Costco Complete Emergency Preparation Kit?

Don’t ask me why, but I have been on a secret survivalist bent recently. I guess too many worst-case scenarios going around in my head. Lo and behold, I run across this Complete Emergency Preparation Kit at Costco.

# 6 Days Food (60 Servings) for 2 Adults
# Food is 100% Vegetarian with a 20 Year Shelf Life
# Fruit & Vegetable Dietary Supplements
# Water Filtration System (100 plus Gallon Capacity)
# Crank Flashlight/Radio/Cell Phone Charger
# Survival Multi-Tool
# Cooking Supplies/Stove/Fuel
# First Aid Supplies
# Sanitizer/Matches
# Emergency Blankets
# Compass/Whistle/Thermometer
# 2-N95 Safety Masks
# 4 Ready-to-Eat Meals (No cooking required)
# Duct Tape
# Plastic Sheeting (100 square feet; 3mm thick)
# 2 Nylon Ropes (20 feet each)
# Tube Tent
# Hygiene Kit
# 4 Hand Warmers
# 8 Water Pouches
# 2 pairs Leather Work Gloves

I know I might be able to gather most of this by myself, but I also know that I’ve been living on my own for a decade and haven’t actually done so. $100 for something that should last at least 10 years is just $10 a year. However, I am also afraid that this kit has a bunch of cheap crap thrown in it, of which I won’t realize until way too late. Right now, I just have a store of canned food and a case of water that I rotate.

Anyone else considering this? Anyone actually bought one and have a review?


  1. I’m not sure about the quality of the kit you describe. I think you are right to be a bit dubious about some of the stuff (a few of the items are probably fine… but, I’d wager you would be overpaying by a lot for the bundle of stuff). For instance, I think MRE’s can be had (in bulk) for cheap, and water filtration gear and purification tablets are probably easy to obtain and of higher quality and less expensive than what you would get in the costco bundle. Then again, Costco is pretty solid as far as the stuff they sell, so I bet you could do a lot worse than going without anything at all.

    If you have an army surplus store around your place, you might go there and have a look around and ask a few questions. They probably have all kinds of goodies that would be valuable in a survival situation. Be careful, though… it’s easy to go overboard with survival stuff. Still, never hurts to think about these things and have a little food/water/etc. stashed away for a rainy day.

    Finally, I suggest you poke around on for lots of practical tips, not just limited to the extreme “off-the-grid” type lifestyles. I’ve read plenty of useful articles there about increasing home energy efficiency and solar energy-related topics. Some of the stuff is pretty “tinfoil hat” conspiracy-ish, but most of it is *very* useful stuff to know.

  2. I’m always amazed at what I can find at Costco for a decent price. Did it have any duct tape for around doors and windows? (LOL)

  3. Jon Matthias says:

    Combine that with a few of these “Emergency Food Kits”:

    You and your wife could survive an entire year of plague/civil unrest/zombie attack for the price of a few of these buckets.

    Just think about the delicious possibilities of “baKon” and “ala king”.

    (a h/t to Unclutterer for finding this gem!)

  4. I acquired a lot of this stuff and more two years ago when avian flu became a concern (which it still is.) The problem with this kit is that it has a little of a lot but not enough of anything for a real sustained disaster. Water and food are key and there is not enough of either in this kit.

  5. i vote 300 snicker bars, 200 ramen noodles and 100 gallons of water!

  6. Have you read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy?

  7. If you really want to get into survival, get your ham radio license πŸ˜‰ You can talk all over the world when all other communication channels are out.

  8. Jonathan, you made no mention of weapons. It is common belief that the most important thing to posses is sufficient arms required to protect our liberty, together with an ample supply of ammunition.

  9. John? McCain?

  10. I find myself amused to see what I already have of that list just amongst my normal backpacking supplies. I really should get a few of those other items though; they’d be pretty cheap at the hardware store.

  11. Jonathan,

    Look into this more. I think you can find better quality and more items by looking around. If you needed to be in survivor mode by tomorrow then yes, I’d go for it. I haven’t used it, but I say invest 3 hours and $250 into getting an upgrade kit.

    Awesome Blog

  12. A more cost effective way of buying food is just buying big bags of beans and rice along with some bottles of multivitamins that you rotate. The beans and rice are a complete protein and have a shelf life of decades if kept cool, you can survive on strictly that for months.

    Don’t forget you can draw water from your water heater during an emergency.

  13. I went through this phase a year or so ago when I was fascinated by the tv show “Jericho.” That show was a joke in terms of what would really happen in a collapse, but it sure made me think.

    I agree with John: make sure you have firearms and a huge supply of ammo, and everything else will take care of itself!

  14. Long time reader, first time poster here. I guess it took a post really out of the ordinary to push me to leave a comment.

    Instead of spending $100 (or more) on a survival kit, I humbly suggest you put it towards one of the goals that you’ve been gracefully sharing with everyone. I know you’re very well versed in risk vs reward, and I think that applies everywhere, including emergency event preparation. I doubt the risk of a catastrophic is high enough to justify $100 emergency kit. Granted, I don’t know your personal situation (for example, do you live in Tornado Alley or in an area at risk of hurricanes?).

    In any case, you have a fantastic blog, and I hope this isn’t the first post in a shift towards something else. πŸ˜‰

  15. I dont see the geiger counters!!

    PS: I’m playing fallout 3!

  16. Probably the best sight in my opinion for helping you keep balance is Listening to Katrina:

    I also like this post and blog by Ferfal:

    Both recommend firearms, handguns in particular. The Katrina blog does a really good job of reminding you that the world is not really likely to turn into a science fiction distopia and the things you might need in a disaster aren’t what you might think.

    My personal tip: As for food, I recommend buying an extra box of every cereal that you eat. You eat it already, so there is a natural rotation for it; bring the back box to the front and buy another box. Cereal is fortified, so you can get a lot of nutrition in a single bowl.

    All the other things people suggest are good too, but no one seems to mention cereal which keeps and doesn’t need to be cooked.

    I try to have about a month of meals available in my cupboard. Just map out a week and pick something for dinner each day then multiply by 4; 4 cans of tuna can have tuna salad one meal a week for 4 weeks, etc. Plan lunch to be boring, like peanut butter and jelly and make sure there is enough on hand. A couple of lunch options, and 7 dinner options, with some cereal and you can have food for a month easily figuring in food from the fridge or chest freezer.

  17. I think these kits are a huge waste. The fun of the apocalypse will be figuring out how to whet your whistle, scavenge/hunt to satisfy the consistent pangs of hunger, and then of course protect yourself. These kits take the fun out of those first few days I think.

  18. Getting ready for Obama are we?

  19. After 9/11 I started hoarding for emergencies, but eventually used up the supplies. When I first read this blog today, I found myself bothered that we have to think this way, and be concerned about surviving. Then it occured to me that this kind of thinking has been going on all my life. In the 60’s people were all consumed with building bomb shelters. Although there were serious reasons to be concerned then, I believe that there are even more now.

    I didn’t think I had to be too concerned with natural disasters, since I live in north east Texas…maybe a tornado once in a while. Then a few days ago there were several earthquakes in this area, and that is quite uncommon.

    Don’t forget your manual can openers!


    I might add:

    Propane/kerosene camp stove
    Lighter fluid/matches
    Cast iron skillets/pots or some pot that you don’t mind using for camping

    Additional water filtration if necessary:

    Here are emergency kits that mix up some useful supplies:


    A couple of 5 gallon gasoline containers and a decent funnel (preferably a funnel head with a short flexible hose). Rotate the gas every couple of months and refill.

    Firearms and ammo for it. Don’t forget to learn how to use it.

  21. It depends heavily on what you’re planning to survive through, but I’d second the recommendation for a firearm. Think army surplus rifle or pump shotgun, something you can clean and oil, stick in the closet and forget about for 20 years. Padlock the trigger and keep the ammo separate if you’re worried about the kids getting into it, I don’t think total societal collapse would happen fast enough to require keeping a round in the chamber. If you’re not a gun guy, take it to the range at least once so you and your wife can fire it, so it’s not totally foreign if you ever have to use it.

    This will give you more peace of mind defending yourself against wild animals / looting hordes / mutant zombies than that multitool will.

  22. as a generic emergency kit, that’s not bad. however, emergency kits need to be tailored to the type of emergency you are expecting as most probable.

    water, food, heat, shelter, 1st aid are the basics. i’d look a little more closely in what kind of water filtration system is included; i’d definitely look at what comes in the first aid kit. rest of the stuff is fine.

  23. I live in earthquake country… so there is real reason to have something like this… not imaginary.

    But I would add: Don’t forget some important things.

    Some cash in a ziploc bag. Power outages put out ATMs.
    A few weeks supply of any prescription meds you take. Rotate them out each month.
    A spare pair of prescription glasses… even if you wear contacts.
    And don’t forget food and water for your pets.

  24. Water should be number one followed by surplus ammunition then the firearm the ammunition is for. If all goes to pot ammo will be more valuble then most anything b/c all the guns in the world are useless without it since it’s not easy to produce your own high quality powder when reloading. Stick with a basic shotgun for getting food and a Ruger Mini-14 for big game/protection.

    With the above tools you should be able to trade for or “requisition” anything else you need.

  25. Here is a scary post by someone who lived through Argentina’s economic collapse a few years ago. He goes into detail about the things that happened and how to prepare for such a thing.

  26. Given the choice of this cheap crap from Costco, and what you had before, which was diddly squat. I’d take the cheap crap. It will hold you until the immediate danger passes and you can beat someone up and take their good stuff if you need it.

    One thing in addition to the gun, condoms. Make sure you rotate THOSE every few months. If there’s a long term crisis and resources are scarce, the last thing you want is a baby that does nothing but consume resources, including time and peace of mind!

  27. Someone mentioned that this is all stuff that is more or less used for serious camping. I would suggest going that route–because then you will fulfill your fear-desires, but you will also have a really fabulous camping outfit and won’t feel so bad about spending all that money.

    The post-modern atomic bomb apocalypse is probably going to be too big for CostCo to prepare you for it. We will probably all die anyways. Unless you live in Oklahoma.

  28. Gun, ammo, and more ammo. Follow that up with training. When the SHTF, those with guns will survive longer than those without.

  29. Hey John,
    Let’s not forget guns, big guns, the more the better. Armageddon is close at hand. Earthquakes, communist threats, presidential elections, and Rock N Roll, the list is endless. By the way, I know who the guy on the grassy knoll was….

  30. That is so cool. I love Costco.

  31. I suggest accumulating the Sunday newspapers, they taste better then the MRE food you get here.

  32. Every time there’s the threat of snow here in Nashville, people make a crazed run on the Kroger. I’d hate to see them in any kind of real crisis.

    Which particular end-of-the-world scenario are you attempting to prepare for here? Call me a skeptic and you can eat me when i’m dead wrong (literally), but there’s definitely a tendency to slippery-slope our disaster narratives. Think about all of the crazies in Nashville. The snow always melts in a matter of hours. Who doesn’t have enough canned/frozen food around for one meal?

    So on overreacting: It is prudent to buy stocks in a recession, and also prudent to buy guns ‘n ammo / MREs? Surely there is a middle ground here…

    Like I said, if i’m wrong, I’ll be dead, and you can eat me.

  33. If you have a well stocked cupboard you’re probably OK. If not, then a disaster kit might not be a bad idea.

    Just think of recent natural disasters that caused people not to be able to leave their house: ice storm, flood, power outage, earthquake. All of these have happened in various parts of the country within the last 5 years.

    What’s a few bucks for a “just in case” scenario.

    If McCain gets in I might be tapping my survival kit for some basic needs.

  34. I’m looking into this right now as I live in the Bay Area. The Costco one looks fairly comparable to the RedCross one that’s sold on the web. There was also another website where you can buy the products piecemeal and build your own kit based on what you want.

    I havn’t bought a kit yet as after hours of searching, I realized that no kit is 100% perfect. It kind of depends on what you want to prepare for. The stuff you need for earthquakes are different from other disasters. So what I’m going to do is go to Emeryville. There is a store there that sells disaster preparedness stuff. Hoping I can pick someone’s brain to get a better idea of what I need.

  35. auntie_green says:

    I took an earthquake preparedness class at my work a few years ago, and 2 things I remember
    – cash, like someone said above – for the same reason, the atms might be out
    – always keep at least 1/4 tank of gas in your car. The roads might be passable, but the trucks might not be able to get to the gas stations

  36. OK, your kit has a ton of problems.

    – Completely insufficient first aid (needs pain-killers, look at the hard plastic splints, instant hot/cold packs and that’s just the start)
    – No knives? You need at least two real knives + a sharpener.
    – You live in the US, you’re allowed to own a gun, that’s probably relevant if not for the hunting then at least for the zombies πŸ™‚
    – Sterile, sealed water bottles

    If you’re out for longer term, you want:
    – Sewing kit (needles, thread, maybe some patches of material)
    – Lots of batteries (for the stuff you scrounge)
    – Some form of sterilization material method (not just for water)
    – Gear actually intended for surviving inclement weather
    – Backpacks if you don’t already have them
    – Some form of survival guide
    – Seed packets for common plants

    Frankly, gear commonly used for hiking / camping is good starting point for this. I would compare the workmanship of something you find at North Face with whatever you find at Costco, if only to know the corners you’re cutting.

    Honestly, this survival kit seems like the “Stay-at-home in case of emergency kit”. Which may or may not be what you need.

  37. Miserly Bastard and I wrote some posts about emergency survival kits a few years back. Search our blogs for them. There’s some good give and take in the comments between the two of us.

    The main thing that bugs me about the pre-packed kit is that very few the meals are MRE’s. MRE’s are MUCH BETTER than they used to be. The pop-tarts in them are a lot better now and are the best part of the breakfast MRE. You can buy them by the case for fairly cheap through camping stores.

    Like other folks, quality camping gear is fairly easy to find and will serve people well without a “false sense of security in a box”. The main thing is that you need to know how to use this stuff before you need it and pre-packaging it does not facilitate learning. Putting together a Coleman stove and wondering why the canister shows frost is something that is easily understood if you take the time to do it before a crisis is occurring. Otherwise, it’s sure weird to see it for the first time. (I was a disaster and half pitching a tent for the first time as an adult. My friends just watched and laughed and then taught me to tie a trucker’s hitch to secure my rain fly.)

    Other things I’d add:
    Hand Saw
    Hard soled shoes
    Feminine hygiene products
    Appropriate supplies of chronic medications
    Gauze and bandages (bleeding wounds need a lot of dressing changes. buy extra with your FSA at the end of the year.)

    The shoes might sound crazy, but Northridge earthquake victims had lacerated feet because they ran out into the night over broken glass with barefeet. Accessible sturdy shoes can make a difference.

    FWIW, there is nothing wrong with ‘sheltering in place’. But you have to know what you are doing.

  38. oh right. I forgot. Gates is right about a survival guide, or at the very least a book on knots. But again, practice will make perfect. I can’t tie the trucker’s hitch anymore….

  39. FirstLady in KY says:

    The standard Emergency Supply Kit
    Six Days Worth of Food
    For Two People
    Item # 344593 is currently $49.00 after $20.99 OFF at

    I ordered one today as a backup to keep handy. You may be prepared yourself, but wouldn’t it be nice to give to someone else when the need arises? Those of us who grew up with fallout shelters in the 60’s remember the hypothetical ethical dilemma posed by neighbors knocking at our door begging to come into our family shelter…..

  40. I purchased some of the stuff from Costco. I pretty much had all of the miscellaneous stuff, so I went straight to the food-only buckets. $75 for 275 servings of 200 calories each. This is basically a months supply based on an 1800 to 2000 calorie diet. More at half-rations. The food is good, as long as you plan on having enough water and the ability to cook it. This is freeze-dried food, so water and heating are required. Figure a gallon to cook and a gallon to drink per person, per day. It adds up fast. This is very inexpensive compared to Mountain House and the other major brands that I have purchased. The only clue I have is that it comes from Salt Lake City, Utah. A little birdie told me that this plant sells the over runs from the food that they prepare for Mormon families who buy it. It makes a lot of sense, and explains the low price. The biggest advantage of freeze dried food is the 20-year shelf life. Most survival foods have a 2 to 5 year shelf life. As such, the cost per year of the Costco stuff is excellent. It is also vegetarian.

    Having said that… some people think this is necessary, while others do not. I won’t try to convince anyone based on the many examples out there. I’ll tell you this: If you bother to stockpile anything, be prepared to protect it. Your moron neighbor might not have any food for his family, but he might have a gun. Friendship fades quickly when your family is starving. Just a thought. πŸ™‚

  41. Sue Bradley says:

    My husband and I bought the Costco Complete Emergency Kit, an additional bucket of emergency meals , and the emergency seeds packet. We live in a large city that is at high risk for disastrous flooding.We might have to evacuate quickly or be stranded in our two-story cut off from supplies. In a pandemic, we’d also be on our own.The costco emergency supplies contained much of what experts seem to recommend for survival, and the quality was better than we expected.We will supplement the Costco kits with additional items, but overall I consider these kits a good value ,and I’m a die-hard cheapskate.

  42. Great thing is you don’t have to pay a ton for your food storage. Many places offer deals throughout the year and it’s ok to buy your emergency food storage over time.

  43. ERnurseNcamper says:

    Putting together kit for my daughters school and saw this, just adding my two cents. Most people have what they need already in their homes however some of these kits are useful for the commuter. Most avid campers have items as well and even more still have campers, motorhomes and such. Take stock before you panic.

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