12 Survival Items You May Have Overlooked

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When we talk about survival, there are certain items that immediately come to mind. We start with the discussion of beans, bullets and band-aids. This logically flows to having at least a 30 day supply of food, firearms and ammo to defend your home or retreat and medical instruments and supplies to take care of a variety of injuries in an emergency. This gets you the basics and then we talk about extending those provisions to last longer time periods, support more extreme scenarios or to include additional bodies.

On top of the basics, we have allowances for backup power, usually in the form of solar panels for long-term energy self-reliance or generators for short-term needs. Stored fuel is brought in to alleviate gas shortages or to extend our reach to our bug out locations or power generators. Gardens and raising small animals rounds off the discussions nicely.

What we seldom talk about though are the little survival items that people can forget. These are often the easiest to procure, least costly and seemingly simple items that a lot of you may have around your house already. If not, you might kick yourself if the SHTF and you were without some of these.

Oils for engines

Often overlooked is oils and lubricants. You may have 50 gallons of gas stored up for your generator, but do you have any oil? Generators or any two-cycle engines need oil to work, so it’s good to stock some away if you have to use any equipment. If you have used your generator, don’t forget to resupply. Not resupplying is a problem for many preppers (myself included) and is frankly stupid. You go through the pains of getting the supplies you need and a simple project around the house or camping trip requires some of those same supplies. It doesn’t matter if you have the world’s greatest first-aid kit. If it is empty of bandages because you used them to take care of cousin Bob when he split his head open at the last family reunion, you are screwed. If you use it, replace it.

Back to oil; make sure you have plenty for all of your equipment and more to share. This can be used for barter also and might help a neighbor out. If your neighbor has a tiller or chainsaw and you have the oil, you can make a deal.

Good boots

One of these days I will write a post about the best footwear for a survival situation, but for now let me simply state the importance of good leather boots. You need something that will protect your feet and hold up for a long time of abuse. Canvas hikers are really comfortable, but the soft soles wear quickly and a sharp stick can open them up. They may be great at wicking water, but if they are falling apart in 9 months of everyday use, are they really that great?

On the same subject, I see so many people nowadays running around in flip-flops. God forbid if something was to happen and you had to trek 40 miles over rough terrain. Good leather boots, maybe with steel toes will last a long time and can save your feet from a lot of pain. Redwing makes several great lines of boots and I believe they are still American made.


This should be a no-brainier but we as a society have relied less and less on maps because of our GPS enabled lives. You should have good quality road maps for the area around you or if you plan to bug out. I have a big road atlas in each car and anytime we go somewhere new I try to pick up a map. Another option is good topographical maps of your home town or retreat areas. You can get a lot of excellent maps at the USGS Topographic Map site.


Rope has millions of uses from tying down tarps to lashing poles together. I would get several different types of rope from nylon to hemp for different uses. Paracord shouldn’t be the only thing you buy. Along with purchasing rope you need to know how to tie a knot. A great site for learning important knots is Animated Knots by GROG where you can learn everything from a half-hitch to a Carrick Bend Mat.

Duct Tape

Like rope, duct tape has millions to the 12th power of uses. Buy several roles and don’t get the basic stuff meant for actual duct work. Splurge and get Gorilla tape. It will hold stronger than regular duct tape.

Spare Wood

Spare wood is one of those items that my wife hates. She simply can’t see the need to have a lot of pieces in various lengths, styles and shapes just sitting in the shed not doing anything. Having spare wood can come in handy though for a variety of situations. If you have to cover a door that was kicked in. it’s good to have a few sheets of plywood. Need to make a simple addition to your chicken coop to handle the growing flock? You could use some two by fours. Almost all wood can be used to build something. As an added bonus buy several boxes of nails to go along with that. 8D, 16d and finishing nails will knock out a lot of projects.

Hand tools

To compliment the spare wood, you need hand tools to go along with them. I am not talking about the kitchen “junk drawer” tools that everyone has; a little pink ball peen hammer, a crescent wrench and two screwdrivers. You need tools that will allow you to build something if there is no more electricity. I would purchase a good saw and some clamps, a very nice hammer, set of screwdrivers and wrenches.

Expanding on this you will likely need tools for your yard or garden. I can’t tell you how many rakes and shovels and wheel barrows we have been through because I bought the cheapest thing they had. Remember, there won’t be any Home Depot if the grid goes down so buy quality. You may cry now, but it’s better to buy one tool that lasts a lifetime. A decent shovel, axe and sledge-hammer will do thousands of chores.

Carry system

It’s much easier to have and practice with gear now than to try and create it later.

Moving on from household items, there are some considerations for if it really all goes bad and we are living in a WROL (without rule of law) scenario. All of the guns you have saved for need a home a proper holster is a minimum. If you only have a handgun, a quality leather holster is a great investment. It will keep your side arm on you at all times in an easily accessible position. If you are like me, I prefer a thigh-rig. This is for two reasons. First, I plan on wearing a vest and there isn’t room for the pistol. Secondly, I have two additional magazine pouches on the thigh rig so it keeps everything nice and neat.

I mentioned a vest. There are a lot of options for LBE (load bearing equipment) but I like the vest concept as a generally good solution for most situations. This allows me to hold 12 AR magazines, First Aid kit, radio and two additional pistol magazines right up front where I can reach them. There are lots of other options that work nicely, the point is you want to have something now to hold your stuff if the time comes when you need it. You don’t want to be the guy in the street sticking his Glock down his pants because he doesn’t have a holster.


These are on every soldier that is deployed, every police officer in a tactical unit and pretty much anyone who knows what it feels like to take a knee on top of a good-sized rock. Knee pads will allow you to take cover with less injury to your knees. For about $15 you can protect your knees (which may be more sensitive than you know) from a lot of pain. Try sliding on your driveway behind the car with nothing but your pants on.


I am not recommending everyone suit up for battle, but camouflage is a great choice of clothing for a few reasons. It is great at concealment when hunting. For pattern, I would recommend the old Woodland camo pattern. You can pick these up cheaply on eBay or Craigslist or my personal favorite, the Army Navy store. Camouflage will help you blend into foliage if the time comes when you need to hide. I would also recommend a ghillie suit for extra credit, but you can make your own with burlap bags and some patience. I am sure you can imagine various reasons where having this would be preferable to your skinny leg blue jeans.

Backup Solar Power

Solar panel systems can be very expensive. If you plan to have enough solar panels to enable off-grid living you could be looking at well over 10K as an initial investment. There is a simpler option to get you by in a disaster though that won’t break the bank. There is a system called the Sunforce 50048 60-Watt Solar Charging kit that will get you basic power. Add this to four deep-cycle batteries and you can comfortably charge a good many electronics each day. If you have the system charged properly, you might even get away with running a fridge or freezer for a couple of hours too.

Bolt cutters

I’ll say this again that I don’t condone nor am I advocating stealing from anyone. However, there may be circumstances where this guideline doesn’t apply for various reasons. You have to make that choice. If the situation does dictate you needing to cut a lock, bolt cutters are a good, cheap option that are nice to have. You don’t have to use them on anyone else’s lock but yours if you like, but like insurance, you never know when you will need them.

I am sure others have plenty of ideas too. What items have you thought of to store?


  1. jay

    March 27, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Good on ya for mentioning oil. I’ve been sayin that for years now. I say have a case of oil per vehicle and a spare oil filter. In two years the price of oil( 12qts standard 5-30) has gone up $5. Yet you can still get a standard oil change for round $20. So keep that oil for when prices hit the roof. Also learn how to change your own oil

    • prepperjournal

      March 28, 2013 at 7:20 am

      Excellent points Jay!

  2. dave

    March 27, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    I stored a few Fresnel lenses and a couple of parabolic reflectors. Also about 200 pounds of leaf springs for metal tool supplies, Arkansas stones, extra cutlery, hand tools, some flint and knapping tools, salvaged leather – basically a lot of ‘primitive’ craft supplies of any kind I can think to store. I even have a small sack of used in-line skate wheels for the top of bow drill spindles.

    • prepperjournal

      March 28, 2013 at 7:20 am

      Thanks for the comment Dave!

      I think those are all great ideas also. I have been meaning to look into leather making because I can see a very big need for that if we ever go through a really bad phase. Holsters, belts, hats and gloves. If you you know how to get the leather and how to work it that would be a tremendous skill.


  3. Emerson

    March 28, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I agree with the hand tools idea so much. I have a lot of hand-powered tools at home (hammers, wrenches, saw, miter box, etc.), and two years ago, I went through a local flea-market hoping to find what I was looking for, but really not expecting to find it. And there it was… a hand-powered rotary drill. I asked the guy how much and he said $10. What a deal, and what an item to have in a grid-down scenario.

    • prepperjournal

      March 28, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Great addition Emerson! All sorts of woodworking tools (non electric of course) could see a resurgence in popularity one day if we are unlucky. The wise prepper has some of these on hand.

      I can also add to your hand drill, a hand-mixer for the kitchen. We came across one in a yard sale and snatched it up. Great tools when the grid goes down.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Emerson

        March 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm

        Thanks for the great idea Pat, will be on the look-out for that one. Already have a manual can opener, never use the electric ones. Great article!

        • primitive

          April 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm

          How about a treadle sewing machine?

          • Emerson

            April 1, 2013 at 2:11 pm

            my wife already has one from her grandmother, great idea!

    • primitive

      April 1, 2013 at 11:57 am

      Can I assume that by a “hand powered rotary dril” you mean an old fashioned bit and brace?

      • Emerson

        April 1, 2013 at 2:12 pm

        yes sir!

        • primitive

          April 1, 2013 at 2:29 pm

          I’m afraid that I am an old, Primitive Ma’am.

          • Emerson

            April 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm

            my apologies ma’am. I looked it up too, and the drill that I have is aptly called a gear drill, and was also called an “eggbeater” drill. Hopefully that helps some more. I love that drill.

            • primitive

              April 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm

              My dad, born in 1901, was a carpenter and I have such a drill or two in my basement bur never heard one referred to as an ‘egg-beater’. Many handtools still around my house.

  4. Ishimo

    November 16, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Pocket notebooks and pens for scouts. Industrial grade pry bar.

    • Pat Henry

      November 18, 2013 at 8:04 am

      A pry bar is another great one. That and the bolt cutters would be indispensable in a true grid down scenario.

  5. Terry Cline

    November 16, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    A hand fuel/water pump should be at your bug out location as well. If it’s grid down, that doesn’t mean the gas station tanks are dry…

    • Pat Henry

      November 18, 2013 at 8:04 am

      Excellent addition Terry! Thanks for commenting.

  6. Andrew Bard

    November 17, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    One thing I started doing was a “knowledge repository”… I have a tabletwith a solar charger and a large sSD memory card… As I find books on PDF that could be useful, I copy them to my tablet and my cell phones memory card. Juar because j can’t get cell service it doesnt mean I can’t look up a plant to see if it’s edible or the proper way to make a lean-to

    • Pat Henry

      November 18, 2013 at 8:06 am

      Assuming the we haven’t had an EMP strike that is a very good idea. We have had a lot of people downloading our articles too for that same reason. Each of our articles can be downloaded to a PDF and stored on your device for a rainy day…


      • Jennafer Jackson

        June 23, 2017 at 6:17 pm

        I print them out a little at a time. I even have 3 hole paper that I bought specifically for that. I have binders & pick them up every chance I get at garage sales gor pennies on the dollar. Then I catalog my binders (think old school library card catalog).

  7. farmer phyl

    February 1, 2014 at 3:16 am

    Any electric sewing machine can be turned by hand when the power is out. It’s slow, but still much faster than sewing by hand with a needle and thread.

    • P. Henry

      February 1, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Great point farmer phyl! Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.



    September 15, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    If I may I would include some god running shoes. New balance while all their shoes are not American made they do have a plant in the USA. They make one that is waterproof. I tried some with great skepticism and wore them for two years and were bone dry. They provide exceptional support. Boots are irreplaceable and the only other than the red wing boots are the ones made in Canada As a tradesman tools are the most important thing you can own. Good tools can make your job easer. In the cold and dark the tools will save your life. If you are willing to put your life at risk with the pocket do all fit it all in a tin then most likely you will die. Your tools must serve you when the light is gone and it is freezing cold and your hands are numb from the cold. flip open your pocket kit and your numb hands drop it and send all the little pieces into the snow, your dead. if you are injured and have use of only one hand so your chances for survival depend on your skill and quality of your tools. My mother always told me that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Planing and practice with your tools can make a difference. because you have a match doesn’t say you can start a fire The one thing I would add to have around would be a hand drawn wagon with a sled. heavy tarps and the rope to tie everything down. Knowing how to tie down with security saves your gear if it tumbles. I always look for good sources of equipment that are inexpensive but will do the job they are designed to do. Dont expect the nail trimmer with a knife to cut down a tree. The dollar store provides many bargains that will work just as well or better because you can afford to have more of what you need and having more than you need gives you the leverage to barter. Well I have put my rambling mode in high gear and I apologize for my English is poor and takes me ten words to explain that which should only take two. Thanks for listening. Avoid mail order tools if you can.

    • Pat Henry

      September 16, 2015 at 11:02 am

      Those are great additions to the list Grampa and don’t ever worry about rambling on this site. Feel free to ramble to your hearts content because every comment might contain useful information for someone out there.


    • ChangeTheChange

      February 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      I believe Corcoran boots are still made in the USA. I’m wearing a pair I
      bought 16 years ago while in the Air Force…they are now my motorcycle
      boots…added some heal savers so they’d last even longer. I’ve even
      replaced the laces with zippers to make them easy to put on and take
      off…snug but still have room for wool socks on the cold morning rides.

  9. Ian Carson

    April 26, 2016 at 8:02 am

    I often use fabric boots from the likes of Berghaus, TNF, Mammut, etc, wearing them year round. I can easily get 2-3 years from boots, only issue is they eventually start to lose support in the mid-sole which can be solved with insoles such as super-feet or Sorbathane
    Forget the specialist waterproofers and buy a can of masonry waterproofer which allows brickwork to breath, spray on until fabric is soaked and leave to dry. You only need to repeat IF the waterproofing starts to fail.

    Given that I use my boots every day and the terrain around here is hard rock such as granite I find the lifespan acceptable

    Anytime I go somewhere when I’m not wearing my boots I have them in my vehicle. I also have a complete set of clothing including socks and underwear and boots which live in the car. They sit under the back seats on a semi-permanent basis, only leaving 2 or 3 times a year to be swapped out for clean stuff/rotation purposes

    • Pat Henry

      April 26, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Thanks for the tip on the Masonry waterproofer Ian! Never would have considered that. For my leather boots I treat them all with mink oil or similar but that does need reapplication.

  10. Tucker

    July 27, 2016 at 9:28 am

    You may want to add fuel treatment (Seafoam, StarTron etc) to the list. Fuel, especially the ethanol based, will go bad quickly.

  11. Pokygirl2001

    August 25, 2016 at 9:23 am

    A darn set of nail clippers . Nobody says nail clippers. Do you know how irritating it would be to trim your toe nails with a bowie knife?!

  12. Pingback: The Pros and Cons of Bartering-The Prepper Dome

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