Best Basic Emergency Kit, Checklist and Products

The goal of a basic emergency kit is to serve as a light weight, basic set of gear and supplies for basic, low risk emergency purposes. The kit can be stored in a home or vehicle. You can carry it with you when an emergency strikes to have the bare essentials handy. It usually contains warm clothing, toiletries, cash, food, water, communication devices, light sources, etc.

Basic emergency kits generally aren't as robust as a bug out bag. While they're intended for a little uncertainty, they're designed for every basic emergencies. On the other hand, a bug out bag is intended to support you away from home long term. 

Circumstances requiring a basic emergency kit:

  • trip away from home
  • car breaks down
  • very brief evacuation
  • great for students (dorm rooms)
  • etc.

While we recommend building your own basic emergency kit, there are ready-made kits available. You can purchase them and add items to customize for your individual needs.


  1. Build your own basic emergency kit to fit your individual needs
  2. Consider your gender. Women may have certain hygiene needs and medications while men may require certain gear or medications.
  3. Consider your age. Babies and children may require certain food and suppies. Elderly people may also have specific needs.
  4. Toiletries might include: soap, deodorant, simple hair care and makeup, etc. See our full list.
  5. Make sure the kit supplies are readily available for quick grab and go

A basic emergency kit is a short term version of a go-bag. Its purpose is to provide many of the necessary, high priority, critical survival gear needed to live away from home short term. The kit is a budget friendly personal survival kit. 

A basic emergency kit is likely not used in evacuation scenarios. The goal is to get back home.

This survival kit is Stage 2 of the recommended survival kit system. Be sure to build the Emergency Essentials Kit from Stage 1 to include in your basic emergency kit.

Basic Emergency Kit

About This Article


Survival System - Stage: 2

Table of Contents

  1. Basic Emergency Kit
  2. Survival Priorities
  3. Complete Checklist
  4. Recommended Products

Survival Priorities

The human body has certain requirements to survive. For example, we need clean air, water, food, etc. We also want our blood on the inside of the body. These human needs can be prioritized based on urgency (i.e. drinking water doesn't matter if we can't breathe, etc.)

We recommend gear based on our list of survival priorities. The gear we recommend at each stage will have these priorities in mind. We should purchase critical gear and supplies first and organize it so it's portable and accessible.

We also take into account the likelyhood of needing a particular item in most survival situations. While it's possible, the odds aren't high that we might need a facemask over a flashlight or multitool, etc. We do recommend some tools early in the checklist because they facilitate other higher priority items. For example, a good multi-tool can help out in so many ways. We push it toward the top of the list.

Our basic emergency kit checklist takes into consideration years of experience in the outdoors as well as the checklists provided by the Boy Scouts, research on the web, military personnele we know and recommendations from first responders. 

We do urge you to customize your kits to tailor to your needs. Consider your common activities, health requirements, people in your household, etc.

Keep in mind, basic emergency kits are Stage 2 gear. Other stages compliment and add to these kits. Make sure you have Stage 1 Emergency Essentials before getting serious about these items.

Survival Priority List

Priortize your gear and supplies based on this list.

  1. Air
  2. First Aid/Mental Health
  3. Communication
  4. Tools
  5. Shelter
  6. Warmth
  7. Water
  8. Food
  9. Hygiene
  10. Self Protection
  11. Extra Clothing
  12. Container 


Survival Priorities Explained

Complete Basic Emergency Kit Checklist

Step 1. Start here: A good Basic Emergency Kit requires the modular, portable emergency essentials survival kit designed for all go-bags. It contains the most essential gear, first aid, and toiletries for emergencies. Be sure to start with the essentials.

Step 2. This Basic Emergency Kit checklist has everything you need for a complete basic emergency kit. We recommend you download and print out the checklist. Then below, shop for recommended products you need. 

Basic Emergency kit

Pack highly effective gear for the critical functions of life. Gear should be stowed in a sturdy, comfortable backpack for mobility. Here's a sample of some of the recommended survival items:

Survival Gear

  1. Cell Phone
  2. AM/FM Radio/Charger
  3. Headlamp
  4. Multi Tool
  5. Paracord
  6. Water Bladder (full)
  7. Duct Tape
  8. Backpack
  9. More...

First Aid

  1. Trauma Shears
  2. Tweezers
  3. Moleskin
  4. Rolled Gauze
  5. Triangle Bandage
  6. Butterfly Bandages
  7. Safety Pins
  8. Ace Bandage
  9. More...

Survival Toiletries

  1. Pocket Tissue
  2. Camp Soap


Start Here:
1. Emergency Essentials Kit

Explore Checklist
(Required for all go bags)

Basic Emergency Kit

2. Basic Emergency Kit Checklist

Download Checklist

For personal use.

Recommended Basic Emergency Kit Products

Explore recommended survival products for the basic emergency kit gear. Below we go through each checklist item and suggest highly-rated, quality products.

AM/FM Radio/Charger (USB)

Having a recharging resource is critical to power phones, GPS, etc. Having a rechargeable flashlight has a lot ulility as well.

Required Attributes:

  • crank recharger
  • AM/FM/NOAA channels
  • USB port
  • flashlight

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

We like the recharging capabilities of this radio. A few cranks generate a lot of power. We can charge phones, radios, and more with the USB cable. 

We also like this radio as a backup to the BaoFeng 2-way radio for public communications. We can listen to the public announcements while using the 2-way to communicate.

The rechargeable flashlight means we can have light any any time. The recharging capabilities of a device like this would get used a lot.

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Hand Crank/Solar Rechargeable AM/FM/SW Radio, LED Flashlight, Power Bank - Rugged

Emergency hand crank/solar powered energy source, radio, LED flashlight

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Hand Crank/Solar Rechargeable AM/FM Radio, LED Flashlight, Power Bank - Budget

Emergency hand crank/solar powered energy source, radio, LED flashlight

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Cell Phone

A cell phone can be a great communication device if the grid is still up. It can also connect you with the internet and provide entertainment in dull periods.

Required Attributes:

  • phone
  • GPS
  • data connectivity

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

If the grid is still up your cell phone can be used to call for help, find your location (GPS), look up first aid and edible plants, keep from boredom, etc.

We strongly recommend including a method of generating power (solar, crank or both) so you can keep the phone going. We live where there are a lot of clouds so a crank option is best.

Use your own device. Most devices today have phone, text, Internet, and GPS capabilities.


Hands free working during an emergency is crucial. A rechargeable headlamp is perfect for activities in the dark.

Required Attributes:

  • rechargeable
  • multiple brightness modes (to save batteries or brighten an area intensely)

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

We have multiple options here. They are all quality products. The ultra bright lamp lights up a whole section of the forest and lasts for hours at a time. The others are more modest in brightness but last much longer.

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Rechargeable LED Headlamp 450 Lumens

Durable, rechargeable 450 lumen LED head lamp for hands free survival

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Rechargeable LED Headlamp 300 Lumens

Durable, rechargeable 300 lumen LED head lamp for hands free survival

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Multi Tool

A multi-tool might be one of the most used, most handy items on the list. You'll use it to build shelter, process firewood, process and cut food, fix gadgets, etc. You should have a multi-tool in Stage 1. We recommend having a second, more robust multi-tool in Stage 2 as well - it's worth the extra weight.

Required Attributes:

  • 2 blades
  • pliers
  • saw
  • file
  • screw drivers
  • can opener

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

The Leatherman Wave is the most popular multi-tool for sale - and for good reason. It is super reliable and has all of the required functions plus other hand items. We use our Wave all the time - seriously, every outing.

The ACTION Multitool was designed for survival settings. It's our favorite survival multitool.

There are other great options but if you can, spring for the Wave or Signal.

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Heavy Duty Survival Multitool

Heavy-duty multitool for emergencies, survival and the outdoors

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Leatherman Wave Multitool

Popular, reliable light-duty survival multi-tool

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Leatherman Skeletool Multitool

Compact EDC survival multitool for emergencies and the outdoors

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Field Master Swiss Army Knife

Best Swiss Army Knife for emergencies and EDC - light weight folding multi-tool that covers everything

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Fire Starter

A Bic lighter is the best tool for starting fire. Ferro Rods are longer lasting and more durable. We recommend carrying both. Fire is required for warmth, cooking, light, sterilization, etc.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • adjustable flame
  • reliable
  • low effort

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

Bic lighters have a reputation for reliability. The one-flick open flame is a welcome site when it's night or cold. They require so much less effort than a ferro rod, bow, etc. Of course they'll eventually run out of fuel, but while they last they're ideal.

A ferro rod is a more durable, longer lasting fire starting option.

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Ideal primary option for rapid fire starting

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Hot Strike Ferro Rod Fire Starter

Best ferro rod fire starter for emergencies and survival

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Paracord (50 ft) (Extra)

Paracord can be used to build shelter, hunting traps, attach gear, make a perimeter, etc. You should have 50 ft in Stage 1 and we recommend another 50 ft in Stage 2.

Required Attributes:

  • Type III 550
  • certified paracord
  • 7-strand

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

For the weight 550 paracord is widely regarded as the standard. The military has chosen type 3 550 paracord for its parachutes and other functions. We're going to side with them on our recommendation - especially for the cost.

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550 Paracord Type 3

Milspec type 3 550 paracord for survival

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Water Container (Bladder)

Hydration bladders are typically larger and more flexible. You want to carry as much water as your weight limits will require. We strongly recommend including one. 

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • name brand (a cheap bladder can fail quickly)

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

Carry as much water as you can. This water bladder is name brand and reliable. Your back pack may come with a bladder so buy this after the pack.

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Hydration Bladder

2 Liter leak proof hydration bladder for emergency kit packs

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Duct Tape (Flattened Roll)

Fix gear, patch tents and clothes, start a fire, etc. with duct tape. 

Required Attributes:

  • trusted brand
  • 2 - 3" wide

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

Duct tape is a very versatile fastener. It's also a great fire tinder. In Stage 2 we recommend a full roll flattened out.

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Emergency Duct Tape - Compact Roll

Emergency sized duct tape for survival situations

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Backpack (Tactical or Hiking)

Make all your gear mobile with a well fitting, comfortable backpack. Consider tactical packs because you can attach molle pouches to them or a waterproof option if you live near a lot of water.

Required Attributes:

  • Backpacking or military style
  • Internal frame
  • Right size for your body size
  • Has a number of compartments and pockets

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

We highlight a number of packs to fit your size, climate, and preference. We've used a number of these packs and they've held up well.

  • We like our compression packs because you can get a lot of gear inside a compact format.
  • We like our military pack because its versatile and we can add pouches
  • We like the waterproof option for people on the water
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Hiking Backpack - Medium

Quality backpack for bug out bags, 72-hour kits or other emergency organization

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42L Tactical Backpack

Quality military-style backpack for bug out bags, 72-hour kits or other emergency organization

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Excursion Gear Organizer (Tactical, Full Size, MOLLE)

Gear organizer for tactical and hiking backpacks (full size, MOLLE)

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Excursion Gear Organizer (Tactical, Compact, MOLLE)

Compact gear organizer for tactical and hiking backpacks (compact, MOLLE)

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Recommended Basic Emergency First Aid Kit (IFAK)

Explore our recommended survival products for the Basic Emergency First Aid Kit (IFAK). Below we go through each checklist item and suggest highly-rated, quality products.

Personal First Aid Kit (IFAK)

Treat injuries or illnesses with your robust field individual first aid kit IFAK. You can find a basic first aid kit to fit the objective. 

See the checklist for the complete list.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • compact, pocket-sized
  • contains bandages, meds, and other items for very common cuts, scrapes, etc.

Reasons for Our Pick:

Choose the basic first aid kit and then modify it for the weight you want in your pack. You may take first aid supplies out and put them in a ziplock bag.

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Excursion Field First Aid Kit (Tactical, Compact, IFAK)

Light weight, compact survival first aid kit for emergencies and camping - includes supplies

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First Aid Kit - Compact

Standard, Portable IFAK First Aid Kit

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First Aid Kit - Tactical

Tactical, Portable IFAK First Aid Kit

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Recommended Basic Emergency Toiletries Kit Products

Explore our recommended survival products for the Toiletries Pouch. Below we go through each checklist item and suggest highly-rated, quality products.

Portable Toiletry Kit

Stay clean and comfortable with a personal, portable toiletry kit. A toiletry kit tends to unique to each individual. Select products you enjoy day to day.

Required Attributes:

  • complete
  • compact

Reasons for Our Pick:

We recommend you make a list and buy extra items next time you go grocery shopping. Include the items in a cosmetic or toiletry bag. 

This kit needs to be mobile so weight is still an issue. Include only critical supplies in this Stage.

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Toiletry Kit

Toiletry kit for emergency preparedness

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Travel Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Travel sized toothbrush and toothpaste for emergency toiletries

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Body Wet Wipes

Clean your body with large wet wipes

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Recommended Basic Emergency Kit Extra Clothing Products

Explore our recommended survival products for Basic Emergency Kit extra clothes. Below we go through each checklist item and suggest highly-rated, quality products.

Complete Change of Clothes Plus Cold Weather Gear

Your change of clothes should be waterproof. Use a drybag and pack a complete set of clothes. Also include the cold-weather gear and jacket. It is so important to maintain a healthy body temperature. Stay dry, stay warm.

Required Attributes:

  • underwear/socks
  • base layer
  • shirt/pants (we love zip offs so you have shorts as well)
  • hat/gloves
  • insulated, waterproof jacket
  • good footwear - we expect you'll have this at the time of evacuation 

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

In a bug out situation you want extra clothes and outerwear to stay clean and warm. At the same time you don't want too much extra weight so only carry what is recommended.

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Knit Hat - Beanie

Durable, stretchable rib-knit insulated beanie hat

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Waterproof Gloves

Durable, waterproof gloves for emergencies

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Recommended Basic Emergency Kit Food Products

Explore our recommended survival products for Basic Emergency Kit extra food. Below we go through each checklist item and suggest highly-rated, quality products.

Food Ready to Eat and Food Production

A bug out bag has limited space for food and water. However, it's important to have light weight calories ready to go. We recommend keeping energy bars, trail mix, and dehydrated meals along with a light stove and fuel. 

Also include fishing gear, snares, and paracord to make a bow. Of course you want to modify your emergency kit for the area you live in. 

If you know you'll be in the outdoors indefinitely try to save the ready made food by eating food you can forage or hunt.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • effective
  • legit

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

We live in an area where fishing, hunting, and foraging are options. We recommend buying a fishing kit and modifying it for the fish in your area. Add bait you know will work. 

Also, we like real snares over cheap wire. They're more effective and ready to go.

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Mountain House Emergency Food Pouches - 2 Servings

Emergency dehydrated food storage 2 servings

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Recommended Basic Emergency Kit Documents Products

Explore our recommended survival products for Basic Emergency Kit documents for evacuation. Below we go through each checklist item and suggest highly-rated, quality products.

Documents, ID, and Cash

Keep critical ID and docs on a small thumb drive as well as paper copies. Keep an amount of cash in a variety of bills.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • waterproof container

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

Stow important documentation in a waterproof ziplock bag or container. In an evacuation it's possible you may need to verify who you are and purchase things like food, fuel, ammunition, etc.

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Minimalist Wallet

Durable, minimalist leather wallet 

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3 Most reviews are based on personal experience from one of our content editors. Some are based on research and the opinions of other reviewers.


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