In an instant, the world can change from calm and peaceful to full-on survival mode. Stores can go empty, self-defense gear can go into short supply and civilization itself can break down into dog-eat-dog chaos. The human race is constantly at the mercy of any number of tide-turning catastrophes from a destructive tornado to a global pandemic or even an alien invasion. In recent years, there have also been growing concerns about civil unrest and a breakdown of the constitutional system here in the United States. While 2020 was a difficult year, the true worst-case scenarios have not yet come to pass, *knocks on wood*, but we’re also not ruling it out.
Look, we’re not trying to scare you. (That’s what TV news is for.) We’re just telling you to be prepared.
When surviving any sort of emergency, you’ll need supplies. There are certain supplies tailored to certain types of emergencies, and if you live in an area that frequently experiences one type of natural disaster, then we recommend stocking up accordingly. This could be an earthquake kit for neighborhoods frequently threatened with “the big one,” or a weather radio for areas with poor cell service and regular tornadoes.
However, if you live in an area where any number of disasters could happen, then you’ll want to prepare for it all. The most essential emergencies supplies, from emergency blankets to generators and even first aid kits, apply no matter what the emergency is. They’re made to keep you alive, fed and alert whether you’re contending with a dangerous storm or a dangerous breakdown of civilization. We’ve gathered the best emergency gear and disaster prep supplies below. We’ve also divided them up into the following categories to make it easier: emergency kits, health and medicine, food and water, power and energy, and self-defense and shelter.
The Best Emergency Kits…
1. JUDY The Safe Emergency Kit
If you’re looking for one emergency kit to cover you and your family, the Mover Max emergency kit from JUDY is a great option. It’s pricier than other options, but it comes with enough survival essentials for a family of four for up to 72 hours. All of the survival essentials you could possibly need are contained in a 100% waterproof, high-visibility dry bag. This emergency pack is rip and puncture-proof, and it comes with padded, adjustable straps for easy transport. It’s got three cartridges inside that cover water, safety, warmth, tools, food and first aid. For larger families, we also highly recommend the JUDY Safe, which is a larger kit that comes in a water and puncture-proof case. All of JUDY’s emergency kits help you be prepared for any emergency life throws at you, like a power outage, snowstorm, a roadside emergency or all-out apocalypse.
2. Redfora Complete Earthquake Emergency Kit
This is another, more affordable emergency kit option that’s also a bit more portable than the JUDY kit. It’s made for two people over a 3-day period and comes with organized, resealable, waterproof packs inside. Like the JUDY, the supplies cover a few survival areas including shelter + warmth, lights and communication, personal hygiene, food and water and first aid. The supplies are expert-curated and the kit comes with a video guide on how to use everything, so you’re ready if the moment comes.
3. Taimasi 152-Piece Survival Kit
This kit focuses more on survival gear like knives, multitools and first aid as opposed to food and water. It was designed by survival experts and comes with key items like a tent and blanket, poncho, gloves, plenty of bandages and more. The thermal blanket is designed to retain 90% of body heat and the first aid kit comes with key wound-tending items like tweezers, scissors and cotton buds. Everything comes in a small, lightweight camo bag made of durable 600D nylon that has dual zippers and an organized interior.
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4. Taiker Emergency Survival Kit
This emergency kit from Taiker has 151 pieces of gear packed into a 600D nylon backpack, and has a much more affordable price tag at only $45. It’s got medical supplies, fishing tools for food and other outdoor wilderness essentials like a compass and temporary shelter. The whole thing only weighs 3.96 pounds, so in the event of an emergency you won’t use up all your energy lugging around gear, and it’s compact enough to store in your front closet, car, garage or boat.
First Aid Essentials…
5. First Aid Only 299-Piece First Aid Kit
If you’re fleeing in an emergency, the last thing you want is an open wound, blister or other injury to get infected and slow you down. In the event of a natural disaster, hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities may be overrun, so it’s helpful to have your own supplies. This first aid kit comes with 299 items for treating your own aches, pains and injuries. The set includes things like adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointments, wound closures and more. The compact package has clear pockets for easy access, retrieval and organization, and the durable cover keeps the items protected from bacteria.
6. Adventure Medical Medications
Drug stores and pharmacies might be closed or low on supplies in the event of a major emergency, so it’s a good idea to have backups of all medications, prescription and non-prescription, in your emergency kit. This pack comes with all the basic medicines for common maladies like headaches, upset stomach, fever and allergic reactions. They come in slim, compact, portable packages and can easily be thrown into a survival bag or kit without taking up as much space as a full jar of each.
7. TravelPackRx Travel-Size Medicine Kit
This kit is made for travel, but it’ll serve you just as well in a survival situation if you’re fleeing from home and need a compact medicine cabinet to take with you. It contains medicine for the most common ailments including dizziness, motion sickness, diarrhea, nausea and headache. Each medication pack contains enough for seven days and contains pharmacist-recommended formulas so you’ll be prepared.
Emergency Food & Water Supplies…
8. ReadyWise Emergency Food Supply
Grocery stores and markets might have dwindling supplies, so having your own shelf-stable food is a good idea. This pack from ReadyWise comes with 60 servings of meat and a 15-year shelf life so you’ll be prepared with food to keep you nourished for a while. The tub is filled with convenient grab-and-go pouches that you can easily distribute over the course of several weeks or months, and you’ve got 20 packs of bonus rice inside as well. Just add water, wait 12-15 minutes and you’ve got a meal in a pinch.
9. Augason Farms Lunch and Dinner Emergency Food Supply
This is another, similar emergency food supply option from Augason Farms that comes with 92 servings of food total, over 21,000 calories and 557 grams of protein. You’ll be able to keep your strength up in the event of a dire emergency where stores and markets are closed, and all the food is easy to prepare in a matter of minutes. The 4-gallon watertight pail is easy to transport if needed and the shelf life is between 10-30 years depending on the conditions.
10. Mountain House Freeze Dried Camping Food
Freeze-dried food is another great option for emergency food because it’s made to be easy to prepare with minimal supplies and has a very long shelf life. This bucket comes with 24 servings of food, so it’s a smaller quantity than other supplies but it contains no artificial flavors or colors and is super lightweight. The meals come frozen and packed in with freshness, and since they’re made for use while backpacking they’re formulated as efficient fuel.
11. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
Water is essential for survival, and this LifeStraw personal water filter is made to filter out 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria from any source, including E. coli and salmonella. It removes small microplastics as well, and each filter provides is designed to provide upwards of 1,000 gallons of clean water with proper care. It’s made of BPA-free materials and reduces turbidity down to 0.2 microns. This handy piece of survival gear could mean the difference between clean drinking water and painful stomach problems in an emergency, and it’s received thousands of 5-star reviews.
12. Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System
This portable water filtration system is also made to be used on-the-go and is perfect for emergency situations where freshwater sources aren’t accessible. It’s got a high-performance 0.1 micron inline filter that removes 99.999% of bacteria, protozoa and microplastics. It’s made to filter up to 100,000 gallons and attaches easily to a water bottle, drink pouch or other hydration vessel.
Power & Energy…
13. Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station
This portable power station from Jackery has been reviewed here on Spy and has superb functionality, a very user-friendly interface and a portable design. It’s heavy, so we wouldn’t recommend banking on carrying it on your back, but if you’re stuck in one place without power it’s great for charging phones, lanterns and other devices. It can be recharged via solar panel, weighs only 6.6 pounds and comes with a handle that makes it much easier to carry.
14. Westinghouse Outdoor Power Equipment Power Station
This 300-watt power station has multiple household outlets, USB outlets and a cigarette lighter outlet as well. It’s strong enough to power larger electronics like LED TVs, refrigerators and humidifiers when fully charged, but is also great for smaller devices like cell phones and tablets. It’s got 194 watt-hours of battery power built in and at only four pounds is lighter than your average speaker or generator. It’s also got a more affordable price tag than the Jackery, and a handle for easy portability.
15. PowerBear Portable Radio
This AM/FM radio is portable and made to fit in your pocket, so it’s not as bulky as other machines with similar functionality. Two AA batteries will power it for over 800 hours, and it’s got a high-quality speaker. It has a long range for transistor radios and a durable design making it great for emergencies. It might seem small, but this little portable radio could be a godsend if the cell phone towers and internet goes down, making it one of the most important emergency supplies you can have in your home.
16. FosPower 2000mAh NOAA Emergency Weather Crank Radio
If you’re going to buy one emergency device for your kit, let it be this one. This is a hand-crank radio and flashlight, and solar-powered phone charger all built into one device. The flashlight is a 4 LED reading light that’ll keep you and your loved ones out of the dark, and the radio is built for NOAA emergency weather broadcasts so you can stay informed even if power lines are down.
17. BLAVOR Solar Power Portable Charger
In the case that a working power outlet is not available, a solar phone charger could come in handy. This one is a Qi 10,000mAh power bank that’s compatible with most iPhone and Samsung Galaxy models. It charges within six hours or so and can charge an iPhone up to 3.5 times on a full charge. It’s got a sturdy, durable design made of ABS materials and a lithium polymer battery, and it’s equipped with a compass and flashlight as well for survival situations.
18. GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight 2-Pack
Having a flashlight is never a bad idea, whether you’re chilling at home and the power goes out or in an emergency situation. These compact, dependable flashlights from GearLight are perfect for any and all situations in which you need a little more light. They can easily light up a room or area up to 1,000 feet away and shine 10x brighter than standard incandescent lights. They have five different lighting modes built in and come with the ability to focus or widen the light. They’ve got a run time of 10+ hours on a low setting and are built to withstand up to a 10-foot drop.
19. Energizer AAA & AA Combo Pack
Energizer is our go-to brand for batteries, and this convenient combo pack has 24 AA batteries and 24 AAA batteries, which is more than enough to last you during a blackout. These batteries will charge your flashlights, radios, small appliances and other emergency supplies. When the lights go out, you want to be 100% sure you have more than enough batteries, so order them now instead of when it’s too late.
Personal Safety & Shelter…
You might not think of self-defense weapons as some of the best emergency supplies, but we disagree. Disasters can bring out the best in people, and it’s always inspiring to see neighbors coming together to help one another. But disasters can also bring out the worst in some people. As with other types of emergency supplies, it’s better to be overprepared than underprepared, which is why we recommend keeping a self-defense weapon or two in your go-bag and emergency kit.
20. Sabre Self Defense Kit w/ Pepper Spray and Stun Gun
In the event of an emergency or serious societal meltdown, things could get a little dicey. You might want some self-defense weapons to defend yourself against whoever may try to give you trouble. This kit comes with pepper spray and a stun gun, both of which are backed by SABRE’s in-house lab testing for effectiveness. The OC pepper spray is professional-grade, has a 10-foot range and it comes with 25 bursts built in so you can protect yourself on multiple occasions. The stun gun delivers a painful charge to stun your attackers so you can run away, and it has a safety switch to prevent accidental discharges.
21. Smith & Wesson Folding Self Defense Knife
A compact, folding knife is another good self defense weapon to have around just in case. This one is made of high-carbon stainless steel and has a black, aluminum handle for easy maneuvering. It’s built to be quick and easy to flip in the event you need to use it, with a finger flipper and ambidextrous thumb knob as well. It’s also got a liner lock on the inside so the blade doesn’t accidentally slip out.
22. Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets
Many of the emergency survival kits above come with emergency blankets, but if you’re putting together your own collection of supplies or need a few extra, these are a great pick. They’re affordable, made slim and come in a pack of four so you’ll have extras. Each blanket is folded and sealed for storage, and made of dual-sided Mylar that’s designed to keep body heat in and moisture out. The waterproof and weatherproof foil might not be the most comfortable, but in a dire emergency situation it might just be life-saving.
23. Night Cat Backpacking Tent
If you’re unsure if the “temporary shelter” situation is going to work for you, add in this small, compact backpacking tent that’ll give you easy shelter in a pinch. It’s lightweight, made of 210D oxford fabric, waterproof and windproof as well. It’s designed to only take about a minute to set up and take down, and has waterproof tape on every seam to keep the elements out in the event of a storm.
24. LuxoGear Emergency Whistles
An emergency whistle is also a great tool to have on hand in case of an emergency, for alerting others that you need help or helping family find each other. These whistles are designed to be super loud, lightweight and fail safe in all conditions so a freeze or rainstorm won’t dampen the sound. The whistles come with an adjustable, reflective lanyard and in a bright neon color that’s easy to see. They’re made of waterproof ABS plastic and are made to be durable.
25. UCO Stormproof Match Kit
Starting a fire might be necessary in the event of an emergency, and this waterproof match kit comes with windproof and waterproof matches as well as three strikers to make the process as easy as possible. The matches are easy to light, will burn for up to 15 seconds and will relight after being submerged in water if need be. The waterproof case is made of durable ABS plastic and is designed to float in water as well. The matches are also extra long to protect your fingers from being burnt in the process.
26. Addalock Portable Door Lock
An emergency that involves a breakdown of civilization might create the need for some extra security, and that means a portable door lock. This lock from Addalock can be used on any doors with a hinge that swing inwards, and is simple to install. It’s got a metal body and a red handle that secures it in place in the crack of the doorframe, ensuring that no one enters without your permission.
27. VIPERTEK VTS-989 Stun Gun
The VIPERTEK VTS-989 stun gun packs one heck of a punch. Furthermore, if an attacker tries to remove the device from your hand, the sides of the top portion of the device will also provide a nasty shock. This is one of the world’s top-rated stun guns, and it’s earned more than 19,000 5-star reviews from Amazon customers. The sharp electrodes can penetrate thick clothing to deliver a high-voltage charge that will stop virtually anyone in their tracks.