[Update] This post was updated on
Don’t wait until SHTF to realize that you’re completely unprepared for an emergency.
You’ve got to have a game plan so that if disaster strikes, you’re ready.
When you’re in crisis mode after a natural disaster or other SHTF situation, it’s too late to start wondering “do I need this?” and “where am I going to get that?” Prepare by stocking up on survival gear now so you’ll be ready for anything that happens tomorrow.
You don’t want to be one of those normal people running to Walmart or Target at the last minute. You should already have your survival kit packed and ready to go.
Leave the panicked shopping for those who weren’t smart enough to prep ahead of time. You’ll be safe and sound in your home, in your bunker, or on the road while everyone else scrambles for the basic essentials.
If you take disaster preparedness seriously – and you should – you’ll need to know what to gather. Even the most prepared people can forget a thing or two. To help you prep for any disaster, we’ve put together a list of more than 95 essential items that you need to stock up on before SHTF.
Follow this checklist of essential SHTF gear and you’ll have everything you need.
Food and Supplies
This one is a no-brainer. You need water to live. The human can only go 3-4 days without water. There’s a good reason why it’s at the top of this list.
Canned goods are the ultimate survival food because of their extended shelf life. The best canned foods are those that are high in protein, such as tuna, sardines, salmon, garbanzo beans, and even Spam. Just make sure you’ve also got a can opener on hand – you’ll need a way to open them up.
Deer and Wild Game
Expect that these animals are going to be hunted, killed, and prepared for storage as soon as SHTF. Having some meat stored ahead of time is always wise.
Chicken, Goats, Cows, Pigs, and Livestock
If you can raise your own livestock, you’ll be set. Like deer and other game, it’s probably going to be hard to get your hands on good meat.
Even if you’re cooking outdoors on a camping stove, you’re likely going to want some tasty meals. Make sure you have the proper oils to cook your meat, fish, or whatever you’re surviving on.
Do yourself a favor and stock up on both powdered and condensed milk. It might not seem like an essential but it does double duty as something you can drink and cook with.
Salt does more than just make your food taste better. You can use it to preserve food and prepare meals, but you can also use it as a medicinal compound to heal toothaches and poison ivy. Salt is one of the most important items to have in a worst case scenario situation.
Rice, Beans, Wheat, Flour, and Yeast
Grains for human or animal consumption will be hoarded quickly. Make sure you’ve stocked up on plenty of grains that you can eat or feed to your livestock.
Turkey jerky and beef jerky are survival essentials. Stock them on a shelf or toss some into your bug out bag. It’s an overlooked source of protein that shouldn’t be ignored.
Teas, Coffee, and Drinks with Electrolytes
Certain cells in the body rely on electrolytes and salts to function properly. When your muscles are aching or contracting, electrolytes supply the body with the power to heal itself.
Wine and Liquor
Stock up on booze, even if you’re not a drinker. When SHTF, you can barter with alcohol or use it for medicinal purposes. Certain liquors, such as vodka, can be used to disinfect a wound.
Water Filters and Purifiers
When you’re out of bottled water, water filters and purifiers will be more essential than ever. Look for personal water purification systems that function like straws or kits that attach to hydration packs or water bottles.
Charcoal can filter water, help heal a wound, absorb odors, and rid your body of poisons and toxins. It also makes for easy camouflage should you encounter any marauders in the woods.
Cast Iron Pots and Dutch Ovens
You can have all the food in the world – but if you don’t have a pot or a skillet to cook it in, it won’t matter. Cast iron cookware is perfect for making any meal.
With just a few packs of seeds, you can grow your own fruits and veggies for years. Make it easier by having the required tools and a gardening book to guide you through the process.
With jars, lids, pressure cookers, and pectin, you’ll be ready to can. Fruits, vegetables, preserves, meats, and seafood can all be canned easily at home.
Medical and Health Supplies
Personal Hygiene Supplies
No one wants to be caught without toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, and deodorant. Staying clean means staying healthy. Ladies, remember to stock up on feminine hygiene products as well.
First Aid Kits
A simple first aid kit is an essential item that belongs in every home. Make sure yours is full of the necessary supplies and check it frequently to ensure that nothing has expired.
Tylenol, Advil, cough syrup, allergy medication…have an assortment of over the counter medicines on hand at all times.
Toilet Paper and Paper Towels
No one ever thinks about tissues, toilet paper, or paper towels until they’re out of them. Just make sure you have separate stashes for medical use and cooking/cleaning purposes.
Vitamins and Herbal Supplements
When SHTF, your diet is likely to change. Keep plenty of vitamins and supplements on hand to provide the nutrients you may not be able to get from your favorite foods. You can size money on these by purchasing them online from sites like Amazon.
Make sure you have a gas mask ready for every member of your family. In case of biological warfare, virus outbreaks, or gas attacks, it’s the only way you’ll be able to breathe safely.
In addition to the obvious need for baby formula and diapers, make sure you have baby wipes and washcloths for bathing. And don’t forget a few small toys to keep little ones occupied.
Aside from your first aid kit, you should also have surgical scissors, masks, towels, stitches, and bandages handy. These items may not be part of a regular medical kit, but they should be stored along with it.
Sunscreen and Ointments
Prepare yourself for burns, scrapes, and cuts by stocking up on sunscreen, aloe, and ointments. Even if you’re surviving indoors, kitchen accidents are common.
Store antibacterial soap as well as body soap. When SHTF and you can’t get to a doctor, good daily hygiene will be more important than ever.
Camping and Outdoor Gear
Guns, Cleaning Kits, and Ammo
These items will disappear quickly from store shelves, so make sure you’ve got your weapons in order long before SHTF.
Flashlights and Lanterns
One flashlight won’t do. Stock up on a variety of lanterns, glow sticks, and headlamps.
Batteries, Fuel, and Solar Chargers
If you have to survive for an extended period of time, solar chargers and solar panels are the way to go. For a few days use, you can get by on batteries, fuel, and gas.
Saws, Axes, and Hunting Knives
Axes and hatchets, wedges, machetes, bow saws, and hunting knives will be gone fast when SHTF. Just make sure you’ve also got a sharpening stone and honing oil. We tend to prefer American made products for their dependability, but do your research and make sure you buy equipment that lasts.
If you don’t know how to hunt game, learn to fish. Stock up on fishing rods, bait, a bucket, a net, and a storage system. Gather scissors, a knife, and other supplies in case you need to make your own bait.
Camouflage and Body Armor
Camouflage clothing and body armor are needed for hunting. But they also come in handy if you’re trying to hide from people who might want to get their hands on your stockpile.
Bug Traps and Mice Traps
When SHTF, the last thing you’re going to want to deal with is critters. Keep plenty of bug traps, bug spray, and mouse traps on hand.
Bug bites are annoying, but they can also be deadly. Take precautions with a bug net that can be used indoors or outdoors.
Waterproof boots are key – especially if you might have to survive in an outdoor shelter. Prepare yourself for wet weather and soggy, muddy situations.
You’ve got to be comfortable. Make sure you’ve got an extra pillow or two so you can get a good night’s sleep.
Sheets, Linens, and Blankets
Whether you’re sleeping inside or camping out under the stars, comfort is key. Gather sheets, linens, and blankets to get you through the night.
Air Mattress or Sleeping Pad
It might not be as comfortable as your bed at home, but an air mattress or closed-foam sleeping pad will make sleeping outside much more enjoyable.
Consider buying tents in a variety of sizes. Small shelters are ideal for days spent out in the sun. Large shelters are essential for a safe overnight sleep.
A small camp stove is the easiest way to cook outdoors. Make sure you’ve got the necessary fuel and tools to go with it.
Nothing lasts forever. When you have to do repairs on your gear, you’ll need tape, repair patches, and a sewing kit.
For daytime or nighttime comfort, invest in a hammock that you can string up easily between two trees.
Sleeping bags are a must-have for sleeping outdoors. If you’re in a cold environment, just make sure you’ve got a 0-degree bag that can withstand freezing temperatures.
It’s not going to feel good sitting on the wet, rocky, or hard ground. Invest in a couple of collapsible chairs that you can use indoors or outdoors.
Matches and Lighters
You’ll need fire to stay warm, cook your meals, and boil your water. Make sure you’ve got plenty of matches and extra lighters on hand.
Tarps and Tools to Make a Shelter
A tarp alone won’t be much help. You’ll also need stakes, duct tape, twine, nails, rope, hammers, and spikes to assemble the proper shelter.
Survival Books and Maps
Don’t underestimate the importance of a map. When you can’t access the GPS on your phone, you’ll need a way to navigate. You should never rely on a survival guide (you should know what to do beforehand), it’s never a bad idea to have on hand.
Wagons and Wheelbarrows
You might need to transport items. Have a wagon, wheelbarrow, or shopping cart available for hauling heavy items.
You won’t be able to store gas without a container. Make sure you have gas cans that can hold several gallons (or more) of fuel.
Expect building supplies to be in short supply. If you don’t have to build anything, you can always burn lumber for warmth.
Clothespins are often overlooked. But when you don’t have a dryer, you’ll need a way to hang your clothes.
Insulated Ice Chests
Having ice on hand will make it much easier to preserve fresh meat from recent hunts.
Gloves and Hats
You should have LOTS of these on hand. You never know how cold or snowy it’s going to get and you certainly don’t want to be caught without them.
Work boots, belts, thick socks, long johns, and Carhartt work pants will make it easier to tackle outdoor tasks – especially when it’s wet or cold.
Cold Weather Clothing
Avoid cotton garments. Opt for synthetic blends with nylon and poly fibers that can dry with ease.
Hand Warmers/Foot Warmers
Those little hand warmer and foot warmer packs won’t keep you warm for hours, but they’ll certainly do the trick in a pinch.
Need a way to dry your boots? Consider purchasing an electric shoe and boot dryer to warm up and dry out the toes of your shoes.
Keep as many candles as possible on hand. When the power goes out, they’ll be essential.
You might have to purify drinking water with bleach. Look for plain unscented varieties with 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite.
Knives and Sharpeners
Forget stainless steel knives. Opt for good quality carbon steel knives and sharpening stones to keep them working at full capacity. A dependable survival knife should always be on your side.
Looking for more options? Read about our top picks for tactical knives.
Backpacks and Duffle Bags
Garbage Cans and Garbage Bags
Trash needs to be kept at bay. Make sure you’ve got garbage bags to contain and dispose of trash. In an unexpected situation, they can also be used for water storage.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Supplies
Trips to the doctor may not be an option. Keep plenty of cleaning and disinfecting supplies on hand to keep yourself and your living area as clean as possible.
Papers and Pencils
When you can’t use your smartphone, pens, pencils, and pads of paper will be critical. Just make sure you’ve got a pencil sharpener as well.
Stock up on buckets of all shapes and sizes to hold food or use for cleaning.
Plastic Wrap and Aluminum Foil
Plastic wrap and aluminum foil aren’t just for cooking and storing food. They can also be used as insulation.
Glue, Duct Tape, and Nails
With nuts, bolts, screws, duct tape, and glue, you just might be able to get you through a situation you weren’t planning for.
Everyone’s got to go. Portable toilet or gallon buckets with toilet lids will make a dirty situation a little more tolerable.
Pepper Spray, Tasers, Pellet Rifles
Expect bugs, critters, and marauders. Have plenty of pepper spray, knives, clubs, bats, tasers, slingshots, and pellet guns on hand.
Washboards and Plungers
If you want clean clothes, make sure you’ve got washboards, plungers, mop buckets, and a wringer for your laundry.
Brooms, Shovels, and General Tools
Want to keep your shelter clean or do some farming? Stock up on brooms, shovels, rakes, pitchforks, pickaxes, and hoes.
Animal Control Products
It’s important to have traps for pests, but don’t forget about your pets. Leashes, crates, and collars will make it easy to transport your family pets where you need to go.
Other SHTF Gear You’ll Need
When SHTF, you’re probably going to want to read a good book. The religious text of your choice just might help you get through these difficult times.
It may be hard to stock up on these, but try to have as many weeks or months of prescription medications on hand as possible.
Electrical tape works on almost everything. Make sure you have at least one roll tucked into your bug out bag.
When fuel runs short, bicycles will be the best method of transportation. Prepare yourself by also having extras tires, tubes, pumps, chains, and repair kits on hand.
Hand Pumps and Siphons
You might have to scrounge for gas, water, or oil. Hand pumps and siphons will make it much easier to do so.
When power is in short supply, a generator will let you enjoy the basic comforts of home.
Unless you’re in the woods where firewood is plentiful, you’ll want dry logs on hand to start a flame.
Flints and Fire Starters
Matches and lighters will eventually run out. Flint strikers and steel fire starters will help you get a primitive fire going outdoors.
For long-term survival, consider solar panels. Some are portable but some are more permanent and can power up any shelter.
Know what you need to gather, know what you need to stock up on, and do it ASAP. When you’re in a survival situation, these essentials will fly off the shelves. Prepare yourself, know what you need to survive and start stocking up today. When SHTF, you’ll be glad you did.