To Buy or Build a Survival Kit? We Weigh the Pros and Cons

No one likes disasters…unless you’re a hotshot Hollywood director who’s running out of good material.

But like the movie remakes no one asked for, droughts, floods, nuclear attacks, and other emergencies do happen.

Since these things are outta your control, what can you do? Simple—own a survival kit. It’ll help you get ready for natural or manmade disasters.

But should you build or buy one? And what emergency essentials does your kit need? Keep reading to find out:

The 411 on Emergency Kits

Several types of emergency kits or survival kits exist. There’s the classic first aid kit, for starters, then the home emergency kit, which every family should own.

There’s also the bug out bag, which is what you grab when getting out of dodge. On the other hand, the get home bag literally helps you get back home during SHTF situations. Meanwhile, a wilderness survival kit is crucial if you enjoy activities like camping, backpacking, and hiking.

You also can’t leave out the roadside emergency kit, a kit meant to stay in your car just in case something happens while you’re on the road.

While an emergency kit means different things to different folks, essentially, it’s a set of tools and survival supplies designed to help you ride out disasters.

Now, you have the choice of buying a premade survival kit OR making one yourself. Each has its pluses and minuses, so here’s what you should know about them:

Buying a Survival Kit

Pros

What’s something your work buddy and your elderly neighbor have in common? They’ve got pre-packaged survival kits. And we don’t blame them, because buying an emergency kit is so darn convenient.

Here’s why you may wanna follow in their footsteps and grab a ready-made survival kit yourself:

It Saves Time

Got better things to do than going down that rabbit hole called “research?”

No judgment there.

You can save yourself a ton of time by getting a premade kit. Since someone else has already done the dirty work (aka researching and putting all the things together), all you have to do is choose a survival kit that fits your needs.

It Has the Essentials

Many folks behind ready-made kits know their stuff. They don’t just throw in a bunch of random things together and call it a day.

You won’t have to worry about missing any essentials because these kits address the usual problems folks face when catastrophes and disasters hit. The containers they come in ain’t too shabby, either.

It’s Cheaper

With a pre-packaged kit, you can get a lot of stuff at such an awesome deal that you think you’re imagining things.

But why’s it cheaper than making a DIY first aid kit, bug out bag, or roadside emergency kit?

That’s because premade kits are mass-produced. The kit makers buy each item in bulk at a reduced price, which means you get to enjoy a discount, too.

Cons

All set to buy a survival kit? Hold on before you place that order! A premade kit has its perks, but it’s not entirely foolproof. Take a look:

The Quality Varies

Premade emergency kits aren’t created equal. While there are decent ones out there, the market is also infested with ridiculous sets. Since quality isn’t always guaranteed, see to it the kit you buy has survival supplies that won’t fall apart when you need them.

It’s One-Size-Fits-All

Ready-made kits claim to cover all bases, but that’s not the case most of the time.

They’re made with a wide range of folks in mind, which is fine and all. But your survival kits should really be personalized based on several things.

For example, what natural disasters are common in your area? Do you have kids or pets? And does your family member have a medical condition? You want your kit to address these specific factors.

You May Not Get Your Money’s Worth

We’ve established that buying a kit is typically cheaper than DIY-ing it. That’s a plus, right? Sure, but it can also be a bad thing.

You know the saying, you get what you pay for? Well, if you buy the cheapest kit you can find, don’t get disappointed if it doesn’t hold up after a year or two.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of value, some companies may also price their kits higher than what they’re worth to trick average joes into thinking that they’re getting an amazing deal.

Moral of the story: be discriminating.

Building a Survival Kit

Pros

While buying a pre-packaged set of survival and first aid kit supplies is the easier and more convenient option, you may want to consider building your own kit for these reasons:

You Can Guarantee the Quality

Do you really want to leave your family’s survival up to some random kit you bought at the local hardware store? Yeah, didn’t think so.

It’s best to do the research yourself and ensure that the stuff you pick is made to last—not substandard like some of the ones you find in off-the-shelf kits.

You’ll Know Its Ins and Outs

To make the most out of your survival kit, you need to be familiar with it. That’s easy if you did the research and chose each item with intent.

Can you say the same if you buy a ready-made kit? Probably not. Most folks will likely just store theirs and open them during an actual emergency.

You Can Customize It

You’ll never find the best survival kit for your family in stores because the ones they sell are generic. If you want the most ideal kit, then you’re better off DIY-ing it. No one knows your environment, needs, and preferences better than you.

Are gran and gramps living with you? Add their meds. Have a baby? Pack diapers. What about pets? Make sure they also have enough food and water.

Aside from the essentials, you can also put in special touches like your favorite snacks, a few books, and even board games.

Cons

Can’t wait to start assembling your DIY survival kit? We know you’re eager, but before you begin, you gotta get ready for these challenges:

You May Accidentally Leave Something Out

Even the most meticulous folks may leave out a thing or two if they pack their own survival supplies.

If you’re gung ho on building a get home bag or roadside emergency kit from scratch, we suggest listing down all the items you need, ticking them off one by one when you’ve secured them, and double and triple-checking if they’re in your kit.

It Takes a While to Assemble

You can’t just read a single review on an item and decide it’s worth buying. Check out other reviews, and don’t stick to the positive ones alone. You wanna make sure that you’re getting the most value out of your hard-earned money.

Also, let’s be realistic. Unless you’re drowning in cash, you can’t buy everything you need right away. You need to be in for the long haul if you want to put together the best survival kit for your family.

It’s Pricier

While it’s not necessary to buy brand-name shampoo, TP, band-aids, and other basics, there’s just some stuff you can’t skimp on. You want your survival kit to be an investment, so you shouldn’t be afraid to spend a couple more Benjamins on things like a multitool, a tactical flashlight, and a solar charger.

So…Which One Should You Get?

A ready-made survival kit or a DIY one, what’s the winner? Here’s a cheat sheet to help you decide:

  • If your time and budget are limited: Buy a pre-packaged kit. The research has been taken care of, and the essentials are there. Plus, it’s budget-friendly. The downside? You may have to add a few more things to make it more suitable for you and your family.
  • You don’t have time to spare, but budget ain’t an issue: Buy a more sophisticated kit. While pre-made kits are generally easy on the wallet, some have a higher price tag and come with quality items. There’s a drawback, though—even if you do shell out serious cash on a premium one, you may still have to add stuff.
  • You can spare time (or you’re willing to), and you got the budget (or don’t mind investing): Go the DIY route. You have the power to make each item count, with room for extras, so you can also get the stuff you want. It can be expensive and time-consuming, and you have to depend on your instincts, but it’s worth it.

You’ve weighed the pros and cons of both choices. That’s great! Now it’s time to know what any survival kit should have. Let’s get right to it:

What Should Every Emergency Kit Have?

Whether you buy a survival kit or make one yourself, make sure it has the following supplies:

  • Water: Each person should have one gallon per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home). To be on the safe side, you may also want portable water filters and water purification tablets.
  • Food: Go for shelf-stable and non-perishable food, with some comfort food. Like your water stash, you need a 3-day supply of food for evacuation and a 2-week supply for your home.
  • Light: Candles are cheap, but it’s better—and safer—to use a flashlight to see in the dark.
  • Hand-crank or battery-powered radio: You need a way to get crucial info during an emergency, and a radio is your safest bet.
  • First aid kit: Your first aid supplies should help with cuts, allergies, lacerations, and other serious medical problems.
  • Medications: If anyone in the family takes meds on a regular basis, make sure they have enough to last 7 days. It’s great to have other meds like ibuprofen, Pepto Bismol, and aspirin, too.
  • Hygiene and sanitation supplies: You need basics like toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and soap. Feminine hygiene products as well, if applicable.
  • Firestarter: You’ll never know when you need to start a fire. It’s good to have a ferro rod, waterproof matches, and a BIC lighter in your kit.
  • Tarp: You can use a tarp for all kinds of things, whether it’s to catch rainwater, build a temporary shelter, or signal for help.
  • Paracord: This is non-negotiable when it comes to emergencies. With a few feet of paracord, you can make sutures, splints, stretchers, and rescue lines.
  • Entrenching tool: An e-tool ain’t only for folks in the military. This shovel also comes in handy during survival situations. You want your e-tool to be portable, durable, and versatile—like this badass shovel by TAC9ER.
  • Emergency blanket: Aside from helping you retain your body heat, you can use this to transport water, as a floatation device, to cook, and more.
  • Gloves: Tactical gloves with Kevlar lining are a must, whether it’s to keep your mitts warm when it’s cold outside or to keep them safe when you clear out debris.
  • Other supplies: Round out your kit with whistles, duct tape, N95 masks, a compass, and extra batteries.

It’s also smart to pack extra clothes, undies, shoes, and socks. Don’t forget to add local maps and cash in small denominations. Include your important documents, too. And if you have babies or pets, make sure they also have enough essentials.

Final Thoughts

You’re confident you’re ready for earthquakes, hurricanes, pandemics, societal collapse, and other emergencies since you’ve secured your ready-made or DIY emergency kit. That’s awesome!

…But that’s just one piece of the pie.

If you leave it to gather dust and remember it only when you’re desperate, it won’t do you much good.

To really be prepared for emergencies, you need to inspect your survival kit regularly for expired food, meds, and batteries and to find out whether your gadgets are still in tip-top shape. It can be hard to remember at first, but you’ll get the hang of it eventually.

Are you buying or building your survival kit? Let us know in the comments!

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