.75 lbs | Food/water shelf life: 5 years
Best splurge: JUDY The Protector
Judy’s The Protector kit is meant for a family of six and costs nearly $400. As such, it comes with far more supplies, and is far heavier than our other picks, hence, the orange rolling bag carrier. All of the supplies are packaged in clearly labeled bags and boxes, making it easier to find what you are looking for, according to the brand.
(Judy also sells the more affordable Mover Max kit for a family of four.)
- Includes: first-aid kit, food bars (15, 410 cal), water pouches (24), quick dry towel, biohazard bag, wet wipes, pocket tissues (2), whistles (2), glow sticks (6), ponchos (6), gloves (1), dust masks (6), hand crank radio+charger+flashlight, duct tape, multitool, multipurpose bags (2), candle, waterproof match pack, hand warmers (6), rescue blankets (6)
- Missing: plastic sheeting, cellphone, charging cables, disposable batteries, local maps, N95 masks
Persons: 6 | Time: 72 hours | Weight: 23 lbs | Food/water shelf life: 5 years
Best for power-outages: Sustain Supply Comfort2 Emergency Survival Kit
The Sustain Supply Co Comfort2 Emergency Survival Bag is a good kit to buy if you’re especially worried about light and food — the backpack comes with lightsticks, an LED lantern, fire-starting devices, a portable stove, cookware and rehydratable food.
- Includes: backpack, food rations (12), water (2 liters), survival straws (2), SnapLights (4), knife, LED lantern, first aid kit, emergency blanket (2), wet wipes pack, portable stove, cookware, bowls (2), utensils, whistles (2), InstaFire tinder (2), Ferrocerium rod
- Missing: plastic sheeting, radio, cellphone, charging cables, disposable batteries, duct tape, multi-tool, local maps, N95 masks
It has a 4.6-star rating from over 900 reviews on Amazon.
Persons: 2 | Time: 72 hours | Weight: 21 lbs | Food/water shelf life: 15 year food, 5 years water
The best emergency supplies in 2023
If you want to add items to a pre-built survival kit, or you’d rather build one of your own, we rounded up these highly rated products that fall into supply categories recommended by Ready.gov and The American Red Cross.
First aid kits
Best soft-case: First Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Kit (FAO-442)
The First Aid Only All-Purpose Essential Soft-Sided First Aid Kit is a soft pouch that holds around 300 pieces of various first aid supplies, according to First Aid Only. Those include, among other things, adhesive bandages, cold packs and aspirin.
The First Aid Only All-Purpose Essentials Soft-Sided First Aid Kit has a 4.8-star rating from over 68,000 reviews on Amazon.
Best hard-case: Be Smart Get Prepared 110 Piece First Aid Kit
The Be Smart Get Prepared 100 Piece First Aid Kit is a plastic case that holds 100 pieces of first aid supplies — from antiseptic towelettes to wooden finger splints — Be Smart Get Prepared says. Although it has a third of the amount of medical supplies as the first aid kit from First Aid Only, it’s half the price.
The Be Smart Get Prepared 100 Piece First Aid Kit has a 4.7-star rating from over 36,000 reviews on Amazon.
These plastic variants have a 4.6 star rating from over 9,900 reviews on Amazon.
The GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight is powered by three AAA batteries and features a wide-to-narrow beam that the company says will illuminate the way up to 1,000 feet in front of you. It’s the bestselling flashlight on Amazon and comes in a pack of two. It’s also water-resistant.
The GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight has a 4.6-star rating from over 71,000 reviews on Amazon.
When you need light and two free hands, a headlamp is more useful than a flashlight. The Spot 350 from Black Diamond is a multipurpose option powered by three (included) AAA batteries. It offers six different brightness settings, and is fully waterproof.
It has a 4.8-star rating from over 200 reviews on Amazon.
The AmazonBasics 8-Pack AA High-Performance Alkaline Batteries offer reliable performance across a wide range of devices, Amazon says — they’re ideal for flashlights, clocks and more. Amazon says they have a 10-year leak-free shelf life. They’re not rechargeable.
The AmazonBasics 4-Pack AA High-Performance Alkaline Batteries have a 4.7-star rating from over 685,000 reviews on Amazon.
Similar to the AmazonBasics AA batteries, the AmazonBasics 10-Pack AAA High-Performance Alkaline Batteries should work across a similarly wide range of devices and have the same 10-year shelf life, according to Amazon.
The AmazonBasics 10-Pack AAA High-Performance Alkaline Batteries have a 4.7-star rating from over 654,000 reviews on Amazon.
The FosPower 2000mAh NOAA Emergency Weather Radio Portable Power Bank works as a traditional battery-powered handheld radio but also doubles as a 2000mAh portable power bank for keeping your smartphones and other devices charged if the power is out. You can power your AM/FM radio in a couple different ways, according to FosPower: with three AAA batteries, with the hand-crank lever or via the solar panel. The radio also has a reading light and a flashlight.
The FosPower 2000mAh NOAA Emergency Weather Radio Portable Power Bank has a 4.6-star rating from over 30,000 reviews on Amazon.
For adults: REI Co-op HunkerDown 20 Sleeping Bag
This sleeping bag from REI is rated for temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a wrap-around zipper that can be used for ventilation or to open the bag completely and use it as a quilt, according to the brand. At a little over six and a half feet long, this sleeping bag fits most adults.
For kids: REI Co-op Kindercone 25 Sleeping Bag
As recommended in our guide to the best sleeping bags for kids, the REI Co-op Kindercone 25 is rated for temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. It closes with a zipper, and has adjustable cords around the head and hood. At 5 feet long, it is long enough for most younger kids.
The American Red Cross recommends putting N95 or surgical masks in your emergency kit, depending on “the types of disasters common to your area.”
As recommended in our guide to N95 masks, this N95 respirator from 3M is individually packaged and foldable, making it easy to store in a kit. It has a lower profile to accommodate glasses around the nose, according to the brand.
The 3M Aura N95 Respirator has a 4.5-star rating from over 20,000 reviews on Amazon.
In order to stay clean, you’ll need to stock up on moist towelettes, too. There are a bunch of different types available — many of which you’ll find at your local drugstore. If you’re looking for the most highly rated options available online, here are some options.
The Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes are sold in a 10-pack with 20 wipes per pack. They come in a soft pack that’s pretty small — around 8 inches long by 7 inches wide — making them easier to carry around in a kit than a hard, tubular container.
The Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes have a 4.8-star rating from over 14,000 reviews.
The Babyganics Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer Wipes are sold in a four-pack with 20 wipes per pack. Like the Wet Ones highlighted above, Babyganics wipes should kill around 99 percent of germs, according to the brand. Babyganics also says that their wipes are made without parabens, sulfates, phthalates or synthetic fragrances and dyes — plus they’re nonallergenic. Like the Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes, they come in soft packs (6 inches long by 5 inches wide) that should be simple to stuff next to your other supplies.
The Babyganics have a 4.8-star rating from over 16,000 reviews.
The Lexivon ½-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench should be more than capable of handling that simple task. It’s made from steel with a reinforced ratchet gear head, it’s rust- and corrosion-protected and it has easy-to-identify instructions on its body, according to the brand. It also comes in a hard case for storage.
This Lexivon torque wrench has a 4.7-star rating from over 7,000 reviews on Amazon.
Emergency supply food is often canned, so having a can opener like this one from KitchenAid is helpful in many kits. It’s made of stainless steel and designed to open all types of cans. It also has ergonomic handles, which should make it comfortable and easy to hold, according to the brand.
The KitchenAid Multifunction Can Opener comes in 14 different colors, so you can choose your favorite — and it has a 4.6-star rating from over 72,000 reviews on Amazon.
Portable batteries and battery packs
This portable charger can charge devices with both USB-A and USB-C cables, making it a versatile option. With a 20,000mAh battery capacity, it can charge smartphones multiple times over before being depleted, according to the brand.
The Anker 525 has a 4.7-star rating from more than 5,000 reviews on Amazon.
Duct tape is an often omitted supply from pre-made kits, despite its versatility. This roll from Duck Brand is easy to tear and water resistant, according to the brand. It has a 4.6-star rating from over 7,000 reviews on Amazon.
In the case of an emergency requiring sheltering in place, FEMA recommends sealing “windows, doors and air vents with thick plastic sheeting and duct tape.”
This plastic sheeting from Tapix is a long, heavy duty, 10 by 25 inch roll made of thick 6 Mil plastic.
To use, you’ll want to “cut the plastic sheeting several inches wider than the openings and label each sheet,” before duct taping the plastic down at the corners first and then taping down the rest of the sheet’s edges, according to FEMA.
The First Alert HOME1 Rechargeable Standard Home Fire Extinguisher is made from durable all-metal construction with a commercial-grade metal valve, First Alert says. The First Alert HOME1 is rechargeable, meaning that you can take it to a certified professional to be refilled. It also comes with a 10-year limited warranty.
The First Alert HOME1 Rechargeable Standard Home Fire Extinguisher has a 4.8-star rating from over 41,000 reviews on Amazon.
Although you can buy a map of your state off of Amazon without spending too much, you can also head to the U.S. Department of the Interior website and use their map viewer to print out your general location. Store it in a folder to keep at your desk, just in case you end up needing to navigate your town or city’s streets without the help of a GPS.
Either way, without GPS, a compass can help tremendously with navigation and orientation.
The American Red Cross recommends packing a cell phone, personal documents like medication lists, proof of address, passports and more, as well as extra cash. What this will look like in practice depends on you and your household.
How to shop for an emergency kit
By using online guidance from reputable resources like FEMA’s Ready.gov and The American Red Cross, you can get a good idea of what to look for in a survival kit, or even how to make one yourself. Below are some of the most common questions people ask when shopping for an emergency kit.
What do you need for a 72-hour emergency kit?
FEMA’s Ready.gov and the American Red Cross recommend a lot of the same items for an emergency kit. As explained above, we combined their recommendations to form a list of basics recommended for any emergency kit.
Both organizations also list additional and supplemental emergency supplies that may be useful depending on your individual needs, including:
- Prescription medications (3-day supply) and medical items
- Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea, antacids or laxatives
- Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
- Infant supplies
- Pet food and water
- Extra cash
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Sleeping bags
- Climate appropriate change of clothes and shoes
- Work gloves
- Fire extinguishers
- Feminine supplies
- Mess kit
- Paper and pencils
- Entertainment items (books, games, puzzles, etc.)
Is it cheaper to build your own emergency kit?
Most of the time, yes. A lot of the most recommended items in an emergency kit are things you already have in your home: non-perishable food, water, batteries, tools, spare clothes, first-aid supplies, etc. By putting together supplies you already have in a bag you already own, you can build most of your emergency kit yourself, and shop for missing items individually.
Where should I store my emergency kit?
Ready.gov recommends storing your emergency kit in “one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.” It also recommends storing items in airtight plastic bags. Some premade emergency kits come in waterproof bags, like the JUDY Mover Max.
Why trust Select?
Justin Krajeski is a former associate editor for Select.
Harry Rabinowitz is a reporter for Select. For this piece, he researched emergency prep guidelines from reputable agencies like FEMA, the CDC and the American Red Cross. To select recommended products, he referenced professional reviews as well as consumer reviews across storefronts like Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot and more.