Worlds largest 72 Hour Backpack

72 Hour Bag Emergency Kit Organized Into Categories

Found the photo above online – couldn’t resist – world’s largest 72 hour bag / backpack emergency kit?

While it can be fun to pack your own 72 hour emergency kit (and to modify it now and again), don’t lose sight of the various categories for ‘the stuff’ inside…so that you ‘cover all the bases’ for its particular function and purpose.

What Is A 72 Hour Bag, and Why?

Let me rewind for just a second. What is the purpose of a 72 hour emergency kit? The answer may be a bit different for everyone. But the general purpose is to provide emergency preparedness supplies to assist in your survival and well-being for at least several days during a time when you might need it.

There are all sorts of purposes, each tailored their own way. Examples include EDC (every day carry), GHB, (get home bag), BOB (bug out bag). You might simply put one together to include on a hunting trip, or fishing, or tucked away in your ATV 4-wheeler, or snowmobile… A kit while on a hiking expedition. Camping. For in your vehicle. You get the idea.

Building such bags may sound crazy to most, but in an emergency AKA fire / flood / earthquake / hurricane / and so-on, they sure make sense…..

Katrina – I remember seeing the long LONG lines of traffic leaving AND those that could not get out and died, sure would be nice to be in front of that debacle because ya were organized and had a BOB.

I personally have every intention of Bugging-In, BUT, there are thousands of reasons ya may have to skedaddle if need be. Hence it’s called “being prepared”.

~ NRP, commentor on Modern Survival Blog

Categories Of Items Within A 72 Hour Bag Emergency Kit

I like the concept of putting one together while thinking about categories. You might conceptualize a 72 hour bag, of sorts. What might you put inside? Well, first do some thinking and decide on the categories of items that you would put inside. This is where it depends on your purpose.

The fun thing about any survival kit is that you can tailor them to specific needs, specific scenarios, and specific methods of carry and travel. You might put a small lightweight kit together to easily carry during a day-hike. Perhaps a larger 72 hour bag that’s kept in you vehicle. You might also put together a BOB kept in a closet at home specifically for an emergency evacuation or bug-out. Maybe one to take with you when you fly somewhere (business or personal trip). The sky’s the limit to your own intended uses.

If you think in terms of preparedness categories, it might be easier to put it all together without forgetting something important. It might also make it easier to organize and pack in such a way that is more convenient.

For example, the individual items of the fire-starter-kit within each of my overall emergency kits are kept in one place, pouch, or Ziploc bag within the kit itself. It’s all together that way. I know that if I grab that Ziploc, all my fire-starter stuff is in there, instead of strewn in various places in a backpack (for example).

The First Aid Kit portion of the overall 72 hour kit is also similarly kept in it’s own Ziploc (love the Ziploc’s for the waterproofing aspect too).

Maybe a category of items won’t fit in a Ziploc. That’s fine. But the idea here is to think in terms of a category, and then decide what you need in that particular kit to fulfill your needs in that category.

Multiple Kits

I think most of us probably have multiple “Kits” dependent on where we keep them. I have a Bin in my truck with a variety of supplies that includes things like tools, work gloves and boots, wool blanket, case of bottled water. As well I have a small school or work style backpack as my get home bag. Basically a change of clothes, some Datrex food bars, a lifestraw water filter, emergency blanket, defense. I can supplement it with other supplies from the truck if I’m really on foot.

I also really enjoy Bushcraft and more minimalist camping, so I have several small kits based on that particular style of camping and survival.

My “72 hour” bag, for me, is sort of a combination bag. It has the basic categories you want for 72 hours after a natural disaster, but as I also consider it a BoB I include important papers, ID, emergency funds, food gathering.

Organizing is actually the hardest part for me. I use an internal frame backpack that is really just one large pocket and only 2 smaller pockets. So it is hard to really organize things. Fortunately the front panel unzips so I can lay it down flat and get quick access. That’s how I fill it, but I tend to focus Just on what makes things Fit.

This has me rethinking the organization of the bag itself. I really should have everything in categories. Even with my bag it would be easy enough to break it into Top Middle Bottom. And then the two pockets.

~ Ahab, commentor on Modern Survival Blog

72 Hour Bag Emergency Kit Categories To Consider

  • Water
  • Food
  • Fire
  • Shelter
  • Security
  • Medical (prescriptions, pain, etc.)
  • First Aid – Trauma
  • Tools
  • Clothes
  • Pets

Once you have identified the major categorical groups, you can then drill down to the specifics within each group. Unfortunately your kit will be limited and restricted to the size of the ‘bag’ or backpack – which itself will be constrained to your own intended uses, your ability to carry, and where it will all be stored…

It’s easy to put ‘too much’ in a kit (we all want to have ‘everything’ that we might need). However it may get to the point where you’re going to say to yourself, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!” (one of the top all time movie moments – JAWS – loved that movie ;) ).

This can be the challenging part of building any emergency survival kit – whittling it down to necessities vs. ‘wants’ if your space is limited. Although if kept in a vehicle you may have the ability to spread the kit around versus all being kept in a single bag or pack.

Okay I’ve put it out there – the idea of categorical organization to one’s kit, and have listed several categories. Lets hear your own recommendations of categories and the ways that you trim your own kit to include what you need without having to get a ‘bigger boat’…

[ Read: Fire Starter Kit List ]

[ Read: Survival Kit List of 10 Essential Items ]


  1. All the bug out bags I have put together with the correct and limited items suggested came to 65-75LBS. Plus if you are carrying pistol and rifle or shotgun and ammo, it gets heavy fast. I bought Dixon Backpack carts, they attach over tactical vest and have single wheel. Takes weight off person and allows for more items. There are other backpack carts online too. Also the Dixon leaves hands free and can be exited quickly. (I’m not connected to this company) You can also look at wagons and garden carts.

    1. Jim S,
      several month ago i popped for a two wheel 20″ solid tire hand cart from northern tools. i can carry a lot in it with very little effort. i use it around the house and garden. it was not cheap but it works well, easy to push and i don’t have to worry about flat tires. if things go down and the 4 wheeler has no gas, this is what i will be taking to the river. as for exiting quickly, i would just drop it and turn it loose!
      shopping carts would work in a pinch depending on where a person lives.

  2. i have two, i guess you could call em INCH bags. external frame packs, they are our campers. tent, sleeping bags and all of the acc.
    two personal short term bug out bags with money, copy’s of important papers food water and clothes. and some some small get home bags in the trucks, IFAK’s on all of em.
    why does this stuff get heavier every year?
    internal frame packs have their place but DW and i have been doing primitive camping for 30 years now and i did it for 15 yrs before that, a external frame pack is your best and most versatile choice in a long term situation. i could give many reasons why, but i don’t have the space to do it in. i may send ken a artical
    thats just my opinion

  3. As a long distance hiker I learned very quick that you won’t get far with a 70lbs pack. My average pack weight was under 25lbs including 2 liters of water but I resupplied along the way every 5-6 days and I wasn’t in a SHTF situation where every hiker I jet was a potential threat.

    You learn to look for multi-role items (socks will work as gloves) to save weight and space and then decide what you really need versus what you think you need. Hiking the AT through PA, NJ, NY, CT and MA in April / May is a lot different than hiking GA, NC, VA in July /August so location (desert, mountain, swamp, plains, urban, rural) the time of year and distance to travel plays a big part in what you pack.

    I have a large Get Home Backpack I keep in my truck along with a smaller backpack that I can select items from the main pack to carry for a short trip or it can be used by a passenger to distribute the load. My location, type of event, weather, distance, how fast I have to travel and my Get Home plan will determine what I carry and what gets left behind.

    1. Romeo Charlie,
      25lbs is great, our BOB’s are about 35 Lbs because of the food we have in them. eight cans of campbell,s soup in each. the cans are heavy but we can rip the tops off of them and eat them hot or cold.
      we have BOB’s and they are mostly just something for me to play with at night, but nothing short of some kind of chemical or biological leak is going to pry us away from here. it’s 2 miles west to the main road from here, one way in and one way out, we may can drive away or be forced to hoof it 8 miles east and cross a river to the next road behind us.
      we are a long long way from any kind if infrastructure, but ya never know. better safe than sorry.
      take care friend

      1. Scout, done this for years, have a small zippered insulated lunch bag attached to my bob which I carry a couple of cliff bars 4 cans of Vienna sausages and 1 can of spam. The lunch bag since it’s in a vehicle whether hot or cold for long periods has been great about keeping food items from going bad.

    2. I do the same with a larger backpack in my truck and my official earthquake bug out backpack that is configured with my ultralite backpacking supplies, including a 2# tent, 1# air pad, ultralite tarp, down comforter, titanium cookware & mug, stove & fuel, an ultralite table, petzl e lite headlamp, etc. All in, excluding food & water but including clothing, toiletries, maps, comm radio, etc., the bag I carry weighs 15#. In the larger backpack in my truck, I keep a number of other items, including my hiking shoes, other items to change into / put into the ultralite BOB, water, food, chairs, a small table, multiple lights, a folding solar panel to charge my phone and a good tool kit. I find I frequently use the supplies I am carrying either for emergencies, to assist family, etc. There are lots of articles on the web about ultralite backpacking that can assist in helping one evolve what is carried. In the olden days, when I was young :), I routinely backpacked with 35 – 40 pounds. I have pared that down to the ultralite class and am much happier for it and many of the items I carry serve multiple purposes. From decades of backpacking and camping, I do know how to use natural materials to augment my shelter and my carried supplies to stay warm and comfortable.

      1. yes. a person has to use these things from time to time. to just put stuff in a bag and never practice with it is a recipe for disaster. i harp on practicing primitive camping along with other things like water. go into the woods for a few days, not just for overnight, but for at least two days, somewhere, no campgrounds, in the woods, and practice with what you have. it may be an eye opener for some. ya learn by doing and you’ll have fun.
        you will find out quickly what works and what doesn’t and how to adapt.
        DW and i have 2 sleeping bags that zip together.
        it doesn’t get much better than that. just me, her and the skeeters.
        have fun with it : )

  4. I have a small daypack that can be tied to the snow machine, carried in the Jeep, etc. It has what we need to survive… to keep us alive. I’d change the contents with the seasons.
    When I was younger, there were various sayings or phrases. Such as “The more you carry in your head.” That Soul Survival mentioned. Another was, “carry light but right.” However, what does ‘carry right” mean? Then another phrase was, “An outfit only gets in the way.”
    When I was putting together food drops to be shipped to the various checkpoints, when running long distance sled dog races. My key phrase was, “When in doubt, do without.”
    I guess it was/is my Minimalist side showing…?
    Likewise, whenever I watch an episode of “Wagon Train,” with Ward Bond. I think of those poor people who carried all their belongings cross country in a prairie schooner. Never mind that they ended up leaving much of their precious belongings, along the way, to lighten the load. When they could have traveled “fast and light” with a pack train.
    To each their own. Then and now…

  5. My three vehicles all have the exact same bags with same exact items, redundancy and familiarization was my goal. What I wanted was a large black zippered duffle with wheels that weighs in at about 40 pounds with contents. inside in addition to what I defined as a “ complete camp setup” it also has a 15 pound bugout bag. If the scenario required leaving the vehicle I would remove the entire duffle, if the situation dictates a further and faster response I can grab the bob and leave the rest of the duffle. What I appreciate is being able to have choices and also it allows me to move everything quickly e.g. monthly I check the contents and it is easy to move it to the house or shop to do this.

  6. I have a tote tub full of useful items including more than a week’s worth of food. Whenever I head out on a drive farther than the nearest town I toss it in the car. Also toss in two rolly carry-on bags – one with pillow and blankets and the other with clothes and toiletries. Can’t carry a pack anymore so I figure if the need arises I’ll reconfigure the bags with stuff from the tub and get walking. Comes in handy if I decide to make a longer trip than planned, get tired and need to overnight in my car, or camp over with friends.

  7. I use a Glock backpack. They come in Coyote Brown or Black. They can be found on Ebay.
    The Tier One operators use these. They are a non miliatry type backpack which allows the user to blend in. With the equipment below it weighs about 25lbs…. This is designed to be a “Get home pack” or a “3-day pack”. It also has a section for a small pistol in the pack.

    Glock Back Pack-
    Sig P938, 2- Mags, 50rd box ammo 1
    Knife- Kbar 1
    Knife- Gerber Small 1
    Flashlight- LED 1
    Flashlight Spare Batteries- “AAA” 3
    Flashlight Spare Batteries- “CR123” E2D Defender 2
    Clif Bars 4
    TP 1
    Baby Wipes 1
    Handi-Wipes 6
    Bottled Water 4
    Power Bars 10
    Tea Bags 10
    Black Crew socks 1pr
    Underwear 1pr
    T-Shirt 1
    MRE’s 5
    Small AM/FM Radio w/Batteries 1
    Radio Batteries- 9v 2
    Small Med Kit- PB Pills- 1
    Centrum Vitamins 20
    KI Pills 12
    Water Purifying Tablets 1
    Water Purifier Pump 1
    Can opener 1
    Contractor Garbage bag- Large 1
    Toothbrush/Tooth paste- 2
    Toothpicks 1
    Dental Floss 1
    Small Bottle liquid soap/wash cloth, 2- Razors 1
    Leatherman Tool 1
    $$$- Cash $300
    Lightsticks 4
    Cell Phone- In pocket 1
    Spare Battery- Cell Phone 1
    Magnesium Fire Stick 1
    Box Matches 1
    Lighter 1
    Dryer Lint/Petrolemum Jelly 1
    Compass 1
    Rain Slicker 1
    Space Blanket 1
    Stainless Steel Water Bottle 1
    Small 1st Aid Kit- 1
    Band Aids 1
    Gauze Pads 1
    Gauze Roll 1
    Alcolhol Pads 6
    Anti-Bacterial Pads 6
    Tape 1
    Liquid Skin 1
    Dusk Masks 1
    Anti-Biotic Ointment 1
    Ointment 1
    Tylenol 12
    Advil 12
    Benadryl 12
    Immodimum 12
    KI Pills 12

    1. Also included on my list are 3 Red Cross MRE’s or 3 US military MRE’s. By mistake I left these off.

      1. – 21Bravo,
        I was looking over your list, and I like it. You might consider increasing the number of Contractor bags to three, for all their uses. Also, I would suggest a match case, metal or plastic, rather than trying to carry a cardboard matchbox in your gear.

        – Papa S.

  8. I keep a collapsible wagon in the bed of my truck to carry extra gear or food

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