30 Survival Items You Forgot to Buy

Fergus Mason
By Fergus Mason November 12, 2016 01:03

30 Survival Items You Forgot to Buy

You’ve got ten years’ worth of ammunition, your truck is equipped to go anywhere, the medical kit puts some small hospitals to shame and Delta Force are looking enviously at your night vision equipment. The basement is full of stockpiled food and the kitchen has all the gear you’ll need to dehydrate or can plenty more. You’re all ready to survive civil disorder, the collapse of society and the end of the world as we know it.

Or are you?

The chances are your emergency supplies cover the basics properly, but miss out a few essentials – and some other items that you could probably get by without, but will make your life after the apocalypse a lot easier and more pleasant. Here are 30 useful survival items you probably forgot to buy.

1. Paper plates

These are cheap and don’t take much storage space. They also avoid having to waste valuable water on unnecessary washing up.

2. Pencils and paper/notebooks

Paper is vital when you want to leave messages, keep records of remaining supplies, make a task list or just write the story of what’s happening. Pencils are more reliable than pens, and won’t unexpectedly run out at the worst possible moment.

3. Local maps

We’re all used to pulling up electronic mapping on our computers or phones, and navigating by GPS. You can’t rely on those in even a minor disaster, and in a major collapse they definitely won’t last long. Paper maps never fail and don’t need power.

4. Shoe and boot laces

The bets boots aren’t much good if you can’t lace them up, and working knots through eyelets gets boring in a hurry. Plus you can always find uses for some strong cord. And remember: Longer laces can be cut to length; shorter ones can’t be stretched.

5.  Sewing kit

You might have a small one around the house, but how long will it last when you have to mend – or even make – all your clothes? Stock up on strong, all-purpose thread and a few packs of needles.

eyeglass-repair-kit6. Glasses repair kit

If you wear glasses you need a spare pair, but also make sure you have some extra screws, other small parts and the tools to fit them.

7. Duct tape

This is basically a miracle substance. It can be used for all kinds of projects and repairs, and you can never have enough of it in your supplies. Don’t have any? Get some. Bought a few rolls already? Buy some more!

Related: 26 Practical Survival Uses for Duct Tape

8. Hand sanitizer

Washing your hands is essential, but it also uses water. Most of the time a dollop of hand sanitizer will do the job just fine.

9. Ear plugs

If you’re hunting with a firearm, you need ear defense. There’s nothing macho about damaging your hearing with repeated muzzle blasts – especially when you’re dependent on your own senses for food and security.

10. Plastic sheet

Heavy duty plastic sheet has almost as many uses as duct tape. Fix a leaking roof, patch up broken windows, line a tank for water storage or leather tanning… it’s incredibly versatile, and very cheap.

11. Tarps

Plastic sheet is great, but sometimes it’s not enough. Tarps can stand more abuse, they can provide shade if you’re working (or relaxing) outside, and eyelets make them easy to tie down over your stuff.

Related: 3 Quick Shelters (The Last One is Invisible!)

12. Mechanical clocks

In a long-term SHTF situation, electric clocks will start to put a real dent in your supply of AA batteries. A lot of them aren’t EMP-resistant, either. Good old-fashioned wind-up clocks are a lot more dependable.

13. Cable ties

Neater than duct tape, faster than glue; cable ties are an excellent way of quickly securing things, and good ones are incredibly strong. Get a variety of sizes, but big ones are most useful – they can be cut down if necessary.

14. Bungee cords

The bigger, reusable version of cable ties. These are great for securing loads on your vehicle or making temporary repairs.

15. Steel mesh

You can buy this in A4 sheets and it has lots of uses. Straining oil or rendered fat are obvious ones. It can also be used to make small Faraday cages.

16. Plywood

I don’t know what you need this for. Neither do you – but if the SHTF you’ll need it for something. A few sheets of quarter and half inch ply can be used for repairs, building projects and any other job that needs a tough, easily worked material.

17. French press

Without electricity your fancy coffee maker is an expensive doorstop. But as long as you have a French press, and a fire to boil water on, you can enjoy real coffee.

mylar-blankets18. Mylar blankets

These are the things you find in survival kits or being handed out at the end of a marathon. They’re great for preserving body heat in an emergency – but they have lots of other uses too. They’re strong, waterproof and reflect both heat and light.

19. PVC pipe

Like plywood, this has too many uses to name. It can be used for plumbing extensions or repairs, turned into containers or become the framing for a shelter. Get one and two-inch diameter, and an assortment of bends and fittings.

20. Aluminum foil

Another multi-purpose material. It’s reflective, can be used to tweak antennas and has a whole load of cooking uses. Traveling light? Aluminum foil can make a pot for boiling water, and you can wrap food in it to cook in the embers.

21. Safety pins

Make quick clothing repairs, attach small gear to yourself or your bug-out bag, hang up wet clothes or even turn into improvised fish hooks – safety pins have dozens of uses. Get assorted sizes.

22. Landline phone

An old-fashioned phone will keep working if the power goes out. Modern cordless and VOIP ones will instantly die. Pick up an old one on ebay or at a yard sale, and keep it in the closet for emergencies.

23. Fire extinguisher

Fires are best dealt with before they have time to grow – and that’s even more important if civilization has collapsed and taken the fire brigade with it. Dry powder extinguishers are best in the kitchen or workshop – they can be used on electrical fires.

24. Fire blanket

An extinguisher is a one-shot solution, and in an SHTF scenario you’ll struggle to replace or recharge it once it’s been used. A fire blanket will reliably smother small fires, and can also be used on stove fires. Keep the extinguisher for when it’s really needed.

25. Dust masks

You don’t want to be inhaling dust or fumes when the medical system has broken down. Masks can also give some protection against smoke inhalation and even nuclear fallout. Make sure they’re NIOSH N95 standard.

26. WD40

A great all-purpose lubricant that’s invaluable for maintenance, repairs or resurrecting old machinery. A few cans of this is essential.

27. Survival books

Unless you’re an expert on edible wild plants, a couple of reference books are very useful. You’ll be able to identify what’s safe to eat and what isn’t, without any risky guesswork.

28. Other books

Even after the disintegration of society you’ll have some spare time. Books are a good way to pass it even if there’s no power. Pick up cheap paperbacks at yard sales or charity stores – you don’t need great literature, just something to keep you occupied.

29. Toys and games

If you have children they’ll need distracted. Pick up some toys and games that don’t rely on power or batteries. Board games are always good, so get a couple of family classics like Monopoly.

30. Playing cards

Yes, another way to pass some time. Get a book of popular card games too – you can learn some new ones.

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Fergus Mason
By Fergus Mason November 12, 2016 01:03
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36 Comments

  1. Beginner Surviver November 13, 23:52

    We already have all this. We have had all of this for 50+ years. If you can’t live everyday as if it were survival, you won’t make it in a survival situation. Better start to LIVE SURVIVAL now if you are serious about making it in life, much less a crisis.

    Reply to this comment
    • Skip November 14, 02:01

      I agree with you 100%. We too have all these items and have had them and used them for years. I think we old timers (Elders are what the Native Americans call us) are as prepared if not better prepared, than most of our younger preppers. I try to help and guide them as much as possible.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Shastagal November 14, 02:54

    Agree, we have all these items and still add to the stores occasionally when a good price entices…always good for barter.

    Lots of folks have stored flour and grain mills but haven’t seen yeast blocks on anyone’s list yet. Can always work with sourdough starter but yeast adds an ease to making bread. And jet sealed, dry and low oxygen levels it keeps a long time. Likewise baking soda and baking powder are rarely on lists.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Lewis November 14, 03:11

    Ten years back, your advice to keep a landline phone handy was good advice. These days the major phone companies are bailing out of copper wire landlines as fast as they can scramble. AT&T practically forced my landline over to a VOIP hookup when I was “upgraded” to fiber-carried UVerse. So when my internet goes down, so does my formerly-landline phone. In some states, Verizon has issued orders that any technician who tries to repair a copper land line will be fired. That’s how badly the majors want to switch to much cheaper (but highly EMP vulnerable) VOIP phone connections. So you need to research alternative communication methods for grid-down events, whether short or long term.

    Reply to this comment
  4. DDS November 14, 03:42

    If you are really trying to plan for a very long time (5+ years), one thing I have never seen on one of these lists is bolts of cloth. An antique tredal sewing machine and the knowledge to use it will be a great home business.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ruth November 14, 13:34

      Most sewing machines now can be used without power. Just have to turn the wheel that is electricity powered by hand! It is slower but it does work just fine!

      Reply to this comment
    • JJ November 14, 17:04

      Most give away to charity old clothes. I cut in blocks and save for rags for hundreds of uses when TSHTF.

      Reply to this comment
  5. j.r. guerra in south tx. November 14, 12:26

    Galvanized welded wire fabric. Good for making trap enclosures, small animal (ie. rabbit) cages and keeping vermin out.

    Besides WD40, regular 3-1 oil is good too. WD40 displaces water, but lubrication is very short term. WD40 in fact becomes sticky rather than slippery.

    Reply to this comment
    • lucy November 19, 03:47

      Is galvanized welded wire fabric the same thing as hardware cloth?

      Reply to this comment
      • Dragon November 21, 10:40

        no hardware cloth is thinner and weaker the welded wire is much thicker and is about as thick as pencil lead where hardware cloth which comes in several varieties thin wire woven and galvanized, and then there is chicken wire which is thin wire that is twisted

        Reply to this comment
    • TJ December 12, 23:19

      3 in 1 oil is vegetable based. Breaks down and gums up easily. Doesn’t cope well with higher temperatures or demanding applications. Skip it altogether. Go for plain old 30 weight, non-detergent motor oil for general use. An old fashion oil can makes it easy to dispense. WD 40 is good for a thousand uses beyond lubrication. Much of it evaporates because much of it is a carrier for the lube and is meant to evaporate. Grease is a great thing to have too but it freezes. Have some graphite powder for low temp applications (guns).

      Reply to this comment
  6. PatrickM November 14, 17:02

    Plywood. You should have enough, along with the lumber,screws and nails, to build a privy, a smoker, and window coverings.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Prem November 18, 20:20

    I also still have a spinning wheel in my cellar, just in case

    Reply to this comment
  8. PNW November 20, 02:07

    Soap box time….

    Keeping an analog phone around actually has little function. Since O’Scamma Banana allowed the Communications Act of 1947 to be ‘abortionized’, we, as in you-me-and a dog named Boo, will have no other means of communications besides the toy ‘smart phones’ when TSHTF. That also goes along with ‘his’ allowing the VHF AND UHF television channels to be ‘sold’ to cell phone providers. Have any idea of what that means? It means when ‘the internet’ goes down there will be NO ability to make a telephone call OR get information of what is going on using ‘normal’ means. Another case of “we” loose.

    Back to the subject at hand…..mechanical ‘clocks’: Have any reading this tried looking for non-battery clocks/watches? They have tripled in price in the last two years. Get one!

    Maps……Join AAA and get them, for the time being, free. The cost of joining is less than the cost to get all the maps you need. And don’t get just the maps for your neighborhood. Get ’em all!

    Cable ties…..Mil Spec versions are VERY expensive. Several places have ‘generic’ ties fairly cheap. Get twice what you think you might need because they are half the quality.

    Not mentioned……wire. Wire nuts. Crimp lugs. Fill a 5-gallon bucket and seal it.

    Forget the WD-40. It is 98% fish oil and it evaporates. Get Lithium grease. As many spray cans as possible. It is far better than WD-40.

    Aluminum foil……get only heavy duty. And as much as you can afford.

    Uses for PVC pipe……fishing poles. Along with ‘extra’ fishing line, multiple strengths, lotsa hooks, and wine corks for floats.

    Paper plates…….I refuse to get the ‘pretty ones’. I get the huge packages and blow off the fancy.

    Tarps……camouflage only.

    Eating utensils……got to the dollar store, etc., and get two or three more sets of cheap knifes/forks/spoons. And NOT plastic.

    Nails, drywall screws, more nails, more screws. ‘Nuff said.

    DO NOT throw away old jeans. KEEP THEM! They probably will be needed.

    Bicycle tire pump and tire plugs.

    And on, and on, and……….

    Reply to this comment
    • Dragon November 21, 10:48

      on the lubricants do NOT forgo WD40, it is not just a lubricant, it is a water displacement (Hence WD) and penetrant. Spray Lithium is not nor does the lithium penetrate any surfaces to help remove rust, bad spark plug wires arcing out? spray them with WD, real oils would ruin them, WD will remove the moisture and stop the arcing enough for the engine to start.

      Reply to this comment
      • Dragon November 21, 10:50

        one other thing, ALL true landline connections to the Phone company are analog Everyone, right up to their repeater where they all are converted to optical so YES an old analog phone WILL Work.

        Reply to this comment
        • Barbara November 24, 19:12

          Yes, land line phones still work. We kept/keep them in place to contact family outside of our State during hurricanes. We report everyday we are all ok, that person reports to rest of family. Last hurricane we were without electricity for 17 days.

          Reply to this comment
  9. PNW November 20, 02:09

    Let me add………cell phones will only work as long as the batteries at the cell towers, and the links to/from, work. Which, if we/you, are lucky might be 24 hours.

    Reply to this comment
    • DarkStar July 4, 04:32

      That’s why I bought a 28 watt, four panel solar charger that can charge three devices at a time. My phone, my power vault, and my 12″ tablet. I don’t care about the internet we won’t have and the phone probably won’t work for phone calls either. What I want is the information that I have stored on them, some (not all!) of my survival books, medicinal herb journals and notes I’ve made myself over the years of practice and use. The solar charger was under $60.00 including shipping and works like a charm, charging all three items in short order. I am in the process of moving a lot of this material to portable hard drives and storing them in Faraday bags but will still need the devices to read them on. I also purchased a solar battery charger for rechargeable batteries in the most common sizes and it’s one of the best purchases I’ve made. Works like a charm!

      Reply to this comment
  10. Lucy December 2, 04:55

    Interesting observations about cell phones/landlines. After Katrina, it was 3 weeks before the landlines were functional (in the Gulfport area), but 3 MONTHS for the cell phone towers to be restored! The hurricane winds blew them down. Similar problems after Superstorm Sandy, but I don’t know how long it took.

    Reply to this comment
    • Tom Jackson January 25, 01:13

      Good to know. I need to learn more about the aftermath of Katrina. My National Guard son was down there and said that generators and ice were the two big items that people wanted.

      Reply to this comment
  11. Moriah December 3, 00:34

    I’m reading through this list at everything (minus the clock-always wanted one though, maybe soon!) thinking “wait, there’s actually people who DONT use this stuff all the time?!” Those poor, sad people.

    Reply to this comment
    • Moriah December 3, 00:36

      Ps (I’m only 26 but grew up believing, and still believe, that I was born in the wrong generation. Country life is the only life for me.

      Reply to this comment
  12. Rob December 13, 12:10

    Non seated bleach is a good thing to have it is cheaper to go to a pool place and get the chlorine from their and dilute it 2 parts water to one part bleach .it can be used to sanitize cooking untincles pots pans and making water safe to drink

    Reply to this comment
    • DarkStar July 4, 04:38

      Once commercial bleach is opened it is only good for about 6 months and then it degrades to mostly water. You’re much better off using pool shock and mix as directed. Make sure you get the pure stuff at 60% chlorine and not the stuff with all the added chemicals and a lower percentage of chlorine.

      Reply to this comment
  13. Marcuserious December 14, 19:04

    Alcohol should be on the list also. Applications are: medical sanitizer, fire starter, barter item, & socializing. When purchased at the liquor store, the higher %alcohol content is better. You don’t need to get the denatured stuff, it is dangerous to the uneducated user.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck April 20, 04:41

      Alcohol to be used as a disinfectant needs to be greater than 60%. You can buy 30%, 60% and 95% at most drugstores. 95% is more expensive but has more uses than the lower percentages. If you are buying drinking alcohol as opposed to rubbing alcohol, ie., booze, it has to be greater than 120 proof to be usable as a disinfectant.

      Reply to this comment
  14. Tom Jackson January 25, 01:23

    I really liked this list. I had to look up what a French Press is. I think my drip-o-lator will work fine. I’d suggest in the sewing area to have an awl and heavy thread/twine. Also, extra toothbrushes and hair brushes for those ill-prepared who happen to join you. My landline phone is on fiber now so I have some good two-way radios. An expensive HD antenna for your TV if you can power it. I’m going to try to get some old mechanical clocks and maybe some watches. Thanks for the article. It is good to know about this overlooked items.

    Reply to this comment
  15. left coast chuck April 20, 04:43

    Tom, hate to rain on your parade, but if there is an EMP or CME event there will be no television, I don’t care how expensive your HD antenna is. After the fuel for whatever generating system the station uses, runs out, the TV stations will go off the air. That assumes that they were able to survive the electrical hit in the first place.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Lisa April 21, 21:25

    No electricity, no internet. How about all those e-books on survival. I don’t buy anything that isn’t an actual in-hand book. Oh yes, how to’s on gardening, animal husbandry, farming etc. I’m building a library on small scale farming.

    Reply to this comment
    • DarkStar July 4, 04:40

      Lisa, look at my reply to PNW about the solar charger I bought for just that reason. Not all my books are on my tablet but a large percentage are. With Faraday bags etc. that information can be preserved.

      Reply to this comment
  17. Don July 14, 23:46

    This is one of the best articles that you have had. Thanks for all the comments. I’m 70 and thought I knew it all but some of it schooled me.

    Reply to this comment
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