Five Alternatives to the Most Overrated Survival Items

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Top Tier Gear USA

mre wikimedia

If you’re new to the prepping scene, you should probably know right off the bat that you’re about to waste a lot of money. I’m so sorry to break it to you, but it’s true. We’ve all done it. It’s practically a right of passage by now.

You’ve just become aware of how fragile our society really is, and all the horrifying ways the shit can hit the fan, and you think you have to rush out and buy a bunch of supplies and gear to survive the inevitable looting spree. There’s something you should know first though. If there is one thing that is practically guaranteed to part an otherwise smart person from their money, it is fear.

So stop, take a deep breath, and realize that in all likelihood the world is not going to end tomorrow. There may not be any serious crises for months or years. I know this (as do many other preppers) because I couldn’t possibly count the number of times I’ve heard someone I would consider reputable, sound the alarm on a possible threat.

Don’t get me wrong I’m glad they do, because it’s good that we have people who are dedicated to looking for these threats, but you should know that most of them never come to fruition. If anything, they are usually signs that our society is in a slow decline towards oblivion, rather than an explosive last hurrah. There’s still danger ahead, but when it’s all said and done, there may never be a single day that will go down in history as the day the world ended.

So now that I’ve assuaged your fears, hopefully you’re gripping your wallet a little tighter than you were before. That state of mind you’re experiencing, the one that isn’t an anxiety riddled mess, is the correct state of mind you should be in for prepping. It’s time to take a critical look at that list of supplies and gear you’re thinking of purchasing, and be prepared to cross a few items off, because some of them are highly overrated.

Canned Food and MRE’s

I don’t want to completely bash canned food. It certainly has its merits. In most cases it will last a very long time, longer than the expiration date in fact, but most canned foods aren’t very healthy. The whole canning process tends to degrade the nutritional value of the food, and most cans are laced with toxic preservatives and BPA. They’re also heavy and somewhat awkward to store. If you want to can your own food, that’s a worthy endeavor for other reasons, but to go to the store and max out your credit card on canned food is a terrible idea.

After realizing the folly of cans many preppers turn to MRE’s, but they also come with their own set of problems. For me personally, I find them to be utterly disgusting and unhealthy. They usually taste great when you’ve been hiking all day and you’re starving, but in that condition anything can taste good. I remember the first time I tried an MRE. I thought, “wow, this tastes familiar.” After looking over the ingredients, I realized that I was basically eating the same stuff that is served at McDonald’s and 7/11.

What Should You Get Instead?

mountain house

Freeze dried food. Mountain House brand is the most popular, but there are several other good brands out there. It’s arguably healthier than most packaged food, and has a shelf life of 10 years or so. It’s small and lightweight, and to me at least, has an excellent flavor. The only downside is that it’s not perfectly edible out of the package. You have to add water (preferably hot), but I consider that a fair trade-off compared to the downsides of the other options. If you live in an area that would have a severe lack of water after the collapse, then maybe canned food is for you. Otherwise, freeze dried is the way to go.


This is a tough one, because I have to admit that generators can be useful for many short-term disasters. If you need to keep the lights on for a couple of days it’s a viable option, but generators may be completely useless during any long-term disaster. In that case, they become a logistical nightmare. Since it’s safe to assume that there will be gas shortages during any major disaster, do you really want to store enough gasoline to last you six months? And keep in mind that gas has a limited shelf life, and generators are usually really noisy.

Another thing to consider is energy efficiency. The majority of the electricity you use in your home goes toward appliances that provide heat. But the process of turning the combustion from your generator into electricity, and then back into heat, is incredibly inefficient. We don’t normally think about this because the power grid provides electricity at such a low-cost, (relative to a generator) so it’s not a big deal.

What Should You Get Instead?

propane stove

If you live in a rural area, you might be able source wood from your environment. Otherwise, You should probably use propane for all your heating needs. There are portable stoves, lanterns, and space heaters that all run on propane. You can buy those tiny Coleman tanks for your stove, or you can buy an adapter to connect it to a larger tank. Most of the lanterns have to take the Coleman tanks, but many of the space heaters are designed for the 20lb tanks as well. It’s a pretty versatile option, and best of all, propane has a much longer shelf life than gasoline. If you have to stock up on fuel, this is definitely the superior option.

The rest of your energy needs will probably go to electronics, which will be minuscule compared to your heating needs. For that, I would take a thin and flexible 100 watt solar panel over a generator any day.

Camelbak Canteens

I’m an avid backpacker, so I think I have more experience with this than any other item on this list. For such a simple task, there is a wide variety of ways to carry water. Nowadays the most popular way is with any kind of soft, flexible canteen. They’re lightweight, easy to store, and since you can squeeze the air out of them the water doesn’t slosh around and make a lot of noise.

Over the past 10 years it seems that the Camelback and the Platypus canteens have come to dominate the market. But frankly, I’ve never been a big fan of those drink tube apparatuses, due to their maintenance needs. You have to keep the tube and the drink valve very clean if you don’t want to get any mold. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort, but personally, I don’t want to put any more work than I have to into my canteen, and I don’t see the Camelbak giving me a huge advantage in any way.

What Should You Get Instead?


For a while I tried using bota bags, but honestly I don’t think they make them like they used to. Maybe I’m just unlucky, but I’ve tried using three different bota bags over the years, and none of them worked very well (they always leak).

If you want a really simple soft-shelled water carrier, I’d recommend the military issue bladder canteen. It holds two quarts, and has all the advantages you’d come to expect from a flexible canteen, but without any of the fuss.


I’d have to say, the most overrated item a prepper could buy is military camouflage. There really isn’t a good reason for it unless you live way out in the sticks, in which case you probably don’t need a military pattern. A good hunting camouflage pattern should be sufficient. And since only 18 percent of the US population lives in a rural area, it’s safe to say that camouflage isn’t really that important for most preppers. If anything, that would just make you stand out in an urban or suburban area.

Even camouflage that is specifically designed for an urban area is a bad idea. Even if it helps to conceal you in a tactical situation, it will still make you stand out in literally every other situation.

What Should You Get Instead?

dickies shirt

Instead of camouflage, just get something that is durable, comfortable, and is dyed in solid, muted earth tones. I’m sure there’s more than one opinion on what that entails, but in this case I’m referring to brown, tan, olive drab, and gray, or at least something similar.

These colors have the advantage of being versatile. You can wear them on city streets or in suburban parks without standing out, but on the off-chance that you wind up in a rural area later on, you won’t be too obvious there either. Basically, it’s not the best you can use for any single environment, but it’s the best you can use in most environments without looking like a stereotypical survivalist.

Your best bet would probably be something made by Dickies. They make great civilian looking clothes that are just as durable as their military counterparts, and it’s not hard to find Dickies shirts and jeans that come in earth tone colors. Wrangler and Carhartt brands are also great choices.

Ballistic Plates

This one has a lot of the same problems as wearing camouflage. It’s pretty much impossible to wear these bullet proof plates without it being painfully obvious. They’re so big and heavy, that every soldier who wears them looks like some kind of sci-fi mashup with a Roman legionnaire.

That’s not to say it’s stupid. It’s probably just unnecessary. These plates are made for stopping rifle rounds, and considering the fact that only 2-3 percent of murders are committed with rifles, it’s safe to say that ballistic plates are overkill for civilians.

Keep in mind that the violent criminals you might face after the SHTF aren’t that different than the ones you might run into now. There will probably be an increase in murders committed by rifles since there would be no cops to stop people from carrying them openly, but I suspects that pistols, shotguns, bats, and knives will still be the most common murder weapons.

What Should You Get Instead?

kevlar vest

If you even need ballistic protection to begin with, which I don’t think most people will, just an ordinary kevlar vest will do. At most you won’t need anything that is rated above level IIIa, which should stop pretty much all handgun rounds, and some shotgun rounds. They’re also lighter, breathe better in hot weather, and some are designed to be concealable. There’s no need to overdo it with a hulking rig of ballistic plates.

Now I’m sure a lot of folks will disagree parts of this list, but does it sound reasonable to you? If not, then for the benefit of anyone reading this who is new to prepping, let’s hear your opinion in the comments. And if you have any overrated boondoggles from your early prepping days that you’d rather forget, now is a good time to get it off your chest!

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  • One thing I’d like to add about the Mountain House, is if you have food sensitives/issues, try them. I tried them for many of the reasons listed above, but I cannot each them. For me, freeze dried food is identical to heavily processed food, making them a no go for me.

    That being said, you can find healthier versions of canned food. Trident canned salmon (which is pretty cheap at Wal-Mart) are BPA free and pretty basic. They make it hard because they do not bother labeling it, as I believe they never used it. There are other cost efficient gems out there, as well.

    • There are two different categories of Mountain House. They sell things like that shown in the photo, which is a ready to eat entree, which isn’t very different from other processed foods, because it takes processing to get the multiplicity of ingredients to work and play well through the freeze drying process. The other category, which consists of individual ingredients, require no processing or additives.
      If you want to buy anything wild caught out of the Pacific Ocean, I’d suggest getting to it, because even the scientists who are watching the radioactive plume from Fukushima aren’t sure when or in what concentration it will reach the schools of fish that live out there. The current low levels require sophisticated laboratory equipment to characterize, but nobody can say with certainty when that might change.
      If you want a useful vest, haste is in order, because our “friends” in Congress are discussing banning the sales of level 3 or higher vests to the peasants.
      The only reason why I’d bother buying one, if I were thinking about it, would be to protect myself from the very rounds that will penetrate anything except level 4. Since that translates to well-armed military personnel, and it doesn’t work for third eye shots…
      My personal recommendation to those who think that doomsday scenarios are highly feasible is that they move somewhere where the bastards will be outgunned by the locals, who wouldn’t resist the desire to shoot them first.

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    • Bert

      Body armor or kevlar vest, etc. of any kind is a waste of time and money. If you get to the point where you need it, it’s too late and you won’t live much longer. Urban and suburban areas will suffer extremely high mortality rates, even with nothing more just an extended loss of power. Within a few days all food supplies will be gone, in a few weeks, water will be unusable, and there will be massive casualties from violence and increasing deaths from starvation and disease/bacterial infection. Within 90 days, you can expect mimimum, 50% or higher casualties from starvation, disease and violence, with that climbing to near 90% within 6 months to a year. That’s just from a power outage. No bombs, no pandemic, just the nationwide loss of electricity.

      Urban prepping or planning is beyond stupid. The only “plan” you need if you’re living in heavily, or even moderately populated areas, is grab your go-bag and get the fuck out, ASAP, and head for the hills. And I’d advise heading for the hills where you either own property, or already have a safe hideout set up somewhere, because those of us who already live in very rural areas will most likely be in a “shoot on sight” mode, after the first wave of idiots fleeing the cities come through trying to steal from us or set up camp on our territory.

      If you’re stupid enough to live in a heavily populated area when things go downhill and you haven’t made plans to GTFO damned skippy, you have almost no chance of surviving even a year.

      • 150 million idiots in the hills isn’t a bright idea.

        • Bert

          There aren’t 150 million people planning on bugging out if TSHTF. I read awhile back that the number of preppers is less than 1%, overall, with those most serious about it already living in or near the sticks. Those who didn’t get out of moderate to heavily populated areas within the first 7 days, likely wouldn’t make it out alive at all. And with the current mindset, especially that of city dwellers, that the government “will provide”, they’d wait at least a week, waiting for power to be restored and food/water to be distributed. They’ve been brainwashed their entire lives into believing that the government will provide, and will expect just that.

          • i believe 1.5 – 2 days is the timeframe, just see how the goobermint handled Boston’s shutdown of roads/trains/planes / bike paths

          • Bert

            I”m saying 7 as a high limit, could end up being just a couple days in reality, though I suspect a complete breakdown in morality would take slightly longer than 2 days.

          • Oracle Watchman

            LOL, “a complete breakdown in morality” has been the norm in some areas for years now. Some of those residents wouldn’t notice that SHTF had taken place until they saw it on World Star.

          • Bert

            Yeah, I know what you mean, but I meant a “total lawlessness”, though I’m sure you understood my intent too.

          • Oracle Watchman

            Yeah I’m guessing that you feel the way I do. I could better take care of my family without the liberal infantile legalities getting in the way. I’m currently down here selling my house in a Cartel controlled area of Mexico. I’ve survived here by staying alert and watching my back. Here we stay in Condition Orange awareness level much of the time. Going out on the mountain highways at night places us right on the verge of Condition Red the entire trip. Just had a hell of a shoot out a few miles down the lake from us, in Ocotlan, Jalisco. A Cartel ambush along the mountain road killed four Federal Police and two bystanders. The Cartel came at the cops in more than 12 vehicles using full-auto machine guns. Moving back stateside, even after SHTF, will be like a Sunday bar-b-que in my back yard, compared to this BS. At least in the US we can arm up with some big cal., whereas here, .38 is the max allowed in handguns. Problem is, the local cops will steal even those from you when they find them in your possession. Be thankful for good old US of A.

          • Bert

            Yeah, I know people bitch a lot about the US and corrupt LEOs, but take a trip south, or for that matter pretty much anywhere that isn’t England, Canada or the US, and you really see what corruption is. FSB is as bad as Mexico, Iraq is worse. Kuwait, when I was there so many years ago, was actually a decent place (before Saddam rolled through, that is), but it was an exception to the rule.

            So yeah, we have corrupt cops, corrupt elected official and government, but it isn’t as bad as most places. And while that is something to be thankful for, it’s not an excuse to not try and root out the corruption anyway.

            We should all be thankful it’s not worse, and set about fixing it.

        • Oracle Watchman

          Tim, the idiots will remain in the cities, waiting on the Gov to rescue them or ship in food, water, meds, new flat screen TVs, Nikis, and 4Loko. Few of the “idiots” will know or care to escape to the mountains. When the water supply runs out in the stores, and the municipal water is turned off or runs dry, unless they previously stored water to carry with them, it will be too late for anyone to attempt trekking out into the countryside, seeking sustenance and water.

          When thinking of survivability limits, consider the “Four 3s”.
          On average, we can survive, 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter in extreme environments, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. Some very hardy people have survived longer under milder circumstances than these averages, but even in those unusual cases, 10 days without water is the maximum known time to sustain life. The body (Low blood pressure, fever) and mind (delirium, disorientation) began a downward spiral of incapacitation after only 3 days without water. Dehydration eventually causes unconsciousness, and even coma can set in after 5 days without water, which would make escaping the city on foot impossible. No, the people that took to the mountains pre-SHTF, or at least immediately afterward, will have an IQ far above that of 8-12 on the Binet Scale.

          • I’d prefer to bug out/bun IN, in a hot desert, Arizona or Mexico,which has it’s own dis/advantages. I know a spot or 2 with some potable water available. Fresh food procurement sufficiently “abundant” – snake/rabbit/mule deer/coyote/javelina/mtn. lion / plus in certain locales gardening/farming works – rich soil ….
            but I’d rather be vaporized and enjoy a different planet

      • Oracle Watchman

        Burt, body armor works well when being shot by the typical Tacti-Cool-School grads or dumbazz gang banger. They have been taught to aim for the torso because the average student would quit when they find out they can’t hit anything smaller than a large slow moving man’s chest and gut. While the average guy aims for torso and gut shots, which your plate can deflect, you aim for their unprotected left eye. Logic says, why aim for “two to the torso” that may or may not be covered by quality body armor, when it would be more wise to aim for their obviously non-armored head. Good targets have bulls eyes a hell of a lot smaller than a man’s torso. And for all those who can’t yet hit a head-size target while under duress.. . practice, practice.

        • Bert

          I’m not saying body armor isn’t effective against (most) handgun ammunition, only that if you’re at a point where you need body armor after TSHTF (you either are, or have a great potential of being shot at), you’re not going to live much longer anyway.

        • a head sized target, running a zig-zag pattern, is a bit more of a challenge.

          • Oracle Watchman

            Shoot scurrying rats, swooping bats at dusk and dawn, pissed off wasps flying at you from a disturbed nest, hang a tennis ball with a string from a tree limb, and give it a good arching swing… and shoot it. Attempt to shoot skeet with your pistol (and video tape it in case you hit one). Practice only hitting large targets and you’ll end up with limited accuracy. If you insist on doing torso shots, practice aiming at a shirt or jacket button. And for goodness sake, don’t only practice with a two-hand hold while standing still using a Isosceles or Weaver stance. Real life just doesn’t work that way. One-handed shooting can be deadly accurate, even one-handed shooting while on the run. Disagreeing with the Tecni Cool School teaching usually stirs a shit-storm, but hey, that overly gear clad instructor won’t be there when you’ve lost use of one arm, and the guy shooting at you just won’t go down after you’ve sent six of your seven rounds into his chest. He may be bellowing like a bull and even have suffered a couple of cracked ribs, but low and behold, he a had a vest on under that jacket. Time for a head shot was six rounds back.

          • Colonel Jeff Cooper would agree ! He had a great little place in Chino Valley where he had Gunsite,( sold it to wannabe’s)
            as for bat shooting: it’s dern near impossible with my Goose Gun 12 gauge, too tight a pattern ! But shore nuff is fun

          • Oracle Watchman

            Even more fun at dusk or dawn when you load up with a round or two of Dragon’s Breath. Scares the hell out of the horses though. Ha!

          • Tracer rounds at Casa Grande gun range , nighttime, can really ,literally light up the night !

          • Oracle Watchman

            Haven’t had the pleasure to take part at Casa Grande. This is one I want to see:

          • SWEET ! I gotta’ get one of those GE Chain guns for fun perimeter cleansing

      • varlog

        “Body armor or kevlar vest, etc. of any kind is a waste of time and money.”

        I disagree, depends on your situation. One of my concerns is, when do you know its game on? Yeah if things have been going south for a while and you know if someone steps foot on your property they are done, but what about in the beginning? You don’t know the intentions of that young couple wanting help. You don’t want to shoot them if all they wanted was to use the phone and have murder charges against you. But then they pull out a gun and shoot you when you let your guard down. Armor may help you survive an unexpected encounter.

        “If you get to the point where you need it, it’s too late and you won’t live much longer.””

        Not necessarily. Someone has to win and someone has to loose. I want to stack the odds in my favor.

      • So your suggestion is to bug out to the hills where you and the rest of the locals will be in “shoot on sight mode”, but I won’t need a vest. Seems legit.

        • Bert

          No, my suggestion is to already have a place ready and get there before the shit actually hits the fan, when it’s just headed to the fan, long before things get bad enough that everybody else is thinking the same thing. Either that, or move somewhere that you won’t be forced into the necessity of bugging out. If you live in a heavily populated area and aren’t gone from there long before everybody else finally realizes it’s either leave or die, it’s too late and no amount of kevlar is going to save your stupid ass for long. And planning to “bug out” to a place you don’t own or aren’t intimately familiar with (such as a remote area of wilderness, etc) is just beyond stupid. People who live in rural areas won’t be very tolerant of trespassers during a time like that. Fortunately, I think only those rural areas that are fairly close to heavily populated areas are going to have much of this type of problem, so with a little luck I won’t be forced to deal with many, maybe not any at all. It’s one thing to shoot down people intent on taking what you have because they’re greedy sociopaths, it’s entirely another to entertain the same action against people who are just starving and trying to stay alive any way they can, and I hope not to be put into that position.

          • fair enough, but given the conditions while bugging out, I plan on doing it with my entire family in level 3 soft armor. no reason not to, and given the conditions in other countries that have experienced a bugout scenario, armor had proven invaluable if you had it

          • Bert

            I’d put armor on my family too, when bugging out from a city and don’t blame you at all for that, I’m simply saying that if you’ve waited long enough that you’ll likely need body armor to make it out of a city, you’ve waited too long and you’re probably not going to survive. But even when heading out at the first hint of trouble, putting it on your family when leaving is never a bad idea, as a “just in case” measure.

            My own kids are grown and live between an hour, and 4 hours away, which worries me, but we have plans in place, a safe, prearranged meeting area, and they’re heavily armed, have go-bags ready and can leave with as little as a few minutes notice. I’m actually more worried about my boy who lives 2 hours away than my daughter that lives 4 hours away. My boy is more of a talker, my girl is a “shoot first, and don’t bother with the questions” type, anybody who cross her will become an instant corpse, where my boy will probably talk a little first, exposing him to some level of risk. And she’s faster, and a better shot.

          • My girls are the same. I suspect its a female thing, momma bear and all 😉
            Sounds like you pretty well have it sorted. I have a couple of confirmed locations where I’m welcome to stay, but no real place of my own to head to. Tough to do, but I’m working hard to get there. Best of luck to you and your family if it comes down to that, brother.

      • randy wellman

        “in just a few days” YOUR food will be gone…not mine. that bulletproof vest will buy you a very valuable few seconds when in a shootout with another person….it boggles my mind how people can come up with some scenario where a vest WOULDN’T save their life, and they run with it, totally buying into how it can’t save you…i prefer to think of ways it WILL save my life…if you need a parachute, or a bulletproof vest, and don’t have one, chances are, you will never need one again….thanks for the advise, but i’ll take MY chances WITH a vest….i PLAN to be in the 10% that survives….because i PLAN.

        • Bert

          There’s no reason to think a vest expect armor to save your life every time, either. Or multiple times. Eventually you’ll catch a round in the noggin or from a high powered rifle that armor won’t stop, if you’ve put yourself into a position where body armor is a necessity rather than a precaution.

          So like I said….if you’ve put yourself into a position where you NEED armor to survive, you won’t live much longer.

          • randy wellman

            read my post again….and if you STILL don’t understand that a vest is better than NO vest, when the excrement has finally contacted the rotating mass of twisted metal, then keep re-reading it until you “get it”. i might not “live much longer”, but i’ll live MUCH longer than YOU……i just can’t help but wonder, why do armies wear bulletproof vests when engaged in firefights? do you see them shedding their armor when the shooting starts?

          • Bert

            Randy, I get what you’re saying, yes, a vest is better than no vest. You’re not getting what I’m saying….if you’re putting yourself into a position where you NEED that vest to survive, and I’m not talking about a chance encounter where you catch a round from some nervous loon but where you’re forced to depend on that vest to keep you alive because you’re in a bad place at the wrong time, then you’re not going to live long. If you’re using the vest as a precautionary measure as you get out of dodge, then abso-fucking-lutely, it’s a fantastic idea, but if you’re using it as a barrier because you know you’re gonna be under fire as a matter of course, you’ve already fucked up and died, you’re just waiting for that round to catch up with your brainpan or femoral artery, or whatever.

          • randy wellman

            you are the one that doesn’t get it….the story said you don’t need plates….armor isn’t going to be needed…….nobody’s “putting yourself in a dangerous situation”…it’ll ALL be dangerous, and y’all need to do a little more research into what life’s gonna be like when they ring the bell. america is about to be changed for a good long time….THAT’S what you, and the author seem to not “get”….i suspect if people knew what is about to happen to U.S., they would be rioting in the streets by the millions NOW….but they’re to busy watching dancing with the stars to look up.

          • Bert

            Randy, I’m not referencing the ridiculous story, or the pandering author. I’m talking reality. If you’ve put yourself into a position where you’re depending on armor, with plates or without, to survive, your lifespan will very quickly reach maturity. Yes, of course it’ll be far more dangerous than it is now, but if you’ve prepared properly, the chances of catching a round will be minimal. Will body armor still be a good preventative measure? Absolutely, but preparing as I’ve done personally, if I were going to have to choose between another 4,000 rounds of long colt and body armor, I’d pick the ammunition and put off the body armor buy as a “just in case” measure when I have some spare cash to piss away. Just so you know, I do have body armor but doubt I’ll wear it til I stray more than a couple miles from home and start getting into territory that will be traveled more heavily than the back roads I live on.

          • randy wellman

            without that vest, those 4000 rounds will be worthless…you’ll be dead before 4 HUNDRED rounds….and i AM referencing the story…HE says you won’t need plates, or armor, for that matter…i say you WILL need them….and you can have the last word.

          • Bert

            Buddy, it ain’t about the last word, it’s about the last breath. If you have armor, plates, force fields, great….but the wiser choice is to do your best to make sure they’re just for peace of mind rather than necessity, otherwise you’ll soon be taking a dirt nap with all the other morons who think the government will be their savior in times of social and/or economic upheaval. I’m not telling you they’re a bad idea, just that it’s a bad idea to put yourself into a position where they’re a survival necessity.

      • archer

        The problem to me is getting where you want to go, the roads are almost impassable in many metro areas, like close to where I live, even in rush hour, compound that with panic, possible looting and highway banditry etc. and I would probably feel safer staying off the road. Of course one would have to have adequate supplies including ammo and fuel for even partial electricity and heat in winter along with a supply of clean water.

    • Wild Planet cans some exceptionally good fish products.

  • ronkw

    Thanks for a great web site!

    Since water is absolutely, positively essential, I prefer a minimum of two methods.
    One – is a (or two) stainless steel water bottle (found in a local thrift/goodwill store $1-2). The bottle can be set directly on/next to the fire for boiling…2 to 3 minutes. Use a paper coffee filter or two, if needed, be when filling your bottle. (steel, NOT aluminum)

    Two-Check out/carry the Sawyer Mini filter.

    Three- carry/have access to some potassium promagnate, every kit should have some…can double as a firestarter!

  • Sir TuberKopf

    Great article!

    Military snipers rarely wear armor, they depend on stealth. The added weight, heat retention, and loss of flexibility interfere with the way they operate. You are better off not being seen than needing a vest.

    I agree generators suck, they need an oil change every 50 hours when used continuously, that’s every two days, maybe three if you use synthetic oil, that’s a lot of oil changes. My generator worked great for a ten day power failure, but that’s about all the gas I stockpile. With heavy rationing I could perhaps go a month. In a long term SHTF I would rather set aside the generator and fuel for running power tools for heavy repairs.

    Canned food is fine, but only buy what you can, and do eat anyway. Rotate it. Your reserve can be another couple weeks of food.

    Being the only one in the neighborhood wearing camo would make you a target. Notice the normal cloths that make people hard to see crossing traffic at dusk. That is what you want!

    • Oracle Watchman

      “cloths that make people hard to see crossing traffic at dusk”, I guess you could call that “Dressing to be Killed”… by a beer truck. (a Bohemia Negro truck, preferably) LOL

      • Sir TuberKopf

        I always shake my head at the people walking through traffic at night dressed in dark cloths that make them really hard to see, but in a SHTF situation, it’s what you’d want to avoid being noticed. I’m assuming only fools would be driving around or even mowing lawns, wasting gasoline in a SHTF situation.

        Anyone have a good design for a gilly suit for hiding in plane sight in overgrown suburban lawns? LOL!

        • Oracle Watchman

          Make one that looks like an open garage door with a bunch of crap piled up inside that should have just been thrown out years ago.

          • Sir TuberKopf

            Or a pile of uncollected trash! That would be perfect, they’d be everywhere!

  • grammyprepper

    Great post Joshua! Yes, I was ‘sucked in’ to the paranoia initially, but luckily most of what I gave in to was long term food storage…I also got a trauma medical kit as I have that skill set…totally agree on the camo…if you don’t live rural, you shouldn’t wear camo…think ‘grey man’ and fitting in to your surroundings.

  • I like ! I heat part of the day with portable 20lb. propane Mr. Heater, but MIGHT add a new kerosene heater or two because they are SILENT, and you can be more aware of other sounds in the area. Yeah, it smells some, but 1/2 gallon in the small radiant ones lasts 19 hours .

    have a few hundred pounds of beans, and need to buy more ramen, a great combo when you add a bit of Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue sauce. Anyone getting hungry from this psyop?

    Water: hand pump , and use a mini-filter or boil or just man up and drink up… didn’t hurt great grams

    • mirageseekr

      Great Grams and the little house on the prairie folks didn’t have the major industrial waste we have dumped into the water to deal with. I would at least strain and boil minimum. It would really suck to outsmart all the zombies only to die a gut wrenching death from tainted water.

    • Oracle Watchman

      Sweet Baby Ray’s makes even an old work boot taste pretty good, or so I’ve heard.

  • You can get a couple 100 watt solar panels and throw them on your roof and charge a couple deep cycle batteries and have all the lights you need. With a couple more solar panels and a couple more batteries you can power a 12 volt electric blanket for those cold winter nights and still have lights, radio, TV, coffee pot etc.
    NO ONE seems to be talking about water. It is the first thing you have to prep for as without water you will only last about 3 days. You can buy a swimming pool at Walmart and fill if full of water, treat it with Shock and cover it and wala you got several thousand gallons of water. And yes you will have to filter it before you drink it but that is easy and cheap to do with the Black Berkey Water filters. And if that will not work you can buy food grade totes and store water in your basement or outside for an emergency.
    Check out these and tons of other good survival tips for Home Survival at:

    • Sir TuberKopf

      I am of the opinion that homes with obvious solar panels on the roof would make them a target.

      There was an extended power failure in parts of Maine a couple years ago that lasted about three weeks in the dead of winter. People were stealing generators right and left. People died stealing or defending their generators. And this was only a small affected area, you could get in a car and drive an hour or two and buy all the gasoline and generators you wanted.

      • Oracle Watchman

        Cleansing of those types would be advisable when the SHTF. Just call it preventive maintenance. Better they leave the area feet first than for you to wake up with them standing over your bed one night.

    • Oracle Watchman

      Glad you mentioned the electric blanket. They are the best source of night time warmth for the power use. You can also unplug it in the middle of the night and wear it like a pre-warmed poncho during those icy treks to the outhouse. They tend to attract dogs to your bed, though.

  • mike day

    To whom this may concern WATER and the need for it to be a water purification system . I would like to recommend life save jerry can . I have been using one now for in home use for over three years , they pass the kiss theory for one and work out so you can use it everyday so as not to waste money for something that sits on the shelf. every thing in preping should start with water.

  • Honey badger

    When I first started to stray away from the sheeple heard I thought being military tactical was the way to go… But I pulled my head out of my ass and figured out the right tactic for me is grey man camping guy. the grey man seems to work for me… Or maybe I am just creepy so people avoid me

    • Oracle Watchman

      Honey, consider this “grey man’ scenario with a twist… if off grid, set up a decoy homeless man campsite near any access trails to your base camp, then set up your North Face gear a hundred yards out of sight, and farther off trail. A few old cans of outdated food, a fire pit with animal bones, a well worn cheap tarp tent, and a large stick laying around for protection in the homeless campsite, leaves the impression that you’re not worth bothering with. When arriving from the access trails you can sit down for a few minutes in your homeless camp turned LP/OP. After all is clear, ease off into the brush with a roll of toilet tissue visible in your hand, and slip away to your main base camp hidden out of sight. Keep the semi-auto HK hidden under your jacket.

      • Honey badger

        Every scenario is better with a twist! Sounds like somthing our best friend bear what’s his face ( the one that drinks his own pee) would do for his show. Since being serious is over rated.

        • Oracle Watchman

          I was being serious. And I would not drink my own pee, I think what’s his name is no more than a big idiot showman. I was trying to show a way to keep your main wilderness retreat/campsite hidden. People will follow you to steal your stuff, even today when camping in national parks. I’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail through three states, and I never camped in the designated areas, went solely stealth camping far off trail. Never was bothered by fellow hikers, nor by park rangers. The coming crazy times will require us to respond in unusual ways in order to survive and thrive.

          • Honey badger

            Some times I can’t tell lol. Now that I know that I can see where that idea is very good. Might as well put my foot in my mouth. I do appreciate the info.

  • petercrissgirl1972

    You can also purchase mylar bags, oxygen food absorbing packets and buy bulk bags or rice, beans etc. and bag and seal easy to use 1 gallon bags. You can seal them with a conventional iron and a metal straight edge or even like a flat-iron hair styling tool. You can re-seal the mylar bags really easy. I think I bought 50 heavy duty bags with the oxygen absorbers on Ebay for like $20 with free shipping. Really economical compared to “pre-packaged” expensive survival foods.

  • Oracle Watchman

    Dressing and acting like the neighborhood crazy guy could be to our advantage post-SHTF. Even now I tend to shy away from people with their finger/fingers in their nose while talking to themselves. Hmm… maybe that’s why I avoid mirrors. If all else fails, roll in dead animal carcasses. Works for my dogs.

  • ron17571

    I decided long ago to get some LED light strings.I have some that run off three AA batterys and some that were christmas lights on sale that i can plug into a small inverter. A solar panel provides a way to recharge batterys. I do have some old miners lanterns,but figure they would go through fuel to quik.
    I recommend folks volunteer at their local food bank.An easy way to help people and get some free cans of food and odd items.

  • Oracle Watchman

    Best to post the actual law, even the local cops will stay away. This can be reproduced on plastic or vinyl waterproof board in a 11″x14″ size by most printers for about $10.00 each. Place them at your entrance points. A couple of “used” Tyvek Bio/Chemical bio hazard suits draped over the gate or fence will add an extra note of realism.

    “Warning: United States Government Homeland Security Designated Quarantine. Warning this FEMA Isolation Area area is under quarantine. Violation of federal quarantine and isolation regulations is a criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment. 42 U.S.C. § 271. PHS Act, Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
    All trespassers will be arrested.

  • Oracle Watchman

    Those are some good ideas. Also, making your house appear to have already been plundered will keep most drive-by thieves from stopping. Scatter some unwanted junk just outside the door, down the walkway or driveway, and in the edge of the lawn and street. Dedicate one front room next to the main, or most visible, entrance door to be empty and trashed. Looters will often look through a window to see if anything is of value inside before entering. Close off doors to adjoining rooms and cover the other exterior windows to not allow a view of the inside. After Katrina, FEMA agents marked houses containing dead bodies by spray painting a code symbol on those houses. If you can find out what the local “deceased occupants” symbol is, copy it onto the outside of your own house (or just write “3 dead”. Dig three false graves with freshly turned soil on top and label them individually as, “LOOTER”, “THIEF”, and “TRESPASSER”. Now this one is extreme, but if roving gangs come in your area, drag a dead body from down the block up onto your lawn. 🙂

  • Jesus must increase

    Here’s a tip that would be immensely practical if you decide to use any dehydrated food.

    The reason dehydrated food is excellent is that it reduces the volume of the food by an appreciable amount such that it it’s ideal for plant based foods. So a good portion that you’re freezing from the garden could be replaced by dehydration and save significant energy costs plus shelf space.

    The problem is that for any meat based foods must have practically all fat removed from them them or the dehydrated food will go rancid. This is why lean beef or buffalo/bison was jerked since it has less fat.

    However, when you remove the fat in a survival situation, you’ve removed significant fat calories which ordinarily Americans get far too much of. In a survival situation and when everyone is working so hard, then you need FAT calories. Do the math sometime on military grade MREs to see why they go that route, because the soldiers would have significant issues with rehydrating their food (where will they get the water and it’s so heavy to carry and then time to purify it). Plus there’s the issue of having to add fat back into the meal.

    Which means all foods types i.e freezing, dehydrating, root cellar, canning, jerking, smoking, etc are a part of the prepper’s food pyramid in order to fit niches based upon the depth of the catastrophe. Freezing naturally would only last as long as the power is on, and nothing would be worse than a loud generator to announce to the whole neighborhood that you’re a prepper.

    What the Native Americans used was pemmican. The problem is this will also go rancid if improperly prepared and stored too long. Most fat will go rancid as oil too. Because of the lengthy amount of time in which food can’t be gathered in significant amounts by foraging, and the limits of hunting and trapping based upon the species that can reasonably be harvested, and because of the limits of gardening and animal husbandry, food storage is one of the main hurdles of preparedness.

  • screw all that, i ain’t wasting my loot on food, shelter, clothing,protection.

  • Seconded on mountain house, and would add Honeyville Grains dried products. I compared and taste tested as much freeze dried food as I could get my hands on and mountain house had the best flavor and texture, decent nutritional value, and reasonably acceptable sodium levels. Get ingredients, not complete meals (egg products, meat, etc). They were the only company to actually TEST their product after 25 years of storage.

    Further, Honeyville has fantastic freeze dried fruits and veggies with similar storage times, and of course packages high quality grain.

    Still keep some canned stuff for short term (6-12 mo), but the garden supplies fresh veggies, and I can much of my own. Stock up on salt, rings and lids and learn to distill vinegar.

  • Jesus must increase

    Propane stoves are nice and portable as long as you can source fuel. I’d suggest researching a rocket stove as that’s the primary method used by humanitarian aid organizations and also solar ovens.

    Look around your neighborhood. While it may seem that there is dead seasoned wood in abundance, I have to ask if you’re used to cooking with wood? Try it and see how difficult it is to build a cooking fire of coals, how much wood it takes, and how long it takes. Then compare how the cooking methods dramatically change and how easily it is to burn.

    In reality, most bugging in folks will need a cheap (even a homemade) rocket stove. These use very little wood, produce a fine steady cooking flame, and it’s a marketable skill post-collapse.

    Think: if everyone is looking for fuel to burn, then they will “wander” into your property and harvest wood. It means unless you teach your neighbors how to use a rocket stove, then all of the available dead wood will rapidly be exhausted.

    A rocket stove can be made with simple bricks stacked in a certain way (the most common method), but if you’re handy, one can make a simple serviceable one from recycled cans.

    Because of deforestation in 3rd world countries, solar ovens are equally taught. These can be as simple as a pizzabox fitted with foil and a sheet of plastic, or an old tire covered by glass. This means a lot of preparedness ahead of time (think soaking beans or legumes ahead of time and then the lengthy time to cook them in the direct sun.

    Consider learning the haybox method that our ancestors used to heat up soups and stews to boiling, then placing them in an insulated container, and then the food continues to cook while you use your limited fuel to prepare other things.

    Propane is usually utilized for backpackers who wish to leave a small footprint, but all of that means having the proper fuel. Some stoves can burn a variety of these but sourcing them post-collapse will be very problematic.

    If you knew all of this, then post-collapse, you could facilitate teaching these methods so that food is properly prepared, with a minimal loss of wood, such that the existing trees and brushpiles can be used in smarter ways for making tools or repairs.

  • 12 gram of Nembutal is high on my Apocalypse preparedness list.

  • Anothereno

    I like a good quality stainless canteen instead, I dual purpose it to boil water etc. They are pretty lightweight and if it has a metal lid its pretty easy to modify to make it easy to hang from a tripod with a lanyard.

  • ron17571

    Think long term camping. Personal protection. Essential fats.Water.

  • Patriot369

    Try Wise Products for a freeze dried food supply.Better than Mountain House.

  • It is always surprising that people like the instant author are ignorant of the fact that MREs are not designed for shelf life, but immediate deployment by soldiers who lack access to kitchen facilities.

  • mike day

    To who this may concern , Water ,Water and clean water to those starting out to those already prepared . Clean water for food prep clean water to drink clean water for wound care ! To those starting out look into a simple system called Lifesaver ! To those already well along survival still systems ! Water is never over rated ! I have read many posts about do not give any thing to people and the pros and cons do’s and don’t to give anything away So to those who understand the need to give prepare yourselves to give clean water a easy trade than lead ! Water and how to filter it should be the first thing on the above topic PERIOD! Next on the list should be simple food ,than simple how to cook it , then simple shelter , then the simple way to keep it all ,you keep your wits about yourselve! When you can meet THESE five things everything else falls in place!

  • Whistler

    ‘If you live in a rural area, you might be able source wood from your environment.’

    If the bomb drops forget burning wood – your just releasing the stored radiation in the material.

  • bill lopez

    How is the article dated March 10 and the comments are over a year old??

  • toktomi

    Please excuse my attitude but…

    I don’t think Joshua Krause has a very firm grasp of what the collapse of industrial human society is going to be like.

    Freeze dried foods and practical clothing [cotton, polyester, and wool fabrics] are good in my book.

    I’ve been studying this since December, 2000 and Joshua’s ideas about propane, bladder canteens, and kevlar vests are way off the mark. None of those items are inherently ridiculous as are none of the items that they replace, but to drag them to the forefront of a prepping article confuses the entire issue. There are many much bigger fish to fry. For example, for the vast majority of common preppers, forget about anything electrical except, perhaps, in the very short term which may include a bit of PV and lithium batteries. Also, water containers? – do you have access to pottery clay? – ultimately you will need to but until then, I’m down with glass and yes, PETE.

    This article serves as a disservice to possible prepping efforts and should be ignored or better yet, deleted by the author.

    It appears to me that we are well on our way back to the stone age and prepping should be couched in that perspective unless, of course, you’ve scored a seat in one of the elites’ lifeboats.

    or so it seems to…


  • Razedbywolvs

    It is a good articular but i disagree with the Generator. Your correct on the internal combustion being the week point. But 30 days of cold will turn anyone into a shade tree mechanic good enough to find a different method of spinning the motor.

  • randy wellman

    most of this article will be great for the people that DON’T believe the end is near. a lot of preppers might read this and say he’s right, i’ve spent all this money, and nothing ever happened….and just give up,…but just because it aint happened yet, doesn’t mean it WON’T happen….it will….us preppers only got to be right ONCE!…. if you DO think we are about to go through a major appocalypse, this article will put you waaaay behind the rest of the prepper pack. there WILL be rifles everywhere, so you BETTER have level4 armor….where i live water is scarce, so you better have canned food, with lots of moisture in it….that camelpack allows you to drink without stopping what you’re doing to get out your canteen, which will be invaluable(the author has never hiked, rode ATV’s, or worked hard outside, from what i see.)…we can’t pay back all that money owed by U.S…..feral, state, county, city gubmints…we are most of U.S. in debt up to our asses…..a bankruptcy….or two or MANY, is coming….and the end result gets worse every day, because we refuse to eat what we’ve cooked….beans, bullets, band-aids… BETTER have ’em!

  • Nick

    I disagree on some of those.

    First if you’re going to make the effort to buy a combat rifle because “just in case” you should probably seriously consider investing in plates as well. How you wear those is up to you but you should consider them. Personally I have the IIIA concealable armor and a simple plate carrier that can be worn over the IIIA vest. That has become a standard “Law enforcement” kit these days and I base my gear primarily on what LE’s doing these days because we as citizens live among the same threats they do.

    As for the platypus and Camelbak canteens, they outsell the traditional canteen because they’re flat out better. As someone who used the USGI canteen for over a decade, I personally carry a camelbak canteen every day now and it’s my daily use canteen since I have to load up on my filtered water at home to drink throughout the day. Can you get by the USGI Canteen? Yeah, but there’s a lot of good reasons Camelbak’s and Platypus canteens outsell them.

    As for a Generator you’ll need some kind of way of keeping simple electronics running and keeping batteries charged and I would recommend building a simple solar kit from Harbor freight.

  • WM

    Disagree, you should have plates. Very few people are killed by rifles because criminals prefer pistols that are cheap and concealable. The big guns will come out when SHTF and many people have ARs, AKs, and other rifles of every caliber under the sun. Plates are not infallible but there could come a time you’ll be glad you have it. Hot and heavy is not an issue, staying alive is. I’ve seen level III AR500s from the vendor for as low as $170 at a gun show for a complete set-front, back, and sides with a vest offered, less than the kevlar vests, though it doesn’t have the coating to contain shrapnel. Soft kevlar is for blending in, being concealable, or maybe not even wear a vest at all.

  • nighthawk

    Being Old Army, I’m partial to the 1 qt canteen with canteen cup. Mainly you have a canteen on your belt that is always with you. The metal cup can be used to boil water for purification, cook a meal in it. boil water for coffee, boil water for hygiene , well you get the idea. That single metal canteen cup , which does not take up space in your pack, is a multi-use item. And as you distance hikers know, the more of your equipment that is multi-use, the lighter the pack. Carrying two canteens on your belt insures you have water if you have to ditch the back pack. (i.e: run faster and further in emergency situations). Just my reasons for carrying them