10 Prepping Items You Can Buy at the Salvation Army

Rich M.
By Rich M. June 13, 2019 11:26

10 Prepping Items You Can Buy at the Salvation Army

I have to confess, I don’t normally think of the Salvation Army as one of my top prepping stores. I’ve shopped for prepping equipment and supplies at a lot of different places through the years. Even so, I’d kind of forgotten about the Salvation Army, until my wife sent me there looking for a vintage pole lamp. Since I was in the store anyway, I took the opportunity to look around and see what sorts of things I could find that would be useful for prepping.

One of the keys to shopping in a place like this is to think outside the box. You’ve got to think about the form of the item you’re looking at, not just its original function. While it might be useful for that original function, there might also be other ways in which you can use the item. Just as long as it does the job, who cares if it looks tacticool? Isn’t it better if it doesn’t?

On this trip, most of what I found would be used for its original purpose; but that’s not true of everything. There were a few items I saw, which caught my eye for how they could be repurposed. But there were also items I expected to see, mostly because I’ve bought them at Salvation Army before, yet were AWOL this trip. This just shows that you can never be sure what you’ll find at a trip to the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

Fishing Rods

10 Prepping Items You Can Buy at the Salvation ArmyI found some fishing rods hiding off in a corner of the store, in a place I didn’t expect to. This made me think that someone had stashed them there, as if they didn’t want others to find them. What made it even more suspicious was that there wasn’t any price on them. So I suppose it could have been a worker who placed them there, hoping to buy the batch themselves.

Nevertheless, I found them; reminding me, yet again, that fishing is the most reliable method of harvesting food from nature. So there’s no such thing as having too many fishing rods. They will always be useful in a survival situation.


10 Prepping Items You Can Buy at the Salvation ArmyWhen the power goes out, one of the problems we’re all going to face is keeping our homes warm. At least, that’s a problem we’re going to face in the wintertime. Without the central heating we’re all used to, this is going to be a challenge, especially if the house doesn’t have a fireplace.

One of the many answers to that is to pile as many blankets on the beds as possible and share body heat. With enough blankets piled up, you can stay warm, even without that heat running.


We’re used to learning anything we need to know off the internet these days, but what will we do when there’s no internet to go to? As long as there are books around, we should be okay.10 Prepping Items You Can Buy at the Salvation Army Almost everything that mankind has discovered in the last several hundred years is written in a book somewhere, if you can just find the book.

This particular shelf of books was filled with do-it-yourself books and cookbooks. There were even a couple of cookbooks for those with diabetes and other serious medical conditions. Those looked useful, like something that might even save a life.

Then I spotted this fascinating set of children’s books. Keeping our children busy and happy is going to be a challenge in any post-disaster world. I think this set of “ChildCraft” books would have a real use in such a time, giving our children something to do and teaching them at the same time.


I was a bit surprised when I found this compound hunting bow hanging on the wall.

It’s a bit old and looks like it could use some restringing; but I can’t see any reason it wouldn’t work.

It would need a sight and the quiver is missing some pieces.

But all the major components of the bow are still there. with a little bit of work, someone could have themselves a nice survival bow here, both for hunting and for survival self-defense.

Gun Cabinet

10 Prepping Items You Can Buy at the Salvation ArmySpeaking of weapons, they had a nice gun cabinet, AKA “arsenal” just sitting there, waiting for some hunter or prepper to come along.

This one will hold nine long guns, with space for ammo in the drawer below. While it didn’t have any sort of lock to keep the kiddies out, that wouldn’t be all that hard of a problem to fix.

While a lot of people prefer a gun safe these days, gun cabinets were the main method of storing long guns for many years.

I still have friends who keep their collections (arsenals) on display, in cabinets, whether just to show them off or to scare criminals away.

Related: How And Where To Store Ammo

And Gun Cases

Of course, if you don’t want to keep your guns in a cabinet, you’re still going to need someplace to store them. How about this nice gun case?10 Prepping Items You Can Buy at the Salvation ArmyThey actually had several of these nice, hard-shell cases; including a couple of brand-new, top brand ones.

I could tell that they knew what they were by the prices on them too, although they were still much cheaper than buying them new in the sporting goods stores.

Canning Jars

10 Prepping Items You Can Buy at the Salvation Army

This was one that I was expecting to find and I was actually surprised how few I found.

Even so, I did find some canning jars at my local Salvation Army. Considering that more and more preppers are growing their own food and preserving it, this was like finding gold.

I don’t know about you, but I never pay full-price for canning jars.

Rather, I always buy them second-hand, unless the glass gets cracked or chipped, there’s really nothing that can go wrong with them, so buying them second-hand saves the money I would otherwise spend on them, so that I can use it for other things. I just keep my eyes open and buy them when I can.

Related: Canning Amish Poor Man’s Steak


10 Prepping Items You Can Buy at the Salvation ArmyWhen most of us think about a bug out bag, we think about a backpack. That’s usually the best option. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the only option or that we should limit out thinking.

This suitcase looked to be rugged and it had wheels. It would make a great bug out bag as well, and since it doesn’t have that “tacticool” look to it, it would be much more stealthy than a military-style backpack with MOLLE straps on it.

The other thing to consider is that if you’re bugging out in a vehicle, you’re going to be taking more than just your bug out bag anyway. In that case, the other bags will probably be suitcases of some sort. So you want to make sure you have enough to fill your vehicle and to carry whatever you’re going to be bringing with you.

A Jogging Stroller

Speaking of bugging out, this jogging stroller really caught my eye. If you have small children and are bugging out on foot, you’re really going to need something like this.But even if you don’t have small children, this stroller could easily be modified for carrying bags, suitcases, and just about anything you could imagine. Why, I can even see a perfect spot for putting a saddle-type sheathe for a long gun on it.

This is a perfect example of repurposing. Here we have something that’s designed to haul stuff, while not hindering the person pushing it along. While it is designed specifically with children in mind; the basic configuration is readily altered for use with a wide variety of other things. Just removing the canopy alone will make it possible to haul your bug out bag and a couple of other duffels, with no further modifications.

And Clothes

The one thing we all know we can find at any Salvation Army Thrift Store is clothing. What does that have to do with prepping? Well, even if you have enough clothing for yourself, I doubt you have enough for your kids. Kids grow, which means that the clothing they go into the disaster with are only going to fit them for a few months, maybe a year at the most.

10 Prepping Items You Can Buy at the Salvation ArmyOne of the things we all need to add to our preps, but few do, is oversize clothing for our children. Most kids go up roughly a size a year. But we only have the size they’re wearing now. In addition, it would be a good idea to have some boxes in the attic or basement, filled with all the clothes they’ll need for the next few years. Sort it by size, one size per box, so that all you have to do is pull out the next box, when they are ready for it.

My wife did this, when our children were smaller. She would always keep her eyes open for kids clothing at the Salvation Army and garage sales. When she found something she liked, she’d buy it and add it to the appropriate sized box in the attic. That way, we always had a couple of years worth of clothing ready for when our children needed it.

Such a move not only helps with prepping, but it can save you a bundle. If you’re buying new clothing for your kids every time they grow, you’ll spend a bundle. We didn’t, because she had bought it when she could get it cheap.

10 Prepping Items You Can Buy at the Salvation Army

Speaking of clothing, the same wife who did such a great job of stockpiling clothing for our kids, wouldn’t buy herself a pair of hiking boots. That’s just not her style, so spending $100 or so on a pair of boots that she didn’t even like just didn’t work for her. But I was able to find her some at the Salvation Army, at a price she was willing to pay.

If you’re going to bug out, you’re going to need hiking boots. Don’t try doing it with just tennis shoes; they don’t give your feet or your ankles the support they need. Hiking boots are much more rugged, making them ideal for a bug out.

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Rich M.
By Rich M. June 13, 2019 11:26
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  1. Runner chick June 13, 15:47

    Luggage is always a great buy. At a Salvation Army in Florida, we bought a full size suitcase for $5. It was in excellent condition. I just used Lysol wipes to make sure all was clean. We needed a suitcase for a one way trip & saw no reason to buy brand new luggage. When we got to our destination, we didn’t need it anymore, so donated it to the Salvation Army. A win win for all. PS. The suitcase was some designer brand even!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Miss Kitty June 13, 19:13

    I NEVER see gun anything in any thrift stores in my area of Massachusetts, but given the anti-gun culture around here, it’s hardly a surprise.
    Other items I have seen have been:
    A clam steamer with a spigot at the bottom that would be dandy for heating hot water on your wood stove.
    Knives, kitchen
    Wheel barrow
    Tools of all kinds
    Sewing machines – If you are lucky enough to find a treadle sewing machine at a good price, grab it! Practically indestructible, these can even sew leather.
    Cobbler’s shoe forms.
    Storage containers.
    Sheets, which can be used for the fabric, threshing grain, bandages.
    Oil lamps.
    Candles and candleholders.
    Boxes of random hardware.
    Rope and twine.
    All kinds of sewing and knitting supplies, including how to books and patterns.
    Just a caveat, though. Please check over anything you buy to make sure it’s functional and bug free. There is an epidemic of bedbugs in the US now, and most thrift stores have an all sales final policy.

    Reply to this comment
    • Mad Fab June 13, 23:42

      Diamatatous (spelling) earth kills bedbugs. Put item in a bag and shake some earth on it. Close bag and wait a couple weeks. Dead!!!

      Reply to this comment
    • Korn June 14, 11:11

      Be very careful when buying suitcases and clothes at thrift stores. Bedbugs are on the rise. I had them a couple of years ago and was a very traumatic experience! I’m not sure if we got them from the thrift store or my son brought back from a recent trip. The exterminator told us that they are on planes, subways and even movie theaters…just not hotels..,eek

      Reply to this comment
      • Claude Davis June 15, 02:09

        Most likely they were picked up on the trip. Airplane seats and hotel rooms are notorious spots for them. I spoke to an entomologist once who says when she stays in a hotel she leaves her suitcase in the bathtub and hangs her clothes up in there too. Any soft furnishings in a hotel – not just the bed – are a risk.

        Reply to this comment
  3. barbuto June 13, 21:57

    Goodwill also has the same stuff. Then there are the Habitat for Humanity stores. the Habitat stores get items donated so they are sold below the retail or market price. You can get windows to build your self a hot house to grow plants or get tools on the cheap…..Buy concrete blocks and build your self a root cellar or bomb shelter. IF you can get your hands on insulation cheap, check out your house. You can probably add insulation to your house and save money now…for heat and a/c and of course it will take less energy after SHTF to cool and or heat your house if you have max insulation. Passive houses use just 10% of the energy that standard built houses use. I don’t think you can turn your standard built house to a Passive house from the Habitat store but if you increase your house insulation you will be saving a ton of money on heat and a/c now and after shtf….I have noticed a lot of cast iron pots and frying panes at Goodwill. These cost a fortune to buy new and you can get them cheap. The cast iron cookware is great for cooking over a camp fire…again for shtf times…

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  4. left coast chuck June 13, 23:17

    Any “thrift” shop may have useful prepper items. I don’t know if the Salvation Army thrift shops are actually run by the Salvation Army or by some private enterprise who contributes a percentage of the “profits” to the charity.

    If the S.A. actually runs the shops and gets to keep the net income in total, then I would rather shop there than at any of the other “thrift” shops that are commercial enterprises with a charitable front.

    Reply to this comment
    • Grammyprepper June 14, 06:11

      I totally agree.Most of our local thrift stores are Goodwill. I would rather support Salvation Army, but none of their stores are local.

      Reply to this comment
    • Wannabe June 14, 17:23

      Hey left coast chuck, are you stocking up on ammo before July 1? Further gun control is about to be implemented. Sure makes reloading look a lot more appealing. Just wondering your thoughts. Thanks and God bless

      Reply to this comment
      • Raven tactical June 15, 03:47

        July 1st? What happens then ?

        Reply to this comment
        • Wannabe June 16, 20:20

          Raven, California is requiring a back ground check every time someone purchases ammo. If the person is not in their system they pay 19 bucks to be added and it may take up to ten days to be approved. Each back ground check costs a dollar. So they now have a system to track every bullet purchase made in the state and who bought them and which caliber. Ammo can no longer be delivered to your home has to go to ffa dealer. Way to go California. Gun control

          Reply to this comment
  5. Rj June 14, 00:20

    Wrap your firearms up in those extra blankets. If you want to make it waterproof, cover with a large plastic trash bag.

    Reply to this comment
    • Moon June 14, 16:24

      Be careful in using blankets for wrapping firearms in. Many fabrics will actually draw moisture into it and you may end up with a useless hunk of rust. Being a gunsmith I have seen this often.

      Reply to this comment
  6. red June 14, 00:57

    The Sally! My go-to for…It’s the only store I like to shop at. Mind clothes. I bought a new hat (brand new) last spring, and it had head lice in it. But, canners, cast iron, Irish silver (silver plated brass or copper, all of which kills bacteria, viral infections, and fungal infections), and a lot more. Only thing, every time I see a canning jar, they want more for it than WalMart for new,. We pay about 86c per Ball jar at WalMart. niio

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  7. Clergylady June 14, 04:14

    A good reminder to be on the lookout for useful stuff.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Old guy June 14, 07:10

    I have found tents, sleeping bags, wool blankets, lots of candles and things like Food Saver vacuum packers and camping gear, camp stoves and lights. And nylon GI duffel bags.

    I always take any cloth item to the laundry mat and run them through 2 drying cycles so they get good and hot to kill the bed bugs BEFORE I wash them. Drying items after you wash them may not get them hot enough to kill bed bugs and since the items are dry already this will not cause wool blankets and wool items to shrink. I have the wool blankets and wool items dry cleaned and tell them there might be bed bugs

    Reply to this comment
  9. Winter June 14, 14:07

    Cedarcide is lethal to bedbugs, and most other creepy crawlers too. The U.S. Army commissioned a scientist, Dr Ben, to formulate an incecticide against sand fleas for our troops in Iraq. Cedarcide is 100% natural, made from Texas cedar oil. https://www.cedarcide.com/product/cedarcide-original-biting-insect-spray/

    Reply to this comment
  10. Clergylady June 15, 00:30

    The last oil lamp I saw was $35. That is more than I can afford right now. My little 2 burner propane camp stove was in the things that were stolen last year. I had a new toilet seat for a 5 gal. bucket. And more. I’m going to work on replacing those things from new or used sources as I’m able. For most of it, used is just find.
    I would still like to find a cross bow. More arrows would be good. I shoot arrows from my” wrist rocket”(brand) slingshot. Fair distance and good penetration in a bale of straw. Its an interesting option.
    It’s beginning to cool this evening. I’ll go work with a hoe and spade-to break up dirt clumps and create a plantable area. Neighbor used our backhoe to break up the area for me. It been laying unused for 13 years and is hard! Good clay content would make building code legal Adobe building bricks. I break it up then work in dropping from the rabbits, old manure from the chicken pen, piles of last falls leaves and create a planting bed that is ready to use. Its about 12×20. Hard clods have to be broken up then work in the good stuff so it will be a productive garden. I get tired quickly but I’ll finish as soon as possible and start transplanting my plants from the home and plant seed for quicker things. I love to garden. I’ll water berries and trees again tomorrow. I see. Bits of green on one of the cherries we planted this week. Every leaf is exciting.

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