Survival gear essentially breaks down into two groups: home use and bug-out. Though the tools and supplies will differ in type, quantity and size for surviving in place versus on the move, they all must satisfy your basic needs for survival.
There are also many survival tools on the market. For instance, many veterans swear by the P-38 can opener. While simple, compact tools like this have their merits, I tend to favor tools that serve multiple purposes. They should also be as simple as possible (not that the P-38 could get any simpler). Less to go wrong in an emergency.
I also stay away from survival gear that requires electricity (read: batteries) as much as possible. It is often far easier to fix a mechanical problem in the field versus an electrical one.
Thoreau had his critics, but he was absolutely right in one aspect: Simplify, simplify. This should be the mantra of the survivalist community just as location, location, location is to real estate. Your tools and supplies should be simple. Got it? ‘Nuff said.
In my opinion, the single most important piece of survival gear you can own is the humble multi-tool.
I like multi-tools for their “What if?” factor. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different applications for the gadgets on a compact multi-tool. They’re also a great addition to a bug-out bag.
At a multi-tool’s heart is a useful, combination set of pliers, wrench and wire cutter. I own several models and like the larger versions that fit well in my hand. (Gerber, Leatherman and SOG make quality, all-purpose multi-tools for the price.)
The larger models have more room for additional implements that you’d otherwise might not think to pack, like:
The larger the multi-tool, the larger the knife blade, although, I’ve found that using the blade can be a bit cumbersome with the large handle. It’s better than nothing of course, but this should not be your primary survival knife if you can avoid it.
Compact multi-tools can be better for delicate work and are lighter and easier to carry than their larger counterparts. However, the tools included are necessarily smaller and prone to breakage in rough survival applications.
Still, because a multi-tool has the potential to solve countless problems, I believe it's an absolutely essential piece of survival gear.
I think of survival supplies as the maintenance items: cleaners, kitchen gadgets, toiletries, etc. When stocking up on survival supplies, items should have multiple applications, are simple to use and store and are, ideally, inexpensive.
For example, in addition to its application in the kitchen, baking soda can be used as an all-purpose cleaner (for the kitchen, bathroom, appliances, and floors) and as a versatile deodorizer.
Always stock up on the survival supplies you’d be miserable without. Toilet paper is one of those lowly items that we don’t appreciate until it’s gone. Ever rushed into a stall and noticed the roll was empty after it was too late? Or had to improvise with, say, a hand full of leaves while on a camping trip? It’s not pleasant, let me tell you.
So why not plan ahead? Toilet paper is cheap, especially if you go with the 1-ply, tree-bark variety, and it doesn’t spoil.
My wife discovered that one of the cheapest places in our area to buy paper products is Target. They frequently have sales or offer a $5 gift card with purchase. Combine that with the 5% off when you use their credit card and you’ve got a sweet deal.
Note: We pay our bill in full with cash at the service counter before we leave to avoid finance charges. And we save a stamp!
When planning your emergency supply list, stick to the basics. You need to eat, drink, sleep, stay warm, dry, clean and safe. Consider what happens if any of your equipment breaks. Remember to include tools necessary to make repairs.
There’s a lot to think about. If you’re serious about disaster preparedness and you’d like to get organized, check out my Ultimate Survival Gear Checklist.
Decide what your needs are and how you’ll satisfy them. Selecting the right survival gear can get you through an emergency safely with as little stress and inconvenience as possible.