1) A large supply of bottled water, water purification/filter kit. – Water is your #1 priority, without it, you cannot survive. Bottled water can be purchased in bulk from most supermarkets but you can do it yourself with stainless steel water bottles (see the 40 oz. Kleen Kanteen which due to its design can also be used for boiling water).
You will need to select a water purification/filter kit that is of adequate size for your family. Always make sure that the kit you select filters out a maximum of 99.99% of the bacteria, viruses and other nasties.
We recommend the Sawyer and LifeStraw brands as they adequately meet the requirements of filtering contaminated water and are used by emergency aid organizations around the world.
2) Non-perishable food – Any food that does not require refrigeration and has a long shelf life. This may be canned, packaged or freeze-dried. You should have a supply of at least 3 months. Check out the Mountain House range of emergency foods with a 10-year shelf life.
3) Candles, wooden matches, lighters – These will provide emergency lighting in the event of a power outage or EMP attack and are inexpensive so it’s great to have as many as you can get your hands on. They can also come in handy for starting a fire for protection and warmth or lighting a gas stove.
4) Small Axe or hatchet – Should be heavy duty but light enough to be comfortably carried in a bag or on a belt. Can be used for a multitude of tasks among which are chopping up firewood. Check out the Schrade Survival Hatchet or the Bear Grylls Hatchet.
5) Propane fuel and propane camp stove – You will need something to cook a hot meal on and the next best thing to a traditional campfire is a portable propane stove. Ensure that you have an adequate supply of propane and that it is stored in a safe, secure place.
6) Well-stocked first-aid kit – You should ensure that the kit contains a mylar emergency thermal blanket and you can also add extra supplies as well as painkillers and prescriptions. Oh, and a note on prescriptions – if you or any of your loved ones must take prescribed medication, ensure that you have a supply that will last at least 3 months. Please be aware that it may be extremely difficult and even impossible to obtain further medication or medical treatment.
7) Portable radio and batteries – In the event of any disaster, your natural instinct will be to want to know what is going on. Internet access and mobile phone coverage may not be available in certain disaster situations. A radio tuned to your local news frequency can keep you updated with what’s happening.
8) Torch/lantern/headlamps and spare batteries – Always keep several of these on hand with fresh batteries ready for use. These can provide short term lighting should there be a power outage. Keep in mind that you have a limited supply of batteries and that torches and lanterns should only be used when necessary. We recommend the MagLED NewLite 2 or 3 D cell torch for a large intensive beam or if you’re looking for something smaller, the MagTac or Surefire’s tactical flashlight series is more than adequate. For headlamps, take a look at the LED Lenser brand.
9) Heavy duty tarp – Can be used for collecting water or as an improvised shelter. A couple of these are always great to have handy. It’s advisable to get military style ‘hootchies’.
10) Survival knife – This is one of the most important and invaluable items of a survival kit or Bug Out Bag. A rugged survival knife can mean the difference between life and death. For those new to this whole business of emergency/survival prepping, the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife is an excellent, affordable solution that is more than capable of a variety of tasks. It comes in an excellent sheath with a built-in fire starter, whistle, and a blade sharpener. If you’re looking for a more serious (and expensive) survival knife, we recommend the Gerber LMF2 Survival, the Gerber LHR, the Schrade SCHF 10, the Buck Hoodlum and the KA-BAR BK22. For more information on selecting the right survival knife for your needs and budget, please take a look at our ‘Survival Knives‘ page.
11) Hiking boots – A good pair of hiking boots are essential if you plan to be bugging out on foot in rough terrain. In an economic collapse, regular shoes such as sneaker and runners may not be available so it is a good idea to invest in a pair of hiking boots which (with the right care) can last you a long time. Like a good survival knife, expect to spend some money on hiking boots. When selecting a pair of hiking boots, make sure that the sole is stitched rather than simply glued on (as some of the cheap ones are).
12) Compass – Having a good compass and knowing how to use it can increase your odds greatly whether you’re out in the sticks and get lost or you have to ‘bug out’ of your town after a disaster.
13) Bivvy bag, wool blankets – This is similar to a sleeping bag but is usually waterproof and can provide some warmth and protection from the elements. Wool blankets can provide an extra measure of warmth should you require it. We recommend the SOL Escape Bivvy.
14) Personal hygiene – In a widespread disaster or an economic collapse, store and supermarket shelves will be empty. NOW is the time to stock up on vital personal hygiene items such as toilet paper, toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss, soap, shampoo, bleach, laundry detergent and don’t forget feminine hygiene products too. You never know when you go shopping that it just might be your last time – so stock up while you can! Check out our ‘DIY Emergency Personal Hygiene Kit’ article here.
15) Outdoor clothing – After a disaster strikes, you may find yourself helping neighbors clearing away debris or you may have to bug-out on foot. Buy clothing that is both tough and durable and provides protection from the elements. Look for durable work shirts, denim or Cordura pants, thermal underwear, wool socks, wool sweaters, broad-brimmed hats, etc. If your budget allows, you can purchase a number of these. You can find many of these types of clothing online or at outdoor gear and camping stores.
16) Bug Out Bag – A Bug Out Bag (BOB) or 72 hr pack is essential when ‘bugging out’ of a disaster situation and should contain many of the items listed here. Check out the NATO Fox Outdoor Rucksack or if you’re looking for a pre-packed solution, take a look at the 72 hr pack put together by iPrep Daily. See our Ultimate Bug Out Bag List here.
17) Survival Guide – What’s the most important thing to have in a survival situation? Skills! It’s no good having all this gear and not knowing how to effectively use it. We highly recommend John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman’s “SAS Survival Handbook: For Any Climate or Situation”. Few survival guides are as thorough and packed with expert, proven advise as his.
18) Paracord – US made, Type III, 550 parachute cord is much stronger than nylon or hemp (rated at 550 lbs. or approx. 250 kg) but is not actually parachute grade. Paracord can be useful for a multitude of tasks such as securing a shelter, improvised fishing line or lashing your knife to a stick as a makeshift spear. Paracord comes in a number of colors including black and OD green. Usually, Type III, 550 Paracord has 7 internal strands inside the main casing which can give you an amazing amount of cordage. If you’re looking for REAL parachute grade cord (which is obviously more expensive), check out the Genuine MIL-SPEC MIL-C-5040 Type III Paracord which has 7-9 yarns and 3 strands per yarn.
19) Personal Survival Kit – You should have a personal survival kit packed in an Altoids or tobacco tin with some bare essentials. Yes, you can get pre-packed survival kits, but it is highly recommended that you put together your own. Your kit should include the following: waterproof matches, candle, magnesium or ferrocerium fire starter, magnifying glass, needles and thread, fishhooks and lines, compass, small torch, snare wire, flexible saw, band-aids, and a water collection bag. This survival kit should be stored in a suitable pouch such as that used by the military for carrying ammunition (can be found at most army surplus stores). You can also carry other larger items in this pouch such as a folding survival knife, duct tape, mess tin, fuel, torch, flares, signaling mirror (a.k.a. heliograph), brew kit, rations, rain poncho, notepad, and pen.