72 Hour Kit Checklist For The Whole Family With PDF Download

72 hour kit checklist and downloadable pdf

Click here for a downloadable PDF document of each of our 72 hour kit checklists!

Page Contents

I sat down to put together our 72 hour kits recently and felt so stuck! Besides a few items of clothing, some water, food, and soap I could think of anything else. What is a 72 hour kit? What goes in a 72 hour kit? What else could we need? I thought about packing for a trip and for camping and the kinds of things we pack for those and I got to work. I have compiled short and simple lists for EVERY family member in your house that are easy to follow and can be QUICKLY put together. This is especially one of those times that you don’t want to get to your destination or need the kit and realize that you don’t have everything you need or you forgot to pack baby formula. These printable lists will insure you have everything you need for EVERYONE in your family!

why you need a 72 hour kit

What Is A 72 Hour Kit And Why Do I Need One?

You might have also heard them called a go-bag or a bug out bag. Whatever you call them the idea is still the same. A 72 Hour Kits is an emergency kit that contains enough food, water, clothing and other living essentials for one person for 72 hours/3 Days. This is a short term emergency preparedness kit. It is meant to be used until help arrives or until you can get to your destination where there are more amenities available.

Why would you need a 72 hour kit? In case of an emergency that requires you to leave quickly and suddenly! You never know when there will be an emergency that requires you to leave quickly without much if any warning.

I grew up in the desert where wildfires happened every summer, and it wasn’t uncommon for evacuations to happen. In this case, you would want to get out quickly. Grab what you can and leave. You would want to focus on the important things like pictures and anything else with sentimental value that can’t be replaced. With a 72 Hour kit you have the time to quickly grab those things along with your 72 hour kit and get out. If you live along the coast and hurricanes are common, you can grab your bag or tote and your sentimental items and be one of the first ones out. You can beat the traffic and not get stuck right in the line of the storm.

packing 72 hour kits

What Should I Use to Pack a 72 Hour Kit In?

There are different ways you can pack your 72 hour kits. The two that we have found make the most sense are backpacks and totes. We personally use backpacks for each individual and a tote for the extras. If needed they are easy to carry. Each kid can carry their own. Backpacks make everything more compact. You can also use a tote. Waterproof and stackable. Although a tote isn’t as easy to carry on the go for each person, depending on the size there can be more room. In a tote, everything is more easily accessible.

Using your old backpacks from the last school year is a great choice for your kids. Or try to find used backpacks. As long as the zippers sill work you’re good to go. There is no need to drop a ton of cash on these bags. The kids know all the pockets on their old backpacks and it’s a bag you know they can carry. Even if it’s a little on the heavy side. They did it every day all last year! 

You need to decide If you want your 72 hour kits to be ready to be packed on your back if for some reason loading them in a car isn’t an option. Or if you think having them packed in totes and loading them in the car will work. Remember that younger kids will need lighter packs or might not be able to carry a bag on their back at all so you’ll need to be able to absorb what would be in their bags into yours or into the extras bag or container.  

Where Should I Store My 72 Hour Kit?

Where you store your 72 hour kits depends on the space you have. Ideally your 72 hour kits should be stored somewhere cool and dry. If you have a garage you can put all your bags together in a tote to keep them dry and bug-free. Make sure the box is very clearly labeled and very easily accessible to anyone in your family. This isn’t something you want to be digging for when the time comes that you actually need them.

Storing them in your closets is also a great option. They will stay dry and away from bugs. This also makes it easy to remember to go through them each year and make sure that everything still fits and nothing has expired. Out of sight out of mind won’t happen if you see them every time you get dressed or grab your shoes.

Your coat closet would also work. You can keep everything together and your coats are right there if the weather is cold. One less place to have to go gather things.

Under your bed. Tucked out of the way not taking up too much space. It can also help avoid getting things disappearing only to later find that they were lost under the bed. Or am I the only one that has that problem?

food for a 72 hour kit

What Kind of Food Should I Pack In My 72 Hour Kit?

The next thing I was stuck on was what kind of food should I pack in our kits? You want to look for food with a long shelf life. This means I obviously I can’t just pre-make a bunch of peanut butter sandwiches and have them last for years! Gag!! Can you imagine opening that bag up in a year and seeing what has grown on that sandwich? My kids are young so I have to be careful about what I pack for them. They won’t eat just anything. Canned foods are a great choice. They have a long shelf life and can be heated in the can requiring fewer things to go along with it. Canned soups are great. Spaghetti-Os are also a great choice, especially for kids. As much as it pains me to say it now these can also be eaten cold. But, hey if you are hungry it will fill that belly. Top Roman also has a long shelf life. You will need to add extra water to cook these to your water that you are carrying to ensure that you have enough to drink as well as cook. A jar of peanut butter or beef jerky are also great options for some protein. They can be eaten plain or on something if you have packed that option. Whatever you choose to pack you’ll need to be sure you have the means to cook it if you need. Pots and a propane stove with a few small bottles of propane. Don’t forget the can opener! Seriously though! A can opener is a must!

You also have the option of dehydrated meals. They are in the bag ready to go. You just add hot water. Again you will need to adjust your amount of water that you are packing if you go this route As well as a pot and stove with propane to heat the water. Make a night of it and buy 5 or 6 different ones and have everyone give them a try. Make sure the ones you are pack are meals you will actually eat. Especially the kids! These have an amazing shelf life! You won’t have to worry about these going bad for 20-30 years!

Remember to go through your food at least once a year. Twice would be even better. You want to make sure that nothing has expired and the clothes still fit everyone. If you need to use the things in your 72-hour kits things are already tough enough. The last thing you need is to be sick and throwing up and not have anything to wear!

Snacks are a great addition. Protein bars or breakfast or granola bars. Peanuts, Trail Mix. Try to avoid anything too salty to avoid excessive thirst. You only have as much water as you can carry. Unless you have a water purifier and water close by. Or access to freshwater.

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72 hour emergency food supply bucket

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what to put in a 72 hour kit

What should be In A 72 Hour Kit?

I have conveniently broken down the following 72 hour kit checklists by age and gender that can easily be adapted to your individual and family needs.

Individual Checklists

Click here for a downloadable PDF document of each of the above 72 hour kit checklists!

Nonperishable Food Items:

  • Peanut Butter
  • Beef Jerky
  • Canned Soups
  • Spaghetti-O’s/Ravioli
  • Canned Fish
  • Canned Meat
  • Canned Fruit
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Pasta
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Freeze Dried Meals (Mountain House is a common easy to find brand)
  • Dehydrated fruits/veggies
  • Applesauce
  • Vienna Sausages
  • SPAM
  • Protein Bars
  • Granola/Cereal Bars
  • Trail Mix
  • Packaged Nuts
  • Oatmeal Packets (Store carefully to avoid weevil)
  • Fruit Leather
  • Dry Cereal/Granola
  • Pureed Baby Food *Jars
  • Infant Cereal
  • Powdered Milk
  • Concentrated Juice Boxes

*Nonperishable food has a long shelf life but still has an expiration date. Remember to check these items to make sure they aren’t expired or stale. 

Individual 72 Hour Kit Checklists For The Whole Family

Dad (Adult Man)

  • Backpack
  • Pants
  • Shirt X2
  • Socks X2
  • Underwear X2
  • Sweatshirt/Jacket/Coat
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste (one tube to share with the family)
  • Blanket
  • Pocket Knife
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Small First Aid Kit (Family medications needed)
  • Food (5-6 Canned/Nonperishable items Plus Others)
  • Water (64-88oz. per day)
  • Snacks
  • Money (Cash in small bills)
  • Driver’s License
  • Social Security Card

Mom (Adult Woman)

  • Backpack
  • Pants
  • Shirt X2
  • Socks X2
  • Underwear X2
  • Sweatshirt/Jacket/Coat
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine Products
  • Toothbrush
  • Blanket
  • Pocket Knife
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Small First Aid Kit (Family medications needed)
  • Food (5-6 Canned/Nonperishable Items Plus Others)
  • Water (64-88oz. per day)
  • Snacks
  • Money (Cash in small bills)
  • Driver’s License
  • Social Security Card (For Each Family Member)
  • Marriage License
  • Birth Certificates (For Each Family Member)
  • Immunization Records (For Each Family Member)

*Bolded Items will need to be kept in a safe place and possibly stored somewhere else for access during normal life.

Teen Boy (Age 11-18)

  • Backpack
  • Pants
  • Shirt X2
  • Socks X2
  • Underwear X2
  • Sweatshirt/Jacket/Coat
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Shoes
  • Blanket
  • Pocket Knife
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Food (4-5 Canned/Nonperishable Items Plus Others)
  • Water (56-64oz. per day)
  • Snacks
  • Driver’s License

Teen Girl (Age 11-18)

  • Backpack
  • Pants 
  • Shirt X2
  • Socks X2
  • Underwear X2
  • Sweatshirt/Jacket/Coat
  • Hat 
  • Gloves
  • Feminine Products
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Shoes
  • Blanket  
  • Pocket Knife
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Food (4-5 Canned/Nonperishable Items Plus others)
  • Water (56-64oz. per day)
  • Snacks
  • Driver’s Licence 

Young Boy (Age 4-10)

*Check that he will be able to carry his bag. Adjust canned items and water if needed.

  • Backpack
  • Pants
  • Shirt X2
  • Socks X2
  • Underwear X2
  • Sweatshirt
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Shoes
  • Toothbrush
  •  Blanket
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Food (2-3 Canned/Nonperishable Items)
  • Water (40oz. per day)
  • Snacks

Young Girl (Age 4-10)

*Check that she will be able to carry her bag. Adjust canned items and water if needed.

  • Backpack
  • Pants
  • Shirt X2
  • Socks X2
  • Underwear X2
  • Sweatshirt
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Shoes
  • Toothbrush
  • Blanket
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Food (2-3 Canned/Nonperishable items)
  • Water (40oz. per day)
  • Snacks

Baby (Age 0-3)

*Adjust Accordingly

*Rotation will occur more often than once a year.

  • Backpack
  • Outfits X3
  • Socks
  • Outerwear/Thick Extra Layers (for cold weather)
  • Diapers (At least one package)
  • Package of Wipes
  • Binkie
  • Blanket X2
  • Swaddle/Sleep Sack
  • Baby Food
  • Formula
  • Bottles X2
  • Spoon for pureed foods
  • Water Bottles  (Enough for 3 days’ worth of feedings)

Pets

  • Backpack
  • Food/Water Bowl
  • Water (for 3 days)
  • Food (for 3 days)
  • Treats
  • Leash
  • Blanket to sleep on
  • Toy

Extras

*Items that were too heavy for the kids to carry can go in this if they don’t fit into the parent’s bags.

*Remember these kits are more for survival, not full-on meals. Keep bags as light as possible for easy transportation. 

These are items that might not fit in your bags but it would be great to have on hand in possibly a separate tote or another bag. If you can fit them in your bags even better. The adults’ bags would be a great place to leave out a shirt or a pair of pants to fit an extra bottle of propane or water. If your older kids are strong enough see if they can carry an extra item.

  • First Aid Kit
  • Extra Food
  • Waterproof Lighter/Matches
  • Flint and steel
  • Gas Stove
  • Propane
  • Garbage Bags
  • Toilet Paper
  • Plates/Bowls
  • Utensils
  • Extra Soap
  • Wipes
  • Water Purifier
  • Batteries
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Hand/Foot/Body Warmers
  • Shelter/Tent
  • Ax
  • Shovel
  • Duct Tape
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Extra Blankets/Bedding
  • Contact Solution/Glasses
  • Deck of Cards (for entertainment)
  • Hard Drive with backups of all your pictures and important documents

Conclusion

I hope this makes packing your 72 hour kits a little less stressful. My goal was to make packing these kits as easy as possible for all ages. Each bag will, of course, be fit for each individual’s needs but this gives you the basics. You can add or subtract anything you need.  I have attached printable versions of each list with added spaces to personalize each list if needed. I wanted to make this so that the younger kids could get started packing on their own and the teens could pack without worry. It never hurts to be prepared!

I remember talking about 72 hour kits and packing them when I was younger and as I think back to what I put in my od backpack with a broken zipper… a shirt I didn’t like. A pair of pants that didn’t really fit anymore and 2 cans of Spaghetti-O’s! I was so sure of myself I didn’t think I needed my parents to check it. What more could I need?? All I can say is I am so dang happy I never needed that bag for anything! I have no idea what my parents had but I’m pretty sure I would have starved! And froze! By the time I went through it, it was YEARS out of date and the clothes wouldn’t fit anymore. I wish I would have had a list to check things off of so I could have been prepared if I did need that bag! You hope you never need these bags but knowing they are there if needed is such a relief!

Kaycee Blair

I'm Kaycee Blair, co-owner of EZ-Prepping with my husband Colton. My family is the most important thing to me in this world. I couldn't bear watching my two little boys go hungry so finding easy and practical ways to be prepared for the future by building food storage and gathering other emergency preparedness items has become a passion to me.

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