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…
So many potential disasters could happen at any moment, and you want to do your best to prepare for them all.
This list of prepper supplies and gear isn’t meant to cover every single item you would want to have in these situations (I’m sure blacksmithing equipment would be nice, but I do not include that on the list!).
Instead, this preppers supplies and gear list is meant to cover all the items an average person would need to survive virtually any disaster.
Since multiple items can perform the same task (such as matches and a flint being able to start fires), I’ve divided the items into categories by the survival task they perform.
Prepper Supplies: Water
Contrary to what many people think, water is the most important thing you need to survive a disaster.
The body can go weeks without food but only a few days without water.
And once you start getting dehydrated, your energy levels, clear-headedness, and your ability to make rational decisions go away.
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 the following:
- 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 ensure your Bug Out Bag (BOB) contains a tarp for creating a temporary shelter and a tent.
- Sleeping bag: Get a lightweight sleeping bag rated for freezing temperatures.
- Clothing: In survival situations, you don’t need more than one change of clothing (in case the clothes you are wearing get wet or 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 rainwater.
- Firestarter: Don’t rely on a lighter. It will fail you! Get stormproof matches or a match-less firestarter. (How to start a fire without matches and how to make DIY firestarters.)
Prepper Supplies: Food & Cooking
You will need to prepare for two types of disaster situations: bugging out and hunkering down.
Bugging Out refers to situations where you’d flee to the wilderness to wait out the worst. You should have about 2-3 days worth of food for bugging out situations.
Hunkering down is 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 non-perishable food reserves. Preferably you’ll want even more!
- Non-Perishable Food: Choose light foods like freeze-dried meals and dehydrated foods for bugging out. For hunkering down, choose non-perishable foods like canned goods and bags of rice and beans. They must be rotated and appropriately packed 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 a survival necessity because you could all eat from the camping pot and fashion chopsticks out of sticks or 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; one inside your Bug Out Bag, 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 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, e.g., kerosene lamp
- Emergency lantern
- Spare fuel for vehicle
- Generator plus fuel
- Siphon pump: For getting more fuel (How to siphon gas from a car)
Hygiene Supplies and Gear for Preppers
In a disaster situation, you don’t need much in terms of hygiene items. Still, these hygiene prepper supplies can help you avoid rashes, diseases, and discomforts.
- Bucket + Plastic Bag: This will be used as a latrine in your home when hunkering down. 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 various 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.