When it comes to selecting a bag for an emergency kit, many of us veer in the direction of tactical-looking backpacks or any type of backpack at all. And, it’s no wonder. A good backpack has multiple pockets and pouches to help organize your gear and supplies, and they can be carried on your back, leaving your hands free. However, they aren’t always the right solution for every scenario. Here are some ideas for other types of containers for emergency kits.
Non-traditional Containers for Emergency Kits and Bug-out Bags
Sixteen suggestions for backpack alternatives, plus a bonus idea!
A rolling suitcase on wheels
Look for sturdy wheels because if one breaks off, you’ll be carrying that suitcase. Not fun! Some of these suitcases also have backpack straps.
A Rubbermaid container with a lid
You select whichever size suits your needs and space. These are a good choice because the bin itself can be used to hold water, kindling, and a lot more.
Mine fits perfectly in the back of my Tahoe, and the transparent plastic lets me see the contents.
Trash can on wheels
These hold a lot, are very sturdy, and have an attached lid. They will also be heavy and difficult to load into a truck. However, if a trailer is part of your bug-out/evacuation plans, you could store a trash can, fully packed, in the trailer. Include a box of heavy-duty black trash bags to keep the interior of the trash can clean if you ever have to use it for actual trash!
Great for use with softer items, such as blankets, coats, jackets, and pillows.
5-gallon buckets with lid
Again, these buckets have multiple uses besides holding your emergency kit contents. A product like a Bucket Backpack would provide an alternative way to carry the bucket longer distances.
Multiple milk crates
My husband swears by these! They are extremely durable, and stack easily, but do not have lids. They could also be free if you can find a grocery store that will give you one or more.
Military duffel bag
Soft-sided means you’ll be able to shove this bag behind and between things, and they come in several sizes. Their muted colors are also a plus.
These are inexpensive, allow one to easily see inside the tote, and are lightweight. They could be good for keeping things like blankets and seasonal clothing separate from other items. The downside is they’re not heavy-duty, so it’s not a good option if your evacuation includes trekking through the wilderness.
The waterproof lining could be very helpful, especially if you have small kids and/or a baby.
Not necessarily lightweight depending on the style you choose, but it could be very useful for protecting fragile items. And they come in a variety of price points.
Metal bucket with lid
I have this one, and it’s definitely a multi-purpose container.
Heavy-duty, waterproof, and lockable. Keep in mind they don’t have wheels. They also don’t stack well as the lid is lightly domed to allow water run-off. However, this is a solid choice if these cons weren’t an issue.
Be sure to buy “contractor” bags. These are amazingly resilient, stretch a bit as you stuff more into them, and are cheap. They would be useful for packing soft things like bedding, clothing, and sleeping bags.
A messenger bag with shoulder strap
Anything with a shoulder strap will leave both hands free and might be easier to carry than a backpack for someone with back problems.
These are waterproof, hold a lot, and don’t automatically announce they’re containers for emergency kits. Get one on wheels so you can roll it if the need arises.
A fisherman or photo vest
Obviously, this won’t carry as much as these other containers, but with all the multiple pockets, you could keep the most essential items close at hand. Check out ScotteVest for more discreet options.
Features to Consider When Selecting Containers for Emergency Kits
When choosing your containers, remember that they might be in for a pretty rugged future. Look for:
- Extremely durable fabrics
- Sturdy construction
- Heavy-duty zippers, snaps, or other closures
- Colors that blend in
- Non-tactical appearance. This may cause you to look too prepared and a potential target.
- Tight-fitting lids
My Recommendations for Dividing the Contents of Your Emergency Kit
When planning for an emergency evacuation, I recommend dividing the contents of your emergency kit into two or more different types of containers. For example, a 5-gallon bucket can hold food and cooking supplies and provide an emergency toilet, a large water container, and a handy tote for firewood. Then use a Space Bag to hold sleeping bags, cold weather clothing, and a large backpack for everything else. You’ll have two multi-purpose containers and a backpack large enough to hold all the essentials in case you have no choice but to continue your evacuation on foot and have to leave the bucket and Space Bag behind.
Also, keep in mind your family members’ different ages and physical capabilities. Even young kids can carry small backpacks, easing the load for parents and teens. Ideally, you’ll want one bag per person, although in each bag, there should be a few communal supplies.
What kinds of non-traditional containers for emergency supplies have you used and recommended?