What to pack in your Emergency Kit, A.K.A. Get Ready for the “Big One”


My husband is very thorough and detail oriented. That is why I put him in charge of putting together a disaster kit for our family over the summer. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m glad we have most of it, especially with the recent news of a new fault line near the San Andreas Fault and the upcoming Presidential election. The following guest post was written by my husband, Josh.

Living in Southern California undoubtedly comes with many perks, too vast to list here, but of course on the flip side, the one major disadvantage that should at least be on the back burner for every Golden State resident is the imminent “Big One.” As a transplant from Tampa, Florida, lightning capitol of the U.S. at least, & in the middle of Hurricane Alley, only a day without some massive weather phenomenon is one that seems strange.  So now that I live in Los Angeles, on top of which I have recently been working in the universe of #TheWalkingDead for almost a year, when I was asked to assemble our earthquake kit, it was pretty much a no-brainer.

I talked to a lot of friends, read multiple Amazon reviews & survival blogs, government sites, made several trips to #REI, & I’d still say that this kit is a work in progress.  I believe if you live in So-Cal, or any area where you could be exposed to danger, you owe it to yourself & family to be prepared.  We are talking about your safety & that of your loved ones.  I think you would be wise to splurge a little in this respect.

However, it doesn’t have to break the bank.  I researched a few kits on Amazon prior to my initial purchase.  For the record, unless you put it together yourself, most I’ve seen only include non brand-name items, or are simply just basic supplies in resealable plastic bags.  I can not guess what the supplier’s markup could be.  All I know is your gear should include a combo of the following items:

  • A first aid kit, along with dust masks.
  • Weather resistance- ponchos, hand warmers, sleeping bags.
  • Rations & drinking water (usually enough for 3 days/person).
  • Water purification system- tablets/filter or both.
  • Toiletries- toothbrush/paste, dental floss, shampoo, soap, feminine products, washcloth, toilet paper, sewing kit.
  • Communication- flashlight, hand-crank radio with a weather band.
  • Tools- glow sticks, rope, duct tape, work gloves, multitool knife, can opener, whistle, compass, emergency guide book.


I compiled a printable checklist of items from this page, and from other sources. Click here to download for free

Start with a Pre-Packaged Kit

Among the best, most reasonably priced pre-packaged kits on Amazon were these:

Earthquake Kit 4 Person Deluxe Home Honey Bucket Survival Emergency by Mayday


Good amount of supplies, & comes with an all-important “honey bucket.”

Emergency Zone Urban Survival Bug Out Bag Emergency Disaster Kit, 2 Person, Black


I like the idea that this bag doesn’t really stand out.

What we ended up buying

It seems so much of survival to me is based on either staying hydrated, staying dry, staying cool, staying warm, not starving, or a combination of any/all of these things.  I am the type of person who will ruminate about every detail before making a major purchase like this, but sometimes that’s not always good, because disaster could strike before you get around to doing anything.  I think it’s best to just find an acceptable kit that at least meets necessary requirements, & then build on it.

So to start off, the first items I purchased came from earthquakebag.me, through the recommendation of a friend.  We have a small family- 2 adults, 1 child- so I ordered the 1-person premium bag & the 2-person elite bag.

Earthquake Bags from earthquakebag.me

2 -Person Elite Bag

The most popular version, this bag is built to keep two people fully prepared with the best bang for your buck. Highlights include a hand-crank powered flashlight/radio/phone-charger combo, 107-piece first-aid kit, a tentwork gloves, rope, body warmer and a lightstick. buy on earthquakebag.me

2-person Premium Bag

This 18-pound bag has top-line tools, first aid, hygiene, communication, light, shelter and warmth for 2 people, with major upgrades for comfort. It features a water filtration bottle, a portable cooking stove, cook-in-pouch hot meals and the steel knife, fork, spoon and 16 oz cup set. buy on earthquakebag.me

I ultimately chose these over other kits I saw because they came with:

  1. hand-powered flashlight radios with a headphone jack & usb plug-in
  2. a small camp stove
  3. hot meals
  4. a water bottle with a built-in filter

All of those items I could get in other kits, but not together.  You can read a full list of what’s included on the individual pages.  I have examined everything, & the items seem to be of decent quality.  Hopefully, we never have to actually find out, so I’m unable to give a full review here. (However, we will be dining on some exquisite emergency rations in about 4-5 years, so as not to let them go to waste.)

Must-have Multi-tools

Leatherman multi-tool


One negative I could say is that even though the pre-made kits come with a multi-tool, it looks pretty useless for killing zombies, or any type of real work in a SHTF situation.  I will be asking Santa for a new Leatherman or the equivalent by Hoffman Richter…

Hoffman Richter HR-100 13-in-1 Multitool


…this year, as I’m kinda ashamed as a man who grew up in the South to admit I don’t already own one. (Don’t judge me!) Still, I think these bags cover all the bases, but as I said, these are just a foundation.  I plan to build additional #BugOutBags, as it is recommended on many survival blogs that you keep one in your car, at work, & at home for each family member.

Next is a laundry list of items to supplement the bags –

Supplement your bag

Protective Eye Wear


For extra eye protection

Multi-purpose Anti-pollution Mask


For ventilation in case of an outbreak

Light Sticks


For extra light

Multi-kitchen tool


For obvious reasons

Extra food


You can’t have enough extra food!

Energy Bars


We have opened a few of these already to test, & I’m happy to say they are actually pretty tasty.  I seriously doubt they are what you would expect, for the purpose they serve.  Sounds funny I think, but I could compare them to a biscuit you would eat with a nice afternoon tea.  Just lovely.

Solar Charger


Probably the coolest item I picked up is the SunJack Portable Solar Charger. This isn’t just good for disaster situations of course.  We have used this already on a couple beach trips, & I can’t wait to see where else it will come in handy.

Creature Comforts

Sleeping Pad


I think something that is probably overlooked in an emergency situation is the need for proper rest.  You can’t rest if you aren’t comfortable, & just a small creature comfort in an emergency can make a world of difference.  I already own a #Thermarest, so I picked these up for the fam.

Or, on Amazon –

Therm-a-Rest Pro4 Sleeping Pad




Hygiene can also be taken for granted, but that bath sure will feel great when you’ve been hiking for four days straight, because the 10 East was already a parking lot.  Then the coastline fell into the Pacific.  My point- “Don’t forget to bring a towel.”

Another alternate on Amazon –

Best Travel Towel Bundle


Other Essentials

Water Filter


If I have to tell you how important clean water is, then you should just stop reading right now.  Otherwise, these are a great value.

Fire Starter


The ability to start a fire, especially after you run out of matches?  Yeah, maybe you should think about that too.

Alternate on Amazon.  Twice the price, but comes as a 3-pack –

The Friendly Swede Magnesium Alloy Emergency Fire Starter Blocks


Dry Bags


Finally, to round out what I consider the essentials, you need to be able to keep your gear dry, even in drought-ridden California.

Alternate on Amazon –

Osprey UltraLight Raincover


Important Documents

Dry Sack


You should keep copies of your important documents to take with you, & I think this one is good to stick that manila folder in, inside the ziplock bag.  These come in various sizes too, which is great for other important items you want to protect.

Alternate on Amazon –

Sea to Summit SN240 Ultra-Light Siliconized Cordura Pack Cover


A couple other things I plan to acquire

Compact Military Folding Shovel


Handy Flash Cards: Edible Wild Foods


  • Each edible plant is shown in a full-color photograph for easy identification
  • Card faces explains warnings, characteristics, uses, plant parts, aliases, and special cooking hints
  • Comes with a key chain to keep the cards handy!
  • Ideal for hikers, campers, scouts, survival experts, and gourmet cooks
  • Cards have traditional suit marks and can be used for many fun card games

Extra Clothes

It can’t go without saying either that you should have at least a day of extra clothes on standby for each family member, even if you end up spending the next week in them, along with the ones you may be wearing now.  Unless you plan to head to the hills of the Sierra, you’ll want it to be lightweight, & able to absorb moisture.  I recommend that they also be convertible.

Men’s Underwear


Men’s Pants


Men’s Shirt


Women’s Mesh Underwear


Women’s Convertible Hiking Pants


Women’s Camping Shirt



Men’s Hiking Boots


Men’s Moisture-Wicking Socks


Women’s Hiking Boots


Women’s Moisture-Wicking Socks



Men’s Lightweight Jacket with Hood


Women’s Lightweight Jacket with Hood


Portable Toilet


If you find yourself stuck at home in a disaster, you may not be able to rely on public services. It is important to note the need for a water supply of 1 gallon per person per day for at least a week.  This is not just for drinking, but also for hygiene & sanitation.  With no running water, this might become your new best friend.

A Couple Final Notes

Ready.gov recommends that you create an emergency plan for your entire family.  You can find out how here- Make A Plan | Ready.gov.

One final note I want to add.  I personally am looking into getting a HAM radio license as well, to further prepare myself.  I’m still searching for good equipment though.  If you enjoyed my rambling here & know more on that subject, please contact me.

There you have it for now.  While I have already been an outdoor enthusiast since my early days in college, & my tendencies lean toward preparing for wilderness survival, instead of being shut-in, these items are mostly what I would consider necessary.  Some are a luxury & can be added to your kit down the road, if you wish, but in my honest opinion as a man who’s trying to do right for his family, after much consideration, will give you more needed peace of mind.  Therefore, I think they are worth it.  Either way, I urge you to be ready.  Good luck out there!



Ready.gov Ready.gov

Red Cross Redcross.org

Southern California Earthquake Center scec.org

United States Geological Survey (USGS) Earthquake site earthquake.usgs.gov

This is an informational post which contains affiliate links. All opinions are that of Josh Hunt.