Newly‑Minted Preppers

In October of 2012, two pallets of survival supplies landed on our door step. It was a Christmas gift from my mother‑in‑law, an Ultimate Family Preparedness Pak from Nitro‑Pak Preparedness Center, Inc. One pallet of water storage barrels, and one of food and other items.

I had never given much thought to long term water/food storage other than when bad weather was imminent. We lived in Houston during tropical storm Allison, and hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike. We were lucky enough to come through all of those storms safely. Then for us, with a lot of work, the aftermath of each was more inconvenient than dire. To our friends, neighbors, and most of all KBR (my employer during those years), we are thankful.

Since this kit has arrived I have become aware of the term "preppers", and that there are TV shows about disaster preparation. I was also surprised how many people have obstreperous opinions on the subject. I had one co‑worker offer me cash outright for the entire kit. I had others wanting to buy small parts. Most were ambivalent. Some thought it was pretty neat and were envious. I certainly thought I was lucky. Then there were a few who thought it was a waste of time, space, and money. One co‑worker even compared it to someone having dropped refuse on my lawn, and offered to bring more garbage to my house for me. A neighbor said she would rather die. To each their own.

Looking the kit up on the web, I found that it cost what to me is a staggering amount of money, around $8,000. I paid less than half of that for my car. My mother‑in‑law is very generous. I believe my family now falls squarely under the "preppers" label, and very gratefully so.

This particular kit is designed to provide everything a family‑of‑four needs for surviving 3 months of hardship. Not just to survive, but to survive well, and in a variety of circumstances. You will eat good food in a warm and sanitary environment if you can "dig‑in" and stay where you are. There are also pre‑packaged supplies to "bug‑out" if you need to, with everything four people would need to survive for 72 hours on the run in two backpacks.

So what exactly do you get for that kind of cash? I was interested to learn, and thought others might be as well. I would not be able to afford it without it being a higher priority for me. Even if it were, I would not drop that kind of coin on a kit without knowing exactly what I was getting. I thought it might help others if I described the kit in detail. So the following is what we received, put together by people who know a heckuvalot more about prepping than I do. First a summary, then a detailed list at the end.


The most important resource is water, without which you do not survive many days, much less months. To this end, the kit has:


There is an excellent variety of food. Most of it comes from Mountain House, which I am told has delicious products. There is a lot from Rocky Mountain Food Reserves too.


Lots of supplies here, more than one might think necessary at first glance, but you can see why people with experience added each item.


Supplies for moderate length needs, giving you plenty of time to find more permanent solutions if necessary.


6 medical kits in all, very thorough. Enough supplies for one or two serious injuries/episodes.

Receiving the pallets was just the beginning. As newly‑minted preppers, we had to figure out what to do with all this stuff. I was at work, and it took my wife 20 minutes just to schlep the boxes from the front lawn into the living room. We had to go through it all and figure out what it all was. We wanted to catalog the contents and note expiration dates so that we would know what needed to be consumed by when, and where in the house to find things later.

The first weekend we sorted through the food boxes, taking notes on box numbers, contents, and expiration dates. Most of the food is freeze‑dried in cans 6 inches in diameter and 7 inches tall. When you open them, you are committed to consuming the whole can within a week. The number of servings per can varies greatly. Some cans have 9 servings, some have 54. There is also a lot of food in much smaller pouches for when you do not need as much.

Most of the food expires in 2037. Some have 15 or 10 year shelf lives. The Instant Quick Oats win, expiring October 2042. The Rinse‑Free sanitizing foams lose, expiring in just two months (maybe I should write to Nitro‑Pak about that). These dates are predicated on storage at a cool temperature, less than 72°F. We do not have a basement, so the best we are going to do is room temperature.

It took the better part of two evenings to catalog just the food, partially because I took photographs of everything. I also combined some boxes where it made sense, and marked every side of each box with the box number. We left these stacked in a corner of the living room until we could determine a place to store them.

We also peeked into the non‑food boxes looking for items with an expiration date. These got stacked in the dining room and dealt with last as there was more combining/rearranging to do with these. Then we got started on permanent storage.

I started with the most bulky, the eight 55‑gallon water barrels. As garage storage was not a viable option and we do not get long freezing periods in the Dallas area, I decided on building a small storage deck outdoors next to the trampoline. The barrels must be shielded from sunlight, and the kids needed a ladder anyway. For about $300 and a weekend of effort, we built a pressure‑treated lumber frame with cedar cladding and decking that matched the fence. I added interior hooks for one siphon pump and bung wrench. With the barrels filled with tap water, treated, and sealed, were ready for a disaster. As I understand, the water will be good for 5 years, needing only to be aerated for taste before drinking. I will be doing more research before consuming though.

Next came the boxes needing climate‑controlled storage. This was anything with food in it. Most of the boxes were fairly light. The boxes with puddings cans were decidedly heavy, as were the salt and sugar cans. We opted to leave the cans in the boxes, 6 per. We might have achieved a higher storage density by storing the cans without the boxes, but the boxes sure made it easy to stack and track.

We have high ceilings in our house, and this means that the pantry and closets have lots of unused space at the top. I added slats above the pantry door frame, and 20 boxes rest directly on these, along with the extra siphon pump and bung wrench. The linen closet got 10 boxes, and the remaining 6, along with short term supplies and bug‑out kits, went in to my bedroom closet.

The last to be processed and stored were the non‑food items. The kit came with extra items for the various appliances in separate boxes, which I combined where possible. Also, removing the foam peanuts allowed us to use fewer boxes. These all went into attic storage.

It took us a few weeks to sort all this stuff out. There is what I consider an amazing amount of product in the kit. It is nice to be minimally prepared for 3 months. A few weeks after receiving it, Hurricane Sandy dealt the northeast United States a serious blow, driving the point home rather forcefully. A lot of people went hungry for a while after that storm. I certainly do not hope for a disaster to befall our area, but will be fun to use this stuff before it expires, even during minor power‑outages.


Permanent Storage
Portable Storage




#43 & #44