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A listing of “must have” items

January 29, 2013

Today I’m listing a bunch of items that would be really nice to have in a power down, off grid, surviving on the move or surviving in place situation. Of course, some items will be more useful on the road, some for holding on wherever home is.


1. Water and food. Duh, right? But what kinds of food would be viable if the power goes away for weeks after some major hurricane blows through or worst case, an EMP from the sun or a nuke in the upper atmosphere kills the grid for who knows how long? Everyday canned goods like you family uses already, look for the buy one get one items on sale at the store, eat one now, stash the other. Canned beef, turkey, chicken, tuna and of course, good old Spam. Lots of veggies, soups, canned fruit. Also dry goods like cereal, oatmeal, pasta, rice with real food value like Jasmine rice and dry beans of any and all types including the dry bean soup mixes right there with the other beans. Powdered milk or the ultra pasteurized products that are in box like containers which don’t need refrigeration and have a long shelf life.  If you can afford it, then add freeze dried commercial foods as well, their super long shelf life is a good thing. The thing is, start NOW to think about building up a stash of foods, not all at once, just get started doing it!


Water is probably the more crucial item, without it you expire in about 3 days. You need it to live, to cook with, to clean yourself if you have a large supply. Must have item, is a top of the line filtration system like the Berkey if you’re staying in place or a portable pump type if you’re bugging out. Planning ahead and putting rain catchment barrels on your gutter downspouts will get you 50 gallons of usable water per barrel (must be filtered) every time it rains. You can make these from new, heavy duty garbage cans. Put a screen in the top hole to keep debris and bugs out.  Sitting up on blocks with a spigot at the bottom, so you can easily fill buckets or bottles. This water would have to be filtered / sanitized before drinking or cooking with it.





“Recycle” clear soda bottles and rigid clear juice bottles, clean them out well and stash regular tap water in them. Before you know it, you may have 50 gallons of water stored in free containers. You can also lay clear soda bottles full of water out in the sun for several hours and the ultraviolet light (and some heat) will do in the bacteria in the water.


2. You’ve got a nice stash of canned goods now, right? If there’s no power, your electric can opener does a better job as a doorstop than opening up cans of desperately needed food. Get yourself a plain old fashioned hand operated can opener. Keep it in the ‘junk’ drawer in your kitchen, or for your Bug Out Bag, one of the tiny G.I. can opener or your Swiss army knife / multi-tool equipped with an opener.


3. Hygiene. In a stressed, long term survival situation your hygiene will be more important than you think. At the same time you will not have much water available for bathing, so alternative ideas must be devised. Baby wipes, for instance can be used as toilet paper and clean other parts of you as well. “Dry” bathing products like no rinse body wash are very handy, along with typical hand sanitizer. There are camping style solar shower ideas that work nice IF it’s warm enough outside, or if you can rig one up inside your bathroom. If you have toilet paper stashed, that’s cool, but you’ll have to have spare water to flush with anyway, so those rain catchment barrels will be handy for that. Flush only when you can’t stand the stench anymore. Don’t forget baby diapers and feminine products. These paper items will take up a lot of space, so maybe investigate storing them in the attic, garage or basement since heat will have little effect on these items.


4. Trash bags. Suppose you had to throw as much stuff as you could into your BOV and run for the hills. Suitcases? Nah. Boxes? You have a huge stack of those handy? When you think of moving from one location to another, you might think that boxes are a
necessity. However, just like toilet paper, boxes take up a lot of space . It’s much easier to use trash bags instead. You could easily pack your clothes and necessities quickly and move out in a hurry if you need to. In addition to just regular trash bags, you can stock
up on plastic shopping bags that you get from grocery stores or from retail stores. This will give you a variety of different sized bags which are handy for disposing of trash (free bags) and helping to keep down some kinds of diseases. Heavy duty trash bags take up very little space as you can purchase them with large numbers of bags in one roll.


5. Fire starting kit. The ability to make fire in survival mode is critical to making it through the event. In the home, the Bug Out Vehicle, and every Bug Out Bag, even down to waterproof matches in the pocket of every coat, sweater and jacket, as I do, you should have some fire starting materials working all the way up to a dedicated kit with multiple methods to start a fire. There are even books available on campfire building for those who have never even been in the woods. Firesteels are one of my favorite fire making tools, they are basic and functional, don’t need fuel or waterproofing and once you learn their use, they will be your ‘go to’ choice for building your fire. Other items to pack into your fire starting kit are your favorite varieties of tinder and spark catching materials, such as the old favorite of cotton balls saturated with Vaseline or the fantastic starter materials like  Insta-fire or the amazing  Wetfire product which will catch a spark and light while floating in a cup of water.


6. Thermal blankets. These ultra thin reflective Mylar ‘blankets’ could be a life saver if you find yourself stranded for the night on a cold or wet night. While being pretty delicate, they will reflect your body head back to you, keeping you warm enough to avoid hypothermia. You may ‘freeze to death’ in surprisingly warm temperatures. At least these temperatures seem warm with the sun is shining, but when you’re wet and it’s dark and getting cooler, you must conserve your body heat by fire or some shelter.


7. Swiss Army knife or multi-tool. Do you remember that Tom Hanks movie,’Castaway’? If your memory is really sharp, do you recall that he had a Swiss army knife on his car keys ring that his wife took to drive the car home? That single item would have made his life on that deserted island a LOT better. I keep a Swiss in my pocket at all times, with a peanut lighter attached to it, to back up my Leatherman that lives on my belt.

Victorinox Swiss Army knife, photo taken in Sw...

Victorinox Swiss Army knife, photo taken in Sweden. This is a Mountaineer model. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


8. Gloves. Work gloves and winter gloves make outdoor life more bearable for me. A good pair of work gloves in your BOB will help keep your hands from lighter injuries while doing camp chores and other rough work. In a survival type situation, you want to minimize the risk of ANY injury. Good gloves might save a nasty, devastating cut when your survival knife slips and whacks your other hand.


9. Hand cranked /multiple power radio. There are a number of emergency radios on the market now. Some are equipped with up to 5 different power supplies, from solar to the plug in the outlet. If you have a radio, assuming the grid still works, you can get valuable information to deal with the local or regional disaster situation. The government will be putting their spin on the event, but you still may get useful news from other than the ‘official’ channels and short wave broadcasts by ham operators who would be telling it like it is, no spin.


10. Firewood. Got a fireplace in your home? Great thing to have, IF it’s properly working and has been inspected for problems. Having a nice stack of seasoned firewood would sure be nice if the power was off for 2 weeks in the middle of winter. You could also cut down the firewood and cook on the grill as an option. And option for emergency winter heat would be vent free propane heaters. Out in the boonies, our power would fail several times each winter, so we kept a 20,000 btu vent free heater disguised with a book case built to cover it when not needed.  It would keep the place toasty until the power finally came back.


11. Batteries. All kinds of common sized batteries, D, C, 9v, AA, AAA, AAAA and spares for your weapons optics, if you have such items. LED lights and flashlights are the far better choice if you’re in the market for new battery operated flashlights. If you want to work hands free in the dark, look for LED headlamps that use AAA or AA batteries. All LED devices give out brighter, more intense and longer lasting light and pull far less battery drain than the old fashioned bulbs.


12. Bug repellent. Spent any time in the woods with all the critters that want to have YOU for lunch? Now, imagine a week or two out there. Having some repellent in your BOB sure would be nice for reducing the misery of being lunch for hundreds of bugs.


13. An Axe. For a base camp item or around the house, a good axe is mighty nice to have. If you’re having to build shelter in the woods, or need a weapon a nice compact axe is so very useful.


14. Backpack. This is your Bug Out Bag. It’s a crucial piece of gear, so don’t cut corners and get something from WalMart for $20 unless that’s absolutely all you can afford. Something would be better than nothing. You need some quality goods here. Surplus military all the way to whatever you can afford in real gear is what you need to look at.


15. Proper hiking boots. Loafers and no socks or flip-flops ain’t gonna cut it if you have to walk any distance with your BOB on your back. You need a quality pair of hiking boots and maybe a pair of sneakers to wear around base camp. You should break them in by walking around doing errands, or mowing the yard or just strolling around. Stiff new boots will be bad news on your feet. And if your feet are your only means of transportation, you better keep them in top shape with good socks, foot powder and well broken in boots.


16. An electric generator. Typically, you have a gasoline, propane, diesel, wind or solar powered alternative electricity supply. Like so many other appliances or equipment, you can spend a little or a LOT for the range of simple camping sized units to 20,000 watt monsters that can run your whole house, including the air conditioning. All will have to have a fuel source except for the windmill type or the solar units.  They will also have to be used outdoors to avoid the exhaust fumes, which has the downside of the noise attracting curious looters if the unit is very loud. Use discretion and common sense about when to briefly run the unit to power your fridge for a while.


17. Honey, syrup and sugar. I personally think honey is going to be your best option. It has a nice long shelf life and a better glycemic action than sugar. It’s a natural sweetener that’s superior to any kind of artificial junk. And did you know it can be used as an antiseptic? Put a dab on your band-aid or gauze dressing.  Sugar is obviously the most common sweetener, both white and brown types. Store your sugar in 5 gallon buckets that seal very well, with moisture absorbent packed between the bags, or hard vacuum bag it in 2 pound portions using a FoodSaver vacuum packaging machine , then put the vacuum bagged sugar into the buckets. Double protection against bugs and moisture. Sugar will also make a great bartering item as well.


18. Cooking oils and coconut oil. Cooking oils should be in your stash of goods. The good stuff, like olive oil, and other top grade oils may last longer than good old peanut oil. It will be a bit of a trick to not store more than you can use before it goes rancid. Best idea, I suppose, is the next time you open a new bottle of cooking oil, write the date on the cap. When it gets empty, note how long it took to use it up. Then stock up oil to last twice or three times that much use and like all your pantry goods, rotate the older stuff up front, so the sell by date lasts as long as possible. By the way, that sell by date is a freshness thing, NOT a safety thing. We commonly consume food that has a sell by date from last year with no ill effects. Just use common sense, if the can is rusted or bulging like a football, DON’T eat or even taste anything like that. Oil in general should be in your stock of stashed items. Coconut oil could be one of the best options. You can use it for cooking, performing maintenance (lubricating some items), and even for skin care. Oils have essential vitamins and nutrients so they will be good for your health. See to it you buy expeller pressed coconut oil, because it  has a longer shelf life than your average oil. Not to fond of the taste of coconut? Not to worry, you’ll be glad that it doesn’t taste like coconut with your food.


19. Portable / backpacking stove. A modern backpacking stove is very efficient for cooking when the grid is down. Several on the market use multiple liquid fuels, like Coleman fuel, gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene and diesel. They aren’t cheap, but the versatility of scrounging fuel makes them pretty desirable.  Then the rest of the categories include units dedicated to Coleman fuel, kerosene, propane, butane and wood. We have a Coleman Powerpak propane stove we use for backup cooking at home. Stock up propane bottles now, while they’re cheap and easy to find. They’re frequently for sale in pairs, like at Home Depot®, camping stores or even the seasonal section of your grocery.


20. Plain chlorine bleach. Not to worry about how white your tee shirts are in survival mode, PLAIN unscented bleach is good for disinfecting water. Find a couple of eyedroppers to measure it precisely, about 16 or so drops per gallon of water. Also, be aware that bleach has a very limited shelf life of only a few months, for this purpose. So perhaps small bottles instead of the gallon jugs.


21. Multivitamins. During the typical crisis, we will probably be eating whatever we can find, anything between squirrel on a stick to a carload of Twinkies, so having quality vitamins is right there with the food stash. Its a good thing they have a decent sell by date, so we can stock up without too much worry of them going stale before we use them up. As with everything else, rotate as you use them up.


22. Activated charcoal tablets. If you’re exploring the wild foods idea to supplement your food sources, having charcoal tablets handy may save a life if you munch the wrong plant which turns out to be a tad toxic. If you believe you’re poisoned or someone else may be, charcoal tabs are the trick. The stuff binds to the toxins and let’s them pass through your system


23. Binoculars. A decent pair of binoculars will be very nice to scout ahead and perhaps prevent walking right into a mess of trouble. Useful for scouting pathways, seeing crucial details of persons coming your way (armed or not?) finding out what is the source of that odd noise in that direction, would be very advantageous.


24. Duct tape. Really, this is one of the handiest inventions ever. Having GOOD duct tape around can patch up gear and clothes, double up your weapon magazines, hold worn out boots together for a while longer, secure temporary structures for shelter, even bind up a sprained ankle by wrapping it up  while wearing a sock. You don’t want to put this stuff directly on you skin for any length of time. Big rolls at home and take smaller portions in your BOB by rolling around a piece of dowel or short pencil until you have a roll about 2 inches across.


25. Towels. Tied to that ‘dry foam’ idea above, for your BOB we have compacted camping towels which are crammed into small cans apparently the size of a snuff or chew’backker can. And of course, at home we generally have piles of towels. In a pinch, larger towels can be used like blankets, when dry.


OK, well this should get you started with some basic items that you may have already been stocking up, or maybe we added an idea to your plans.



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