ALL SURVIVAL GEAR IS NOT CREATED EQUAL

There are some people that think that survival gear is the same thing as “backpacking gear”, or “military gear.” In their heads, they all kind of mean the same thing, and are used interchangeably.

News flash–all “gear” is NOT created equal. And while there is definitely some overlap, REAL survival gear is focused squarely on 1 thing–keeping you alive. It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive, ultra-mega-super-duper-feather-lightweight, or brand name. It doesn’t have to come in “olive drab”, “coyote tan”, or “tactical black.”

REAL survival gear needs to be durable enough to not fall apart, and affordable enough that you can actually buy it. As a secondary consideration, and whenever possible, survival supplies need to be small enough to be realistic for the space you have (both around your home, and in your bug out bag). And for extra credit, the best survival gear should have multiple utilities.

You dig?

Just to help color the picture a little bit more, here are a couple examples:

 

Survival Gear Is NOT: 

  • A $300 designer knife
  • A $2000 custom-built 1911
  • A $350 North Face Coat

Survival Gear IS:

  • A $40 knife that can take some abuse
  • A $400 used Glock 19
  • The same North Face coat, bought at a 2nd-hand store for $25

You get the picture? It’s not about impressing chicks. It’s about keeping you alive, and moderately comfortable. I know this probably steps on some toes, and some of you may hate me for it, but this is real stuff we’re talking about here folks. I’m a friend. And I’m trying to keep you alive. So stick with me for a minute, and let’s talk about some specific gear recommendations for your home, car, bug out bag, and everyday carry (EDC).

SURVIVAL GEAR FOR YOUR HOME

Survival gear isn’t always in a backpack. In fact, I would argue that for most people, the supplies and equipment you have in your house are more important, and will be more used in sustaining life and getting through emergencies, than the stuff you put in your BOB.

Shelter and Protection From The Elements

Wood Burning Stove If you live in a cold climate, a wood burning stove is one of the most important preparations you can have, ESPECIALLY if you live in a home with only electrical heating. Ice storms can take out the power when you need it the most. A woodstove that’s properly sized, installed, and supplied with wood, can keep heat in the home when lives are on the line. As an added bonus, heating with wood can be cheaper than paying for heat from the utility company. (Here’s a quick first look at the wood stove I have)

Mr. Heater Indoor-Safe “Big Buddy” If you are renting, can’t afford a wood stove, or are otherwise in a position where you don’t have backup heat, the Big Buddy is a great alternative. These suckers are indoor safe, run on easy-to-store propane, and do an impressive job of putting out heat. They will heat a good sized room, and are perfect in an emergency situation. Pick one up new for $110-120, or significantly less in surplus stores or on Craigslist (my video on the Mr. Heater).

Backup A/C Units An air conditioning unit? Seriously? What is this, the Marriott? It’s ok, I already know you’re thinking it. But here’s the reality, if you live in a climate that gets extremely hot and humid (think the U.S. South), AC could very possibly be a life or death prep–particularly for infants and the elderly. A rolling AC unit can be moved from room to room, and stored away if/when not needed. Don’t have any old folks or small babies in your home? What about the family that might have to come stay with you? What about the next door neighbors? You be the judge, but give it some consideration.

Water Preps For The House

Water Bob A “Water BOB” is an awesome hurricane prep. Why do I say that? Because it’s usefulness is predicated on having a little bit of forewarning. They’re also intended for situations where normal water supply may not be accessible or otherwise compromised (kinda obvious, but orth the mention). Hurricanes are one of the biggest disasters that fall into those criteria. Simply lay the Water BOB out in your bathtub and fill it up with the spigot. Presto! You know have 100 gallons of potable water.

55-Gallon Water Barrels These barrels are one of the most straightforward, no-frill preps that you can get. They are EXTREMELY durable, and super easy to get. They are the perfect solution for storing a lot of water. You can typically pick them up online or in stores for right around $50. They will usually come with a hand-operated pump, and a special wrench for the lid. You can find these used and save yourself a little chunk of change, but be very careful that they are “food grade” plastic, and make sure you know what was stored in them before. If in doubt, better to err on the safe side and just get em new (my wife and I lived on the water we had stored in our 55-gallon barrel for a week one time. The footage from that video actually made it into National Gegraphic’s “American Blackout”).

5-Gallon Water Jugs In addition to 55-gallon barrels, these smaller 5 gallon jugs are a really good way to store smaller amounts of water. They are also ideal for transporting water from your 55-gallon drums to your kitchen or bathroom. Having at least 2-3 of these is a really good idea.

Big Berkey Water Filtration System The Berkey filtration systems are some of the most highly regarded in the space. In addition to being a good building block in your water security plan, these puppies also provide an excellent solution for people looking to make harvested rainwater drinkable (do your own research first!). I have personally been using the Big Berkey in my house since January of 2015 and have absolutely loved it! If interested, I put together a pretty cool infographic on Berkey water filters.

Big Berkey Water Filter - Survival Gear

Aquamira Frontier Pro I have long loved this inexpensive little filter. Why? Because it is EXTREMELY versatile. This one tiny little device can be attached directly to hoses, spigots, hot water heaters, water bottles, hydration bladders, and more (pretty much anything with threads!). You can also use the straw portion of it to sip directly from a stream, or in conjunction with a gravity-hung system to purify water as it drips through. As with any water purification method, there are limitations, but this is a piece of gear my wife and I both have. (see my video of the Aquamira Frontier Pro here)

Rainwater Collection Systems How much water rolls off your roof every year? Every month? Obviously this answer varies widely depending on where you live, but no matter where you live, rainwater collection is a smart idea. Depending on your goals, collected rainwater can be used to purify and drink, as a backup supply of water for sanitation and hygiene in emergencies, or to water your land. Rainwater collection systems can be extremely elaborate, or as simple as a barrel with a spigot at the bottom that connects with your raingutter system. And keep in mind, nobody says you can only use these on your house. If you have a barn, shed, or other outbuilding, you can always harvest that roof area as well. Take a look, and figure out what the best fit is for your building!

Food Preps For The House

Canning If you’re looking to truly become self sufficient, canning supplies are one of the biggest helpers preserving your food production for the long term. For things like tomatoes, salsa, and many fruits, and other high-acid foods, all that is needed is hot water bath canning. If you would like to be canning and preserving meats, vegetables, and low acidity foods, “pressure canning” is needed. Let’s make no bones about it–canning is messy and a lot of work. But taking your own food off the shelf throughout the year is about as good as it gets!

Food Dehydrator Dehydrating is another great method for preserving food to extend beyond the growing season. It’s most commonly used with fruits and jerkys. On the downside, using a food dehydrator requires a high energy input, and the resulting food can go quickly, because it’s easy to eat it like candy. I still think that dehydrating food makes sense however, because of it’s a relatively simple and easy way to diversify your food storage (and everyday snacks).

Vacuum Sealers A vacuum sealer is the perfect compliment to extend the life of your frozen or dehydrated foods. They are also great for dry packing bulk long storage foods (think grains, pastas, etc). Pick one of these suckers up if you want to truly begin playing in food preservation!

Can Openers Can openers, really? Yep. Incredibly important. Should only take you about 2 seconds to realize the wisdom of this, but how sad would it be to have all that food put away, and then your only can opener breaks. These guys are cheap, and you can get them anywhere! Pick up a couple extra and keep them in your storeroom, pantry, or anywhere else you keep your food.

Food Storage This would be the place that most survival and prepping sites would have a listing for you to puchase a pre-packaged 6 or 12-month freeze-dried “food supply” from a manufacturer. I take a different approach however. For the long term food storage in your home, I don’t actually recommend that people do this. They are expensive and start tasting the same after about a week and a half (I know, I ate them for 10 days straight in Alaska on a caribou hunt!). This is why I have tried really hard to help people build a long term “grocery store food” storage. These are foods that you are already buying and eating on a regular basis. Now you are just buying a couple extra each time you go to the store, so that eventually you have 10-20 more of everything you like to eat. I created a really good guide that helps people do exactly that, which answers all of the most frequent food storage questions. I took a few months and put together this REALLY good guide to help you get going.

Security Preps For The House

Home Security Systems Your house is your castle… until you get robbed or have an unwelcome visitor. Anybody who’s ever had this happen can relate. In an instant, you suddenly feel vulnerable (I know, because it happened to me here!). Noises outside have you peeking out windows, quadruple checking that your doors are locked, and calling out to make sure you know where your kids are. Although not 100% fail safe, implementing a home security system allows you to be a little bit less OCD about every single noise you hear or thought you have. You can choose to have it monitored or not. I would actually recommend NOT paying for a professionally monitoring service. Why? Because I sold security systems door to door for 5 months in New York City one summer during college, and saw up close many of the drawbacks. #1 is price. You’re looking at roughly $40 a month. #2 is response time. In the time it takes for the monitoring company to come over the intercom, verify that there is an emergency, and then call the police, the incident is likely long over. Remember, the alarm siren has been ringing loudly since the moment the intruder tripped the system, easily a couple minutes before the monitoring service ever kicks in. So he has likely fled the scene by that point. Drawback #3 is the issue of false alarms. They are a regular occurance, and many fire and police departments will actually charge you if they are dispatched on a false alarm (or 2 or 3 or 4, etc.). My advice is to save the monthly expense of having your system monitored, and let the loud sirens (and startled neighbors) be what scares intruders off.

Security Storm Doors Some of the BEST home security you can have is passive boundaries. In addition to a fence and hedges, strong doors are an intruder’s worst nightmare. Security storm doors like these are SOLID, and create a lot of extra work for someone to get in (or around). Well worth the money on your entry doors! As an added bonus, many of these are incredibly hard to see through for the person outside.

Motion Sensor Flood Lights If you can’t afford other home security equipment, motion sensor lights are a great place to start. They are relatively inexpensive, and can be easily installed. If you have existing lights where you would like to put the motions, it’s just a matter of a couple screws. These will do a lot to deter “no-gooders”, especially at night. Even if there may not be any sound associated with these, the light alone is often enough to alert family members or pets that are inside.

Firearms In addition to any other home security measures you take, defensive firearms, such as a pistol or shotgun, are a critical layer to your security plan. Make sure that you have them in the home, and that they are ready to go at all times. In addition to just having guns in your household, make sure that you have the ammo you need, and that all adults in the household have been trained sufficiently on how to use them. The last thing you want to have happen is to escalate the seriousness of the situation by involving a firearm, if it’s not something that’s going to help you out. (Get a copy of my FREE eBook “Pulling The Trigger: 6 Steps to Picking a Prepper’s First Pistol)

Gun and Valuables Safe If you have firearms in your home, it’s irresponsible (and likely punishable by law) to not have them secured. This means having a safe that is dependable and quickly accessible. In addition to storing firearms, many safes have the space to store additional valuables or important documents. Check out your options, and get one that makes sense for your situation.

Document Shredder Almost nobody would ever think of a document shredder as being “survival gear”, but when it comes to your security, using a document shredder is one of the biggest things you can do. If it falls in the wrong hands, your paper trail can lead people straight to your bank accounts, your legal history, and a host of other sensitive information. Rather than throw this stuff away, make sure that you destroy it properly in a shredder. Simple and inexpensive!

Medical Preps For The House

Medicine When was the last time you popped a capsule in your mouth? Was it a daily prescription? A painkiller? Chances are, it hasn’t been too long. Medications frequently play an important part in our health, and when it comes to preparedness for emergencies, it’s important not to forget to store them! It doesn’t have to be fancy–for over the counter medications, it can be inexpensive “store brand” stuff. In the case of prescription drugs, it can be a little harder to accrue surplus drugs and store them. Talk to your physician to figure out what the maximum quantity you can have is.

Prescription Medicine - Survival Gear

Trauma Kit The purpose of a trauma kit is to stabilize injured persons until they can get further medical attention. It will be used in an emotionally charged situation, so it should not be overly complex. A trauma kit with a few items that you know how to use is much better than a pile of stuff you have no clue about. A good amount of sterile gauze, a tourniquet, some quik clot, super glue, and sterile gloves are key ingredients to a sturdy trauma kit.

Alternative Energy Preps For The House

DC to AC Inverter A DC to AC inverter allows you to turn your car cigarette lighter into an outlet. They are inexpensive, and can power the critical components of your home while you have gas in your tank. Simply hook it to the battery terminals, and draw the wattage you need. The load is obviously limited, and as I say, you’re not going to be able to power a rock concert with it, but at 800 Watts, it will give you lights, radio, tv, computers, and possibly a microwave or refrigerator at least intermittently. Well worth it.

Backup Battery Backup batteries are great for storing a small amount of energy for power outage situations. A backup battery is another kind of “inverter”, taking stored energy, and turning it into alternating current. These are perfect for powering computers, charging phones, and especially medical devices. Because my daughter has a serious blood sugar condition, my wife and I have one of these to power the pump that continuously feeds our daughter overnight.

Battery Bank Wouldn’t it be nice if a blackout didn’t have to put you entirely out of electricity? What if you could still power a good chunk of your home? This is the goal of “battery banks.” Although I need to disclose upfront that this is well outside my personal expertise, a battery bank is essentially a series of deep-cycle batteries (such as marine batteries), that are linked together to store energy that can power circuits in your house. They can be extremely simple or really elaborate, with some people powering entire homes on their bank for significant periods of time. For even more independence, they can also be tied in with solar panels.

Battery Bank - Survival Gear

Generator For people that regularly go without power for extended periods of time, a gas generator is a great way to ensure that your most critical appliances and devices get the electricity they need. In hurricane areas, these are HIGH on the list for anybody trying to be prepared. Although they are not cheap, they can power fridges, freezers, heating and air conditioning, and just about anything. With heating and cooling devices in particular, make sure that your generator is appropriately sized. Electric heat and cooling usually requires a significant load.

Stabil for Fuel Sta-bil keeps gasoline fresh for up to 12 months, so that it doesn’t gum up and become unusable. Remember, stored fuel powers some important things in emergency situations–your generators, chainsaws, your car, and more. So if you’re planning to use gasoline for these kinds of things in an emergency, don’t make the mistake of storing it now without a stabilizing additive.

Solar Panels and Photovoltaic Arrays (hooked up to battery bank) Solar photovoltaic systems harvest sunlight into usable electricity to power your home. If you appreciate the value of being truly self sufficient, this is HUGE. Although there are many technologies which can power your home, solar is one of the most well-explored and consistent, and it’s getting cheaper all the time. If you want to get started powering your home through solar, contact these guys.

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Tools and Other Preps For The House

Chainsaw Talk to someone who’s lived in a hurricane area for any length of time, and they will tell you that chainsaws are worth their weight in gold! But it’s not just hurricanes alone–any area that gets high winds is prone to falling trees, telephone poles, older structures, and more. Having a chainsaw isn’t just about making your yard pretty again. The ability to access emergency services, and for them to access you, is very literally the difference between life and death. Even if you don’t have any tall trees on your property, think about everybody that lives between you and where you need to go. If there are 14 logs crossing a road that you need to travel, you’re out of luck. Chainsaws are also the ultimate for clearing heavy brush and timber, or processing wood that will be used for heating.

Fire Extinguishers Fire extinguishers are a no brainer. But people still don’t get them a lot of times, because they are a “boring” prep. Don’t be an idiot. Make sure you have a few in your home. They should be available for kitchen fires, and nearby heating sources–furnaces, wood stoves, fireplaces. Also a smart car prep!

Smoke and CO2 Alarms Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are also no brainers. Make sure that you have them, and that you test them regularly. You also want to be careful to follow guidelines for where to store them, so that they can be the most effective and minimize false alarms. Along with fire extinguishers, having these devices may even get you a (small) discount on your homeowner’s insurance. (Watch me install my Kidde detectors here)

Earthquake Straps Let’s get basic: earthquake straps keep heavy things from falling. Mind blowing concept right? This means that they prevent injuries, and also protect against property damage. They are idea for entertainment centers, bookshelves, tvs, dressers and more. If you have little ones running around your house, earthquake straps are an especially good idea. The last thing you want is for your 2 year old to try to climb a bookshelf and pull it down on himself. One of the MOST IMPORTANT use cases for them is with hot water heaters. Not only could hot water heaters cause injury or damage by falling over, but because they are hooked up to both GAS and WATER lines, they pose an enormous risk for flooding and fire. Get some form of an earthquake strap on this puppy and save yourself major grief down the road!

Insurance When compared with guns, ammo, food storage, and cool looking tactical backpacks, homeowner’s insurance has got to be one of the LEAST SEXY, but MOST IMPORTANT “preps” you can have locked in. Think about it logically for a second. Of everything in the world, what do you have the most money tied up in? Unless you’re Warren Buffet, it’s your house (ok, maybe there’s a few others that fall into his category). But for the rest of us, we have the biggest portion of our financial destiny tied up in a structure that we call home. Having comprehensive homeowners insurance protects you against a multitude of financial disasters.

SURVIVAL GEAR FOR YOUR CAR

Having preps in your car is a BIG deal. It just is. Think about what a dangerous activity driving is to begin with. For 90% of us, it’s the most dangerous thing that we do everyday. And then consider just the sheer distances that cars take us.

In an hour driving in our cars, we can be a week’s journey from our home by foot. Cars are incredibly complex and fragile machines, so if they do break down, there is a high likelihood that many people will not have the knowledge or equipment to fix them.

And lastly, the lifestyle that we live, and commitments that we make make travel by car a daily necessity. Outside of a handful of urbanites, pretty much nobody works, lives, goes to school, goes to church, or hangs out with friends within walking distance anymore.

Add it all up, and the bottom line is that traveling by car is a high-risk and frequently occurring activity, that we should be well prepared for. To make things simple, for each car I have, I like to have a rubbermaid tote for my “car” preps (jumper cables, fix a flat, etc), and a duffel bag next to it for the “human” preps.

Survival Supplies to Keep the Car Running:

Fix-a-Flat My wife has actually used Fix-a-Flat TWICE, to get out of a pinch. This is another “Good Samaritan” prep, meaning, it might be something that you end up helping somebody else with. For $6-8, you can really help out a stranger that might be in serious need, and it’s not setting you back a fortune. Having 1 of these in every vehicle makes a ton of sense.

Inexpensive Headlamp An inexpensive light is huge for any emergency that happens at night. It helps you see what you’re doing, and makes you more visible to other passers by. A headlamp in particular is what you want in a car emergency, because most of the time you’re gonna want those hands free.

Hand Tools You can’t haul around an auto shop with you, but even a few hand tools are better than nothing. A set of wrenches, a couple screwdrivers, and a pair of pliers are a great starting place. With these hand tools, it’s less about doing high performance modifications to your car, and more about being able to improvise in a pinch, until you can get to an actual shop.

Tow Rope These puppies are relatively inexpensive, and can get you (or another vehicle) out of a snow drift, ditch, or other sticky situations. If you have a vehicle capable of pulling, they’re also great for assisting somebody else out of a jam. Trying to tow another vehicle to safety can be a dangerous proposition, so be careful that you know what you’re doing, and that you don’t make the situation worse than it is.

Folding Shovel Folding shovels come in handy when you’re trying to get a vehicle unstuck. If you live in a climate that gets snow regularly each year, this shouldn’t even be a conversation. There are lots of times each year, when even a little shovel like this can mean the difference between getting out or not.

Snow Melt This is a great wintertime prep, if you live in a snow area. It chews up roads, and is harsh on your paint, but does wonders for keeping your driveway and walkways manageable during the winter. Not only does this help you to keep your vehicles free to drive, but it also helps keep the walkways safer and less slippery.

Coolant/Anti-Freeze This is the fluid your cars uses to regulate it’s temperature. Critical to have in both the winter and the summer. A jug of this takes up a little space, but definitely worth it to have on hand when you need it. Inexpensive, and you can find it pretty much anywhere.

Extra Oil Shouldn’t have to explain this one, but suffice it to say, that of all the preps in my rubbermaid tote, this is what I’ve used the most. You do not want to be 50 miles from anywhere and start smelling burning oil. In particular, if you have an older car, or a car that drips a little bit, make sure you have a few quarts. Worth the space!

Kidde Auto Fire Extinguisher Are you going to extinguish your car if it blows up on the side of the road and is engulfed in flames? Likely not. But a fire extinguisher is still a great idea to have for smaller fires that you can handle. It also doesn’t hurt to have a fire extinguisher in the vehicle for fires that might break out nearby your car–a campout, the garage, somebody else’s vehicle.

Utility Tarp Talk about useful! Tarps are awesome as a barrier underneath you, a protective covering over you. Perfect to keep you out of the rain, to wrap yourself in for sleeping, and 100 other uses. When space constraints are less of a factor, don’t even think twice about snagging 1 of these.

Replacement Fuses In the age of our modern vehicles, keyless entry, and car alarms, even something as little as a blown fuse can keep you from turning your car on. Most of the time, a “blown fuse” situation won’t be life or death, but for just a couple bucks ahead of time, you can be up and running again.

Emergency Flares These are great for signaling if you are broken down, pulled over on the side of the road, need help, or want to make sure you are seen and not hit. If you need to leave your vehicle, these can also be used as a fire starter. They are easy to ignite, and their long burn time gives you some time to work with.

2 Gallon Gas Can This is a prep that you will definitely use before the end of the world. If not for yourself, for the friend that calls you, or the helpless stranded person on the side of the road. Save yourself the extortionist, “middle of nowhere” gas station prices, and pick one up for each vehicle ahead of time.

Gas Siphon I have actually never used one of these, but I have them anyway, in the event that I might need to transfer gas from one vehicle to another. While this makes for a lot more boring TV than trying to siphon with your mouth, I’d gladly opt for the drop in ratings over the burned-lungs-puking-everything-up sensation of sucking down gas.

Duct Tape When you think back on all the things that duct tape has been used for since the beginning of time, you’re an idiot if you don’t have some in your car. Duct tape is rope, glue, bailing wire, tent stakes, wallets, clothing, and about a million other things. It’s the best improvisor I know–the poor man’s temporary fix for anything.

Plastic Zip Ties These are simple, cheap, and effective. Like duct tape, these are another great fastener for holding your car together until you can get a real fix done. The difference is that zip ties are a heck of a lot more sturdy, easy to fasten, and a lot more precise. Happy is the man (or woman) that has them plentifully.

Bungee Cords These may be one of the most used things you have in your “survival kit”, especially if you have a truck. They don’t really need a lot of explaining. If you’re old enough to be reading this right now, you’ve likely already seen these things in action a few times. They usually come in a pack of 3 or more, which gives you plenty of options for securing stuff.

Jumper Cables These guys are one of the simplest, most common solutions to an out of commission car. Even people that are the most mechanically “un-inclined” can learn how to use jumper cables to get out of some tough situations.

Shelter Preps For The Car:

Mr. Heater Little Buddy Like the “Big Buddy” the Mr. Heater Little Buddy is an indoor-safe heater that runs on propane. They are significantly less expensive (coming in right around $50), but as you would expect, heat a smaller area. This makes them an excellent cold weather prep for emergencies when you may be stuck inside your car.

Blankets There’s nothing fancy about having a couple extra blankets in your car. Doing this gives you an extra layer of preparedness if you are stuck in the cold, and it also never hurts on a road trip when the kiddos are tired. Wool blankets are awesome, and really warm, but at the end of the day, just get something!

Extra Clothing Even just an extra jacket and shoes can go a long way when you need em! You know those shoes that you don’t wear any more, and were considering giving to the Salvation Army? Put those in your car. Same thing for the jacket. If you go out and buy a brand new pair of really fancy boots and a coat, you will always be wanting to wear them, and will end up taking them in and out of your car. This will mean that they’re not always in your car, and this defeats the whole purpose of having a preparation. A “part time prep” sucks, so just use your old stuff.

Extra Clothing - Survival Gear

Water Preps For The Car:

Aquamira Frontier Pro I have long loved this inexpensive little filter. Why? Because it is EXTREMELY versatile. This one tiny little device can be attached directly to hoses, spigots, hot water heaters, water bottles, hydration bladders, and more (pretty much anything with threads!). You can also use the straw portion of it to sip directly from a stream, or in conjunction with a gravity-hung system to purify water as it drips through. As with any water purification method, there are limitations, but this is a piece of gear my wife and I both have.

Stored Water (in reusable containers) It never hurts to keep a jug of water or two in your car. Although they do take up some space, they are about the cheapest things that you can buy! Use em, give em away, just don’t have them in your car if they’re going to freeze!

Water - Survival Gear

Food Preps For The Car:

Freeze Dried Meals In a Pouch Freeze dried entrees in a pouch are the perfect solution for “quick and easy” short-term emergency food storage. They are extremely compact, and can be made just by pouring hot water directly into the pouch. Great source of calories and comfort!

Datrex Survival Bars Let’s get one thing straight: Datrex survival bars are NOT tasty. Well, unless you like the taste of flour and butter, flavored with coconut. Trust me, I lived on these things for 72 hours, during my mock urban survival scenario (check it out here). BUT, they are a lot of calories, very compact, inexpensive, and they stay good for a while. This makes them great survival food for short term emergencies, and your car.

Steel Cup An ordinary steel cup is a great prep for your car, because it is how you cook things. Particularly if you have freeze-dried entrees, a little steel cup is the perfect thing to heat up the small amount of water that is needed to pour into the pouch and cook them.

Security Preps For The Car:

Firearms (Check out my guide to purchasing a prepper’s first pistol here.) Cold steel never felt so much like a warm fuzzy blanket when you find yourself lost in an unfamiliar part of town, and start getting eyed threateningly by people. Now imagine that you are having car trouble, or are caught in traffic. In addition to having guns in your household, having a firearm accessible in your car is a good security prep. Make sure you understand what your local laws are if you are wanting to do this.

Pepper Spray Even though many men think pepper spray is strictly a “chick prep”, it’s not. In many cases, it’s the best legal implement that you can use to protect yourself. Though not lethal, or great at long range, it’s small, it’s relatively inexpensive, and incredibly effective at close distances. Pepper spray is something that can be used if you are in your car and being threatened by somebody trying to get in or hurt you from the outside. You can also take it with you when you park your car, if you are in a high risk area. Don’t be too “tough guy” to consider pepper spray in your car preps!

Lojack and Auto Trackers Although I have to be honest and say that I have never had Lojack myself, it has been the difference in recovering MANY stolen cars. And recovering them quickly. If you are routinely taking your car into high risk areas, this may be a good prep to consider.

Medical Preps For The Car:

Trauma Kit Because driving is such a dangerous activity, it is a really good idea to have a trauma kit in the car. The purpose of a trauma kit is to stabilize injured persons until they can get further medical attention. It will be used in an emotionally charged situation, so it should not be overly complex. A trauma kit with a few items that you know how to use is much better than a pile of stuff you have no clue about. A good amount of sterile gauze, a tourniquet, some quik clot, super glue, and sterile gloves are key ingredients to a sturdy trauma kit.

Medication When was the last time you popped a capsule in your mouth? Was it a daily prescription? A painkiller or NSAID? Chances are, it hasn’t been too long. Medications frequently play an important part in our health, and when it comes to preparedness for emergencies, it’s important not to forget to store them! It doesn’t have to be fancy–for over the counter medications, it can be inexpensive “store brand” stuff. In the case of prescription drugs, it can be a little harder to accrue surplus drugs and store them. Talk to your physician to figure out what the maximum quantity you can have is.

Medication -Survival Gear

Alternative Energy Preps For The Car:

Power Pot Remember when I was talking about a steel cooking cup (above)? The Power Pot is actually a cup and a generator all rolled into one! Using thermoelectrics, the Power Pot converts heat into usable electric current that can charge devices like cell phones, GPS units, HAM radios, headlamps, and more!

Goal Zero Guide 10 The Goal Zero Guide 10 is another great tool for harvesting emergency energy from the sun. These small solar panels can be used to directly charge your devices via USB, or you can get the accompanying rechargeable batteries and charger to give yourself even more versatility. Either way, this is just 1 more great solution to keep in your car for powering devices when you need to!

USB Car Charging Adapters How about using the battery you lug around in your car already? Most of us have known this since we were young, but you can use direct current from your car’s battery through the cigarette lighter to power many devices (including handheld video games and more). A universal USB car charging adapter is the perfect thing to get and store in your car preps. If you want the flexibility of powering devices that run on alternating current (i.e. stuff that you plug into a wall outlet), you can pick up an inverter, that plugs into your cigarette lighter on one side, and has a wall outlet on the other.

Survival Gear for Your Bug Out Bag

While many of the supplies that make sense for your home or car survival kits apply similarly to your bug out bag, the gear for your bug out bag needs to be particularly lopsided in one area: protection from the elements.

Because unlike an emergency that you weather from your home or in your car, a true bug out situation may find you without shelter. And remember, exposure to the elements is a faster killer than hunger or thirst. Keep that in mind when you are putting together your kit (whether you follow any of my other suggestions or not), and allocate your space and money accordingly.

Sheltering Preps For Your Bug Out Bag:

SOL Escape Bivvy The SOL Escape Bivy is an excellent piece of emergency sheltering gear. Much like any other mylar emergency blanket or sleeping bag, this bivvy features a lining that reflects your body’s heat. There are 2 HUGE differences in this bivvy however: 1) rather than being made out of single-use, disposable mylar, it’s constructred much more durably, so it’s actually reusable, and 2) it respirates, so that condensation molecules don’t form on the inside of the bag. Awesome!

Wool Blankets The one downside to wool blankets, is that they take up a lot of room (as opposed to something like the SOL Escape Bivvy). But, they are really warm wrapped around you, and also make a great insulator/ground pad, when you fold and put one underneath you for sleeping.

Bic Lighters and Stormproof Matches A few Bic lighters and some stormproof matches are a serious no-brainer. When you are wet, cold, and your temperature is dropping quickly, things are SERIOUS. You need heat quickly, and you don’t need to be messing around for an hour trying to light a fire. Spend the couple dollars to stock up on these puppies and thank yourself later!

Extra Socks If i had to pick between a beanie for my head, gloves for my hands, or some nice wool socks for my feet, I would hands down pick the later. Why? Because your feet are where you feel it. Not only do your feet get extremely tired from walking around all day, but they also get sweaty, and then sweaty can make them extremely cold. Having a good pair (or 2) of socks in your bug out bag ensures that you will always have a pair to trade off with while you wash or air out your others.

Beanie A beanie is to your head, what socks are to your feet. You body has the poorest insulation and loses the most heat through its head, hands and feet. Even a beanie from a dollar store is great. You don’t need to get fancy with this. They are cheap and take up very little room–no reason not to get!

Sheltering Tarp A tarp is an extremely versatile and effective sheltering implement. You can drape them around you, put them under you to keep you out of the dew, or rig them up over you to keep rain off you. To make them an even better prep, you can find tarps that are reflective on one side, that will keep some of your heat in. As with some of the other sheltering supplies, they do take up a little bit of space in your bug or bag, so you’ll have to be the judge of whether or not they make the cut.

Fixed-Blade Knife A sturdy fixed blade knife is one of the best pieces of gear you can get to help protect you from the elements. Think about it: They are awesome for wood processing and fire making, and equally or more awesome in helping to create shelters. The G.I. Tanto is an inexpensive and really sturdy fixed blade knife. In addition to helping to protect you from the elements, a knife obviously has a pile of other uses–defense, hunting, etc. CONstruction and DEstruction.

Extra Clothes Even just an extra jacket and shoes can go a long way when you need em! You know those shoes that you don’t wear any more, and were considering giving to the Salvation Army? Put those in your BOB. Same thing for the jacket. If you go out and buy a brand new pair of really fancy boots and a coat, you will always be wanting to wear them, and will end up taking them in and out of your kit. A “part time prep” sucks, so just use your old stuff.

Extra Clothing - Survival Gear

Leathercraft Insulated Gloves for work and cold weather Insulated work gloves are the PERFECT, PERFECT thing for your bug out bag. Having them goes a long way to prevent critical heat from escaping your body when you need it most. Equally or even more important, is the fact that in bug out and survival situations you are way more likely to be using your hands. Clearing debris, creating shelter, working with knives and wood, and more. The protection of some good work gloves goes a long way.

Hand Warmers Handwarmers are a small, one-time use pouch that heats up when it’s activated. These are great for cold nights, when you’re shivering to get warm in your sleeping bag. They feel great on your feet too! Having a couple in your bag is more than a good idea, it can save you from some serious misery. They are really easy to activate–just open the package and squeeze.

Sturdy Footwear Along with socks, having sturdy footwear goes a long way in keeping you safe, warm, and not too beat up. This doesn’t mean you have to have expensive hiking boots that just sit in your pack, but it does mean that you should have something serviceable in your pack. That way, if you’re wearing sandals or high heels when you run out the door, you’re not walking in them for a week if you can’t get back home. I recommend an old, but comfortable pair of shoes that you don’t wear anymore for this.

Boots - Survival Gear

Water Preps For Your Bug Out Bag:

Aquamira Frontier Pro I have long loved this inexpensive little filter. Why? Because it is EXTREMELY versatile. This one tiny little device can be attached directly to hoses, spigots, hot water heaters, water bottles, hydration bladders, and more (pretty much anything with threads!). You can also use the straw portion of it to sip directly from a stream, or in conjunction with a gravity-hung system to purify water as it drips through. As with any water purification method, there are limitations, but this is a piece of gear my wife and I both have.

Hydration Bladder Even if you have implements to purify water, like a filter, or a cup for boiling, NOTHING beats actually having some water ready to drink, and in your hand. A hydration bladder is a great way to do this in your bug out bag. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but should be constructed really tough. If it ruptures and soaks your bug out bag, it could ruin some of your gear, or at the least make things miserable. Plus then you don’t have your water!

Drip Water Filtering System A drip system water purifying filter is a great prep for occasions when you will be at a “camp” for any length of time. Simply fill the bladder portion with unpurified water, and then hang it up with a collection device below. Water will trickle through the filter and down the hose into the collection container. I used the Katadyn Base Camp when I was hunting caribou in Alaska for a week plus. We would just fill up the bag with pond water every day before we left camp, and when we came back, we would have plenty of purified water to drink.

Food Preps For Your Bug Out Bag:

Freeze Dried Meals In a Pouch Freeze dried entrees in a pouch are the perfect solution for “quick and easy” short-term emergency food storage. They are extremely compact, and can be made just by pouring hot water directly into the pouch. Great source of calories and comfort!

Datrex Survival Bars Let’s get one thing straight: Datrex survival bars are NOT tasty. Well, unless you like the taste of flour and butter, flavored with coconut. Trust me, I lived on these things for 72 hours, during my mock urban survival scenario (check it out here). BUT, they are a lot of calories, very compact, inexpensive, and they stay good for a while. This makes them great survival food for short term emergencies.

Steel Cup An ordinary steel cup is pretty much a mandatory prep for your bug out bag, because it is how you cook things. For freeze-dried entrees, hot cocoa, soups, and a bunch more, a little steel cup is the perfect thing to heat up the small amount of water that is needed.

Security Preps For Your Bug Out Bag:

Firearms Cold steel never felt so much like a warm fuzzy blanket when you find yourself outside of your normal environment and unsure of what will happen next. In addition to having guns in your household or car, having a firearm that you can carry with you on the go is a good security prep. Make CERTAIN you understand what your local laws are if you are wanting to do this.

Pepper Spray Even though many men think pepper spray is strictly a “chick prep”, it’s not. In many cases, it’s the best legal implement that you can use to protect yourself. Though not lethal, or great at long range, it’s small, it’s relatively inexpensive, and incredibly effective at close distances. Pepper spray is something that can be used if you are in your car and being threatened by somebody trying to get in or hurt you from the outside. You can also take it with you when you park your car, if you are in a high risk area. Don’t be too “tough guy” to consider pepper spray in your car preps!

Fixed-Blade Knife In addition to having a sturdy fixed blade knife as a sheltering prep, it is also an obvious security implement (simply put, knives are about CONstruction and DEstruction). Although a knife fight is no joke, and NOT recommended, I also wouldn’t rule it out as a part of your security preps. The G.I. Tanto is an inexpensive and really sturdy fixed blade knife.

Encrypted Thumb Drive An encrypted thumb drive is a fantastic way to keep a copy of the most important documents in your life-right at your very fingertips. I keep one of these on my keys at all times. You can store scans of birth certificates, social security cards, insurance information, titles to your house and car, credit card info, and more. Think about it, if your original copies of all your important documents are destroyed or inaccessible, how much easier will it be to restore your “normal life” with copies on an encrypted thumb drive? Get one!

Medical Preps For Your Bug Out Bag:

Trauma Kit Because driving is such a dangerous activity, it is a really good idea to have a trauma kit in the car. The purpose of a trauma kit is to stabilize injured persons until they can get further medical attention. It will be used in an emotionally charged situation, so it should not be overly complex. A trauma kit with a few items that you know how to use is much better than a pile of stuff you have no clue about. A good amount of sterile gauze, a tourniquet, some quik clot, super glue, and sterile gloves are key ingredients to a sturdy trauma kit.

Alternative Energy Preps For Your Bug Out Bag:

Backup Battery A backup battery is the perfect solution for giving yourself another charge on your phone, GPS, or other small device. They typically come with several different sizes of USB adapters, and sometimes include the option of having standard sized batteries inside of them. Make sure you know what the best practices are for charging/storing before getting one for your kit.

Goal Zero Guide 10 The Goal Zero Guide 10 is another great tool for harvesting emergency energy from the sun. These small solar panels can be used to directly charge your devices via USB, or you can get the accompanying rechargeable batteries and charger to give yourself even more versatility. Either way, this is just 1 more great solution to keep in your car for powering devices when you need to!

Everyday Carry Gear

The concept behind everyday carry gear is simple–designate certain gear as things that you commit to carrying every single day. The application of what that means however can be broad. For some people this could mean a firearm, or a special pouch full of supplies. For other people it might be a little Altoids tin kit with fish hooks and fire starters in it, and for others still, it might be as simple as carrying some tools or gadgets on a key ring.

As with most concepts in self-sufficiency, the specifics are best left up to you, but here are some of the more common items that many people choose to include in their everyday carry gear:

Everyday Carry Knife

A knife is probably the most common mainstay of everyday carry. Some people choose to carry folding knifes, and others fixed blade knifes. People carry knives in their back pocket, front pocket, or even carry fixed blade neck knives. Some people carry more than 1 knife on them. I personally prefer a really small folding knife. For the last several years, my everyday carry knife has been the Kershaw Cryo.

Why is a knife such a common item?

A knife has many uses, but they virtually all boil down to 2 larger concepts: CONstruction and DEstruction. All of the cutting, stabbing, and poking functions of a knife are essentially wrapped up in these.

Everyday Carry Flashlight

A flashlight might be the next most popular everyday carry item. There are a million different kinds and sizes of flashlights, that take different batteries and have special features. The point is, it’s nice to have a light when you need one!

I personally like an EDC light that takes 1 AAA battery. These lights are incredibly small, and can be found with a push button tailcap, a keychain attachment, and several different modes (brightness, etc). In short, a lot of usability, in a small package.

Everyday Carry Gun

How about an everyday carry gun? Well, many people include firearms as part of their everyday carry gear. A gun is something that will hopefully never need in your lifetime, but better to not need it and have it than the reverse.

You can find all calibers, makes, and body styles, but in general, what makes a good everyday carry gun is small size. Many gun manufacturers make a “compact” and “subcompact” version of their pistols, specifically for people that want to carry their firearms concealed.

Everyday Carry Keychain

An everyday carry keychain is a great place to keep a couple items. Many people carry pepper spray, flashlights, flash drives, CPR masks, and small knives on their keychains. These items are small, and 1 or 2 of them can be easily stashed on your keys without being too big of a pain.

Everyday Carry Multitool

Multitools are awesome for our modern environment. In addition to a knife blade, you get pliers, screwdrivers, scissors, bottle openers, and a bunch more. The big boy version of a Swiss Army Knife.

I’ve found that the trade-off with carrying multitools is that they weigh a fair amount more than an average folding knife, and that the actual knife blade on a multitool is not near as good as a knife blade on a dedicated folding or fixed blade knife. The lockup on a multitool is usually extremely good, but this can also make the tools a little bit harder to open and close.

Everyday Carry Medical Supplies

What kind of medical supplies? Band-aids, bandages, tweezers, disinfectant, and other items that are small. A small tube of super glue is a really good prep to have, because it can be used in lieu of sutures or stitches, if there is a serious injury away from good medical care.

So, What’s The Best Everyday Carry Bag or Container?

People use all kinds of everyday carry bags and containers to carry their gear. Some people use a small pouch or an Altoids tin. Other people use a full-sized tactical pack. Still other people (like me) use some kind of improvised, home-made container. Some people don’t use a container at all, just carry a few loose items in their pockets.

As with everything else, it doesn’t really matter what you have your everyday carry gear in, as long is it is something that helps you to actually carry your “everyday carry” gear every day.

My Personal Everyday Carry

When I first committed to start carrying something every single day, I could only commit to carrying a floss container. Because I hate having things in my pockets, even that was a stretch for me. So I ultimately downsized to a mini Altoids tin.

This is what I carried in my floss container:

  • 2 bandaids
  • 2% tincture of iodine (for disinfecting cuts and scrapes as well as purifying water)
  • 40′ of waxed floss (as emergency cordage)
  • 1 large condom (reason why below)
  • 2 non-Asprin pain reliever tablets
  • 1 Energizer LED light
  • 1 miniature lighter
  • 6′ duct tape

And then here is a look at my streamlined, mini Altoids tin carry:

I also carried a 3″ folding knife in my back pocket, and an encrypted flash drive with emergency information on it on my key chain. I also decided to scrap my flimsy shoelaces and replace them with more durable, all purpose paracord. While it ended up being a little bit tricky, 6 feet of paracord was definitely a welcome addition to my EDC (especially considering that prior to this, my only cordage was some dental floss).

The Craziest Everyday Carry Item…

In his book, Cody mention’s something that I personally had never heard of before–using condoms as an emergency water carrier. Although I’ve seen them used as water balloons before, I’d never thought of using them as emergency water carriers.

They’re only the size of a quarter, and weigh practically nothing. And most of all, their capacity is ASTOUNDING. As you see in my video, I ran a “capacity test” on one condom and filled it in my tub with nearly 3 GALLONS of water (11 Liters)!

That’s more than any water bottle, hydration bladder, or even ziploc bags that you’re going to be carrying.

Granted their are some limitations. The biggest, is that condoms are fragile–especially when filled to capacity. So realistically, they would not be a good first choice of something to carry water in. However, if you are staying put, and need to take advantage of storing all the liquid you can, they can definitely make do in a pinch.

Survival Gear Is Just a Tiny Part of Living Self Sufficiently

If your goal really is to live self-sufficiently, than a pile of survival gear cannot give you that. Proper mindset, planning, and 100 other things contribute to an overall lifestyle where you are in control.

One of the biggest ingredients however, is a thoughtfully-planned, self-sufficient homestead. A place where you can generate your own food, water, and energy. A place that is a resource generator, not merely a resource drain.

Here at Homestead Launch, our goal is to help you establish a place exactly like this that fits your family, and your life situation. We work with professionals all over the country to help you take steps in your area. If you are interested in how you can get going on your homestead, you can start by taking our free 3-minute assessment. We create a personalized blueprint of recommendations and advice tailored to your goals. If you have specific questions, you can also contact us here. Self-sufficiency is an exciting journey–we look forward to traveling it with you!