So, my wife got a discount coupon for a “72-hour emergency kit,” and we decided to go with it, so I could review it here. “For science.” Here we go:
Bottom Line Up Front: For a bare-bones basic, this is probably not bad. Really, though, I’d suggest using this as a starting point, and customizing things from there. Let’s call it 2-1/2 stars, out of 5.
So, this is the Food Supply Depot “Food Fire Filter 72-Hour Emergency Kit”, available here, here, and here, among other places. It’s a bit shorter than your typical cat litter bucket, but easily as sturdy. In fact, the first problem was exactly that: it was a bit too sturdy, if that’s possible. Both of the pull tabs to open it broke off, after only about four inches. It’s not much of a problem, but it’s a pretty basic one.
The bucket contains one person’s supplies for 72 hours, to wit:
- six pouches of freeze-dried food,
- two pouches of dehydrated drink (one orange, one milk),
- six pouches of fire starter,
- a 23-piece first aid kit,
- a filtering water bottle,
- a portable cooking stove,
- a cooking pot with lid and detachable handle,
- a measuring cup,
- a folding utensil set, and
- a box of waterproof matches.
For test purposes, I assembled the stove, played a bit with the fire starter, and the family and I tried out some of the food and drink packets.
The stove: It’s a bit big for the box, really. Getting it out without completely unpacking everything was kind of awkward. It also seemed a bit flimsy; it’s maybe a bit thicker than a disposable aluminum pie pan. I wouldn’t trust it much farther than cooking everything in the bucket–which, granted, is probably enough, but I’d prefer something longer-lasting, just in case. Assembly was easy enough, but I don’t care for the little “leg pins” that hold it together–it’s an aesthetic thing, mostly, so you can disregard if you’d like. Still, I prefer my little wing tripod stove.
The fire starter: This almost looked like granola. The packet advertises that you can get 15-20 minutes of flame out of a packet; you’d have to be really on top of it to get 20 minutes, but 15 is probably well within reason. For fun, I lit some with a match (easy enough), and lit some with my fire striker (because I could–the little box of matches could very easily get lost). A single spark was all it took, and the flame caught readily and spread nicely. There’s probably not enough in a packet to do much more than get some water in the kit’s pan to a boil; my recommendation is to use the packet to start some twigs, then move up to larger sticks, until you have a decent-enough fire that you can continue to feed and cook on.
The pot: Again, lightweight, but good enough. This is aluminum, and has a “handle” similar to the something you’d use to grab the edge of a pie pan from the oven. Effective enough, for what it is.
The drink mixes: We tried the “Refreshing Orange.” One packet makes eight servings, and takes eight cups of water. This brings up the first set of issues with the food: there’s no way to reseal the pouches, so you’ve pretty much either got to eat the entire contents, or (somehow) divide it up, and hope you don’t knock the pouch over or spill it. Also, the pot isn’t big enough to hold eight cups; unless you’re supposed to use the bucket, it seems like a bit of a mismatch. Then there’s the fact that if you’ve used the pot to make the drink, you’ve got to drink it all before you cook anything… Taste-wise, I found it to be reminiscent of Tang, with a sort of “creamsicle” flavor. Not bad, certainly not offensive in any way.
The food: For dinner, we had the Rotini a la Marinara, and the Rio Grande Beans and Rice. Overall, they weren’t bad. They were both a bit saltier than our preference, but your mileage may vary. The Rotini claimed 5 servings, which was about what we got out of it; the Beans and Rice claimed three servings, but the four of us each got some; there was enough of both that I got to use it as leftovers for lunch the next day. The taste was again not bad, aside from the salt; the Rotini seemed a bit watery, and the B&R was rather a uniform hash. Still, to keep body & soul together, there are worse options. The kids tried the Artisan Oatmeal for breakfast; again, watery, and their complaint was “it smelled good, but had no taste at all.” Nutrition information for all of the food pouches is located on the bucket; there are apparently vegetarian and gluten-free variants, as well.
The folding utensil set was probably my favorite piece of the kit. It has its own little belt-pouch, and looks vaguely reminiscent of a Swiss-Army knife. There’s a spoon, a fork, a knife, a can-opener, and a corkscrew; it splits apart into the fork, and the spoon/knife, so you can eat with “real utensils”. Pretty sturdy, and I’m going to do some research to see if they can be found separately, and from where.
The First Aid Kit: A joke, really. My wife carries a more extensive kit in her purse; my “get-home kit” in the car is comparatively a full ER. It’s probably not bad for minor burns while cooking something with the stove/pot, but not much more than that–not even a pair of tweezers for splinters.
The Water Bottle and Cup: I didn’t test the water bottle, but it’s the “squeezable” sort; you fill it with whatever water, and the water is filtered as it gets squeezed out. There are possibly logistical issues again: if you’ve contaminated the bottle, you can’t use it to store the mixed drink stuff. I haven’t found a suitable replacement, but I’m sure they’re out there. The cup was plastic, and didn’t even actually measure a cup–my wife found it to be about 2 Tbsp short, both liquid and dry measure. I’d be happier with a metal cup, and one that actually measured out a cup.
So again, overall it’s not bad. I’m not sure it’s worth the $150 they’re asking for it, but if you can get it at a discount, you could do worse. (You could also do much better by assembling something for yourself.) My recommendation: if you get one of these, try out some of the foods, but replace them with something else. The stove you can take or leave. And certainly think about what you might need, and add that to the kit.