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Building a 3-Day DIY Survival Kit: Complete Tips and Guidelines

Just for a moment, forget these “small” problems like going broke, falling sick, or having to fight a hoodlum at night on a corner. Those are fairly manageable situations. Sure, you can call them emergencies, but it’s more likely you will come out just fine. That is to say for the most part you will be able to manage your problems. You can even foresee some of them before they come. And though you might not have it easy, ultimately you will get to the solution.

Now, imagine having to encounter a wind storm, devastating earthquake, tornado, or worst of all, a solar storm! That’s right, according to the good guys who study our cosmos, there is a type of solar storm known as Super Solar Flare (Mass Coronal Ejection). It is so severe that it can wipe out a continent and even more with just a few wave slams.

And it is not one of those sci-fi stuffs; it has happened before. In 1859, a mild form of this solar storm hit the US and some parts of Europe, setting fire to telegraph lines. In human terms, that was a mere baby when compared to the mammoth solar storms that the sun can (and has been proven to) produce. Add that to earth’s unpredictable homemade problems like earthquakes, and you will know that danger is always lurking around us.

And when it hits, the results are usually devastating. First, you will need to get back on your feet and use whatever resources you have to survive for a few days before help arrives. After that, you might have to account for your family and friends. If someone is missing, there is the task of searching for them.

Things Happen. Be Ready

Needless to say, you might not be able to predict or control such events, but you can surely prepare for them and increase your chances of surviving through the hard parts. The obvious and only way of doing that is by putting a survival plan in place. While that fact holds for everybody, general wisdom dictates that if you reside or are visiting a high-risk area, then you should have an even better plan.

Although there are many ready-made survival kits that will see you through the storm, you can opt to make your very own. Sounds like an uphill climb? It’s really not! And lucky for you, we are here to help. So, get ready to write down your survival kit shopping list as you read this.

Why You Need To Have a Homemade Survival Kit

Even before we get into the items that you need, how about we start with the why. Why do you need this survival kit in the first place? Simple – when disaster strikes, the only things that can save you are the ones that you can reach. So if you have a 3-day kit ready, you will have increased your chances of making it through the storm.

More often, a disaster will be over in a matter of minutes or hours. The problem is help may not come for the next two or three days. A survival kit may be all the help you need within that period. It can make the difference between who lives to tell the ultimate prepper’s survival story and a less fortunate one.

Why Not Buy One?

So, we have established that you need a survival kit. That’s not debatable. But why a homemade kit? What does it bring on the table that the other alternative (ready-made) doesn’t?

For starters, you will be the one to stock up your kit. That gives you a lot of allowances to customize it according to your needs in an emergency situation. You can add some items that you prefer to make it more personal. For instance, you can throw in a few snacks that you like. They will be very helpful when you are low on calories.

Additionally, a DIY kit is likely to be cheaper to put together compared to purchasing a ready-made kit. Other than a few things like first aid equipment, most of the items that you will need are household stuff that shouldn’t cost you much.

Guide for Stocking Your Kit

You will have to make a couple of crucial decisions when you are putting your 3-day survival kit together. Whatever you do, just make sure your kit is as versatile as possible. It should be able to serve you during rain and sunshine. Additionally, it should be more of a lifesaver than a burden.

Here are the top three of the most important things to keep in mind:

Season Preparedness

Different seasons come with their unique potential problems. The events that you may face in the summer are not necessarily the same as the ones you may have to endure in the winter. For instance, summer storms, heavy rains, floods, and hurricanes are synonymous with the summer. On the other hand, high-speed winds and extreme cold are more common during the winter.

The spring and fall are fairly calm seasons. But of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your survival kit ready during those two seasons. Certain calamities like earthquakes do not wait for the summer or winter; they just strike anytime, anywhere.

So, with that in mind, how do you customize your kit for a particular season? First of all, prepare your kit in advance. Don’t wait for that season to start before you start running up and down. You can easily be caught off-guard.

Beware of Summer

Fun as it is, summer is the riskiest season of all. Extreme rains, floods, hurricanes, storms and many other weather-related events mostly occur during this season. Keep in mind that depending on how bad it is, you might have to abandon your house for a while and do with a temporary shelter (or government-organized center). And that is where the effectiveness of your survival kit will be put to test.

So, make sure it has some extra blankets, towels, and bug repellent. Don’t forget that summer is also a very hot season, so you might also want to throw in sunscreen and an umbrella for protection from the sun.

Other than some extra blankets, chances are all those items will not be of much help in the winter. But warm clothing that is wind and waterproof will be lifesavers. In addition to that, you may also want to have a folding shovel for clearing the ground or surfaces.

The rule of three

Your 3-day survival kit will only be as good as the items that you put in it. Depending on how much time and space you have on your hands, you might be forced to leave some items behind. That goes to say that much as we have put together the list of items to include in your survival kit, it doesn’t mean that you SHOULD have each item.

And that is where some wisdom and a little knowledge of your body’s needs come in. When you are facing the dilemma of which items to prioritize, you can use the “Rule of Three” to come up with the solution. So what does that rule say?

  • Firstly, you may die if you go more than three minutes without air or if you have extremely serious wounds.
  • Secondly, your chances of survival will be extremely low if you stay for three hours without shelter in extreme weather.
  • Thirdly, you could be dead in three days if you suffer from dehydration.
  • Finally, you might not survive past three weeks without food.

That info should pretty much determine what you put in your survival kit. This might come as a surprise to you, but food shouldn’t be your biggest priority. Instead, put things like a first aid kit, shelter, water, and weather-appropriate clothing first.

The more the pounds, the more the pain

5.11 3 Day Rush Backpack, Black - 3

The size of your survival backpack should depend on the items that you can carry comfortably. On top of that, they should be able to last for at least three days. That means you have to be very realistic.

Don’t include things that will not be of help in the situation. They will only add to your backpack’s pounds. And if your backpack is too heavy, your mobility will be hindered. That is not something you need, especially if there will be any running or long distance walking.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what you will need during the three days. But one great way of limiting yourself to essential items is by choosing a backpack based on its capacity.

A small backpack might not be able to hold everything you need while a huge one might be too heavy to carry. You be the judge depending on how strong you are) and choose a bag that you can handle with comfort.

Creativity pays

You might not be able to fit a sleeping bag in your backpack and still have room for other more important things. But if you are a smart prepper, you will have at least one sleeping bag in your car. If you are forced to flee with the car, you will be sorted for a few nights to come.

And if anything forces you to abandon the car, you can always use cords (such as bungee or para cords) to attach your sleeping bag to the backpack. It will add some weight, but at night, you will realize that it is definitely worth the effort.

The same applies to other items like water bottles. Attach them to the outside of your backpack and save the inside compartments for items that should not be exposed to the external environment.

Things to Have In Your 3-Day Survival Kit

Up to this point, you have a pretty comprehensive guide on how to stock your 3-day survival kit. Now comes the big question, what exactly should you put in that survival kit?

  1. First aid kit

Your chances of surviving up to three days will be very close to zero if you stay with untreated wounds. That makes a first aid kit a complete must-have. While you can get a ready-made kit on the market, it is always better to build your own. That way, you can add/remove the necessary/unnecessary items as you see fit. On top of that, building your own will result in you understanding the kit more than if you buy it from a store. But, you also need to ensure that your kit has everything that you might need.

For your basic supplies, be sure to include: First Aid Kit Hard Red Case 326 Pieces Exceeds OSHA and ANSI Guidelines 100 People - Office, Home, Car, School, Emergency, Survival, Camping, Hunting, and Sports - 4

  • band-Aids and bandages
  • duct and adhesive tapes
  • cotton balls
  • plastic bags
  • disposable gloves
  • scissors
  • sanitized tissues
  • thermometer
  • antibiotics
  • antiseptic cream
  • lubricant
  • and soap

When it comes to meds, stock your first aid kit with painkillers, antihistamine, activated charcoal, aloe Vera gel, meds for diarrhea and meds for allergies. If you have a special condition (e.g. asthma), you should also include medication for that.

Finally, prepare for emergency situations by including emergency phone numbers and your medical history. If you are in a group (such as family), make sure you also include their medical histories and consent forms.

Once your kit is fully furnished, store it in a waterproof pack. That shouldn’t be a hard thing to do because you can just use a plastic bag for that. It will protect the kit, in case it rains.

  1. Water

Dehydration will kill you faster than starvation! You can go for up to three weeks without food, but you can’t last more than three days without water. To avoid exposing yourself to that risk, make sure you have at least three liters of clean drinking water. An adult needs one liter per day, so for your 3-day survival kit, three should be enough.

Since you are packing your bag beforehand, it is safe to assume that you have the time and luxury of packing clean water for drinking. But for the sake of the unforeseeable future, it is advisable that you have a water purifying system or tablets in your survival kit. If the emergency situation is not fully handled after three days, you might be forced to search for water from springs, rivers or ponds. Most likely that won’t be clean water, so you will have to purify it before drinking.

  1. Food Mountain House Just In Case...Classic Bucket - 2

You won’t be able to accomplish much if you are starving, so food should certainly be in your survival kit. Since you will be trying to reduce your bag’s weight as much as possible, lightweight food options make for a perfect choice.

We are talking about things like dried fruits, energy bars, nuts, canned foods, powdered soup and chocolate bars among others. The good thing is that those food options can last for months or even years.

  1. Clothing

This is yet another obvious entry to this list. Add some warm clothes in your survival kit. That shouldn’t change whether you are preparing for summer or winter emergency situations. Seeing as space is a huge issue, it wouldn’t make sense to pack lots of sets of clothes.

Instead, you can just include a pair of waterproof boots that are made for all seasons, two pairs of socks, Lycra underwear that will keep your skin warm and dry, wind and waterproof pair of pants, a hat and a bandana.

A bandana is essential on account of its versatility. You can use it as a head gear, a scarf, a wrist/armband or to wrap around wounds.

  1. Shelter

While most people usually assume that a tent is the first option for a temporary shelter, it is not exactly as great as a tarp in an emergency situation. That is because a tent is heavier and bulkier. On the other hand, a tarp is very light and easy to fold and carry. So, given a choice between a tent and tarp, the latter makes more sense for a 3-day survival plan.

Don’t forget to include a few sleeping pads to your kit. You will need them to protect you from the ground and bugs. If you can fit a sleeping bag into your kit that will be even better. When the weather is extremely cold, a sleeping bag can be a huge lifesaver on account of the warmth that it can provide.

  1. Map and compass

Make sure you have a map of the area you are in and a working compass. Depending on the type of calamity that has befallen you, you might have to navigate through the area searching for supplies, your loved ones or the directions to the safest place around.

So, do some shopping and be sure to pick the best brand that you can afford. That said, simply having them is not enough, go a step further and learn how to use them. Some maps and compasses usually come with a user manual that you can use to learn. Otherwise, there are many online tutorials on the same.

  1. Cell phone

In the modern world, a cell phone can make a difference between who dies and who survives. As long as it has network reception, you can call for help or simply send an SMS or email. Other than that, smartphones come with all types of apps that will prove to be very useful.

For example, if you need directions and don’t have a map you can use your phone’s GPS. You can also use the weather forecaster to know the kind of weather to expect wherever you are or where you are going.

Your survival phone doesn’t have to be your regular cell phone. You can have one special smartphone in your survival kit. Don’t forget to include its charger and spare batteries.

  1. Tools

A disaster situation may require you to use tools like knife or screwdriver. Since you wouldn’t know exactly what tools you will require, it is safer to equip yourself with all the basic ones. They include a knife, can opener, bottle opener, screwdriver and lighter among others. One good way of stocking these tools easily is by simply buying a pocket multi-tool.

  1. Supplements to clothes

If you are preparing for a winter survival kit, your clothes and sleeping pad alone might not keep you warm enough. You need to add a few more items. Adding blankets, sheets and towels make perfect sense. You can use them while sleeping or just wrap yourself in them to keep warm.

Another great option is a poncho. It is particularly perfect for rainy weather since it doesn’t let water to penetrate to you.

  1. Emergency items 

Since space is a factor, you can’t afford to carry everything that you think you will need in case of an emergency. But make sure your kit has at least one whistle and one tactical flashlight. Both are great for sending distress signals. While a whistle is perfect during the day, a combination of whistling and using your flashlight’s strobe function will send a distress message very clearly during the night.

The good thing about a flashlight is that it will also provide you with light at night. It could be to light up the path or simply light your campsite, either way, that should offer the much-needed feeling of safety. And if someone or an animal intrudes, you can always give them a good beating using the flashlight. So be sure to choose a model that can also be used for self-defense.

  1.  Rope


Rope is a very important addition to your survival kit. It will help you in so many ways. For example, you can use it to hold your shelter in place, to tie other things like a tarp to your backpack, save someone from a pit/pond, etc. and even to suspend a fishing hook if need be.

Go for a nylon rope if you can. It is very strong and very durable.


In Summary

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to putting together a 3-day survival kit. As mentioned, having a DIY kit is the better option. But, if for some reason you can’t build your own, you can still buy a ready-made survival kit.

The only problem is that you might not be able to customize it that much. But with a DIY kit, you have all the freedom in the world. So don’t be afraid of building your own. Just follow the recommendations in this guide and you’re already off to a good start.

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