The 72-Hour Kit

Photo: Michael Kraus

It can’t happen here … but if it does, you’ll want to be prepared. Below is a survivalist-certified checklist of everything a New Yorker might need to survive in the urban wilderness.

Gas masks with extra canisters (1 per adult with 1 extra canister apiece) ($170)

Child gas mask ($200)

Hooded infant seat

Smoke hood (Essex Plus 10, used on Air Force One, is the best; $195)

D-class Tyvek hazmat coverall ($9–$12), plus gloves and duct tape (to seal gaps)

Potassium iodate or iodide pills

Military atropine auto-injector or tablets (for nerve-gas exposure) ($300)

Police radio scanner

Basic first-aid kit

2 water filters (Katadyn is best; $200 each)


Insect repellent (DEET)

2 lighters – one flint, one gas – plus windproof, waterproof matches

2 flashlights, with extra bulbs and batteries (optional: battery-free NightStar flashlight from Applied Innovative Technologies; $75)

2 emergency candles  

550-lb.-test nylon cord 

Extra cotton underwear

Two knives (folder and fixed blade)

Powdered drink mix, tea, coffee, Gookinaid ERG (electrolyte replacement with glucose)

Pedialyte for children

Dehydrated trail food



Radio (hand-crank or solar) 

Stainless-steel mess kit

Cooking utensils

Portable stove

Rain ponchos 

Cat litter (for disposing of human waste)

3 pairs wick-dry socks

2 pairs Sorbothane shock insoles, 2 pairs sealskin socks

2 pairs sturdy shoes

2 BDU pants (black, tiger-striped, camouflage prints)

Important papers and personal photographs 

2 Boonie hats 


Work gloves 

Tri-fold shovel

Small pry bar

Water containers (canteens, camelback, jugs, etc.)

6 to 10 A.L.I.C.E. (all-purpose lightweight individual carrying equipment) pouches

2 signal mirrors

Water-purification tablets

1 pack fish hooks

5 assorted sinkers

1 spool 30- to 50-lb.-test fishing line

Ziploc bags

2 Tomahawk multi-tools

Magnesium fire starter

2 Mylar blankets

Thermal blanket

Sleeping bags


2 inflatable or wooden splints (for fractured limbs)  

Charcoal tablets


Survivor N.Y.C.
It used to be paranoia. Now it’s being prepared. Robert Kolker hangs out with urban survivalists who’ve made a science of getting ready for anything the city – or Osama bin Laden – might throw at them.

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The 72-Hour Kit