Prepper Gear List: 26 Must-Have Items to Survive a Disaster

Comments: 31 Post Date: November 15, 2017

Let’s face it. There are so many options for prepper gear out there. It can be overwhelming to know what to buy. But there are certain areas of prepping that are especially important. These include food, water, personal hygiene, personal protective equipment, and some special tools. These are the items that will preserve life and prevent illness.

When purchasing preps, some people choose to buy a few items at a time, often due to budgeting issues. However, some people can afford to buy everything at the same time. Whichever way you choose to do it, there are items you should focus on as your top priority. From our experience the following list includes the top purchases that anyone should make when they first start prepping.


It doesn’t matter how much S Hits TF, we all need to eat. And when things go sideways, food won’t necessarily be easy to get. You need to be sure you have enough food on-hand, so you and your family will be well-fed. The following items are must-haves when it comes to your food and nutrition needs:

1. Extra Food

You should have a minimum of two weeks of food on-hand for emergencies. Of course, it’s better to have a month or two worth of food stored away. This is the regular food you eat on a daily basis and it’s considered to be your short-term food supply. If an emergency event is relatively short-lived, this food should get you through.

2. Long-Term Emergency Food

Aside from your regular food, you should consider your long-term needs. If the disruption to society is extensive enough, you might need to have food on-hand to get by for months.

Buckets of emergency food are the perfect addition to your prepper gear. These contain full meals that can be eaten simply by adding hot water. And they have a 25-year shelf life, so you can store it and forget it.

3. Sprouting Seeds

Stored food, even buckets of emergency food, mean you will eat well. But you need fresh food and that is tough to get in emergency situations. Having sprouting seeds on-hand will allow you to grow sprouts with just a little water. This isn’t about growing a garden—it’s about having fresh greens to eat every day. Examples of the types of seeds you can use include mustard seeds, mung beans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and lentils.

In just a few days from starting the seeds, you will have fresh green sprouts to provide extra nutrition. Just be sure to get seeds that are non-GMO. Grocery store seeds have generally been irradiated and will not sprout effectively.

4. Planting Seeds

For long-term food needs, having a store of seeds you can plant is critical. After all, you will eventually run out of the food you have stored. Once the worst has passed and you are rebuilding your life, you will be able to start a garden. The best seeds to store include:

  • Radishes
  • Onions
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Corn
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Beets
  • Carrots


This is even more critical than food. You can go as long as three weeks without food, but only 3 days without water. Make sure you have water on-hand and make sure you have a way to cleanse water when you have to make do with what you find outside.

5. Bottled Water

Hopefully, you will be able to bug in for an extended period of time. Having bottled water stored away will help ease the burden when you are getting your footing in tough times. You should have a minimum of two weeks’ worth of bottled water stored away, but as much as a couple of months. Again, if the emergency is short-lived, this will be enough to get you through.

6. WaterBOB

This is the easiest way to store emergency water and is ideal for any type of home. As long as you have warning you won’t have or be able to use your water, the waterBOB is indispensable. This is a one-time-use container that holds up to 100 gallons of water. Since we need to store 1 gallon per person per day, the waterBOB provides 100 days’ worth of water for one person.

The waterBOB is designed to line your bathtub. You can fill it without the need to sanitize your bathtub. This ensures your water is fresh and clean and it will stay that way for as long as 16 weeks. The waterBOB also comes with a pump to extract the water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. And it is inexpensive at around $30 each.

7. Rain Barrel

If you are bugging in over the long-term, you will need a water-collection system of some kind. A rain barrel is the simplest option. Be sure to have at least one or two of these on your property and you can capture rainwater. Even if you live in an apartment with a balcony, you can use a rain barrel to collect water. Just don’t catch it as runoff from the roof as most roofing tiles contain chemicals that can contaminate the water.

8. Sawyer Mini Filtration System

The Sawyer Mini Filtration System is perfect for filtering and purifying any water. It filters 100,000 gallons of water, removing 99.99999% of bacteria and 99.99999% of protozoa. This makes just about any water safe to drink.

The filter is small, lightweight, and comes with a straw and a drinking pouch. This makes it an ideal addition to your home kit or your bug out bag. And the best part is this filter is very affordable at around $30 each.

9. Water Bottles

It never hurts to carry a couple of extra water bottles with you. This way, you can carry extra water with you if you have distance to travel between water sources. Stainless steel or Nalgene water bottles are best.

Personal Hygiene and Safety

Personal hygiene is even more important in emergency situations than during everyday life. We have so many conveniences at our disposal in our society. Yet many people don’t realize the challenges when those conveniences are no longer available. Personal hygiene is really about keeping clean and avoiding unsanitary conditions that can lead to illness. The following are must have’s for your prepper supplies:

10. First Aid Kit

NEVER be without a first aid kit. Even in good times, we need to have access to first aid kits to see us through minor emergencies. But in catastrophic situations, even small medical emergencies can turn into a serious health risk. In fact, a small cut can be life-threatening if it gets infected.

You absolutely MUST have a good first aid kit that is accessible no matter where you are. That means having one in your get home bag, your bug out bag, your vehicle, and your home. 

11. Oral Hygiene

There are many types of hygiene products that keep you clean and smelling nice. Well, I can tell you that when it comes to a true survival situation, who cares how your pits smell. Really. As long as you have some soap and water, you’re good. But your oral care CANNOT suffer—and this isn’t because of the risk of bad breath.

Oral care is critical, because if you end up with cavities, you can very quickly find out how bad dental issues can become. A tooth infection is no laughing matter. It CAN kill. So, make sure you have toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste/baking soda in your oral hygiene kit.

It is also important to have clove oil and temporary dental fillings your oral hygiene kit. Clove oil is an ideal natural treatment for toothaches and abscesses. This is because love oil is a natural analgesic and antiseptic—thanks to a component of the oil called eugenol. Clove oil also numbs the mouth, reduces pain, and fights infection. Emergency fillings will cover any exposed nerves which can lead to immense pain.  

12. Poop Bucket/Kitty Litter

When the plumbing goes out, you will very quickly realize going to the bathroom is a big problem. Even a simple water main break that shuts down your water for a few days will prove how quickly using the toilet becomes an issue.

Having a simple bucket on-hand is ideal. You can line it with a garbage bag and have kitty litter right there. That way, you don’t have to go outside when you need to use the facilities. Just do your business and put a scoop of kitty litter over it.

Personal Protective Equipment

This is the equipment that will keep you physically safe in any given situation. Having each of these items in your prepper gear is an absolute must.

13. CBRN Gas Mask

When the air around you becomes deadly, there’s not much else that can help you other than a quality gas mask.

If you’re going to get any gas mask, mask sure it’s suited for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats. If you’re looking for a mask to handle it all, make sure to check out the MIRA Safety CM-6M Tactical Gas Mask

It’s used internationally by police, military, and law enforcement, and is highly regarded within the prepper community.

14. CBRN/CO 40mm Gas Mask Filter

As a bonus, make sure to pick up the VK-450 CBRN/CO filter as it’s the only 40mm NATO threaded filter on the market that handles CBRN agents and carbon monoxide. It will transform any full-face respirator into a fire escape mask, converting CO into CO₂ and allowing you to breathe it out. 

 15. Goggles, Ear Plugs, N95 Masks

You need to be able to protect all your orifices. Use earplugs to protect your ears from loud noises. Use goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris and dangerous chemicals. Use an N95 mask to protect against breathing in chemicals and biohazards.

These should all be kept in your work bag or get home bag. Seriously, if everyone had these during the 9/11 attacks, fewer people would have been injured.

Important Tools

Finally, here is a list of unique and necessary tools that can literally mean the difference between life and death. These tools can help you get out of tight situations and help you get what you need when you are on the move.

16. Heat Source

If you live where winter reigns half the year, you need to be ready for a grid-down situation during the cold months. This means having a safe, reliable heat source. Ideally, you would have a wood stove. A fireplace is also a plus.

But if you don’t have either of these, then your next best bet is to have a portable propane or kerosene heater in your prepper gear. And have plenty of extra fuel to go with it. The Mr. Heater is a good choice. It’s safe for indoor use, but have a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector on-hand, just in case.

17. Ferro Rod

You should ALWAYS have at least two ways to light a fire with you at any given time. However, having a ferro rod is particularly useful. The ferro rod can be used repeatedly and is a reliable method of starting a fire. This way, you can easily boil water to purify it, cook food, and keep warm.

18. Flashlight

This might seem basic, but it is so important. Spend some money to get high-quality LED flashlights for your prepper gear. These will help you light your way in the dark and are safer than candles. They can also help you identify danger and can be used in self-defense.

After all, if the light is low and you shine a flashlight in the eyes of an assailant, you will blind them long enough to get away or get the upper hand in a confrontation. Just make sure to have backup batteries.

19. Tarp

A tarp is an indispensable part of your prepper gear. You can use a tarp for so many things, such as:

  • A poncho when it’s raining
  • To help conceal or hide you
  • As ground cover
  • As a tent
  • To cover and protect your gear
  • To catch rain
  • As a stretcher
  • As a hammock
  • To build a raft

Tarps are truly indispensable. So, make sure you have at least one in your prepper gear.

20. Leatherman Wave

This is a multi-tool that is an important part of your prepper gear. The Leatherman Wave comes with so many gadgets. These include:

  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Saw blades
  • Knife blades
  • Screwdriver
  • Bottle opener
  • File
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire stripper

This multi-tool will come in handy in so many different situations. And it can get you out of tight spots you don’t even know you’ll get into.

21. Gerber E-Tool

Store the Gerber E-Tool in your car for all kinds of emergencies. This folding spade has a serrated blade. You can use it to dig yourself out of a tough spot or chop through ice like a hot knife through butter.

22. 5.11 Rush Backpack

The 5.11 Rush Tactical Backpack is the gold standard to get your bug out bag started. This is the tactical backpack used by military forces worldwide. It is roomy and comes in three sizes—21.2 liters, 34 liters, and 55 liters of storage capacity. This pack is rugged and durable and it is designed to make the organization of your gear easy.

23. Ontario SPAX Tool

The fabulous Ontario SPAX tool is a must as part of your prepper gear. It will help you get water from fire hydrants. It also makes it possible to shut off gas mains when an earthquake or other natural disaster is imminent. Plus, it can be used to gain access to buildings and in self defense.

24. Sillcock Key

This tool could have easily been listed under the water category above. If you look at the outside water access on commercial and large residential buildings, you will see most of them can only be turned on with a special key—a sillcock key.

The sillcock key is designed to fit nearly any sillcock in use on commercial and residential buildings. This makes it possible to access water in urban areas. And even if the water is no longer running, there can still be a lot of water sitting in the pipes, especially when it comes to tall apartment buildings.

25. Self-Defense Weapon

Hopefully, you will never have to use it, but you should have it. A self-defense weapon is a critical part of your prepper gear. Sometimes, just showing it is enough to deter people. Obviously, a firearm is the best choice. But there are other options, such as a crossbow or longbow with arrows, a taser, or a knife. Whatever you choose, be sure you are well-trained and practiced and that you have plenty of ammo.

26. SAS Survival Guide

In a lot of emergency situations, the grid and/or the internet will be down. It will be difficult to get the information you need in these situations. Your best option is to have hard copies of all the information you might need. You can print out a bunch of information from the internet or you can get a bunch of books, including the SAS Survival Guide.


Obviously, there are plenty of other things you can and should have in your prepper gear. But these are the most basic and most important items. Focus on these first.

If these are all you have when disaster strikes, you will be able to survive when most other people won’t. And once you have these basics, then you can move on to the extras that will make survival easier and more comfortable.

Have we missed something? If you have ideas for other must-haves in your prepper gear, please let us know in the comments section below!

Comments (31)

  • George Redheffer Reply

    Excellent, detailed article. I very much appreciate it.

    February 21, 2021 at 11:42
  • Christy Smith Reply

    “Fish” Antibiotics that can be used for people too. Can be bought on

    February 14, 2021 at 19:45
  • Melody Reply

    I am type 2 Diabetic and take insulin 4 times a day. Is there a substitute for that if SHTF??

    January 25, 2021 at 09:40
  • brian eliason Reply

    naphtha lighter, fire piston, magnifying glass, shovel, fixed-blade knife, axe/hatchet, folding saw, spinning rod&reel, crab trap, recurve bow, slingshot, .22 air rifle, duct tape, hay wire, 2x4s, 1/2″ plywood, light bulbs, toilet paper, dish soap, snow boots, snow shovel, rechargeable batteries, solar battery recharger, solar cooker, rocket stove, cast-iron pan, warm quilts, hand-crank radio, bicycle.

    December 31, 2020 at 15:00
  • Tommy Reply

    Everyone should have a kerosene lantern and fuel in their home preps. Several fuels are available. Lanterns are simple, safe, reliable, easy to use,
    Portable, and inexpensive.

    September 8, 2020 at 13:37
  • Bob Jones Reply

    As a former CBRN soldier, understand these are not gas masks. They are chemical weapons masks. The NATO 40mm filter is only rated for particles larger than gas. These are not good for viruses either. The Army came out with a new mask around 2007 to counter the chlorine gas bombs used in Iraq. For Bio, the only face mask is SCBA. For the Nuclear and radiological threats there are suits and will still need SCBA. But all suits are limited use.

    September 3, 2020 at 17:56
  • Jerrad J Reply

    Is there any sort of masks for children/toddlers? If not, what recommendations would you give for a shtf scenario?

    July 26, 2020 at 07:26
    • Joey Reply

      THey do in fact make infant gas masks and even K9 masks. My local camping supply stores carry them here

      October 7, 2020 at 12:52
  • Elizabeth A. Reply

    Supplies for pets.

    July 8, 2020 at 09:18
  • John Fulkerson Reply

    Dryer lint to start fires, bic lighters, large heavy cloth bandaids, P38 army can opener, floss, compass, road map, whistle, water purification pills, water purification straws, pint of vodka for sterilization, a dozen pre 1964 silver dollars,

    April 28, 2020 at 16:23
    • E Reply

      I’ve been collecting our drier lint for the last year. At first my husband thought it was kinda weird for prep, lol, but now he’s on board. And it’s light weight. Drier lint can definitely save your life in situations where u need fire immediately!

      May 27, 2020 at 09:38
      • S. Porter Reply

        I like to collect the dryer lint and store it in used toilet paper rolls. When full transfer to a baggie. This works great for starting fires even just out camping.

        January 25, 2021 at 12:53
  • Mary Stewart Reply

    Good article. I do a lot of sprouting and sprouts are great foods while waiting for a garden to grow or to supplement survival foods that often are not very tasty.

    April 14, 2020 at 17:35
  • Kendall Reply

    Hello, I loved your article, but I’d like to question the effectiveness of a GP-5 Gray gas mask, I’ve purchased one and would like to know the effectiveness in case of catastrophe.

    February 3, 2020 at 09:07
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      That mask is very outdated, and I would not suggest using it for any type of emergency situation. Old rubber is not reliable, in my honest opinion.

      February 4, 2020 at 22:54
  • Allen Taylor Reply

    If you could somehow convert an older Class C motorhome as a bug out vehicle, I think it would definitely pay dividends..Solar panels and a water source would be key but if you have an area scouted out ahead of time or even ready to go, it would be a great setup. CB or HAM radio would be good as well.

    January 6, 2020 at 17:46
  • Barbara Tucker Reply

    Medication wasn’t listed and is very important. Especially for those like myself who depend on it every day. It’s hard to stock up as insurance won’t pay ahead of time.

    December 10, 2019 at 20:59
  • Kan Zee Reply

    This was super helpful …thank you for your time and effort in making this listing, public …..cheers

    November 27, 2019 at 08:53
  • Marcia Johnson Reply

    I believe the Lord is wanting us to prepare, we all need to do this, …I think preparation is smart regardless of when something could happen, it could anytime. I have felt a strong need lately to make these preparations. (do you know of a local store or group, near Boise Idaho?) also how effective are solar energy panels for things like lights, and cooking. Thanks Marcia

    November 7, 2019 at 05:59
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Marcia. Unfortunately, I do not know of any local Boise groups. I would suggest looking up preparedness groups on as that’s how I’ve met quite a few people in my area. Solar is good for everything if it’s in your home, but for a mobile solution, it would only be effective to charge portable electronics electronics. A 16w portable panel would definitely cover lights so long as they are USB chargeable.

      November 9, 2019 at 10:23
    • Ernie Reply

      Go at least a 100 watts for RV batteries.

      July 25, 2020 at 11:26
  • Rick Reply

    The poop bucket is temporary. Kitty litter is a limited commodity. The real necessity is potty paper. You will need it from now on. Sears and Penny’s don’t produce catalogs to provide the required paper that my grandparents used.
    I put it right behind water, food, and shelter. Disease is the culprit. Deep outhouses and lime will help but personal hygiene is very necessary.

    October 13, 2019 at 14:05
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      Great insights, Rick. Thanks for sharing.

      October 13, 2019 at 19:44
      • Mary Russell Reply

        Is there any way you know of for a type 1 diabetic to survive if no insulin is available

        September 1, 2020 at 09:45
        • Iheaps Reply

          My wife is a T1D and I’ve thought about this often. My plan is to create one of those in-ground large PVC coolers. It would keep her insulin cool enough to store until used if our refrigerator was of no use. If no insulin was available….I don’t have an answer for that yet.

          March 27, 2021 at 08:30
  • Thomas Gillece Jr Reply

    Thanks for your info.

    August 9, 2019 at 11:11
  • Robert L. Ross Reply

    Amazing article with no fluff or drama, and I truly have read a ton! I would love to have access to this as a go-to for all people I encounter who I am able to convince that prepping is a true necessity! Is this article available in .doc or other similar universal format? Please advise… thanks!

    May 28, 2019 at 18:42
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      Thanks for the comment Robert. At this time, we only have the web version of this article. However, you can export it as a PDF through your print settings and share it.

      May 29, 2019 at 13:47
  • Jack Reply

    You missed one important thing.
    Carry an old packing crowbar. It may be heavy, but it can open anything.

    January 14, 2019 at 10:42

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