You may be asking yourself, why 72 hours? What is the logic behind a 72 hour survival kit? 72 hours is the average time it will take for search and rescue crews to locate and extract you from your emergency. Depending on your location and how “off the grid” you may be, 72 hours is the average. With that said, it’s good to have a kit and plan to sustain you for that amount of time even if you’re only going out for a day.

Even on shorter day hikes with the family, I keep a basic kit to sustain us for at the very least an unexpected overnighter. On these short days, I’m not packing a large ruck full of food, water, and ammunition. The key here is to “sustain” life, not necessarily live out of a Holiday Inn Express hotel room. For this loadout I’m focusing on the smaller Deuter Speed Lite 20.


  • Lightweight & low profile allowing for a full range of motion while on the trail, in dense terrain, or boulder climbing.


  • Smaller in size which forces you to really think about what you need versus what you want.
The 72 Hour Survival Pack
Deuter SpeedLite 20 Pack

My kit always starts with the clothes that I’m wearing and what I have on my person. In the event I get separated from my kit, I immediately become dependent on what I have attached to my person. I always have some type of brimmed hat on – typically a baseball style hat. This gives me a micro-climate of shade around my face, helps regulate body temperature, and provides me with something to use to fan a fire. I’m not going to be that guy constantly blowing on the fire to get it started. I also have my Emerson Folding Knife and belt pouch on me. The belt pouch contains a scaled down fire kit, compass, small flashlight, and survival straw. Unless somebody knocks me out and takes my pants, I’ll be able to endure and survive.

The 72 Hour Survival Pack
Contents of my personal pack. I’m somewhat of a minimalist.

Contents of my Pack:

  • Roll of cordage – this can be either 550 paracord or bankline. Over the past few years I’ve started to prefer the bankline over the paracord.
  • Fire Kit – I prefer the UST Strikeforce for fire starting. To enhance its capabilities, I’ve wrapped both ends of the handles with Gorilla duct tape and added a few micro inferno tinder sticks inside the handle compartment. Both the tape and micro inferno give me flame extenders when starting a fire in less than ideal conditions.
  • Water bottle – The Lifestraw GO water bottle is too easy and hassle-free not to carry. This bottle gives me the ability to collect water from any lake, stream, or puddle and be able to drink it immediately. There is no need to make a fire, boil water, or wait for purification tabs to do their work.
  • Cotton bandanna – The bandanna has many uses. You can use it as a field expedient first aid bandage, use to make char cloth for fire starting, or just as a washcloth for hygiene.
  • UL Rain Suit – I prefer a rain suit over a standard poncho. With a poncho your range of motion is severely limited and in a heavy rain the rain tends to roll off the bottom of the poncho onto the bottom half of my pants and footwear – personally this is very annoying. The rain suit offers better coverage and complete range of motion & mobility.
  • Fixed Blade Knife – I carry the Joe Watson Small Bowie. The knife is small and lightweight, yet packs a full tang 4″ blade.
  • First Aid Kit – I carry a modified AMK .7 medical first aid kit (review and modifications coming).
  • Headlamp – I prefer a headlamp over a traditional flashlight as it keeps both hands free for other tasks or emergencies.
  • Compass and map of area I will be moving through.
  • Not shown are any small food items such as trail mix, protein/energy bars, or meal replacement bars.

Let us know what you carry in your pack in the comments below or on Facebook.