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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?