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By August 25, 2012 Read More →

Prepper Theory behind 72 Hour Kits, BOBs, Every Day Carry and other Kits

Behind every authoritative article on Prepping is an underlying theory that defines it.

As Preppers, we talk a lot about all kinds of equipment sets and go into detail about what goes in them and how to organize them.  But what is the difference between these Kits and why do we have so  many?

Prepper Theory is based on massive amounts of research.  This includes studying reports of what has happened in a disaster, in-depth discussions with people who have lived through disasters and reading other people’s research.

It is also based on personal experience which, if not gained via living through a disaster, is gained by experimenting, drilling, simulation, etc.  We also constantly search for reports of those who have been through disasters and identify what worked for them and what they wish they had done differently.

This is why The APN created our Disaster Experiences section – these  stories are the stories of those who have lived through a disaster and are rich with experience and information.

We who study Prepper Theory are constantly searching for failures (which are an opportunity to learn and improve) or successes (which teach us what worked and give us ideas of how to improve on what is working), both of which are able to teach us definitive lessons.

One of the easier and more practical Prepper Practices to research and experiment is emergency gear and the idea of being able to hastily grab what you need, when you need it.

Hasty Equipment Acquisition

General Mindset

The idea behind Hasty Equipment Acquisition is to establish Kits for particular situations that are immediately available.  The specific contents of these Kits are determined through completing a Risk Analysis or Threat Assessment  to determine what disasters or situations could occur in a particular location, the probability of it occurring, the level of damage that could occur and the immediate impact on victims.  That data is essential to determining the most important part of the Assessment: What equipment is necessary to be able to survive and thrive in the given situation.

Through this process, multiple impact issues have to be taken into consideration such as:

  • Will this situation cause the power to go out?  In this situation, is having power critical to my survival?
  • Does this situation have the potential to effect water availability?  What options will still be available to me, if any?
  • What is the threat to my personal safety in this situation?  Does it require me to be prepared to defend myself?  How strong of a defense is appropriate?
  • How does the impact of this situation change from day to night?  Does it require full nighttime preparations?
  • How does this situation change between summer and winter?  Is deep, heavy snow a potential issue based on my location?
  • How much time will this situation require me to utilize preparations?

This is absolutely an incomplete list but should stimulate some thought as to what an assessment requires.

Hasty Acquisition identifies how readily accessible particular items or Kits should be.  This level goes from “on your person” or Tier 1, to “in the room with me” down to “in the basement packed away but accessible “.  Knowing how quickly you will need to be able to access your Kit based on the scenario is critical.  In an earthquake, Hasty Acquisition is absolutely essential for critical Kits while evacuating prior to a hurricane allows for the Kit to be on a shelf in the basement.

Kit Identification

Once an understanding of potential threats has been developed, we are able to begin developing kits that will provide us with the items we will need to survive.  These Kits go from the mundane to the highly specialized and based on scenario, may include other Kits as part of a larger Kit.  For example:

  • A Pandemic Kit, designed to contain Personal Protective Gear in the event of a major biological outbreak
  • Medical Kit – more advanced than a simple First Aid Kit and potentially specialized to provide care for a known issue of a family member or friend – such as diabetes, allergy, etc
  • First Responder Kit – A much more advanced Medical Kit containing all basic life support systems required as a First Responder

In your Threat Assessment you may identify that your family is at risk for a Pandemic.  If you live in a highly populated city, the risk of something spreading quickly and uncontrollably is much higher than it is for someone living remotely.  Your First Responder Kit will be adapted to include the Medical Kit for particular issues for your family and will also include your Pandemic Kit for this situation.  This demonstrates how Kits are highly specialized and that all Kits should be considered adaptable to include other Kits you know you will have access to.

Based on your Threat Assessment you should be able to identify the Kits you will need, the locations they should be at (office, home, car, etc) and how readily accessible they have to be.

Gear Identification

Most situations will call for common base items such as the ability to start a fire.  These are generally considered the “Ten Essentials” and will be the subject of an upcoming article.  Your Ten Essentials Kit should be part of every Tier of your Every Day Carry solution.  Based on the redundancy rule we live by, “One is None and Two is One” it is essential that every specialized Kit know where its Ten Essentials is coming from.  A Pandemic Kit need not have the Ten Essentials in it, but you should know that when grabbing that Kit, it is extending the Ten Essentials Kit that you got from…. where?

For a Specialized Kit, you have to study out the scenario and identify what will be needed.  For example, the Pandemic Kit will need Personal Protective Gear; for biological issues this includes a “bunny suit”, personal air filtration system, gloves, shoe covers, etc.  The exact list must be customized to your personal needs.  This list is created by research into the scenario and learning what is needed.

Once you know what gear is needed for the situation you are working on, quality becomes a big consideration because quality is equal to cost.  If  a piece of equipment is absolutely essential and absolutely must function properly, it is prudent to seek out the top quality and invest in the most reliable piece of equipment you can.  Other items may be needed but not essential.  In this case, it may be prudent to purchase a lesser quality item and save some money.  You can also balance this with purchasing multiples of lesser quality items to establish redundancy if the cost difference is very large.

If you are working on personal defense, your firearm should be the best, most reliable tool you can afford to purchase.  You should never skimp on equipment that is absolutely essential to sustaining and defending your life.  On the other hand, buying a 10 pack of bic lighters is typically cheaper than buying a Zippo.

As you identify the Gear you will need in your Kit, determine the level of reliability it requires so that you’re able to decide what you should purchase.

Popular Types of Kits

There are many Kits that are so essential and basic that they are frequently referred to by name without much definition.  Some of these can get confusing and knowing what the difference is isn’t always evident.  Here are several of them:

72 Hour Kit

This Kit is specifically designed to sustain life for 3 days.  The three days designation comes from a couple of factors: 3 days worth of food and water is about the max for a portable system, even then it can become too heavy and cumbersome.  Three days is generally considered a reasonable amount of time for assistance to arrive and extend your supplies.  If you are mobile, 3 days is a reasonable amount of time to get to a new location where further resources can be acquired.

This Kit has a high Hasty Acquisition rating – you should store it somewhere that it is quickly and easily accessible as you may need to grab it on the run.

Bug Out Bag

The Bug Out Bag, or BOB, is specifically designed to be on the move.  It typically contains some food and water but it is generally considered a more primitive system kit and will have tools and equipment to acquire, prepare and consume food and water.  It does not have a time designation to it as it is expected to potentially sustain you for an extended period of time.  It focuses heavily on personal defense and relies heavily on skill.

Every Day Carry

Every Day Carry or EDC is a system to always have on your person or within reach, items that may be essential to you given a wide range of scenarios.  It also includes the mindset of Concealed Firearm Carry and always being prepared to defend yourself and your family.

Car Repair Kit

The Car Repair Kit is always stored in your vehicle and contains the items and tools needed to make expedient repairs to your vehicle to avoid being stranded.  These items typically include tire repair kits, wiring and hose repair, jumper cables and a tow rope.

Car Survival Kit

If you were to be stranded in your vehicle, especially in a remote location during winter, the only things you would have to allow you to survive are those that are currently in your vehicle.  This Kit is intended to sustain you during this time and to help you get to or call for help.

Office Kit

Many of us spend half of our day away from our home and vehicle in an office.  If a disaster strikes while you’re at work, your Office Kit should be capable of sustaining and protecting you.  This is a highly personalized Kit as we all work in different areas.

Get Home Bag

This Kit is typically stored in your vehicle.  If you are away from the home and a disaster strikes which makes it impossible for you to drive home, you’re going to be walking.  The intention of this Kit is to provide you with everything you will need to make that walk.  It should include a change of clothes, especially if you typically wear clothing and shoes that are unsuitable for a several mile walk.  The contents will vary based on how far you expect you will need to be hoofing it and what type of environment you will be traveling through.

Kit Building

One of the most important components of any Kit is the container.  The appropriate type of container will vary based on the intended use of the Kit and the mobility expected for the Kit.  A Bug Out Bag will require a very sturdy and high quality backpack while a Pandemic Kit might be in a large Tupperware container.  In some cases, the container must be the best quality you can find and afford, in other cases it just needs to hold stuff.

Other considerations for your Kit container are based on environment and expectations.  Consider whether pests will be attracted to the Kit while in storage and if you need to make sure it is rodent proof – especially if there is food stored in it.  Also consider your Risk Analysis – if flooding is a potential issue, does your Kit need to be water proof?

Some Kits may require multiple containers, a Heavy Medical Kit has the potential to need several containers.  If this is the case, be sure to clearly label the outside of the container to make it easy to identify which one you need.

Getting started building all your Kits can be a daunting task, pick the one that provides you with the greatest risk mitigation and start there.  By doing this, you’ll be able to get to a good comfort level quickly and you won’t feel such an urgency to get everything done.



About the Author:

Phil is one of the co-owners of The APN. He was raised in a Preparedness Oriented family, living a self-sustaining lifestyle as a third generation, LDS, Prepper. He grew up farming, canning and learning to live off the land in the forests, mountains, rivers, oceans and cities of Missouri, Tennessee, Hawaii and Utah. In early 2008, he co-founded UtahPreppers.com as a blog to talk about and teach Prepping. Over the next couple years, they produced hundreds of articles about Preparedness. Prior to UtahPreppers, he had been actively blogging elsewhere about building his self-sustaining farm and raising his 8 children in a preparedness lifestyle.

11 Comments on "Prepper Theory behind 72 Hour Kits, BOBs, Every Day Carry and other Kits"

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  1. We prep for the just in cases and for peace of mind.

  2. Harlan Hutchins says:

    This article could not have been more timely. I have been preparing a talk for our prepper group on this very subject. Your have helped define terms that in the past have been used interchngeably, which caused an enormous amount of confusion. However, there still seems to be to many kits, which still is confusing. Obviously the kits you need at any given moment will be defined by what is happening. Thankyou, Harlan

  3. Same here. Always good to be prepared and not need it, than need it and not be prepared. Quote from my fiancee :)

  4. Jim McClarin says:

    I keep 5 gallons water in my vehicle, a red day pack marked with a white cross for first aid, a 72-hour/get-home bag, two chemical filter masks, and a chain saw in addition to the normal auto kit.  I also have a diversion/escape kit that includes a multi-gang smoke bomb and a spray can of auto undercoater to foil an aggressive tailing vehicle if their intent seems murderous.

  5. Jim McClarin says:

    Meant to say the undercoater sprayed out window covers their windshield and will smear horribly if they turn on their wipers.

  6. stevenswilkins says:

    well said and well written by a clear calm mind. nice. i agree with Muffy Yamamoto. we do too.

  7. I noticed that there are not any prepper groups in Oregon(or are there)on your map? Could you please tell me where in Oregon?

  8. Jamaican says:

    Are their prepper groups for other countries, like Jamaica? Could we adapt methods for here?



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