Top 50 Preparedness Items (and why)

The Top 50 Preparedness Items (and why)

What are the top 50 preparedness items - and why
The top 50 preparedness items

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Survive the coming

Welcome to this week’s Survive The Coming Collapse newsletter, brought to you by Free Survival Cheat, a set of quick, actionable, and free preparedness and survival tips and tricks from the The Fastest Way To Prepare course.

Survival Diva here.  We’ve been talking about the reasons why it’s so important to prepare for the last couple of weeks, and I’m very excited to be discussing the solutions this week! With prepping comes peace of mind, knowing we’re ready for whatever Mother Nature, the economy brings, or terrorists bring. Writing the reasons to prepare in the last two posts had me criticizing my own preparedness as I took inventory before the first snowfall. I definitely need to beef up my stash of firewood! And there’s always room for improvement in other areas.

This week, we’re going to cover a “Top 50” of preparedness items that you absolutely want to have in place when a disaster strikes (or get your hands on before the masses realize that the sky has fallen.)

These items will be the first to disappear in an emergency, and once purchased, most wouldn’t trade them for a stack of gold bullion…unless they’ve put extras aside for barter. The good news is many items on the list aren’t expensive, so setting them aside now will save you the drama of having to scramble or barter for them later

You’ll notice this list does not include storage food, medical supplies, clothing, cleaning supplies or all but one basic hygiene product, but even so, each of these items are must-haves—but since you’re already here, you know that.  If you don’t have that under control, I want to suggest that you go through for a beginner roadmap.

Checking a few of things off the list each week, pay period, or month will go a long ways towards your being able to breathe easy, even in the face of calamity.

Top 50 Preparedness Items (or classes of items)

1. Water Purifier: As Camelback says, “Hydrate or Die!”  But, without a water purifier (or filter or water treatment system, depending on where you’re getting your water from); you can’t safely drink water from a stream, or a lake. A quality water purifier can even purify swimming pool and pond water!

2. Water Containers: You will need water containers, even if you have a well only a few feet away. During a time of unrest, or in a nuclear event, you may have to stay indoors. Store two weeks of water in sturdy containers indoors—at least fifteen gallons per person is enough for drinking and cooking, but it isn’t enough for bathing. You will need to store more if you live in a hot climate, are on medications that require you to drink more than usual, or if you’re going to be exerting yourself during the two weeks.

3. Wood Matches: Unless you plan on referring to a Boy Scout Manual on how to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, get lots! It doesn’t hurt to purchase an additional flint-style fire starting kit for a time when matches may run out.  (David’s note:  Also, buy cheap lighters…LOTS of cheap lighters.)

4. Buckets: Buckets are good for many applications: food storage, gathering water, and buckets can be made into a water purifier in case of a nuclear event—even the best water purifier will not safely filter fallout! Keep at least 4 5-gallon plastic buckets for tasks and purifying fallout particles from water sources.

5. Bleach: Not only will bleach provide a way to safely store water, it is a must-have to sanitize surfaces. Bleach is a perfect bartering item and its inexpensive! (David’s note:  you may also want to research and buy sodium hypochlorite granules instead of large quantities of liquid bleach)

6. Flashlights: A late-night trip to the “outdoor facilities” won’t be easy without a flashlight. It doesn’t hurt to have a couple, and possibly one that runs without batteries—a shaker-style–but do your homework when buying one. Many have reported being disappointed over some models lack of reliability. LED Flashlights have the most range, from tactical use, to every-day household chores. They are more expensive than regular flashlights, but many swear by them. A headlamp is a good investment for hands-free tasks after sun-down. Whatever style of flashlight you choose, consider a solar charger and rechargeable batteries.

7. Toilet Paper: This is a must-have. The good news is it’s still affordable when purchased on sale. Last month, a local store here in North Idaho had T.P. on sale for $6.99 for a package of 24 rolls.

8. Alternative Cooking Source:  Whether your choice is a camp stove, a wood cook stove, or an outdoor BBQ (never use BBQ’s indoors), it’s a good idea to make the decision now, before trouble, so you’ll have it available in a crisis. This is important enough, I’ll be writing a separate post about alternative cooking in the near future. If your choice is a camp stove, have plenty of fuel set aside to get you through a long-term crisis, and if necessary (like in the case of limited storage for propane), have a back-up plan. If you haven’t made a decision yet and are leaning towards a camp stove, consider a model that lets you use several fuel sources.

9. Dutch Oven: In a pinch, Dutch ovens are great to cook with over an open fire, on top of a wood-burning heat stove, or in a fireplace. Besides main-course meals, breads and desserts can be made in them!

10. Solar Oven: If you live in a warm climate, a solar oven will save you a boatload of money when comparing the costs of propane or other fuel when cooking with a camp stove. For northerners, they’re a perfect cooking alternative for summers.

11. Manual Wheat Grinder: Wheat and corn have an incredible shelf-life when stored in a cool, dark, moisture-free environment. Having a manual wheat grinder with a separate corn auger will grind wheat and corn for homemade breads and cornmeal. But beware about storing just wheat for baking: studies have shown that those who suddenly switch their diets to wheat sometimes develop an allergy to it.  The high fiber content in wheat can also make it difficult for the body to process in large quantities.

12. Heavy-Duty Pull Cart: No matter if you need to haul wood, or water, or clear brush for gardening, a sturdy pull cart may become your best friend. Put aside tire patch kits and an extra tire or two.

13. Hatchet, Ax, and Maul: These are must-have tools because of their adaptability for many situations. Make sure to get a sharpening stone to keep them sharp.

14. Tree-Felling Ax: This is a must-have for those who live in a northern climate who plan to heat with available wood. Notice I have not listed a chain saw. Although a chain saw is an excellent tool, it requires 2-stroke oil, replacement chains, replacement parts, blade oil, and fuel. A tree-felling ax is a basic tool that can get you by until there are funds available for a chain saw and the extras it requires. Just make sure to get that sharpening stone.

15. Rope: Possibly one of the most versatile items you can have. It can be used to haul items, hang laundry, create make-shift outbuildings (with the help of a couple of tarps), and whatever else comes up.

16. Tarps: These are Cheap! If you want a tarp that can haul heavy items, consider purchasing canvas tarps. Tarps work well for temporary shelter and make-shift privies with the use of nails or rope.

17. Manual Can Opener(s): For something so basic, think an “heir and a spare”. Get at least two, good-quality manual can openers, so you won’t be caught with a pantry full of canned goods with no way to open them!

18. Heirloom Garden Seed: For the food insurance garden seed offers, they are not all that expensive. Few of us have the storage space to store up for a crisis that lasts more than a year. Do not freeze your seed. They will store for years in a cool, dark location. If you have limited gardening space, look to a gardening book on square foot gardening/containerized gardening.

19. Garden Tools: There are only a few must-have tools for gardening: a few pair of sturdy gardening gloves, shovel, spade, hoe, rake, spading fork, hand fork, pruners and a pick axe for those who plan to clear land for gardening later. If you will be doing containerized gardening, your tool needs will be fewer, but be sure to plan ahead for the containers. It doesn’t hurt to get a $10 soil-testing kit to see what you may need to add to the soil for the best gardening results. Even though growing season is nearly over for most of us, I will be combining a compilation of gardening how-to’s, including how to make a worm farm—they’re great for aerating soil and for the nutrients their waste provides to a  garden.

20. Wheelbarrow: A wheelbarrow can be used for more than just gardening and certain home repairs. They are relatively inexpensive and will help carry the load of most chores you find yourself having to do.  (David’s note:  An easy-to-implement solution that we have tried, tested, and found to be worthwhile is the big Rubbermaid wheelbarrows from Home Depot.  They have 2 wheels, instead of 1, and they’re mounted in the middle, rather than the front, so you can lift a bigger load and be more stable.  Fill the tubes with green slime, consider Kevlar liners, and buy spare tubes.)

21. Canning Supplies: Home canning goes hand in hand with gardening and is an excellent way to safely store the overflow from the garden. You will need a pressure cooker, canning jars, a good supply of lids (jars without chips are reusable forever—but not lids unless you invest in Tattler re-usable lids), a large pan for Boiling-Method canning and a canning book for safe canning.

22. Wash Tub, Clothes Pens, Hand Agitator & Wringer Mop Bucket: Unless you have a septic system for dependable drainage, you will need a washtub large enough for bathing and hand-washing laundry. A hand agitator will make laundry day much easier, as will a wringer mop bucket to remove excess water before hanging clothes on the line.  Hand agitators can be purchased online at Lehman’s or other suppliers for around $16.00.

23. Emergency Candles: They’re inexpensive and good to have in an emergency. Just remember the FYI in an earlier post I made about keeping black-out curtains at your windows when burning either candles or oil lamps. Advertising your preparedness to strangers may invite looting. It’s a good idea to get hurricane-style candle holders to avoid fire, especially with children in the house.

24. Oil Lamps: These are affordable if you don’t insist on the all-brass models. Right now, you can still purchase 64 fluid ounces of lamp oil for around $6.00, so stock up while it’s still affordable! Lately, I’ve had trouble finding quantities of lamp oil. One solution is placing an order for several containers of lamp oil at a big-box store like Wall-Mart. Don’t forget to pick up replacement wicks and a couple of replacement chimneys.

25. ABC Fire Extinguisher, Battery-Run CO Detector & Battery-Run Fire Alarm: Get several fire extinguishers if possible. In a full-blown emergency, fire departments may not be able to respond. When using camp stoves, candles and lamps, fire hazards increase. Always be prepared with either a fire extinguisher or keep baking soda within easy reach. It’s also important to have a battery-run CO Detector and a fire alarm that will alert you to danger.

26. Board Games & Cards: At first glance, these items may seem silly to plan for in an emergency. But survival should also cover physiological wellness. Sitting down together to play a board game or a game of cards every once in a while will bring a feeling of normalcy during an unsettling time.  (David’s note:  A GREAT set of cards to get are my Urban Survival Playing Cards which, in addition to being playing cards, have 52 survival tips, tricks, and tactics that you’re likely to forget under stress.  To learn more, go to

27. Children’s Crafts & Activities: Children can have a difficult time processing abrupt changes in their every-day lives. It may be difficult to keep small children entertained when there is no TV, or a computer, or when they can no longer run down the street to play with their friends. Having a few simple activities and craft items will keep them occupied and happy. A box of printer paper costs around $20. The dollar Stores have crayons, colored pencils, pens, pencils and color books. You can find used Children’s book for nearly nothing at Libraries, garage and moving sales, and thrift stores. If you don’t have children, will you have people in your group who do? If the answer is yes, better get creative! I’ll be writing an article about children’s needs soon.

28. Camp Toilet: Even if you have the Rolls Royce of outhouses, a camp toilet will be a necessary convenience for times when going outdoors is not safe, or for unexpected middle-of-the-night nature calls. You can find them at sporting goods stores for around $15.00.

29. Alternative Heat Source:  Not everyone will need an alternative heat source, but for Northerners, it’s a no-brainer! There are many approaches you can take, but if your budget is tight, why not consider a two-in-one approach? A wood cook stove will provide alternative cooking AND will heat at least a portion of your home. If you have an existing fireplace, consider adding a wood-burning insert that will generate efficient heat. A wood heat stove is another approach. If your budget is tight, consider purchasing a used one. Make sure to follow building codes when installing any of these devises. If your heat source is not sufficient to heat your entire home, you can cordon off a living/sleeping area with heavy blankets from floor to ceiling.

30. Fuel: For this example, fuel may be wood, propane, gasoline, propane or diesel. The hardest part of putting aside fuel is safe storage space. Never store volatile fuels near anything with a pilot light like a hot water heater or a furnace! Going back to a camp stove, having a good amount of fuel is important, because your alternative cooking method is good only as long as your fuel supply lasts. If necessary, digging a hole on your property to safely store fuel is a possibility. Make sure to cover the hole with a protective board and camouflage the area with the soil or vegetation that surrounds it. If you will be using 55-gallon drums, get a syphon. Fuel extenders will extend the life of gasoline, but diesel stores much longer than gasoline. If you’re storing wood, try to store it away from the sight of passersby’s to avoid looting.

31. Heavy-Mil Plastic Sheeting:  There are MANY uses for a roll of heavy-mil plastic sheeting, from covering a broken window to making a make-shift greenhouse. A large roll, last time I checked, was around $40.

32. Basic Tools & Misc.: I haven’t forgotten about my promise to post a list of tools, but for this list, only the basics will be mentioned. So, here goes: work gloves, hammer, screw drivers (assorted sizes), Philips screwdrivers (assorted sizes), allen wrench set (both American and metric), pliers (assorted sizes), plumbers wrench, crow bar, key-hole saw (to cut holes when there is no power), tape measurer, T-square, wood miter box (to cut angles), wire, bungee cords (assorted), hand saw, a selection of nuts, washers, nails and screws, and Duct Tape.

33. Basic Auto-Repair Tools: Set aside basic tools and parts for unforeseen repairs. Things like Fix-a-Flat, a jack, spare tire, oil and gasoline are the obvious items you’ll need. From there, it’s time to do your homework. If you aren’t familiar with auto repair, try to locate someone nearby who can give you guidance about what you may want to have on hand. (David’s note:  I’m a BIG fan of Ed Archuleto’s “Screw a Flat-Easy” system for fixing ATV and passenger vehicle flats.)

34. Wood sheeting & 2 X 4’s: It can’t hurt to have a few 4 X 8 sheets of plywood and 2 X 4’s put aside for unexpected repairs. I already mentioned heavy-mill plastic sheeting for window repairs, but in a piece of plywood to cover a broken window will go a long ways towards safety! There are many DYI sites that give instructions on how to build a make-shift greenhouse with nothing but 2 X 4’s and clear plastic sheeting.

35. Snake Bite Kit: Even if you plan to survive in place, you will likely be gardening, patrolling your property and doing outdoor chores. If you live in an area with poisonous snakes, this is a must-have.

36. Wind-Up or Solar Powered Radio: I can’t imagine sitting out a disaster without the means to get updated information. How else will you know if there’s an alert to boil water for safe drinking and cooking, or what the impact an emergency has had on your vicinity? But a word of warning: “Quality” is key here. I tried to go the cheap route, and so did many others I know. We all ended up investing in a better model for reliable radio transmission!

37. Two-Way Radios:  Two-way radios are an important means of communications during grid-down for group communications within a two mile radius, and sometimes greater.

38. Batteries: Batteries are another essential. Battery life is fairly short, so consider rechargeable batteries and a solar battery charger to your preparedness goods if possible. Storing Batteries in a separate zip-lock bag will help avoid battery acid seepage from a faulty battery ruining others next to it. Their life will be prolonged when storing them in a cool, dry location.

39. Swiss Army Knife: These all-purpose knives can be life-savers! You should have one for each member of your group if possible.

40. Hunting Knife: Even if you will only be hunting small game, a good-quality hunting knife is imperative.

41. Binoculars: Will increase your situational awareness over distances far greater than the human eye can see.

42. Weapons: This one is a point of contention for some, but if you ever find yourself having to defend yourself, you’ll wish you had added weapons to your preparedness list!

43. Ammo: Will be one of the most in-demand bartering items! In my opinion, it will be worth more than gold. But first, you will need ammo for your own needs.

44. Fishing Gear: As long as you live near a river, a lake or the ocean, fishing offers protein and a change from every-day mealtimes. You will want fishing gear, bait, and hooks appropriate for the waterway you’ll be fishing.

45. Topographical Maps: These should be kept in emergency backpacks. If ever you find yourself in the midst of an emergency, a topographical map will help guide you to safety if you must hike unfamiliar territory. If you have a get-away cabin you’ll be re-locating to, it doesn’t hurt to have topographical maps from your current location to your get-away.

46. Compass: FORGET GPS during grid-down! They may or may not work, depending on the nature of the disaster. A compass can be relied upon for traveling or when hiking unfamiliar territory.

47. Backpack: Hopefully, each group member’s backpack will include the basics you need for emergencies. For excellent advice on what those items should be, please refer to David’s detailed post; Survival kits, 72 hour kits, GOOD Bags. A Layered Approach

48. Camp Gear: If you plan to get out of dodge if your area becomes too dangerous, camp gear is a must. The basics include: Tent, sleeping bag, flint-style fire starter, folding shovel, tarp, camp cookware and dishes, food, water purifier, water bottle or canteen, and your back-pack that includes survival essentials.

49. Reference Books:  Are something few of us could do without. The most popular prepper reference book topics tend to be about gardening, seed-saving, first aid, self-defense, wilderness survival, food dehydration, food storage-related cookbooks, Dutch oven cookbooks, and meat curing. Most reference books can be purchased gently used. Some information can be download for free, but be sure to print it. In a grid-down, it may not be possible to get to the information when you need it the most!

50. Alternative Transportation: There are many possibilities with regards to alternative transportation. A bicycle is one of the most affordable and most proven throughout the world and throughout history.

That wraps up the Top 50 Preparedness Items You Should Have and Why. For those of you scratching your heads…wondering why I didn’t mention things like a generator or solar panels, there’s a reason. These items would be great to have in a crisis of any length, but for anyone struggling to afford setting up for self-sufficiency, it’s a good idea to start with the basics and get the more expensive things later, when cash flow is available. That way, should an emergency happen before you are totally finished checking everything off on your preparedness list, you’re more likely to have the basics set aside that will get you through.

(David’s Note:  Keep in mind that, once you go beyond the basic 4 of survival–Shelter, Fire, Water, Food–or Dave Canterbury’s 5 C’s (cutting tool, container, combustion, cover, cordage), the rest is up to personal preference.  I’d venture to say that almost every single person who’s reading this list will have a slightly different “Top 50.”)

For more detailed information on surviving and preparing for a crisis, visit David’s sites at and . You’ll be glad you did!

I’m sure I missed something that you’d include in your top 50. Each one of us has unique needs, depending upon location and lifestyle. Please share your advice in the comments section below!

God bless and stay safe,

David Morris and Survival Diva

P.S.  I’ve had several people ask me over the last 24 hours whether or not this list is the same as the 37 items covered in “Sold Out After Crisis.”  Although there is a significant amount of overlap, they are still quite different.  To learn more, you can go >HERE<  As a note, if you’ve been prepping for years, this may or may not be a good fit for you–it was not for me.  That being said, I have heard back from enough people who said that it is what got them to “kick it into gear” that I am linking to it today.


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