What supplies and gear do you need to have when the SHTF?
Of course, that depends.
Are we talking about a global financial collapse?
A nuclear disaster and EMP?
Or maybe it is a terrorist attack, rioting, grid failure…
There are so many potential disasters that could happen at any moment, and you want to do your best to be prepared for all of them.
This list of prepper supplies and gear isn’t meant to cover every single item that you would want to have in these situations (I’m sure blacksmithing equipment would be nice to have but I’m not including that on the list!).
Rather, this preppers supplies and gear list is meant to cover all of the items that a normal person would need in order to survive virtually any disaster.
Since there are multiple items that can perform the same task (such as matches and a flint both being able to start fires), I’ve divided up the items into categories by the survival task that they perform.
Prepper Supplies: Water
Contrary to what a lot of people think, the most important thing you need to survive a disaster is water.
The body can go weeks without food but only a few days without water.
And once you start getting dehydrated, there goes your energy levels, your clear-headedness, and your ability to make rational decisions.
You will need this gear to ensure your supply of water:
- Water Stockpile: You can start storing water today in your empty plastic bottles; you should have enough water for 2-3 months
- Water purification system: This may include a camping water filter, bleach, or water purification tablets. Read more here.
- Water containers: See our top picks
- Water collection method: Such as bins or a tarp for collecting rainwater or a more advanced rainwater harvesting system
Shelter & Warmth
After water, shelter is your next priority. Shelter isn’t just a roof over your head. It is anything and everything which protects you from the elements. You will need:
- Survival shelter: I highly recommend that you learn how to make a quick survival shelter for wilderness situations. This can be done using debris like branches. To be prepared, you will want to make sure your Bug Out Bag (BOB) contains a tarp for creating a temporary shelter, and/or a tent.
- Sleeping bag: Get a good, lightweight sleeping bag that is rated for freezing temperatures.
- Clothing: In survival situations, you don’t really need more than one change of clothing (in case the clothes you are wearing get wet or for when you clean them). Anything more is just going to weigh you down.
- Footwear: You will want good waterproof steel-toe hiking boots and also lots of changes of socks. You can wear the same clothes for weeks but sweaty, crusty socks will give you uncomfortable blisters!
- Raingear: A rain jacket can also double as a tarp for making a shelter or collecting rain water.
- Fire starter: Don’t rely on a lighter. It will fail you! Get matches or a match-less fire starter. (How to start a fire without matches.)
Prepper Supplies: Food & Cooking
There are two types of disaster situations that you will need to prepare for: bugging out and hunkering down.
Bugging Out refers to situations where you’d flee to the wilderness to wait out the worst. For bugging out situations, you should have about 2-3 days worth of food.
Hunkering down is for situations when you would need to stay in your home (such as after a nuclear disaster when you don’t have enough time to get out of the danger zone). For hunkering down situations, you should prep your home so it has at least 1 month’s worth of nonperishable food reserves. Preferably you’ll want even more!
- Non-Perishable Food: For bugging out, choose light foods like freeze-dried meals and dehydrated foods. For hunkering down, choose any non-perishable foods like canned goods and bags of rice and beans. They will have to be rotated and/or packed properly for long-term storage.
- Cooking Stove: A small camping stove is good. Some options are gas or alcohol stoves.
- Camping Pot: This can also serve other functions, like if you need to boil water for sanitizing tools for applying first aid.
- Dishes and Utensils: These aren’t really a survival necessity because you could all eat from the camping pot and fashion chopsticks out of sticks or even pencils. But you’ll be happy to have a camping plate and utensils on hand.
First Aid Supplies and Gear for Preppers
You will probably want to make several first aid kits to have ready, such as one inside your Bug Out Bag and another in your home, and yet another in your car. This is important so don’t skimp! Make sure everything is in a quality waterproof bag.
- Medical tape
- Bandages, liquid bandages and wound closure strips
- Blood clotting solution
- Antiseptic wash or wipes
- Isopropyl alcohol 99%
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Balm ointment/salve
- Safety pin
- Latex gloves
- Bug spray
- Anti-diarrheal medicine
- Particulate N95 masks
- Pain medications
- Burn gel
- Ace bandage
See this First Aid Supplies Checklist!
Finances and Money for Preppers
Money will still have value for a short while after SHTF. Here is what preppers will need:
- Cash: Keep a stockpile in your home, not in the bank. ATMs aren’t going to work after EMP.
- Gold and precious metals/stones
- Alcohol: After money loses its value, this will be valuable for trading with
Read more about economic collapse.
Off-Grid Lighting and Power Supplies and Gear for Preppers
Again, many of these items aren’t absolutely necessary for survival. At the very least, you should have flashlights because they can be used for multiple situations, and will allow you to flee in the dark without risking a broken ankle.
- Flashlights: A long-life headlamp is a must for each member, plus LED flashlights
- Extra batteries: Should be rechargeable. See our battery guide.
- Solar charger: For your batteries and other powered devices! See our top picks.
- Oil lamps plus spare oil
- Emergency lantern
- Spare fuel for vehicle
- Generator plus fuel
- Siphon pump: For getting more fuel
Hygiene Supplies and Gear for Preppers
In a disaster situation, you really don’t need much in terms of hygiene items. Still, these hygiene prepper supplies can help you avoid rashes, diseases, and discomforts.
- Bucket + Plastic Bags: For hunkering down situations, this is what will be used as a latrine in your home. Make sure you’ve got enough plastic bags!!!
- Collapsible Shovel: For digging a latrine outdoors
- Toilet paper
- Solar shower
- Feminine products: Women should consider switching to a reusable solution such as a menstrual cup
Security and Safety Supplies and Gear for Preppers
This part of the list could go on forever. I mean, how are you supposed to keep your family safe against a mob, or when vandals come to rob your home? I’ve listed the most basic prepper supplies and tools that will be needed to keep you all safe in a variety of disaster situations.
- Fire extinguisher
- Gas mask or N95 mask
- Door security: Bolts, EZ Armor, etc.
- Camouflage: Clothing, blanket, tent…
- Weapon: And the knowledge of how to use it!
- Communication: Long range walkie talkies, signaling devices like a bright flashlight or signal mirror
- Body armor
Other Prepper Supplies and Tools
Feel free to expand here based on where you live, your family unit, and your comfort level. You can never be too prepared!
- Plastic tarp/sheeting
- Duct tape
- Saw – Best folding saw
- Bolt cutters
- Heavy-duty gloves
- Toolset: hammer, screwdriver, wrench, nails, screws, etc.
- Entertainment: a deck of cards, books, or baseball will keep you entertained
How many of these items do you already have? Is there anything that should be added to the list? Let me know in the comments.