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A Simple Kit for the Worst Case Scenario

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Updated June 24, 2011


As a simple emergency pack for the car, the ReadyBox would be perfect for the trunk.

(c) ReadyBox

Occasionally, a product comes along that I really don't want to like. ReadyBox is that product, a collection of "disaster supplies" marketed to those who worry about being caught in an emergency with their proverbial pants down.

However, despite not wanting to like it, the ReadyBox grew on me. It does what it claims, comes packed with supplies, and sells for a fairly reasonable price.

First Impressions

I received a complimentary ReadyBox from the manufacturer for review. It looks similar to the case for my cordless drill, except that it's neon yellow and glows in the dark. Despite the fact that it has a handle like my drill case, the first thing I noticed about the ReadyBox is: It's heavy!

It's portable because it has a handle, but it's definitely not lightweight.

I was immediately put off by the fact that I couldn't open it. The thing is sealed from the factory and opening it voids the warranty. Besides, it's supposed to float, but only if it hasn't been opened yet. I didn't have time to test the floating part on day one, so I couldn't crack it open for a look-see.

If I had paid for the ReadyBox, I would have no way of checking to make sure I got what I purchased. I wouldn't know for sure until it was time to rely on it.

The ReadyBox Grows on You

ReadyBox Floating in Water

The ReadyBox floated in my pool for 30 minutes without a problem.

(c) Heather Brouhard

I live in the safest part of the country so having a full complement of disaster supplies is not as important for my family as it is for somebody living on the Florida coast. Something like the ReadyBox is an easy way for my neighbors and me to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

I didn't want to like this thing. In my experience, disaster kits are too expensive for what you get. Twenty bucks' worth of supplies in a fancy plastic case will sometimes sell for $150. First aid kits regularly have the same kind of mark-up and I just can't recommend spending that kind of cash on something you're hopefully never going to use.

The thing is: The ReadyBox isn't that expensive. It costs about $80 for the version I got. Supposedly, there are enough supplies in the ReadyBox to sustain two people. The government recommends 72 hours (3 days) of water and rations in case of a disaster. The ReadyBox certainly doesn't provide that for two people, but it would be fine for a single person that long.

Rubber, meet Road

Here are the manufacturer's claims and how they stack up to the ReadyBox I got:

  • Two people for 3 days? Not if you're relying on the ReadyBox for water. If you already have enough water to sustain at least one person, then the ReadyBox has enough food to get the job done.

  • It floats? Yep. For half an hour the ReadyBox spent time in my pool with the kids. No moisture got in. Unfortunately, you can't open the kit to check out the contents because it won't float after that.

  • It glows in the dark? Yes, but as an emergency feature it was kind of useless. After all day in the sun it glowed, but as soon as the light was turned on the feature was pretty useless.

  • It has an emergency light/radio with a cell phone charger? Yep and as a light and radio it works like a charm. Not sure about the cell phone charging business.

  • It has emergency food supplies? There are 12 biscuits of 400 calories each. The good news is they taste reasonably good, but I would be hungry for almost anything else after three days of these cookies.

  • It has hospital quality first aid supplies? Sort of. The first aid stuff in the ReadyBox is extremely underwhelming. There are a few non-stick pads and adhesive bandages, as well as a single trauma dressing and two wraps. Additionally, there are only two small packs of antibiotic ointment. I'm not impressed.

  • The food and water will stay safe for 5 years? Sure, but there's no way to check the expiration dates on the food and water without opening the box, which voids the warranty and ruins the whole floating thing. Stamp the expiration date on the outside, people.

A problem: the ReadyBox has no scissors or knives. I was able to open every package in the box with my bare hands, but if you have arthritis or weakness you might have a problem. I think there should be at least a small pair of bandage scissors in there.

The Bottom Line

The ReadyBox is better than I wanted it to be. I wanted to tell you not to fall for this kind of scare tactic marketing, but all in all this is a pretty good kit to throw in the trunk of your car or put in your boat.

There are cheaper ways to get all the stuff in this kit. With a quick search I was able to find all the supplies in here for about $35, including the radio/flashlight/charger. But then I wouldn't have anyplace to store my drill.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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