Having the right survival tools is an important part of survival. One of the major things that make mankind stand out from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to create and use those tools. Ever since the first caveman picked up a stick to hit his obnoxious neighbor, we’ve been finding ways of using the materials around us to do things that we can’t do with our bodies alone. As time has gone on, the number, variety and complexity of those tools has increased exponentially.
Forty-some years ago, when I got my start in survival, we didn’t have the vast array of gadgets and tools that are available to the survivalists and preppers of today. Rather, we had to make do with what we could find, whether in the supermarket or the hardware store. Many of these tools are still worth using today, either because they are more cost effective or work better than the newest and hottest survival gadgets.
#1. Folding Pruning Saw
The only “survival saw” we had back then was the wire saw. If you looked hard enough, you could find a three-stranded one, which meant that if one strand broke, you could still cut. But wire saws have never been very efficient tools. The newer chain saws are much better.
But long before the handheld chain saws came along, I found a fantastic solution. That’s a folding pruning saw. It’s made for cutting wood, fairly compact and lightweight, and with the blade folded closed, it’s safe to carry. And using a folding pruning saw will give you a much more accurate cut than you can ever expect to get out of a chain saw. If you’re making something and not just cutting off a branch to use as a ridge pole, that could be important.
#2. Wasp Spray
I travel into Mexico regularly, where I’m not allowed to carry a firearm. So I have to make do with other weapons. I carry a knife and even have a cane sword, but both of those are limited to my arm’s reach. For something with greater range, I keep a can of wasp spray in my car. That will shoot about 20 feet, and is just about as effective as pepper spray at incapacitating an assailant.
#3. Can Opener
Yes, the humble can opener is one of the greatest survival tools of all time. I’m not talking about the electric can opener that some people have hanging under one of their kitchen cabinets; I’m talking about the old-fashioned hand crank kind. With all that canned food you’ve got stashed away in your food stockpile, you’d better make sure you’ve got a couple of these on hand as well.
Back in the days of military C-rations, the Army issued the P-38 can opener. This compact can opener was essential if you were going to make use of those C-rats. Fortunately, they had a hole in them, so you could hang it on your dog tag chain or put it on your key ring. I’ve been carrying one there since basic training, 40 years ago.
The machete has never gotten the credit it deserves here in the United States. We prefer other tools. But if you want something you can use to cut wood, clear a path and a host of other useful things, the machete is it. Besides, it makes a fearsome weapon in close quarters. A good machete should be part of everyone’s bug out bag.
#5. Plastic Tubing
Gasoline is useful for many things, not just keeping our cars running. In a post-disaster world, we will need it for lawn mowers, chain saws and other power tools. It also makes a great fire starter, especially when trying to start a fire with wet wood.
With gas stations shut down, few people are going to be able to get their hands on much gasoline, making it a valuable commodity. But there will probably be lots of cars sitting around with gas in the tanks. All it takes is a piece of flexible vinyl tubing, small enough to get through the “unleaded only” hole in the filler neck and you can siphon that gas out of the tank.
#6. Pry Bar
Speaking of scavenging; gasoline isn’t the only thing you’re going to be wanting to scavenge at that time. If there are abandoned buildings around, people will be breaking in, trying to scavenge anything they can to survive. But you’ll need something you can use to get in; like a big pry bar.
Let me mention here that the difference between looting and scavenging is that looting is about getting things you want, while scavenging is about getting things you need to have in order to survive. Always make sure that you only scavenge from abandoned buildings, as stealing from someone’s home could end up resulting in them dying from not having what you have taken.
#7. Sanitary Napkins
First-aid is an important part of survival, especially first-aid for major wounds. This can mean soaking up a lot of blood quickly, which is exactly what sanitary napkins were invented for. They make great bandages, in addition to being useful for their original purpose.
#8. 0000 Steel Wool
Speaking of starting fires, one of my favorite fire starting tricks involves the use of steel wool. But not just any steel wool will work. You need the finest of the fine, 0000 steel wool. This can be purchased in the paint department of your local home improvement center, where it is used for fine finishing of varnished and lacquered wood.
To use the steel wool as a fire starter, break off a chunk and expand the fibers, making it look kind of like cobwebs. Then take it and brush it across both poles of a 9 volt battery. The spark this causes will start the steel wool burning.
#9. Duct Tape
Speaking of things you can find in the hardware store, make sure you have a goodly supply of duct tape on hand. This can be used for a myriad of repairs, including getting more miles out of a tire. I remember once when I was traveling and had a trailer tire that was wearing through the nylon belts (this was pre-steel belted tires). I was able to make it 50 miles to the next town by adding layers of duct tape over the bad spot on the tire.
Related: 26 Practical Survival Uses for Duct Tape
#10. Zip Ties
Zip ties are the electrician’s version of duct tape. Sometimes referred to as “wire ties” these are designed for bundling wires together. However, they are an excellent way of tying just about anything together that you need to. I’ve build lean-tos and other shelters in the wild, using nothing but zip ties to hold the pieces together. Just make sure you stock a variety of sizes, as different sizes are useful for different things.
#11. Dental Floss
Dental floss is another highly useful material, that we can use for a lot of different purposes. One of the best uses of dental floss in a survival situation is for fishing line. But it can also be used in first-aid, and for a number of different places where you need cordage. Just as I used zip ties to build a shelter, you could use dental floss as well. It is tough, and the waxed type is waterproof. It even comes with a cutter, as part of the package.
Dental floss can also be useful for making snares. Most snares need a tripwire of some sort and dental floss works well for that. But it can also be used to tie the pieces together. Being smaller than paracord, it works better for tying small sticks together.
#12. Guitar Strings
Speaking of snares, one of the best materials for making snares is metal guitar strings. They already have a small loop at one end, allowing you to slip the loose end through that loop and make a larger loop. Thin and tough, they are highly resilient, allowing you to use them over and over again.
#13. Pencil Sharpener
Sometimes it can be hard to find tinder for a fire. But without tinder, many fire starting methods will leave you cold. This problem is even worse in wet weather, as many of the things we would normally use as tinder will be wet too. A simple pencil sharpener can solve this problem, allowing you to cut shavings from sticks.
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What’s so “weird” about these things? They can be downright handy to have.
If you want weird, how about the “fireproof” matches I read about in the previous post “34 Prepping Items to get in your first month” …. Item #33 on the list. Now that’s weird. 🙂
Twas my late father-in-law who taught me the added benefit of keeping tampons in the shop. He said they were fantastic to run through tubing to clean it. by feeding a proper length of insulated electrical wire through the length of tubing needed to unclog, he would trim the cloth on the tampon as needed for his tubing, then attach tot he string on the tampon, then pull the wire through, repeating until the tampon came out clean.
I am an ex-combat medic and retired civilian paramedic. I always carried sanitary napkins in my trauma turnout bag as well as a variety of sizes of tampons. Tampon is derived frome the medical term “tamponade” which basically means “to stop the flow”. I preferred the “heavy flow” napkins because of their bulk,for more absorbency. The are great fof abdominal lacerations as well as head lacs. Any head laceration will bleed profusely because of the capillaries being so close to the outer wall of the skin. Tampons,I would use for nosebleeds. They work fantastically and that’s why I carry a variety of sizes.
Now, if you said leeches, or a nose hair trimmer for grooming, I would agree that they would be weird survival tools, but I have 9 of your 13 “weird” tools already. Your list may include some uncommon items, but I would not consider any one of them weird.
One of the “weirdest” survival tools I have, is my blonde wife. She is slowly coming around to the notion of prepping, but her survival needs don’t necessarily mesh with my ideas (or the good people here). Could I survive without my wife? Probably. Would I want to survive without my wife, if all I am doing is surviving? Probably not.
I enjoy the articles, but I enjoy the comments so much more. Please consider your audience before choosing word/descriptions that may have better options.
Admit it, the clickbait-y title got you to look. The same as everyone else…
I agree, Prepper in Training: the title is not inclusive or exclusive. Meaning it is 13 items that the writer thinks should be included in your stockpile, It doesn’t say these are the ONLY things. He even states that you should follow your own inclinations and perhaps use this as a base for what you might choose to stock. These items IN ADDITION to what you normally stock up on. Please, give your added recommendations, but don’t be so hard on a simple list that is what it is…a list of items the writer includes in his stockpile.
One tool overlooked is the pop riveter tool and assorted rivets. This tool allows riveting items together with access to one side only.
Consider grommets and tool for making as well.
No grommets? No problem–just have some twine or twisty-ties. Wrap a corner of your tarp or cloth or whatever it is around a small rock and tie it off with the twine or ties.
What’s the particular ingredient in Wasp Spray thst makes it a particularly effective short range personal defense weapon?
Consider the uses of upholstery needles and sail needles, can be used to sew many things, including deep cuts in people. Heavier waxed thread is good for where stronger thread is needed, as in making moccasins. Some mini hemostats also have many uses. Books about “Buckskinning” (re-enacting) are a help for understanding a pre industrial way of life. Track of the Wolf catalog sells many useful items.
The only weird ones out of these are the guitar strings and a pencil sharpener.
I don’t know about the guitar strings but the pencil sharpener would be very useful. I have purchased the carpenter pencil sharper for each bag and for the Grandkids. These work great and can be used by kids of any age. They can also be use to put tips on home made arrows.
in regard to the pencil sharpener – get quality & durability – buy an all metal GUM brand from Germany – available on the old innerweb …
The pencil sharpener,gives you finer and thinner shavings that even the sharpest of of knives could do at the same speed and consistency. The thinner your shavings are,the faster they will ignite and provide a hotter burning, making it easier to make and build a fire. Guitar strings(metal of course)are thicker,stronger, and sharper. They even come with a premade loop,saving you time in preparation,energy and deployment. The longer that you are in the “trap zone”the more human scent remains at the site.
Instead of guitar strings try using picture hanger wire. A lot less expensive. and holds it’s snare shape better.
I have had a P-38 on every key ring to every vehicle since 1968. I use them quite often every year. It may not be appropriate for the city fellas, but I would be lost without a Multi-tool on my belt. My life style on the edge of the boonies sees me using this tool multiple times a day. Though some of the tools on it can be slow to use it does get the job done. I prefer the Gerber design over the Leatherman. The Leatherman has a needle nose design on the pliers that is great when you need needle nose but comes up short on gripping power the other 95% of the time. The Leatherman also takes 2 hands to unfold. With its side push button design the Gerber tool requires just a slight pump of the forearm and you’re ready to go one handed. I have used my Gerber to repair barb wire fence, field dress road killed deer, install a ceiling light in a hunting cabin and repair battery cables for a little old lady broke down in a rest stop on the interstate at midnight. That is a Must Have Multi-tool.
Most newer cars have an anti siphon valve in the “unleaded fuel only” hole. Unless it is a really small diameter tube you will get nothing. And then it will be so small it will take hours to drain the tank. Much better to punch a hole in the bottom of the tank.
If i have to scavenge gas, do you really think i will care about mowing the grass?
get a long reach brass punch (absolute for metal tanks) – shallow oil change pans – funnels – plenty of 5 gallon jugs ….
It’s funny how so many folks seem to take offense at the word “weird”. I’ve always taken it as a compliment. Lol I do agree with eric the red; better to punch the gas tank. Working in the ER I saw some frightening results from folks trying to siphon gas. Good article (but weird). Ha
I would add olive oil to the list. In addition to cooking, it can be used for seasoning cast iron cookware, as furniture polish for wood, and as a lubricant. Simple oil lamps can also be created using olive oil.
You have a good point there, Kate. I remember back in the 70’s and early 80’s there was a candle they called the “Un-Candle” and it had a wick that was place in a plastic holder. That plastic holder sat in some type of cooking oil and would burn that oil much like a kerosine lamp. No, it wasn’t my “candle”, it was my wife’s thing! lol There’s another idea for some lighting, cooking and whatever else it could be used for.
wasp spray dose not work !!!! I thought this was above dumb rumor crap….
Thank you. I wasn’t going to bother commenting on that but people should search youtube for the videos. Also use it in the good old USA and you just broke a federal law. Might want to google that too.
Nobody will care about the law in a survival situation.
the problem is some sheep somewhere is going to hear this rumor / urban b.s. and depend on wasp spray to defend their self or family. now they they just got their / them self(s) dead because of it . please remove it from the list
The Police will be overwhelmed,paralyzed and powerless. Useless to all.
Want weird, ok. some capsules of Turmeric. Many good uses. 1 taken orally it’s a very good natural anti-inflammatory pain reliever. 2. It’s also a anti-coagulant. 3. It’s a anti-microbial for wounds. 4. etc. etc. It has about 15 listed uses and it can spice up that boring survival food. How about a solar path light, the kind that uses a AA AAA rechargable battery (check what size battery your gadgets use). and last a Empty Tic-Tac box. it is a great holder for the extra batteries.
I would put honey on the list for its medicinal uses ( antiseptic and antimicrobial) vinegar (antiseptic and astringent) iodine for treating wounds and sanitizing water
Corona made great pruning saws back in the 70’s but they are not worth buying now. Like anything else, buy the absolute best quality saw or machete you can find or you’ll do more cussin’ than cuttin. I’ve worked in various trades all of my life and actually quit carrying a folding knife a couple decades ago because I found a good pair of scissors is easier to sharpen and a lot more useful, if a bit less manly. Then there was the time I accidentally cut a live wire with my Leatherman multi, it burned a perfect 110 Romex hole into the wire cutter making it into a handy wire stripper. You can’t see electricity when it’s runnin’ down the wire…(song Doc Watson used to sing)
I’ve got a pair of 60-year-old diagonal cutters with a 14-gauge notch in them from cutting a hot wire in 1958. A constant reminder! My local hardware store in Colorado has two sizes of folding saws — on of the normal size, and another from Couglan (sp?) that is about six inches folded and a 4-1/2inch blade. Great for packing or pocket.
The first machete I bought was one from K-Mart. I was going to “blaze a trail” that day. lol After maybe swinging that joker 15 times, I looked at the blade and it was swerved, curved and of no use. I pitched it, went to the Army Surplus and got a army issue. Twice the thickness, sheath w/sharpener and affixes to most anything. No more cussing and, after 30 years, still is cutting! lol
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I have 9 of these, but #2 is a waste of time, never used it as a child, do not need it as an adult. Understand where the wasp will nest & stay away from them, unless you are going fishing. Where are all the Boy & Girl scout at these days. Much of this stuff you father/mother should have told/ taught you.
Most parents nowadays don’t have the foggiest notion of how to do anything but call someone to do it for them.
I was brought up on a farm. We fixed everything we could until we couldn’t any more. I grew up camping, hunting, fishing and yard saling. I could outfit my neighborhood with tools and prepper equipment/needs. My family called me a hoarder but now my boys understand. We are more prepared than most but there is always room for improving a stockpile.
the plastic tubing is a nice idea, but it won’t work for siphoning gas out of cars today because at the bottom of the filler neck there is a wire screen that won’t let the hose go into the tank!
That’s what I’m here to say. Do people not actually do research. There’s several video on YouTube of wasp spray not doing anything when sprayed on people. Here’s is one…..https://youtu.be/9Uy9MnQfk_0 you’re going to get someone killed.
Besides using guitar strings for snares, they can also be used as a garrote. Just sayin