For many people, building a food storage supply is an incremental process. We start with the basics, buy what we can when we can, save up for larger purchases, and watch happily as the stash grows month by month or year by year. So, it only makes sense to apply the same principle of patience to our supply of emergency survival gear.
At Emergency Essentials, we recommend that you build your supply by starting with the survival gear that will meet your most basic needs first. Get high-quality items that will last a long time when you can. But if you’re on a budget, get the most basic survival gear to meet each need until you can afford to upgrade.
So here are my Top Twelve recommendations to start your collection of emergency gear:
- Emergency kit – The contents of the Basics Emergency Kit can be stashed in plastic freezer bags until you find just the right backpack—at which point, you can also start adding heavier-duty elements, like LED flashlights and a multi-tool and a good knife.
- Water Filter – The Katadyn® MyBottle microfilter is a water bottle with a microfilter built in—and it’s a great starting point for water filtration. If you need water for a few people or you want to upgrade to something that can filter thousands of gallons of water, something like the Combi would work well. If you really want to pull out all the stops and provide water for a large group, get the Expedition.
- Emergency food – Still saving up for the big freeze-dried entree variety pack? In the meantime, get more calories for your buck with high-energy emergency food ration bars.
- Shelter – I want the four-man, two-vestibule tent with taped seams and a rain fly. But a rip stop tarp will do in a pinch. Don’t forget the rope .
- Warmth – They may look inconsequential, but a reflective emergency bag and pocket hand warmers stash efficiently, are cheap enough to buy in bulk (less than $2 each), and could very well save your toes.
- Light – I buy little lightweight LED flashlights almost every time I pass one in a store. Super long-lasting, surprisingly bright for their size, and frequently on sale, they’re a great value for the money.
- Communications – This may be the most expensive item on my list of ‘basics,’ but in a true emergency, a shortwave radio is an absolute must. And for $20-30, you can get a workhorse with radio, LED light, USB charger, and three different ways to power it all (solar, crank, battery).
- Power – Another example of multiple uses in a single product is a solar battery charger. You won’t be able to run the freezer, but you can keep all the vital little things operational. Recharge radio batteries or charge cell phones—with a single device.
- First aid – Two approaches: A) Find a small, basic kit and keep that on hand until you can afford something more comprehensive; or B) collect individual components, like bandages and pain reliever, as you find them well priced, and add to the collection gradually.
- Cooking – Start small with a basic collapsible stove for outdoor cooking. Or start even smaller with fuel and some matches.
- Sanitation – Travel size shampoos, toothpaste, and hand sanitizer are logical place to start here. But if the idea of doing your business behind a tree stresses you out, peace of mind can come with relatively little expense. I love this toilet seat that fits over a bucket. Seriously, genius.
- Storage and tools – Absolutely, without doubt, the first instrument you want in your supply is a multi-function pocketknife. The second is a multi-function tool. The pricey ones will definitely last longer, but the value options will do the job. Lots of jobs, for that matter.
That’s my beginner’s list. Gear can really make your life easier (and even save your life) in an emergency, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Look around BePrepared.com and find the gear that will work best for you and your needs.
Anything else you’ve found crucial in a tight spot? Share your must-have’s in the comments.