Prepper Color Coding | How To Get Organized

by Tommy Grant

You can get organized at any point in your preparedness journey, but the sooner the better. The longer you wait, the less effective and less familiar you are with your supplies and equipment. It doesn’t have to be difficult- thanks to a survey several years back it can now be as easy as prepper color coding.

We also made a handy DIY version of the color-coding kit if you want to try something homemade out. It’s easy to use, makes all of your gear easily distinguished, and has no drawback.


Contents (Jump to a Section)


Why Organize by Color?

If you use similar bags or containers to organize supplies and gear, how do you recognize which is which?

Most people write on them what they are. The limitation there is that the writing has to stay in a spot where you can easily read it.

If you use an initial, or symbol- you can spot it from further away and without reading at all. But, it still might not be easily visible at an angle. Plus, first and fire both start with ‘F’, so you can’t label those kits the same.

That’s where color comes in. Barring the 8% of men and 0.5% of women who are color blind, color coding is the quickest and easiest way to label and categorize.


The Color of Prepping

Here are the universally accepted colors of prepping:

  • Red: First aid and medicine
  • Orange: Fire (matches, fire starters, tinder)
  • Yellow: Communication and Navigation (radios, compass, maps)
  • Green: Food
  • Blue: Water (purification, filters, containers)
  • Purple: Clothing and personal Items (skivvy rolls, PPE, games/books)
  • White: Hygiene and sanitation (toothbrush, soap, wipes)
  • Black: Tools and tactical gear
  • Grey: Cookware and cooking implements
  • Brown: Shelter (tents, blankets, tarps)

Do you have to use these colors when organizing?

Of course not.

These are just a guide to get you started and thinking about how getting organized can help your inventory management and even reaction time during emergencies.

You don’t even have to group by these categories. I personally like to combine clothing and shelter. You’d be hard-pressed to convince me that my Swagman Roll won’t provide me with shelter, and even harder-pressed to convince me to add a purple tag to it.


The Urban Prepper Survey

You may recognize all of these color-coordinated organizational tools from The Urban Prepper about a decade back (yes, it’s been that long!) He sent out a survey to his subscribers to help color-code the various areas of prepping. You may also recognize him from our Top 10 Prepper YouTubers that he consistently ranks on.

The Urban Prepper, like us, is a big fan of component-type kits that can benefit from being labeled and easily recognized.

His survey helped solidify the colors used for the different areas of prepping.

Many were straightforward with colors being selected in a landslide but other results were more convoluted. In this video, he breaks down the results:


Prepper Color-Coding Kit

The good folks over at Vanquest put together a kit based on The Urban Prepper’s survey results and video.

It consists of:

  • 1x 2.25” x 3.25” PVC hook and loop reference patch
  • 10x AnchorWrap strips (1″x 3″) in the corresponding colors.

It’s a great little kit to get your EDC loadout or bug out bag organized quickly and easily.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.


Make Your Own Color-Code Kit

As an alternative to the pre-made color coding kit, you can make your own. You can print off this image that we’ve made into a 2″ x 3″ card with a color printer to start.

You could use weather-resistant paper or laminate it, but once you have your reference card ready you’ll just need the colored labels.

We’ve used:

You can get creative- as long as you know what you are trying to signal, anything will work. For some gear that comes in color options, we started getting the color that corresponds accordingly.


More Organization Hacks

Resources that can’t be found aren’t resources at all. They might even be worse than not having them since they can give you a false sense of security.

Getting organized is important if you really want to be prepared and utilize all of your supplies, gear, and equipment.

Here are some other helpful organizational tips:

  • Use FIFO: First-in, first-out is useful for all kinds of storage. Don’t let things sit in the back and expire, rotate your supplies just by how you store them.
  • Reach matters: Store high-use supplies at eye level. Heavy supplies should go low, and bulky lightweight supplies should go high.
  • Chalkboard paint: Mark on anything by turning it into a chalkboard
  • Dry-erase wallpaper: Turn anything into a dry-erase board (I even put one on the back of my laptop)
  • Practice: Do your family members know where important supplies are? Dry run your emergency plan at least once a year.

The Final Word

Color organizing your prepper gear will help you out more than you know. Colors are instantly recognizable, and when seconds matter being organized can make all of the difference.

If you are looking to learn more, check out a few related posts:

Hopefully, this guide has helped you get organized or at the very least inspired with ideas to make your prepper color coding organization go smoother.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.


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