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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

16+ Non-Traditional Containers For Your Bug Out Bag/Emergency Kit

 Original Article

tool box, stack of white 5 gallon buckets, garbage can on wheels; rolling suitcase; containers for emergency kits

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 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.

Under the bed storage container

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!

Space Bags

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, 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.

Ziploc Flexible Tote

These are inexpensive, allow one to easily see inside the tote, and 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.

Diaper bag

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 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.

Rubbermaid Action Packers

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, if these cons weren’t an issue, this is a solid choice.

Heavy-duty black trash bags

Be sure to buy “contractor” bags. These are amazingly resilient, stretch a bit as you stuff more into them, and are very 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, keep in mind 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 2 or more different types of containers. For example, a 5-gallon bucket can hold food and cooking supplies and will provide an emergency toilet, a large water container, and a handy tote for firewood. Then use a Space Bag to hold sleeping bags and cold weather clothing and finally a large backpack for everything else. You’ll have 2 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 the different ages and physical capabilities of your family members. 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 supplies that are communal.

What kinds of non-traditional containers for emergency supplies have you used and recommended?

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