I love flea markets. The flea market is right up there with a good garage sale. Scouring for hidden treasures and exploring memorabilia of the past is so much fun, and bargaining for a good deal is exhilarating.
Truthfully, I have spent a lot of time at flea markets and found some fantastic treasures.
Along with the fun and quirky items you can find, a flea market can be an excellent tool for preparedness.
Hidden among the old toys, eccentric furniture, delicious snacks, and knick-knacks are some valuable items that can make a huge difference when SHTF.
Survival gear is often found among all the other unique items and is usually priced to sell. Thus, listed below are survival items to hunt for at flea markets.
1. Military Supplies & Surplus
Military surplus is interesting to explore and useful for survival situations. Thankfully, military surplus items can be found in almost every market nationwide.
From backpacks and military clothing to army-issued water containers and gas cans, the military surplus section at the flea market can be valuable.
2. Backpacks & Tactical Bags
Along with army supplies, the flea market is a great place to search for a sturdy bag to hold all your goods. Backpacks and various types and sizes of tactical bags are available at most flea markets.
Look for one that is sturdy but lightweight and has enough pockets to hold survival gear.
3. Boots And Clothing
When purchased brand-new, boots are expensive. Luckily, you can often find used or off-season boots at a flea market for a fraction of the price. Just ensure they are sturdy and water-tight before purchasing to avoid unpleasant surprises.
You can also find plenty of clothing at the local flea market. A warm coat, a few sweaters, cozy socks, and some rain-resistant items are all essentials you want to have available.
4. Gas Cans & Other Containers
The flea market is a haven for canisters, both old and new. Keep your eyes peeled for used gas canisters, water jugs, and other types of containers. Having many sizes and styles available will be beneficial in an emergency.
5. Cots & Portable Beds
A suitable cot you can sleep in is necessary for any bunker space. If you are lucky, you might find a solid option at your local flea market for a low price.
6. Mosquito Nets, Tents, & Camping Gear
Camping gear is essential to survival.
You never know if you will have to leave the comfort of your home and rough it outdoors. A tent, mosquito net, and other camping gear can save you a great deal of struggle. Look for these items at a flea market before going out and purchasing them brand new.
Often, these items can be purchased at a lower price when they are surplus or gently used.
7. Hunting Gear
Items such as camouflage clothing can be found at flea markets. These items are another staple of the flea market that you can find in mass quantities.
Related: The Best Way to Train Your Dog For Hunting And Security
Seek out products that are warm and waterproof. You want gear that will provide you with the protection you need from the elements.
8. Protective Equipment
Protective equipment and PPE items are available in abundance following the pandemic.
While we are glad it is over, it shows how easily a disaster can happen and how unprepared we are. Stock up on protective equipment and be ahead of the crowd next time.
A good knife is a survivalist essential, and the flea market will offer plenty of choices. Just be careful of what you are buying to ensure it is a sturdy, well-made product that will last.
10. Fishing Supplies
Fishing gear is another item found at a flea market in abundance and at better prices than at sporting goods stores.
Look for fishing rods, reels, hooks, nets, and other things to help secure a meal.
Stocking up on fishing essentials is a smart step toward preparedness.
11. Canning Gear & Preservation Supplies
When it comes to survival situations, having access to a reliable source of food is one of the most important factors. Having canning supplies such as jars, lids, and a pressure canner is crucial if you want to ensure your food stays edible for a prolonged period.
If you’re interested in learning more about canning and other long-term food preservation methods, this comprehensive guide can provide valuable insights and help you become better prepared for any potential survival scenarios.
12. Oil Lamps, Lanterns, And Candles
While oil lamps and lanterns will not be as easy to come by, they can be found at flea markets occasionally. Keep your eyes peeled for lamps and lanterns that are functional and lightweight.
You want a product that you can grab on the fly and carry with you as you travel. Candles are another item you can find at the flea market, and they are often far cheaper there than they will be from a store.
A solid wagon can make off-grid living a whole lot easier. However, buying a new wagon will cost you a pretty penny. Find a sturdy wagon at a flea market to haul heavy items around your property and save yourself some cash and discomfort.
14. Ropes And Cords
You can never have too many ropes and cords, and the flea market is an excellent place to purchase them. If you look around long enough, you can find all sorts of ropes, various cords, and even survival cables.
15. Tools: Old Or New
The flea market is an excellent place to buy tools. In fact, there are often entire sections dedicated to selling tools. If you happen to be missing a socket or wrench from a set, the flea market may have one that works for your needs. Take your time and purchase only high-quality items that you will use.
16. Cooking Tools And Kitchen Wear
Should SHTF, cooking will inevitably get a lot more complicated. From what you eat to how you cook it, there will be many barriers to overcome. Save the stress and ward off hunger by stocking up on versatile kitchen essentials.
Propane and butane stoves, hot plates, or even bunsen burners can be purchased at a flea market and will come in handy if you need to cook on the fly.
You can also find some great cookware at your local flea market, such as cast iron pots or pans that would be pricey if purchased brand new.
17. Barrels & Buckets
Most of us have a single bucket in our homes. Unfortunately, in an emergency, this may not be enough. What’s worse, getting to the store to purchase one may not be possible.
Protect yourself by stocking up on buckets and barrels of various sizes now. Thankfully, this object has many uses and won’t just sit and collect dust until the inevitable occurs. For example, you can grow vegetables in buckets if you have limited gardening space.
18. Storage Containers
Like the containers mentioned above, the flea market is a haven for various storage options. There will be something for everyone, from barrels and boxes to smaller, more compact containers.
Consider scouring the flea market to purchase some storage containers and start preparing for the future.
19. Weapons, Ammo, & Other Self-Protection Items
While not every market will have these items, some places will allow the sale of weapons.
Even if your local market does not sell weapons, they may have old ammo cases, holsters, or other items that could come in handy.
20. Rags, Towels, Blankets, And Fabric
You can find an endless supply of rags, towels, blankets, and fabric at the flea market. Fabric is an excellent tool in an emergency, so stock up when you see it for an affordable price.
A radio that works on batteries or does not require power is essential to survival in an emergency.
Related: How To Get A Ham Radio License For When SHTF
I once found an old wind-up radio at a flea market that would be perfect if the power was out.
Having a few flashlights in your prepper kit is essential. Look for high-powered flashlights, wind-up flashlights, or ones of various sizes.
23. Books & Board Games
Should SHTF, you must find ways to keep your mind busy. The familiar sources of entertainment we rely on today may not be available.
Books and board games will become your best friends without the internet or television. Stock up on these items and safely store them in an accessible place.
24. Gardening Supplies
Gardening is not only a fun way to pass the time, but it could also be essential to your survival one day. Consider searching your local flea market for gardening tools such as shovels, rakes, and sheers.
Some flea markets also sell seeds or seedlings that can be taken home and planted.
25. Miscellaneous Survival items
While many items could fit into this category, consider searching the flea market for other things that could be valuable to survival. Look for everything from crutches to bandages, rain gear, winter clothing, blankets, sewing supplies, and power tools.
Think about everything you do daily, and look for alternative options. Try to consider all the worst-case scenarios to be prepared.
Disaster comes in many forms, from natural phenomena to artificial catastrophes. It is hard to predict when or where a disaster will strike, let alone what it will entail. Truthfully, it is not a matter of whether a disaster will strike but of when. Thus, being prepared for the inevitable means being prepared for anything.
Build yourself a solid stockpile and plan for any worst-case scenario. Being prepared can significantly increase your chance of survival when SHTF. Scour local flea markets, thrift stores, and garage sales for items to help you in an emergency.
You can save a lot of money by shopping for deals and still manage to complete an impressive stock. Keep your eyes open, and your mind focused.
What is the greatest thing you have seen at a flea market? I would love to hear about your finds in the comments.
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Inspiring article have not been to a flea market in years.
This is a great idea going to a flea market to find backup equipment at a less expensive price.
A friend in Cali said these liberals have a strangle hold on guns and ammo in the State. They have gotten ridiculous laws and restrictions thinking it will save just one lib’s life.
They said in San Diego the gun show there was shutdown because of libs on the board.
They let everyone but the 2A events at the Del Mar racetrack fairgrounds.
The gun owners are fighting back these nut-jobs. Be glad we can still get live ammo then being restricted to FFL gun shops in parts of the country.
Be careful to seek out genuine US surplus equipment as there are fake China products mixed in.
I regularly go to estate sales , since about 3 years ago.. Last fall I found a GREAT one, i was searching for a good winter coat. I found a ONE ! a LL Beam new condition green/lt. grey , with a zipper our insert ( like a hoody type.. ) — for $10.00 ! After I got home I found it on LL Beam webpage — $140.00 !! What deal!
I have visited thrift stores but most in my area don’t have the things needed. The flea market sounds like a great source to check out.
As title 42 Thursday ends the illegal invasion will bring more increase in taxes to support Biden’s freeloaders upon us.
Us taxpayers will need to find less expensive sources to help build our bugout survival needs. I am retired and can’t afford the newer expensive items to stuff in my go bag.
Good article on saving money.
Since the great Covid reset the big box stores that remained open were supplied by cheap China crap products. The real good remaining products USA made were found in secondary stores and flea markets. I like checking out these alternatives as mentioned in this post. Good suggestions to the higher priced cheap China products. That seem to breakdown before the warranty expires.
These alternatives maybe a Gold mine for us poor Americans. The great Biden’s border wall rush on Thursday, title 42 lifted. The Soros backed politicians will be giving away brand new stuff. Like smartphones, food, free rent and expensive clothing to illegals.
The existing 3rd class Americans won’t have the same privileges to afford the same stuff given away to freeloaders. If the taxpayers paid for border wall materials now considered surplus. Maybe we can get private contractors to finish the border wall.
We Americans will need to visit these establishments to maintain our lower standard of living. As the open Southern border floodgates overwhelm our social services. Meant for legal citizens of the USA. We need to find less expensive sources to live on.
Being frugal, shopping for good reusables, and trading with each other is simply smart. Has nothing to do with politics. It’s about self-sufficiency and breaking dependency on the surplus economic model.
Whoa! I’d love to see an article that addresses how to organize, inventory, and store all of this stuff in a meaningful manner that takes into consideration ideal access to and the proper maintenance of each category of goods mentioned here.
My thoughts exactly. It’s one thing to have something, but proper organization, storage, care and maintenance is key. When you buy something, even if the price is phenomenally low, it’s really important to consider that if you aren’t going to need it now and integrate it into your current operations, then you must consider how much care you should take when storing it for the future. Additionally, the concept of repair is very important. If you are buying something to have when getting certain luxury items is impossible to obtain, it would become really important to understand how to fix it if it breaks/malfunctions AND consider how it will affect you if you can’t repair it or replace a part. If you can’t fix it when it breaks, you might want to think carefully before buying it.
If, on the other hand, you can fix/repair it and/or make a critical repair part, AND you have room in your environment to store it “till needed” then by all means, “GO FOR IT!”
Do it yourself
Be careful of buying chinesium tools though. One (or less) use of those tools will require replacement.
Super check lists. I have been collecting for years. Only thing not on your list is folding camping solar panels and inverter/batter units. i use mine daily. nice to have.
Sometimes those kerosene wick stoves can be found – they are generally from China.
A lot of people can’t handle the fumes, but I’d like to have a few of these put back JIC.
I go to garage sales, flea markets and auctions looking for items that I can use. I buy ammo that is reasonably priced even if it doesn’t fit any gun I own. I can always trade to someone who does use it for ammo and items I do use. I look for bargains on things that I already have for the same reasons. If you have it in multiples you are in a better position to trade for something you don’t have without giving up something you may need down the road. I once bought 800 rnds of 7.62x39mm for $1. I bought 20 rnds of 308 for $5. I average $5- $6 per box for 5.56×45 nato. There are bargains out there just keep your eyes open and don’t hesitate to drop the hammer. If you wait to think about it somebody else will get the prize.
Bulls**t you got 800 rounds for a dollar.
I laughed alot when I seen the fudds fighting over reloads
One thing to keep in mind when picking up solar panels is the watts and the amps. If it doesn’t have enough amperage output it is not going to charge your batteries in a reasonable amount of time. I have one that has 8 amps output and after three days charging, my batteries had only charged up from 75% to 76%. That is not very useful unless you have a lot of time on your hands. Also, use a charge controller so that the charging cycle shuts off when the battery reaches full charge.
This is a pretty well thought out post. Thank you.
Two things I would add:
1: I would be wary of used shoes/boots. You really don’t want to end up with someone else’s foot problems. Like Athletes foot, or other problems from a boot or shoe that has been “broken in” to someone else’s foot ‘print’.
I did that with my young children because we couldn’t afford new shoes all the time with their growing so fast, my younger got foot issues from wearing her older sisters used shoes, and my older one got issues from wearing used shoes. So just be careful.
2:I would also be careful of “protective” gear. You never know if that gear has sustained damage and won’t be protective any more. The seller may not even be aware of it, or they may.
Just don’t be so thrifty that you buy something that isn’t safe or that may be damaged beyond what can be seen.
I suggest you make a list of what you really need before going to any flea market, so you won’t get sidetracked by something that seems like a good deal only to realize later you won’t use it.
While i can find some things more cheaply at a flea market or thrift store, there are a few things where I’d think twice. As already mentioned in the comments, buying used boots and shoes can be problematic for the user following the original owner.
I’d be leary of cordage and rope, too. If it’s to tie something together to keep it from moving around and it’s not a heavy load, that’s one thing. But, if the cordage or rope has had lots of UV damage, which might not be immediately evident, it could let you down if you’ve got a lot of weight on it.
A marine store near me offers cut cordage on sale from time to time. I buy that and store it in a dark, dry place to keep its integrity. Some we use for boating or camping, too. I got a few longer coils of thicker line than we’d ever use, and when we helped a few friends move, that long, thick cordage was perfect. We could secure a lot of things on a trailer or in a truck bed, and the cordage was strong enough to take the weight of really heavy objects.
I would also suggest that even if the flea market items are for emergency use only, that they be tried out and checked out before that emergency. Nothing worse than relying on a piece of equipment you either don’t know how to operate or has some defect that remained hidden because you didn’t try it out.
i’ve found alot of good bargains at yard sales. i bought a sheep skin jacket for $5. can you say “divorce”? we’ve gotten 2 good canners that we,ve used for over 10 years for next to nothing. all of our kerosene lamps come from yard sales. most of our self reliant oriented items come from yard sales and flea markets.
Got a great deal on a CB base station and power supply, yards of RG8 coax cable and connectors, technical and repair manuals, and lost more. The cable alone was worth what I paid for everything. If nothing else, the CB set can stand in for my real Ham radio in the event of some kind of government confiscation scheme. Took several months and three round of testing but I have my extra class license and wife has her general.
duffle bags in all sizes they are cheap and can be used for sleeping bags tents blankets boots extra coats . I got a colemen one burner white gas stove the old pump up kind with a case for 5$ Alice packs are great for back packs with all the pockets candles look for bags full of used candles for a buck or two