How do you pack a 72 hour backpack?

In today’s uncertain world, being prepared for emergencies is crucial. A 72-hour backpack, also known as a bug-out bag or go-bag, is a carefully packed bag containing essential supplies that can sustain you for approximately 72 hours during an emergency or evacuation situation. This article will guide you through how you pack a 72-hour backpack to ensure you have the necessary items for survival and comfort.

How do you pack a 72 hour backpack?

Selecting the Right Backpack

Choosing the right backpack is the first step towards efficient packing. Consider the capacity and size of the backpack, ensuring it can comfortably hold all the necessary items. Look for a backpack that offers comfort and a proper fit, as you might be carrying it for extended periods. Durability is also essential, as your backpack needs to withstand rough conditions.

Clothing and Footwear

Proper clothing and footwear are crucial for staying comfortable and protected. Follow a layering system that includes base layers, insulating layers, and outer layers to adjust to varying temperatures. Pack appropriate clothing for the climate and weather conditions. Sturdy footwear, such as hiking boots or sturdy sneakers, is essential for mobility and foot protection.

Food and Water

Pack non-perishable food items that provide nutrition and require minimal preparation. Consider energy bars, dehydrated meals, and canned goods. Additionally, include water purification methods, such as water filters or purification tablets, to ensure a clean water source. Carry reusable water bottles or hydration bladders for convenient access to water.

Shelter and Sleeping Gear

Include a tent or tarp in your backpack to provide shelter during emergencies. Ensure it is lightweight and easy to set up. A sleeping bag suitable for the prevailing weather conditions is essential for a good night’s sleep. Pack a sleeping pad to add insulation and cushioning for comfort.

Tools and Equipment

Carry a multi-tool, as it combines various useful tools in one compact device. A first aid kit is crucial for addressing injuries and medical emergencies. Navigation tools like a compass and maps will help you find your way. Include reliable lighting sources such as a headlamp or flashlight.

Personal Hygiene

Maintaining personal hygiene is essential even during emergencies. Pack travel-sized toiletries like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and toilet paper. Hand sanitizer helps prevent the spread of germs. Include waste disposal bags for proper sanitation.

Communication and Documentation

A cell phone is a valuable tool for communication. Keep it fully charged and pack a portable charger or spare batteries. Additionally, consider a portable radio for receiving emergency broadcasts. Carry maps and a compass for navigation purposes. Always carry identification documents such as passports or driver’s licenses.

Cash and Important Documents

Keep emergency cash in your backpack, including small denominations for convenience. Make copies of essential documents such as identification cards, passports, and insurance papers. Store them in a waterproof bag or folder.

Safety and Self-Defense

Consider including a safety whistle in your backpack to attract attention during emergencies. If legal and within your comfort level, carry pepper spray for self-defense purposes. Remember to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations regarding self-defense items.

Entertainment and Comfort Items

During stressful situations, having some form of entertainment or comfort can provide a sense of normalcy. Pack lightweight books or magazines, a music player, or other items that bring you comfort and distraction.

Emergency Preparedness

Include a list of emergency contacts in your backpack. Familiarize yourself with local emergency resources, such as shelters, hospitals, and emergency hotlines. Develop an emergency plan for yourself and your family, including rendezvous points and communication methods.

Packing Techniques

Organize your backpack by grouping similar items together. Utilize compartments and pockets to separate and access essentials easily. Use resealable bags to keep small items organized and protected.

Weight Distribution and Balance

Place heavy items near the center of the backpack to maintain balance. Distribute the weight evenly to avoid straining your back or shoulders. Proper weight distribution will ensure better stability and comfort during transport.

Final Checklist

Before sealing your backpack, go through a final checklist. Double-check that you have packed all the essential items, including food, water, clothing, tools, and documentation. Test the packed backpack to ensure it fits comfortably and feels balanced on your back.


Packing a 72-hour backpack is an essential step toward being prepared for emergencies. By carefully selecting and organizing the necessary items, you can increase your chances of survival and comfort during critical situations. Remember, preparedness is key, and taking the time to pack a well-thought-out backpack can make a significant difference in times of need.

FAQs – How do you pack a 72 hour backpack?

1. How often should I update my backpack contents?

Reviewing and updating your backpack contents at least once a year is recommended. Check expiration dates of food items, update documentation if necessary, and ensure all equipment and supplies are in good working condition.

2. Can I pack perishable food items in my backpack?

It is not advisable to pack perishable food items in a 72-hour backpack. Stick to non-perishable options that have a long shelf life and do not require refrigeration.

3. Are there any restrictions on carrying self-defense items?

Laws regarding self-defense items vary by location. Research and adhere to local laws and regulations before including any self-defense items in your backpack.

4. How should I clean my backpack after use?

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your backpack. Generally, handwashing with mild detergent and air drying is recommended. Avoid harsh chemicals or machine washing, as they can damage the backpack.

5. Can I use a regular backpack instead of a dedicated 72-hour backpack?

While a dedicated 72-hour backpack is designed for emergency preparedness, you can use a regular backpack if it meets the capacity and durability requirements. Ensure it can comfortably hold all the necessary items and distribute weight effectively.

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