In the recent Costco mailer, some friends and I all noticed that a “72-hour” kit that Costco carries had a limited time online discount available. The $60 kit was/is available for a limited time for $40 with shipping (Costco 72 hour kit sale), so I decided to check it out. One more 72 hour kit could be good for my family, and if it was nice, would make a great gift to give to some family members and friends.
The kit is all self-contained in a 2.5 gallon bucket, that has a nice airtight seal (gasket lined-lid), but has the one-time use strip around the edge, so you know if it’s been opened. The bucket of course will still reseal, but
with the thinner lip that’s left after the protective strip is removed. So you don’t need a bucket tool to open this thing, but you will need some kind of knife or tool to release the first seal. I had to cut that part open. The bucket itself contains a listing of contents, as well as basic nutritional information for the food inside, which is nice to have available. However for this review I wanted to actually get my hands on what was inside, to see the quality, etc.
On the Inside:
Opening the bucket gave a waft of air that you could tell had been preserved via the airtight seal. It revealed several mylar packages, and a stove box on top. There was only a little free space, but nothing was crammed hard. This is good because it prevented the mylar bags from getting ripped by getting jostled around, and nothing seemed to leave a sharp edge free that might rip it later from movement. Once removed, a bucket is actually a great tool for preparedness. From carrying water, to keeping your gear safe from water, to an emergency toilet, they are very nice to have around.
The included stove is of course one of the most basic you can get. Two simple sterno style cans, along with an aluminum “stovetop”. The Sterno is a good basic fuel source for this type of kit. Inexpensive, stable (non-degrading as well as non liquid), and it provides a decent, reliable amount of heat for small usage. The basic ‘stove’ provides a decently steady base, at the correct height for the sterno to work. I would probably add some aluminum foil, or coke can to use as a windscreen, which would greatly improve the effectiveness of this stove in the outdoors.
Especially in the high desert clime of Utah, water is of extreme importance. This kit comes with what looks to be a pretty decent purifier bottle for the given time length. The kit will help treat water in several different ways, and comes with nice clear instructions directly on the bottle itself. You start by removing the base of the bottle, which leaves a small wire screen gasket (middle of picture) which you can use to pre-screen any obvious visual impairments to your water. The base itself then has a receiver for the included chlorine tablets (10 doses). Just add one of these pills, screw back on, then shake your water, and let sit. These pills could obviously be replaced with iodine pills, or bleach drops. After the water is treated, the bottle also has a filter element to remove further impurities, as well as remove treatment flavor. Overall a nice little bottle.
This piece is actually quite different than the advertised picture. It’s a small hand-crank powered, 3-led light, that also has a bottom mounted red led that it can strobe, a siren, and a small radio. The radio seems to only tune to NOAA channels as far as I can tell. It also has adapters for recharging various devices (designed for cell phones). It’s not a bad little piece of hardware, but I would not rely on it as my main radio for sure. But it’s size is very nice for the size and purpose of this kit.
Besides the food, the other free floating (in the bucket) objects are matches, sanitizer gel, and vitamins. The matches come in a familiar looking orange plastic case. The case is pretty thin though, and doesn’t actually screw on or form a watertight seal. However, the matches are better than I expected, as pictured they have a long burn-head, and seem to be waterproofed. An average striking surface is given, and work work ok. The hand sanitizer is your average small sized bottle, and quite useful. Vitamins are there to help keep your body functioning ok as it adapts to any severe stress, and changes in diet.
Of course you need to use the given stove, and food, so the kit provides a large metal spoon and a pot of sufficent size to cook the provided meals. Nothing special here, just lightweight aluminum.
Inside the pot there is a little more gear. Two aluminum cups, with lids! Two spoons, two dust masks, two space blankets, a small acrylic mirror, and a cheap whistle/compass combo. Good items to have, but the lidded cups were my favorites. I’d probably look at using these for cooking more than the given pot. Much easier to get water to boil or simmer in one of these. It’s also nice that all the cooking equipment is metal, not just some plastic sporks like some kits.
First Aid and Knife:
Also inside the pot are our two final ‘tools’. The utility tool is the common Leatherman-style, based off the original design. However it is a very cheap build, common to the discount bin at Wal-Mart. The blade is edged, but not really sharp, the body would hurt your hand if you really tried to use the pliers. The included holster does have a belt loop, which does fold out to also contain several bits, and a socket attachment which connect to the knife itself. Nice basic idea, but the quality is quite low in order to keep the price down.
The first aid kit comes with a small bag, and just the very basics. A couple gauze pads, q-tips, minimal tape, and some alcohol wipes. I think for the price they could have given this a little more focus. Most importantly (while cheap) I’d include at least a couple of advil (fever reduction, as well as muscle relaxant, and general pain relief), some Pepto-Bismol (stress will cause stomach problems, and diarrhea is a huge problem). A small $1 sewing kit would also be nice to add here.
The rest of the space is devoted to the food. People need calories and nutrition under duress, and this kit provides this through mylar bagged, dried vegetarian soups. We’ll see how good my pictures turn out, as they are white printed on mylar :( They provide 3 each of 4 flavors. Each baggie says it provides 5 servings, each ranging in calories from 90 to 180 per serving. Dates provided say 20 years at 60°f, 10 at 70°. Soups are nice, as they do provide a comfortable feel when eaten, they are not providing anything difficult to digest, and are really easy to cook with the provided gear. At 5 cups of water per baggie, you do have to use the provided filter, and around here that could be hard to find if you are in the wrong location.
Not a bad little kit, for the price. I know many people that would be far better off with this, than where they currently are. But I am glad I opened it for myself. I’d much rather substitute several pieces, or add to them as I mentioned. The overall value of the kit to my family can be greatly improved with only minor changes. Above what was mentioned I would look at adding the following:
- Toilet Paper. Seriously, you need it. Though instead I might do baby wipes. Tend to need less, and can be used for cleaning the whole body.
- Garbage Bags. Even one or two can help in disposing of fecal matter, or can be used for emergency shelter.
- Rain Poncho. Cheap, small, and you really don’t want to get soaked in the wintertime.
- Hard candy. Just a couple can lift the spirits, and give a small energy boost.
- Small Tarp. Shelter, Privacy screen, Ground cover.
Just those cost only a few cents, and could add some great comfort to this kit. Overall, though, it’s a good deal, and I know some people are getting it for Christmas.
Upgraded kit : Includes things like a small tent, some rope, gloves and more.
Full bucket of meals : 275 servings of similar types of soups in a larger bucket.