What is better…? Buying your survival or bug out kit or building one from scratch?

There are hundreds of experts who are divided on this very simple issue. Some believe that the store bought variety is more than enough and others argue that only a custom build kits are acceptable. So what is the best route to take? What should you buy and what should you assemble yourself?


How is your kit going to be used will dictate how its put together and what’s in it. In previous articles, we have always stressed that any kit should suit your particular conditions. This means that an emergency kit for someone living in the desert will need to contain items needed to get by in the desert. These same items may be useless if you live in very cold climates. Women will have different needs than men and if you have small children, your needs will change even more. If you live on an isolated acreage your requirements for a survival kit will be very different than someone who lives in a downtown high rise.

Therefore, before buying or building a kit, ensure that you take stock of where you live and what sort of environment might you be using your kit in. There is an endless amount of information on survival and bug out kits out there and much of that information is put out there by true professionals. Former members of the U.S. Army Special Forces or the Canadian Special Operations Regiment have provided the prepper community with a great amount of insight in to what works and what does not and all of that information is very valuable. However, someone who lives in the jungle will have different preparedness needs than someone on the Canadian east coast. So even though a professional military operative has a sound preparedness plan, it may not be sound for you!


All kits can be divided in to two basic categories based on what purpose will they serve.

1) Survival Kit – This is a package containing some basic tools and supplies which will aid in survival in an emergency situation. All military aircraft, ships and spacecraft will always be equipped with a survival kit. These kits will usually contain shelter, a way to keep warm, first aid supplies, some form of food and water, a signaling device, navigational aids and multi-purpose tools and materials such as para cord and Swiss army knife.

2) Bug out kit (Bag) – Known by many names such as Seventy-Two Hour kit, INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) Kit, Grab bag, Go bag, Get home bag and many others, the main purpose of this kit is to either provide the ability to evacuate to an alternate location in an emergency or to survive for seventy-two hours within which first responders should be at the scene to help you. Bug out bag contents vary greatly but in general, should contain enough food and water for three days ( or a way to purify water), first aid, fire starting equipment, maps, personal information, ID, cash, shelter, sleeping gear, small saw, multi-tool etc. Another article describing a complete bug out system can be found here.


Many companies specialize in building survival and bug out kits for a wide variety of needs. Everything from small pocket size survival kits such as Best-Glide “Be Prepared” kit to a multi-family survival kits which will accommodate your pets too. There are specialized kits for pandemics, blackouts, floods and many other emergencies as well as specialty kits for offices, homes, schools and vehicles. All of them are either based on the bug out kit or the survival kit and all of them have one thing in common and that is the ease of operation. They are ready to go and all you have to do is make sure that you store them in accordance with manufacturers recommendations. They are designed by leading industry experts and will have everything you need to get your self out of a jam or sustain your self until help arrives.

If you don’t have the time to build your own custom kit or are not sure how to begin, a pre-made one from a reputable supplier might come in handy. Also, if your situation calls for attention to special need such as small babies, or special prescription a consultation with a survival kit supplier may be in order.


Your particular situation may call for a custom build kit. In this case, you assemble it at home in your spare time and include everything you think you might need in order to make it safely through the next catastrophe. Your kit, whether it is a survival or bug out kit will be suited to your personal situation and packed with various tools and supplies that you collect from various sources. The custom kit ca be whatever size you want and contain whatever items you deem appropriate. Provided you can easily carry it, there really are no limits as to what you choose to include, but remember that the more you know the less you have to carry.


This article can not cover every possible scenario when it comes to preparedness kits for various disasters. It is therefore imperative that preppers do required “due diligence” and research what type of emergency gear will be most suitable for his or her situation. However, the following guidelines will serve you well, especially if you’re starting out.

A store bought survival kit for example may not be a complete answer to every imaginable problem that might arise, but placing one in your car will make you better off by thousand fold. A candle, a a way to light it, and a a way to make a hot cup of tea just might be enough for you to get by until someone comes to help you should you get stranded in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter. While this simple kit, which may also contain road flares if it is a kit designed for a vehicle, may be something you keep in your car while you research how you want to assemble a custom kit.

Store bought survival kits can also be used as base for building you actual seventy-two hour kit. If you purchase a small survival kit containing a a way to start a fire, trap small animals, purify water and cut small pieces of wood, all you have to do is add perhaps some rations, warmer clothing if your weather conditions warrant them, shelter and multi-use items like para cord and a multi-tool and suddenly your kit is taking shape.


Everything is good for something. This doesn’t mean that one should hoard tonnes of useless gear but what it does mean that even store bought kits have their place. Some of their best uses are bases for building larger kits or placing them in vehicles where one might find that assembling a custom kit might be unnecessary. Bush pilots love kits that are prepackaged and can be placed in the back of their planes, out of their a way, yet within reach if things go wrong. They know they have what they need and at the same time don’t have to spend valuable time building them. Always remember that when your vehicle dies on a cold dark winter night on a deserted northern Canadian highway, help might be far away. Having that one candle and a a way to light it might not solve all your problems, but it will make the situation infinitely better than not having it. And that’s how you start building an emergency kit.

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