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Checklist of Essentials for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness – Updated & Expanded

By Denis Korn

NOTE:  The demand for the information given in this list has been significant – so I am posting it again with some additional comments.  I have decided to keep adding comments under selected items on a continuing basis – so you may want to periodically check back at this post for new comments.  There are listed both convenient and essential items required for proper preparedness & adventure.  Only you know your unique situations and anticipated scenarios – prepare accordingly.

Many of the items listed in this checklist are available at our product website PrepareDirect.  We will be adding new items and categories continually so please visit us.

Be prepared for all possible circumstances!

This checklist should be a crucial assist in your preparedness and outdoor adventure planning – study it carefully!  It is one of the most comprehensive lists available – thankfully copied by many.

For most people planning for emergencies is similar to planning for a camping trip or any other outdoor adventure where the normal conveniences of home are not available. The biggest difference is determining whether to plan for being away from home or in your own residence – or perhaps both. The equipment to include in your emergency kit or camping supplies list will be very comparable. Differences and variations will generally depend upon the severity and length of time you anticipate for your emergency scenario. Long term emergencies and outdoor explorations will require, in addition to this list, more extensive planning and provisioning.

Important questions to answer as you do your planning:  Are the equipment and supplies necessary to fulfill your needs going to be based on how cheap they are, or on the quality, value, and reliability of the product?  What are the repercussions or benefits from the choices that are made?  Who is affected?  What chances are you willing to take with inferior and inadequate provisions?  What will the climate be during the emergency or adventure?  What is the probable availability of essential goods and services where you are going for your adventure or during your anticipated emergency?

Although this list is an authoritative and comprehensive compilation of crucial supplies for emergency preparedness and outdoor adventure, these suggestions focus on basic necessities, and are not intended to be an exhaustive and detailed list of all choices, as each person or group has their own special requirements and needs. While there are numerous options to choose from in each category, use this guideline of essentials to ensure you have evaluated all the possibilities given the scenarios and circumstances for which you are preparing and provisioning, whether for preparedness planning or outdoor adventuring.  Your life may depend upon it!

Be clear about the time factors, persons involved, and situations that you anticipate will occur in an emergency or an outdoor experience. Knowing this information is crucial to stocking the appropriate items in the appropriate quantities. Many of these items will be essential for bartering if supplies are exhausted and the emergency you are preparing for is long term.

Proper provisioning is about safety, health, protection, comfort, and peace of mind – for not only yourself but also your family and friends.

Items with an asterisk * are recommended for a “ready-to-go bag” or “bug out bag.”  This is an easily accessible bag you keep near by to grab when you only have a moments notice to evacuate.  Items with a double asterisk ** indicates items for your bag whose quantity will depend on the length of your anticipated emergency scenario.  You may require more than one quick-grab-bag depending on your specific needs.

As a complement to this checklist, I highly recommend answering the questions in: The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning article on either website.


1. Carrier for Provisions

If you anticipate having to relocate, have your transportable supplies in one or two easily accessible carriers, especially if you must leave in a hurry.

  • Backpack
  • *Large duffel/canvass bag with duel shoulder straps in case it has to be carried for some distance
  • Lightweight suitcase
  • Wheeled device

2. Water

An obvious necessity for everyone. Know what water sources are available to you during an emergency, or in the outdoors. Plan accordingly and don’t hold back preparing for this essential category.  Don’t go cheap!

  • *Gravity/hand pump water purifier/filter/extra cartridges
  • *Bottle purifier/filter
  • *Purification tablets – Chlorine Dioxide/iodine
  • *Separate containers for dirty and treated water
  • Multiple containers depending upon situation
  • Specially packaged water (5+ years storage life)
  • **Bottled water (2 years storage life) – can be filtered or treated if older
  • Solar or stove top distillers
  • Desalinators for salt water
  • Reverse osmosis purifiers
  • UV purifiers
  • Additives – colloidal silver/bio-active silver hydrosol/stabilized oxygen
  • Chlorine (5.25 % sodium hypochlorite, non-scented  only with no additives – 6 drops per gallon)
  • Manual pump if near a well
  • Water gathering supplies – plastic tarps/containers/instructions

3. Food

Numerous options are available. This category must be accessed carefully depending upon the length of time of the emergency or outing, and severity of circumstances you anticipate might occur.  Remember, certain foods will require more water and fuel to prepare – is this appropriate to your anticipated situation?

  • **Bars/trail mix
  • Other eat-as-is simple and compact foods
  • **Freeze-dried/dehydrated
  • Canned
  • **Retort wet-pack pouches/trays/self-heating meals
  • **MRE’s (Meals-Ready-To-Eat)

These military designed rations were developed for troops to be eaten for no longer than one month – they are not appropriate for exclusive long term consumption.

  • Boxed
  • Non-perishable basics
  • Powdered milk
  • Wild foods/foraging – get a good illustrated guide
  • Bulk
  • Commodities – Rice (brown rice has a short shelf life), grains, beans (smaller grains and beans cook quicker with less water), honey
  • **Ready-to-eat comfort and nutritional foods
  • Garden seeds if appropriate – longer term scenarios

You will find many who promote storing garden seeds.  You must research the shelf life and germination viability of the different varieties you are storing – many variations exist.  Garden seeds alone are inadequate without tools, gardening knowledge, the ability to remain in place and of course water.  In a long term emergency situation where survival depends on growing your own food, significant planning is vital.

  • Supplements – vitamins/minerals/powdered green drinks
  • **Concentrated energy powders/bars/tablets
  • Condiments/seasoning blends
  • Gravy – dry mix or canned (can be added to bland foods for flavor)
  • Cooking oil (olive oil in a steel container – if you can find it – has a decent shelf life – avoid hydrogenated oils with trans-fats)
  • **Special needs foods – Those with food intolerance’s/nursing mothers/children/medical conditions
  • Baby foods
  • **Cooking/heating required?

4. Food preparation

If you must relocate and plan on cooking or heating water, consider lighter weight and efficient equipment.

  • **Stove – camping/alternative/very portable
  • **Pots and pans – stainless steel/cast iron/non-stick
  • **Utensils
  • Pressure cooker
  • **Cookware kit
  • Grills
  • **Fuel – propane canisters/butane canisters/white gas/alcohol/solid fuel cubes/charcoal/wood/kerosene/lighter fluid
  • *Water/food bottle
  • *Hand operated can opener/opener on knife or multi-tool/P38 (for all us military folks)
  • 5 or 6 gallon plastic buckets
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Chlorine bleach – non-scented
  • *Plastic bags/containers
  • Thermos for “prepare in container” whole and cracked cereals

Add about a 1:1 ratio of boiling water and cereal – close container – let sit a few hours or overnight.

  • Knife sharpener
  • “Package-you-own” equipment and supplies
  • Solar oven and cookware
  • Manual grain mills/grinders/juicers/mixers/beaters
  • Sprouting equipment – portable and/or stationary/sprouting jars
  • Canning equipment if appropriate
  • Twist-ties
  • Corkscrew
  • Paper plates/bowls/cups/towels
  • Aluminum foil

5. Fire Starter – Matches

Be prepared for any situation and the possible need to start a fire, especially if weather conditions are severe.

  • *Flint/magnesium starters
  • **Waterproof tinder/very fine steel wool
  • **Windproof high quality lighters
  • **Matches in a waterproof container

6. Medical

When your health and survival during a medical emergency is at stake, you don’t want to rely on cheap or inadequate medical supplies. This is an important category to thoughtfully evaluate. Don’t forget medications or products needed for those with special medical conditions.  Professional level supplies can be essential.  Know how to use them.

  • *Quality kit with adequate components for a multitude of emergencies
  • *Accessories – dental emergencies/suture kit/snake bite kit
  • Syrup of Ipecac (to induce vomiting if poisoned)
  • *Essential prescription medications/allergy medications
  • *First Aid manual
  • *Insect repellant
  • *Sunscreen
  • *Eyeglasses/contacts
  • *Copies of prescriptions
  • *Moleskin/blister pads
  • *Aspirin/Tylenol/ibuprofen/other over the counter drugs for minor issues
  • Homeopathic remedies
  • Herbal kits
  • Dust masks/gas masks
  • Potassium Iodate (Iodate is recommended over Iodide)
  • Isopropyl alcohol/rubbing alcohol
  • Anti-itch salve

7. Personal Hygiene – Sanitary Supplies

Depending on individual circumstances and your location, it is vital to prevent any problems that might arise from unsanitary conditions. Take precautions to ensure a disease free environment. The length of an emergency and living/camping conditions require different approaches to personal hygiene.

  • **Personal hygiene items – soap/toothbrush/toothpaste/shampoo
  • **Feminine hygiene
  • **Treated towelettes/waterless wipes
  • **Sanitary toilet provisions – portable toilet/powered chlorinates or lime/disposable urinals – solid waste bags
  • *Plastic bags
  • Latex gloves
  • **Toilet Paper
  • Towels
  • Solar shower
  • *Anti-bacterial sanitizer
  • All purpose soap
  • *Anti-bacterial sanitizer
  • Kleenex
  • Nail clippers
  • Lime/disinfectant

8. Clothing

For warmth, comfort, and protection from insects and the elements.

  • *Proper and adequate clothing for the appropriate season and location
  • *Appropriate shoes/industrial quality boots/snow shoes
  • *Rain gear
  • *Cold weather gear – layered clothing/thermal underwear
  • *Hat/gloves/bandana
  • Extra stuff sacks
  • Insect head net
  • Belts – regular/military type with small pouches

9. Shelter – Warmth

For protection from insects and the elements, warmth, sleeping, comfort, privacy.

  • *Tarps
  • Plastic sheeting/large plastic trash bags
  • *Tent – *tube/*lightweight/regular
  • Nylon patch repair kit/seam sealer
  • *Sleeping bag – *emergency/*lightweight/*bivy bag (small individual size tent/bag)/compact lightweight/regular down bag
  • Hand/body warmers
  • Sleeping pad/cot/air mattress
  • Hammock
  • *Emergency/regular blankets
  • Sheets
  • Insect netting
  • Extra stakes/rope/bungee cords

10. Communication

It is essential to be kept informed during an emergency with friends, family, and appropriate governmental agencies and emergency organizations. When in an outdoor environment, unsettled weather considerations necessitate weather alert radios. Avoid a sense of isolation during serious emergencies.

  • *Radios – hand cranked/solar/batteries
  • Two-way radios
  • Short wave/CB (citizens band)/GMRS (general mobile radio service)/FRS (family radio service) radios
  • Ham radio for radio amateurs – need license
  • Radios with NOAA (government agency) weather channels (7) and weather alerts if necessary in your area
  • *Cell phones/smart phones/chargers
  • Satellite phones
  • *Whistle
  • Signaling devices/flares/mirror
  • *Notebook/pen/markers
  • PLB (personal locator beacon)
  • Small TV – battery/solar operated
  • Telephone not requiring external power
  • Morse code chart

11. Lighting

This is an essential category to address when anticipating any situation where you may be in darkness. Not only for a sense of security and comfort, but to be able to see clearly and act accordingly if emergencies happen in the dark.

  • *Flashlight – hand cranked/solar/batteries/LED and regular bulbs
  • *Lantern (*small or large size) – hand cranked/solar/batteries/propane/mantel/ candle/LED and regular bulbs
  • Oil lamps – kerosene/clear lamp oil/wicks
  • Strobe light
  • Head lamp
  • **Extra batteries/power source
  • **Candles
  • Extra mantels/extra propane canisters
  • Light sticks

12. Tools – Instruments – Accessories

Numerous unforeseen situations or just routine conditions occur during an emergency or during an outdoor adventure. Be prepared and secure with the proper quality tool.

  • *Knife/knives
  • *Multi-tool
  • Repair tools – hammer/screwdrivers/pliers/wire cutters/nails/screws/nuts & bolts/crowbar/spikes/pulley
  • *Axe (*small or large)/saw (*hand controlled chain or special outdoor)/hacksaw/wood splitting/wedges
  • *Rope/wire/bungee cords/straps
  • *JB Weld/super adhesive/superglue/epoxy
  • Lubricating oil/WD-40
  • Chain
  • Padlocks
  • *Work gloves
  • Shovel
  • Garden tools if appropriate
  • Fishing/hunting/trapping gear/Ronco Pocket Fisherman/snare wire
  • *Duct tape/Hurricane tape/nylon repair tape/patches
  • *Plastic bags/trash bags/plastic sheeting
  • *Aluminum foil
  • *Sewing and repair supplies
  • Velcro
  • Safety goggles
  • Weather condition instruments
  • Watch – regular/multi-featured
  • Binoculars
  • Stuff bags for organizing
  • Scissors
  • Small broom/rake
  • Buckets
  • Files
  • Clothes pins
  • Dust/gas masks
  • *Siphoning tube/hose
  • Hand pump
  • *Auto/bicycle/boat emergency items (keep in vehicle)
  • Can of red spray paint to indicate emergency information
  • Shut-off tool for gas/water supply
  • Tool for braking auto glass and cutting belts/webbing
  • Radiation detector

13. Emergency Instructions – Guidance – Support – Back up – Personal Documents

Important and accurate information can not only be helpful it can be life saving. Researching reliable and trustworthy information sources is a vital component to preparedness and outdoor survival planning. Establishing family communication and reunion plans is also essential for security and peace of mind.  Certain documents should always be available.

  • Books/*Bible/Novels
  • Morale builders – personal items that help children and adults cope in stressful situations
  • *Medical information
  • *Emergency/survival information
  • *Maps
  • *Pen/magic marker/paper
  • *Compass
  • Edible wild foods publications/field guides
  • *Essential personal documents – photo ID/will/insurance/stocks/bonds/birth certificates/DD214/bank account & credit card numbers/family records/personal property inventory for insurance/deeds/pink slips/passports/ Social Security cards/check books/credit and debit cards/irreplaceable photographs and certificates – IN WATERPROOF CONTAINER
  • *Phone numbers and addresses of friends, relatives, and emergency organizations/agencies
  • *Spare keys
  • *Instructions on meeting and/or communicating with family and/or friends during or after an emergency
  • Duel language dictionary if appropriate
  • Back-up computer discs/flash drives
  • Laptop/iPad/tablets/PDA’s
  • Entertainment – music/instruments/cards/games

14. Power – Energy

A reliable power supply can be crucial in an emergency or for various outdoor recreational activities. Many valuable communication, radio, entertainment and lighting devices require power. Currently there are a number of dependable portable solar (large and small), storage, and hand operated units available to power your electronic devices.

  • *For power – a small portable solar charger for electronics and rechargeable batteries
  • For lighting
  • For radios
  • For electronic devices
  • For communication
  • *Hand cranked radios and lanterns with USB power cords
  • Solar/storage/hand cranked power devices – fuel free portable power
  • Solar panels
  • Generator – gas/propane
  • Appropriate linking cables
  • *Batteries of all sizes – alkaline/rechargeable
  • *Battery charger – wall/car/solar
  • Deep cycle battery
  • Inverter

15. Cash

It is impossible to know for certain what circumstances might exist during a serious emergency and for what duration normal financial activities will be disrupted. Access to electronic funds or use of credit cards may not be possible. Cash or barter may be the only means of paying for goods or services.

  • *Cash in smaller denomination bills
  • Gold/silver coins
  • Smaller items for barter

16. Personal Security

Each individual must decide the extent to which they will provide protection for themselves and their families from physical harm by others or wild animals.  Don’t forget fire safety.

  • Weapons/ammunition/gun cleaning supplies/Bow hunting supplies – If you have firearms make sure all those who might use them are properly trained
  • Tazer
  • Mace
  • Pepper Spray
  • Bear repellant
  • Sling shot
  • Clubs/bats
  • Large Dog
  • Fire extinguisher

17. Special Needs

This category must not be overlooked if you, other family members, or friends have specials needs and require individual attention.

  • **Personal items specifically required by special needs individuals
  • **Medical items and prescriptions – consider having an adequate supply on hand in the event of a unforeseen and prolonged emergency – don’t let doctors or pharmacists restrict an adequate supply of vital and life sustaining medications for long duration emergencies when supplies will be unavailable!
  • **Special foods or other items for children/elderly/disabled/nursing mothers
  • *Children’s items for comfort and a sense of security – blankets/dolls/toys/diapers/pacifiers
  • **Pet needs

18. Transportation Support

An often overlooked category, specific transportation support must be assessed especially for longer duration emergencies or for outdoor activities where the transportation devices are critical. Evaluate these options, determine which ones you will utilize, determine what you will need to ensure safety, comfort, repair potential, and adequacy to handle the transportation of your provisions.

  • Motor Vehicle – car/truck/van/RV/motorcycle/extra gas/repair and emergency equipment/trailer
  • Boat – motorized/sail/canoe/kayak/paddle/inflatable/folding
  • Scooter
  • Bicycle – regular/folding – repair parts/tire pump – special towing cart
  • Horse – cart
  • By foot
  • Wagon/garden cart – for manual needs

Emergency Preparedness Items for Automobiles – Trucks – Vans – RV’s

These items are especially important for long trips, family outings, new younger drivers, inclement weather, remote areas and at night.

  • Spare tire
  • Jack with tire iron and supporting tools
  • Tire inflation device – portable power and/or aerosol can inflator
  • JB Weld/super adhesive
  • Jumper cables
  • Portable power unit for jump starting and backup power
  • Tow cable/rope
  • Chains/cables/bungee cords for tightening
  • Crowbar
  • Reflectors/flares
  • Hidden spare key
  • Device to break window and cut seat-belts from the inside in an emergency
  • Extra oil
  • Extra gas/funnel if appropriate
  • Siphon hose
  • Extra fan belts/bulbs/hoses/additives/sealers/hard to get parts
  • Window scraper
  • Important phone numbers/documents/insurance information
  • GPS device if appropriate

Additional critical items from the above Essential Checklist to carry in your vehicle:

  • Tarps
  • Blankets/emergency sleeping bag
  • First Aid kit
  • Baby supplies
  • Food and water/water purification/containers if appropriate
  • Maps
  • Pen/magic marker/paper
  • Personal documents and photo ID
  • Gloves
  • Duct tape
  • Rope/wire
  • Repair tools
  • Plastic bags large and small
  • Cell phone/smart phone/charger
  • Emergency radio/hand-crank radio
  • Emergency lighting
  • Rope/wire/bungees
  • Small solar/12 volt power packs for small electronics
  • Cash/credit card
  • Extra clothing in harsh and/or wet weather/hat
  • Hand/body warmers
  • Rain gear/rubber boots
  • Knife/multi-tool
  • Whistle
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Shovel
  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Matches/fire starter
  • Extra batteries
  • Personal protection devices or items as appropriate/pepper spray

Check Essential Checklist above for other items relevant to your needs.

13 comments to Checklist of Essentials for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness – Updated & Expanded

  • Rodolfo Kantarian

    Your post is excellent.

  • kominki narozne

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  • Revernd James Patriot

    Excellent concise list. I would add reading material- novels, etc. and if your are including firearms I would add a note about safety training and use training.

    I have guns and recommend them but safety and training should be stressed.

  • Really good blog, thank you so much for your effort in writing the post.

  • Denis,

    Great job once again. You really are the best. I have yet to find a blog or website that touches this site. You need to publish the bible for preppers and thinkers :) keep it coming.
    Bob D.

  • Dee Dee G

    You should have included wild edibles in the food area. This is very important for survival.

  • Chris

    you include barter items ( i agree), but you need to tell others what items would be good for barter. I recommend: TP, liquor (also a medical need), chocolate (even if it is old), coffee, spices (most come from other contries),extra anything (ie if you have five blankets and only need 2, trade).
    Another thing that people don’t know is how to provide nutrional food for their pets. There is a very good one on the market call Sojos that is dehydrated. Or you can make your own with items that most people already have. Email if you want that list.

  • Omer Willson

    Awesome post! I will keep an on eye on your blog.

  • Kyle Lomonte

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