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These Items Will Go First When SHTF. Are You Prepared or Will You Be Scrambling with the Masses?

SHTF Gear: Don’t Be Caught without These Items When It Goes Down

When the SHTF, you aren’t going to need a welding kit, gardening supplies, extra wood, or any of the other long-term supplies that often make it to preppers lists.   Yes, these items are useful for rebuilding society long after the chaos dies down – but let’s be realistic. When the SHTF (and I mean REALLY hits the fan!), you are going to need just the basics to keep you alive. Having packs of heirloom seeds isn’t going to do you any good in the first weeks after a nuclear disaster, grid attack, or financial collapse!

So what gear do you really need when the SHTF?

Think about how most people are going to react after a disaster. They are going to run to the stores and start buying up all of the things that they didn’t think to stockpile. This includes:

  • Bottled water
  • Food
  • Guns and ammo
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • First aid items

Just take a look at this photo of empty supermarket shelves right before a big snow storm hit. People went into a panic to rush out and get supplies. Imagine what a mob would be there if a REAL disaster struck!

When the SHTF, you will want to make sure you have a stockpile of all the items that other people are rushing out to get. This will spare you the danger of facing the mob, the risk of not getting back home on time and losing communication with your loved ones, and also allow you to start taking other prep actions against the disaster.

Most Important SHTF Gear

Here are the SHTF gear items that you will be really glad you have and what will ultimately ensure your survival and comfort through the first chaotic weeks after any disaster.


So many preppers focus on food storage when it is water which should be the #1 priority. Your body can only go a few days without water before you die. Once you get dehydrated, your bodily functions start to fail and you will soon lose your ability to think clearly, not to mention the energy to perform important tasks. The point? Make sure you’ve got enough water!

Start saving all of your plastic bottles (such as from milk or soda) and fill them up with water to store in your safe spot.  In your Bug Out Bag, you will need to have a water storage device (like a camelback) as well as a camping water filter and/or water purification tablets.

It is recommended that you drink 8 cups of water per day (2 quarts). You will want to have about 2-3 months of water stored up. This adds up to 45 gallons of water per person.

Non-Perishable Food

Stock up on all sorts of non-perishable foods. After a nuclear disaster, foods stored in sealed cans and jars will be safe to eat, so make sure to include many of these as well as dry items like rice and beans. You’ll also want a small camp stove + fuel + pot + dishes and utensils.

SHTF cook set

I keep a camping cook set with my food supplies


Weapons and Defense Items

This one should be self explanatory. I just want to add that it isn’t enough to have weapons like a handgun. You’ve also got to know how to use it properly. Otherwise, your weapons might end up being a bigger risk to you and your family than a help during a disaster.


It is amazing how many preppers forget about this item. The plumbing system will quickly get shut off after a major disaster, which means you aren’t going to have any water to flush waste down the toilet in your home. You do NOT want to waste your precious drinking water to gravity flush the toilet!   Also, in a nuclear disaster situation, you won’t even be able to leave your basement (or other nuclear fallout shelter) to go to the bathroom.   Trust me – you don’t want to take a dump in the corner of the basement! It will get foul quickly, not to mention turn into a hygiene and sanitation hazard.

I recommend getting a small camping toilet to keep in your basement. Even better, get a portable compost toilet (though these can be a bit pricy). You could also use a bucket with a toilet set taken from your normal toilet. MAKE SURE TO HAVE LOTS OF PLASTIC BAGS FOR LINING THE BUCKET. You will tie these off (and contain some of the smell) and dispose of them/store them as far from your living space as possible.

portable toilet for emergency situations

Seriously, don’t forget a toilet in your SHTF gear!


Hygiene Items

When a disaster strikes, you aren’t going to care that you smell terrible. But you will care when you get a wound and it becomes infected… This is why some basic hygiene items are a must. Women will also need sanitary items for obvious reasons (I’d recommend that women get a reusable solution like a menstrual cup; I’ve heard good things about them from lady preppers).   Another thing to consider is dental care, because plaque builds up quickly and a tooth infection can actually be life threatening.

  • Soap
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Feminine products
  • Diapers for infants

Bug Out Bag

You thought you could hunker down and wait out the disaster, only to realize that you’ve got to go FAST. This is what a Bug Out Bag (BOB) is for. I’ve got a post on everything you need for your Bug Out Bag to survive. Make sure your BOB is packed and ready to go because you never know when the Sh*# will hit the fan!