My utimate preppers list includes 130 survival items. After reading this article, you will be the most prepared person in your neighborhood. Don’t get overwhelmed, order your SHTF gear and bug out bag list items over time.
At the end, you will get a free printable prepper list and prepper checklist Excel document that has all the items I list on them.
This is easier than you think.
The following items provide you with beginning Prepper basics.
Why learn beginner Prepper info? If you want to build a Preppers list or a bug out bag list, you will need to have an understanding of what all this SHTF gear is for. This also helps you better build a more customized preppers list for your own needs.
I can get you 90% of the way, but only you know your circumstances and needs. Prepper basics help you think creatively and improve your preppers list beyond all the info you get in this article. In other words, your bug out bag list and SHTF gear should match your environment.
Is Prepping Lunacy?
Your friends, family, and neighbors may think so, but the fact is, most of them are preppers in some way. If you have a first aid kit, you’re a prepper. A first aid kit is a Prepper supply item, make no mistake about it.
My preppers list is more comprehensive than a basic first aid kit, that’s the only difference.
Your Preppers List – Long Term Or Bug Out?
That’s the thing; a competent preppers list includes building both. A bug out means you have to leave suddenly, sometimes in seconds, due to disaster. Will you be able to strap on a bag with SHTF gear in a moment’s notice?
Long-term storage will be used when the disastrous event didn’t recover, and you and your family are going to need time to survive.
You might not need the bug out bag if disaster strikes, you will utilize your Prepper storage items. You might need the bug out bag to get to a destination you compiled your Prepper storage. You might need to grab your bug out bag at your office and get home.
SHTF Gear list – Why Do I Need One?
You’ve seen prepper shows on TV. You know that one guy at your office that is always talking about the dollar crashing and drives an old Jeep with first aid supplies and water bottles in it.
So what’s the reality of prepping?
Prepping is a skill that’s existed long before television shows made it famous. It has always been essential, just less popular as a subculture.
In today’s world, we are ruled by a technological bubble which makes us feel as though we are invincible.
But we aren’t. And our technology reliance has nothing to do with zombies.
Potential Events That Could Prompt Societal Breakdown
EMP attacks, both natural and otherwise, are genuine threats. Once considered “conspiracy theory,” EMP attack threats have been featured in mainstream media publications such as Business Insider and Bloomberg. Natural EMP threats are proven as well. The sun’s solar flares have (and will again) wreaked havoc on our planet during non-technology eras. In 2012, it almost happened again.
An EMP attack would disable technology, thereby, shutting down our ability to use modern technologically advanced cars. Use your finger to open your Toyota Highlander after its circuit board is fried. In fact, try starting it.
Natural disasters are a sad part of our planet’s history. Hurricanes, Tornadoes, massive earthquakes, volcanic eruptions.
Look no further than Hurricane Katrina to see how a localized natural disaster can take a modern, western city and reduce it too barbaric, prehistoric times for months.
Discount the New Madrid Seismic Zone in the midwest of the United States or Yellowstone’s volcanic potential, and you discount science that shows millions of people potentially without power or even sun, for years.
Concerns over natural disasters and acts of war aren’t fear mongering, they are a reality that’s plagued all of humanity since the earliest of days. The problem is, our society became overly fragile when it began relying on technology in nearly every aspect of our survival.
What’s The Point Of a Preppers List?
You might be in a position to create your preppers checklist today and order, or find, everything you need tonight. Good on you. However, not everyone is in such a position. Prepping, in a sense, is often something done over the long haul.
Unless you feel that the North Koreans are launching an EMP attack by morning, you can take your time. Hence, you build a preppers list and work on it over time.
That leads me to the next point.
Prioritizing Your Preppers List
Buy the most essential preppers list items first.
This makes sense concerning hedging a bet against a doomsday timeline. If you order anything today, make it water, you need it most if SHTF happens tonight.
To make this an easier quest, I’ve listed my preppers list in such a priority order. (hint: water is going to be first).
This has two main categories: Long Term Prepper Supplies | Bug Out Bag
These are the items you store at a long-term survival destination, such as your home. These items are intended to help you survive for years rather than just a few days.
Without water, you won’t survive for long. You can have as much prepper gear as you like, without water, it’ll do you and your family no good.
If the circumstances are perfect, meaning the weather is temperate, and you aren’t active, your timeline for survival without water is likely only as much as a week. But more likely, it is three days maximum. And in no way should one expect a significant catastrophe to leave you behind in a perfect scenario.
Important Note: A human needs 2 liters or a half a gallon of water per day. Keep this statistic handy as you move through the prepper water list.
Beyond just running out of water, you also risk drinking contaminated water. Creeks, ponds, lakes, and even a compromised public service water system, can become infected.
Cryptosporidium and Giardia are the core threats to your livelihood.
The CDC lists Cryptosporidium as one of the most common organisms that cause gastrointestinal illness.
Giardia is equally terrible.
Remember, getting a bad case of diarrhea with no medical help, or if you are short on water, can be deadly. You can dehydrate at a fast rate.
It might seem inane and evident at the same time, but bottled water is a good solution for storing water, particularly for short-term disaster events. The downside to bottled water is that it tends to take up a lot of room in relation to how much water is truly stored. Ordering bottled water is a no-brainer in terms of a quick preppers list win.
Your local store. Just grab some each time you shop. Amazon has a number of options as well.
Water Storage Tanks
A more efficient, affordable (I’ll explain), and logical option for a long-term water supply option is by way of water storage tanks. You can buy them as small as a mere gallon, or go up to thousands of gallons. The world is your water oyster, depending, of course, on the storage space you have on your property or at a secure bug out location.
Your water storage tanks should be used in clearly marked ways. Those tanks which contain unfiltered potentially bad water, and tanks which hold drinkable water.
Let me explain…
You might collect rainwater over time. Maybe you filter that rainwater that runs from your gutters through a shirt and charcoal filters and you deem purified or drinkable. You can put that in a water storage container that is marked “safe.”
You might also have access to creeks or lakes or ponds or rivers that you will use the water storage containers to collect free water. But maybe you aren’t in a position to boil all of that water at the rate you collect and store it? No worries, mark those containers “unsafe.”
Later, or as you have time, you can filter and purify the unsafe water and move it to a fresh and “safe” water storage tank.
Now, some advice on water storage tanks…
Water sealed in plastic, even if purified, could absorb the chemicals in plastic over time. It is something to consider. A company called TankRO makes a tank using “100% food grade materials.”
Here it is in a 4-gallon version.
Convenient Water Bricks
These are water containers, as the name implies, that are shaped like bricks.
Water bricks are truly just another way to store water that’s more efficient, in storage terms, than bottled water. You can stack them and reduce the space they take up. Because they are not incredibly large, you can be a bit more mobile in your collection efforts than you can with a huge 2,000-gallon water tank.
Here is what water bricks look like when being held by a person, which gives you an idea of their convenient sizing.
Here’s a link to the company that makes them so you can get more information.
I’ve got a list of the best survival water filters on the market. You can browse that for more exact info.
However, let me make two points:
You need a water filter for both short and long term prepping.
A company called Big Berkey is the maker of prepper water filters. They are widely considered the best manufacturer of such items.
You can buy small water filters that can be used for hiking (if you get lost in the woods, how do you know the creek water is safe to drink?). You don’t. So you use your handy Sport Berkey water filter that hopefully, you carried along.
See a Sport Berkey below.
They make their units to hold as little as 1.5 gallons of water up to 6 gallons.
Here is an example of the more extensive, counter-top units.
How do we tie the room together?
If you have water storage tanks filled with unsafe water, you can retrieve that water, run it through your smaller Big Berkey filter unit, and suddenly, you have a long-term water supply solution.
Gandhi once made it 21 days without food. Would you? Probably not.
Food is essential to both short and long-term survival. Without a decent prepper food supply, you won’t get too far during nuclear winter.
You may still have to ration your food, but at least you will have food.
Here’s the great news, most Prepper food supply items are simple to get.
Like bottled waters, canned foods are the easiest preppers list items to obtain in our prepper food section quickly. That’s because canned foods are at your fingertips in every grocery store.
Here’s a list of canned foods to consider for your preppers list:
- Spam – Oddly nutritious, super cheap, and has protein. This is a must-have prepper food item.
- Canned beef stew – Again with the proteins, you can find many good beef stew canned food providers in nearly every grocery store in the world.
- Beans – Canned beans are a staple of competent prepper storage. There are a number of various bean types. It is always a good idea to be diverse because eating the same thing over and over is no fun. Pro-Prepper-Tip: look for bean chili.
- Tuna – Canned tuna is an excellent source of protein, omega 3 fatty acid, and calories.
- Corn – Canned Corn is a good carb and tastes great.
- Greens – Canned spinach will help you fulfill your iron and calcium and fiber needs.
- Tomatoes – Tomatoes are great for adding flavor to otherwise dry, less palatable meals.
Plan of action?
Don’t go crazy, pick up a few extra cans each visit to the grocery store. You will be surprised at how quickly you build up a canned food supply.
Canned Foods and Expiration Dates
Canned foods do have expiration dates. But mostly, you can store canned foods beyond such dates.
Here are some tips…
- Avoid damaged or dented cans
- Keep in cool, dark storage
- Don’t put them anywhere that might experience volatile temperature swings
- Acid is the primary driver in canned food freshness. The more acid, the faster a canned food can go bad.Any meats should last three years or more.
- Tomatoes, pickles, and other such acidic items are closer to 2 years.
- Any canned fruits are one year.
- Remember, rotate the oldest cans to the front of the preppers supply. Each new canned purchase is placed in the BACK OF THE CANNED FOOD STORAGE. This is simple to do and manages the storage situation.
Pick up extra canned foods each time you are at the market.
Like water, you need a way to store certain types of food.
Remember those water bricks in the prepper water section? You can use them again for grains.
The key here is to make sure your containers are sealed and airtight. Air is the enemy of freshness. You also need to make sure they seal tight so that ants and rats don’t get access.
Augason Farms Storage Pails are one of the most popular solutions (they are pictured below with a link to their website). But as long as you realize the containers should be airtight, you can find your own versions.
MRE meals are military meals that have a long storage timeline, taste decent, and are filled with calories and nutrition. They are affordable and store easily.
You can quickly build up a vast supply of MRE Meals over time.
There’s a funny thing when it comes to salt. You need it.
Amidst all the condemnation over Americans and their salt intake, salt remains a vital electrolyte that humans need to survive and thrive.
Now, I should note, your canned foods will mostly have lots of salt content, so in a way, you could store the salt even beyond a catastrophic event, at least for a while.
But you may want to use salt to liven up food. Venison (deer meat) is going to taste better with a little salt on it.
Rice is a high calorie and high carb meal that can do wonders for your family’s diet during a bad time. Also, rice is easy to cook. Rice is one of the most critical items on your preppers list.
Much like rice, oatmeal is easy to store, easy to make, high calorie, and high carb. But additionally, oatmeal contains healthy fiber. If you are eating a diet of only canned meats and loaves of bread, the added insoluble fiber will be a vital inclusion.
While it may not feel like the Olive Garden every day, pasta is easy to make, cheap, and taste good. It is high in calories and carbs.
Peanut butter taste good, has fiber, stores easily, and is high in calories and some fiber. The big issue with peanut butter is that it goes bad fast, pretty much in less than a year.
Fat intake, regardless of the irresponsible war on fat, is vital for survival. Man evolved eating fat. Your brain needs fat. Your body needs fat to convert to usable energy.
Coconut oil is one of the best fats on earth. The Medium Chain Triglycerides, or MCT, inside of coconut oil, can provide sustainable energy throughout the day.
Fat is also essential for providing calories.
There are ways to open a can without a can opener, but let’s not allow things to come to such a place. I’d recommend having a numerous can openers in your prepper storage.
Cast Iron Pans
Cast iron pans are cheap, and they provide the essential nutrient, iron, to people. So long as you never leave them wet, they will last as long as you do.
Additionally, a cast iron pan distributes heat more efficiently throughout the pan. Improved cooking efficiency leads to better, often faster, cooking processes. Cast irons do best over an open flame.
I recommend the brand Lodge. You can find them at camping stores, Walmart, or on Amazon. Williams Sonoma is great as well, but pricier.
Here’s a Lodge cast iron bundle on Amazon.
While you may end up running out of charcoal, you can always replace it with burn-friendly sticks and twigs. The build of the charcoal grill is the perfect fire housing for both cooking and just keeping warm (if that becomes needed).
You need to do your best to make sure you keep your charcoal grill clean so that it doesn’t accumulate rust. Eventually, rust will eat away at the essential bottom portion that contains the fuel for the fire. Cheaper charcoal grills are notorious for rusting. Keep them covered and clean, and they should last for a good while.
Solar Ran Oven
No power, no problem. With a solar-powered oven, you can get all the comforts of home cooking without having power.
Here’s a Solavore Sport Solar Oven on Amazon you can check out.
SHTF Gear: First Aid and Medical
If you get an infection without access to modern medicine, you can die. This is why prepper antibiotics are such a big deal.
You need to be able to treat infections, stop bleeding, treat a cough, and heal broken bones.
One of the most common medical ailments you can have is a basic (or severe) wound. This can include cuts, scrapes, burns, bee stings, spider bites, animal bites, stepping on a nail. The list of potential wounds are endless.
Here’s what you should have stockpiled.
- Neosporin for infection prevention
- Hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound
- Rubbing Alcohol to clean the wound
- Hydrocortisone for itches and allergic reactions
- Instant cold packs to take down swelling
- Basic soap
The new world that surrounds you following a catastrophe may be one where a simple infection could take your life.
That said, you need to make sure you have Prepper antibiotics, such as fish antibiotics, on hand. Additionally, you should understand basic antibiotic concepts, for example, storage.
I have a full Prepper antibiotics guide. You might consider checking it out once you get to that place in your preppers list.
In the event of a nuclear meltdown scenario. The United States and the entire world are covered with nuclear reactors. Remember Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant meltdown? That meltdown, which is still having global effects on our world today, was a result fo the Tōhoku earthquake.
California, a state well-known for its earthquake potential, has nuclear reactors.
But a nuclear plant can meltdown for more reasons than just an earthquake. And a nuclear meltdown’s terrible effects can be experienced far from the site of the meltdown.
Potassium Iodate Tablets
These can be used to stop your thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine. It’s a temporary solution, but helpful to have.
While this may not seem like a worry now, without medical help or medicine available, you could easily become dangerously dehydrated. Unfortunately, if you drink or eat anything that your body isn’t used to or is spoiled, you may get a bad case of diarrhea and you will need to solve it.
Here are some items to have on hand.
- Gatorade or Pedialyte
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Alka seltzer or even just baking soda
- Activated Charcoal
- Respiratory Infections
Pain / Fever
Tylenol and/or aspirin should be kept on hand.
SHTF Gear for Pandemic Survival
A deadly flu is something many people disregard regarding threats to our society. But pandemics, historically, are a top cause for societies to crash and burn.
You will need to take precautions at the highest of levels if a pandemic happens.
Some of the items above, such as anti-diarrhea meds and water filters, you should already have in the event a pandemic causes a disruption. You can read my pandemic survival guide for more specific information.
N95 Face Mask
An approved NIOSH N95, preferably a supply of them, can help you survive contaminated air. Even beyond a pandemic, you can increase the odds of surviving infected air from volcanoes (yes, the US sits on a massive volcano in Yellowstone), earthquakes that release toxins into the air when buildings crash, and other various threats to the air that we breathe.
You will need to touch and handle things and then throw away the gloves. I recommend Nitrile Gloves.
You may need to ward off parts of your home if you suspect those areas have been compromised.
If you have to go outside (for food, or water, or supplies) during a pandemic, you will need to quarantine all the clothes you’ve worn when you arrive back at your home or safe location.
You should always protect your eyes when around contagions.
Self-Defense – SHTF Guns
The longer that the power grid is down, or local governments and police are inoperative, the more the odds of civil discord increase. Once people get desperate for lack of their own food and water, they’ll be coming for yours – likely by way of force.
It’s a terrible scenario to consider, no doubt, but it is a reality.
If you can’t defend yourself after a societal collapse, you’ll perish as well.
It is never a bad idea to have at least one handgun in your SHTF guns arsenal, but having more is better.
I recommend the CZ PC-10 C and the Glock 43. But really, this is subjective. I like Glock because they are reputable for durability, something a prepper certainly needs.
The Glock 43 is smaller and great for concealing, but the CZ PC-10 C can also be concealed, though it’s a bit bigger.
The CZ PC-10 C is a great value buy made by a reputable manufacturer. You could consider the Glock 19 just as well.
The more ammo the gun can hold, the better. The more of that ammo you have that’s available to you, the better.
Here’s my CZ PC-10 C review if you want more information on that specific gun.
(Hold tight – I’m getting to ammo)
You could opt for an AK-47 if you so like, but I list the AR-15 as the best SHTF gun in the land.
It’s affordable; it is easy to use, it is deadly accurate, its ammo (.223 or 5.56 depending on the rifle you buy) is potent and available cheaply.
Jiu-Jitsu is the art of grappling; it doesn’t teach punching or kicking.
Jiu-Jitsu is grappling that is taught to military personnel and cops around the world. It allows you to escape bad positions, for example, a chokehold or someone holding you down to the ground. It enables you with the ability to subdue someone without punching them (I’ll explain, don’t panic).
Let’s look at some quick points to help us better understand things:
- Most fights end up on the ground in a grappling scenario
- The act of punching risk a broken hand, which is a terrible injury without access to medical treatment
- Your doomsday appointment may be much bigger and stronger than you; punching would not be efficient
- Jiu-Jitsu teaches you to overcome a larger, stronger opponent, making it perfect for both men and women.
A gun with no ammo is no gun at all. This point is clear and obvious; however, your choice in ammo should probably come before your choice in a firearm; at least in concern with your preppers list.
Because ammo does a number of things relevant to your preppers list goals:
It defends from threats. Weak ammo might mean a weakness in your self-defense. A .22 rifle is fun, it has no recoil, but I do not recommend it for self-defense purposes. However, .22 ammo is good for varmint hunting.
Ammo can be used to get dinner. If you aren’t a hunter, it is rather unsavory to consider shooting Bambi.
I get it.
But survival is survival. A .22 is not a good round for a deer or elk. But a squirrel? It’s a reliable option.
What else needs to be considered?
Ammo availability: If ammo isn’t readily available, you may get less or no ammo for your gun. The U.S. military uses 5.56 rounds. If you have an AR-15 that takes 5.56 or .223, you have a rifle that takes cheap and readily available ammo.
Ammo costs: As a prepper, you will be storing ammo. How much do you want to spend? Cost of ammo matters.
Ammo Bartering: Many people believe that ammo will have currency power in a post-apocalyptic world, which is something to consider when you buy ammo.
Red Dot Optic
You have a gun. You have ammo. Now its time to enhance your hunting and self-defense ability with a red dot optic.
Yes, iron sites are reliable. Yes, everyone should know how to use iron sites.
But why is it so wrong to give yourself the absolute best tactical advantage available? That’s what a red dot optic can do for an AR15 rifle. I have a full list of the best Red Dot optics here.
Here’s what you should know…
Red Dots aren’t often crazy expensive. You can get a great one for $160-ish (Try the Sig Sauer Romeo 5) or even a good one for closer to $60-ish (Try the Bushnell TRS 25).
Red Dots give you a tactical advantage in self-defense and hunting because they allow you to acquire your target much faster than you can with traditional iron sites.
Remember, you will need batteries for your optic. Red dots typically take cheap batteries, so buy a stockpile of them and have them on hand.
I should note, a Red Dot maxes out at 100 yards. Meaning, for big game hunting, you are better off with a scope.
Without tools, even the smallest of tasks become incomprehensibly trying. Need to cut down a tree for firewood without a saw? Good luck. Need to fix an old car to get it to run? No wrench means no running car. You need prepper tools to survive any SHTF scenario.
In the Prepper tools category, the survival knife is your first addition.
You want a quality fixed blade survival knife. I get laughed at for this, but I really think the Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro is one of the best-fixed blades for the price. It comes with a fire starter on it and its been torture tested. That said, I have a number of other options, often more expensive, on my best-fixed blade survival knife page.
A fixed blade survival knife can help your skin and gut game. It can help you chop wood.
You must get full-tang, otherwise, when pummeling, you risk your knife’s handle breaking.
A survival hatchet can help a Prepper with chopping wood and hammering things. They are light and offer incredible use-versatility.
You can even throw them (learn how first!). Here’s my recommended survival hatchet list.
A Legit Axe
While you shouldn’t have to break the bank here, a quality survival ax can go a long way in helping along your survival goals.
Axes will chop firewood and chop down trees for survival in much more straightforward fashion.
Like an ax, the mallet’s larger size and heavier weight will allow you to get a lot of leverage for increased power and kinetic energy.
A mallet is essentially a huge hammer. You could break down a wall with it if you needed to do so.
Now, not to overcomplicate things, there are two types of mallets.
- Wooden head
- Rubber head
- Metal head
A rubber or wooden head is used to strike metal objects that you are attempting not to damage. A metal one may well break another metal object, or damage it.
Just concepts to consider.
Having a toolbox can assure that you have the equipment to fix almost anything mechanical that comes your way, whether it be on a car or on your shelter.
Here is a good list of tools to make sure are in your toolbox. You can buy prebuilt toolboxes, but make sure they have all the essentials in them.
Hammer (big and small)
A 16-ounce hammer is the best for most tasks, but I’d recommend also keeping a smaller hammer around for odd, unpredictable task such as hammering in small nails.
Screwdrivers (all sizes)
The best move here is to buy a screwdriver that has interchangeable heads. This allows you to save storage room. Aside from that, you want size variety in both slotted and Phillips’ head.
While 8-inch needle nose should be your priority, its best to buy pliers in size variety as well. Plumbing and electrical work will often need the use of pliers. They also help create leverage for turning tight screws.
A utility knife is not the same as a survival knife. Utility knives are geared more towards accomplishing tasks such as cutting cords.
Opt to buy quality when it comes to wrenches, you will need them often and for the long-haul. Wrenches help with everything from turning nuts to holding things in place.
If you plan to build things, such as tables or chairs or even repair counters, a level will be your friend. To save room in your Prepper toolbox, you could opt to go a little smaller here. It will still straighten your wedding picture and keep the wife happy even under the direst of circumstances!
If you ever need to repair walls, you’ll need a putty knife.
24-Inch Bar Clamps
These are a savvy way at creating an impromptu Vice.
You will need to be able to jack a car up to change a tower, or for working on it in a number of capacities. If your vehicle breaks down in the post-apocalypse, you will need to be able to fix it yourself.
Mechanical Skill Books
You should learn the basics of fixing automobiles. Again, if your car breaks in dystopia, you can’t just take it to Pep Boys.
There are lots of great books for beginner mechanics.
Some survival knives, such as the Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Survival Knife have a fire starter on them. But honestly, I’d get a solo fire starter as well.
A firestarter is a savvy way to create a quick flame. Fire is the ultimate key to survival.
Fire Starting Skill
Knowing the basics of starting a fire, even without a fire starter, is imperative. This isn’t just about making you comfortable; you may need to start a fire to cook food or boil water. Fire starting is an essential prepper skill.
Having a good quality flashlight and backup batteries is essential. I’d recommend a few variations; maybe one monster sized flashlight and a couple of less robust versions. You don’t want to waste the energy of a big bulb, nor give away your location, if you simply dropped your keys.
Collect rainwater, carry things, store things…If you want to store food with your bucket, make sure you refer to my preppers list food section under storage.
In the Prepper tools section, I’m mainly just talking about regular old buckets used for completing daily tasks.
You will need a shovel to dig, or even pummel hard ground. If you plan to grow a survival garden, a shovel will be one of your essential Prepper tools.
The ability to communicate with others is a largely underrated preppers list item. In fact, any legitimate bug out plan or bug in plan (a plan for what to do immediately following disaster) should involve methods for communication with friends, family, and those who are like-minded in your survival mission.
Unfortunately, cell phones and even land lines aren’t likely to work after disaster strikes.
A disaster radio
You might not be able to access your Facebook or Twitter Feeds, or even your local news stations, if a bad catastrophe happens.
A radio might be your only option.
SHTF Gear: Home Items
You’ll need to cover some basic items that you use around your home.
You are going to need it. It may be the last item on your mind at the time of a disaster, but it’s going to be a top need. I’d get at least a 6 month supply. You can figure out your usage amount by tracking your toilet paper usage for a week and doing simple math.
No TV, no problem, get your Monopoly on.
It may sound like a joke, but you and your family will need to keep your sanity without the luxuries of cable TV and iTunes and Netflix.
Board games accomplish that in spades.
Similar to board games, books are great for entertainment and exercising the brain during rough times.
Hard alcohol stores for a long time. It can also be used as a barter item. It doesn’t hurt to store some if you are someone who already enjoys a drink from time to time.
The bug out bag essentials list is a stand-alone preppers list category, as far as I’m concerned. It fits in the preppers list perfectly, but its uniqueness in why it’s needed causes me to make this item stand out a little more.
Bug out bag items are for shorter survival duration. A bug out bag helps you get from point A to point B during a catastrophe, such as a Hurricane, earthquake, or act of war or civil disruption.
Many Prepper websites put bug out bags separate from preppers list items.
If you’re creating your preppers list, doesn’t it make sense to include the bug out bag?
What Is a Bug Out Bag?
A bug out bag is a go-bag, or an emergency bag, that you take with you in the event of SHTF.
A bug out bag can be made for your home. Imagine a scenario whereas a wildfire evacuation is called in your area and you have only minutes to go. What would you take?
Your bug out bag will have everything you need to run with and survive for up to a week.
Bug out bags can also be kept in your car, at your office, or even at a relatives house that you tend to stay at a lot.
A bug out bag is light enough to carry but contains a number of survival items.
Think of a bug out bag as being a micro-storage similar to the one we just built above.
Remember, right now, you’re building a bug out bag. Don’t get it confused. When items arrive that are for your bug out bag, that’s where they need to go. During a bug out scenario, you can’t just assume you’ll have time to gather items you already compiled from your preppers list and pack them.
That defeats the purpose of a bug out bag.
Let’s get into some bug out bag essentials considerations.
Bug Out Bags – Regionally Inspired
Your bug out bag needs to be created for your region. If you live in Montana, hand warmers will make sense to keep in your bug out bag.
But a Florida bug out bag? No need to waste space on hand warmers. However, bug spray would be essential for a Florida bug out bag.
Bug Out Bag Weight
How strong are you? How much weight can you carry and for how long?
The weight of the bag will depend on the material of the bag and how many bug out bag essentials are inside of the bag.
And that’s the quandary.
You WANT A LOT OF SURVIVAL ITEMS. But YOU CAN’T CARRY ALL OF THEM.
Pre-Made Bug Out Bags
If you are comfortable with the idea of buying a pre-made Amazon bug out bag, good on you. I have one myself.
There is nothing wrong with fast-tracking your bug out bag.
Here’s my only warning…
Make darn sure you adapt it for your region. Go through the items it comes with, remove any regional ones you don’t need. Add in any regional ones you do need.
Additionally, the popular bug out bag for sale on Amazon has a lot of emergency supplies, but not all of them.
It’s an excellent start.
Amazon Bug Out Bag Review – Sustain Supply Premium Emergency Survival Bag Review
For a lot of people, building a bug out bag is too time consuming. Because of this, many people end up looking to Amazon for a solution. Amazon has several options, but I’ve chosen one that I think is the best.
It is always best to build your own bug out bag, but if you do opt to get a premade bug out bag from Amazon, you can make out rather well.
I recommend Sustain Supply’s Premium Emergency 72-hour survival bag.
I wouldn’t call the Sustain Supply Premium Emergency Supply bag a “cheap find.” It is filled with quality survival products, but you pay for them. I’d say you definitely come out ahead, though.
I own this survival bag. I think it is great.
Here are the included items:
- 12 Mountain House food servings
- 24 Packets of Datrex water
- 1 Sawyer Mini
- 4 Cyalume SnapLights
- 1 LED lantern
- 1 flashlight
- 1 fully stocked First Aid Kit
- bath wipes
- 2 emergency blankets
- 1 portable stove
- 2 bowls and utensils
- 1 MoraKniv knife
- 1 Ferrocerium rod
- 2 InstaFire tinder
- 2 whistles
The downside is that you’d need to put your own firearm in there and there isn’t much room, so you might be carrying on body. There was no paracord as the item description said there would be. It doesn’t come with a shelter option. You’d need to get batteries for the lamp and flashlight.
For the money, its a great buy, but you’d need to do a little extra work, which would be expected with most any premade bug out bag.
Bug Out Bag Essentials
Short-term survival is just as dependent on survival as long term survival is.
These are the fore items you will need inside of your bug out bag
You need to be able to filter water. Nothing accomplishes this better for short-term survival goals than a Lifestraw. They are cheap and well-reviewed.
You can use a Lifestraw to stick in a creek or pond and drink the water. Yes, it can be hard to pull the water through it due to the powerful filtration processing; however, that’s the entire point.
You get hydration, you survive.
Here is Lifestraw on Amazon.
This would be something more in the way of a hard plastic bottle, not a plastic water bottle you find at the store. Although, if that’s all you have, go ahead and pack it. Sometimes, traditional store-bought plastic water bottles are subject to being crushed by other items.
Water Purification Tablets
The ability to disinfect water is an essential need for anyone in a survival situation.
But, when it comes to purification tablets, things get mighty confusing, awful fast.
The most popular water purification tablets you will find recommended are called Aquatabs. They are good, but not great. People don’t realize that Aquatabs have limitations.
Aquatabs are Sodium dichloroisocyanurate. You want military water purification tablets that are chlorine dioxide based. Chlorine dioxide kills Cryptosporidium which is one of the most likely microorganisms you will encounter in the wild, and it causes harsh diarrhea.
Water purification tablets are toxic, never eat them straight. But the toxicity is fine in the small doses, and the small doses are enough to kill much more impending and urgent threats to our health.
Filtering water is great until you have nowhere to put it. Always pack a canteen so that when you come by drinkable water, or you purify and filter water, you have a device for storing it.
I like the Stansport 4 quart Canteen.
Remember earlier in our preppers list, we looked at food from a longer-term perspective. Water always trumps food in terms of short-term survival importance. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need it because you’ve only planned for 72 hours.
Here’s a concept to consider.
If a catastrophe occurs and you are at home, and your plan is to just stay home, you might be subject to a great deal of initial idle time until the smoke clears.
That’s not the case with an actual bug out, whereas you might have to be extremely active for the entire 72 hour period. In this case, you’re burning calories, and your need for caloric density is essential.
Otherwise, you end up laying under a shade tree and risk not getting to your safe destination promptly.
Protein bars are readily available in stores and easy to pack in your bug out bag. Look for protein bars with more extended expiration dates.
Cliff Bars are probably your healthiest choice. I’d also look into Epic bars for grass-fed meats.
These are dehydrated military meals, and they are essential to your bug out bag. They have an extremely long shelf life, and they offer diversity in taste. They provide calories and carbs and help give you sustenance when you most need it.
This one is listed in our long-term storage list as well. But don’t forget to throw one in your emergency bag, either.
The spoon/fork combo helps you readily eat most any type of meal.
Here’s a 4 pack of BPA free sporks.
You will need something to put those MRE meals in. Don’t pack plastic; it may break under the duress of other items in your bug out bag.
Bug Out Clothing
When it comes to clothing for a bug out bag, your region must be considered. If you live in Kansas and experience four seasonal extremes, you have to consider this for your bug out bag. You could have a winter bug out bag and a summer bug out bag, but that’s a lot more work.
You can’t know when you will need to bug out, so therefore, you have to cover all the bases. If you live in south Florida, you can concern yourself less with winter items.
However, don’t understate winter in southern states. It isn’t uncommon for northern Florida and Alabama and Louisiana to experience nighttime temperatures of 30 degrees. Even a 50-degree night can cause hypothermia.
Wet clothing can also be a cause of hypothermia. If your clothing gets wet, 60 degrees could be a threat to your body’s safe temperature.
That said, you don’t want to pack anything more in a bug out bag then you absolutely need to pack. Weight matters in a bug out bag.
- Winter/cold prep clothes
- Long sleep hoodie
- Thermal shirt and underwear (a few)
- Wool socks (a few)
- Gloves for warmth and potential work
- A poncho for rain protection (staying dry solves a lot of problems)
- Hat (protect your head and face from the sun)
You need underwear no matter what the temperature is where you are.
Yes, we mentioned wool socks in the winter prep section; however, regular socks are needed and vital. Moreover, you need to change your socks daily or else you might end up with a fungal rash that impedes your ability to walk.
If your socks get wet, it is essential that you change them.
Shelter options are recommended if your bug out is likely to consist of a lot of outdoor trekking. If you live in Montana, this is likely the case.
But indeed anywhere, no matter how urban, could result in a bug out that has you sleeping outside.
You can make fantastic use out of simple tarp, and you can often fit it in a bug out bag. You can use a tarp in combination with surrounding landscape and natural objects, such as rocks, holes, trees, limbs.
Some bug out bags can accommodate a tent. This is great if you’re able to do this.
Although you should have warm clothing, pending you need it, a blanket can help you get through a chilly night and sleep better.
Padding of any sort can make sleeping on the ground a much better experience.
We covered the issue of prepper self-defense in the above preppers list section. But it should not be passed over when it comes to a bug out bag.
Keep a handgun and a few magazines in the bag. The gun doesn’t have to be loaded if you don’t want it to be, but in this case, keep additional preloaded magazines near it in the bag. Your handgun needs to be quickly accessible to you.
Also, if you choose to keep a handgun in your bug out bag, make sure the bug out bag is safely stored away from kids that live in your house, or happen to come over.
Pepper Spray is a simple and quiet way to ward off a potential human or animal threat. However, be careful, once you release pepper spray in the air, it can blow into your face.
If you get cut, you don’t want an infection.
First aid kit
This bug out item is easy and obvious.
N95 Face Mask
In the event that your bug out encounters hazardous air quality, an N95 face mask can be essential to protecting your vital airways.
For example, if Yellowstone blows her top, even if you live in Pittsburgh, you might need to protect your airways in the coming days.
Eyes need protection during a pandemic scenario.
But Out Tools
You don’t want to overload your bug out bag with big heavy tools, but you will need some essential tools to make sure you can survive in the short term.
I’d go with a fixed blade knife, preferably one that has a fire starter on it and one that’s full-tang. A survival knife can help you with a variety of tasks including starting a fire.
If you can, have a survival hatchet attached to your bug out bag. A survival hatchet is a bit more usable for more onerous tasks, like chopping wood, than a survival knife is. A survival hatchet also makes breaking a window easier.
Let’s hope you don’t have to, however, a suitable gas siphon could allow you to get a bit further down the road in a worst-case scenario. Gas siphons aren’t commonly listed in bug out bag essential list, but I list it as an “if it can reasonably fit” item.
No, I’m not saying you’ll be out there stealing gas from people’s cars. I’m just saying that if you find an abandoned car and you are low on gas, a gas siphon could save the day.
You need to be able to see. You don’t want a flashlight that weighs down the bag, but you want one that’s decent. Remember, you aren’t buying this flashlight for long-term use, so you can go cheap here.
These are a cheap and straightforward way to create light, plus, they are light in weight.
You can use the same survival radio that was listed above in the long term preppers list items. However, make sure you buy two so that you have one for each scenario.
Have a look at the Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 survival radio.
Testing Your Bug Out Bag
I can’t tell you how often people make this mistake. They build a bug out bag and feel a sense of pride. They show it off to their pals.
But they don’t initially test it.
Sometimes, people learn the error of their ways when they move. One woman I know built a bug out bag, then she moved. During the move, she merely strapped her bug out bag on as an easy way to transfer her bug out bag from the old house to the new house.
She only had to walk the bug out bag down the street to her truck.
She became defeated after only a block.
She quickly realized that if she was unable to walk with the bug out bag for one block, she’d be unable to use the bug out bag during SHTF.
Go For a Hike
This is easily remedied. Take your newly built bug out bag for a hike. Spend a few hours with the bug out bag on your back.
Look, carrying a big bag of Prepper essentials is not going to be easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible.
Bug Out Plan and Strategy
If SHTF happens, you grab your bug out bag, but where are you going?
Having a bug out bag is great, but having nowhere to go just means you will burn through your 72-hour survival items and be left in the bad situation you tried to avoid.
Additionally, even if you have a bug out destination, will you ever see family or friends again? Will you have any help to survive a long-term failure of the power grid?
Create a bug out plan. Have several evacuation routes ready to go. You can have one major evacuation route with two less-conventional routes on the back-burner in case the primary evacuation route is compromised.
Make sure family and friends know where your destination will be, this way, they can find you at a later date or meet you there.
Bug Out Tips
When a bug out happens, you won’t be expecting it; hence, why I recommend having a bug out bag ready to go at your home, in your car, or at your office.
Keep Your Gas Tank Full
It’s truly amazing the number of people who don’t keep a full tank of gas in their car. I realize that it isn’t convenient; however you need to understand that if SHTF happens, getting gas will be next to impossible.
Look no further than Hurricane Irma and past hurricanes for validation on this critical matter.
Hurricane warnings are given nearly a week in advance, but beyond that, many people in hurricane-prone regions know a hurricane is a potential threat two weeks prior to it making landfall.
But each and every time a hurricane nears land, people line up for gas. Some even get stuck due to trying to flee the storm and running out of gas.
They happened during Hurricane Harvey.
If gas shortage chaos ensues when people are given lengthy warnings of impending catastrophe, what do you surmise would happen if a catastrophic event happened unexpectedly?
Remember, you might be in a bug out situation in your car, lined up on a freeway, burning gas for hours in the same spot. You need all the gas you can get.
Full Gas Cans
That said, keeping extra gas is a good idea. This should complement your already full gas tank. In this way, you can take the full gas tank along with you.
Panic is the disease of the mind that creates poor decisions and chaotic thinking.
The entire point of building a preppers list that accommodates both a bug out bag and long-term survival plan is so that you don’t have to be reactive or panic when SHTF does happen.
Stay calm and believe in your plan.
Creating Your Ultimate Preppers Checklist
So now you have an exact idea of what items you need to stock up on for purposes of both building a long term emergency supply list and a bug out bag.
You probably feel super overwhelmed.
I feel overwhelmed just writing it up, and I have this list covered!
That’s OK, relax, I’ve got you covered.
I’ve created two downloadable and printable Preppers list. One for your long-term preppers list; the other for your bug out bag checklist.
You can download them, transfer them to Google Drive, and edit, print, modify, import as your own Excel sheet.
Just click the “Pop Out” buttons on the upper right side of them.
Printable Prepper Lists
Here are both of my prepper checklist excel sheets. You can download either of these prepper checklist excel files and add to them, use them as is, or whatever you need.
Download printable prepper lists
Customize Your Printable Prepper List
I’ve got you most of the way. But I can’t take you all the way.
Now that you have your downloadable preppers list and you have the main items you need, it is time that you start customizing it.
Here are some Preppers list considerations.
In the introductory sections, we discussed preppers list supplies needing to be customized based on where you live. If you live in an area where winter is possible (that’s most places around the world), you need warmer clothes and blankets.
Other regional considerations might be…
- Snow potential
- Tropical rain potential
- Lightning potential
- Wildfire potential
- Civil disruption potential (urban areas, for example, you live in downtown Chicago).
A lot of these items can potentially happen anywhere, of course. But what we are looking for is greater potential vs. remote possibility.
For example, in California, you may have to bug out because of a massive wildfire. Your bug out bag should be built according to that risks.
Urban areas, such as major metropolitans, have an increased threat of crime, looting, and worse, following a major catastrophe. You might make more ponderous considerations in the self-defense realm.
Do you have pre-existing conditions? Would you suffer without your medications? You need to highly consider medical needs when it comes to a preppers list and bug out bag.
Sure, I listed comfort items, but don’t just take my word for it. You need to make those decisions on your own. What things make you happy?
Bug Out Vehicle
If a catastrophe happens and you need to hit the road, would your vehicle cut it?
For many, the concept of a bug out vehicle seems outlandish. However, once you consider the bigger picture, the idea of having a vehicle specifically for escaping a catastrophe doesn’t seem so insane.
What Is A Bug Out Vehicle?
A bug out vehicle is a vehicle specifically intended for use if SHTF goes down. Bug out vehicles will be stocked with survival items, may offer protection, and typically lack modern applications (I will bring clarity to this aspect in the next section).
Bug Out Vehicle – Modern Technology
If an EMP attack happens, whether or not it is an act of war or natural, it can disable the power grid.
The problem is, it can also disable your Lexus’s ability to open the door for you or even start.
You are better to opt for the old-fashioned insert the key and turn it vehicles when it comes to your bug out ride.
Bug Out Vehicles – Built Tough
Stealing a phrase from Ford, your bug out vehicle should be built tough.
In the end, it should be raised with bigger tires and wheels so that it can run over whatever is needed. It should be spacious so that it can store your bug out bag and other bug out items you potentially kept stored in the vehicle.
I’m not going to go overboard on talking about bug out vehicles because that’s an entirely other matter. I simply wanted you to understand the concept.
So that was a lot of information to digest, I know! But hopefully, I helped you organize all your preppers list needs into one easy to digestible document.
A preppers list is something that lists out a number of survival items and SHTF gear that should help you survive both long-term and short-term disasters. Prepping isn’t new, anyone who has a first aid kit is in some way, a prepper.
By now, you should have a printable preppers list with items that I’ve helped you find for both long-term survival and a bug out, and most likely, new items that are specific to your regional, medical, or comfort needs.
Preparedness is a part of our lives that should run in the background. Preparedness means not being paranoid. Also, don’t forget about daily preparedness I recommend checking out a good EDC carry bag for daily use. At least, if you are using one, you can get home. Check out my Outlaw 2 Sling Pack review.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.
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