Being ready for an emergency is important, and preparing an emergency kit before disaster strikes is a critical piece of the puzzle. We built our kit a few years ago, and go through it each spring to see what needs to be replaced. In the past we always purchased separate gear for our kit with no intention of ever using these items outside of an emergency. While this plan seems prudent initially, it leads to a lot of waste down the road when items expire or stop working after years of sitting in the kit. Good news! Thanks to advances in technology and gear, preparing an emergency kit that is actually useful on a daily basis is possible. The items we’ve picked are versatile enough that you can use them for camping and outdoor adventures, and still have them ready in case the unthinkable happens. We selected items that also tap into renewable sources of energy, so you always have power and supplies when you need them. Plus, this type of gear is earth-friendly, and less expensive in the long run.
Before we get into the gear, if you need to start your emergency kit, here are a view websites where you can learn about what’s important to keep in your emergency preparedness kit. We used these sites to help build our kit:
This power station is probably our most used, multi-functional item in our emergency kit. In the past we loaded tons of AA and AAA batteries into our emergency kit, but this power station has replaced the need for single-use batteries with a much more useful and regenerative form of power. The station can charge cell phones, laptops, tablets, and we even use it to juice up our rechargeable batteries for headlamps because it has two USB ports, one AC port, and 12V car port. It’s easy to charge the power station via the cigarette lighter in your car or an AC outlet in 8 hours, or with their nifty 50 watt solar polar panel in full sun in 10 hours. Plus we love that it has an easy-to-read LCD display to let you know the status of the battery. You can use this little guy to charge your phone up to 17 times or power a mini fridge for 3.5 hours. Nice for something that weighs under 7 pounds! Jackery also makes other sizes of power stations if you are looking for a smaller or larger option, and both of these other models come with built-in flashlights: Explorer 160 and Explorer 440.
This Katadyn gravity water filter is a nice kit addition because it purifies water to 0.2 micron quickly. You can use iodine or bleach if you are desperate, but this gravity filter is super fast and doesn’t leave a funky smell to your water. Plus it’s great to use on camping and backpacking trips. We’ve actually used this filter to refill the 20 gallon tank in our van with river water on a trip when we weren’t able to get to a water spigot. The filter even has a shower adapter you can add to the bag to transform it into a shower which is great for cleaning up in camp or at the beach. As a side note, we still keep jugs of water on hand at home in case there isn’t running water available in an emergency, or if we suspect the water source is contaminated with chemicals (which this filter can’t remove).
We opt to maintain a stock of 5 gallon, reverse osmosis water jugs at home to serve as an emergency supply. We prefer this solution over store-bought one gallon jugs for a two reasons. First, when we used one gallon jugs, we found it difficult to manage the water’s expiration date (yes, bottled water expires!). Second, the 5-gallon jugs are easy to use on the road with a dolphin water pump so we always have purified water on hand. This pump is a game changer since you don’t have to lift the jug to dispense the water.
This little Luci lantern is ideal for emergencies because it can be charged during the day in the sun via it’s mini solar panel, it’s lightweight so you can take it anywhere, it floats, and it provides great light. We also use it camping or in the van at night when we want to conserve our battery. It hangs nicely on the inside of a tent too!
Traditionally emergency kits recommend canned foods or pre-made kits with dehydrated foods. Dehydrated foods tend to have a bad reputation, and in our experience we find this to be the case for most of the meals out there. However, we’ve found a few meals we actually enjoy on and off the trail. It’s comforting knowing that even in an emergency, we can dine on something delicious and satisfying! Our favorite freeze-dried meals are Backpacker’s Pantry Chana Masala and Pad Thai. We always take these backpacking so ordering extras for emergencies and then just replacing what we use on trips makes sense for us so no food ever goes to waste or expires.
Let us know if you have any additional tips in the comments below!
Sponsored by Jackery.