My 72 Hour Kit With Biggers MREs

This post is about a 72-hour kit that Matt and I put together with things we had mostly on hand. Some of you may have read the MRE article where we made our own MREs. Well, three of these went into this kit.

When I started looking at 72 Hour Kits it became clear that they were really very basic and often did not include any food that I would actually want to eat especially if the situation was already kind of stressful. Since I cannot eat a lot of processed foods anyway, a lot of 72-hour kits are largely useless to me.

I also do not think it is wise to pay for the small water packets that they include in a lot of these kits. They take up room and add to the cost. That money could be spent on making a kit better.

If you have to eat bad food then your morale is going to suffer. Sure I know that in an emergency you are going to just be glad to have something but why have something that is not pleasant when you can put together a great kit that is personalized to meet your unique needs and tastes?

Also what happens if the emergency goes on for longer than 72 hours? The kit I put together contains gear that could help out in a longer event if needed. Food is the limiting factor.

I could also easily throw in an extra days worth of food and even stretch the food out for longer if I needed to. Most of us are not going to hurt too much if we have to live on 1500 calories for a few days instead of 2,000 or more.

Here is a breakdown of the bag I have and the items that are in it. The total weight was just under 28 lbs.

Rothco Medium Transport Pack

I actually got this in a premade 72-hour kit I was sent for review. You can buy the same bag separately. The pouches on the outside were added after the fact and are actually magazine pouches for AK-47 rounds since I was using this as a range bag at one point. The pouches are actually quite handy for stashing small items and adding additional organizational capabilities. I also used a dry bag attached for some gear but we will get into that later on in the post. Here is a link to the dry bag I used:

Sealine Baja Bag 10L Dry Bag

Coghlan’s Tablet Stove and 3 Small Cans of Sterno For Cooking

I reviewed this stove on Backdoor Survival. A reader brought up the question of using Sterno instead of tablets but at the time I thought that any Sterno can would be too large. Well, they actually make cans that will burn for up to 45 minutes. No this is not the cheapest way to cook but in an emergency, I will gladly pay $2 a day for cooking fuel that doesn’t cause a bunch of smoke and can be used even if the conditions are somewhat tough. I also have some fuel tablets too just because they are lightweight and could come in handy for warming up some things or even getting a fire going more easily during wet or damp conditions.

3 Homemade Biggers’ MREs

These MREs were designed by Matt and I and they contain all the calories you need for a day. Click on the link above for details and other menu options beyond those I packed in this 72-hr kit. Military MREs only average 1250 calories each while our kits are at least 1960. I have reason to believe that military MREs are made with fewer calories than they used to be because plenty of non-active duty military or retired military personnel have told me that they had well over 2,000 when they were in. Regardless the average is 1250 now and that means you don’t have enough calories to get through the day if you just have a single military MRE.

Biggers MRE Menu D

Item Calories
Tasty Bites Indian Vegetable Masala 260
Wild Garden Rice and Lentils 400
Cliff Bloks 200
Kind Breakfast Protein Almond Butter Bar 220
Justin’s Maple Almond Butter Packet 210
Starkist Chicken Creations Zesty Lemon Pepper 70
Tropical Trail Mix 600
Total Calories 1960

Other Items: Instant Coffee Packet, Fork or Spoon, Paper Towel

Biggers MRE Menu F

Item Calories
Pace Ready Meals Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla 270
Seeds Of Change Rice 520
Cliff Bloks 200
Kind Breakfast Protein Almond Butter Bar 220
Justin’s Peanut Butter and Honey Packet 210
Tropical Trail Mix 600
Total Calories 2020

Other Items: Instant Coffee Packet, Fork or Spoon, Paper Towel

Biggers MRE Menu G

Item Calories
Tasty Bite Indian Punjab Eggplant 200
Uncle Ben’s Roasted Chicken Rice 420
Cliff Bloks 200
Kind Breakfast Protein Almond Butter Bar 220
Justin’s Peanut Butter Packet 210
Tropical Trail Mix 600
Total Calories 1850

Other Items: Instant Coffee Packet, Fork or Spoon, Paper Towel

Water

I am including A Sawyer Mini with a Squeeze bag. For a lot of people, a good water bottle with a built-in filter is going to be best. It is a good idea to have a few bottles of water on hand as well just to get started if you ever find yourself having to utilize a 72-hour kit.

The only reason I don’t like the pouches that come with the kits is that they have to be shipped and that adds to the cost. They also are inconvenient to pack.

A water bottle or two is much easier to pack and if it is just a Nalgene or similar and a bottle with a filter, you can just attach them via carabine or similar to your bag rather than taking up valuable interior space. You are going to want to be able to reach your water easily too and not have to stop and rummage in your main compartment for it.

It is just so much better to save that space for food, clothing, and other items that will make life a little bit better during a short term event.

Emergency C Drink Mix & 2 Shots of Vodka

This provides electrolytes and covers up any unpleasant tastes or odors in water. It also gives you some flavor rather than just having to drink water. While it would not be my first drink of choice. I am pretty sure that under the right circumstances a shot of vodka mixed in with some Emergen-C would not be the worst drink I could imagine. I am going to think of it as a “Prepper Screwdriver”.

Small Medical Kit

This is a medical kit by First Aid Only that you can get on Amazon for a very fair price. As far as it goes it is one of the more complete small kits out there. I did my usual thing and added Benedryl Liqui Gels, a suture and needle, Advil Liqui Gels, and extra blood stop powder. I also added a bottle of eyewash and cup for getting out debris and dust. The solution is sterile until opened.

I don’t have any prescriptions in this kit because I don’t take any. For those that do, a week’s worth of prescription meds is recommended.

Emergency Blanket

These are so lightweight and useful. Although a 72-hour kit is usually designed with the idea in mind that you will be going to a place with shelter, staying warm and dry while en route is essential. If you get delayed or even need to signal for help, a mylar blanket has you covered.

An upgrade would be an emergency bivvy. They only weigh in around 8 oz and are tougher and made to hold up if you have an unexpected night out. I actually put two emergency blankets in this bag total.

Hygiene Kit

This is an area where personal preferences come into play at least somewhat. If you have room and don’t mind the weight, by all means, add in some extra toiletries if you want. Here is what I added to this bag.

Hand sanitizer

Toothbrush and toothpaste

Deodorant

Body wipes

Lip Balm that can be used as a healing ointment if needed

Small tube of sunscreen

Flashlight with fresh batteries.

A good LED flashlight that has fresh batteries is a must. I am including a flashlight that takes AA batteries but I am also taking a Jackery power bank that has a flashlight feature as well. This will give me two different lighting options

Emergency Radio with NOAA weather band capability

My radio is the Kaito KA210. I have a larger emergency radio that I would throw in the truck if actually getting out that way. On foot, the small and lighter version would be better.

Bic Lighter

For me, only Bic will do when it comes to disposable lighters. Clipper is another brand with a good reputation but they are not as easy to come by as Bic which is available at practically any store.

Power bank for keeping small devices such as a cell phone topped off

I chose the Jackery Armor 9000 mAh for durability, size, and water resistance. It also has a compass on it if you find yourself needing one. Here is my in depth review of the Jackery Armor 9000.

I have several power banks of varying capacities. What I would take would depend. The larger power centers don’t take up a lot of space in our truck so chances are we would take our Jackery 500 with us and some of the smaller battery banks as well.

Some gear like the knives below I would just wear but you may want to pack them within your 72-hour bag. For the purposes of seeing what I could fit, I packed everything in my bag except for the Leatherman and the Boker. In some cases, I might wear my gun where it was more accessible.

Left to right: Original Leatherman, Bersa Thunder .380 and extra clip, Boker Kalashnikov Automatic Knife, and Hen and Rooster Bowie

Leatherman Multi-Tool

Boker Kalashnikov Automatic Knife for basic tasks and self-defense.

Bersa Thunder .380

(This is my standard every day carry gun). Some people will not want to have a gun in a 72-hour kit but I am not one of those people. If there is a real emergency going on, I am not going to be without at least a basic handgun. If a rifle is an option that would be even better. If I was bugging out in a car I would definitely have an AK-47 with me.

Hen and Rooster Bowie Knife

A big knife can be handy to have. I guess in some areas this would not be okay but for me it is fine. I like to have a lot of blades available.

55 Gallon Drum Liner and a 13-gallon trash bag

I like the really thick 55-gallon drum liners because they can be used to cover your pack, as an emergency poncho, etc. The 13-gallon bag is just for either tossing dirty clothes in or garbage.

Ear Plugs

It can be loud during an emergency. You may also find that you have to sleep somewhere that is louder than what you are used to.

N-95 Mask

This mask will help protect you from dust, debris, and a lot of germs. For a 72-hr kit, this is fine. For a major situation, I would use my 3M respiratory with cartridges or my Mira gas mask.

Work Gloves

Sunglasses, Hat, and Goggles (Not Pictured)

Notebook and pen

E-Reader and USB Cord/110V Plug

The USB cord can be used to charge my cell phone or e-reader off the Jackery Armor 9000 power bank I packed. The plug accepts the USB cord so if I have access to regular power I can top of my power bank or charge devices via standard power. Doing it this way keeps the cord and charger situation minimal.

Cash and a few checks

During an emergency, you may not be able to use a credit or debit card. I would recommend stashing some cash in your bag. Smaller bills may be best in case change cannot be easily made. Remember that we live in a society where a lot of places don’t keep that much cash on hand to make change so if you go in and buy a few items that add up to $7 and have a $50 bill, it may be a problem.

If you decide that $50 is a cash amount you are comfortable stashing in your bag, then consider having that amount in fives, singles, and maybe a ten. $50 doesn’t go very far nowadays so if you can manage to have $100 put away for a 72-hour emergency, it might be better. Costs vary a lot throughout the United States so I advise using costs in your area as a gauge of how much cash to stash in a 72-hr kit. Those with families will want more of course. Remember that costs can go up during an emergency or you may have to buy items at smaller stores that don’t offer the discounts that big stores can.

A few paper checks are nice to have as well. When Matt and I were in our early 20s living in Ketchikan, Alaska, a storm knocked out some of the power and communications. The banks would only give you $50 cash. The only way to buy anything was with paper checks and whatever cash you happened to have on hand. That taught us to keep paper checks even if we only used them once in a great while.

What I Have In My Dry Bag

My clothing bag I chose to pack separately in a dry bag and attach to the outside of the pack. First was the lack of space but there is also the fact that I don’t want my clothes getting wet in a downpour and I want to be able to easily access my raingear.

The bag I am using is a 10 L SealLine Baja Dry Bag. I have owned it for years and it has been very reliable.

Rain Gear

A raincoat and a pair of rain pants are a good idea. Even if you just get an inexpensive rain suit it is better than having nothing at all. Mine take up a little more space but I included some heavy and lined rain pants from L.L. Bean and a lightweight raincoat.

A change of clothing/ extra clothes

This is something you may want to just remember to throw in right when you have to evacuate or you should put in clothes that are just basics that you can throw a coat on top of if needed.

Your climate will, of course, be one of the main factors in this decision. Dressing in layers is the smart way to go if you expect major temperature swings.

For myself, I just included a long sleeve thermal shirt and a headwrap in addition to the raingear. The pants I have are not flimsy so they could easily be my backup pair.

3 Pairs of Socks

It is very important to keep your feet dry and to change your socks regularly even if you wear most of your other clothing for days at a time. While cotton socks are comfortable, they do not dry out fast and they are no good if your feet get cold and chilled. Either pack a variety of socks or choose socks made from materials that dry out fast and will still have some insulation value even if your feet get wet.

Designing your own kit is well worth it. It makes you think about some important aspects of preparedness too.

I think that strapping the dry bag up higher might be better. It was pretty comfortable this way though.

A 72-hour kit is never a one size fits all deal. You may have special needs or medical concerns that mean you have to add in some items that I do not need in my own kit.

What type of luxury items you want to toss in or the type of entertainment you want to allow space for is totally up to you as long as you have the space and can handle the weight.

For example, you may have a small Chromebook that you want to slip in your bag rather than the e-reader I through in mine. To be honest I would probably have an extra bag with me with my laptop in it regardless because if Matt and I had to evacuate, it would likely be in our truck.

I am glad I took some time to throw this kit together because it reinforced what I have known for quite some time. If you want a good 72-hour kit, you should either put it together yourself or if you can, find an affordable base kit and then add some other items to it.

 

 

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5 Responses to “My 72 Hour Kit With Biggers MREs”

  1. most awesome. may i suggest to all, if any of us are going to be walking for any length of time with packs, i highly suggest walking sticks/poles!! You’re most welcome!

    Reply
  2. And awesome list and idea. Will be working on it myself. My one suggestion, if walking maybe the dry bag can have two ropes attached to make it a Backpack to wear on the front. Having just been told by my physical therapist that your picture is exactly how he told me NOT to walk. Having the dry bag in front should make “walking tall” easier. Just a suggestion. Bending to walk is not good.

    Reply
  3. I strongly suggest you try a night out in heavy rain with just the Mylar blankets.I had such a night in a bivvy bag and a mylar blanket. The ground was freezing cold and the noise caused by each and every movement woke me up.A truely miserable night.

    Reply
    • This kit is really not designed for actual bugging out or hitting the bush. A 72 hr kit is more of a supplemental emergency kit. For example if you need to evacuate for a flood, hurricane, or live at a shelter for a while, or survive without power for a bit of time. Did you have good raingear during your night out? I included some thick rainpants and extra clothes. I would like to point out that you survived though and that is what is important. That bivvy and blanket got you through the night even if you were miserable.
      Ground contact can definitely make a more miserable experience. I am not sure what the terrain is like where you live but in wooded areas, you can use leaves, boughs cut from trees, and other stuff to make a barrier between you and the ground. Anything is better than nothing. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  4. I don’t carry deodorant but do carry anti chaff and/or baby powder.
    Crossing swamps, hiding in culverts, walking in 104 degree days and when it’s cold even wearing long johns you can chaff when pushing hard over terrain. The straps will rub areas etc.

    just a thought

    Reply

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