Surviveware 72-hour Emergency Preparedness Survival Backpack (2-person)

Started by majorhavoc, August 26, 2023, 10:32:11 AM

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This was supposed to be a straight up review of an off-the-shelf emergency preparedness kit.  Something that might interest some of our newer forum members or visitors.  Or as a gift idea for someone who isn't prepared for any kind of natural or man-made disaster.  But for reasons that will soon become evident, a complete product review wasn't possible. 

What changed my plans?  Well, Woot! was offering this 2-person, 72-hour bag for just $70 with free shipping.  Considering it originally retailed for $250 and was at the time selling for $160 on Amazon, it seemed almost too good to be true.

Turns out it was.  I won't bore you with the details but most, if not every single unit arrived missing the exact same items: 2 packages of 3600 calorie Datrex emergency rations, 18 pouches of USCG-certified emergency water, a LifeStraw brand personal water filter and emergency storm matches in a waterproof case.  For anyone interested, the drama played out on a deal site discussion thread here and on Woot's own forums here.

I was able to negotiate a $35 partial refund, so for a net cost of $35, I ended up with a bona fide bargain.  But that's largely beside the point because the only reason I bought it in the first place was to review the complete kit for UFoZS.  So, I'm switching gears and now calling this a qualified look at one retail option, plus a demonstration of how a store-bought kit can be enhanced to make it more capable and better suited for your specific needs.

Let's just get this out of the way: building your own emergency kit from scratch is always the best route.  Why?  Because not only does it force you to carefully consider and understand every single component, you also end up with something that's customized to your specific prepping needs.  We each need to personally assess what risk scenarios we're concerned about enough to prepare for.

But if you aren't ready or willing to build a kit from scratch (no judgement here), the very next best thing is to start with a quality pre-made kit and use that as a foundation to customize to your specific needs.  Let's look at the Surviveware 72 Hour Emergency Preparedness Survival Backpack from that perspective and do just that.   

When it arrived, it certainly looked impressive:


The pack itself measures roughly 15" wide, 10" deep and 20" high.  About the size and basic shape of a carry-on suitcase.  It's made of polyester-coated nylon and looks to be reasonably water resistant.  The overall impression is one of sturdiness and quality materials. 

The entire back panel unzips and is secured with good quality zippers with sturdy pulls.  The back panel also features a broad zippered pocket for storing important papers or similar flat items, a generous amount of molle webbing and a good square foot of velcro material to affix patches or smaller accessory pouches.  Two additional rows of molle webbing are sewn into the side panels.  A fully zippered back panel is certainly convenient, but it's not nearly as bombproof as a top-loading pack.  Blow out those zippers and your backpack becomes useless.  I would have liked to see a couple of compression straps on each side to relieve some of the stress on those main zippers.

Here's a look at the shoulder harness and waist belt:

It's pretty basic, but seems fairly well constructed and does include a sternum strap.  There are no accessory pockets, D rings or even accessory webbing on the straps or belt.  Nothing to attach a knife, compass or accessory pouch, which is a shame.  The straps, waist belt and front panel are all padded, but it's pretty thin.  And the pack's short height means the straps and belt are too close together to effectively distribute weight between your shoulders and hips.  It's adequate for shorter distances and is certainly better than a carry handle.  But I wouldn't want to do a multi hour hike with this thing unless I absolutely had to.  That's not really a design flaw, just a consequence of a smaller backpack.

Above the shoulder harness is the all-important haul loop, anchored at reinforced attachment points.  Unsolicited backpack tip: no matter the quality level of your pack, lift it off the ground and swing it onto your back using the haul loop whenever possible.  A loaded backpack puts tremendous stress on whatever single attachment point its full weight is suspended from.  Doubly so if you're casually yanking it off the ground.  A haul loop is ostensibly designed to handle that stress.  And even if it isn't, your pack's suspension system remains fully functional if you blow out that haul loop.  Tear out a shoulder strap however, and you're stuck with a very awkward sling bag. 

One thing I do not like at all are the lower attachment points for the shoulder straps.  Those quick release buckles introduce unnecessary points of potential failure.  You don't need them to slip your arms through the shoulder straps, so an adjustable slider type buckle would be a better, more failure-proof choice. 

The pack features two side pockets, which are always desirable.  But I found their construction details to be perplexing.  First, the left side pocket:


I'm just not understanding the purpose of that reflective material.  Is it intended to keep something hot or cold? A 72-hour emergency bag is supposed to be stored fully loaded and ready to go for months, if not years.  So what are you suddenly going to acquire during a disaster that needs to be kept hot or cold?  And even if you did, this pocket isn't insulated, nor is it expandable.  So whatever it is would have to be very thin and wouldn't stay cold/hot for long. 

The right side pocket is easier to understand, at least in concept.

But again, a missed opportunity. Those overlapping mesh panels look like they should expand to accommodate something like a water bottle, but they aren't elastic.  I can get the thickness of maybe two fingers in there.  Too narrow to hold much of anything. 

Finally, there's a zippered panel on top that provides access to a dedicated interior compartment for the first aid kit.

This feature I do like.  You want the first aid kit stored securely, but readily accessible.  This "top hatch" keeps the FAK protected, but allows you to get at it quickly without opening the whole pack. 

Next, let's unzip the pack's back panel and see what is (and isn't) inside the Surviveware 72-hour Emergency Preparedness Survival Backpack.
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The name of Surviveware's game here is Organization with a capital "O".  Which is part of what you pay for in the better pre-made kits.  And that's no bad thing: being able to quickly locate needed items can be a real advantage in stressful, emergency situations. (Note the GridNet webbing on the inside of the zippered panel.  More on that later.)

Here, we see supplies for two people are neatly divided into pairs of removable internal cases labeled Water, Personal and Food. Each case is very sturdy and features a nylon handle to help pry it loose from the very aggressive velcro that attaches it to the main case.  Each internal case also has a small mesh pocket on the underside of the zippered panel. 

Finally, a minor but thoughtful detail: those pairs of internal cases aren't exact duplicates of each other.  They're mirror images - a right hand and left hand version of each pair.  The grab handles and zippers face towards the center of the main pack, which makes it easier to unzip the individual cases, and to find the grab handles to pull them out.

Additionally, there's the previously mentioned first aid kit and a large zip lock bag full of supplemental supplies. 

Opening the internal cases reveals a nasty surprise:

See that?  Both of the Water and Food cases - fully two-thirds of internal compartments - are completely empty!  Boy was I pissed!  As near as I can tell from the two discussion forums, nobody received kits from Woot! with the promised rations or emergency water.  Woot! called it a QC issue and promptly threw their supplier under the bus.  But I suspect it's less of a QC issue and more of a materials handling process issue.  My theory is that since the food and USCG-certified water have finite shelf lives, Surviveware intended those perishable items to be come from more current stock and be added to the kits right before shipment.  And when these kits were bought up by a third party reseller, they didn't get that memo. 

It's just a theory though, and doesn't explain the missing LifeStraw or storm matches.  More on those items later. 

Each of the two cases labeled "Personal" did contain several items though.

Each personal case contains a package of 15 wet wipes, an emergency sleeping bag, women's sanitary products, eye protection, dust mask, rain poncho, a large biohazard bag, and a whistle.  Remember: there are two of these personal cases, so two each of these items come the Surviveware 72-hour kit.

The wet wipes are always a win.  I bet in an extended emergency, wet wipes will be an unexpectedly appreciated item. 

The emergency sleeping bag is just a reflective mylar blanket folded over to form a body length rectangle and sealed on two of three remaining sides.  It'll be more effective at reducing convective heat loss than a regular emergency blanket, but like its unsealed cousin, will get clammy and doesn't offer any actual insulation.  And while the reflective mylar can absolutely save a hypothermic person's life, the crinkly material is extremely noisy and can make sleep difficult for everyone within earshot if the victim stirs at night. DAMHIKT

The rain poncho looks to be the standard disposable type: basically a clear plastic bag with arm holes and a hood.  It'll keep you reasonably dry just standing/sitting around, but prone to get clammy and easily tear if you're doing something active. 

The dust mask isn't labeled N95 or KN95, so let's assume its protection from particulates only.  I suppose the biohazard bag would be useful disposing of wound dressings or contaminated clothing.  Otherwise, it could be used for signaling, an improvised tarp, or just something to sit on if the ground is wet.

I've pictured the whistle disassembled to show it's one of those 6-in-1 multi function types: whistle, compass (reasonably accurate), thermometer (also accurate, but reads in Celsius only), magnifier, and a tiny flashlight - the light output is truly anemic, but it does work.  Plus a tiny, completely worthless signal mirror and a miniscule storage compartment - likewise largely useless due to its size and lack of an o-ring.  But the whistle itself blows clear and loud and that's what's important.

Of all the personal items, the two that impress me the most are the eye protection and the tampons.  The ski goggles are a huge step up from the crappy folding or pliable plastic safety glasses usually found in cheaper emergency kits.  The ski goggle type wraps completely around your eyes.  And with foam seals and a wide elastic band to hold it tight against your face, it'll do a much better job protecting you from dust, ash and other particulates.  The lenses are also tinted.  Don't know if they block UV, but they can double as sunglasses.

The tampons are an unusually thoughtful touch.  Emergency kits are generally marketed to and purchased by men. They're rarely if ever designed in a way that even acknowledges that half the population impacted by a disaster will be female.  To see something like feminine hygiene actually considered in an emergency kit is refreshing.     

A solid first aid kit is one of the most important items in any emergency bag.  Prior to buying this 72-hour backpack, Surviveware's excellent first aid kits were the one way I was already familiar with the brand.  Years ago, I mis-managed my federal medical savings account and approached the end of the year with a significant balance of use-it-or-lose-it FSA funds.  Even after buying extra eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses, I still had over $300 to burn.  So after reading several glowing reviews, I purchased three of Surviveware's group first aid kits and was duly impressed. I keep one in my car and gave the other two to family friends. 

I'm happy to report that the compact FAK Surviveware included in this 72-hour bag is likewise very good. 

In addition to the normal assortment of band aids, gauze pads, adhesive tape, etc, Surviveware provides you with extras to treat a variety of minor to moderate injuries.  Those include real metal tweezers, EMT-style shears to cut through clothing and bulky dressings, and a CPR kit including face mask, nitrile gloves and easy to follow resuscitation instructions printed on a cloth tag affixed to a dedicated case.  There's also an emergency blanket for treating shock, a metal whistle, Q-tips, splinter probes, specialized pads for eye injuries, both alcohol and antiseptic wipes, compression, conformal and triangular bandages, and a structural aluminum malleable (SAM) splint stored elsewhere in the main bag for sprains and minor fractures. No OTC medicines though, but a supply of small zip loc bags is provided so you can add them according to your needs.  And finally a basic first aid guide.  It's no substitute for formal first aid training, but it's there in case you need it.  Or if you're the patient, unconscious and someone needs guidance treating you.  About the only thing I consider a surprising omission is the absence of antibiotic ointment.

And finally, there's that large bag of supplemental items, which are intended to be stored by the user on the inside of the back panel, which features a unique series of interwoven elastic, extremely grippy straps designed to secure items of different sizes and shapes.  Surviveware it calls the GridNet system.  There's a good view of the GridNet panel in the first picture of this, the second post in this thread.

Included in this last bag are the following items:

Emergency Plan booklet.  Intended for the buyer to complete, it's 14 pages with sections guiding you to list vital information for each household member (cell, drivers license number, health insurance info, etc), emergency and family contacts, disaster refuge locations, family rally points, school emergency plan information, medical contacts and health information, etc.  There's even a couple pages of graph paper to map out home escape paths, or evacuation routes from your town. Nothing sexy or tactical about this item, but it, along with the process of completing it, really helps to organize your thinking and plan exactly how you and your family will respond in an emergency situation. 

GridNet instruction sheet.  Suggestions on where to stow supplemental kit items on the GridNet panel. 

SAM splint.  Previously mentioned; it's too bulky to fit in the first aid kit itself.

A folding knife. You can find these all day on Amazon and Ebay for about $10. It seems sturdy enough, blade deploys smoothly, is aligned and centered, and locks up securely.  Cheap blade steel for sure, but it's reasonably sharp out of the box, will likely get the job done.  My complaint is it's the wrong kind of knife for this kit.  With it's dedicated seatbelt cutter and auto glass breaker, its multi functionality is geared towards automotive rescue.  Not saying that need can't arise at any time, but in a disaster/emergency situation, a multi-function tool is more likely to be helpful if it has things like a can opener, wood saw, and basic tools for simple repairs.  Even if you do have need of an automotive rescue tool, better to have it readily accessible in the center console or glove compartment, not buried inside a 72-hour kit tucked away in your house or car trunk.  A Swiss army-style knife or Leatherman type multi-tool would be much better suited for this kind of kit.

Zip ties.  There's 10 of them, quite large and look to be good quality.

33' of duct tape. A generous amount and always a sensible addition to any emergency kit.  Good for field expedient repairs and even has first aid applications.  But would have been easier to store if it were packaged flat, rather than in a roll. 

6 glow sticks. Another useful item. No idea of the quality, but they are bigger than they looked in the promotional pictures. 

Emergency weather radio.  A Chinese copy of the Eton FR160 Microlink.  All functions work except cell phone charging directly from the hand crank.  Maybe it'll charge your phone, but no amount of cranking produced any reaction when connected to my Samsung.  It does have a 2000Ah rechargeable internal battery however, and I was able to add juice to my phone using it as a power bank.  With the battery completely drained, 60 seconds of hand cranking gave me about 4.5 minutes radio reception or 10 minutes of light.  With a fully charged internal battery, the radio will supposedly run for 9-10 hours and the flashlight for 15-17.  I did not test either of those runtime claims, nor did I test the solar charging function.  AM and FM reception is fine, and I was able to quickly locate two NOAA weather band channels without any trouble. Note that the included USB to micro USB-B cable is fine for charging the radio's internal battery from an external source, or providing USB output to an older electronic device.  But you'll need to add USB-C and/or Apple Lightning cables to use it with most modern phones. 

Survival tent.  It's one of those reflective mylar tube tents.  It comes in a cord-locked drawstring bag and has its own supply of cordage, so you don't have to use the paracord to pitch it.  It's adequate but will be prone to tearing if used roughly.  I would have preferred a nylon or silnylon tarp.  But that would cost more and demands more skill to set up properly.  The tube tent is probably the most cost-effective, compact and user-friendly way of including a two-person shelter in an emergency kit of this size. 

50' of reflective paracord.  No idea if it's real 550lb test mil-spec.  Includes a velcro strap to keep it nice and tidy.

Conspicuously absent: the promised LifeStraw personal water filter and the emergency matches. 

But one item was included but not listed in the kit contents however: an absolutely massive (4" x 1/2") ferrocerium rod with a separate striker and emergency whistle attached with what looks like at least 3 feet of cordage shortened into a cobra-knotted lanyard.  It throws a LOT of sparks.  The unlisted ferrocerium rod, in addition to be being the highest quality firesteel I now own, makes me think that unlike the other missing items, the omission of the emergency matches is intentional.  At some point, I think Surviveware decided to substitute the firesteel for the matches, but never got around to updating the official kit content listing.  Again, just a theory. 

In any case, I'm going to go against the survivalist/prepping grain here and say the firesteel is a poor substitute for the storm matches.  Sure, that ferrocerium rod can light thousands of fires versus the 20 or so with the storm matches.  But it takes a certain amount of skill to master a ferrocerium firestarter.  Everyone knows how to light a match.  Your bushcraft/survivalist skills may be top notch, but what about your significant other? Or the survivor in need next to you?  Lost in a lot of enthusiast preppers' planning is the notion that it might not always be you who needs to use this equipment.

Next up: My overall thoughts on the Surviveware 72-hour Emergency Readiness Survival Backpack, and ideas on how to make it even better.
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Great detail writeup.  :awesome:

I'm not sure I like the separated 'bags/modules' for two people, seems like its a waste of space and weight by not combining each module into qty's for two people into one mod. But makes it easy in the divorce.

Also, if adding anything requiring disposable batteries make sure to use lithium and keep them separate [not installed] for long term storage.

I'm visualizing a best case scenario use for this and don't really see it being used as a grab and go bugout bag, to head into the forest. But more to head to the shelter or family or friends house. Or to sit in the driveway outside your own house until the insurance adjusters get there because of fire or tornado and you're running looter security from the roadster.

How much water [total oz] was supposed to be included and in how many paks? Can you fill those water modules with the oz's they specified and let us know how that weight feels in the backpak. At 8 lbs for 64oz I don't think that'd be too uncomfortable because it doesn't look like that much can fit in there. But is it enough water for 72 hours or will you have to supplement with the lifestraw? And if so, where is the container to at least get the water out of the 'river/lake/canal' so you don't have to lay facefirst into the water source to suck directly? Will those module bags hold water temporarily for that use?

I keep food and water rations in separate 'pack's' for easier rotation. But do keep a lifestraw [Sawyer Mini] and a bunch of compressible water bladders and purification tablets in the BOB [which is really a GBHB]. Plus a 3 liter 'camelbak'. Actually I keep a couple of gallons in a hard container then transfer as needed into the soft side containers if I have to trek with the weight. It also allows for water use for hygiene or for vehicle coolant emergencies, and fire suppression to a lesser degree and for first aid cleansing where appropriate.

Lastly, wet wipes IME dry out over time, so you have to add water. And the mulit paks will leak if not handled carefully after opening.  So I switched to compressed towels that you just add water. But you have to have the clean water to add. YMMV.  :smiley_shrug:
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You raise a lot of points I've been thinking about! Especially that this kit seems geared more as a FEMA style disaster kit and less of a live-off-the-land bug out bag.  

A third installment is forthcoming that'll focus on additions/improvements. The general style of this bag vs a true BOB will guide some of my equipment selections.

The kit was supposed to come with 18 4.227oz emergency water pouches, or 76 ounces total. Barely adequate for 1 person for 1 day, let alone 2 people for 3 days. For any 72-hr kit designed to be carried on your back, a three day supply of water is never going to be practical. I've come up with a way to squeeze 96oz in there without taking up any additional space. But either way, some method of filtering/purifying water was always going to be a necessity. 

Stay tuned to see how I've addressed these and other issues.

Good points also about lithium batteries and wet wipes drying out.
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96 oz is about a 3 liter bladder for a camelback. And is about 12lbs of water?
I don't store water long term in the bladders.  I don't know why I don't either, just have always stored long term water in food grade 'containers' and then fill the bladders from there as needed. I can't wait to hear your solution as you can tell.

In my AO in the summertime, and expending any sort of energy outdoors, you're going to lose 4.227 oz of perspiration every 47.325 minutes @ 94.276 degrees and 78.444% humidity [to the 3rd decimal]

Lifetime gamer watch at MacWa77ace YouTube Channel
97% of scientists agree with whoever is funding them.


It's actually about 8 lbs for 128 fl oz (a gallon = 128 oz, not 64). So I believe 96 oz works out to about 6 lbs.  All I know is the Surviveware Backpack is starting to get heavy! But I actually have an idea to address that.

Yes, I'm going to resurrect the legendary ZS bug out cart!!!!  (Just kidding  :clownshoes:  )
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97% of scientists agree with whoever is funding them.


QuoteEveryone knows how to light a match
Not so much anymore.  The learning curve between matches and fero rod are probably about same. 
"Hey idiot, you should feel your pulse, not see it."  Echo 83


So what is my opinion of the Surviveware 72-hour Emergency Preparedness Survival Backpack?

It's complicated. 

It caught my eye because it looked like a well-designed, quality product.  Especially for the price.  But I didn't receive the whole kit, nor did I pay anywhere near full retail price. So what can I say to you, prospective emergency kit shopper, about the Surviveware 72-hour Emergency Backpack?

It's best to look at this kit in context. Setting aside for a moment the prevailing guidance about building your own emergency bag from scratch, you could do a lot worse than the Surviveware Backpack.  The retail prepping world is full of garbage kits loaded with useless bric-a-brac like credit card tools and tactical spoons.  They cater to people who would rather indulge a fantasy than equip themselves for real world emergencies.

This is just me, but when I come across a well-designed and spec'd retail emergency kit, I'm apt to approve even if I disagree with a specific equipment choice here or there.  Nor do I judge anyone for going the pre-made route. Viewed through that lens, the Surviveware 2-person emergency kit is a bargain for the $130 the red version is currently selling for on Amazon.  Remember: this is a 2-person kit - there's a lot of gear here for your money. 

Usually you can save a bit by purchasing the individual components yourself. You normally pay a premium for the convenience and content curation that comes with a pre-assembled retail package.  To say nothing of the manufacturer's profit margin. But I've priced out everything and am having a really hard time coming up with any less than $240 to replicate this kit on your own.  Even if it comes in the semi-complete condition I received, it's still a decent deal at $130.  But you should be able to negotiate a partial discount, as I did.  If you can get the net cost down to $100 or less, even as an incomplete kit it's still an outstanding value. 

But then you'll have to chase down and buy the missing items to complete the kit as advertised, which may have been what you wanted to avoid by purchasing a pre-made kit in the first place.  However, I'm going to suggest you need to put in some extra work with any retail kit.  That's because no off-the-shelf kit can be considered complete.  It represents someone else's judgement of what to include and what to leave out.  An emergency bag needs to be customized to your specific needs. 

Exactly how to go about that depends on the capabilities that are important to you.  "72-hour", "emergency preparedness" and "survival backpack" mean different things to different people.  The general concept of a three day emergency pack can apply to everything from a live-off-the-land bug out bag, to a FEMA-recommended grab-and-go family disaster kit.

The Surviveware has elements of both.  But it leans less towards hardcore survival and more towards family emergency readiness.  The main bag, while well constructed, isn't ideally suited for covering long distances on foot.  The provided tools suggest making do in or near civilization, not bushcrafting in the wild.  And the somewhat flimsy shelter capabilities seem geared more towards setting up once and staying put, rather than packing up and moving on each day.

As I choose items to add to this kit, I'm going to lean into that family emergency readiness theme. Some of the additions would also be useful in a more wilderness type scenario, but that's a secondary consideration.

Here's what I want to add to the kit. 

Whether it all fits is an open question, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve.  The additional items fall into five major categories:

1) Restocking the missing supplies.  Food, water, filtration/purification and fire starting.  If not with one-to-one replacements, then at least functional equivalents.
2) Expanding lighting capability.  The relative lack of lighting options is one thing that immediately jumped out at me.  Let's address that.
3) More personal in "Personal".  Surviveware's "Personal" categorization seems to be about two distinct things: personal sanitation/comfort and protection from environmental hazards.  Let's beef up both those subcategories. 
4) Capability enhancement.  By adding just a few extras and making some strategic substitutions, we can build on the capabilities Surviveware already thought of and make them more flexible/robust.
5) Morale. Living through a disaster can seriously suck.  Any little thing that lifts your spirits can pay dividends in mental resiliency.

Restock missing supplies
2x NRG emergency rations (2400 calories each).  Each package is 1200 calories less than the 3600 calorie Datrex rations that were supposed to come with this kit.  But the NRG's are what I had on hand.  And the smaller packaging left us some extra room in the 'Food' cases for:
2x morale food kits: oatmeal and soup packets, instant coffee, hot chocolate, tea, drink powder, sugar/creamer packets, tootsie rolls, Clif bars, etc. + plastic utensils.  All told, this makes up for most, if not all, of the calorie shortfall.  Plus, hot beverages and a bit of variety will boost morale.  The Clif bars will need to be rotated every year though.
92oz bottled water (total).  It's almost like the 'Water' cases were designed for 4x 12oz water bottles each.  Not USCG certified for longevity, but water doesn't go bad that quickly.  24oz more than Surviveware was supposed to provide, plus the plastic water bottles can be re-used, unlike single use emergency water pouches.
2x LifeStraw personal water filters.  Just one LifeStraw never made sense to me.  2 people = 2 LifeStraws.
UCO storm matches in waterproof case + Bic lighter.  More user-friendly than the ferrocerium firesteel.

Expanded capabilities
Food prep: UST emergency stove w/fuel tabs & matches, package of extra fuel tabs, small cooking pot, 2 sq. ft. aluminum foil - For heating the morale food, purify water and cooking any food supplies acquired later.
Navigation: Orienteering compass - much better than the tiny compasses in those multi-function whistles.  If not for wilderness navigation, then finding alternate vehicle routes if the highways are blocked. 
Knife/tools: Gerber NXT Suspension multi-tool - Much better suited for this kit than the included auto rescue knife.

Water filtration, purification and storage
10x water purification tabs - When using the LifeStraw isn't practical.
1x 2 gallon water bag - whenever a larger quantity of water becomes available.
2x Whirl Pac 1 liter water bags - for use with the water purification tablets.
4x paper coffee filters - to pre-screen larger particulates before filtration/purification.

2x heavy-duty 7 bushel (32"x50"x3mil) contractor bags - uses include 2/3rds body coverage to supplement warmth and weather protection of emergency sleeping bags, improvised tarps/ground cloths, weather protection for gear that won't fit inside emergency tube tent, DIY raincover for Surviveware backpack.

USB-C and Lightning cables - to use with the emergency radio's power bank function.  I don't need both, but I'll be Johnny on the spot to that attractive, lonely female survivor with the iPhone.  How will she ever repay me?
1 USB wall charger (for whenever and wherever you find AC power)
1 pr earbuds - extends emergency radio run time versus using the speaker, plus more discrete.

a) Hygiene
Toiletry kits: toothbrush, toothpaste & floss, deodorant, body wash, lip balm, comb, mini sewing kit, bandana, skin lotion & tampons (women), razor & shaving cream (men).  Not strictly necessary for survival,  but they're also for morale.  The ability to brush your teeth, reduce body odor or just feel clean can be a huge psychological boost during a crisis. 
Toilet paper - a world without a means to wipe my ass is not a world I care to live in. :smiley_bril:

b) Protection from Environmental Hazards
5x N95 masks
2x beanie hats
2x prs work gloves (for warmth and/or debris clearing)
6x prs ear plugs
Insect repellant

First aid
Tourniquet + Sharpie marker
4x single use packets of triple antibiotic ointment
Moleskin + cotton balls
3x3 gauze pad for larger wounds
Wound Stop hemostatic powder
4x additional bandaids
1 single use cold compress
OTC meds: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamine, anti-diarrheal
RX meds (3 days)

2x LED headlamps (Inexpensive Defiant brand [Home Depot].  3-pack pictured above but only 2 made it into the kit.  Nothing special: 100lm - high, low, red, red flashing)
1x flashlight (Ozark Trail - Adjustable beam, 200lm - high, low and strobe)
9x spare AAA batteries

Rite-in-rain mini notebook + pen - For your all weather, post-apocalyptic note-taking needs
Compact binoculars - so you can spot that approaching kaiju from miles away ...
Deck of playing cards (Morale item.  Bonus points if you can entertain your fellow survivors with card tricks ...)

OK, it didn't all fit. 

And can I just say again: those side pockets are wasted opportunities.  Bullshit reflective lining on one side, non-expanding mesh pocket on the other.  Note to Surviveware for version 2.0: baggy, cord-locked drawstring mesh pockets on either side.  Cheaper to manufacture, beaucoup more usability.  You're welcome. 

But like I said, I have a few tricks up my sleeve.  There are some gaps in the interior on either side of the first aid kit and in between the rounded corners of the internal cases.  True, that reduces the convenience factor and slightly undermines the slick gear categorization system Surviveware has set up.  But there'll be time aplenty later to spread out, catch your breath and take stock of where everything is. 

And then there's all that molle webbing Surviveware generously provided.  For most buyers, it's mostly for show.  I say we put it to good use.

By moving some of the environmental hazard protection items to the molle accessory pouches where they can be quickly accessed, we've freed up quite a bit of room inside the Personal cases to store additional items.  And filling all that wasted space allows us to squeeze a few more supplies inside the pack. 

Stuffed to the gills like this, our UFOZS EnhancedTM Surviveware 72-hour Emergency Preparedness Survival Backpack now tips the scales at 34 lbs.  Not an excessive weight in the right backpack, but quite a load for the size and minimally featured suspension system this emergency bag offers.  Can we do anything about that?

Sure we can.  A packable, extra bag is something of a prepping signature of mine.  These lightweight, expandable backpacks are terrific.  I've been using one for years when shopping while on my motorcycle and end up with more than will fit in my aluminum side cases.  The specific model is sadly no longer available, but this 35 liter alternative is available for less than $20 at the time of this review.  It seems sturdily constructed, offers multiple exterior pockets, side compression straps and a sternum strap with emergency whistle.  Plus, any gear branded "Werewolf" is a win in my book.  :smiley_knipoog:

No, of course it's no substitute for a sturdier, full-featured everyday use day pack.  But packed in its own exterior pocket, it takes up almost no room/weight.  For temporary, emergency use, it opens up all kinds of options.  I'm surprised more preppers don't spec this type of thing in their emergency kits.

People completely fill their emergency bags in an attempt to anticipate every possible need.  But in a real emergency, invariably there's going to be extras you'll want to grab as you beat a hasty retreat from home and hearth.  Some extra food maybe?  What about a change of clothes?  And that framed picture with dear old Mom and Dad?  Can't live without that! 

Plus, the Surviveware 72-hour kit, even in its original form, always posed an unspoken paradox: 27 lbs of gear, for 2 people, but only one pack.  How's that supposed to work?  An extra pack, even a lightweight one like this, allows you to share some of the load with your partner, and probably bring along a few extras too. 

But since this is meant to be stored as a single grab-and-go, get the hell out of Dodge kit, we'll leave the supplemental backpack fully stowed for now.

There you have it.  A high quality retail emergency kit, at a very good price, made even better.  You won't make the exact same gear choices I did, but the end result will be the same: a custom kit, designed for your needs, put together by you after considering every gear choice and weighing every trade off.  You'll know exactly what you have, why you have it and where it's stowed. 

May you never have need to use it.  :smiley_knipoog:

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Uomo Senza Nome

While your pack is getting full I consider a lightweight roll up solar panel in the 5-10 watt range with USB capabilities. That tiny panel won't provide much power, if any, especially if you are using it for the radio and light functions.

I'd say for $35 you made out like a bandit.
"It's what people know about themselves inside that makes 'em afraid. "

"There's plain few problems can't be solved with a little sweat and hard work."


Quote from: Uomo Senza Nome on September 02, 2023, 07:42:01 PMWhile your pack is getting full I consider a lightweight roll up solar panel in the 5-10 watt range with USB capabilities. That tiny panel won't provide much power, if any, especially if you are using it for the radio and light functions.

I'd say for $35 you made out like a bandit.
Thanks Uomo.  Yes, $35 net cost for what I got was a steal. 

It's ironic though because I really was prepared to spend the full $70 to do a straight up review.  I've already assembled from scratch GHBs for both my car and motorcycle.  And I have so much excess gear that I was able to put together a whole other 3-day kit that became the core of June's 2nd anniversary prize. 

So it's not like I personally needed another 72-hour bag.  I'm just working to add topical content to UFoZS and build traffic; make the site show up on web searches for things like 72-hour bags and family disaster kits.

It's interesting that you mention the lightweight solar panel.  I assume you mean as a functional alternative to the solar panel built into the hand crank radio.  I agree - it's too small to be practical. 

Keeping personal electronics running during a crisis is going to be very important to most people.  If not a solar panel, I was thinking maybe an inexpensive power bank would be a good addition.

The mostly-for-show solar function notwithstanding, I was impressed that little Chinese hand crank radio was so effective as a power bank.  The trick is to fully charge it when you buy it (it took about four hours), rather than leaving it packed away and assuming you'll just use the hand crank function should you ever need it.  2,000 mAh will only give a partial charge for your phone.  But in a crisis, that's something.

A post-apocalyptic tale of love, loss and redemption. And zombies!
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I have sunscreen and insect repellant in single use pillow packs. You can buy them in bulk, estimate 2 per day per person. And Add eyewash. That's part of my EDC.

Maybe add 2 FRS Walkie talkies and a micro rechargeable FM radio / MP3 player, in case cell phones go out, and as a backup to the solar/handcrank; 2 is 1 and all.

Small bottle of hand sanitizer x2. Two face towels.

To me it's a parent child setup, Or caregiver patient setup with only one pack for two people.

Or since it's only one pack for two people and there are no clothes in it, maybe that's to allow the second person to carry a go 'pack' with 72 hours of clothing.
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Uomo Senza Nome

Quote from: MacWa77ace on September 03, 2023, 10:46:54 AMI have sunscreen and insect repellant in single use pillow packs. You can buy them in bulk, estimate 2 per day per person. And Add eyewash. That's part of my EDC.

Maybe add 2 FRS Walkie talkies and a micro rechargeable FM radio / MP3 player, in case cell phones go out, and as a backup to the solar/handcrank; 2 is 1 and all.

Small bottle of hand sanitizer x2. Two face towels.

To me it's a parent child setup, Or caregiver patient setup with only one pack for two people.

Or since it's only one pack for two people and there are no clothes in it, maybe that's to allow the second person to carry a go 'pack' with 72 hours of clothing.
If you look at the video where they are selling the used ones on Amazon there is plenty of room for 2 outfits of clothes.
"It's what people know about themselves inside that makes 'em afraid. "

"There's plain few problems can't be solved with a little sweat and hard work."


A post-apocalyptic tale of love, loss and redemption. And zombies!
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If anyone's interested, YT'er Kitbashed Survival just released his own detailed review of this kit (the complete version with all advertised contents).  Spoiler alert: he came to many of the same conclusions as I did. 

Currently both the black and red kits (hopefully the complete version that KBS got, not the neutered example I received) are currently selling $90 on Amazon.  IMO, that's a great deal if you're in the market for a quality pre-made kit (which you can then customize with additional gear to meet your specific needs).

ETA: I also see that for the moment (11/6/23), that expandable, packable ultra lightweight backpack is on sale for $14.39.  No need if you're bugging out solo.  But if you've set up a single BOB/GHB/72-hour kit for 2 or more people, I think it's a good idea to have a packable/expandable extra bag of some sort to share the load with your partner/child or accommodate last minute gear.
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